Ronwills: IMO "Best" threads rarely result in anything other than a host of people suggesting that you use what they have. There is no definitive "best" answer.
You have been looking at some very good cable selections yourself (1-7) so I'm thinking that whenever possible you should demo your selections personally and see what fits best with your system.
Hope you find the cable that really "does it" for your set-up.
I second the excellent comments by Puerto. I would suggest in addition, given that you will be using a balanced connection, and that your W4S DAC2 has a fairly low output impedance, that you compare whichever $500 cable you choose to audition with Mogami Gold Studio, available here
in a 3 foot length, or here
in a 6 foot length. I think there is a fair chance that you will be pleasantly surprised, and that you may wind up saving yourself more than $400.
For what it is worth; This is how I would look at it:
If you want to add some "warmth" to the sound of your system consider the Cardas Neutral Reference and if you want improved clarity or detail than try the Acoustic Zen Silver Reference. Both are respected names and can be sold without too much loss.
the Morrow might be interesting, they have super detail, though I wonder if the 'neutral' quality they have would work well with Maggies.
I like to recommend Gabriel Gold Revelations which fall into your price range and have a very musical quality and a hint of golden tone
ymmv of course
I really do not want to prove Peurto's point but I think you have missed one of the most significant cable at this price, it is the Crimson Musiclink cables. You can read about them on Audiogon. They come with a 30 day trial period.
Don't rush your purchase. Try various model and brand. You will know when you find the right cable for your system.
I recently got a new preamp,sounded great in my system with my $1200 Harmonic Tech speaker cables.
As everything was now just fine I decided to go through my closet to cull the herd of my various and sundry IC's and spreaker cables.
Came across an old pair of cheap(relatively)QED original
b1-wire SP's that I bought maybe 15 yrs ago on the basis
of a 5 star rating in Brit audio mags(before I figured out everything made in UK gets that} which were so bright on the Maggies I had then as to be painful.
On a whim I inserted them in my system before trashing and about dropped my dentures as my Silverline Preludes took a massive jump in soundstage and clarity.
Not quite as rich as the Harmonic Tech but overall a definite improvement,
Moral of story,you never know and nobody can predict,the variables involved in any system and room are so great that only trial and error suffice.
Let me suggest a slightly different approach. Rather than looking for a $500 cable, get a pair of Mogami Gold Studio XLR (less than $100 for a 6 foot pair) and than borrow some $500 cables and compare them. Make sure you invite some friends over to listen with you and ask them to switch cable such that you won't be subject to visual bias. You may be surprised to find that you can save $400 towards other upgrades.
I know that some of these threads can end up "try my cable, it is the best" however, this thread has already been very helpful so far. I have been checking out the two, new to me, cables from Crimson MusicLink and Gabriel Gold Revelations. The Crimson MusicLink is $537.00 in 1 meter XLR and I have emailed the company for prices on the newer Gabriel cables.
I have now tried two pretty good, but inexpensive cables. One is the Morrow MA 1.1 XLR retailing for $239 but often on sale for much less. The other is the Silver Serpent II Balanced XLR for $99.00. Both of these are pretty good but I feel that both are holding me back from hearing all the music. The Morrow's were initially tipped up in the treble and I had to pull them but later put them back in the system and used the Isotek CD conditioner. Now, I feel that they are, if anything, tipped down in the treble almost like a blanket has been put over the speakers.
I believe I can pick up a pair of AudioQuest Colorado 72v 1 meter XLR cables for about 1/2 retail (normally $900). Anyone have thoughts on this. I understand that the AudioQuest cables were a big discussion on another site but couldn't find the thread.
Thanks to all who have contributed so far!
I can sell you the best there is. What color do you like?
Give Morrow Audio a try. I've had great success with the ones I own and use on several systems.
Owned #'s 1,4,5,6 and 7. AQ Columbia wins in all categories. I would suggest MIT AVT1 cabling however, as it is more dimensional and allows for a more vividly realistic portrayel of the sonic event. Online prices are 50% msrp FYI:O)
The following will lose me street creds on my audio skills but just found out during my break in of the W4S STI500 and DAC2 when reaching around the back of my equipment, I had switched my Xindak digital cable off of the DAC2 and replaced it with identical looking Xindak audio cables (the difference was only a small band around one end of the cable). I had been connecting my Netgear 9150 system to my DAC2 with an audio cable!
The results were very interesting with tipped down treble as mentioned in my last post but rock music actually sounded pretty good! The sound was much more diffuse which seemed to work well with rock but took all the life out of the classical music. I was in the break in phase with the STI500 and DAC2 and had just used the ISOTEK CD conditioner. I was beginning to think I had screwed up my system using the conditioner CD!
Highs are back using the Morrow MA1.1 XLR cable and sounding very detailed. Will listen for a week or so with the Morrow Cable to get a fix on the sound before purchasing new cables.
Dave_b - amazing that you have experience with 5 of the 7 cables that I am looking at! Just curious, but what other equipment do you have?
I noticed that you singled out the AQ Columbia. I can get the AQ Colorado XLR normally $900 for $450-$500. Any thoughts on that vs. the MIT AVT1? Looked up the MIT AVT1 and for the XLR it goes for $699 retail.
You mentioned that "online prices are 50% msrp." Other than the AQ Colorado's, I did not see any prices at 50% off for the other cables.
Owned the colorado XLR's as well...very clear, harmonicaly complete but a bit hard sounding. The MIT's will give you everything the Colorado's offer, but add better texture, fullnss, dynamic swing and 3D palpability as "you are there in the same room" feeling. just got an NRG-10 PC new from a dealer in CA for 50% off (negotiate price). Call Joe Abrams at equus audio for free information and assistance as well as best deals on available options. He's been my go to cable guy for over 10 years. My last big system was Maggie 3.6's, Krell FBI, Sony Modwright 5400 and MIT Magnum M3.3 cabling wt MIT AC2 PC's.
Dave_b - looks like the cable he sells is demo or trade-ins. Would like to purchase new. What do you think new MIT AVT1 1 meter XLR's should go for?
I am using XLR balanced and find Anti-Cables outstanding. They are very inexpensive, and have a money back guarantee if you don't like them. You really should audition them.
I have received some excellent ideas from your comments and those who have sent me emails directly. This has been very helpful. As it stands now, I have narrowed the list to the following:
1. AudioQuest either Columbia or Colorado XLR
2. MIT AVT1 XLR - need to get a fix on pricing
3. Morrow MA4 or MA5 XLR (I can trade in my existing Morrow Cables for what I paid for them off of list/discounted price of the new cables)
The Morrow MA1.1's XLRs that I have now with fully broken in W4S STI500 and DAC2 do sound very very good with maybe just a little emphasis on the mid to high frequencies. These are great bargain cables.
I had Morrow MA4 XLR's not even close to Crimson Music Link XLR's. Upon trial of Crimson's in my system for a few days I sold my Morrow MA4's here on Agon. Exceptionally clear, detailed, with pinpoint imaging and big soundstage. I always had some sibilance in my sytem with the Morrow's and with other quality cables... but not anymore. You can also try them risk free.
Siblance is not a problem here with the MA3- XLR in my SS setup, I actually found the highs revealing, airy and the right amount of detail, but never bright are harsh!Like all things cables system dependant.
I too have never had harsh highs with the MA1.1's. My system is a little tipped up at whatever frequency violins play but this doesn't mean it is the Morrow's. It could be the Magnepan 1.7s, W4S STI500 or DAC2.
Last night changed the Digital cable from Better Cables Silver Serpent to a Xindak digital cable. Minor difference but liked the Xindak better. Will listen more today.
Working behind the scenes on pricing of the cables I identified previiously (AudioQuest, Morrow and MIT). Also tracking down the possibility of trying the Crimson Music Link XLRs to demo. I know that I will need 30-60 days to really get an idea of how they sound and don't know their "demo" terms.
MIT Cables. I also looking at pricing of the MIT Shotgun 3.3 cables along with the CVT's but to be honest, their two overlapping cable systems is very confusing and their website is not much help. Never seen a cable company where you have the option to click on cables available in their retail stores and cables available online. Very confusing.
However, all the reviews I have read about the MIT Cables have been very good. Didn't find any reviews on the AudioQuest Columbia or Colorado.
Ronwills, Crimson cables sounds great right out of the box. Within 10 hours you will be hearing most of its potential. Some of my friends who use it tell me that there are subtler improvements to soundstage width and focus till 200 hours. But let me tell you that if you do not like the cable in the first 10 hours you will not like it after wards as well. There is a rightness to this cable which shows up within the first hour itself.
The trial policy is simple, it is 30 days money back guarantee.
i will chime in to say that the mit cables i have are easily the most "real life sounding" analog interconnects that i have, and i'm a cable klepto. i didn't want to like them, either, as they're pricey and, as you mentioned about their website, you never know what the @#(*& is going on with them. but it is what it is, and they sound really good and excel on detail and subtleties, which sounds like what you're looking for.
i auditioned most lines up to the magnum and ended up with the shotgun ma, but they were all good.
the only other cable i'd add to your list would be the analysis plus solo crystal, they're great too, though perhaps not quite as naturally balanced as mits.
one cable rec i always feel happy making, too, is the van den hul first for digital applications, it's amazing. i have the metal screen version (as i'd bought it for analog originally), but i have no idea if the version of it matters when using it for digital (some people get a hum with the regular first when using it in analog applications, but my first metal screens are actually more quiet than other cables so they seem to have fixed that). anyway, they're the most lush, least "digital" digital cable i've tried (again, just beating out a mit).
best of luck.
JPS Labs Superconductor Q - I'm using them between my DAC+Pre and power amp. I think they are pretty transparent because they let me hear the difference between various sources.
I love my DNM unbalanced IC's. They can be made in balanced also. Very revealing yet super smooth. Great on acoustic music.
Mogami Gold 2534. They use this in recording studio. I bought 2534 from Amazon and compare with a much more expensive 1K cables such as Audioquest, and Revel. I am please with the way it sounds for under $70. Because the wire gauge is small you have to crank up the volume a bit.
Have had Morrow MA3, DNM Reson and Vdh the First. They are all great cables. Morrow is eminently smooth and detailed, only reservation is being just a tad lean with certain set up may be. DNM Reson with eichmann bullet plugs is just nice and sweet for a great price. Vdh has the most balanced with solid imaging and tonality. Some find these to lack shimmer in the top ends but I felt what is missing is the metalic glare common with some other cables.
Finally hooked up with Joe Abrams and in the process of ordering MIT Shotgun 3.3 XLR cables. Can't wait.
In the interim, I have been tweaking my system (W4S DAC2, W4S STI 500 and Magnepan 1.7s). I am blown away how small changes in the system have made some dramatic improvements in the sound and how sensitive my system is to the changes.
Tried three digital cables (Silver Serpent Digital, Audioquest inexpensive digital and Xindak). I was just frustrated with the system sound using the Silver Serpent and Audioquest digital cables. When I hooked up the Xindak I heard another level of clarity. It really has opened up my system. I would never have believed that there would be such a difference of three relatively inexpensive digital cables.
Another very surprising impact to the system was switching the W4S STI-500 from a fairly heavy APC UPS conditioner to a $50 dollar version. I don't know what the SPC UPS conditioner was doing, but had no depth to the music and clarity suffered. Can't believe going to the cheap model actually sounded better. Tried going directly into the wall outlet. Sound was very clear through the wall outlet but without depth. Best of the three choices was the $50 simple filter and surge protector.
I also have tried a number of ridiculously inexpensive tweaks that have all contributed to better sound from my system - total cost of all three tweaks is less than $100. Will share these on another thread.
Resurrecting this old thread rather than start a new one. Using it as a vehicle for a few remarks about Audioquest's Columbia XLR interconnects with 72V dbs system. I'd been very skeptical about the value of AQ cabling...suspected it was a lot of hype; yet was very curious to try some given how many knowledgeable A'gon members praise it. A recent sale at Music Direct provided an opportunity too good to pass up. Got a new 1 meter pair of Columbia XLRs for $200. (expect they are discounted because AQ has replaced the River series with the Element series; Water has replaced the Columbia). Music Direct's 60 day return policy certainly also helped with the decision. I replaced a well-broken in 1 meter pair of Cabledyne Copper Reference ICs between pre-amp and amp with the Columbias. GOSH what a pleasant surprise. Pretty much out of the box I noticed improved clarity and tighter bass. I know Colorado & Niagara (Earth & Wind in the new lineup) are supposed to be better, but for "only" $200 I am very pleased. Listening to music now is like watching Koi swim in a crystal clear pool. The change is remarkable.
From among the O.P.'s list I would take the Antipodes Komako. A great product, and a bargain at the used prices I've seen over the past few years.
I have been quite happy with MAC Mystic XLR since 2011. Open, detailed, neutral with nice bottom end punch.
Ghost, You are not kidding about the Columbias. Well balanced cables for a reasonable cost.
Gshep - glad someone else agrees. It's kind of surprising more was not written about these back when they were first introduced - at least, I could not find much by way of reviews. "Balanced" is a good word for them. Also, the clarity and detail I'm hearing is not associated with any sort of edginess or harshness. The system's sound with them installed is the most enjoyable it's ever been.
I'm really impressed with the $150 Stager Solid Silver from DAC to amp. No risk trial, so give it a shot. It's amazing the difference it made in my rig.
Hi Electro - I've actually got a pair of the Stagers. They aren't in use right now. Not to say there was anything wrong with them. I think I replaced them with Morrow Audio MA-4 ICs.
Ghost, since you have the Stagers, I'll be interested in your choice. I really needed the upper frequency content they revealed. Good luck
Hmmm....Electro - don't think I can do an A/B with the Stagers vs the Columbias. The Columbias are XLR as are the inputs to the Taranis amp. My pre is not balanced so I'm using a male/male XLR/RCA adapter on the Columbia coming out of the pre amp. The Stagers are strictly RCAs. I'm looking through my listening notes, trying to confirm I had the Stagers on the Gungnir DAC originally. The Gungnir took a LONG time to break in and initially sounded pretty rolled off. I might have got them to help with upper freq on the Gungnir but eventually went with Morrow Audio MA-4s in that spot. The MA4s (especially bought used or during one of their frequent sales) are worth checking out, in my O-pinion. He allows an in-home trial period on new, though not on used.
Follow up to my 12/2 initial comments about the AQ Columbia XLRs:
These are very good interconnects in terms of clarity and detail without harshness or edge. HOWEVER, for me, after a few listening sessions I found myself wondering where's the bass? and with further time, where's the magic?? Sonic characteristics mentioned 12/2 remain true but the tighter bass seems to have been accompanied by a slight but noticeable reduction in bass response and extension (I initially attributed this to better bass control compared to the Cabledynes); the clarity accompanied by a loss of mid range warmth and heft in the sound. So - the Reference Copper Cabledynes went back in the system and immediately all became right in my little audio world. Haven't made up my mind whether to keep the AQs (they really are very good) and see if I can find another application for them or return them.
I own a pair of 1.5m xlr Crimson Musiclinks that I put in my system occasionally and they always sound good.
Currently, as opposed to the Op date of 2011, I would add Silnote and Wywires. I have interconnects from both and Speaker cables from Wywires and consider them excellent quality and value. The benefits of being a one man band without a massive marketing budget.
Transparent should be added to this list.
I might be the only person who had a pair of balanced Mogamis that didn't work out. Weird, since I've used these as mic cables for years…maybe it was bad Guitar Center karma. I have a Mogami cable in my turntable that works…so there's that. I wound up with AQ Diamondbacks for the 2 balanced runs (DAC to preamp, preamp to amp) and they're perfect.
And and the Belden 8402 microphone cable for a about $80 beat the Mogami and many others handily. Save your bucks. Best, Rob