There is none! The word "best" is relative in this case meaning "best" is certainly system dependent, so "best" most likely means something different in different systems.
Now, you have described your system so theoretically it should be simple to have someone tell you whats best, right?
Rephrase your question to read, "I need some SUGGESTIONS for a digital cable below $500. . .here are my system components." Again, because there is no "Best" digital cable below $500.
No offense here. It's just that I am persnickety about how people phrase a question when they many times mean something else. Let's face it Audio is about accuracy to the source. So is the English language.
So, what does all this mean? It means solicit suggestions from others and use your own two ears to evaluate them. Then there will be a "best" cable for your system.
Acoustic Zen MC2 works well for my system. Wadia 23 (used as transport) to Audiomeca Enkianthus X DAC.
I tried several others from Signal Cable, to your HT and the Kimber Orchid. All very good, but I found the AZ best for me.
All SS gear, listen to mostly classical.
Good luck in your search.
I don't believe in the "system dependent" rap. A great cable (especially digital) is a great cable. Worthy contenders in this category I'd include i2 digital, Audience, Ridge Street Audio MSE Gen II and the new VenHaus.
I'm very happy with a balanced Tara Decade digital cable between my Data Basic II and Gen Va. Since you seem to like Tara, why not try their Air digital?
Audio Magic Excalibur II works well in my system. Museatex DCC transport to DATA converter.
The best digital cable is one that maintains a consistent impedance that is characteristic of the devices being connected to it. On top of that, it should offer low series resistance, wide bandwidth, low dielectric absorption, minimal skin effect, low loss, etc... If the components being used are of a true 75 or 110 ohm input and output impedance, finding a suitable cable shouldn't be too difficult. Given that most components and cables don't really offer the impedance rating that they are advertised at, the search becomes more difficult and a "little bit" system dependent.
Having said that, i would recommend looking up an article that Stereophile ran about a year or two ago. This pertained to end-terminating digital cables with a resistor in order to minimize the influence of signal reflections / vswr related issues. My experience is that this can be quite beneficial to what is an already excellent cable. AS a side note, my Brother, Father and i had all selected cables designed like this without even knowing it. We did this by comparing several different cables within the confines of our systems and all came to the same conclusions. That is, a cable with a low reflected coefficient sounds better than a cable that doesn't. Sean
Best Digital Cable I ever heard was the Marigo Labs Apparition 5.6 - stunning!
Kimber AGDL, and Kimber D60, Kimber orchid, this are
my favorite, Gfroman I agree with you.
Kimber or Illumaniti Orchid
The best Iv'e ever heard is the new zanden cable,but,maybe the best 500 dollar cable is the stealth varidig.
The Best one , is the one that sounds the best to you in your system.
Illuminati Ohm-Aha! $7.00. This mini 75 ohm coax available from partsconnexion.com is awesome. Solder it directly to each circuit board and you will be amazed at the sound of your digital components. You get 2 8" cables plus 5" of Wonder Solder. I was using DH Labs D-75 with 75 ohm BNCs, but this smokes it.
Sean, who makes cables with end terminations? Also, what kind of terminations are they - series or parallel?
I'm not directly aware of any manufacturer that currently offers such designs or cabling. Then again, i've not been shopping for digital cables in a while : ) Sean
Ridge Street Audio Midnight Silver Edition is the short (!) answer here. To expand on this let me say that I have had digital links that cost up to 2000.00 and I prefer the RSA...it is a much more neutral sounding cable. It has the ability to deliver a clean distortion free signal no matter how simple or complex the music happens to be. Whether it is very low level info or "keeping it together" during LOUD busy crescendos, the RSA delivers the signal like it is no big task. Everything between the extremes is also represented equally making it sound "smooth". In this context, smooth does not mean "rolled off" but it means that the power response to all frequencies are equal in strength. This translates to a very cohesive sound. You have some great digital gear whose qualities include very good resolving capabilities. With an RSA cable between them you would find that the music would flow with more of an analog feel to it. For reference my digital is CEC TL-1X into an AudioLogic MXL DAC. Previous digital cables I can remember include: Audit Tactic, Marigo, Tara Decade, LAT, Ilumminatti, Orchid, Nordost MoonGlow, Kharma, I2 Digital, Audience.
What about the new stereovox cable, by the guy that designed the illuminati? It's supposed to be an excellent cable by any standard and sells for under $100. Has anyone tried it?
I use all Goldmund Lineal digital cables in my system, which is a true 75 ohm cable. Have not heard anything sound as true in my system.
I have the Stereovox HDVX digital cable that retails for $100. I have had no other cable make as much of difference in any system I have ever owned than this cable. It replaced a Heartland cable that used Belden 89352 with the bullet conectors and we compared it to a few other cables.
Highly recommended. Check out a few of the professional reviews on the HDVX. A true bargin.
My favorite digital cable under $500 is made by Argent Audio and is called "the Pursang." I preferred the Pursang over Kimber's top-of-the-line digital which costs considerably more. The only other digital cable that I prefer over the Pursang is the current one that I am using, Purist Audio Dominus (this cable cost three times more). Good luck!