Best interconnect between Ayre AX-7 and CX-7

Time for another change in the second system. I found a few months’ old Ayre AX-7e at a bargain that I’ll pair with my Ayre CX-7. In every review of the AX-7 I found, and especially when looking at it together with CX-7, reviewers have praised the superior performance of balanced interconnects. Sadly, mostly without mentioning the IC’s used.

I read through a few older threads on interconnects for Ayre gear as well as the (disputed) general merit of balanced IC’s, particularly over short lengths. And was left a bit puzzled as to what the views expressed there would boil down to for this particular pair of machines.

Can anyone lift the veil (… or add to the confusion) what IC’s would bring the best result with this gear? In case Stealth Indra leaps to your mind, I am rather looking at something in the $ 500-600 range here (between 0,5m and 1m length, new or used). As far as XLR’s are concerned, I have seen a pair of Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II that would fit the bill, but would it fit sonically? (I have as yet not received an answer from the German distributor as to the availability of Ayre’s own IC’s btw, so I can’t judge their price level over here.)

As always, many thanks in advance for your thoughts or recommendations (XLR or RCA).
Having gone through a lot of interconnects over the years, I highly recommend the JPS Superconductor 3 IC's. They have proven to be the most musical in any of my systems, might be a couple hundred bucks more then you wanted to spend but I believe your search would be over.
Shane from the Hometheatredoctor carries them.
No affiliation just a happy customer
I've been really happy with my Purist cables with my AX-7e / CX-7e / P-5xe. Whatever you do, make sure your cables are truely balanced in design, and not simply a single-ended design with XLR connectors.
Well, everyone has their favorite cable and I do too. I have used Ayre equipment with the Audioquest Cheetah interconnect with superb results. AQ has changed the name but the basic cable remains the same.
As for balanced, the Ayre equipment is like four amps in one. Each one drives half the cycle either positive or negative (which is truly a misnomer because the audio signal is AC) for each channel. What is does relate to better is one half the signal going one way and the other going the otherway (alternating.) The signal is isolated in the circuitry of the amp and requires more engineering effort than single ended. The parts really have to be a close tolerance. When these are separated with truly balanced equipment (using balanced cables) it does make a difference in dynamics and overall sound.
A lot of equipment uses a splitter(or a transformer) to separate the signal for balanced. In this case, balanced cables will not sound any better (if as good) as single ended. I think this is where a lot of the disagreement starts.
Ayre's own IC is very similiar to Cardas Golden Reference and is made by Cardas. It's a realitively warm cable but doesn't offer the see through quality I like.
Should be able to get into the Shunyata Altairs for this. I noticed several pairs are on Auction of Altairs and Antairs. The antair is more expesive but the bids haven't gotten very high yet. I own the Altairs and love them. I imagine these auction cables are probably new and for auction since Shunyata has reintroduced the inter connects and has a new line up now. Nothing at all wrong with the altairs or antairs though. Get them for a steel..

Hi Beerdraft,
Thanks for the interesting lead. The Altairs look indeed a bargain. Would you happen to know whether the XLR Altairs are a true balanced design, as Nrenter pointed out?

I think there is some confusion over how a balanced topology works (or perhaps your understanding just wasn't articulated well).

A balanced circuit is "one in which there are two identical signal branches connected so as to operate with the inputs in phase opposition and with the output connections in phase, each balanced to ground."

While you are correct that "positive" and "negative" is a misnomer, it would be better to describe it as "the signal" and "the mirror image of the signal". Each half of a balanced channel does not drive "half the cycle", but the "positive" amplifies "the signal" and the "negative" amplifies "the mirror image of the signal".
On the true balanced, I don't know. That would be a question for Shunyata. Email them on thier site and they will let you know. I don't use balanced. Some interesting threads on AK about how balanced is not good or something, I don't understand it but the equipment and the i-connect aren't matching correctly. Seems many are having problems with balanced and get better sound out of single ended. Don't know all about it and don't understand it though.

I am very surprised to hear you think that there are cable manufacturers who sell cables that are not balanced internally but are sold as balanced with XLR plugs. Can you name one instance where you have experienced this, or know it to be happening?
In balanced designs it is appropriate to sum the two signals into one and then split them again, at various points in the chain. This is how noise is cancelled by using balanced circuits, and it is a misconception that a fully balanced system keeps the in-phase signal separate from the out-of-phase signal throughout the audio chain. Splitting and recombining is part of the process and can be seen in top of the line Pro gear, as in domestic audio gear. It is true that some equipment is entirely single-ended and merely uses an inverter to split at the output to provide a balanced interface for cables. This is not inappropriate. Yes, it means there are no benefits of balanced operation within the component, and yes there is an added active stage on one leg at least, but having balanced drive on the cables can have its benefits. There is no simple and single right way to use balanced topologies.
Redkiwi, thank you very much for your comments.
You will most certainly never hear me say that some manufacturers apply XLR plugs to unbalanced cables and then claim they are balanced designs. However, I have read several times (including older A'gon threads) the simple statement that XLR-finish is not synonymous with balanced IC. Given I sometimes see one and the same cable offered with RCA-to-RCA, XLR-to-XLR or RCA-to-XLR at the purchaser's choice, it looked wise to explicitly inquire about the topology of any XLR-cable. Any additional thoughts from others posters on this?
I have no first hand experience, the Ayre-combo would be the first gear I'd like to use balanced IC's with. Which is precisely why I'd put a few big fat exclamation marks after the last sentence of your second posting as it summarizes the reason for my original question: Do owners of the same gear think it is wise/worthwhile/indispensable to go balanced. And then one more: Of the many brands and models available, which one seems the most rewarding, the most "right" if you want.
I am very surprised to hear you think that there are cable manufacturers who sell cables that are not balanced internally but are sold as balanced with XLR plugs. Can you name one instance where you have experienced this, or know it to be happening?
Well, I ordered an Origin Live Silver tonearm in a balanced configuration, and simply got a tonearm with single-ended cables and XLR connectors. Yes, the shield was used as the negative lead. Therefore, due to the noise picked up from the shield, I cannot run my Ayre P-5xe in balanced mode - the very reason I ordered the tonearm whe way I did.
My point was to indicate that you had two mirror image circuit paths for the signal in each channel. It does require more components matched with closer tolerances and a little more engineering. I guess I didn't do the best job of explaining that (it was late at night.) My point being that this type of circuit absolutely needs to be connected by balanced cables to get the most out of it. A great example is Ayre equipment which looses a little when run single ended vs. balanced.
True non-balanced equipment does not need balanced cables unless you have a noise problem and/or running long lengths.
At some point one just has to cut the knot, I suppose. I couldn't acquire some of the cables mentioned above within the budget I had set. Also, I read a few more reserved comments on the character of Cardas and, sadly, no reply from the German Ayre distributor. So I decided to be adventurous with this system and took advantage of a great offer for balanced Virtual Dynamics Nite II Reconditioned cable (ok, they look sooo cool with that twin double barrel of course). First impression is extremely positive, but I'm still working on this system. Luckily, I guess, this will remain a one source system, because I'm not so sure whether their Speed-Of-Light technology magnets would tolerate any other ICs next to them without sonic impact.