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I have had excellent results with ClearDay single ended interconnects. These are all silvers, but are very neutral and musical to say the least. Besides Paul from ClearDay will send you one to test in your system, without any credit card. Just reach out to him and let him know what you would like to audition. Good Luck.
Agree with the Clear Day IC's. I own several pairs and they embarrass many, more expensive cables. They'll bring out the best of you CJ gear that's for sure. Very open revealing cables. Kimber KCAG is a very nice cable and you can pick them up used around $500, but I'd go with the Clear Days and either save the difference or pick up a couple pairs. If you can find a used pair of WyWires Silvers that's a nice step up from the Clear Day Cables, but they don't come up for sale used often. Good luck.
I currently have the Audience au24se interconnects and they are very good. I've demoed others under 1000 and these were my favorites. They are very fast, dynamic and neutral. I have tubes in my system and they were my personal favorites at the 1000 point. I did demo the Wywires silvers and slightly preferred the audience au24se in my system although in another system the Wywires might be better. For around 500 the SE's are a great value.
From my experience, I would highly recommend you try out either used Tara labs air 1's, or Zu audio mission (new) or even better Zu audio event (if you can find used) which should all be within your budget and provide an amazing value for money. I have yet to hear IC in that price range that even come close to these. But, there are so many different cables out there that I never heard... :-)
If you are on a budget and know how to use a soldering iron then DIY is the way to go. Use AWG 16 gauge fine silver wire dead soft (Riogrande) and untreated cotton sleeve as dielectric. Go for best termination plugs pure silver (WBT or KLE). Kimber's top of the line Select interconnects don't even come close!
I agree that the SX is better than the SE as I've demoed them also but I believe whinoman is asking for around $500 or so dollars. The SX are much more than that as they are new, even demo pairs are around $1300.
I'm considering upgrading to the SX but of course it depends on if I want to spend that much extra money. This is always the decision in audio when deciding if you want to upgrade.
Several Years ago when I had a CJ CV12 preamp I used MAC silver cables with good results. Currently I too use Clear Day ICs with my Odyssey system including a tubed preamp. Very nice combo. But I did test drive the Ohno and Purist Vestas. WhileI thought the Ohnos were thin sounding the Vestas were beautiful, musical. They run around $300. I had two sets testing between dac-pre and Pre-amp. Ultimately I went with the Clear Day for additional detail but if you are looking at musicality vs detail with less musicality the Purist were really something. I can only imagine as you go up the line. I tested both through the cable company. May went to test two pair of each to put get the full picture. Regards.
As someone who goes into almost every cable A/B test skeptical that I will hear any differences, I usually end up convinced that I hear some differences only to be left wondering if it matters. Recently I borrowed the Audience au24se XLRs and couldn't believe how veiled my system became. I looked at the terminals and the connections just to be sure there were no issues there and all seemed well. Left-Right was identical. Extremely disappointing compared to my Audioquest Columbia 2m balanced ICs.
I know you're asking about SEs and not XLRs, but I still believe this is a worthwhile data point whether it be related to build quality, design philosophy, etc. Disappointing is disappointing. When I compare expensive ICs I don't expect to hear that.