Mike- Contact Ralph at Atma-sphere (a'gon member atmasphere). His customer service is unparalleled and he can provide some very specific advice on recommended (very modest cost) cables. OTOH, its possible that you are accustomed to a lush sounding 845 amp.
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Rest assured that transistors are the last thing an Atma-Sphere amp will sound like. That said, they tend to be transparent to sources and reveal rather than mask the character of what is upstream. I don't intend any criticism, its just that assuming nominal operation from the S-30, that may be where to look.
One consideration: your amp's stock Chinese 6SN7s are generally rugged and quiet however to some ears they can sound a wee bit edgy compared to alternatives. They're not bad, but there are, imo, better choices. On each amp there are one or two 6SN7 per channel that have the most sonic impact - the location varies w/ each A-S amp. Find out those locations for your S-30 - just shoot Ralph an e-mail. Decent NOS can make a real difference; welcome to the world of 6SN7s. Here is a good place to start. Ken-Rads, Sylvanias, and RCAs tend to yield happiness with A-S amps.
You may also want to explore the OTL forum on the Asylum. It is a nice resource for Atma owners. Looking there you'll probably find that Atma-Sphere amps and ESLs tend to be synergistic. Don't despair, you'll get this resolved.
I suppose I could have addressed the cable question - d'ya think? (f/x: head smacking). Assuming a true balanced preamp with balanced outputs, an inexpensive option is Mogami 2534 cabling with XLR connectors between pre and S-30. There are lot's of places on the Web that will make these for you in short order, might even find them premade on Amazon. Price for a pair should be less than $75.
With the Atma-Sphere S-30 the front row of 6SN7 tubes will have the most influence on the sound. I use Raytheon VT-231 tubes in this position. You could also experiment with the back row of tubes as well, but to me it is a less significant influence on the sound. That said I use Sylvania 6SN7 GTB tubes in this position. Depending on my mood I leave the Chinese tubes in the middle row or I use shorting plugs that Ralph made for me in place of the tubes. The shorting plugs drop the gain of the amp 12 dB. To me this makes the biggest difference in the performance of the amp in my system.
The amp is very transparent and should match up well with your Quads. As for your preamp, Ralph has indicated many times that the most difficult role for the preamp to fulfill is to control the interconnect. Does your preamp support the 600 ohm standard for balanced operation? If so, then you should not be able to hear any difference swapping interconnects between the preamp and amp.
As others have mentioned speak to Ralph. He is extremely helpful in matters such as this. Personally I don't think cables are the solution.
I would look into 2 brands of power cords - Magnan, and Tg Audio - both were recommended by Duke @ Audio Keneisis? (sorry bout the spelling :) for use with Atmasphere stuff (with Soundlabs too I think)... You could try the Asylum cable as a inexpensive way to get your stage back, yet also tone it down a hair, as that cable can be a little more reserved than some others. The Asylum cable doesn't do anything wrong (which compared to most power cords, is saying something)- it just doesn't inject life into anything either. I find it a good baseline (that and the aforementioned Volex cords often used in the Asylum recipe).
Thanks for all your responses. The preamp manufacturer has not verified whether he supports the 600 ohm standard.
When I swapped the balanced out interconnect with another silver over copper interconnect, the sound is more detailed and harsh in the upper mid-range and treble.
I think I am going to try the TG Audio power cord.
What is Asylum cable? Sorry, I am not familiar with this one.
I will also try the Tungsol NOS 6SN7 tubes in the front row of the S-30.
Ralph at Atma-Sphere personally recommends the Mogami Gold balanced cables for his amplifiers which will cost you very little. I got mine from Guitar Center. There is no reason to spend more.
I also own an S-30 and listen to the advice above about tubes. Buy the right NOS tubes for the 6SN7's, and the amplifier becomes an entirely different beast. You will not experience the fatigue you mention, and everything will be enhanced.
When I had my M-60 amps I used XLO Reference Series. The Atma-Sphere amps have no coloration, they "sound" very straight, the XLO were a good match, they have an excellent high frequency area, that combination was really good.
When you want to save money, I also had some cables from "SignalCable" at that time. Excellent performance for their price, available in copper or silver. When you go for these, order them with Eichmann Bullet Plugs, excellent signal transfer based on their grip and contact area.
My guess is that it is related to speaker cables.
It is unclear on the exact model and length that you are using. But I would suggest shorter cables.
Example if you are using the aural symphonic purples these will likely have high capacitance due to the twisted and braided design. This could cause the amp to be bright.
Also, in the Atmasphere manual it states that speaker cables can have a "rather dramatic effect"