Cables that are more enhanced than Acoustic Zen

I am needing to go into a biamp situation (solid state for woofers) and two sets for the top end - using a zero speltz impedance box in the chain (mid and highs - otl mono block tube amps) Since my current speaker wires are Acoustic Zen Satori shotgun bi-wires I will unfortunately need to move on and completely redo my speaker cables in my system.I might look at interconnects at the same time for addtional system synergy,

I've done a bit of reading in old threads but feel a new post for my current bi-amp situation would be appropriate

I really like the strengths of the Acoustic Zen speaker cables - I also have the original Matrix IIs. Tonally balanced - revealing yet warm, dynamic, good seperation of instruments and great soundstage both width and depth.

I play upright bass so reproducing the warm tones inherant to the instrument is critical

Some have said that Acoustic Zen sound a little grainy - I've heard elements of that on the interconnects, and swapped them out for Straightwire Crescendos, Purist Audio Aqueous 50th. The Crescendos may be just slightly veiled (very subtle) the PAD are very dark and lack a little dynamics but are tonally balanced (I hear their more expensive cables are not dark and lacking)

I haven't tried anything higher up the Acoustic Zen line. I usually stay away from silver - I am very sensitive to bright high freqencies (a few concussions along the way) -I have 16+k hearing. I've had Cardas golden cross but it wasn't dynamic enough and too warm.

Cables suggested were morrow, higher level pad,
The Nordost I've heard I didn't like. Clear Day I have never heard of. Anticables I didn't care for.

My equipment Galibrier Gavia (currently triplanar wiring), Doshi Aalap Preamp, audio research cd2, atma sphere ma-1 tube mono blocks to speltz zeros impedance converter, qsc bass amp, and Salk Soundscape 10 speakers,

What cables would you recommend that wouldn't be incredibly expensive and have a tonally balanced sound leaning to the warm side with great dynamics and soundstage?

I would need 10 ft runs to the bass drivers. Should I go shorter on the top end, and small lengths on the "jumpers" from the zeros to the speakers?

Morrow SP5's sound interesting

Anyone went from Acoustic Zen to another cable? Or higher up the AZ line?

Would like to stay under $1000 on a 10' pair
unless the next step up is jaw dropping
Obviously broken in used would be nice


Recommend you contact Acoustic Zen. The owner will separate and reterminate your shotgun bi-wires -- make them usable for biamping. He reterminated mine for a nominal fee.
I'll be interested to see the responses. Cables are a "black hole". I really like the AZ Matrix II and Hologram II stuff. The Silver Reference II is ok in small doses with the Matrix IIs. Tried the Absolute ICs and was not fond of them but perhaps they needed more break-in. Also tried cheaper stuff, DH Labs Revelation, and more expensive stuff, Synergistics top of the line active cables, (whatever they were called that week). Like you, I'm not a big fan of silver. One thing that totally made a believer out of me was an Audio Dharma cable cooker. I had hundreds of hours on my cables. I thought they were broken in. Boy did they all open up at no loss of the basic sound characteristics. Following the burn in, you could hear the back of the sound stage and futher - all the way into the parking lot! Big increase in clarity and reduction of noise. You might consider it.

I had a most unexpected, pleasant listening experience, earlier this year. I spent some time w/ an Audio Research, Magnepan system. Straightwire cabling/cords throughout.
The real kicker here (I am a cable/cord guy) was that the owner used the lowest level/cheapest cost Straightwire.

I must say, the sound was very good. IMO, with a little higher cable cost investment, that system would be excellent to outstanding.
Happy Listening!
Jburidan. - good point on having AZ reterminate the speaker wire.

Barry - nice system. Tri amping
I was looking at the Pass crossover but decided to get a volume adjusted solid state power amp for the woofers instead.

Nice to hear someone with an extensive system using AZ. I bet your Maggies purr.

Wow, that Audio Dhrama cable cooker isn't cheap. It's that good?
I went from AZ Hologram II to Morrow Audio SP4 and MA4 interconnects. Everything got better, deeper, faster, more balanced and no veils. YMMV!
Jburidan. - good point on having AZ reterminate the speaker wire.

Barry - nice system. Tri amping
I was looking at the Pass crossover but decided to get a volume adjusted solid state power amp for the woofers instead.

Nice to hear someone with an extensive system using AZ. I bet your Maggies purr.

Wow, that Audio Dhrama cable cooker isn't cheap. It's that good?
A couple of suggestions, yes, the PAD AA that you tried is a bit dark, the Venustas is much more resolving, as it uses some silver conductors, if you can find some used.

Also on the used market, you could try a pair of Tara Labs Air 1's or Analysis Plus Solo Crystal 8's.
Wow, a thousand bux for 10 feet of speaker cable? I find it hard to understand how that last 10 feet will mitigate the thousands of feet of cabling that were used in the original recording, mixing, and mastering phases. However, if that cable has been cooked properly, perhaps you can, indeed, mitigate the sonic holocaust that was introduced during the production stages.

I know that I was greatly releived to read the following:

RAPID, SUPERIOR BREAK-IN AND CONDITIONING ... conditions more thoroughly because the cabling is exposed to extreme signal levels and a special waveform that does not occur in normal system operation.

I am sleeping much better at night knowing that my cables have been greatly enhanced by the use of signals which will never be seen during normal operation. I guess it's kinda like improving the performance of my Mini Cooper's internal combustion engine by burning thru a tank of avgas every once in a while - whew!!

But let's get back on-topic: Personally, at first I was *very* concerned that I might damage my cables' fragile electrons by making them carry a signal for which they were never designed. Not to mention asking them to move both backwards AND forwards during playback.

And, when you really think about it, this is even more deeply troubling if said cables are directional - what would it do to the depth of the soundstage if I forced a forward-moving electron to suddenly come to a screeching halt and then have to move backwards? Wouldn't this leave behind little electronic skid marks inside the cable?

And, again thinking logically, wouldn't this cause a "smearing" of the sound as the remaining perfectly good electrons have to slow down and then go out of their way to avoid these sheared-off bits? Also, is it easier to avoid a 1 or a 0? I'm betting the 1s are easier to avoid, they are a bit narrower.

Nonetheless, *surely* this would cause the signal to slow down much the same as you have to slow down when trying to avoid all those bits of tire thrown off by an 18-wheeler when one of its tires explodes. There is NO way that could be good for the clarity and cleanliness of the original signal, that's for sure!!

I tell ya, this electricity stuff is downright scary to anyone who takes the time to really sit down and analyze it scientifically...

I've been using Satori shotgun biwires for a while as well, and though I've had several others in here I keep coming back to the AZs for their balance of strengths. They're detailed enough to keep me interested and let me know what's going on in a recording, but they're not overly so and they allow tonal colors to come through and sound organic and natural in the process. Not to say they're near the best in any of these categories, but I think it's their balance and natural presentation that keeps me coming back to them. I mention this because you seem to like them for some of the same reasons, so maybe re-terminating them might be a good option if it's cost-effective. Then again this would seem to be an oportune time to try different cables, but in your price range I can't think of anything off the top of my head to recommend. Morrow might be worth a try since someone above preferred them to the Holograms and there's a nice trial period.

I'm a little confused by your interconnects. The Matrix Ref. IIs were not the originals. I find the original version to be quite a bit warmer, fuller, with less detail up top than the Matrix Ref. IIs. I have found using the Silver Ref. IIs from source to pre and original Matrix Refs from pre to amp to be a nice pairing. It preserves most of the warmth and tonal richness of the Matrix Refs while adding a nice bump in transparency, air, bass tightness/speed, transient snap, image focus, and soundstaging without going too far (at least for my tastes). If that sounds like characteristics that might benefit your system/tastes you might consider giving it a try.

Hope this helps, and best of luck.
It's reassuring to hear that many others like the AZ sound
Soix - I actually have Matrix 1 and Matrix II and you are right, the 1s are warmer - a great sound.

Tom 6897 - were the Morrows slightly better or a real eye opener? Are they slightly warm and full bodied like the AZ?

Jafant - I won StaightWire Crescendo - a very nice interconnect.

I was considering the Morrow SP5s and MA5s from all the posts I have read here. Is there an ideal tipping point in their line?: They have a trial period so what is there to lose.

THe $1000 was a max, the PAD stuff gets pretty expensive
Reterminating and trying out some other cables seems more reasonable

keep the insights coming
I owned several AZ cables over the years and found them to be very good and quite enjoyable, but I've since moved on to Wywires which I prefer significantly.

I'd suggest taking advantage of their risk free trial to see if you enjoy them as much as I do.
Audiotomb, I replaced neutral sounding Audioquest King Cobra ICs (copper) with AZ Absolute (silver+1%copper). Sound is still very neutral but more refined. There is no brightness but everything sounds cleaner and faster. Instruments have more natural timbre and background seems "darker". I don't know how it would compare with other high end ICs (King Cobra is inexpensive) but perhaps you could give it another try. I use the same Satori Shotgun speaker cables. Not exactly warm but slightly emphasize lower midrange where my class D amp sounds lean.
Music signals also cause electrons to move in both directions in a cable. Music signals are basically many ac signals combined together. Only dc will cause electrons to move in one direction only. Playing music thru the cables will break them in just fine
I have used the Matrix Ref II ic's, amp to preamp and cd to preamp for years and wonder about a replacement sometimes. I do also use the JW Audio Cyro Nova speaker cables and a pair of ic's DAC to preamp. They're good and inexpensive.
You might look in Neotech's direction. Word has it that Neotech makes AZ. Just what I heard.
Tom, FWIW my perspective on this is that by far the most important criterion in your cable selection process is likely to be the need to mitigate the differences I suspect you will encounter in tonality, coherence, etc., between the QSC amplifier and the Atmasphere amplifiers.

Therefore my suggestion is that before investing in any expensive speaker cables you assess the new configuration using whatever cables you can get your hands on inexpensively. Then determine what you need to accomplish sonically, to optimize coherence between those obviously very different amplifiers. Hopefully you would then be able to get suggestions that focus on your specific needs.

And to RW, I can't stop laughing :-) Thanks!

-- Al

Good point on wiring up the amps and seeing the differences

The woofers are rolled off at 39 hz so hopefully it won't be a big issue

Anyone used Clear Day speaker wires?

I In my system I noticed that the Morrow cables were slightly less warm... more neutral, which is what I strive for. I found them to be faster and more transparent offering greater resolution to my system as a whole. Soundstage width and depth were also enhanced.
The woofers are rolled off at 39 hz so hopefully it won't be a big issue.
Hi Tom,

Not sure, then, that I understand what the configuration is that you will be going to. From the description of the SoundScape 10:
We had, for many years, loved the woofer used in our HT3’s. So when it came time to select a woofer for the SoundScape design, we turned to John Janowitz at Acoustic Elegance. John helped us design 10” and 12” woofers that provide the bass extension we desired along with the smooth upper end response, allowing us to cross to the midrange around 300Hz.
If I correctly understand what you are intending to do, the concern would be optimization of coherence in the area of that 300 Hz frequency. The 39 Hz rolloff has no relevance to that.

-- Al

sorry I left off a decimal place
390 hz roll off

I wish speaker wire prices would leave off a decimal place
$500 would go a long way
the cable company is suggesting Cardas Clear Light

I had Cardas Cross or Golden Cross 10 years ago and I thought it was too warm, over bloomed in the midrange and lacked dynamics

they told me the pad venustas wouldn't be my cup of tea if I found the Aqueous Anniversary dark

5% is a lot to put down especially if you end up being stuck paying close to retail

I know, you must have it in the system to fully evaluate it's synergy

I thought about the 60 day trial cables like Morrow or Clear Day but I hate to sample in not fully good faith and with the very limited time the cable company gives you, that's feels like speed dating

also any Audio Dharma cable cooker converts? I'd be interested in your comments
Search the archives, I believe there are many there who would disagree with the cable company's claim that the Venustas is as dark as the Aqueous. Venustas is silver-plated copper, Aqueous is gold plated copper, big difference in my opinion.

Have you considered the Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval 8 cables? Another reco would be Tara Labs, Air 1, The One or The Two, whichever falls in your price range.
doing a little research and contacting members
I went with Crimson speaker cables made in the UK and distributed by Austin HiFi.

I heard nothing but great things about the Crimson calbles
Creston at Austin HiFi is great to deal with

looking forward to the evaluation
from what I've read these are incredibly resolving, tonally balanced, no grain or cable "signature".

the break in is much faster than some other cables I was looking at in the general price / sonic range

thanks for your insights

will report back in with mine