To Grogan, without starting another nuclear exchange on the forum, don't you think there is a more specific answer, that is, a more qualitative answer to this questions than a relativistic, see what happens approach????
To be perfectly honest, no, I do not believe there is a more specific answer. Sure, you can get lots of different opinions, but what does that do, other than add more confusion to subject. There are some who will use a $5000 source with any cables they find laying around, and there are those that will use $5000 interconnects with a inexpensive source. They will both tell you that their way works best. So what is the point?
I agree that cables can make a significant impact on the sound of a system. However, I will not say that there is a hard, fast rule for what an individual will like. Too much is based on the individual's personal tastes, not to mention synergy between different components.
Now if you were to search the archives about general characteristics about a certain cable, you would get a feel as to what others experiences have been. That being said, I have learned that their are a handful of members whose sonic tastes is similar to my own. Many others have had very different experiences, good and bad, with the same cables that I have heard in my own system.
Take your example, I have owned both the Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval 8 speaker cables and the Acoustic Zen Hologram II speaker cables. While I enjoyed the AZ immensely, I couldn't get the AP out of my system quickly enough. I did my research, and many talked about the AP's smooth tonal quality, which they do have, as does the AZ. However, the big difference for me was the soundstage. I found the AP to have a very forward soundstage, whereas the AZ had a much more relaxed, laid back soundstage. I prefer a laid back, mid-hall perspective, but I know many who enjoy that immediate presentation that the AP cables provide.
Nevertheless, I really think there is or must be a way of getting a handle on the performance level or synergy factor of cable performance, especially IC's instead of playing the hit or miss game.
You could be right here, but you have to do some homework. You need to identify the specific sound that you are looking for, do you prefer a warmer or cooler tonal balance? Which do you prefer, clarity from the quick attack of the note, or do you prefer to hear the note resonant and decay into the blackness? Do you prefer a immediate or a laid back presentation? Ask more specific questions and you will probably receive more specific answers. Ask general questions, you will get general answers.