Can Highend IC improve equipment downstream??

An audiophile friend made the following argument to me:

"Stop looking for a new CD player. With a very good to excellent high-end interconnect you will not only improve the performance of the CD, but other downstream components."

I had to disagree with my friend claiming a $400 or $500 IC is not going to first, magically transform the playback sound quality of a $1000.00 CD player, or secondly, also improve the sound quality of downstream components. Improvements might be just marginal or moderate.

It strikes me that every level of CD player is designed with a set performance goal accomplished by the quality of its parts and construction. There is limit to what it can do. Obviously, a $50 IC will not bring it to peak performance like a $350 to $500 cable. And, there may even be ICs in the $250 range that may get a player close to that goal Let us assume for this issue the components can ALSO be either separates or an integrated amp

Maybe, I am wrong and my friend is right. Nevertheless, I think my friend's argument is based more on selling me on the idea than qualifying his point.

I recall seeing in a recent thread about speaker cable recommendations where a member advised the poster to.... "change speakers first before going out and dropping a $1000 plus on new speaker cables" Obviously, the member felt that speakers of the poster were the weak link in the audio chain, not the cable on electronics.

Would like to hear pros and cons on this issue. Jim
This has ben argue ad nauseam, and while there is lots of debate, there is no clear answer. An interconnect, expensive, or inexpensive, will change the sound that you hear. Whether the difference is for the better, worse, or inaudible, only you can decide.

Some people think cables mean nothing, some people think cables are everything. They are all right, in their own minds. No one is right, and no one is wrong. You pays your money, you have to make your choices.
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???? And not because, and one wants to create the 10 commandments of buying IC's, or speaker cable

However, this is all I know from my limited experience with IC's. I can't remember the IC I used to connect my Rega Apollo to the Creek integrated I was then using 7 years ago. I had read, and later was confirmed by a member at Sound Organization, that the Chord, "Chameleon" IC would improve the sound. So I bought one used, and eureka it did sound better. I was gratetful for the tip.

Cable Experience #2. I had a pair of Analysis Plus Oval 12 speaker cables for almost 8 years, used with Vandersteen C-1; then with Prelude MK2; then with Acoustic Zen Adagios. It sounded good with all three speakers, but motivated either by instinct or buyer's insanity, I switched to the AZ Hologram II speaker cable( fire hose). Did it sound better with the Adagios, yes there was a great deal more inner detail, but in all truth, the former Audio Plus Oval 12, though a bit zingy at the top, sounded more natural or like music. It had what I call "twang" others may call it rymthmic.

Did I frantically e-mail the buyer of the Oval 12 cable, and pleaded to have my speaker cable back, and refund his money plus interest. Not a chance, I grew to like AZ HII more over time, but not to the point of being in love with it. I subsequently sold the cables, ONLY because dorky family members, including the cat were tripping over the speaker hose, and guests thought I was conducting some illegal electrical experiment because of the thickness of speaker cable

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. Also, the the Cable Company does not always have in stock what you may want to audition, and few dealers offer a thirty day "Peace of Mind" return policy.
02-28-14: Sunnyjim
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.
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I do believe the largest item that is over looked are the cables. You need to buy the best you can afford. Speaker cables can cost as mush as speakers. The wont improve any component, but they will strangle them.
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I'll come clean, I've paid a little more for speaker cables than for the speakers attached to them. That being said, most of that is because I got a HELL of a deal on the speakers (90% off list price). I've never used speaker cables with a list price more than my speakers, though some have come close. I do know some who have spent considerably more (over triple) on speaker cables than on speakers, and who swear by the results. It takes all sorts I suppose.
I suspect one can do better in the long run by cryoing existing cables and breaking them in on a cable cooker than by replacing them. No matter how much you have in the end you would have had even more if you had started off with more.
I've had some improvements with cable upgrades, but nothing like source component and speaker upgrades. IMO a point of diminishing returns on cable upgrades is reached rather quickly. So much snake oil out there, and expensive to boot.
Elizabeth is right. I almost went the Nordost Odin full loom route. I got a nice Mercedes instead, and have plenty left over.
I have a decent set up.
I accepted the reasoning that sourcing all interconnecting wires from the same "house" was a good idea.

I also reasoned that cheap throw away cables had no place in systems from mid fi on up.

Then I made some very unconventional interconnects of my own,using one run of solid core copper and one of sold silver,terminated in low fi RCA.

I never expected them to work let alone sound any good.

I expected either a lot of hum or no sound at all.
There is no shielding, no twisting wires for noise cancelations, no fancy coverings of space age materials,the wires have no coating, they are naked,with only a cotton wrap for covering.
They do not pick up any outside RFI,EMI and they are not affected with noise from nearby components and power supplies.
There is no difference in volume or tone from one channel to the other,they seem to be a perfectly matched pair, at least they do with my test gear-my ears.

Yet sound better than any of my other name brand and costly interconnects they do.

In fact their complete lack of noise is perhaps their most compelling trait.
Clarity has always been something I've strived for.
These are the most clear cables I've yet tried.
Very fast,top to bottom in frequency range, fatigue free,and no time delay, smearing that I am aware of.

These cables cost me next to nothing, they were an experiment,based on spare wire and connectors I had and ideas I've been kicking around.

They are not for sale, this isn't a plug.

It's just a tip for others to try DIY before you spend the big bucks .