I think that cable upgrades anywhere in the system can give good benefits. I would say the earlier in the signal chain you can upgrade the cables, the better.
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Twl. Thanks for responding again. I think my question got lost in my muddled description. I am a believer in better cables for sure. What I am wondering is if I should be looking at a "phono cable" OR if a decent interconnect is as useful a route. The reason is cost. I can get a good IC easier and for a better deal than a phono cable. I saw a Graham IC-30 phono cable for $350 and for the same price I can get an almost new Acoustic Zen Matrix reference II. I realize the "tiny signal" compared to the cdp but will it make that much of a diffence.
I think that with a high output MC cartridge, you will be ok with a good quality interconnect. Input impedance of 47k ohms on the phono input is quite high, and with a HO cartridge, your signal level is not all that tiny. I'd say just to keep the length of the cable to the minimum required, and you'll be fine.
I am going to point you to the following site:
I agree with most of what he says.
A quote from the site follows:
"CAVEAT 1: Never assume a line-level cable will work equally well for the phono signal. My current recommendations should be considered an exception to this rule.
CAVEAT 2: Never assume the same phono cable will work equally well when it is going into a (low-impedance-100 ohm) step-up or the actual (high-impedance-47K Ohm) phono stage. These are very different loads.
The results described below are with the cable going from a step-up (transformer) into a phono stage. A cable going from the turntable into the transformer may have different results."
You can spend hours at this site and save yourself from thousand of $ worth of mistakes
get a set of interconnects at your nearest Home Depot, or the equivalent. Wire is wire, it conducts electricity. If you're in doubt, check with digital ohm meter. I know people say all kinds of stuff about capacitance, inductance, and the like, but it's voodoo. Another thing, have someone swap one of the expensive interconnects you have with something from Best Buy, one that you're not sure is which, and see if you can tell the difference. If it's really "night and day" you will spot it immediately. Even Sam Tellig gave in and recommended the 16.95 AR ones sold at Best Buy. Wire is wire as long as the connections are good
You may be right and all my experiments with lots of IC's may all be placebo effect but they have been pretty convincing placebos. Just last night I used a Harmonic Tech truth-link in the phono to phono amp then switched it for a HT pro-silway II and "heard" an immediate difference and promptly switched back to the all copper Truth-link because the balance was better. Works for me so...
I think, the phono cable is the most important one from the whole system ( when going serious into the cable 'mania' ).
I would choose a cable, which was designed for phono signals only, not a renamed standard RCA cable.
I use for example the Signature Phono Cable from XLO, in my opinion a timeless superior product.
Another - good - one is made from Hovland.
Sure are some good ones out there, but these 2 are excellent.