Last year I put in an MIT digital cable in place of a cheapo RCA cable I had been using between my Pioneer PD65 and Manley DAC. This was only a home trial from the MIT cable dealer so I had nothing to lose. But I was quite surprised to hear greater distinction between each note in the music with the MIT cable. I have read from the Audiogon forums that smearing is one artifact greatly reduced with digital cable and transport upgrades. The cable change here convinced me of this. I will not even begin to spectulate what happened here but my ears told me it was a definite improvment. After swapping cables a few times, I knew it was for real. Oh well, another $350 spent on a cable but it was well worth the improvement. And it was not subtle.
It is true. Cables make a HUGE difference. That's why all the fuss about them, don't you think ? That's why there are hundreds of cable manufacturers out there. Another reason is the big profit of course. But when listening to different cables you will see that each of them has a personal character. Others are neutral, others are not, but could be the one which makes your system sound nicer. I recently replaced my Yamamura 5000 (digital-coaxial) with a very cheap one just for fun. The result was not so bad as I expected but after a while I just couldn't listen to my system. I was bored to death ! (For the history the yamamura 5000 costs about $800/m and the cheap one about $0.5/m )
Just a suggestion, call The Cable Company at 1-800-fatwyre and ask to talk to John. They have a library where you can check out cables and audition them for a week. I had (still have) the MIT Digital Reference that cost $350.00 for eight years. Last summer I started to upgrade, and started with the the DAC and digital cable since computers have progressed so much. I'd always read how good the Kimber D-60 was, so John sent me one and told me that I needed to decide if I wanted to hear music or detail, because there is a difference. He told me that the D-60 at $290.00 was a great detailed cable while the Accoustic Zen MC Squared at $300.00 is a great musical cable, just to name two of many that he has. I really liked the D-60 because I have played music for years and like to hear what each instrument is doing. Right when I was ready to order the D-60. John threw a new cable at me, the Stereovox HDXV for an introductory $75.00 before Jan.1, 2004, and $100.00 afterwards. It is made by the same guy would made the D-60, Chris S., and is even better than the D-60 he made 10 years ago, for only $100.00. Call John, the website is www.fatwyre.com, they carry tons of cables and you can audition them all. Not to knock the MIT Digital Reference, which was the very best I found in my search eight years ago, it's outdated now with the more precise technological studies. I tried to sell it and trade it, and no one was even interested in it. If you want it, send me $20.00 and I'll send it to you. It's a lot better than any stock cable, and for $20.00 you can't lose. Please call John though, the Stereovox HDXV is worth checking out, and for $100.00 you really have nothing to lose. At www.audiopoints.com, they sell Sonoran Plateau cables that are shielded with special microsteel beads. Their digital cable is about $500.00, but it sounds really good too.
Wanted to add something because I just looked at your system. Right before Christmas I traded in my Krell KRC-3 pre-amp and KSA-50S amp for a Musical Fidelity A308cr pre-amp and amp. My speakers are B&W Silver Signatures. I also traded in my Conrad-Johnson D/A-3 DAC on the Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista 21 DAC to use with my Theta Data Basic transport and Stereovox HDXV digital cable. Sound familiar? I then replaced every cable (interconnect, speaker, digital, and power) with the Sonoran Plateau series after auditioning everything I could get my hands on from The Cable Company that cost $75.00 - $1500.00. I went with the Sonoran cables because I heard more music and better detail than I'd ever heard in my life, and I'm 50 years old. The Sonoran Plateau series cables from AudioPoints are only $500.00 a set, so they're really not THAT expensive considering some others out there. I had Synergistic Research power cables (the original ones) and tried the new SR Active one that was the quietest, nicest one I've ever heard. I just went with the Sonoran power cables because they were really good too, and I got a deal buying the whole group together. By the way, where did you get your Theta Data Basic II? It's supposed to be quite a bit better than my Data Basic. Have a good day. Chuck
One more thought and one more question. I have every piece of my equipment spiked with the Audiopoints in a Michael Green rack. The B&W's are spiked with the Audiopoints, too. It makes a noticeable difference in the tightness of the sound. What did you think of the A308cr CD player as a transport vs. the Theta Data Basic II? The used Theta has to be a lot cheaper, and I can't see the advantage of spending more for the MF 308cr CD player to get the transport. I emailed Signal Path and they said: "I get this question a lot. The fact is, the DAC in the 308 adds very little to the overall cost of the unit, so we still recommend the 308 as a great transport as well. You still get choke regulation with the 308 used as a transport and you will love it. You are correct in that the 308, due to it's mass and top end Sony transport makes a better transport that the 3.2." It's hard to believe a DAC with upsampling is a minor part of the $3000.00 price.
Well Chuck as you know building a system is shall we be kind, interesting. I hate the MF 308CR player as a transport, it is bright and harsh I did a side by side listening aginst the Theta. The Theta rocks (Picked up mine used here on AudioGon) the music is still very detailed but much warmer with none of the harshness. The reason I say take the system as a whole is the slightest detail makes a difference as you know. I am not really looking for cable sugestions just experiences I really like my SR's its just that I went from a burned in digital corridor cable down to the Phase II cable (350.00).
I did some listening this morning, it is smoother, still harsh in some Celine Dion passages and quiet bright. I know the upgrade to the SR Coridor will fix the problem and give me what I had back which was oh so musically sweet. Due to having my grandson in the house I have been unable to burn the cable in. I started today as it is now just my wife and I again. It is my hope that after 3 or 4 hundred hours the cable will come into its own. As everyone knows one must be patient when adding or upgrading. After 3 months I am down to speaker positioning, room treatments and other tweeks I am running stock power cords no spikes on my equipemnt or my speakers, they topple to easilly with a 2.5 year old and 2 dogs. I have a solution designed but I need time to implement it. I didn't do alot of listening when I built my system but all in all I am really happy with it.
My hope is that people will post their experiences with just digital cables so others can develop a new understanding that all the theory in the world doesn't seem to matter in the END it is the sound that matters.
My cable education started when a friend of mine took me over to listen to his system and he talked about cables. Being an ex-technician along with one of my counter parts we were going there should be no difference. You can get into conductor purity, extrusion quality, freq response curves, skin affect and the rest of the theory. In the end it is the sound that matters and as we all have learned different cables even sound different in different systems.
Remember to take the system as a whole.
Chuck from my experience with the MF gear your system should rock. I tried 4 units as transports the Basic II is by far the best.
Thanks Michael! I'm glad to hear about the Theta against the Musical Fidelity. One thing that I don't understand is the transports, since they should just be reading and sending the data. You know, if you just put the CD on repeat, you can get 168 hours of burn-in a week on that cable. You can turn the amp off if you want, too, so it won't bother anyone. When I was talking to Chris S. about his new cable, he told me something about cables that I never really thought about before. Most people think it's the wire, silver, copper six or seven 9's pure, etc., that the main thing about a cable. The wire itself is not any more important than the connectors and the connection from the connector to the wire. If the signal can't get to the wire from the transport, and then from the wire to the DAC, it doesn't matter if the wire is the most perfect wire ever made.
A few years back I talked to the designer at Aural Sym. He said the same about the termination. I have a Theta data 3,and I use Syn Re.'s 1k aes/ebu--with active X. At that price I have to keep it for 30 or 40 years.--Jeez, I hope a hundred dollar cable don't smoke it.------
Chuck they are correct, being a certified 2M tech the solder joint to the connections can make a huge difference. But digital is digital, we dont have to worry about phase relationships between channels, or skin affect just the cables ability to transfer the signal from point a to b. If you look at the quality of the digital pulse at the output of the source on an Oscope that will give you a good indication of transient response pulse shape and timing of the signal all of which the dac needs to see to convert the digital signal to analog.
I swear I wasnt going to do this, that is what the why do digital cables sound different is for.
Ok most importantly is the solder joint at the connections of the cable (as long as the connector has a solod and not loose connection) A partially cold joint will create massive problems, a bubble in the solder joint will deform the signal, it takes a proper tinning of the wire and a good fillet as well as a good quality solder to make a proper joint. Two cables of the same brand can sound differently (and the connection is the reason why)
It is about the sound and only the sound nothing but the sound it doesn't matter about the theory it is the sound that such sweet music, to hear a vocal that is crisp and clear, the location of the drum stick on the snare or symble, the guitar manufactures distinct sound of the instrument, being able to tell the pressure used on the piano keys or which pedal is being used, the pressure on the reed of a wind instrument, Tim Weisburg on the flute and not so much as a hickup as he plays. The music is why we all spend thousands and thousands that such sweet sound.
Rember to take the system as a whole.
I am just getting back into the game, Theory dictates that there has to be current flow and not knowing how the DAC is designed I am going to guess that without the amp on and providing current to the speakers there can be no current flow through the system. I am curious to get audioengineers take on this.