In my experience Nordost cables sound just as they look - thin.
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Good thread, Nocaster!
I will reiterate my belief that price has very little correlation to performance. Price is mostly related to what the market will bear, as opposed to material or usually, labor costs.
I personally know and recommend a cable that is the same EXACT cable as what a well known company charges 10X more for. What is the difference, beyond price? Basically, from what I see, the terminations - which are actually superior in the lower cost product.
And, as always, system synergy takes precedence over cost, make, model, etc. The Nordost didn't work in Nocaster's system as well as the Kimber Hero, but the opposite will be true in someone else's. Each audiophile needs to do both the homework and legwork to find out what is the route they should take.
I'm afraid that I have quite a contrarian view of the Kimber Hero interconnects. I've owned them since year 2000 & I personally think that they are a POS cable! Fat, bloated bass that sounds s-l-o-w. High freq are rolled off. The true midrange (I'm not talking about the upper midrange or lower midrange; rather the midrange midrange!) is the only freq. region that seems to be acceptable. I also own the DH Labs BL1 Series II & the VdH The First. Both cables handily beat the Kimber Hero. Anyway, the Hero is relagated to my HT setup. It could be that my components are more revealing thus they require a cable with much less/no colour of their own? I'm afraid that I do NOT think that these cables are "giant killers". F-A-R from it, in fact.
Also, on your comment to "strive for synergy" - you are headed down a path that couldn't be more wrong! If you continue to follow with air-headed philosophy you will be stepping onto a merry-go-round that will most probably leave you broke! After all the experimentation that I see in your future (unless you are iron-willed not to "upgrade" - I hope you are for your sake!) you will finally find that the most accurate system will be the most musical system. Trying to get system synergy is tantamount to hiding that component(s) flaws. When you change 1 of those components, you'll find that your system is broken & that you need to change 1 or more additional components! I.E. you need to find a new set of components that have system synergy! Can get very expensive & very disheartening & a good way to exit this audio hobby! When you buy a component that is colourless/least colour you'll find that it can stay practically forver in your system & that any other colourless component can match up to it & yet your system can/will sound musical.
I know that you didn't solicit this so if you think that this is a diatribe, ignore it. FWIW. YMMV.
One thing if you go to a local bar and order a drink and another thing if you go to Club 54 in NY and order the same drink.
The same drink will certainly taste same but the price will be different.
Everyone chooses it's own stop where to have a drink.
One would like to have a bunch of electronic extras inside ones car and preferably a gold watch on the dashboard another will be OK with basic standard package in the same vehicle.
The constant value is the distance between A and B for each of these vehicles.
As always, opinions will be all over the map. I happen to have had exactly the same experience as Bombaywalla with the Heros - bloated, slow, fuzzy - like stuffing cotton in your ears. I also had the same experience with Red Dawn - a little thin, but not waif thin. Moving up to the SPM reference is a BIG change in performance and body over the Red Dawn - in my opinion, that's where Nordost gets interesting... below, the products have some thinness that in some systems will be too noticeable. Then again, I replaced my SPM refs with Analysis Plus Crystal ovals for much less money, and get most of the same performance - just a little less extension high and low, but better pace and musicality.
Personally, I didn't find a Kimber Kable I liked until I hit the Select line (1010, 1011 - copper, and the cheapest of that line). I found their "lower end" or "heritage" series interconnects a rag-tag bunch.
Try a Signal Cable Analog 2 before you decide the Hero is the next David. You might find the Signal Cable betters the Hero, and for half the price. Then again, you may not!
I also pursue the "synergy" approach. Sometimes a component's coloration will make for a more pleasing sound. Bombaywalla leans toward neutrality and non-coloration, which is also valid - indeed, as I have found, that is often where I wind up most satisfied after trying to "steer" my system with particular components. But I will say, it's just as hard to try to achieve neutrality, because the flaws are evident in every component, and hardly anything that claims neutrality and non-coloration really is. Everything has a particular sound, just some are more noticeable than others.
In a way, I think shooting for neutrality is the same process as "steering for synergy" by using more colored components. Both are a merry-go-round. It's just how long you have to stay on it before you're satisfied, or dizzy - that differs for everyone, depending on your gear, your preferences, your luck, and how good your research is (ie. try to think out purchases rather than shotgunning.)
MWilson, I agree with you that most components that tout neutrality aren't. However, it has been my experience that the closer you get to neutral for the individual components, the easier it is to hit it systemwise, by using cables that are slightly + or - of neutral. Gross colorations need gross compensation, which is harder to achieve.
The drink, though the same, may taste quite different, depending where you drink it, and in what you drink it. Go figure....
I know the ICs I use (Harmonix Golden Performance) were a significant step up from my Cardas GR ICs, which were, at the time, a significant step up from my Lat Intertnational. The Harmonix, though pricey, (bought new-very hard, next to impossible to find used) are quite amazing. They are tuned, gorgeous, state of the art in construction and sonicaly what I've been looking for in an IC. The Harmonix GP is a GIANT... peace, warren