There are many good ICs, but my favorite is the Synergistic Research Phase 2, Luminesence and Kaleidoscope with active shielding. The active shielding was a worthwhile upgrade over the already good Phase 2s. It especially improved soundstaging without impairing tonal balance.
These ICs are detailed without being relentless, have excellent tonal balance, and I think are neutral to slightly warm (my preference). I also use Syn. Res. speaker cables and power cords, and have wondered if there really is a synergy among their products. Cheers. Craig.
To save on space, read my preamble to your question about speaker cables. Most of my comments -- and philosophy -- about speaker wire also applies to interconnects. Way too much snake oil and mumbo-jumbo passing for empirical evidence. For my money, the various models of interconnects being sold by HomeGrownAudio are among the best on the market today, AND they are quite reasonably priced (as wire products go). They also pass one of the most important strictures that doctors must abide by when treating patients: first, do no harm. Over the past 6 months, I re-wired my entire audio / HT system, replacing my AudioQuest cables with HomeGrownAudio Super Silver and Silver Lace IC's. Been VERY pleased, and it didn't cost the king's ransom. The Silver Lace DIY kit, for example, costs $140. In my opinion, there is NOTHING that competes with it at that price. I can only say that in my system, the HGA cables sound great -- in other words, they have nearly no sound of their own that I can identify.
I'm very skeptical on silver. I still think high quality copper is what most systems were designed for. I have had great luck with TMC cables. They sell them factory direct from Australia and you can either bid on them here or negotiate prices directly with the owner King. hey have locking (WBT-type) RCAs and are quite stiff. They sound dead silent and are wonderfully dynamic without noticable coloration. As you can probably tell, they are by far the best cable I have heard at home (though I have never used $500+ interconnects). They go in the $100-180 range for one-mater cables. The whites are for component to pre-amp and the Yellows for pre-to power. My system is and ARCAM CD, Musical Fidelity A3cr pre and power and Magnepan 1.5/QRs.
Brown Electronic Labs (BEL). Reasonably priced ($200/1M). Trounce most cables costing 5 times as much. Check out the reviews.
Acoustic Zen Silver Reference. 1 meter. It transfers the emotion of the performers to you with a perfectly balanced sound.
System used in:
* Musical Fidelity HT600 5 channel amp w/ Acoustic Zen Silver Reference interconnects,Yamamura Quantum power cord.
* B&K AVP3090 pre-amp w/ Harmonic Technology Pro-11 AC power cord)
* Sony DVP-9000ES SACD/DVD player (w/ Acoustic Zen Silver Reference(analogue) & MC2 (digital)interconnects, and an Acoustic Zen Tsunami pc)
* B&W Nautilus 805 speakers w/ matching stands, HTM-2 center, LM-1 surrounds (w/ H. Tech Pro-9 plus bi-wire cables)
* REL Strata III subwoofer , XLO custom Neutrik Speakon conector and DH Labs BL-1 for 5.1 out, and H. Tech Pro-11AC pc)
* Denon MD-1000 Minidisc recorder (H. Technology Truthlink interconnects, and Audio One "Reference" toslink cable )
*Musical Fidelity A3 Tuner
* Toshiba 40X81 Widescreen HDTV (Monster component cables)
* Monster HTS-3500 power center
* Salamander Synergy Systems rack
* Hubble 8300i outlets
I have tried many interconnects including Nordost SPM and Cardas...but for single ended RCA my absolute favorites are Pure Note Signature. I haven't heard them myself yet, but I have been told that the new Pure Note Epsilons are even better (if that is possible).
I agree with Craig regarding the Synergistic rec. I'm hardly golden-eared but have found the Resolution Reference Phase II to be quite neutral. I later noted with interest that Stereophile agrees with my neutrality experiences. In my search for system synergy, a number of components have come & gone at my house, but these interconnects remain. They are 1 meter lengths with RCA ends; 2 meter length didn't sound quite as good though. I even bought a couple pair of Looking Glass-II to use for tuner & aux. functions. Adding the active shielding power supply (Master Control Center II) greatly enhanced staging & even bettered bass control a noticable amount. It sounds best when powered by a (guess what) Synergistic Designers Reference Squared AC cord, as does my Accuphase preamp, so the synergy question may have some vaildity although I use some high-$ MIT speaker cables with it all.
CD is an EAD Ultradisc 2000, P.A.'s are McCormack DNA-1, Ayre V3, Perreaux 350.
I think that covers all of your questions. The Synergistic interconnetcs don't 'blow you away' they just get 'out of the way' which is what impresses me.
Now what are YOUR interconnect experiences, Mr. Wentereprises?
having tried many different brands of interconnects,cardas,harmonic tech,acoustic zen,audio tekne,synergistic reference,purist audio and most recently xlo limited edition and nordost 'valhallas the last 2 are defininely in a small group of interconnects that can be labled 'the best money can buy'.they truly allow the signal to be presented unaltered or colored.i use the xlos and valhallas( and valhalla speaker cables ) with my current system of 2-aloia amps,aloia preamp,scd-1,dodson 217mkIId dac and piega p10 speakers (biamped).the cable company will,for a fee, allow you to try these and other cables in your system.it will allow you to see how good your system can sound.
Try Highwire cables, they will make you smile and save your pocket book.
47 Labs. This cable is amazing, it blew away everything I compared it to (once broken in) and shattered all my ideas about what cable was suppose to look like too. There has been a long ongoing discussion about it elsewhere on Audiogon Forum. You have to assemble it yourself (you just get a spool of cable and ends) but for the amount of wire you get, one can safely say this stuff is relatively cheap too.
Another recommendation for the 47 Laboratory Stratos OTA's.
These things are freaky-good.
Every other IC or cable I've ever owned ,begged or borrowed sound ponderous,incoherent,
coloured and veiled by comparison.
Has anyone tried the 47 Labs interconnects wired in a balanced configuration? As far as I can tell, the kit only includes RCA jacks (for unbalanced interconnects).