I owned or borrowed Audio Quest, Cardas cross & and Golden Reference, Harmonic Tech and finally arrived at the IC-70. I required a very flexible phono cable to deal with the spring suspension of my upgrade to Oracle Delphi MKV and as my componants moved to all tubed the Cardas was too coloured for my tastes. I find the IC-70 along with Shunyata elsewhere to be the best match for my ears. Neutrality, speed and quite musical.
I had a Graham IC 50 running it on a SME 20/2 with SME IV.Vi arm. Before the Graham, I had a Van den Hul silver cable of some sort. The Graham was much more detailed, more quiet, a definite upgrade. However, there was a thinness in the mids. I only noticed this after I tried a hovland music groove. I like it better...more warm, but doesn't sacrifice the detail. This could all be system matching, and in your setup the Graham might be just fine. Also, I bought the Graham new, and the Hovland used, maybe the Graham wasn't broke in as much-although I used it for several months.
I've heard great things about the Nordost Quattro Fil and the Purist cables, but have no personal experience.
Purist Venustas, hands down!
I use XLO Phono Signature with that Arm.
It is better than the Graham cables.
I and a friend,both,upgraded our ic-30's to ic-70,at the same time.The difference was a clearly dramatic improvement in overall performance.As for the slight "thinning"that some may have experienced from this,I would bet that the improved resolution yielded the fact that the fluid level in the bearing was not at the ideal point.This would result in a "thinning" out of harmonic textures.The ic-70 upgrade would make this clearly apparent.That fluid level is UNBELIEVEABLY CRITICAL for first rate performance from the 2.2.As for the PURIST cable I am EXTREMELY interested in exploring whether this could be a credible improvement,since I have heard that their cable is FANTASTIC,but I have no experience with it.If Nsgarch could elaborate on this I and some others, that I know would be most appreciative!
I agree fully with SS with respect to the damping fluid. I almost gave up on my 2.2 before critically experimenting with the fluid level.
First here's a copy of the email I sent Jim Aud of Purist after I got back from CES where I picked up his "show" set of Venustas phono cables -- his personal broken-in set! If I tell you what I paid, you'll throw up, so we won't go there!
Hi there Jim,
I enjoyed spending a little time with you and Kimberly at CES. It's been a long while since an audio component totally blew my mind, but the set of Venustas phono cables I bought from you really did it. I have a pretty good system (see attachment) but the analog section never gave me the goose bumps I thought it should. I was even thinking about getting a Colibri cartridge to replace my Frog, but not now! I suppose the set of Venustas IC's I got to connect the ML 25s phono preamp to the ML 26s preamp helped too, but I know it was the phono cables that knocked my socks off!
I'm buying a pre-owned pair of 25 foot Venustas XLR's to go from the preamp to the amp, and I'll eventually replace the Virtuoso speaker cables. As an old time audiophile ( I did research on stereophonic perception at MIT, ca.1963!), I've heard it all, from snake oil, to the truly inspired. And I know how much work goes into creating a really exceptional audio product with performance improvements that are obvious to everyone who hears it.
Nice goin' Jim!
Neil Golden AIA
More explanation below, but first, here's my system:
Preamp....... Mark Levinson 26s
Phono Preamp.... Mark Levinson 25s
Amp (driving CLSII-z's full range)....Mark Levinson 23.5
TT..Goldmund Studietto with JVC quartz-controlled motor
Arm...SME V just rewired internally at the factory with van den Hul MCS-150M
Cartridge.......vdH Frog Gold Mk-2
CD transport.....Wadia T2000-S w/heavy duty Teac mechanism.
DAC..............Wadia 1000 X-64.4 Digimaster
Tuner.....Technics ST 9030 upgraded by Ryan Huizenga.
Speakers: Main...Martin-Logan CLSII-z, Sound Anchor stands.
Low frequency... Martin-Logan Depth
Cables -- IC's...Straightwire -- Maestro II, Virtuoso
Madrigal -- CZ Gel
Purist Venustas -- IC, Phono cable
I've had most of this system for 15 years, with minor changes, mostly the subs (Wilson Puppies > Kinergetics SW 800 > ML Depth) and cables, so I know what it sounds like.
I've always used the vdH phono cables that came with my arm 15 years ago, but last summer, I had the arm serviced in England and "splurged" $250 for a new set of vdH Silver-Hybrid phono cables. (A "person" at Sumiko told me he didn't like those and personally preferred the Cardas
Golden Reference phono cables. When the new vdH cables didn't sound much different from the old ones, I thought, "well, if I see some Cardas at a good price, maybe I'll try 'em" And of course the Hovland started making news, along with (what I hear) an amazing cable from Silvercable. They're all about $600 +/-.
I hadn't heard a lot about Venustas, but all of what I heard was rave! So when I had a chance to buy a set at a giveaway price, I figured I'd try 'em out and if they weren't "all that," I'd just sell 'em at a profit, and maybe buy a Cardas AND a Hovland! Well, that won't be happening (and a new cartridge is a long way off too!)
The night I got back from CES, I stuck 'em in my system (which as you can tell, ain't that bad) and I nearlly fell over! I mean, we've heard all the words before -- but now they became a physical reality: detail, black background, precise placement of players, hall ambience (air), and something that is special to me (because I seem to have a problem with it) - I could hear any lyric as if I were watching subtitles! Well, that did it! You can just imagine the mess -- I started pulling out every album I own -- "Let's see what this sounds like....Oh OK, now what about the chorus on that one, or Sinatra's Mo-Fi pressing! You get the picture...........
Cable has so much to do with the rest of the system, and I've changed mine since I changed cables. That said, I started with the Graham IC-30, which I found too sharp, and switched to the Cardas Golden Cross which I am still running.
The rest of my system is Cardas 300B Microtwin interconnects and Cardas Golden Cross speaker cables, so there could be synergy there. (Or at least consistency, for what that's worth.)
Thank you for the wonderful feedback.I can see by your systems that you know what you are doing,and are not fooled by the LATEST HAS TO BE BEST ATTITUDE that many people are too inclined to believe will give best sound.A NEW QUESTION:Any thoughts on the PURIST TOP CABLING as an even better signal carrier?It has been demonstrated to me that phono cable is very sensitive stuff and, I, a few years ago, would never consider further upgrading here,but,I do like to weigh all alternatives.
If by "Purist Top Cabling", you mean the Dominus, I haven't really A-B'd Dominus with Venustas. Dominus is VERY expensive, and VERY fat (probably to flatter the folks who can afford it!) And because of its size, probably impossible (impractical) to use in lengths less than 1.5M -- so I can't see how it could be made into a phono cable. (Jim Aud even had to scale down the thickness of the standard Venustas cable a little bit to make the phono version.)
I suppose if you had the money, as well as the space to place your components so that you could "dress" (layout) the cable properly, why wouldn't you use Dominus? The fellow I bought my 8M Venustas XLR from is going to get a pair of Dominus -- and he has a great system and has taken the time (and can afford) to try some of the best cables out there. To sum up what I've heard and read on the Venustas-vs-Dominus subject: Dominus is the ultimate and Venustas is VERY close. More importantly (for most of us) Venustas is way, WAY ahead of what ever is in third place, (which would probably be another Purist cable, the Meuseaus.)
I think the biggest complement one can give Jim Aud is that you really can't describe his cables using any kind of adjective (warm, bright, rich, dark, smooth, blah, blah) All you can say is "they're not there."
Dear 4yanx: I tested severals phono cables in my system: Cardas Golden reference, Norsdot Valhalla, Kimber KCAG, Analysis Plus Silver Oval, XLO Gold Eclipse III, HarmoniTech, Audioquest Amazon, and a lot more.
I stay with the Silver Oval from Analysis Plus and the Kimber KCAG. Exellent cables to a very fair price, hard to beat it.
Neil, I own the Frog and the Colibri: these cartridges are very different in the sound reproduction, the Frog is a very good cartridge but the Colibri is in other league, hands down the Frog and many other top contenders. Don't miss it.
You have a nice audio system, I like the 23.5 and your SME V: this one works better in a statically balanced way instead dinamically balanced, you have to try it.
Regards and enjoy the music.
I was talking about the Dominus,but,your points about ergonomics,thickness,has to be weighed.I have heard too many great things about the Venustas.Now if I only had the balls to commit to the stuff.
Somewhere in these forums, a member said,"If you can only afford one set of Venustas, get the phono cables!" (I wish I could remember who it was) If you're buying them new, they can make them in any termination combination you want.
Nsgarsh.Remember,we're talking about replacing(for myself and a friend)the IC-70,which ain't chopped liver.Are you that certain there would be that big a difference?I don't want to have to send you a bill for 2 sets.Also,consider the 2.2 which I have is wired with Graham's cabling already,and obviously is a good match.I would be gunshy about screwing up any matching characteristics.RAUL,I need your observations here.Seriously!
Speedy, I have van den Hul internal silver wiring and Cardas cartridge links in my tonearm. I don't know what Graham uses for internal wiring (Cardas maybe?) but I'm sure it's good. Where do you live? The reason I ask is if there's no Purist dealer in your area, maybe I could call Kimberly Aud on your behalf and she could send you a set to try if you gave her a decent deposit (especially if two of you are interested!) You'd have to keep in mind though that the cables would probably be new (not broken in).
You can read a comprehensive review of all the Venustas at:
which should be of special interest to you because (I just remembered!) the reviewer swapped a set of Venustas phono cables for the ones that came with his Graham arm!!
Hi Speedy:: The subject on phono cable ( like many other issues. ) is a hard choice. There are no rules. Here the only rule is our ears and sound bias .
When we are talking about those kind of cables like: Cardas, XLO, Vetustas, Nordost, Audioquest, Analysis Plus, Graham, Discovery, Harmonic Technologies, etc...; every one is really a good cable, which is best for you: it is very hard to say and only you have that answer.
Why you don't like what you already have? or you only want to try something different. This issue is very important for to know what we are looking for.
We have to remember her that the Nsgarch audio system and his own music bias ( like mine ) are different from yours.
Like I already post here, I own severals differents phono cables that I already tested: time to time I try again all of them and always return to the Analysis Plus and Kimber Kable.
My priorities about music reproduction goes better with these two cables: neutral/natural, timbre, tonal balance and dynamics. I like the cables that don't tell me " I'm here ".
Unfortunatelly for all of us we have to try differents cables for to know which one is for us, there is no other solution about.
It is not an easy task because a new phono cable needs severals working hours for the " burn-in ", and from here we need severals days for to know and understand exactly what the cable is doing about the sound reproduction and if it is ok with me.
So, it is a risk that we have to take. I can't remember ( maybe someone can help us ) but there is a company that handle differents cable company lines and where you can try for 30 days and if you don't like it you can return and ask for your money. Here we have to remember that the price of a cable don't tell me nothing about its sound and the synergy with my audio system, the price only tell me if it is an expensive one or not to expensive.
Sorry Sirspeedy that I can't be more specific trying to help you.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Nsgarsh,I've read that review and the cable comparison was the ic-30 not the ic-70.Also It's very nice of you to make me that offer,but as of now I'm still in the pondering stage.However my interest in the Purist stuff is real,and may become reality,once I've decided whether to stay with my pivot or try a linear tracker.RAUL,thank you for your thoughtful feedback.I never said I was not happy with my current cabl.I just happen to be aware of the Purist arm cable,as a possible leader in this area.Thank you for you feedback.
I would just spend the extra bucks and get the Graham IC-70. Keep it simple.