Help me pick a great phono cable

Good people of Audiogon:

I'm ready to buy a phono cable for my vinyl front end, and I'd like some suggestions. Budget is no more than $1000.00, but preferably on the lower side. So far, I've used only cheap / no-name interconnects for this application, and now I'd like to make some improvements by upgrading. It's a VPI turntable, and so has the standard RCA connections. I'm thus looking for a phono cable with RCA terminations. Moving in the direction of better resolution, detail, and soundstage would be ideal.

Full system is listed here and includes Dynavector XX2 MKII cartridge -> VPI JMW 10.5i > VPI Aries 2 Black Knight turntable > McIntosh C2300 preamplifier (using its MC phono stage).

Ideas? Suggestions? Thanks for any thoughts on the subject.
025e701a 9856 4d03 bd67 1249278134b8goheelz
Audioquest Niagra or Harmonic Technologies Silver phono cable. I own both. AQ is smooth but for detail retrieval the HT is hard to beat.
In my systems:
AQ connects Aries 2/JMW 10.5/Lyra Helikon to Aesthetix Rhea.
HT connects Music Hall 7/Lyra Argo i to EAR 834P.
In all the years I had 2 Phonocables which survived all others I ever tried
(Kondo, PAD, Siltech ...), no coloration and a excellent high frequency area. The
2 below also have high quality connectors.

- Audioquest Leopard
- XLO Phono Signature

another good choice is the Graham IC-70.
I went through many highly regarded phono cables in my search, and I ended up with AQ Leopard (DIN to RCA though), so I recommend auditioning that one if you can.
Furutech AG12 and Silver Audio Silver Breeze are both very good performers and good values, with the former an especially good deal. The AG12 is the warmer of the two but still offers good balance and extension. The Silver Breeze is very balanced resolving without glare, though somewhat leaner. Both are quiet. The IC70 is also a fine cable (I've owned two of them) though I find to sound slightly more mechanical or less organic. My personal favorite is the Furutech Silver Arrows, which is quite a bit more expensive but can sometimes be found used for a bit more than your budget.
I tried the Hovland Groove Glide 2, the Cardas, and the Synergistic Research Tesla Magnetic Tricon at the same time in several listening sessions and and purchased the SR Tesla Magnetic Tricon. It is a wonderful phono Cable.
DH Labs Air Matrix
You might want to look into the new phono cables by Audience.
They sell two different versions for MC cartridges. A low Z and a high Z. Your cartridge would require a low Z since your cartridge has a 6 ohm internal impedance. There are a couple of good reviews out there on these.
Hovland Music Groove 2. Extremely well balanced and neutral. Hey, it's Fremer's reference! I prefer it to the Harmonic Technology Copper, but I understand the HT Silver is better.
Lots of talk about this one in the UK forums.
Sounds like it maybe worth checking out.
Another vote for the Hovland MusicGroove2
One of the best ways to improve your phono cable is to keep it as short as possible. Given that your TT phono sockets and phono inputs on the MacIntosh are right next to each other check if a 1/2 metre interconnect or less will be enough.
It appears you will need RCA to RCA, which means you could use any standard interconnect.
Personally if you want to save money, I found that 12-18" of the old MIT330 with the outer shielding stripped off, leaving you with just a raw twisted pair of time coherent teflon insulated wire, bettered many dedicated phono cables at a fraction of the cost. Spend the extra on quality plugs eg WBT Nextgen or Eichmann.
I like Tel-Wire. They aren't flashy, but they are made with really good stuff. Best of all, they don't seem to color the sound.
Goheelz, Your question is actually tricky because only some
of us are familiar with the McIntosh 2300 preamp. This is
obvious from the advice's you got. Everybody is 'promoting'
his own 'darling'. But Dover saved you at least $800. If you can solder you can make your own 50 cm interconnect with WBT or Eichmann RCA connectors. Or you can buy one on ebay. The short one are usually cheaper.
I'll throw out 1 more great suggestion for you:

Cable Research Labs Phono Cable

I've found this to be a very impressive cable.

And yes, I am a Cable Research Labs dealer.
FWIW, I owned for a Mac C2300 for a while and used the cables I mentioned with that preamp. I did not end up using the phono section of the C2300 much, however, because I bought a Steelhead. But the cables worked well with it.
Of the many phono cables I've had the Synergisitic Research Tricon Analog has been the standout in my system (analog portion consists of a TW AKustic Raven One TT, Ortofon 12 inch arm, Fosgate Signature phono preamp into a Joule Electra LA-150 Mk2).
Another tweeky option. There is no better phono cable than no phono cable. Better resolution, detail, and soundstage can be had quite simply, less is more when you are talking about RCA connections. so eliminate that extra set!. Spend the bucks on a tone arm re-wire all the way to your phono inputs, if and only if this is an arm you will be living with for a while. Yes, do keep it as short as possible and you will be amazed.
If you were able to run balanced, you could get off of the cable merry-go-round. Cartridges are a naturally balanced source so its easy to do. In addition, if you have an SUT its possible to run everything balanced even if the preamp isn't.
Thanks to everyone who replied to my query about phono cables. For now, per various suggestions and a good used deal, I've moved to a Harmonic Technology Silver Crystal RCA-RCA cable. Installed the other day, and so far it sounds very good, although it will take time for me to assess more completely. Right away, there's more soundstage and better articulation of vocals.

As I learn more about the new cable, I'll post an update here.

Atmasphere: thanks for your comment, but you're working over my head technically, it seems. Forgive my lack of knowledge, please. How does going balanced get me off the cable merry go round? Balanced cables have their own differences, right? How do you suggest configuring the system as "balanced" with the inclusion of a SUT? Are you saying skip the built in MC phono section and run VPI table junction box (a new one with balanced connections > balanced cable (what kind?) > SUT (which one?) > McIntosh line input (i.e. Tape or whatever)? What kind of improvements would one expect with the phono configured this way?
Every cable has its own sonic signature when connected. It will sound different in different systems. I am using Anti-Cable silver on my VPI with great satisfaction. I tried many cables and have always come back to these.
Purist used.
Excellent choice on the HT silver, I've been enjoying mine for many years now and I see no reason to change, even though I have tried swapping out once in awhile to test another cable; the HT always wins.
How does going balanced get me off the cable merry go round? Balanced cables have their own differences, right? How do you suggest configuring the system as "balanced" with the inclusion of a SUT? Are you saying skip the built in MC phono section and run VPI table junction box (a new one with balanced connections > balanced cable (what kind?) > SUT (which one?) > McIntosh line input (i.e. Tape or whatever)? What kind of improvements would one expect with the phono configured this way?

The Balanced line system was devised for the specific purpose of preventing the cable from having any sort of sonic artifact. So you get off the merry go round simply because if you set up your balanced line properly, the cable will have no impact on the sound.

If you also have an SUT, then you have an simple method of operating balanced even if the phono section is single-ended (FWIW, we've been making balanced phono sections for decades). This is because transformers have an inherent balanced input/output capability, even if it is not exercised in a particular transformer product.

Now one of the aspects of balanced line operation is that it is low impedance, but if you are running a LOMC cartridge that is the easy part, as many LOMC cartridges might have impedances of 50 ohms or less. Most people know that they have low output voltage, but don't think about this low impedance aspect- its ideal for driving a balanced line.

The other part of the trick is that the cable is set up in such a way that none of the signal is using the shield, unlike a single-ended cable. This is yet another way of reducing the effect of the cable construction. Its already set up this way inside most tone arms!

There are several advantages. The resulting setup is very resistant to hum and noise. The cable ceases to have an effect on the sound- which is also to say that it will sound better than single-ended, where no matter what cable you have it will always affect the sound (the proof of this being that at the very least, the cable manufacturer that made your cable will have a better one next year and if he doesn't, someone else will...). Obviously, this means that you don't have to spend $1000 on a cable, IOW its less expensive.

The disadvantages: none are sonic. Instead the main disadvantage is that it may not be super easy to plug in a different preamp. That depends somewhat on how you set things up though.

Beware anyone that tells you that cartridges/tone arms are not a balanced source as they have no idea what they are talking about.

If you get serious about this and have further questions just PM me.