Hitting the Sweet Spot In My System


I have read and studied this forum for many months. The search for the right components and accessories to boost my system has been fun, challenging and sometimes frustrating. Today, I finally hit a real sweet spot. Last summer I picked up a used Auralic Aries streamer to replace a Squeezebox Touch. The next thing was a Topping D70 DAC ($499.00). The last major upgrade was a British Exposure 3010 S2D integrated amp. (priced at $2,695.00). I kept my 2003 floor-standing Dynaudio Audience 82 speakers. The speaker wire is Analysis Plus Oval 12, circa 2003.

Next, I began a quest for upgraded cables to go between the components. I guess I belong to the “warm side of neutral” camp. That describes the sound signature of the Exposure amp and the AP speaker cables. But for the new gear, I wanted as much low, middle and upper detail as I could get, while avoiding edgy, fatiguing highs or muddy bass. This required countless hours of pouring over reviews, and testing cables from vendors with 30 day return policies.

I cannot afford $1,000 cables, so I searched for the best quality at higher than entry level prices. Early on, I scored a pair of British Crimson interconnects from Austin Hi-Fi. These are highly regarded all-copper cables at $360 per meter. They are no longer available in the U.S. Their sound is superb, beating out my reference cable, which was an early Van Den Hul model from 2003. I’m running them from the DAC to the amp.

At this point I was in uncharted territory. I knew nothing about digital cables. So, I tried coax, AES/EBU and USB from the Aries streamer to the DAC. For a while, I settled for the DH Labs D-110 AES/EBU. These budget priced, silver coated cables matched my system pretty well, Nothing sounded overly bright at the top or bloated at the bottom.

Now, I began to really notice the differences in quality of the FLAC files ripped from my CD collection. The best recordings stood out right away. And it didn’t take long to decide that I wanted a fuller, livelier, and better articulated presentation with a good soundstage. There was a missing link and I needed to find it.

That turned out to be high quality USB. I ran a custom-made YFS (Your Final System) silver and copper cable from the streamer to the DAC. But the icing on the cake was the addition of a Singxer SU-1 USB Bridge or “purifier.” This was a very noticeable step up. These devices are all the rage now, and for good reason.

To round things out, I added Pangea and Analysis Plus power cables to the system. And one final cable. From the Singxer SU-1 to the DAC, I put in a Shunyata Venom AES/EBU cable. With the final setup, the main thing I noticed was much better clarity. Not only is the sound lively and engaging with plenty of detail, but the vocals are extremely clear. The overall sound is fuller, richer and much closer to analog. A new sweet spot.

So, I would like some recommendations on speaker cables, under $1,000. I am definitely considering Shunyata Research and Audio Sensibility out of Canada.
boakey39
I may not have a lot to add, but I’m very interested in where you end up. Years ago, I bought those same speakers brand new, and have enjoyed them since. I also only recently got into streaming and have neglected my cabling.
Last month I finally bought my first power cord, better speaker cables, and an interconnect from Cullen Cable. I imagine there was a contribution from each but I couldn’t pull it apart other than to say there was a definite audible improvement. They were all from his Copper series and very reasonably priced. I’m horribly inarticulate when it comes to flowery descriptions, but I think we enjoy similar taste with a just warmer than completely neutral sound. With your budget you may be looking for significantly more.

For years I used a Musical Fidelity A300 integrated but just went to a Primaluna Dialogue Premium HP Power amp as part of a planned soup to nuts revamp. Using a Blusound Node 2i and Oppo BDP-105 as sources. Sometimes I use the Oppo as a DAC for the Node, but often I don’t bother. Been trying to decide how much to budget for a step up. On one end I worry a Schiit Bifrost ($700) might only be a lateral move and on the other I think I’ll be disappointed if a Chord Qutest ($1700) doesn’t completely rock my world.

I may have entered a 7 year itch or mid life crisis in regards to my speakers. There isn’t anything I can point to where they are lacking, and even now front end improvements are readily apparent, but I can’t help wonder what I’ve been missing with all that’s out there in the world. 
I can make a few suggestions. Check out the reviews on the Topping D70 DAC, with twin DAC chips. I've been enjoying it since early summer. They have since released the D90, which looks even better. For cables, you should consider interconnects from Silnote Audio. They are running a big sale, where you could pick up an excellent pair for $200. I auditioned the Morpheus Classic. It performed exactly like my excellent Crimson's. For a nice big step up, consider a USB purifier. I got up my Singxer SU-1 for a little over $200 used, in excellent condition.
Plenty of members here have more cable experience that I have. Having said that, are your speakers bi-wireable? Ever tried that? 

On my Ushers, it was a major upgrade. I 'm currently using Abbey Road Cables, silver on the highs, copper on the lows. Don't think they're in business any more. May be worth a search used?  An inexpensive, cable that has always been popular (never talked about much now) is Kimber 8TC. It was a work-horse cable years ago by all the reviewers. 
BTW, don’t let silver scare you. People that deem it to bright, harsh, sterile have component synergy issues that don’t allow them to hear silvers’ benefits.

Regarding the Kimber, I owned a pair for at least a decade, were solid performers with different speakers.
Silver coated copper works here. Running some DH Labs Silver Sonics BL-1 interconnects (silver coated copper) off my Cambridge 751 BD into a Rotel RA 1572 into a pair of the respectful Paradigm Studio 20 v.4 monitors. Not bright whatsoever. Musical, truthful, clean. Yes, budget, but I have been a bit over budget not sure it makes a big difference here. I purposely added the silver as the Cambridge without the silver interconnects is a bit laid back. Love it! Yes, the artist will stumble and falter just as the recordings recorded it. No external DAC involved just the Wolfsons on board the 751 BD. Especially with Joni Mitchell (CD).