ICs with great natural sounding highs?

I currently use Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II (XLR) and it's a great IC but the highs have a certain "silver" coloration especially in the cymbals sound. It's not harsh or bright but when I auditioned Cardas Golden Reference ICs recently I was struck with how cleaner and more natural the cymbals sounded - you can hear the real metal when the cymbal is hit rather than a splash of silvery noise. In all other aspects (bass, sounstage, details etc) however Acoustic Zen came out as a clear winner. But I would love to get a cable with absolutely realistic sounding highs as well as great soundstage, neutral mids, detail and bass that Silver Reference ICs do so well under $1000 for XLR. Should I try Synergistic Research? Shynyata? Others?
I would suggest Ridge Street Audio "Poiema" i/cs..Check the reviews first and go from there.........
Most interconnects cannot do what you are looking to achieve. They either accentuate high frequency information (like your current cables) and sound overly bright, or they absorb too much information to eliminate the brightness, but sacrifice real punch in the process. You need to look for interconnects that have very low capacitance along with a host of other mechanical properties and quality materials that will maximize the accuracy. Silver can do this, but it needs to be properly shielded and mechanically damped.
anti-cables do it for me.
I second the recommendation for Ridge Street Poiema ic's.
XLO Reference/Signature
Audioquest Cheetah
Currently, my interconnect of choice is the Ridge Street Poiema 3, which I've owned simultaneously with the Cardas Golden Reference. Depending on the mix of components at any given time, I could live with either, however, the Poiema 3's more revealing top end does add a welcome measure to my musical enjoyment. To my ears, it also sounds somewhat more neutral vs. the Cardas, however, I can easily understand why some others might appreciate and prefer the Cardas. It is a very, very fine interconnect. I also owned the Synergistic Tesla Accelerator. Despite both considerable burn in on my Hagerman Pro Frykleaner and listening in my system, I did not find is as satisfying as the Cardas or Poiema. But, again, personal reactions and tastes will vary.
I've been using Kimber Selects(KS-1130), and found them to be VERY transparent. They will allow whatever your source is capable of to pass without hinderance. Some look at interconnects as a tone control. The interconnect SHOULD not affect the signal at all. At least; That would be the ideal. If your reproduction is not accurate with these cables: The fault is elsewhere in your system.
Acoustic Zen Matrix Ref II
Straight Wire Crenscendo
Cardas Golden Reference is very good in this area but some will say its too slow. I agree with Rodman99999 about the Kimber Select 1130. The Kimber Select series are all wonderful and priced to suit anyones needs.
Anticables and other non-shielded IC designs sound best to my ears in the HF.

If you have a chanced to try Purist Audio 20th Anniversary Aqueous XLRs, I think you would like these a lot. They sound excellent. I had Cardas Golden Reference, AZ Silver Ref II and Matrix Ref II.
PAD Aqueous XLR is a better interconnect. Much more natural sounding and non-fatiguing. I use Purist Aqueous speaker cables as well. I think these cables sound most natural, at least to me in my system.

AZ Silver Ref II is a nice cable but it has artificial flavor to it that I didn't appreciate. Matrix Ref II is definitely a great cable for the money, especially used, but it has its limitations. Compared to more expensive and neutral cables, it is a bit grainy in the mids and also has the AZ house sound, with sort of plasticy sounding highs at times. Not 100% natural. You mostly don't notice it until you try another cable that sounds neutral. I had Silver Ref II/Matrix Ref II XLRs combo and substituted it with Purist Aqueous XLRs and sold the AZs shortly after. Very good cables, but they are not as natural and real sounding as the PAD Aqueous is.

I would also suggest Synergistic Designer Ref active XLRs. They have the qualities you are looking for. But the Purist is my favorite XLR so far. Although, same cables may have different qualities in different systems. So you need to try in your own system to determine what works for you.
I think that the Analysis Plus Solo Crytal Oval ICs are more evenly balanced than the Cardas GR, having stronger lows and slightly more dynamics, while still maintaining the smooth highs that Cardas does so well.

Give the Greg Straley Reality ICs a try. You might be really surprised. They
come *very* close to Purist Audio Venustas in my system.

They are available with a home trial period, so you've nothing to lose by
trying them.

The only downside is they don't cost enough to give you bragging rights
about how much you spent.

Pure Note has always done well in the highs (Vanguards and Titanium-XL). Mids are very natural; acid test is female vocals. Also I do not hear the typical tizzyness of some cables with the Pure Notes. The cables render the real brass sound (weight) of cymbals. I can easily tell if it is a Zildjian or Paiste cymbal. I have not heard their new Alluvion line as it is too new but I suspect they are great performers

I would recommend the new Acoustic System Livelines. In my system, it handily beat the AZ Ref II you referenced above as well as JPS Super3. Just a more organically sounding cable with a lively feel to its presentation. Yet, all the speed, pace and rhythm I could want while not sacrificing detail or extension. The least hi-fi sounding cable I've experienced.

I just swapped over to my Cary 303/300, tube pre, ss amp a set of single ended Poeimas from my all tube second system... what a revelation... very neutral, very dynamic, with nice clean point sources in the ss... highly recommended... these Ridge Street Poeima's... extremely black background and very detailed, very musical, and no edgies anywhere... how can you lose with Robert's 45 day trial period?

:) listening,


I like the phrasing of your question, i.e., "...natural sounding...". Of the several ICs I've listened to over the years (including Cardas, Jena, Silversmith, Valhalla, HMS, TG, Stealth Indra, etc), my favorite is the Cerious Technologies - by quite a large margin. Good luck in your quest.