Inexpensive Phono Cables Recommendations

I would appreciate a little advice from the Forum concerning phono cables recommendations.

As a threshold matter, I realize that the subject of phono cables has been exhausted on the Forum. So, please note that I have done my own research by reading through quite a few threads and have a general sense about the importance of phono cables. Although, asking an open-ended question about cable recommendations is a little like asking for "best speaker" recommendations (over 1300 posts on A'gon so far and still counting), it seems that the Cardas name comes up frequently.

I have two general questions: (1) How important are the I/C cables from the phono pre TO the line stage?? If important, I would appreciate some inexpensive suggestions that will yield a lot of bang for the buck. The cable I/Cs will need to run 10-12 feet from the phono pre to the line stage AND are RCA single ended. (2) I would appreciate some inexpensive suggestions for phono cables from the TT TO the phono pre. The phono cables will need to run roughly 5-6 feet from the TT to the phono pre and are also RCA single ended.

I realize that recommendations can be equipment specific, so here's a summary of the relevant equipment. Cartridge: (a) currently using a DV 20X2H MC, output voltage is 2.3 mV; but also (b) trying to buy a VPI Zephyr MI, output voltage is 2.4 mV, Zephyr looking to see 47K ohm impedance and 100-200 pF capacitance. TT is VPI Classic 1 w/ upgrade Classic 3 tone arm. Phono pre is an ARC PH-7, selectable input impedance (incl 47K ohm) and 200 pF capacitance. Linestage is an ARC Ref 3.

As can be seen from the specs listed above, the VPI Zephyr is looking to see between 100 and 200 pF of capacitance (I assume that's a "ceiling," not "floor"), BUT my PH-7 will present the cartridge with 200 pF of capacitance. So, on the surface, it appears that the cable I/Cs between the TT and the PH-7 should probably not present significant additional capacitance, or else, I assume, there may be a degradation of sonics.


P.S. I am embarrassed to disclose what I am currently using for phono I/Cs, but just assume that they are NOT strings held tauntly between Campbell Soup cans.

Oh. . . very important fact -- I do NOT use a ground wire and there is NO hum.
go to the cable company and browse through their inventory of available phono cables to listen to at home on a trial basis.
That would allow you to limit yourself to what your version of inexpensive is and see what they say. Also talk to the people, they are very knowledgeable and may be able to provide just what you need.
Bifwynne...what is inexpensive for you? This will help keep the recommendations in line with your budget? Also, what ICs and SCs do you use in the rest of your system? Some folks recommend keeping a cable loom within the same brand (and model if possible).
Cardas bulk tonarm cables are excellent.
Assuming that you might have $200.00 to spend, try audioorigami's phono cable. They're excellent value for the money, imho.
Cmalak, Not quite sure how it's relevant, but my CDP and line stage are connected with Kimber Hero XLR cables, and the line stage and the power amp, the same. It seems to me that if the critical connect is from the TT to the Phono Pre, then I'm talking about a 5-6' run. My sense is that I would like to keep the cost to around $200 or less for the TT to Phono Pre leg.

However, if the Phono Pre to line stage leg is important, I don't know, I guess maybe $400 or less. I'd rather it be a lot less. The main thing is I don't want to shoot myself in the foot with something as simple as cable after investing so much in the VPI CLassic, cartrdige & Phono Pre.

Thanks again.
Bifwynne...I only asked what your other ICs and your SC are because there is one school of thought that says if you keep the same brand and even model cabling throughout your system, you will get better synergy, so maybe looking at Kimber Hero IC for the connection from Phono pre to your linestage and if they have a phono cable in the Hero line, then also using that from your tonearm to the phono pre. That was all behind the question. Good luck with your search.
vpi's are great, and a a great value
Audio Origami is a great cable. If that's too much, for a little less you can buy the TWItter silver cable that's listed on ebay. I had a very good experience with that cable on two different turntables and three different arms before I moved up to something much more expensive that came with my current table.
When I jumped back into the Audiophool arena a few years back, I had read some glowing reviews of the Music Boy cables made by Petra. I do not have them on my phono rig, but I do use them in other parts of the system. To my ears they sound quite good and they certainly were "inexpensive", I paid about $6.00 per metre pair.

Google 'em, I'm sure someone is still selling 'em..

6Moons Review:

Hi Macdadtexas. I was able to source a practically new VPI Zephyr cartrdige for a fair price. Not a steal, but fair. Frankly, I bought the Zephyr in part because of A'gon comments like yours. As you might pick up from my posts on other Foruum threads, I have had a hard time setting up my new Classic TT. I've suffered through several cartridges until I was able to pick up the Zephyr. I should get it later this week. I hope it works as well as reported by A'gon folks like you on the Forum.

Anyway, I am looking to pick up a decent, but not too expensive, cable to link up the VPI to my phono pre. At that point, I hope I can end the TT fiddling and enjoy some great old vinyl.

I'm the guy quoted in the linked 6moons review above and while most
of it is in the ancient history category, the Petra cables are still alive
and well ... if you can find them. They are REALLY respectable ICs and
come in the lengths you need and are cheap as dirt . Last I looked,
there were some 6-footers on Amazon. I actually replaced a pair of
Cardas Golden Cross ICs with Petras in a link from CD player to
linestage, just to see how they performed, and they're still there.
Good luck, Dave

EDIT: That said, you're talking about a heck of a long run from
tonearm to phonostage and while the Petras are shielded and can be
used in such links, I'd sure try to get the turntable closer to the
Grover Hoffman's phono cable is an incredible value @ $250 approx. He offers a 60 day return policy so it really is a no brainer.

Not affiliated in any way just an amazed customer.
At roughly 5 bucks a pair, the Petras are a REAL no-brainer :-)
From phono to pre I'd recommend running balanced interconnects that will be beneficial and superior for analogue set up. Mogamy Gold series 10' microphone cable will be approx $40 each and $80 for pair.
As to tonearm wire if you're savyy to rewire yourself you can get the bulk from VanDenHul which probably has the best value for the dollar.
Signal cable makes some nice cables for phono use, 3 foot set with bullet rca's, about $120
I would have to agree with Glai in that Cardas tonearm cable is an EXCELLENT very NO nonsense choice I use the Neutral Reference which while inexpensive excels detail retrieval, coherence among other areas.

I would put this on your list to auction.
Hm...Something tells me replacing his $6000 PH-7 with something that will allow a balanced cable run is going to exceed $400.
To All: thank you very much for the suggestions. I will collate the advice, check around and make a final decision.

As I mentioned in the OP, I am using plain vanilla-all purpose RCA cables. Absolutely nothing special. Maybe two tweaks north of two soup cans and a string. I'm curious if a dedicated phono cable will sound better than my soup can and string set up.
I don't think that there's dedicated phono cable between phono preamp and preamp, but you can certainly benefit from balanced XLR cables between these compononents.

to answer your last question,ABSOLUTELY, a dedicated phono cable (meaning from the tonearm to phonostage) will make a huge difference I should also point out if the rest of your system is able to let these differences show...which it should if your at this stage of the game.
So choose carefully and pay close attention.I would take some of the other posters advice and utilize the Cable company's lending library, that way it's harder to make a hasty decision,while you're setting aside funds (with each borrow) for the cable you do decide on.

just my 2 pennies
Thanks Braab -- I agree 100% with you. I am very grateful for the advice from the other responders. My sense is that since the connection between the phono pre and line stage is working with stepped up voltage (e.g., 4-6 V), the connection between the TT and phono pre is way more important because the signal is so low (i.e., 2.3 mV or something like that). I gather from the advice above that key parameters to be mindful about are capacitance and impedance. Either can degrade a tiny cartridge signal to the phono pre.
I've been quite happy with the Blues cables from $22 for a 1-meter pair.
Marakanetz really wants you to buy a phono preamp with balanced outs!

Sorry if I'm being a jerk. I guess it's really none of my business if someone wants to answer a totally different question than the one you've asked.
Etrout, OP already got one.
That 5-6' run from the TT to the phono preamp would concern me more than anything else. I would try to shorten that as much as possible. A LOMC cartridge doesnt put out much voltage, so any drop would be critical. Is there any way you can get it closer?
It shouldn't be of any concern.
If you ballpark the impedance of wire to 1 Ohm(which less likely happens even in 6' tonearm wire) and cartridge output .25uV and the load resistance = 100 Ohms, than you'll have a voltage drop ~.0025uV.
CORRECTION ON PETRA CABLES. Do NOT buy the ones now (or recently) on Amazon. I tried a pair of the new ones this morning and they are awful. I cut into one (I used to reterminate these things a lot) and found that the construction is completely different from the old ones. Sorry. Dave
Update: I'm glad I waited before coming back. I'd like to report on what I've done and the results. I read with great interest the various suggestions. There were so many, I became confused. I guess just TMI.

Ok, I've previosuly worked with a well respected technical engineer type who, a while back, built a cutomer buffer device for me. This man is a real gentleman and is very knowledegeable. So I called him and custom ordered 6' TT/phono pre cables for $140. I understand that the cables are made of very pure copper and the capacitance is 16 pF per foot.

Now the results. I am disappointed. The soundstage collapsed. The bottom literally fell out. Hardly any definition, slam or whatever from the midrange down into the basement registers. At one point, I thought I somehow blew my midrange drivers and woofers. It sounded like only the tweeters were operating and listening was very fatiguing.

I re-read the comments above and other threads that discussed cables. I suspected that even though I purchased quality cables, for some reason they were not compatible with the cartridge and phono pre combo. Oh, I wound up sourcing a practically new VPI Zephyr which sounds terrific.

This evening I reinstalled my soup can/string combos and the sound came back. The system sounds much better. When playing classical music, the house shook when the tympany come on line. Soundstage is great. And so forth and so on. FWIW, my old cables are $25 Radio Shack 12 foot Auvio I/Cs, which are shielded and have 24k gold plated RCA jacks, and made in China of course. I don't have any information concerning impedance or capacitance.

I intend to re-read the comments and suggestions posted above and try again. I'll report back.
Don't worry about the spec's. You have found a pair of interconnects that work for you in your system. Be glad you found synergy quickly. The fact that they came from Radio Shack matters not one iotta. You might be surprised to know the "real cost" of some of the cables listed above. They may even be sourced from China and repackaged. The sound is all that is really important, No?

If it makes you feel better cover them with some expensive looking cable wraps.

Enjoy your Fourth!