Your bias is correctomundo! The best should be on the source.
The system is only as good as the weakest link. If sound information is to be lost due to the cable, it doesn't matter if you have it below the source or below the preamp - you won't be retaining the "original material" anyway.
However, there still could be a better cable for either the source/preamp or the preamp/amp. This would be the case for cable capacitance and resistance susceptibility of your components. In this case, empirical testing stomps opinionated or developed rationale. Good luck!
I can agree with all of the posts above.
However, and while this is not your situation, but my own, I have put my best interconnect between the preamp and amp.
My reasoning is that I listen primarily to two sources, my turntable and my CD player. (Actually, I actually have three more sources, if I count the lessor sources, being my SACD player, my CD burner and my tuner). Having multiple sources means that all are going through my best interconnect, rather than my second, or third best.
Good choice on the Audience AU24 btw. I use that between my CD player and my preamp. (I use a Cardas Golden Reference between my preamp and amp.)
Mr Dartford makes a good point about impedance matching and interconnects playing games with the sound and performance of the system. As such, one really has to experiment with what interconnect goes where. Some interconnects that one might think are "better" because they cost more and / or are located higher up in a product line may actually be poorer performers electrically. Same goes for speaker cables i.e. not all the more expensive models are necessarily better than all of the less expensive models. At least with speaker cables though, you don't have to guess where they go in the system : ) Sean
This thread comes up over and over and over and always the same responses. Contrary to the old UK brainwashed pro Linn/Naim magazines, putting the "BEST" anything at the front is NOT always the solution, in fact it rarely is with cables. It has nothing to do with what is lost or can not be recovered.
Eldartford's explanation might be why the link between my tube pre and power amps always makes the biggest difference by quite a large margin. I can put an NBS Statement between the pre (BAT 31SE) and amp (Wolcotts) and a $15 Belden between the Aesthetix Io phono stage and this works mighty well. If I swap the cables, I lose nearly all of the harmonic richness and incredible decays that the NBS between the pre and amp provides. Surprisingly enough, the NBS helps earlier in the chain, but ONLY after I get this one link "right". This may very well be a moot point for many SS based systems which lack much of this quality to begin with and/or also have much lower preamp output impedance.
So don't worry about the theories, or any other attempts at logic here; try this and learn what works best in your own system. ABall sums this up quite well here. I wish more people with extensive experience here would chime in.
Wow...really getting a ton of good information but the last two post mentioning output impedence have really tweaked my interest level. Kurt, I don't have a phono but my current system does double for 2-channel & HT. Right wrong or indifferent I have been using the Au-24 as an output from the Ayre K-5x pre-amp to the amp and feed in the CD player,(Ayre CX-7) & surround Sound processor,(Cal Audio 2500) into the pre-amp with the "lesser" cables. The Cal's output impedance is 75 ohms, the pre-amps is 55 and I'm not sure what the CD's player is as its not listed on the manuals spec sheet. I'm close to 50/50 movies & CD playback. In order to come to a definative conclusion, (if there is such a thing) as to which cable to ultimately go with it would seem you'd need to invest in several pairs so you could have the same cable routed through the chain from source to amp. Hypothetically, If I were to get an upper end Cardas interconnect, and ran it from the CD player to the pre-amp and used the AU-24 from the pre-amp to amp & then vice versa...assuming I could detect a listening preference how would I know which cable I actually liked better? Logic tells me that I would not know the answer unless I ran two sets of AU-24 compared to two sets of Cardas compared to one of each, to see which configuration delivers the best performance from my current components. This means there would be four different listening combinations, two audience, two Cardas, Cardas from CD player, Audience from pre-amp, & Audience from CD player Cardas from pre-amp.
Mattkimb96: This is where science steps in to make life easier. One can actually measure the response of the cables in-system and verify which is working better. If one applies the proper tests, one can achieve the proper test results. When one interprets the test results correctly, the ears of a skilled listener will verify what the test equipment measured. Obviously, not everyone has the tools or knowledge to do this type of testing and that's why most end up buying and trying a million different combo's. Sean
PS... In my experience, using one brand of interconnects though-out an entire system typically results in poorer performance, both sonically and electrically ( because they are the same thing when one goes beyond personal preference and seeks "neutrality" ).
The one exception that i can think of to this generalization is if one is using components ( from source to amp ) from the same manufacturer and designer. This type of system may share similar input / output characteristics whereas components of different make & model could be all over the map in this regards.
It is these variances in electrical performance and circuit stability from various designers that confuse the issue and require the use of different brands / types of cabling to act as an impedance transformer between mating components. The cables themselves don't have "sonics" but their electrical characteristics combined with the load impedance of the mating components do. It is these combo's, which vary enough in degree, that it causes the source to alter the performance of the system, both sonically and electrically.
Frank Van Alstine demonstrated this to Julian Hirsch over twenty years ago. Hirsch never learned anything from that experience and thought that all cables were the same. On the other hand, Van Alstine basically thinks that his circuits are impervious to outside influence and stable under any conditions, so maybe he hasn't learned much about cables either.
I agree that using cables from the same manufacturer is only revelant if you are using the Components from the same Manufacturer and production date. (even that may vary).
Each component should stand on its own as to Cable performance and requirements.
Believe me I know from first hand experience many times and many $$$.