Mix & Match Interconnects

For ease of system synergy, how many of you use the same interconnect between your source and pre amp as you use between your pre amp and power amp?


How many of you seek out the best performer for the position in your system?
I use the same companies product but different quality levels depending on the situation. In my case, different versions of Purist Audio's products.

Since I am primarily a two channel guy, I cannot justify the "best" cable for side channels in HT set up. In other words, common sense and a balance of performance to value.
I have always sought out the best performer for the application.
I've mixed and matched quite a bit over the years, but I'm currently living happily with the synergistic sound of my whole system (2 channel only) wired with the same interconnect/speaker cable. The Tara Labs Decade.
I suggest using the best interconnects between your preamp and amp. This is the heart of your electronics. I find that you can get away with less between your cd player and the preamp. It's OK to mix companies, but you can probably achieve the most with one company.
My own experience parallels that of Jmcgrogan2. I have evolved to preferring the economical, single pricepoint, custom line of IC's, and Speaker cables from Audiogon member, Gregg Straley. There is synergy in them there hills, for sure. Great sound, modest cost, what's not to like? Plus, it's fun to have visitors unable to believe you spent so little, after their demo discs sound so good.
Same here for me in regards to using exclusivly Ridge Streets. Iv'e always mixed and matched cable either just to evaluate or based on the best application in my 2 channel cd/analog set up, perhaps prefering to use one manufactures cable for CD and another for mt turntable and phono. Certainly nothing wrong here as long as the application works in your system. With the Ridge Streets its same as what Albert Porter mentioned..same company with different levels of quality for the application.
I believe in using one single maufacturer, although I consult with the owner of the cable manufacturing company regarding product application. My two channel system incorporates his top of the line cable for every application. My HT uses what I would consider a compromise, what the owner feels is "correct application", due to less revealing components, higher noise floor due to marginal power conditioning, less critical performance demand, etc.

I propose that many designers consider one specific element of design playing a higher level of importance to the completed product. Whether these specific elements are in regards to physical configuration, or inductance/capacitance, or shielding, or fit & finish, whatever. It is ultimately what the designer feels is a priority in their particular design criteria. Personally? I feel it is what creates that specific manufacturers "synergy" or "personality". I feel that this becomes evident when each individual manufacturer's cable displays different types of sonic characteristics. Whether those characteristics could be considered pleasing is a matter of personal preference.

The manufacturer I have chosen, places priority in quiet signal transfer. This is a specific element that he considers highly important. He firmly believes that the quieter the better. He also feels that there are many, many benefits to producing the absolute quietest cable possible to the best of his ability. Increased resolution, dynamic range, high definition sound stage are just some of the residual benefits. It shows.

Are there "better" sounding cable combinations available? Maybe.
Are there "different" sounding cable combinations available? Absolutely.
Are there "quieter" sounding cable combinations available? I doubt it.
But, if you find one, let me know.
I don't really have a problem mixing cables. Yes, I do use my favorite interconnects starting at the CD.

I am of the opinion that decent quality Acoustic Zen, XLO, etc. cables are better terminated and of superior quality than what one usually finds at Radio Shack, Circuit City, etc. This is probably enough.

I think that the perfection sought through subtle differances in cables is undermined by slight variations in CD productions, amp quality, speaker quality and room accoustics.

I am sure room humidity, time of day, the long drive home you just got out of and the quality of what is in your glass are of even greater factors than the brand of your interconnects.
Like Jmcgrogab2, my entire system is wired with Tara Decades (balanced). Well, that was true until yesterday when my Air 1s arrived. They are now between the DAC and preamp and are currently breaking in.
All one cable all one voice.. Internal and external..Sonoran Plateau cable thru out.........Tom
I do not use same cable from source to preamp and preamp to amp. The source cable should be as clean as possible and as neutral, open, excellent top to bottom frequency response as possible. The amp cable can vary based on your matching since taste and system matching are different. It should sound similar to the source except fuller sound. IMHO, the amp cable should have bigger band width.
i am a big believer in different interconnects and follow the same line as S23chang...with that being said, i have found a interconnect that works well in both spots, so "for" now" i am using the same.

the key is to experiment....depending on the resolution of your system and what you are trying to acomplish, i would really try as many combinations of interconnects so you can and "dial in" your system.

despite what manufactures say there is no suhc thing as a neutral cable...i have found some more neutral than others, but they do have a sonic signature of some sort. when you take that sonic signature and multiply it ( you use it from cd to pre and pre to amp) it becomes really, really obvious. sometimes to syrpy in the case of the cardas golden cross or somtimes too thin midbass with the xlo signature.

with that being said -i will use xlo signature or straightwire crescendo between source and pre..they are very fast, neutral cables, that image well and have incredible dynamics.

now from pre to amps you can go with the same signature and mutlipy it or change it slightly......i went with the cresendo again...because it is the only cable i have found that works well with minimal sonic signature in both spots ( there was little to no differnce when i had the xlo here) so what i have now is a somewhat neutral cable that is synergestic with my gear.

really experiment with as many cables you can in differnt spots, i think you will be surprised with what you come up with.

hope that helps.

I'm kinda scratching my head at the last couple of posts, starting with S23chang. So I'm supposed to get a clean, neutral cable from source to preamp, and then a different cable between preamp and amp to help offset the things I don't like about the source cable? I'm confused. Why wouldn't I just pick a cable that I like and use it? I'm not saying that you have to use the same cable, I just don't understand why I have to use a clean, neutral cable if that is not my tastes. I've heard plenty of cables that are called neutral, they sound lean or thin to me. Do I have to use them? And then buy a cable that is overly colored and slow to off set the leanness? Using Mike's example, he likes the XLO Signature, that's his cup of tea. I find that my Tara Labs Decade balances nicely between the syrupy Cardas and the lean XLO (my cup of tea). So I use the Decade throughout my system. You're saying that I should get a pair of XLO Signature between my source and preamp and then balance that out by using a Cardas Golden Reference between preamp and amp? Is this what you're saying? I would then ask why? IMO that's like heating up food so it's too hot to eat, then putting it in the freezer to cool it down so it's edible. Why not just heat it to the proper temperature in the first place? Yes, accidents happen, and we all might need to use the freezer from time to time. However, if you've learned to cook to your tastes, why make the freezer part of the cooking SOP?
In other words, yes, you can put a yang cable in to help balance too much of a yin cable, but if you find a cable that's balanced to your tastes, why not use it everywhere?

Maybe I just misread you, but I don't understand what you're saying. Could you clarify?

Jmc, What S23Chang is saying using the most
open, and neutral cable from the source is, whatever you
get from the source, it will flow from the source to the
preamp, to amp, sp cable to the speakers, make sense to
me.I do this approach too.
With Mikesinger,what He is trying to say is,If you have
ic that is open and neutral, then you can experiment to
your liking, whatever you want to accomplish from preamp
to amp and speaker,this is simply fine tuning your
system.Until you are happy with sonic you are looking for.
There is a thread on this couple of months ago,Mike and
Sean and I did have post on that. Dont confuse yourself
This is basically putting the best ic on the source,
then Fine tuning.Hope this Helps.
Jayctoy, so you are recommending getting to most open and neutral cable for the source, even if I don't like the sound of it? Then band-aid the leanness that I hear in cables that are deemed neutral by placing a slow, syrupy cable between the preamp and amp to add body. That is the formula for a good system setup? Well, I guess whatever works for you. I've been there and done that, but personally, it didn't work for me. I found it best, for me, to buy a cable that I liked the sound of from the start. Then just buy another one, and another one. That was easier for me than constantly trying different cables to help band-aid faults I found in the other cables that I was supposed to like, because they were alledgedly neutral.

I do realize that there are more than one way to skin a cat, so if buying a neutral cable and then buying another cable to help mask that sound the neutral cable makes works for you, then I'm all for it.

John whatever cable you like,and fit your taste,
who cares about what I think, Its your system,
I am not the one,who will listen , please your
ears, not mine.I believe whatever works,thats the
right thing do,One time I bought AQ cable all the
way, it did not work for me, since then,I use differrent
cables,I dont call it band aid.I call it Fine tuning.
Jayctoy, that makes more sense. I did that 'fine tuning' for more years than not. I was only trying to make a point that it is possible to find a cable that you like the balance of so much that you can build your whole system around it. It's not easy, and takes years of searching, and for some, it may never happen. It may not be the most neutral or musical or blah, blah, blah. If it pleases your ears, why not buy more of it? That's all I was getting at. It's like a happy marriage, they are not easy to find, but they do exist (or so I'm told).

John, I agree it took me one year before, I got the
right combination on my reference system,Its a lot
of work,its costly at times.Yes you can find a happy
marriage why not,there are some good women out there,
but you need to audition them like gear and cable,
to match your taste,like cars you test drive.
John, In my case I was bless to have a friend who are
into music, they have musical system as my reference,
So I know exactly what Iam looking for,two benefits
I got,Number one I invite them to listen to my system,
to give me some feedback,Number 2, I borrow their
cables.Sometimes I get bias with my system, thats
when I get in trouble.
Band-Aid..At no point did you hear the intrinsic sound of any single cable.Tom
John, the source cable I'm refering to should be suitable for all systems. I've tested this same cable in at least 2 dozen systems and received the same result. It is the best way to figure out if your system is lean or thick without scratching your head and trying different combo. It's a good reference point for your system. This will save you time. However, it is possible to have same cable throughout the system. There is nothing wrong by hitting that combination in one shot as long as your ears are pleased with the result. A friend of my insist that he prefer using same cable in his system even though the others prefer a different combo. As Jayctoy said, you're the one who's spending the money so your ears should be worth something.