Need help - High-end cabling strategy

I need some help - a little help and experienced ears on specific cable selection, but more importantly some thoughts on an overall cabling "strategy".

I have just completed an major overhaul of my electronics moving from a Mark Levinson integraed to a Mark Levinson 320S Pre driving a Halcro DM38 Power amplifier. My source is an Electrocompaniet EMC-1UP CD player all driving Egglestonworks Rosa loudspeakers. Current speaker cables are Analysis-Plus Big Silver Ovals. Power cords are all stock.

My first priority is (and should be, right?) interconnects. I am currently demo-ing a pair of Siltech SQ110 balanced ICs CD to Pre and really like the sound (focused, wide, balanced tone). Pre to power is a demo pair of Van Den Hul Jubilees (also balanced) I live in Shanghai, China so my choices with local dealer are really limited to these 2 brands.

So several "strategic" questions... I've got $40K plus into electronics, so I am prepared to buy serious cables to match the system, but I want to be sane about this. How to allocate and prioritize my cable investment on the front end (CD to Pre) versus the back end (Pre to power)? If I plan to spend another $4-5K on cables in the short term, should I put it all into killer ICs (like the Siltech Classic series) and live with stock power cords for a while or should I spread out more evenly across the system? Should I put a ultra high-end IC CD to Pre (like the Siltech Forbes Lake) and something much more modest from Pre to Power or am I better off "balancing" these two?

Thanks to all!

That system is right up there in terms of getting top cables to show what the can really do. Brands? Siltech of course. Also Purist, Transparent, and a couple others -- we know who the are, and who they ain't! It's a short list in any case (Definitely Purist Dominus for PCs IMO)

There is disagreement about which to implement first. I say pre to amp then speakers, then sources then PCs. Here's the "why" of this strategy: By having great pre-to-amp cables (and speaker cables) in place first, you'll be able to better determine what cable(s) work best with your different sources, since that's the place where you'll be trying the most combinations of different things, and you want to be able to make accurate comparisons, which you can't do if you leave the pre-to-amp and speaker cables to last.

PCs definitely last -- because though they do make a difference, you won't be able to hear it confidently until everything else is dialed in.

FWIW, I (and others) have found that sticking to one manufacturer throughout the system seems to work best (except maybe for PCs)
Nice to have the stuff and the means. I pretty much agree with Nsgarch, with only one or two small deviations.

I would work backwards from the speakers - speaker cables 1st, pre-amp to amp IC's next, source IC's and lastly PC's, for pretty much the same reasons that Nsgarch set out. I would do this slowly, one stage at a time, so I could fully assess the impact of the cables in your system, and what if anything appeared to need improvement.

Same brand is good if you are seeking neutrality and the brand you select provides that, or if you are seeking warmth and the brand typically provides that, but if you have problems, for what ever reason, and your looking to modify the tonal balance of your system, keep an open mind about other brands that have a reputation of changing the tonal balance to get what you need.

And, at your level don't buy 'til you listen to the cables/IC's in your system. With the resolution that your system will provide you should really be able to hear differences (I assume) that others may have glossed over or which may not have been important to them.

The other thing to remember is the old caveat that you only get what you pay for IF YOU ARE LUCKY. A big price tag doesn't guarantee you'll get what you need.

Good luck

(Pompous) Polonius :-)

Personally I went another way around it all. I BEGAN with PC's for the most part... Putting in a good overall IC from pre to amp, not changing it at all and then I moved along from the source to pre to amp to speakers. I didn't see any real logic ... and there is no truly right or wrong way to do it actually. and let's face it, how do you know what's what until it's all hooked together with something anyhow? Ya gotta have IC's, PC's, and speaker wires at some point, or you've got a mighty expensive door stop (s). So I wouldn’t get too strung out on crazed idea of managing wires in some magic fashion that is end all or be all in scope. It’s a hobby for goodness sake.

Power cords, for me seem to make greater diffs in the sonics. More so than with IC’s. I found good PC's made even lesser priced IC’s sound OK. And naturally, better ones sounded better. You’ve a couple good IC’s already….though in the end you may do better with others… I put a better IC on the source, than on the amp…. And that seems about the standard approach. Dropping to a bit lower level in speaker cable again, or keeping the level of the pre to amp IC constant seems fairly common. Regarless the rhetoric if you look at the systems online most systems don’t have the same value of speaker cable as the ic’s… and perhaps because speaker wires are usually more costly. . . and oft times, longer. Due to config issues, and cost… I chose to do right by speaker wires last. Just got to get in where you fit in and pedal on through. Aside from wires, the BIGGEST noticeable change and likely the MOST noticeable, was in isolation devices. Simply remarkable.. were I to start over I’d start there. Isolation. Then conditioning, then PC, etc… Just ‘cause you’re a bit off the beaten path shouldn’t mean you can’t try stuff out direct from the makers… though you might have to pay for it up front, all I’ve ever dealt with have a fully refunded period for trials. Have fun.
Just my 2 cents here but I would replace all the stock PCs with something decent. Maybe get a great line conditioner like the Power Wing. Then I'd replace the CDP and call it a day. I'd devote the rest of my $$$, if I had any, on music and finding the time to listen to it. This never ending chase, while fun for some personality types, can become an obsession that wastes time and obscures the reason we do all this in the first place. Everyone has the right to seek their own happiness of course, this is just what I would do given the circumstances you describe. The other suggestions are just as valid.
I find cables so difficult for myself nevermind advising someone else. I will repeat what wiser heads have said before, there are no best cable rcommendations, because cables are so system dependent. Even Roy Gregory of the mag HiFi+ who is a Nordost Valhalla fanatic, occasionally admits other makers are better for some gear. In my system, I find Acoustic Zen is best, but I would'nt recommend it for another system, withoot audition. May I suggest the cable company, they have wide experience of matching cable to kit and of course, a large stock of 2nd hand cable they will send abroad.
My own experience was that power conditioning and Power chords made the most difference, but the chords need'nt be that costly. I did'nt seem to find expensive Nordost chords better than my cheaper Kemp or Merlin. I am sure others will disagree and say I did'nt try the right expensive PC. As far as cable loom is concerned, I agree same manufacturer, but need not be the same as power chord. I agree with Newbee, speaker cable will give the biggest upgrade, so first, when you establish, by audition which manufacturer to go with. It is as easy as that!!!
I guess it depends on just how obsessive one is. With all new parts; I would have to listen and observe--and mostly enjoy what I had just bought. Then after a time you will be more familiar wih what U got and be able to perceive good from better cables.__OR__ talk to The Cable Co.
would suggest power cords... you really havent heard your system.. it is really hard to audition cables unless decent pc's are in place..btw, audience makes a great pc for not that much money...

since you are in china, are there some options with demo cables from singapore ?
Completely agree with Mikesinger. You do not know what your system can sound like without decent PCs. I think you will be surprised.
Thanks to all for your insights. I plugged in Siltech SP30 power cord to my CDP and was pretty impressed - opened up a whole lot of bass that was "trapped" before. I fear I am in for a whole lot of more money flowing out the door - Why can't I get hooked on a cheap hobby!?

I think I am going to go with Siltech Classic MkII interconnects (the SQ110). I am going to stick with my Analysis Plus Big Silver Oval speaker cables for now. With my current room restrictions, I am running 15' speaker cables. I've got $2,000 into my A-P's upgrading them at that length is a major investment. Maybe next year after bonus time!

Anyone here with experience with Analysis Plus power cords?


Synergetic research mastrer PC might be good choice
No experience with that PC but i am demo'ing a pair of the original Siltech SQ110 G5 balanced ICs not even the MkII as i type and they really are a dead quiet cable.I have a Naxos recording of the Oxford Camerata's Hildegard von Bingen - Heavenly Revelations.This is medievil vocal, hymn,chant etc. You really could hear a pin drop.Very impressive and really a great quality.I will likely end up with a pair if I'm good to myself.
Several people have mentioned power cords and they can make an incredible difference, but not until the wire is refined. The power cords influence changes that are so much of the finest detail resolution that the improvements they make aren't resolved by the inferior cable. The same holds true, the best components are only different from lower quality in the realm of the suble nuances.

Price is very misleading, there are cables that seem stupidly cheap compared to Valhalla. It is very hard to do comparative listening on interconnects without upgrading the speaker cables because the influence or coloration will be there from the inferior cable. The same holds true in a worse manner doing speaker cable first because the clarity and resolution should allow you to hear the coloration of the interconnects in too much detail. As much of a catch twenty two as this is keep in mind that if the interconnects are tried in your system first you will be unable to hear the finer nuances of what they do but you will catch it when upgrading the speaker cable and probably think that is the culprit.
Valhalla can get ugly in high resolution systems because it not only is ruthlessly revealing, it places a slight edge frequency emphasis in order to make it seem like there is more more detail by being more transparent. It actually distorts the correct balance of tonal frequencies and also emphasizes any flaws that might be inherent in mid grade interconnects. The interconnects should be a higher or equal grade to the speaker cables.
There are only a few good neutral cables out there and they stay neutral from entry to their highest end cables which will compare to $10k for $2500 and $800 on interconnects. These neutral cables will stand any system in the correct light as it is colored cables that get quirky as to what kind of system they work well in.

As a dealer I spent over two years trying $400k worth of wire in every combination of entry grade equipment with every grade cable to extreme with budget to extreme wire. In both tube and solid state neutral is what works best in everything, the difference in grades of neutral is only how transparent and detailed they are. As you upgrade a wire you don't have to worry about hearing flaws in the tonal range because there are none, it's just how much detail that's determined by the grade.
Once you have a good set of wires the power cords will knock your socks off, the differences they make are in the area of detail within the detail, layering, sharpness, etc. These are changes that are to things you aren't aware exist before the wires are good enough to start hearing them.
I am writing a book on system synergy and decided to knock a section on cables in the context of understanding how they work, what they do, and which ones are most important so that you can see that good equipment means nothing if the cable loses signal detail at every set. The best equipment in the world can't deliver details that were lost in passing through cable. This logic undeniably establishes that a cable determines the amount and quality of detail that can get to the speakers. What happens if you give the signal the benefit of the best cable made? You have the highest possible detail and resolution, if you put that cable in way lower grade equipment it will make use of the detail and you will hear qualities that the megabuck gear couldn't because the inferior wire eliminated the detail.