your budget is severely limiting. The 'ol DH Labs silver sonic T-14 would fit that price ceiling, it kept me happy for quite a while. Also, where's Harmonic Tech on your list, or Acoustic Zen? My picks would be the Coincident or the HT Pro9. What amp are you using?
Since I own a pair of Martin Logan Quest Z's, figured I'd throw in my two cents. I'm driving the speakers with a BAT VK500 amplifer, and found the Transparent MusicWave 10' Bi-Wire speaker cables (spades)work very nicely in my set up. I bought these new, discounted from a local dealer, for $275. Logan's love to be bi-wired, try to take that into account and happy hunting! Jeff
If the Coincident are anything like their interconnects (and I assume they are), they're excellent. Lots of resolution and detail, balanced (excellent bass, mids & highs), and they're musical...they sound natural.
I think the Cardas "Hex" are an old model...I'm not sure. I have Golden Cross and I like them very much. They're supposed to be on the warm side. That could be true, but in my system they don't sound the least bit affected. There doesn't seem to be any high end rolloff to achieve that warmth. They may not be extremely nuetral, but they sound excellent. Again...very musical and detailed. The "Cross" are also very good, but maybe a bit more neutral and not as detailed. They seem to have less pronounced bass and treble too.
I compared my brand new pair of Coincident IC's (and they recommend 300 hrs of break-in time) to a pair of Golden Cross ICs, and they were very very very close. I would put the Coincident cables very high on your audition list, but they are accurate...they are not tone controls disguised as cables.
Make your own: tnt-audio.com
Send me a $10 money order for the favor :)
Phild you are so correct about the Coincident.Accurate describes the, very well.I love your line about them not being tone controls.So true.
I use both IC and Speaker cable.Hard to beat.
I did not find the Analysis Plus Oval 9's "lean and bass shy".At least in my system. But, I don't like an excessive amount of bass anyway, preferring a more balanced approach.
When I put them in, I noticed more separation in sounds, including the bass, which also firmed up and was more apparant due to the separation. That I liked. Price was $349.00 for 10 ft. from Audio Advisor when I bought it, but the price was poised to go up. That was new. I have 2 10 ft. pairs of TARA Space and Time TFA cables that I replaced. Would be happy to sell for $50.00 a pair. Happy shopping.
Regarding your question about the Kimber 8TC and 4TC being bass shy: that has certainly not been the case in my system. I use 8TC to bi-wire my Vandersteen 3A Signatures from a Bryston 4B-ST, and 4TC to wire my center and surround speakers. The bass in my system is rich, full, and reasonably tight (a suspended floor over a 3' crawlspace makes it hard to get tight bass). To the extent that you weigh the opinions of professional reviewers, you might be interested in an article from The Absolute Sound last winter. TAS ran a review of systems, from basement to upstairs, and several of the lower cost systems were configured with 8TC wire.
I have not noticed any bass problems with the Kimber Kable (4VS, 4TC and 8TC) and have plaster floors with rug covered carpet. I preferred the sound of the cheap 4VS with the system that I had when I auditioned them all which may have been due to the source which could not handle additional detail. If anything the Kimber Kable accents the upper mids very slightly which gives the music a lively sound. It is however nicely balanced, IMO and I have used it in three different systems since then. It definately has a family sound with added detail and bass with each step up, the exceptions being the cheapest PR series and the 8VS which I cannot recommend.
My experiences are along the lines of Goliverjr's. I had a single run pair of Analysis Plus Oval 9s, and they sounded much fuller and more musical than a biwired set of DH Labs Silversonic T-14s in my setup. By no means bass shy. They killed the T-14s in imaging. The T14s were flat and in-your-face, while the APs set the stage further back, with much greater depth. I returned the single run of Aps to get a biwired set, but you'll be able to find a single run of AP 9 within your budget. If you end up not liking them, it won't be a problem reselling them, as they are very popular right now. Have fun.
I should clarify. If you consider the APs, you can find them within your budget USED. If you want to buy them brand new, try contacting Audiogon member Disco. He's a great guy and he has a cable burn-in service if you want to cut down the amount of break-in time. Good luck.
It seems most of the talk on Analysis Plus speaker cables is always on the Oval 9s. I found the Oval 12s to be superior in my system (Art Audio SET amp and high-sensitivity dynamic speakers). The only way to know is to try 'em. But be careful with "bigger is better."
As Snowball says, definitely look into the Oval 12s. If they turn out to be better or at least close to the Oval 9s in your system, you'll save a good chunk of change.