Opinions on lower priced digital that can compete

With the high end or maybe even enter into the range of "giant killer", if such a thing exists. Has to be coax, looking for something that does not add any character of its own to the mix. Should not be either light or full in any part of the frequency range. Should not be extra zingy or slow. Shouldn't push the soundstage further forward or further back, yada yada yada.

In the "budget" range I've been getting info on

Stereovox XV2
Cardas Neutral Ref
Signal Silver Digital
Apogee Wyde-Eye
Zu Cable

Don't know if there are any others in this ballpark worth considering, and having the (non) characteristics I'm looking for.
I've tried all of those except the Zu, and I'd have to go with the Stereovox as well. The Discovery Digi-cable can sound very impressive in some systems as well.
I've heard much about the Stereovox, Tvad, but there are some reports on AA suggesting it may be a little lean. But that may have been more so for the HDXV.
I have heard and Owned numerous digital cables. Several that you mention above. The Stereovox does reside on the lean side of things and is very analytical sounding to me. Kind of like the D-60 can be in the wrong setup. I do not know what DAC you have but paired with something like a Benchmark DAC-1, it will make you teeth hurt.. LOL..

I would advise you to consider following. Purchase a nicer cable used here on Audiogon and make the most of your money.

One of the best bang for the buck Digital Cables I have used period is the Original XLO Reference 1 Digital Cable. They can be found for $100.00 and are amazingly good on a variation of gear. Transpareny, Dynamics, Huge Soundstage, and Musicality in Spades.

The Current Reference 4A is a new an improved version of the orginal and is very similiar sounding but will cost you a little more. Also, the Signature and Signature 2 are also excellent and yes, even a bigger step up but well worth it if you can swing the extra coin. I would keep my eyes pealed for one of these cables to pop up on E-bay, Fatwyre.com, or here on Audiogon.

If you need something to get you by until you find one. I would suggest just picking up an Apogee Wyde Eye or a Canare Digiflex Gold as they are great for the money and you can usually sell them for almost what you pay for them here on Audiogon.

There is more information on the XLO stuff here: www.xloelectric.com

Good luck,

Apogee pretty much does it all and has the deepest pedigree, but not as sexy as Stereovox. If the music comes first give them a try. Of course, one may work better than another in a given system. The Apogee seems to work well in a variety of systems. You might try DH Labs as well.
Cable performance is system dependent. Don't draw too many conclusions from magazines and/or other reviews unless their components/room are identical to your own.

To quote Paul Simon, "One man's ceiling is another man's floor".

Good luck
You may want to try Chris VenHaus' Pulsar with Copper/Gold WBT NextGen RCAs (vhaudio.com).

They worked well in my setup (and the price was right)... generally I found that changes in digital cables seemed to only effect soundstaging and (to use an audiophilic term) "air" - space around the vocalists and instruments.

It seems that better cable matching enhances the "you are there" illusion.

Of course, system matching is what the hobby is about and YMMV.

Happy Listening!
Great input from the gang here, as I expected. :-) There are a bunch of good folks on the 'gon. To help further, I have two places where I need a decent digital cable. The first will go from my Marantz DV9500 to my heavily modified EAD mutlichannel processor. Purpose is to support 90% movies and music DVDs, and 10% SACD MC music (I would normally use the direct analog inputs to the EAD for SACD MC).

The other place is (maybe a bit more audiophile-esque) from my Proceed PDT-3 to my (again, heavily modified ) EAD DSP-7000 Mk.III D/A.

Hope this helps.
Ultimately, as Audiofeil mentioned, you're going to have to make some choices and listen for yourself. None of us can provide any definitive answers.

Buy used. Listen for yourself. Keep the one you like and sell the rest. Zero sum game.
The VH Audio Pulsar was my first digital cable and I think for the money it is a great value.
First hand, the Wireworld STarlight 5 is probably the most known and super smooth perfect balanced sounding digital cable, not to mention it is literally the top choice for projectors, and HDTV stuff, including Coax and HDMI video..

Everything Zu I have heard in the upper end product is extremly neutral and pure as well. Their Coax digital I would honestly say is going to be the best on anybodys list for 100 to 200 bucks..

I also like the Cardas Lightning 15, but in your case this will be added depth, and a good amount of bloom around vocals, so for the best priced Zu would be the best bet like you have on your list.. Plus they are easiest to get, and return, with huge audition times no questions asked direct from the factory... All these cables I have owned above, not the one I will talk about below.. The stereovox

Stereovox I mostly read either people think they are perfect for the money, but can admit they are also a bit steril in general on a lot of equipment.
Tplavas, what were your thoughts on the Signal Silver?
In response to the "make your teeth hurt" comment...I run a DAC-1 with a Stereovox HDXV and have found it a great match. Kid, if your setup causes such discomfort I think there are some issues elsewhere in your system. The Stereovox is not a tone control, I have found it to be extremely neutral overall and the price is attractive.
A used Audiodyne Datalink is a great cable for minimal dollars. Otherwise the Pure Note Paragon is nice for around 175 bucks. These cables are not edgy like most digital cables, IME.

I found it to be a bit too 'dry', and the overall presentation to be 'smaller' and 'farther away', if that makes any sense. Of course, I could say the same about the Discovery digi-cable, to a lesser degree.
It has alot to do with what your digital gear sounds like as well. I've heard some 'reference' level digital cables that can make a transport sound like a mid-fi DVD player.
"12-15-06: Sbrtoy
In response to the "make your teeth hurt" comment...I run a DAC-1 with a Stereovox HDXV and have found it a great match. Kid, if your setup causes such discomfort I think there are some issues elsewhere in your system. The Stereovox is not a tone control, I have found it to be extremely neutral overall and the price is attractive."


I did not mean to take a dig, I was just stating my opinion and experience as I heard the combination locally and it was unfornately very thin and analytical sounding. We switched sources to a YBA Blue Laser CDP and the sound improved dramatically. It was not in my system and no, there are no issues with my setup. LOL.

From what I have heard they updated the newer Benchmark DACs so maybe it is a better match with the Stereovox cable as you are experiencing. Again, it all boils down to system synergy and it sounds like you have it.

As far as using cables as tone controls, that is not the case for me. Digital cables do sound dramatically different and yes the goal is usually to find something uncolored and neutral. But again it all comes down to system synergy and what works.. The Stereovox stuff just does not do it for me and yes, I have tried it.


Chris says,
>>But again it all comes down to system synergy and what works.<<

Good post.