RCA interconnect recommendation

Would like recommendations for interconnects for both analog and digital side to an integrated Rogue Cronus amp from a Nottingham/EAR 834P on one side and an Antelope Zodiac DAC on the other side. What should I be looking at and what kind of budget should I set. I'm thinking up to $500  for a pair but have no idea. Thanks for all advice.


The rule of thumb is 10 - 15% of total budget. But depends on your components. One thing I learned early on, with modest components, be careful of too transparent interconnects. My system didn't sound better with truly neutral interconnects until my components were at the $5K level. Before that slightly warm interconnects that would cover up some of the deficiencies in the components was helpful. My first jump into high end cables, Straight Wire... was a disaster. Highly reviewed cables, sounded terrible. Thirty years latter I pulled them out... they are simply fantastic... with the components I had then about $7K each... when you get to a certain level, you want transparency, but before that you want some protection. 


Look at Cardas and Wire World, other brands made of copper... maybe silver coated copper. Stay away from all silver. 

Thanks but I'm confused.
some of my components are not over 5k but many are at or close and above.
Is this just an arbitrary rule you apply or does it come from somewhere important? I thank you for your answer but I'd like some thing a bit more directly related to my gear and objective. But thanks


Post removed 

With Rogue gear(ST100 and RP1 or RP5) I had excellent results using Acoustic Zen Matrix Reference 2 and Absolute Copper.

With the integrated I’d probably go with AZ Silver Reference MkII between the phono and Chronus and Matrix MkII for the digital front end.

Audience is also a good match. Older AU24 interconnects should be within your budget. 
I would steer away ffom Cardas unless you’re looking to round the highs.

"The rule of thumb is 10 - 15% of total budget."

Nothing more than markeing nonsense. Sheesh...

I find it a bit odd that someone who owns Weiss and EAR has no idea about interconnects, because they're pretty sophisticated components.  But if you never fooled around with cables, I suggest you buy a couple of pairs of ICs from Blue Jeans for about $30/pair and listen for a few months.  They are good, pro-quality cables and will give you a baseline.  Later on, you can try some higher-priced cables and see if you think they're better. Without a baseline, you have no way to know.  As to the "10% rule", I think that may be good advice when you're purchasing a new system and you're on a tight buget, but I have used expensive cables on cheaper components and found they made a huge improvement.  If you're of a mind to move ahead right now, I would look for a pair of used Audience AU24s, which are great cables for the price.  The older models are excellent and the company has great customer service when you need it. 

Tube amps are all about the sweet midrange. I like Kimber solid copper. I would try a PBJ. Not too expensive but a nice sounding cable. 

Your best approach with wire is to understand wire is every bit as important as every other component. Then from there you consider your system goals. Are you building a system over time? Let’s say you find a speaker you really fall in love with, but it costs as much as all the rest of your system combined. But you can afford it. Would you buy it? If it will serve as a foundation upon which to build for years to come, why not?

Cables are no different. I once built a $1200 budget system for my father in law. Set it up in my room to burn in and during that time I thought, wonder what if I put my $1200 interconnect in there? Well, it transformed that budget system, let me tell you! So never, ever fall for the story that one thing is "too good" for another. It if is good, it is good- period!

In my system my speaker cables cost about as much as my speaker, and my amp. They are all right around $5k each.

The point of having a budget is not to tell you what to spend. The whole point is to make you aware of the fact this is a system and a system demands a system approach. Otherwise without the budget everyone runs out and buys the biggest speakers they can, blows almost all the rest on the amp, and then spends the next five years running around trying different speakers and amps trying to solve all the problems that never would have been there in the first place had they put as much attention into wire.

That’s it. No sales pitch. Figure it out from there.

Two suggestions:

1. on the Zodiac use the Schroeder method with double RCA cables. I run mine on Sommercable Epilogue which is reasonably priced but phantastic.

2. on the phono link it all depends on the tonearm cable you are using. My best experience is with Auditorium23 all the way through.

Thanks everyone.

I have what I think are a decent set from the phono stage. Don’t recall what they are. Last night I switched them out to the digital side and yes there was a noticeable difference..

As for not believing how I could not know about cables: I’ve put this system together over a relatively short period if time. I’ve been reading about cables ever since and my eyes glaze over.

To antigrunge2: tonearm is wired with fine silver angel hair. It’s an Nottingham 12" Anna arm with a Lyra cart.

The idea that there’s a different cable for digital side and analog is exactly what’s on my mind.




The latestWireworld Eclipse 8  use 7-9s Purecopper , their patented dielectric 

better then even Teflon, Silver over ofc copper connectors for under $450 

retail  check out Perrotta consultants nice guy very good pricing ,

excellent cables ,I bought the matching speakercables awg9 gauge excellent 

well balanced cables. 

@millercarbon is quite right. An expensive interconnect can have a component level effect on a system. I have had three systems around for a long time. Occasionally I’ll swap some rediculously expensive cable into one of my less expensive systems, it might have big improvement, none, or sound simply atrocious. But typically a component needs to be of a very high sound quality before real positive results are gained.

As you obviously realized you can put a lot of effort put into assembling a good system. If you are willing to work like a mad man, you can assemble a great system for less money... but it takes tremendous effort. MC has put in the effort. But it takes effort and time... years learning how to listen, understanding sound, components, interactions. It is pretty easy in the beginning to make mistakes and get yourself into a negative feedback loop.


Hence, some basic rules of thumb can help. Hence, the idea of 10 - 15% investment in interconnects. The idea is you need a bit of guidance at the beginning. Plunking down $5K for interconnects for a $5K component is not something guaranteed to be a good investment. On the other hand some of the really inexpensive cables recommended here are also no better than what is supplied by the manufacturer. Until you really know what you are doing it is probably going to be true that putting an extra $5K into a well chosen component (valued at $5K) is a better investment than using that $5K in a set of interconnects. Typically a well chosen $10K component will sound far superior (big difference) to a equivalent $5K component.


The best strategy is to invest in the very best possible, compatible components. Get to know them intimately, inside and out... while saving money (for the next phase of the process). Then look for and evaluate interconnects and cables... this is a very time consuming ( and fun... hopefully) process. Then tweak... isolation, power cords, etc. if you try to do too icy at once it becomes really confusing... especially if new to this. I have spent literally thousands of hours evaluation components, interconnects and tweaks over the last 50 years... so has MC.

I have also swapped an expensive cable into a system and literally have a jaw dropping, component level change in the sound... but that is not the most common change.

If you feel the need to buy expensive cables then do it but I would rather,use my money on something else.i don't feel you will hear a difference....but its only my opinion...

For the digital cable, try to get a true 75 ohm cable. Most are not, and frankly RCA plugs are not 75 ohm (its a stupid standard, get BNCs!, ok rant off)  It must be intended for digital or will distort the threshold crossings that determine timing.   fo he analog side, its....analog. So the same rules you apply to RIAA, preamp-power apply.

Yea, cables matter.  Unfortunately its often because engineering is ignored and not in a good way.


ghdprentice and miller carbon much appreciate your time and everyone else's who wrote their thoughts.
I think I'm a fair to good listener. It's a curious problem of "you don't know until you know" sort of thing. I hear immediate and subtle differences.
Where am I in this? Well I'm closing on a year in putting this system together and I could stop here. I'm pleased with it and I've learned an awful lot.
Yes I understand about making changes slowly in order to evaluate.
I'm very pleased with my TT, cart and phono stage. Hope to have them here for a long time. Maybe I'll try rolling some tubes in the EAR but I don't have a reason at the moment. Maybe a Boston acoustics carbon mat? this is likely.
If I had to guess the future, I could see a different amp arrangement in the future and also speakers but I'm not there yet.

Does anyone have experience with the cable company lending library? And is it worth a try?

Study what ghdprentice says above. There are many, many things that make a great deal of difference that don't cost a lot of money. Some of them do however cost a lot in terms of time and effort. To give just one example, things like springs might not seem worth doing. They totally are.

What happens is they force you to listen close and evaluate. You can do this with a cable, speaker or amp too. But with those it is very expensive to change. With springs it is easy, simply change or move the spring. Total cost: zero. Same with things like routing cables. Another novice tried that and was shocked to hear a real significant improvement, just from moving wires around.

Every time you try something like this you learn a little bit more. Not only about what does what, but in terms of how to describe and evaluate what you're hearing.

Then when you go to buy say an interconnect you're not all, "What can I spend for $500 to go between this and that" but instead are, "I'm looking for great depth and layering, not up front in your face detail, who makes a cable like that?"

See the difference?

One comment. Be sure you can return the cable if you don't find it makes any difference. Regardless of what you read here.

I've been suckered into expensive cables, but not anymore. The question needs to be asked, are they better or is it just hype and one-upmanship with a massive dose of subliminal stimulus?

Who can blame the manufacturers for tapping into a targeted market with marketing designed to bamboozle the gullible.


@pedroeb kind of a funny subject
do you think car sales are any different and yet we all seem to "mostly" navigate thru that nonsense.
I'll stick to engineering is engineering

Lots of advice, some good some, well pure nonsense.

Price has nothing to do with performance.  Learn why something sounds the way it does first then you can make informed decisions.

What transforms one system does not always transform another system.  We recently build speakers cables - one system the improvement was probably the biggest improvement I have ever heard from a cable.  In our main system there was improvement but no where near the extent of the other system.

Budget Digital Cable - Audio Envy about $150 - better digital cable Jorma MSRP around $1K.

Audio Tekne makes some nice 500 strand Litz copper ICs.  Look for them used.

Hapy Listening.





Cables are the worst bang for buck in the system. If you feel the need to spend much more money, you would do much better to upgrade a component.

That said, cables do sound subtley different. Since you already have cabling that works, I suggest that you try before you buy. Make every new cable prove itself. If the difference isn’t clearly audible, then put the money into a fund for a component upgrade.

Or, DIY. You can get perfectly acceptable RCA connectors made by Switchcarft from Digikey for $5 or so, which are reasonably close to WBT or ETI at several times the price. You can also buy very good cabling from Mogami or Canare, professional microphone cable, for $1 a foot. The sheilding on both of these is excellent, and is necessary if you live in a microwave-rich environment.

The only exotics I use are cartrdige-to-phono. The rest are Canare Starquad microphone cable with ETI RCA’s, which serves an ESL system with a higher end Koetsu as source.




Take a look at Hapa cables. I bought a Breathe Copper and a Quiescence Copper with the upgraded connectors for my system which is quite frugal compared to most here, but holy crap did it make a huge difference in clarity without any harshness. On paper it would seem a waste of money but hearing the difference first hand it is amazing the difference, and it's an upgrade that will last. Well worth a look.

You can’t go far wrong with chord cables. I’d entertain both the C-line and the Clearway...both are quality cables and are lower to mid tier amongst their offerings. Both have received numerous positive reviews and even won awards. I’ve been using them for years to good effect. I don’t think they add or subtract anything, they just seem to go about the business of transferring the signal as presented.


QED, as well as Atlas make some terrific similarily relatively inexpensive cables. QED’s reference, and Atlas’ element integra....Ecosse makes the conductor and the composer line of cables that are very good as well. I currently use all of the above cables in my system. Notice, most if not all the cables are UK products. I’m a bit partial to both equipment and cables made there. My system is about 80% made in the UK (Actually made there!), short of my Border Patrol dac and my Marantz Reference stuff.

OP.   "It's a curious problem of "you don't know until you know" sort of thing.""

This is so true! But also one of the things truly wonderful about high end audio... there is virtually no end to it... the more effort you put into it the better it sounds. A pursuit of constant discovery.

It's a curious problem of "you don't know until you know" sort of thing.

Yeah, except you haven’t shared what improvements/sound characteristics are most important to you.  This is exactly how we can help you achieve your goals, but if you don’t share what you’re looking for the recommendations will just be all over the map. 

@audphile1 thanks for the suggestions of the acoustic zen cables. I’m following this up. It all makes sense.
@audioguy85 yea my analog side is British and it sounds great...even have a set of B&W’s in a closet. The rest is pure American, if we’re waving flags.
@ghdprentice thanks it’s been an awesome journey.
@soix How am I suppose to answer this? Okay let’s see. I want to hear more of everything. I’m pleased with my analog and digital and could easily stop .Well maybe not. This gear in my digital side is new to me and a vast improvement. I am enjoying the Antelope Zodiac a lot. When it arrived I listened to only the Antelope for a week and it is good. Then I played a good recording of the same on my Nottingham. The Nottingham as air and dynamics. The Antelope has very good detail. I’m fairly impressed with both and while I am listening to much more digital these days (convenience), my TT is very often just stunning. I’d like to see if interconnects can help with the digital side
For what it’s worth the current interconnects were made for me. They are Mogami 2528 cable with Neutrik RCA connectors - not very expensive but appear well made. I’ll thank you in advance for your input.

Post removed 

I use Reality Cabkes ( SE/RCA ) Reference line. 400.00 - 30 day trial period. They are a permanent chain in my set up! 

Good luck! 

I recently started using pure Teflon coat hangers coated in astroglide as speaker cables. They sound so good. 

Well I couldn't find any teflon coat hangers or astroglide so I bought a pair of Acoustic Zen Matrix Reference II cables this morning
Thanks @audiophile1 

vh audio...im using v twist with eti connectors.I have made several pairs and are simple enough to do...transparent,musical,dynamic.Great little wire.

I know this is not an option for most, but I build my own interconnect cables utilizing canare connectors and cable, I also make my own speaker cables - the result so far has been satisfactory while keeping the cost down as I also build for my close friends and family members.

You did well to get the acoustic zen. The owner and cable designer is a first class guy. Very honorable.


As for the advice of not buying better or worse cables, make of it what you will. I have $65 interconnects that sound at least as good as some $800 ones I've used. System synergy, not based off of cost, but rather the componentry. An $8k amp with $100 ICs might sound better than uber costly ICs because of electronic dynamics that an engineer may understand or NOT. Everyone has an opinion in this hobby, but only you will know if it ends up working in the end.

If you want some really nice cables, built well, perform well, go with what your gut tells you is right. For me, that was Cullen cables and cables made by Jason Terpstra (Virtue Audio). Another honorable, straight forward, and honest guy who happens to make cables. 


Goodluck. Feel free to pm me if you're interested.

I think you’re going in the exact right direction with Acoustic Zen and was just about to recommend their Silver Reference.  I have both the Silver and Matrix Ref ll, and the SR is a better and more refined-sounding interconnect.  I’d highly suggest you get this to compare, and if you don’t think it’s better than the MR ll you can sell it for little/no loss, FWIW...


What is your input impedance?  Match that.  Cost and materials has little bearing.  Be smart. 

 @soix thanks I like this recomendation. It will be a fun learning experience.
@safebelayer sound thoughts - thanks
@kellyp assuming you are asking about input impedance on the amp line in?
Thanks evveryone


@smaarch1 ,

I agree with the AZ Matrix Reference II being very good, especially for the money. If you like it, you will probably also like the Cardas Golden Cross or Golden Reference, although someone else had a different opinion. I went from AZ Matrix Ref II to Golden Cross and found it to sound more spacious, fuller and more rounded, yet with a little more clarity than the Matrix. I wouldn't rule them out.

Does anyone have experience with the cable company lending library? And is it worth a try?

I have used The Cable Co in the past; it's been a while. They typically like to loan out three different sets of cables at a time, and give you enough time to allow two weekends of use. I'm not sure what their current fee is, but found it a great way to get the flavor of different brands and evaluate system compatibility. They also have a database which I believe is compiled by user feedback. They may be able to make specific recommendations based on your equipment and goals, but I'm not sure if this is without bias regarding certain manufacturers. I listened to their advice, but stuck to trying the brands and models that I had narrowed down based on my own research.

I have also found dealers, out-of-state no less, that were willing to let me try out cables if I was willing to place a hold on my credit card until I returned them. I was able to borrow some very high-end cables at one time doing this.

With all the system variables and recommendations, it would be best to try several brands IMO, if you are willing to put the time into this.

Good luck and have fun with it.

I forgot to mention that I haven't tried the AZ Silver Ref II; was leary of silver at the time. Soix has an interesting point about trying it, if you like the MR II.

More excellent advice - Thanks @gary_c
I’m going to hold on The Cable Company for now but you’ve given me what I need to understand how it works.
There was some thought earlier which brought me to the AZ cables and the suggestion was to use the Matriz on the phono side and the Silver on the Dac side. Something about this advice sounds right. Let’s see what happens.
In the meantime a simple switch last week of a cheap interconnect and a less cheap one (mogami cable) between sides most definitely reveals a difference and it isn’t subtle.

@gary_c "...you will probably also like the Cardas Golden Cross or Golden Reference, although someone else had a different opinion. I went from AZ Matrix Ref II to Golden Cross and found it to sound more spacious, fuller and more rounded, yet with a little more clarity than the Matrix. I wouldn’t rule them out.".


@gary_c having owned both Golden Cross (prior) and Golden Reference (current), by chance have you tried both and compared the two?

If you don’t like the slight rolloff and added plushness of the GCs, you might like the GRs a little more. I sold off all of my GCs to a Pass Labs owner who loves them for the older version amps that were brighter. I bought the GRs for another system I was gonna build. Decided to swap the GRs to my main system and using the GRs right now on my mono tube amps. Now comparing to my other Analysis Plus Crystals OCC interconnects. I'm not sure the GRs will displace the AP crystals.  

The GRs are very close to the same design as the Cardas Clear Reflections which have the newer connector ends. I think I like the Golden Refs better than the Clear Reflections I demo’d earlier this year The GRs have started opening up with some time on them. Nice tone, texture, depth without being overly plush. They also work nicely with newer design tube amps using new repro small signal and output tubes too.


Yes, I have owned the GR and GC IC at the same time (and also GR, GC, and Hexlink Golden 5C speaker cables). I had a slight preference for the GC IC in my system. The GR IC was very good (perhaps more clear and balanced overall), but the GC added more fullness a more liquid sound, and I didn't find the highs to be rolled off (or not to a noticeably detrimental level, IME).

This was in a system with a Simaudio CD player and integrated amplifier, so I suspect that YMMV with tubes or different SS equipment. I only mentioned the GC/GR because AZ was recommended, which I have also used and am familiar with. That, and the comment to steer away from Cardas, because I find some elements of AZ and Cardas to be similar, yet in other aspects not at all.

The AP solo crystal IC and SC are also very good, and I've also owned both, as well as Oval 9 and 12 SC.

@gary_c good to know, would be fun to try the az refs too. I truly enjoyed the GCs on my former two SS amps.  

If you can stretch your budget, my recommendation is, unquestionably, High Fidelity Cables. Their ‘Reveal’ line is their entry point, but they are killer.

@louis - Yes High Fidelity cables are a "killer" of sound. The worst sounding cables I’ve ever heard including a $750,000 system whose owner immediately upon hearing GroverHuffman.com cables, purchased them at 5% of the high end High Fidelity cables. I’ve heard them at multiple shows and walked out of those exhibits-just bad sound. No one should put giant magnets around their cable. It’s bad technology. I’m a beta tester for cables for 20 years. I have heard everything from Monster Cable 300s to Transparent/Nordost/Cardas/Kubala Sosna, etc. high end cables. I also don’t like Transparent high end cables in systems I’ve heard. Kubala Sosna are very warm sounding, inoffensive cables, especially suitable to solid state gear. Matching cables to gear and one’s sound preference is the only way to determine a proper fit.

I’ve heard Silversmith Audio Filedum speaker cable in two systems and it has received rave reviews (compared to $18K cables). I have not heard them in my system where I use GroverHuffman Pharoahs. About the same price, moderate price relative to the high quality of sound and construction/design. Do not buy High Fidelity cable-it’s nothing personal, just horrible sound in about a dozen systems I’ve heard/left.