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I have tried many including Signal, Rat Shack and others. The best I have heard under $250 are the Art Audio IC-3's. Only $69 new. They bested cables in my system costing up to $700 new. Without naming brands I had three different high end cables costing $500 - $800 new and the Art Audio IC-3's were every bit as good and in some ways better - open and extended.
I own many sets and use them for my HT set up. I use Audio Horizons/Component Plus IC's for two channel. They bested the IC-3's, but cost $250- $300 new.
Confident you wont do better for $69. A no brainer of a find. I think they have a money back guarantee also.
Paradoxically, if your new best low cost IC delivers all that an inexpensive player is capable of into a great amp and speakers then you may find more CD's don't sound as natural as with a more expensive player which better tames the digital medium before sending its output into the rest of your system.
To hear all that your player can deliver at your maximum $150 budget point there is the wonderful Realitycables.com original RCA IC which can even be pushed to somewhat more amazing capability with OFC RCA connectors at the $225 price point, still affordable for a rather supreme level of performance.
Since these are at home in expensive systems, you will be hearing all that your player can deliver, and be ready to transmit what an even better player can deliver when you eventually choose one.
I have not recently spotted Auricle Audio Design IC's for auction or sale here on Audiogon, but still recommend keeping an eye out for such an ad. This vendor impresses me as providing the best performance for a given low auction price. Despite a bargain price, you can enjoy shockingly good detail and transparency. Although your setup does not require a digital IC between separate CD transport and DAC, if that should be in your future then be sure to remember this source for a mind-boggling digital IC.
Audio Art IC-3 as good or bested these. They cost $69. I know some folks will say I am nuts, but I have owned these and have heard with my own ears after break-in.
Tara Labs Air 1
Luminous Audio line - various
Tom Evans Groove Tube
Z Squared Gold Au/Au
Granite Audio 470 silver IC
The Audio Horizons Transparancy IC's are the best I have ever heard. They are built by Joseph Chow and are out of this world. They surpased these big $$$ cables I have also owned. I mean surpassed. They cost $250 for a one meter RCA. I plan on writing a review when I get a moment.
Kimber Select 1130 - $1400 cable
Jena Labs Symphony - $1100 cable
Grannyring, Thanks for mentioning your Joseph Chow IC experience. His pricepoint is still quite reasonable. Do you find that when you hear something surpassingly good that its superiority extends to more than one system, or to more than one position in the signal chain?
I have found that if there is a "wow" experience it is not by inserting a new flavor of reproduction, but rather by seeming to hear more of everything in the recording and within the hardware's capabilities. It becomes hard to imagine something is still escaping detection in the recording.
Also, in a good system, even when better IC's expose poor recordings for what they are, there is an absence of the jarring or irritating quality which poor recordings used to convey. So, the net effect is that more recordings can be enjoyed.
Oritek X-1 at 130.00 used. I can't believe how good this cable is. I listened to it for one day and sold my Argent Pursang S which cost 1200.00. The bass is out of this world. It falls into the tight fast cable category. The reviewer on www.10audio.com found them to sound better than his Nordost Valhalla. You simply can't go wrong with this cable at it's price of 199.00 per meter new.
You might just end up liking it better than your big buck cables on the rest of your gear too, I did. I've tried a lot of cables over the years and this stuff is the real deal.
try to find some MIT Terminator 2. they are low priced and they have a very clean open sound. I used them before I moved up to nordost quattro fil,they are very close in sound, only the quattro fil was more open and extended, thats not too bad, quattro fil cost lots more.The terminator 2 are a great buy!!
Woodman go here for Audio Art IC's. You can get here by just searching under Audio Art on Agon.
Your questions are perfectly stated and my response mirrors your comments regarding real improvement 100%. This is not a flavor change. I use the Audio Horizons Transparancy IC's
from CD player to preamp and from my preamp to amp. I use them on both a tube and SS amp. Perfectly balanced from top to bottom with no flaws. Every wire I have owned over time shows some flaw or bias. This one does not. I will post a full review when I get more time to put my thoughts together. I listened last night and this is what my mind kept saying about the experience. One-liners here.
- it sounded like music -not reproduced music from electronics
- instrument sounds came from a dead quiet background and were presented effortlessly and utterly transparant
- wall of sound
- fully balanced stage and presentation
- no flaws
- never have I heard such deep, powerful and tuneful bass - never
- the two IC's made the above comments far more obvious then one IC on the source
-I need to get the speaker cables
From one A'phile to the rest of you. These are a must try.
I gotta recomend Paul Speltz's anti-IC's made with Eichmann Bullet Plugs and WTB silver solder...for $140 you won't find a faster, clearer and more musical sounding IC.
I use mine in between CI vpc-2 passive pre and Muse Model 100 amp...can't wait to replace Mapleshade Cleaviews with another of paul's anti-IC's with the Eichmann's.
depending upon your taste, outlaw audio continuous cast copper cable at $55.00 is a good choice.
another to consider is the element interconnect, unshielded with bullet plugs.
since you didn't indicate your preferences i am indicating these cables based upon personal experience.
i own a pair of each.
i have personally auditioned many varities at different prices. if you want to ask more questions about cables, feel free to ask.
Mrtennis, I would like to hear more about the cables you've tried. I'm kind of going through the same thing myself right now. Pretty happy with equipment so I'm looking to squeeze out that last little bit of performance from cables.
I've also been using the Outlaw IC's. Really good cable, but the connectors are a bit big and a pain to get on and off. For speaker cable I'm using Monster M1s bi-wire.
I'm starting with the IC from my CDP to pre-amp and will work my way from there. Since my CDP is a Naim CD5i which has a DIN output that is supposed to sound superior to the RCA outputs, I bught a couple of IC's used that are DIN to RCA. A Nordost Blue Heaven and Chord Cobra.
I've had both in the my system this weekend, spending the majority of time concentrating on the BH, and I will continue my test over the next week or so. However, I have to tell you that so far, to my ears and in my system, the Outlaw seems better than both. Even with the DIN.
Anyhow, I'd love to hear your observations and what you have tried. I'm seriously considering just staying with the Outlaw and moving on to replacing the speaker wire.