Kimber 4TC would be something to consider. Watch for a used pair on Audiogon. You want the teflon coated wire. It's much better then the 4PR. DH labs T14 is also good. It has silver plated copper, so highs are going to brighten up. You may or may not want this. Bannana connectors are easy to swap and compare different wires.
You should also play with interconnects. Stick with known brands like Kimber, Analysis plus, Cardas, Nordost etc... You can re-sell and get your cash back. DIY cables might be cheap, but re-sale will be poor. Do searches for budget cables or interconnects in the forums. Use words like "value", "budget", "cheap" and "bang for the buck".
Be more specific in your question. What sound improvements are you looking for? What is your budget?
without knowing your budget it is hard to make a recommendation.
But got to start somewhere.....here goes it.....
beleive it or not, the Monster M2.4S bi-wire speaker cables are not bad at all.
But if you want to step away from the Monster brand, consider Audience(conductor or maestro models could be had cheap used) and Acoustic Zen.
With B&Ws, the Acoustic Zen Satori Shotgun speaker cables would be a good choice and a good deal on the used market, depending on the length you need and of course if your budget allows.
FWIW, I think the interconnect upgrade may be more beneficial. At some point I had M950I interconnects and when I replaced them with Acoustic Zen Matrix Reference II the improvement was huge. On the absolute scale, the improvement brought by the AZ interconnects was bigger than upgrading a speaker cable from Monster M2.4S to Acoustic Zen Satori Shotgun.
In my mind, starting by upgrading your interconnects makes more sense.
Thank you for your reponse.
I'm primarily looking for a smoother highs and better mid section. The highs and mids are currently grainy and metallic. The mid section is lacking and a bit muffled. I know the kimber 4pr are aiding the metallic sound because it was introduced when I installed it in my older system. I also wish the soundstage was better but that may just be my equipment. The amp is only a week old. I hope that makes sense.
I'm not sure how to budget this wisely. I not looking to spend more than $500. I've seen used nordost red dawn speaker cable for about $400 on here, but I've never heard them. I agree with idea of changing the interconnect. I'm going to do this one at time so I understand the effect each change is adding or removing to the sound quality.
That's an interesting point on the interconnect. I do recollect that when I installed the Monster M950i Interconnects some years ago it was an upgrade to some older $40 monster cables. At 4x the cost, I did'nt notice a major difference.
These are newer components though so I probably do need to put some more thought on a better interconnect match.
As for the speaker cables, I'm looking for standard 8ft and hopefully spend no more than $500.
Thanks for the suggestions.
Mglennyc, I went from M550i to M950i and don't recall dramatic difference. Not the same going from M950i to AZ Matrix RefII though, where the difference is very noticable.
The soundstage just exploded with the AZ interconnects. And I still had the Monster M2.4s speaker cables!
The reason I suggested going with an IC change at first is because this is in the input stages to the amp. Changing the speaker cables will result in an improvement, but the new sp cables will only pass what the components before the amplifier supply through a set of M950i interconnects. So that is limited to the resolution of the M950i, which unfortunately is not that great.
If you are looking for an 8ft pair of speaker cables, at this price, attempt to find a used pair of AZ Satori Shotgun. If you are looking for smoother highs and increase in soundstage, the Satori is hard to beat in this price range.
I do not know what support/rack you have your system components on, and this could certainly have an effect on the highs and mids. Assuming that that is ok, or at least not significantly contributing to the sonic problems you describe, some past experience suggests that at least some of the mid-range muddle may be due to the IC. However, I would not accuse Monster ICs of grainy or metallic highs (unless suffering from corrosion / oxidation).
I would not immediately suspect the NAD CD player of the grain and/or metallic reproduction. To improve the midrange I would ensure the equipment and speakers are well setup, and try a different IC from the CD player to amp. You do not have to spend tons of money to exeriment: order an inexpensive pair from Signal or Audio Art or something. This would allow you to determine the effect on the sound, and you can always use it in a less critical area if you decide to get better ICs later.
For speaker wire, I would recommend Analysis Plus Oval 12. It is a good all around cable, is affordable, lacks any sins of commission, and would seem a good match to the rest of your system.
Thanks for the response.
The equipment is housed in an entertainment center that is for the most part solid wood. I think it took four movers to bring it in the living room. With the thick carpeting, all my books, leather sofa and curtains, I'm assuming the room is acoustically friendly. The B&Ws are on there designated stands and spiked into the carpet.
Since I only have the CD player and turntable preamp connected, its hard to mess this up.
Given three votes so far to focus on interconnects, that is exactly what I'm going to do.
If you get good ICs, the next thing to further improve the sound is to get a good power cord for your cd player. That will further reduce the glare and metallic qualities. Try Audience powerChord. For a good pair of ICs and this power cord you will easily fit into $500.
It's interesting you mentioned power cords. I just ordered a signal magic power cord. Maybe not as good as the Audience you mentioned, but given the return policy and number of positive reviews, I thought it would not hurt to try it out. Reading articles/forums I know upgrading PCs is a touchy subject. I'm glad you had success with the upgraded PC. It gives me more confidence that I'm heading down the right path.
Good to see you going the interconnect route. I have found my CD -> Pre cable to be vital to the sound in my system. I have a Kimber Power cord on my tube pre and it cleaned up the background. As your system improves you will notice changes more because the sytem as a whole has more resolution. This is why the subject is so debated. A bad system may have no effect at all. A reference system may have dramatic effects.
One thing that would be free to try is if you have improved the speaker cables go back to your $40 monster interconnects. You may notice more of a difference with the better speaker cables in place. The power cord is a good idea as well. I have been wanting to try the Signal Cable PC too, so it will be interesting to see what you say. A power cord can work wonders on cheap gear with poor power supplies. On expensive gear it may do nothing because it has super power supplies and regulation built-in. Don't be afraid to experiment.
For bright system, the low cost Rega Quottro is very forgiving without sounding dull & muffled. The Audio Note AN-L is along the same line but more musical & transparent and has better bass - but double the price.
The AN-L is very suitable for lean & bright systems - fluid and with sufficient body.
Just an update...
I finally purchased the Musical Fidelity 3.5 CD Player, Acoustic Zen Matrix interconnect and soon to arrive, AZ Satori speaker cables. Roughly a two week period between purchases.
The harshness and electronic haze I discussed in my earlier posts has diminished greatly. In my opinion, the largest impact since my first post was a decent burn in period of the Musical Fidelity 3.5 Amp, which was new at the time, and the replacement of the NAD CD player. The MF CD player also needed a decent burn in period but at 100 hrs, the quality of sound got better. This was easy to do by simply letting the player run in repeat mode and just hear the comparison, day to day after I came home from work. The Matrix interconnect definetly changed the character of the sound for the better compared the monster cable that I was using.
I still have to incorporate the AZ speaker cables and will probably replace the power cords at some point, but I'm trying to do this a step at a time so I understand what each upgrade is adding and removing.
I want to thank everyone that provided suggestions.
Alright! Really good to read of someone's success (isn't always easy or worth the money).
Mglennyc, great to see you are getting there....step by step.
AZ Satori speaker cables should improve your system even further. Enjoy!