System Cable Upgrade Recommendation


Hi all,

I posted recently in the Digital forum and got some great advice (new Mytek Brooklyn DAC on the way), and now I’m hoping to do the same over here.

I’m a believer in the cable voodoo (but not the eye-watering pricing and insane margins they must have). The nice lady that sold me my Triton 2s heard I was running RadioShack spool speaker cable and begged me to home audition a pair of Transparent The Wave, which were night and day different in performance and remain in my system today. That was enough to convert me, but all other cables are still my "whatever’s cheapest on Amazon" curation. Recently upgrading from a Marantz PM8005 amp to the Mc MA252 was a huge blessing (curse for my bank account) as it’s fantastic and a new performance bar I'm building around system-wise.

I primarily listen to indie and a lot of electronic production, with the occasional jazz album thrown in. Budget is flexible -- just want to hit the cost/value apex commensurate with my system, where the components total about $8k.

Bluesound Node 2i
Marantz TT-15
Brooklyn Mytek DAC
McIntosh MA252
Goldenear Triton 2s (in powered mode)

Based on this, I believe I’d need:
Optical from TV to DAC
Digital Coax Bluesound Node to DAC
Interconnect (balanced or unbalanced) DAC to MA252
Speaker Cable
3x Power Cord (Amp, 2x powered bass amps)

I saw Shunyata recommended elsewhere for a McIntosh-based system, and I’d also be willing to go the DIY route. No access to soldering equipment though -- stripping wire and adding connectors would be about the limit of my capability).

Default plan was to get some Blue Jeans cable all around and audition various things through The Cable Co library program until I heard what I like. However, that’s going to take a while and you have to put out a 5% fee to try, which is only refundable as store credit. I find more value in the used market picking up hot deals. If there’s something highly recommended I could go ahead and get, I’d do that.

Thanks in advance.


bfjones01
Furman with LiFT and SMS is my very effective and relatively inexpensive answer to most about power conditioners.

My one bit of advice, be super careful with the DAC volume! If you set it up wrong it will output full range to your amp.
Thanks for the suggestion -- read a lot of reviews and seems great. Would benefit me systemwide and be safer than 2 $10 surge strips daisy-chained together.

Just scored a refurbished Elite 15 PFi for $500 delivered.

Would also appreciate thoughts on cables.  Do power cables now matter less with the line conditioner?
I would check out Audioquest. I, too, used Transparent, but found AQ to be much better with my speakers/amp.
Plus, their prices are much more realistic-unless you want to go to the top tier. Even the lower ranked models perform well above their price range.
I would either call AQ, or PM John Rutan (aaudioconnection). He knows AQ as well as you other components and can give you some great, free information without a hard sell.
Bob
For the Toslink optical from TV to DAC I suggest checking out Lifatec.
Thanks Bob & Elizabeth -- will do some research on that Lifatec cable.

I actually pulled the trigger on a full set of Silnote Morpheus II Reference II w/ Poseidon power cords thanks to their holiday sale, after confirming a 30-day trial period. I’ve also ordered a set of Blue Jeans Cable interconnects and digital coax (keeping stock power cords). My plan is to do some blind A/B testing with friends and see if we can reliably discern a difference. For $65 in cables vs $1700 (and 3x that at list prices), I’d certainly expect to -- otherwise they’re going back. I’ll update on our findings in case they’re of interest to others.  This will be my first real experience with "high end" cables, even if it's just dipping a toe into that range.

Incidentally, Mark at Silnote has been great thus far responding to a couple questions about return policy and recommended burn-in period. This contrasted with The Cable Co who have not responded to my inquiry in 4 days. Good experience thus far and I should have his cables in-hand in a couple weeks.
I found The Cable Company horrible for returning calls or email.  That is the main reason I no longer do business with them. 
Cable co is pure garbadge every time you call the 1 guy they have working will call you back good luck with that.
Bf,
 It looks like you got excited and pull the trigger on the bluejeans cables. Bluejeans a good starting place for your system but certainly not end game cable material even for your system. I’ve tried Blue Jeans too, and I know you can do better. 
You are right that there are massive mark ups in the cable industry, higher than amps and DAX and such. However if that stops you from buying good cables, then I’m afraid you’re shooting yourself in the foot and your ears will resent you. No offense, just being upfront with a fellow Audiogonner 

1. If you run toslinl from your TV to your DAC,  then the timing will be off between what you see on the TV screen and what your ears here. It’s a short delay, but big enough to make the experience uncomfortable at best. 
Rec: run your TV/cable input into a processor like a AV or HT processor/preamp, which then disperses the video signal to your TV, so that the video and audio are timing-aligned. 

2. Somenone above made a wise comment about electrical filters/conditioning, the Furman and the other. 

Rec:  what most of us learn as we get more into this hobby is that the most important thing for your system is to have a clean electrical signal with full band with. A person cannot get that if they’re plugging their components directly into a wall socket. That’s why we use isolators, conditioners, electrical filters: in order to clean the dirty electricity coming off the city grid Which not only causes distortion of the music signal but also limits the bandwidth. It’s like plumming, right? Put in the good stuff and good stuff comes out. Put in the bad stuff and bad stuff comes out. For Ex, if you bought really expensive cables without a conditioner, you will be getting a dirty signal. Cables don’t clean the signal, they just pass along the signal. 

3.  I have a Silnote Ref power cord as well for 2nd system. They are good, not great (TBH), but like you, I was also drawn to the price point.  Silnote typically advertises their cables with huge savings, so it always looks like a good deal. 
Rec: checkout Audio Advisor:  Pangea brand, it is their house brand of very good and ver well-priced cables. I believe they use Cardas wire for building their cables. Eg, the Pangea 14 SE is a well-reviewed Classic. 
Pangea now makes balanced XLR ICs, so you could buy both the RCA and XLR, compare them, and send back the other for a refund. 

For speaker cables, consider the custom Audioquest cables that AUDIO ADVISOR sells. I have them, and you can customize the terminations on both ends. 

Last, despite the audio industry’s high mark ups on cables, and people minimizing their value, cables have gotten a bad rap. If we look at all the cables we use, the PCs, the ICs, the SCs, we are looking at a lot 5 cables per system. That is a lot. That’s why they influence the sound so much..  if we look at just one table, then maybe a person can say that the cable only has a smaller influence on the sound.

But if we look at our five cables and how they affect the sound from start to finish throughout the system, then the cables -as a whole- influence the sound just as much or more than any one particular component. For example,  each human body has organs it’s under its skin. But did you know that skin is an organ too? B/c skin  envelops our whole body and holds our organs in. 
Similarly, cables connect all the components, and therefore act as an organ itself. 
Wow, that was a long one, hope it is useful.