the eternal cable question


Hi Everyone,

My goal here is to whittle down the mess that is the interconnect jungle with the help of my wise, knowledgable, and generous Audiogoners.

I have been researching and reading tons of stuff, Copper, Silver, Silver over Copper, Gold, Palladium, Rhodium, Fluids, 4N-9N, 99.999%, 99.9999%, 99.99999%, OCC, OHCC, OFC, Twisted, Helix, Double Helix, Solid wire, Stranded wire, Teflon, Air, Shielded, Unshielded, XLR, RCAs,.... Head Exploding!

Some of you have given me some great advice already but I have more questions. 

There seems to be a rule of thought that Silver sounds better with Tubes and Copper / Gold sounds better with Solid State. And well made Pure Solid Silver will sound good with both. Of course I know that it will all depend on my own ears when it comes down to it. However is there some truth to that? 

Is it true that mixing metals can produce different sonic results? Example... Gold RCAs will help tone down Silver wire? Or Silver Eichmanns RCAs can liven up Copper wire? It has been suggested that I use Silver plugs with Silver over Copper wire in teflon. That is the Morrow configuration.

Is it best to go with one company if they offer all the different cables or is combining different okay? You'll see from my list below that Almadi, Cabledyne, and Cerious do not offer a full set of cables.

Should I use the same company for interconnects from the VPI to the Herron and then the Herron to the Coda? The Herron is a Tube Phono preamp. 

Would like to hear from those of you who own SS amps and or similar systems to mine. Those of you who own Tubes amps will have to convince me that your interconnects will sound good on SS.  

My current system is

Coda CSIB Integrated Amp
Oppo BDP 105D
VPI Scout Turntable with an Ortofon 2m Bronze mm cartridge
Herron Audio VTHP-1 Tube Phono Preamp
Revel F52 Speakers
SVS SB13 Ultra Subwoofer
Furman Linear Filtering AC Power Source Conditioner ELITE-15 DMI

Currently running Blue Jeans between everything with 12 gauge copper for the Revels.

They sound alright. A little grainy in the upper ranges, Sound stage fluctuates with the recordings. The biggest thing is that I can't help but think that my sound can be better.

My budget is $1500 for all the cables and interconnects. Used is good.

My current list of cables to audition consists of Morrow, Almadi, Cabledyne, Cerious Graphene Extreme, Gabriel Gold Revelations.

Thank You for your time and generosity in teaching this Audio Grasshopper the ways of the Audiophile Force.

Peace,

Mark 



meambler
Whooboy, are you going to get recommendations...
B
Any combination of metals that give you the desired sound in your system is almost guaranteed not to work in a different one. There are no absolutes as to which metal imparts which sound quality. It's all in the construction/implementation and even then, you have to contend with your amp, source, and speakers. All you can do is try, try, again until you get what you want.

All the best,
Nonoise

One famous cable maker has had the courage to say that the law of diminishing return hits right after his base model.  After that, you're in buying trophee material and unproveable constructions based on hypothesis.
I think cables cable make a difference, but there's no need to spend a fortune for optimum performance.
I suggest ordering from a company that provides a return policy such as Signal Cable or Morrow Audio. Talk to them about which model is best for you. I like the Silver Resolution from Signal.

Is it true that mixing metals can produce different sonic results?
Never compared the sound of different connector metallurgy, but silver and copper are combined to make the conductor in my cables, (Purist Audio and Grover Huffman Empress). 
I think it's a generalization to say that only copper or only silver will sound right in a given system. It depends on the design of the cable which includes the conductor, the dielectric, and the dampening material, and of course the design of the components being used.

The VPI to the Herron should be treated differently than line stage components where almost any IC can be used. TT to phonostage requires a low capacitance cable, plus this is where you are likely to hear a difference in sonics between different metals and cable design.

I am not sure what "the" question is; I counted more than one. Only someone who knows the characteristics of all your components would have a chance at being able to help you decide on cable recommendations. One of those people is you, and you're opinion is the most important. I would start by replacing only ONE set of interconnects, between the Oppo and your integrated, and just listening for a few weeks to get a handle on what that change did. Then go from there. There is no way to shortcut this process, and you need to come to your own conclusions. You'll be happier in the end. Good luck.
+1 Grover Huffman. Excellent cables at affordable prices - with a generous 60 day trial period - as well as a trade-up program. No dealer markup. Rarely seen on the used market. But, you need to solve the HF issue before a quality cable can be appreciated.

It’s common for grainy HF to be caused by noisy power. Could be any number of causes - including digital hash from the Oppo. Check the Audiogon archives. That model Furman is ok, but isn’t a cure-all.

+1 nicoto. There is no shortcut. Take your time, enjoy the journey.

Is it true that mixing metals can produce different sonic results?

Yes. This goes for cables mixing metals in their conductors as well as those using connectors with different metals.


Is it best to go with one company if they offer all the different cables or is combining different okay?

There are no absolutes in audio. Going with all one company may work best for you. However, mixing and matching is fine as well. BTW, I think you mean Amadi, not Almadi.

I own a VPI table, and use a tube preamp with SS amps, however, my preamp, amp, and speakers are different than yours. Who knows? My personal musical tastes may be different from yours as well.

This is why I agree with @nonoise  and @nicotico , that only you can determine what works best for you. Take your time, try different cable companies using those that offer a good return policy first, or you could try using The Cable Company for loaner pairs.

As @lowrider57 mentions, start with the interconnect between your VPI and Herron first, as this should give you the most "flavour" of the cable.

It sounds as if you are experiencing grainy sound now, with all copper cables, is this correct? If so, I would avoid silver or silver plated copper cables. I am using almost all pure silver myself, and although my system does not sound grainy in any way, silver can be very revealing. If there is grainy components in your system, the silver will reveal it more than copper.

Gold can sound a bit warmer than copper, you may want to audition the Gabriel Gold for this reason. Also, I have owned the Cerious GE interconnects, and though they claim to have silver in them, they were too warm for my system. You may want to give them a try as well.

I prefer the Amadi, but I would recommend you avoid them, as they may reveal even more grain in your system.
I have not heard the Morrow or the Cabledyne cables, though I believe that Morrow uses silver plated copper and Cabledyne uses pure silver, which I also would avoid both due to your grain issues with copper.
From my experiences, I have found silver plated copper to sound faster, more revealing, and grainier than pure silver.

Take your time, there is no deadline. You may even find some older copper interconnects, like Cardas Golden Cross, Jena Labs, or Kubala Sosna, may eliminate your issue with grain.

Good luck, and happy hunting.

Cheers,
John


Excellent advice- John
After reading Nonoise's post, there's no need for anyone to comment further.
I second AQ. You select the best models within your budget and you'll be happy. Naturally do not pay retail and buy used if possible from a trustworthy seller. Just an opinion but I am a user.


I agree to give AQ a try. Preferably a model with teflon dielectric... the purer the conductors the better. The dbs system is so effective that it virtually gives AQ a corner on the interconnect market especially in which you are dealing with low level signals. dbs just allows a "frictionless flow" to the music that really opens up the sound.

Thank you all for sharing with me your knowledge and suggestions.

I have started down the path by auditioning the Cerious Graphene Extremes along with their Red Power cord for my Oppo. And a pair of Amadi Maddies, one with solid silver RCAs and another with Gold RCAs. 


jmcgrogan2
"I own a VPI table, and use a tube preamp with SS amps, however, my preamp, amp, and speakers are different than yours. Who knows? My personal musical tastes may be different from yours as well."

What ICs do you use between your VPI and tube preamp? I have a really wide range of musical tastes.

Of those who recommended the Audioquests... which models are you using? Any opinions on the Colorados? And is the Cable Company the only place that will allow me to audition them? Of all the cable manufactures out there AQ seems to have the largest range of models. Do they come out with a different set every year or something? Geeze!

And are counterfeited AQ's really that big of a problem? 

Peace,

Mark 





AQ actually keeps their models out for several years. I would go to their website and hit the pricebook tab. All models and specs for each cable are listed here along with the retail price. Look for cables ideally with perfect surface copper(PSC) and possibly the DBS system if within budget. The details per model are laid out bare so that you can see what you are paying for. Also prior models can be compared to the latest models by checking these same specs. Used is great as you can purchase a superior older cable for the same or possibly less money than a new model. 
As far as counterfeits go they are definitely out there. Just be prudent as to the seller and his/her feedback and info as to the source. Be very wary of deals that look too good to be true. Counterfeiting is a backhanded compliment to a very fine product. 
@meambler My entire system is wired with AQ Colorado. They have the purest copper conductors (PSC+) with highest quality dielectric (Teflon). One and one and a half meter ICs are on sale at half price here https://www.musicdirect.com/equipment/audioquest-colorado-interconnects-pr

@meambler , Mark, since you asked, I am using High Fidelity CT-1E interconnects from my VPI Prime to my Allnic H1201 phono preamp AND from my Allnic H1201 phono preamp to my ARC Ref 5 line preamp. Probably out of your price range though.

I have also owned the Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme and Amadi Maddie Signature interconnects. Of those two, the Amadi probably works better in my current rig, to my ears.

However, if you are having troubles with grain in your system, silver (Amadi) may not be for you. The CT GE are much warmer and fuller sounding, though too dark for my system/tastes. I don't think you would find the CT GE would sound grainy though.

Unfortunately, yes, counterfeit  Audioquest are indeed a big problem. I'm sure that many for sale on sites like Audiogon are fairly safe, but markets like Ebay tend to flood the market with fakes, and AQ, XLO, and Tara Labs are high up on the list of counterfeiters.
Small manufacturers like CT and Amadi are not really picked on by counterfeiters.
To update this thread...

I went with a pair of Teo Game Changers and I'm very happy with the sound that runs through them. Miles better than the Amadis, CT Graphenes, Morrows, Gabriel golds, and the Cabledynes

FWIW,

I've found a "lesser cable" of any brand with eichman connectors sounds better than a higher level one with RCA's .
I can't sleep at 5 AM on a Saturday so I'm trying to be coherent writing about cables! ugh

My take on cables has always been to try the out-of-the box designs because trying a .99% copper vs. a .999% copper from different companies seemed like the Chevy vs Ford thing and there really wasn't enough improvement to bother.

I liked silver for years and just like Cu they can be implemented well or poorly. Silversmith silver was the most profound silver cables I ever used. Gave me goosebumps when I installed the IC's and more of them when I added his speaker cables. Jeff does not build power cables. I assume his Palladiums are even better. They are silver ribbon versus silver plated Cu. Regardless, these are over your price range

HFC with their magnetic technology are really onto something, but if you knew they actually run the signal through the magnet and not inside the magnet before you tried them you might avoid them. Again, a different technology versus "just wire". And to many, a pleasing result.I own 3 pairs of their RCA adapters and often move them in and out of the system.

Morrow does something ingenious that some others do and he avoids the skin effect of signals jumping from wire to wire by using very small silver plated wires all individually insulated form one another. I still have a pair of MA-5's hanging in the room if I ever need another IC because they are very good for the money. Not a cheap cable to just hang around and not be used but a good cable if you need it.

On the different technology path I tried all the pieces of the Cerious Tech graphene extreme series. This is adding very fine highly conductive graphene fibers to traditional wire wrapped up into something different from the rest of the herd. I use their power cables and have not found a speaker cable to replace theirs. The best SC's for full body and weight I have ever tried. Highly recommend their SC's.

Staying with the different technologies theme, I tried and still use the Teo liquid metal Game Changers IC's. Completely different thinking and gratefully, a completely pleasing sound. They really lit my fire for truth in sound. Instruments sound like real instruments.

So you can see that my set-up is now comprised of liquid metal, graphene fibers, and sometimes, magnets. And if I have to use traditional wire, it is configured to avoid some common pitfalls of wire touching wire.

Having said all that, the biggest improvements I get are still with the electronic pieces. I never saw the benefit in spending more money to get someone's .999999% wire in some crazy weave they call proprietary. I am sure they sound fine but I like the designs that solve technical issues with creative solutions.

Mark, I think you can easily better the BJC's without breaking the bank. There are some nice suggestions here but be careful not to just incrementally move up with your dollars. You might not get a significant improvement over the BJC but only different sounding results.
There is only one way to know how any cable is going to perform in your system. Try it!

Go to THECABLECOMPANY.com and access their lending library.  

Also see JPSLABS.com, their cables are superb.

Mark,

You seem to be already quite knowledgeable about audio cables, so I'm not sure if my comments will be of any use.

Usually, one can expect soundstage, and even the perception of brightness or grain, to vary from one recording to another. A revealing sound system will do that, so I'm not sure whether swapping cables will help improve the sound of your system to any significant degree.

From the components you have listed, I would personally stay with copper, especially with your budget in mind. I would choose cables from name-brand companies, such as AudioQuest, Cardas, or Transparent Audio. Those are my favorites when cost is of no consideration, and I need to control system brightness.

For me, cost is always a consideration, a big one in fact, so I would try River Cable (http://rivercable.com/) in your case.

From my experience, I don't begin to hear a significant sonic difference among cables in systems costing less than six figures, but maybe that's a limitation of my hearing more than anything else.

On the original question about various metal ’sounds’, I have to add the fact the insulation can affect the sound of a cable.
I find Teflon tends to be ’thinner’ (leaner midrange and less bass but tighter) sounding, yet has greater clarity than other insulators.
Kimber has a specific blend of an insulation which all by itself increases the bass.. They use it on Kimber Hero,and the KS 11116/1016 series.
As for air, foam, paper, cotton..?
(some folks swear by cotton BTW.)
So besides the metal, the INSULATION can and does affect how a particular cable may sound.
Just to add to the muddle. LOL.
Thanks for the updated posts everyone. I have had my Teo GCs for about 2 months and close to 300 hours on them (of that about 100 hours of actually listening to them).

My ears are very impressed with the sound coming out of my system with them in line.  No ear fatigue ever. I get sad when I have to stop listening and live my day to day life. They sounded great right out of the container and have continually improved to this point. All I can say is that for $500 the cost to performance ratio is fantastic. I'm not sure what their higher ended cables might do for my system. The good thing with the GCs is that I don't need to know.

They have now come out with Game Changers 2 for $600 for 3 meters. I don't know if they will be significantly any better then their original GCs but I do need another set between my Herron and Coda. So maybe I'll give them a try.  
I’m late to the thread now but i’ve been on the cable merry go round for ages and have absolutely no doubt as to what i’d do. locate used AQ Niagara interconnects then wait until I could afford a set of AQ Castle Rock speaker cables. The Niagara uses the smoothest silver you will ever hear. No copper AQ cable will compare in pure transparent musicality. I’m 100% sure that you’ll be amazed. Detail wo brightness. Great formula.