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.



Whooboy, are you going to get recommendations...
I like AQ
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,

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.
+1 for AQ. 
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.


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. 

"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? 



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

@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.