Look at used Cardas cables. This puts you in with high end manufactures with a propensity towards natural sound… great if your equipment isn’t high end. Using Audiogon or used cables.com will get you in at half the original price. Also look at used Harmonics copper.
This cable game is making my head spin
I'll start by listing my system for reference.
Pioneer PLX-1000 turntable w/ Ortofon 2M Black cart.
Tokyo Sound Phono stage (A late 90's Japanese Audio company)
Aric Audio Unlimited all tube preamp
Odyssey Khartago w/ upgraded power supply and internal wiring
Divine Acoustics Proxima speakers
Now the story of my Frankenstein cable setup. When I started purchasing cables I found an independent cable maker online who used silver in all his cables. I had purchased 3 power cables for my phono pre, preamp and amp. Unfortunately we had a falling out and I decided not to purchase any more cables from him. I was very green in the whole cable game and I still am but have learned a bit since. Most notably is how silver can brighten a system and the Ortofon 2M black is known as a bright sounding cart to begin with.
Being on a budget and wanting to upgrade all my interconnects at once I came upon vintage western electric interconnects being sold on here and elsewhere. Purported "giant killers" so I bought those for the time being at $114 a pair. But I needed a phono cable and being as green as I am/was thought you needed a cable with an attached ground and extra shielding. I couldn't find a western electric specific phono cable so I bought an Audio Sensibility impact SE phono cable. For speaker wire I went with the Belden 9497 from the same place I got the western electric. A nice budget cable and also a purported "giant killer". For my turntable I got a western electric power cable from the same place.
So I'm running 3 silver power cables to phono amp, preamp, amp and a western electric power cable to the turntable. Audio Sensibility phono cable. Western Electric interconnects from phono to preamp and preamp to amp, and the Belden 9497 speaker wire. What a mess right lol.
I want to streamline all my cables so I bought a pair of Audio Sensibility impact se interconnects. Same make as my phono cable. When I put them in between the preamp and amp I was shocked how dull and lifeless the sound was. Granted they are not broken in and only went through the 3 day burn in process Audio Sensibility offers but I was not expecting that dramatic of a change. The phono cable sounds good so maybe it is break in? Or the phono cable being OCC copper is taming some of the harshness of the Ortofon cartridge but the interconnect from preamp to amo is taming it too much?
I'd like to start auditioning cables from different manufacturers in the "mid-fi" price range and actually get this done right this time around. Given my system is there any advice to be offered on where I should start? I don't want things too bright sounding but not as lifeless as the Audio Sensibility (occ copper) either. And I'm a sucker for lush mid bass and mids hence the all tube preamp.
Sorry for the novel and thanks for any help!
Not challenging your experience, however its a little perplexing to read a cable with OCC copper is dull, lifeless, or taming too much. The Audio Sensibility Statement SE is supposed to have low capacitance and low inductance.
Do you have another source component (CD or streamer > DAC) or other to test with on the front end instead of a phono player? (leaving the AS Statement as-is) between the amp and preamp? Re-test, is it still dull or lifeless?
Is it possible I'm just so used to how bright my system is that a more neutral cable would lead me to think of it as dull? I have a cd player I can try them out on to see what that sounds like. Thanks.
I'll also look into the cardas cables like ghdprentice suggested.
Thanks I'll keep that in mind!
You’ve got too much going on at the same time and IMO, it’s impossible to sort out the way you’re doing it. I think you should buy a complete set of Belden ICs and speaker cables from Blue Jeans and some $10 power cables from Amazon and start over. Listen like that for 2 weeks and then start inserting your cables back one by one to see what each one is doing on its own. That’s what I think at least
Hi , I feel your pain as I’m a cost driven Mid Fi guy. My system is tube pre and power to Zu omens. I got away from silver early on as it was too bright. I went to Anti Cable interconnects and speaker cables ( level III ) and Silnote power cables. About a year later I switched to Morrow level 4 interconnects and speaker cables. Both of these brands solved my brightness issues. When I switched to the Morrows I gained some detail without getting brighter. Mike upgraded my burn in to 10 days ( 240 hrs ), but they need about 400 to break in. A few months after that I changed my power cables to Morrow. Then when everything was settled in I added a Richard Gray power filter with no noticeable change. Having already switched to upgraded 20 amp outlets on my 15 amp circuit’s, I added a 20 amp Shunyata Venom cable to the power supply. I could tell an immediate difference. My other cables are a Cardeas Clear USB to my DAC and a Morrow digital coax from my transport. Also noticed your tube logo and would like to say that Telefunkens work best for me as Siemens ( especially silver plate ) not so much with CCa and Phillips Holland exaggerated the upper third of the frequency in my system. I also went with a lower voltage rectifier tube in my amp. All of this was to get as close to that limit of open and airy, but not too bright. I always think of Goldilocks and the Bears. Happy Hunting , Mike B.
THIS step is where you noted the drastic change, correct?
Yes. At Best Buy, the display TV’s are set on ’vivid’ to grab your attention.
Welcome to the wild & weird world of cabling. Consider yourself lucky for not liking the IC’s during the audition period. You just saved some money.
My ears have never liked cabling with silver wire or rhodium connectors. And I’ve tried a lot. Burn-in is real - allow a week at least. Highly resolving systems are not set & forget. They require synergy - for cabling, power supplies, power conditioners, etal. That’s time-consuming, labor-intensive and wallet-thinning. Still, probably cheaper than owning a boat. Curiously, my two-way speakers didn’t sound really good until I added a couple of quality subwoofers. By adding the LF - the HF was smoothed out. Most music is full range. Especially, orchestral and electonica.
It’s taken about 20 years of tweaking to dial in my rig to my preferences. Recently, I experimented with the direction of a digital cable - reversing the arrows set by the manufacturer. I liked it better. A fuller, rounder sound - less vivid. Go figure!
A solid choiceWire World Eclipse, uses silver copper connectors far better then gold brass in sonics as well as much lower resistance , patented lowest dielectric lower then Teflon, And the highest 6-9s Copper ,in a flat Litz independent conductors ,no micro arching , great quality and value vs the competition ,
compare see what the competition offers for similar monies.
First, I am an engineer, I make cabling for myself and I sell them.
I like silver in interconnects, but I do not recommend it for power cabling. I prefer copper power cabling of adequate size for the job.
"Silver is not a good metal choice for power cables. Use 14ga. or larger copper power cables."
Purely a matter of opinion. I run silver power cables in my system together with silver digital cables and interconnects. No complaints from me - very happy . Besides, I want to support "poor" little companies like Shunyata and Synergistic who are on the verge of bankruptcy. 😉
I have some basic acoustic foam corner bass traps and a small amount of acoustic foam on the ceiling above the main listening position. They tightened the low end up a bit not much but better with than without.
Thanks for the suggestions guys I’m checking them out. I do have an Audio Sensibility Impact SE power cable I could try with the amplifier but is it important if its high current? Technically I’m half way there if I want to go the audio sensibility route which is my conundrum now. Abandon ship and start building a loom of another make or stick it out with Audio sensibility? As for the silver debate and the miles of copper debate I’m not getting involved LOL! I may be green but I know about that drama. 😂 Just playing guys. I appreciate the responses. This cabling is becoming more fun if that’s possible.
Do you have any isolation feet or vibration control devices under any of your components? Remove them and see if the sound changes. Some of these devices kill dynamics and make your system sound just like you described.
As for the cables, I would allow the new interconnects to break in for at least 100hrs and if possible 200hrs to really be able to draw your conclusions.
The original Audience AU24 interconnects and speaker cables on a used market for a very reasonable price deliver the type of sound you’re looking for. These will be tough to beat.
Another experiment to run is to reintroduce all the stock cables back into your set up and re-evaluate.
Metals matter not much. Geometry and insulation matter more. It makes more sense to find cables that mate between components than a ’brand’.
Power cables are largest cable snake oil category.
Chosen for sonics:
* no longer available
@blue_collar_audio_guy if that’s where the last change occurred, focus there yet there can be a double-up effect if you run the same cables at source/pre and pre/amp if its already headed in a certain taming direction you don’t like.
Fwiw, while I do run same_brand and model cables (Analysis Plus Crystal OCC) from streamer>DAC as source>pre>amps, some times I intentionally intermix different ICs at different layers to change it up every once in a while. I was a 25+ year Cardas diehard, tried 12+ different TOTL pairs, and use to intermix some for fun. Did some demos for the factory too years ago, was asked to give feedback on new versions. Sometimes with great results, "intermixing". Remember, the wiring inside each of these components can be different too. The notion of holding firm that you "must" run all of the same type/model of cable is one way, not always the best way. Each system and each of components, internal wiring, can be unique and not the same there either. This is why I was recommending trying other source components to re-test in the chain (instead of phono) and leaving your AS Statement SE cable in play pre>amp. You may in fact notice a difference there not having a phono/pre section in play with the Audio Sensibility cables doubled-up source>pre>amp. Try it.
I have my amp, preamp, and phono stage on thick butcher block platforms with spikes. If I were to experiment running without should I try removing one at a time?
I did some experimenting today and ran the Impact SE power cable to my amplifier. I liked what was I hearing so far. Need to break in to further evaluate. I also tried the Impact SE interconnect in different configurations with a digital source and vinyl and found I like it best running from Phono stage to preamp. I’ve read speaker cables are your most important cable investment. Is this true? I would put more in budget towards them if that is the case. $1000-1500 for a pair of life long cables. Have looked at Silversmith Fildeliums and Supra Sword among the other brands that have been suggestion here like the Cardas, Wireworld, etc..
No question speaker cables are really important. I would say in most cases they are the most important. If I upgrade my system, they are the first thing I look for.
Cardas are warm, accentuate the bass relative to the details and can hide some noice / hash from some overly detailed electronics.
Wire world Silver tend to be detailed and pretty well balanced.
‘’DH Labs are really good budget. Silver… take a while to break in. Very good for the money.
Transparent are well… really transparent and convey the full spectrum of your components. I use all Transparent.
I would recommend used. Audiogon or UsedCables. You can get them for 1/2 price… and rent to try.
Just because a cable is good for some people here it does not mean it is going to be good for you. Everyone’s system is different. If you buy mainstream, you can buy used and they will retain value. Buying the “newest great thing” may work. Make sure you can return them.
Top selling brands are WireWorld, Transparent, and Audio Quest.
I was experiencing very noticeable noise from my SL-1200 turntable. Mostly an echo type reverberation when walking near the table etc. Tapping on the stand or plinth was like playing a drum. Ordered the Sorbothane turntable Isolation feet from Mnpctech for it and I just screwed them in. An immediately noticeable silence. Ordered turntable upgrade here, Turntable Phonograph Vinyl Record Player lsolation Feet – Mnpctech Going to listen to a few records to make sure it hasn't killed the sound completely, but as far as decoupling goes they're awesome.
No, not all Cardas are warm. Depends on which cable model/version you are referring to. Having owned, tested, factory demo’d many-many pairs over the past 25+yrs with Cardas, each cable offers a different result. The newer Clear, Clear Beyond, are in a completely different league on their own for transparency, less bloom so to speak. Some of the newer mid-level cables from Parsec to Cygnus or Clear Reflections can still be warmish. Yes, some of the older vintage golden series are warmer than most. The newer Clear lines, not so much. Different designs.
It’s worth demoing with TheCableCo before drawing all-encompassing conclusions. While I’ve strayed mostly from Cardas except for my bi-wire speaker cables I still use sometimes, I still appreciate what they do and all of the variations. Its amazing George still comes up with all the different versions.
The newer Cardas Clear Beyond, Clear Reflections are not as warm as the old reference, golden matrix, etc… but they are on the warm side, slightly emphasizing the bass and attenuating the details.
I am not trying to be argumentative, but this is how they sound in the spectrum of cable companies products.. I have had several pair of Clear, Clear Beyond, and Clear Reflection interconnects as well as power cords and compared them directly with Wire World, DH Labs, Transparent, Nordost, Harmonics (several versions), for nearly a year, Nirvana, Straight Wire, and a couple more. I have compared them on several systems. They are, and have been for decades notably on the warm side. This is not a criticism, it is just how they sound. In many systems, this is what you need.
@ghdprentice that makes sense given the other cables you are comparing to. You hear what you hear and that’s what matters. I wonder if you’d feel my other Analysis Plus Crystal OCC RCA interconnects are warm sounding too. Different from all of my prior Cardas for sure.
I’d be curious to know which is warmer to your ears, Cardas Clear RCA interconnect vs. Wireworld Eclipse 8 (the version with OCC-7N Copper and those Silver clad contacts) - if by chance you compared or took notes on the Eclipse 8s?
I’ll have to look around and see what WireWorld I still have around. I have gone through a purge of the ridiculous pile of expensive cables I was not using.
Long ago I used to take notes… came up with a detailed rating system. Spent hundreds and hundreds of hours evaluating cabling (speaker cables, interconnects, and power cords) in different configurations of components. I learned a lot. I don’t bother any more.
There were a couple things I was surprised at the consistency of across time, one of which has been at the consistent warmth of Cardas. Every time, in every system (this works well in many, many systems) they are warm in comparison to all but notably warm cables. My dealer carries Cardas, and loves them… so he keeps dropping them by for me to try. I recognize everyone has different systems, preferences, and perceptions… so there are lots appropriate observations as there is no real empirical ruler… but this generality of mine has been reinforced repeatedly over decades… so I feel somewhat obligated to say so. Just trying to be helpful to the general community.
I will say that until you get into very highly designed cables the greatest predictor as to the sound character is Copper (a hierarchy of the actual CU quality / character within this category), silver coated copper, hybrid copper/silver wire, all silver… tends to be warm —> cool / detailed. Which it sounds like you are alluding to.
@ghdprentice Thanks for your thoughts and responses. Actually, I'm referring more to varying levels of cool/warm within higher quality copper ICs. I bailed on silver and silver over copper a few years back. Nice, but not my cup of accentuated tea. Most silvers were not a good match for my last two pairs of tube/mono amps or prior SS amps. Your results may vary of course.
I've probably wasted a lot of time trying too many over a few decades like you, and learned a lot too. I've done some factory beta version demos for a few MFGs over the years too. Past few years I've come across some occ/ohno cables with non-soldered machine-crimped connections that lean more towards silver sound, and TheCableCo has confirmed similar findings in their knowledge base. Today, I may go back and revisit a few over again. Probably a waste of time, but it can be fun too. Thanks again for your responses. 👍
Thanks for your response. Yes, it can be fun.
Cool about you zeroing in on the occ/ohno cable. I completely understand your interest. It is really fascinating to zero in on subtle differences in the materials and isolation techniques. I spent a lot of time noting the difference with earlier systems of mine with different formulas of copper. My systems at that time we’re high resolution and mostly solid state. Copper was usually the best solution. As my systems evolved, then silver coated copper struck the right balance.
I have to say that my experience has been that as components get better one can move up on the metal scale. The very best cables I have heard are Nordost Odin 2. Heavy silver. Upper end Nordost are incredible… lower level not so much. The Nordost Odin 2 are just frighteningly good with the right components. But the average cost of my components is $20K and the Odin 2 interconnect $17K… after a week… I had to yank them from my system as they were starting to sound too good.
I guess what I have learned is that you work with and carefully differentiate the materials / technology that works with your current system and close variants. As you move up in the compliment of components to really high end stuff the components require greater neutrality to sound the best. This is why the upper tiers of Transparent, Nordost, and some of the other brands exist. I use almost all Transperant now. I remember connecting a set of Transparent speaker cables (and Straight Wire interconnects) to my system thirty years ago and clasping my hands over my ears in horror… but in my current, much better system… the same interconnects sound great. So, it all depends on your current system.
An update on the situation. I've decided to stick with audio sensibility as I only need one short pair of interconnects and two power cables to complete a full loom. I can then use this as a baseline for any further upgrades.
As for speaker cables for the time being before deciding if I want to go really big in the future I got a pair of raven audio soniquil cables. Banana plug connectors. Now I can't tell if its the fact that they were replacing dollar a foot classic Belden 9497 speaker cables or that they are just that good but damn I was heartily impressed at $184 for a 6ft pair. Immediate opening up of sound and have gotten better over time now. Not sure if going big on speaker cables is as much of a top priority now lol!
Oh one additional thing I did that had a dramatic improvement was replace the 1980s withered wall receptacle with an orange outlet from home depot. It even said recommended for computer and audio applications on the package which gave me a good chuckle. $9.95 but low and behold there was a noticeable difference. Before there was a slight audible hum within 3 inches of the speaker when everything was turned. I had assumed that was just a casualty of running the all tube preamp and was fine with it as at my listening level its not an issue at all. With the orange outlet now though it is dead quiet. You have to practically dig your ear down into the speaker to hear anything. Not sure if this means lowering the noise floor or something but it sounds better to me so all good!
Pioneer PLX-1000 turntable w/ Ortofon 2M Black cart.
Tokyo Sound Phono stage (A late 90's Japanese Audio company)
Aric Audio Unlimited all tube preamp
Odyssey Khartago w/ upgraded power supply and internal wiring
Divine Acoustics Proxima speakers
"I've decided to stick with audio sensibility as I only need one short pair of interconnects and two power cables to complete a full loom."
What logic would lead anyone to think that divers components require the same cable brand? Cable brands often do not have familial sonics. Change the length, construction, connectors, etc. and change the sound. Change what's on either end and change the sound.
Most cable advice is 200% worthless as no one else has the same equipment, room or program.
No, it doesn't give a baseline. Cables interact with their driver and their load and the effects imparted are to the specific system only.
There is ZERO probability that cost / model delta will create any specific benefit.
It is 100% possible that a same company cable change to a 2x cost will make a very good system unlistenable.
If you like your system, you are done. If you don't figure out why before expending a penny on some recommended wire. Ignore ALL FanBoy recommendations. First, it's their system only. Second, they may be deaf or have diametrically opposed preferences.
If you haven't, see ieLogical CableSnakeOil and the links referenced therein.
@blue_collar_audio_guy “That would make all my cables that model. Giving me a baseline.”
That is a great idea. If you like the overall tonal balance and presentation you can move up the product models. If you don’t you can move to a different brand emphasizing the characteristics you want. You are creating a known starting place.
I did the same decades ago… then came up with about six or seven variables each to be rated on a ten point scale. With my standard set. I would compare others with them. If what you have chosen isn’t “neutral” it doesn’t matter… because several variables will always be high or low… showing how these place in the greater scheme of things.
An excellent logical approach since there is no absolute neutral standards available.
After much time switching all my power cables around I have found a combination I can live with. The two silver cables are running the turntable and phono preamp. The Audio Sensibility impact copper cable is on the preamp and the vintage western electric tinned copper cable is on the amplifier. I havn't bought any additional cables yet but I'm getting curious now what getting the silver cables out of my system and replacing with copper will do to the sound. I like the resolution of silver but feel it's still a tad bit harsh sounding and thin on the midbass. I think its time to start the cable co. lending program and demo some of the cable manufacturers suggested here starting with Cardas.
@blue_collar_audio_guy if doable, what happens if you swap the Audio Sensibility Impact copper cables upstream closer to your source / phono preamp, and moving the silver cables downstream in the chain - does it smooth out a little more for you?
@blue_collar_audio_guy out of curiosity which silver power cords are you using and how many hours of burn-in do you have on them?
@lak They are custom made by Mark Tunis he sells on audiogon. I've had them for around 4 years so they are fully burned in.
@blue_collar_audio_guy I use all Raven cables with a Raven integrated - I agree with you - I think they are remarkably good and very reasonably priced - as good or better than the Nordost's I also own. I was impressed that the amp came with the same power cable they sell for $230.
I have a sneaky suspicion they are using Cardas copper conductors given they are using Cardas connectors in their amps.
^^ This is telling^^.
Btw, I run all Cardas Grade 1 Ultra pure copper -or- Analysis Plus OCC Crystal Copper interconnect cables. All Silver ICs are stored away, no longer used. Neither of these brands and lines of copper interconnects are harsh. Smooth and natural.
An ear screeching Bob Dylan harmonica does not sound like much fun. Hopefully with some good loaners you can get it figured out for your ears. Best of Luck.