Tim, i talked to Jonathan and Don this week and we talked about a possible trip out here and his speaker quest. his recent travels and listening perceptions just go to prove how system-dependant everything is. i have not heard Kharma cables yet in my room (i am suppose to be recieving the Kharma Enigma cables for audition soon) so i can't comment on those. the Kharma cables are said to have a similar toneality to the Siltech, somewhat on the slightly "dark" side of ultimate neutrality. the Jena Labs are probably closer to "neutral" and in some systems might not be as ideal as the Kharma cable.....of course, the reverse would be sometimes true. at CES i did listen to the Grand Ceramiques and Exquisites both on Lamm amps and Kharma cables and while they sounded very nice i vastly prefer the sound in my room with the Tenor,Opus and Valhalla......faster, more open, better bass integration, more natural tonal balance.....but there were so many other differences between systems it is very difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions. no CES room can have the TLC a long-term room can have. there is no question that the Valhalla/Opus in my room is faster, more neutral, and more open than even the Jena Labs but in my room the balance is just right to my ears....so what seemed too lean with the Jena Labs in the systems Don listened to.....is just fine with the Exquisites in my room. when i tried the Jena Labs in my room on the Exquisites the tonal balance was very good. i think Don needs to choose speakers first and then experiment with cables if he needs to (but i doubt he will need to).
until i listen to the Kharma cables in my room and compare them directly with my Valhalla/Opus i won't know if there indeed is a special synergy than will outperform my cables on the Kharma Exquisites. i am always interested in performance improvements so i will keep my mind open. whenever i have felt like i had it all figured out, along comes some revelation that shows me i was fooling myself.
generally i think that cables should only be involved in the final step of system/room balance and should not be expected to do the "heavy lifting" of solving big acoustical imbalances. bass balance, bass integration, and reflection control should first be optimized before the cable issue is dealt with. otherwise, changing one acoustical perameter could invalidate your cable choice. i try for neutrality and energy balance (as i'm sure everyone else does too)in the room so i can have my components as close to neutral as possible. this allows me to use a very open, honest cable like the Valhalla that may be too much truth for some less neutral systems.
so yes, you are correct about cables being right for the room, as the finishing touch, not as a band-aid.
Tim, i hope you and Don can come out for Jonathan's audio tour and that you can come up to my room for some listening....the Rockport and Exquisites are sounding fine this morning.....i have 4 guys coming over later (one of them is filming an interview with Pat Metheny today before he comes over) for a listen.
i have had quite a few "musical epiphanys" in my room over the last months......i look forward to sharing one with you.