Upgrade will be worthwhile. Shop used here at audiogon.
I paid $800 for a 35 foot pair of Transparent Ultra Balanced. These were $3500+ new. This deal took 6 months of patience on my part, I STOLE that cable at that price! Losing the monstercable and getting balanced will yield a difference in sound that will be immediately apparent to you. I personally like transparent and nordost, your mileage may vary! Buy the best you can afford.
Before you make the switch listen to cables of the same brand and model that you are interested in. There are distinct differences in the sound characteristics between single ended and balanced interconnects of the same brand and model. I agree with Beemer that balanced is the way to go but you need to hear the differences for yourself. Good Luck, Doug
I will second Beemer, find that kind of deal and you don't have to worry about it if you do not like them. You can turn around and sell them pretty quick at that price. BTW, beemer, I pick up some Ultral balanced this morning that I ordered to replace "super". Will cost me more than double!!!
not really stole them.... Transparent regularly sells cables on accommodation to dealer's store employees at 80% off retail, ($750 new for the ones you mention vs. $3500 retail), so depending on who you got them from they may still have made money on the deal. if Transparent can afford to do this (I am sure they do it for other industry types too, where do you think they get the glowing reviews from?) I can only imagine what the profit margin on these is. Nice cables, certainly, just not worth the $ imho. Suggest Cardas (still expensive), or maybe Tributaries.
Try the Micro Purl Copper from Alpha Core. the Cable Company will let you try them before you buy.
Balanced is the way to go. It will surely show with the equipment you have. BUT try first. I switched form RCA to balanced three years ago and never regreted the decision.
I have found that certain links in the chain are far more sensitive than others to cable changes. For me the biggest is between preamp (ARC LS5) and amp (ARC VT130). Both of these units only have balanced connections, so for me to use single-ended cables is not possible. However my experience with Transparent cables, the Ultra specifically, has a rolled-off top end with my ARC system. The Cardas Golden Cross was magic between preamp and amp and can be found in the 5 or 6m length on the used market for $1200-1500. Finding a longer cable could be difficult to find on the used market. But recently I came across a very long run of NBS Statement for 15% of retail price and I just had to go for it. Like the Cardas was over the Straightwire Virtuoso, Transparent Ultra and Audioquest Diamond, the Statement was over the Cardas. Tonal balance was much more in check with the NBS and wow, yet another layer of resolution....you think the Cardas portrays ambience and 3D beautifully, the NBS is another level beyond. But! ... for the value, the Cardas is so difficult to beat, especially in the context of an ARC based system like you have. One other thing, the Cable Company is nice to allow you to hear many models, but of course, you end up buying new and to me anyway, paying retail for cables makes absolutely no sense at all. So my advice is to take note of the reviews and comments for a few cables that consistently get great comments (look at the Cardas reviews on audioreview.com) and just try one out. If you get a great deal, and then decide they are not really a good fit for your system or your liking, then selling them should be easy. I'm a big fan of listen-before-buy, but sometimes a good enough deal means you can own them for awhile and sell them at the same price. Good luck to you.
Your observation about a rolled off top end with the transparent ultra interconnect may be true for your system and room. However, I have to disagree with the generalization of your experience. I am using a 15 ft balanced Transparent Ultra XL interconnect between my ARC LS25 and ARC VT100 MKII with excellent results. The sound is extended and natural in the treble region. It is most definitely not rolled off.
You really don't have to spend a lot. For example, you may want to try out the DH Labs (silver sonic) Air Matrix. Its less than $200 and fully shielded (I think, check out the website its listed on the links here). Its working for me, but I am not so addicted to this stuff to spend thousands on interconnects. Hopefully I won't be there for a few years and NASDAQ will be over 10,000.
I am running Ultra balanced between ARC LS-15 and Proceed HPA2, they aren't broken in yet but it definately is not rolled off in my system.
Sawyer, any time you can get gear for what the salesmen pay for it, it is a steal...I doubt that is the only reason for good reviews.
I sure don't mean to nit-pick against Transparent Ultra, but unless you have seriously compared other cables in your system, even the rather 2D sounding Audioquest Diamond had more treble extension, it's hard to say the Ultra is not rolled off. I would really be interested to hear what other cables you Ultra owners used in your ARC system because other than Cardas and Silver Audio, I had to move up to NBS to really get tonal balance, resolution, top-end extension AND not lose the magical bloom of the ARC products. I use Magnepan 3.3s and the ribbon speaker clearly shows less extension and resolution on the top end with the Ultra compared to the Diamond, Straightwire Virtuoso, SilverAudio Appassionata and NBS Master and Statement. Other than this one "shortcoming" in the context of my system, the Ultra was a great cable for ambience and 3D musicality.
The ARC pre was a recent upgrade for me, so I have not been able to compare various cables with it. Maybe it's just a difference in preference for us. What I think may sound bright, could be just right for you and or your set-up. What works in my room may leave you feeling "dull". I was able to compare a set of Super to the Ultra. The Super at first sounded like it had more detail but after some swapping around for a couple of days it was just too thin sounding compared to the Ultra. Nice speakers, I have cats so they are out of the qestion for me...