I currently have 2 sets of Cardas balanced cables. 1 set goes from DAC to Pre, the other goes Pre to amps. I’m considering upgrading the DAC output set to something like Teo Audio , Cerious ,or High Fidelity.
Should the 2 sets be of matching quality or can I expect a significant enough improvement with just 1 upgraded set?
Answers will vary however I've experienced success with upgrading one pair of interconnects. If one has a good ear for music and an overall understanding of mixing and matching great success can be achieved. It's tunning the music to your preferences. With that said many people will suggest using the same brand interconnects etc. It's all good!
If the sonic characteristics of the new cable are more to your liking you should get some noticeable improvement with one interconnect and more of the same with two. I agree to start with the source and work your way down, although it's good to try in both positions just to see what you get. Just trust your ears. If that means two different brands of interconnects, so be it. There's no absolute right or wrong here. Best of luck.
As you get more experienced at this and in the sound you are hoping to achieve, you will generally get little to no satisfaction when you upgrade slightly or it was a sideways move. I like what the reviewer for Dagogo, Doug Schroeder, said about upgrading cables or really anything in the system. He says if you have to strain to even think you are hearing a difference for the better, then it wasn't worth the time and money to do it. He won't upgrade to a better cable unless it is significantly better in sound--and, for the most part, it will also be a significant jump in price, too. I putzed around for awhile with very slight upgrades or some changes that weren't even noticeable. It was when I started doing what Doug suggested to me--upping the cost about 50%--that the changes made a significant difference. I'll agree with those that said it depends on the sound of the system whether staying with one brand of cable is a good idea or maybe throwing a different brand in the mix that has strengths that go with the different strengths of the cable you already have and liked might be a better way to go.
In my experience there is a definite value to upgrading one component at the time; be it an interconnect or anything else in the system. Of course different connections may have different effects on the overall sound of the system. In your case where you are only looking at 2 sets of interconnects you could start by upgrading one set, listen for improvements (or otherwise!) then change it with the other set and listen again to the effects of change. Then you can decide if it's worth upgrading the second set as well (or indeed was it even worth changing the first set). For what its worth; I have Synergistic Research interconnects throughout my system between all components and they sound superb but I did not upgrade all of them at the same time. Once I bought 2 pairs I was enabled to replace each component at a time and evaluate the change for myself. I also agree with the other comments here that you need to hear significant improvemnt in the sound quality to your ears before upgrading interconnects. What I am suggesting is not about the cost of the cable. What may be an open and liquid sound to me you may hear as sterile sound. One thing is for sure and that is the right interconnect makes a huge difference to the sound of your system. It's a lot of fun trying to find the right one for you and your system.
I'm going to go against what most people have stated here on the thread but. In my years of listening to systems and changing cables I have found the preamp to amp interconnect is the most important and most apt to changing the sound of a system when upgrading. Simple reason being that you're volume (or in this case the electrical power) is lower than the one the source components use normally. Usually about by half. Because we never listen to our systems at full volume. The source components almost always see full power during a song.
So to make a long story short reserve your best interconnect for the preamp to amp connection which usually needs a much lower noise floor and better resolution for those lower volume levels.
I really don't want to get into details about what I expect the cable to bring as those seem to derail into snake oil deals. Just went through that on another thread, interesting when I shared some measured changes it was still a love hate deal or just silence. Life is too short
I will share that I got some huge improvements doing some PC upgrades and I want to hear more of the same sorts of improvements. If the interconnect doesn't do that for me its back in the box or I'll resell which ever doesn't float my boat
BTW did try and reverse cable direction. Dead silence. Awesome quietest cable I've ever heard! Then again the XLR connectors don't fit so it just lays there being all quiet
I agree with eric. There are two kinds of cables - Good Cables and Bad Cables. Usually the bad ones are the mega expensive ones. Kinda like fixn something till it’s broke. Whether it’s analog, digital or high speed data transfer, the criteria is the same: Low capacitance, low inductance and low resistance made using quality materials - high grade copper or silver with PTFE insulation, textile sleeve only if needed and shielding only if your situation requires and it usually doesn’t and good connectors. Everything else is a rue. If your system sounds to bright, sure you can tame it with a high dollar set of bad cables, but usually the problem is a miss-match of components or a need of room treatments; if your system sounds dull or muddy, it could be cables that don’t meet the criteria of good signal transfer or a week link in your system.....Jim
dorkwad, yes definitely, but usually I think double price. I always try to upgrade rarely but in as big steps as I can afford or think can afford. When new component including cable, burnt-in of course, is really much better you hear it immediately. There are more complicated situations when certain things are better and others are not or even worse, I had this fun comparing a few Purist Audio cables. And you know what - I sold them all and got the one that was better than them all in every respect ! Yeah, upgrading one set of cables might make sense but proceed with caution - you may throw the system off the balance and get worse sound. This is not straightforward matter.
I agree, you can set the system off balance or too far in one direction from neutral. In my case, I loved what the Teo GC cables did in my system. I used them from both of my front ends to the preamp. BUT.. when I tried another Teo GC from the preamp to the amp, it was too much in one direction. I have a couple good friends who let me borrow their cables or come over and we have a listening session comparing a couple cables. We are agreed the extra Teo GC used at that pre to power was too much and substituting a lower cost JW Reference in that position made the sound better in all ways. Better leading edge and somewhat better dynamics.
Now, when we tried the double Teo GC (also called the shotgun or Schroeder method) vs. single, the results were even more impressive. Other than higher cost, it was a no brainer.