Thenis, I would recommend that you try Acoustic Zen's digital cable that I believe is named AZ=Mc squared. It offers the type of sound smooth/warm that you are looking for and is well in your price range. Sorry, if I screwed up the name of this cable, but I believe I'm close enough for you to find out about it on AZ website.
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I would recommend purchasing a Silnote Audio Morpheus X digital cable. It is a combination of copper, silver and gold and definitely is on the warmish side. The build quality is excellent as is the performance. Contact Mark at Silnote for more details. I found him to be very responsive to my questions.
I was looking for non-bright sounding digital cable. Bought Blackcat Veloce based on reviews. It did not dissapoint. Veloce is a very quiet cable. Excellent detail and dynamics. My only dislike is it sounds a bit thin in the midrange. So Iam looking to try out Acoustic Zen MC2 - hope it is not bright as it is silver based.
I purchased two Veloce cables and they are excellent. I then bought a Sterolab XV-Ultra which is even better. However, the best sp/pdif cable I have ever used is from WyWires. Very natrual sounding, dead quiet background, three dimensional imaging, cavernous soudstage. All this goodness starts at $200. Alex Sventitsky of WyWires is a pleasure to do business with and provides service second to none!
i use the original illuminati cable. my taste runs roward the classic tube sound. i also find the hdmi by harmonic technology on the warm side as an interface between the ps audio perfect wave transport and dac.
the idea of warmth needs to be specified.
here is my concept:
slightly attenuated highs, with a sloght boost in the upper bass, and somewhat defocused so that poor recordings become listenable.
in otherwords, i consider warmth a coloration.
Hakuchosan, your point at first glance seems logical since computer cables send ones and zeroes successfully without error, but with digital audio signals unfortunately things are not that simple...
For a DAC to properly recreate an analog waveform from a digital signal it is not only the ones and zeroes that matter, but the timing of the signal as well as the accuracy of digital level transitions are critical. Jitter is a very well documented problem in digital signal transmission, and high levels often result in a harsh and unnatural sounding analog signal after digital to analog conversion. A lack of such harshness is often characterized as having a 'warm' sound.
So digital cables can significantly affect the overall balance of a system's sound, and warmth is one aspect of the sound that is typically impacted the most.
I'd question whether any digital cable has a signature sound that is evident in general from application to application. Jitter is the one thing that can affect sound that can be attributed to a digital cable, and even in this case the actual results will vary from setup to setup. If you hear a difference fro one digital cable to another, I'd be willing to bet it is a result of jitter. I have no idea what characteristics of a digital cable could be used to determine whether the resulting sound is warm or not. Maybe certain jitter characteristics could translate to a "warmer" sound. But if so that is a not a good thing. Jitter is a form of distortion associated with the time dimension. You always want to minimize jitter for best sound, ie get the timing of the D/A process correct, not use it to flavor the sound.
01-26-12: MapmanI second Mapman's comment. Given reasonably good quality, I see no reason to expect a high degree of correlation between the effects of a given cable on jitter in one system, and its effects on jitter in another system. And many reasons to expect a low degree of correlation. The same even applies to the effects of a given cable on jitter in one system, and the effects of a different length of the same cable type in the same system.
An example: Impedance mismatches can be a significant contributor to jitter. No impedance match is perfect. If the input or output impedance of a component that is being connected is inaccurate to some degree, relative to the 75 ohm ideal for S/PDIF, then a cable whose impedance is SIMILARLY inaccurate will provide a better impedance match to that component than one that is more accurate.
The other major contributor to jitter that can be affected by the cable is noise, that is either "picked up" by the cable, or that results from ground loop effects between the components that are being connected. In general, a shorter cable length will minimize both of those effects. However, a shorter cable length will often worsen the effects of impedance mismatches, unless the cable is very short (see this paper). Whether noise-induced jitter or jitter than results from impedance mismatches will be a more significant issue in a given system cannot generally be predicted.
Putting it more generally, the effects of a given cable on jitter are dependent on a complex and largely unpredictable set of relationships and interactions between its parameters, including length, impedance accuracy, shielding effectiveness, shield resistance, propagation velocity, etc., and the technical characteristics of what it is connecting, including signal risetimes and falltimes, impedance accuracy, jitter rejection capability, ground loop susceptibility, etc.
My suggestion to the OP is simply that you try a variety of different cables at different price points, and make your own choice.
You might hear a difference between two cables in any particular system but as Al points out, the results would likely not be reproducable consistently from system to system due to different jitter factors. So it does not seem likely that one could consistently attribute a particular sound with a particular digital cable.
My DAC reclocks things so jitter seems to be a non issue, and I have to say (really...I have to say it) that among all the cable changes and upgrades over the years, the S/PDIF upgrade from a basic VDMxr to the beautifully made Audioquest silver VDM 5 has made the least obvious improvement. Still, it SEEMS better...according to advertising spiel it should be better...and that's enough for me! Nobody wants to sit there listening to beautiful music thinking their digital cable might not be letting 100% of the beauty through. Still, bad digital recordings still sound bad, but I can listen the LP instead in some cases so that's okay.
When I ugraded from a generic digital coax cable to a K-Works Goldenheart digital cable, to my surprise, I noticed improvments in many areas, timbre, soundstage, noise floor, and more, but the overall frequency balance of my digital playback chain was not noticeably affected. So I would agree with Mapman.
I have tried a lot of digital cables, nordost, audio quest Tara labs, kimber monster.
The best warm cable I tried is a monster cable video reference rca cable, The rest of monster products are crap but their digital cables are some of the best! All video and digital cables are 75 ohm. So you can use either. this opens a lot of opportunities since people are selling obsolete RCA video cables for virtually nothing. The Kimber VS 75 is the best I have ever heard and the monster is just a touch warmer. Also cal audio labs is afantastic dac stereo phile said you had to buy a 4K levinson dac to better it you can get one on audiogon for 250 - 350 unbelivable value!
Answer: Do not use a digital cable...
Do not use any of those connections or USB DACs, sell your CD player and go discless. The sound will be far superior. A LINN DS unit is a much better sounding solution in one box, all controlled from an iPad and get rid of the CD player totally. Files would be sent via CAT5/6 from your PC or NAS and controlled in your listening chair with an iPad. Having any other connections (USB, SPDIF converters, etc.) are just mucking up the sound. Access all your music at better than CD quality once ripped with dbPoweramp into 24/96 or 24/192 FLAC or WAV files. The LINN Akurate DS will beat out CD players in excess of $10k.