Check out WyWires. I think you will find a realistic presentation combined with warmth and a lack of listening fatigue. I believe a ful set of WyWires will fit into your budget.
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That's a nice bit of dough for a first pair of good interconnects. The key is to hear a bunch if there's any way you can because it's gonna be very specific to individual tastes and systems. Just out of curiosity, do you like lush, warm sound or are you trying to tame another component or components that may be a little too bright for your tastes? What's the rest of your system? The more info you provide the better the recommendations you'll get here.
Anyway, you may save yourself some $$$ by trying the original version of the Acoustic Zen Matrix References if they pop up used (do not get the Matrix Reference II -- it's a different animal). You can probably sell them for little/no loss if they don't do it for you, but they may be just what the doctor ordered on the cheap. Best of luck in your search.
there is another problem:
what you consider warm and lush another may consider, say natural, but not lush.
this is a problem of perception.
getting suggestions regarding a subjective perception will give you a list of cables which will keep you very busy, if you can even access them.
i have an idea based upon what i use, but i'm not sure it will help.
anyway, here it is: sound fusion romance 2, an all-gold cable.
I strongly recommend Cardas Golden Reference. They make other interconnects with golden in the name those are the ones to consider. They don't cost your entire budget, which is nice, whatever you do don't get the neutral reference or anything else that sounds like that. You may think I am kidding but I am dead serious, the biggest tamer of overly analytical sound in my system were the Cardas Golden Refs.
There is the matter of what it is that you may want to change in addition to the cables. I used a tube pre for years before finally getting tube power amps. The tube power amps really made my system sound the way I wanted it to,IT is fast, detailed but not harsh and on the warmer, open, and halographic side, just great!
I found out that the Kubala Sosna Emotion is an old cable. Will it still be in competition with todays cables?
I am close to picking a cable. Either the Fusion Audio Romance 2, Silkworm+ or the above mentioned cable.
Also, I need a power cord. I see that Fusion Audio also makes this in their Romance series. Can you guys recommend a power cord that is also warm, lush and smooth? Do I need to pick both IC and PC to the same manufacturer?
OK, I'll ask: Why do you want cables that are "warm, lush and smooth"? What are you trying to achieve? I'm always very skeptical when I see a post like this because I think people put way too much faith in wire to solve problems that are better addressed by other system changes--particularly when they have $2600 to spend.
You have to audition cables in your system. How a particular cable is considered in another system may not be very revealing at all. I have found- in my system- Analysis Plus Solo Crystal cables are excellent and well priced, especially if buying used. Several years ago I was exclusively cables (IC's) with the Solo Crystals. Then I got 'higher ideas' and sold the Solos. Well, here I am now back being cabled with Solo IC's.
Also, I need a power cord. I see that Fusion Audio also makes this in their Romance series. Can you guys recommend a power cord that is also warm, lush and smooth? Do I need to pick both IC and PC to the same manufacturer?No all cords do not need to be from the same manufacturer. I'm using a Fusion Audio Enchanter for my Integrated and a Impulse for my source (bit of overkill) and replaced my Fusion audio Interlocker (pre Romance series) with a Nordost Frey then later to the Tyr2