I would try to save some money and go later for a used Wild Blue Yonder. Because this one does everything right what you want!!
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I would stay with AQ. You may want to try a copper cable. For me, AQ silver usually sounds good going from a source to a preamp, but AQ copper is better between an amp and preamp. And the combo holds true when I swap components. I always prefer the silver/copper combo. I know other people get different results so I would definitely try it first, before you commit to a purchase.
It looks like we have similar taste in equipment. How do you like your Romulus? If I ever buy a new CD player, its on the top of my list to demo.
The problem in silver is that you need at least the Wild Blue Yonder to get a more warm mid freq. The quality of silver and thickness has a big influence on the sound silver can give.
It is difficult to find a cable which owns all parts for the absolute sound ( I call it total sound) in just one cable.
In most cases you need different brands to create all parts in a set.
When you listen at highend level the difference between the copper ( we compared the Colorado, niagra, sky and Wild Blue Yonder) and silver cables from Audioquest are very Obvious.
The better Silver cables like the Wild Blue Yonder give a more physical image. It even becomes more intimate. There is more decay and the stage is wider and deeper. Also in the low freq. you get a better timing and more authority.
The Wild Blue Yonder also can let you hear much better differences in heights of a recording.
Of course cables are all dependent on system synergy and personal tastes, so there really cannot be any blanket statement of "this one does it all."
That said, AQ are nice cables, but I've heard better in my system, even for less dough. With your Vandy and CJ gear, I'm not surprised that the Cardas cables sounded dull. The AQ will be livelier, but I think you may be better suited with some cables from Tara Labs or Stealth Audio. As always, YMMV.
You have to fit in cables very precise. But Audioquest can give you a higher endresult compared to most other competitors, when you have the demand to create all parts for the absolute sound.
For me it is very easy to hear the differences. I hear it in a few seconds. For most other people it is less easy. So what I do is telling people as easy as possible what the differences are. Often I sit behind the client.
It becomes very clear in what it does. When you focus on all parts for the absolute sound it is quite easy to win battles against other competitors. Often they are incomplete. I explain clients what is missing and it is even easy to understand why it is incomplete after adding those properties which are missing.
Bo, I didn't say I couldn't hear the difference AQ cables made, I said that the differences were not to my tastes or didn't mate with my gear. Have you never experienced hearing a difference that was not positive?
Look, unlike you, I am not a dealer, so I have no horse in the race. My opinion is just based on my own experiences, but I have nothing to gain by sharing it like a dealer would.
I run the Niagaras and will be getting the new Castle Rocks for my Treo's/Ayre AX7 and MH 25.3DAC (will be upgrading vinyl after this round of changes). I fell in love with AQ and I was an MIT guy as it sounded good in my older system(that I'm selling off, lol). I like the Niagara better than Sky for my DAC into my balanced Ayre. The Castle Rock, for the budget, sounds awesome. Yes, more 3 D than other cables I've heard and much quieter.
I have not horse in the race and my guy at Audio Connection sells CArdas and Kimber too. Everyone I have listened to who has heard the AQ's vs the other brands seem to chose AQ all day long. yes, blind testing. Everyone has a different ear though.
Sometimes you need copper to solve a sound problem. But.....you still loose resolution. Often it has to do with the limitations of an amp, pre amp, source or even speaker.
Transparent only uses copper. Main advantage is that it wil fit quite easy in almost every situation. But there is a big but......( I talked about this with the person who does Transparent in my country, I did let him hear my set a few times)
When you have stuff which is very good, often you do not have the limitations what silver cables can give.
In those situations you can use the full benefit of silver. There will be more decay, better separation, sharper individual focus.
When you demo this I can let people hear a lot more details and a more physical image than they have.
And I know audio is addictive. So they want it as well. Because you don't want to go back to a lower resolution and less physical stage.
As a perfectionist you like to raise the bar all the time. This you also use for your clients.
Bo, yes, the extra Silver has more resolution. I heard that, but in my system, I wanted more warmth right now since I'm still getting plenty of resolution. John told me to get the Niagara and I'm happy with it for now. When I get my full system together (will eventually add the Well Tempered Simplex and not sure what cables I'll use) then I'll figure out what to do. I am sure it will deal with upgrading the digital realm, but only if I can afford to do a real upgrade that makes sense. I figure the Treo's should be good for a fairly long time. Bo, do you have Vandy's in the Netherlands?
We have, I see and hear them at shows overhere as well.
When Nordost came out, it was something totally different than all those other brands.
Dare to be different I often say. I like this approach a lot. They said when you use our cables you will hear more how your amp and sources sound in real. For a part they are right. Because they forget that their cables also have their own sound and way of giving an image.
But these words got my attention at that time. Cables always will be used to tweak the overwhole sound.
When you can use Silver the right way you will win in quality compared to copper in general. These parts brings you to a more stunning and convincing sound. There is no doubt about this.
I give you an example; One of my best friends has older Avalon speakers. Their tweeters are the biggest limitation in his set. He has an Olive 04HD. Which I sold a lot of. With newer speakers the 04HD works very well with the Niagra. But in his set it didn't work. Because his tweeters get problems with the high freq. In his situation copper works better. The reason is caused by the limitation of his tweeters!!