The answer is
When the system sounds good and you run out of money for anything more elaborate.
Once you get a feel for what the fundamental sound is for a type of metal a manufacturer, a geometry, you are at the point of diminishing returns.
Little is gained IMO by further changes if you can't make the system sound good after trying a variety of cables. I presume you've tried ICs that cost as much as $500-1000 a meter.
Your problems are not resolvable with cable tweaking. Look elswhere to make your system work for you .
or do you chill. find one you like (maybe not love), and slowly keep looking/listening. trying a new IC every now and then. is it always a work in progress?
It's impossible to try everything out there now available. By the time you get done, more will be out! And you'll have forgotten who's who, and what's what.
A while back I decided on trying 8 or 10 ICs. Like yourself, in my budgeted amounts. Took six or seven months overall. Half a year of listening to the same CD's over and over again was stuppifying. I settled on one pair. Shortly after that I got some on loan and some others I was told were super!.... Either of those last ones could well have been my choice had they arrived earlier. They didn't though. One of those sets I got later on and still have. one pair I sold off and would like to have it's step up sibling now.
But then too, pieces in the rig had changed as well. usually for me, as I tend to maintain a certain sonic appeal yet attempt to increase or improve upon it's basic elements, when pieces change cables usually have to as well.
When I get to the end of the initial run of prospects, I select the best one of that group. If all have been so so which doesn't happen too much IME, I'll keep looking.... keeping likely the best so far.
it's a work in progress indeed. Continually evolving. It is important to keep it fun though. As funds, temperance, and desires go. Just remeber to relax. Perfect ain't out there in an imperfect world.
Thus far, and this is just my theme perhaps, considering you're set on components for a while, I feel one should begin with a pretty good set of speaker wires first.
Then add a really neutral IC like the Cardas Neutral IC OR ??? I put in a pair of them as source and mains in my first trials, and would have no problem going that way again.
Next address power cords for the front end and back end of the system. If a pre is used you can throw $$$ at it later.
Next do the upstream signal ICs.
Lastly, do the main ICs.
If you keep the rig pretty resolving along the way whenever you make a change, upstream or down, either by improving racks, stands, isolation, power line accessories, room treatments, etc., you'll hear each change indeed.
But again, that's just me. one can do whatever whenever, most likely and still get there. The trick I suppose is keeping the stereo listenable and enjoyable. And do listen to it frequently. Otherwise, it becomes a work in eternal progress and not a fun past time any more.
I agree with Jim. Don't make yourself bananas over your cable selection. It can make this hobby seem like a curse.
It doesn't have to be an endless merry-go-round of changes and spent money.
Anti Cable, and just about every respectable cable group has a line that's the "best bang for the buck". Start there, and if you are happy, end there.
Easier said then done, I must say, because the hobbiest fever makes a person want to experiment and change it up.
How about 'borrowing' a half dozen at a time from The Cable Company which will all be well burnt in and gives you the choice of a cross section of the market at YOUR price point.
That should save loads of time and you should be able to arrive at a pretty quick choice of what you DON'T like.....!
Just an idea, and not one which I've attempted myself, but sounds good in theory :-)
What I can absolutely never stress enough is that at the end of the day the MOST influential component in anybodys system is THE ROOM.... deal with its acoustic anomalies FIRST and then you may actually hear what is truly possible with the most rudimentary of ancillary components. In fact you may realise that you have been chasing your tail with trivialities elsewhere.
I'd sure guard against grabbing a handful of cables from the cable co. all at one time.
they aren't always run in well enough for a quality comparison, and with six pr. and but two weekends well, that's too much scrambling and remembering for me to appraise each adequately and as well in their best form..
Been there & done that.
2 pairs at most is how I might try now/again. One pair would most likely do though, as it is then being compared to the on hand brand, and vice versa... so there's two right there & only one set was borrowed.
As at another spot in the chain things might well be different/improved again... so even with just one other set, there are more combos to peruse.
I tend to get pretty curious and seeing 'where' becomes as much a priority as 'which'.
take notes too. About that which thrills you most. Use a simple scale too. Like 1-5... that can be adjusted too.
the knee bobbing, toe tapping, and grinning will settle things for you I'm sure, but until that happens, notes are important... honest notes!
Look at price last... not during. then pick.
Coolhand: why address the root cause when you play around with the symtoms? =)
you're 100% right imo. my room is the problem. some of the folks around here helped figure that out a while back. unfortunately it was after i had committed my remaining budget(and then some) to a new dac/transport.
temporarily tried the remedy a few weeks. new speaker locations with thin blankets over two large windows and covered as much tile as i could with area rugs. results were phenomenal!!. to do this set-up permanently...i'll need a new vertical audio rack, speaker cables, window treatments and carpet (my 4 month old az setori shotguns are 1.5 feet short!). am 100% committed to doing it once funds are available. 2009 audio budget has been destroyed so early 2010 is the soonest i can move forward.
at this point i am going to step away. will revisit the ic playground when my room gets sorted out. was hoping to find some cables i really liked to hold me over until then. in effect...i'm was trying to "fix the room" temporarily with ic's lol!. not to worry though. have already figured out it can't be done in my case. some room faults can be improved with certain ic's but "fixed" they are not.
might try the cable company advise too. would definatly go blindjim's route on only getting a couple at a time. anything more then that would confuse/overwhelm and maybe even kill me? =)
i've learned alot in this process. too bad it's all been the hard way. typical green pea.....oh well.
sounds like you hit the wall when you decided to ask this question!!...:)
yep...wall has been hit and my face is flat. i'm stepping away from the ic's with my hands up.... after i demo one last set of MIT's that is ;-)
Just 'member to breathe. Routinely.
Room treatments attend to whatever sound is being demonstrated regardless the system. there's some mighty cheap/inexpensive paths for them too. Especially if DIY is not out of the question for you.
Tons of info hereabouts on the 'gon you can search out... or Google for. Cheap cheap.
"Finding the Right Interconnect is like Finding the Right Woman."
You can't bring home 7 at a time!
I have evaluated dozen of interconnects, and the cables that really stands out by big margin from the rest were Kimber KS1030 ($1800/1m), Nordost Heimdall ($669/1m) and Nordost Frey ($999/1m). Not the most serious high-end, rahther not overpriced happy-to-live-ever-after mid hi-end. In, fact Kimber is right now even overpriced after recent price increase (Not so much time ago KCAG was $600, now $900, etc.).
So my journey ended when I came to heidmall/frey.
Nordost from my point of view is probably the most ultimate cable manufacturer. I also like their speakers cables, because you can search for your perfect sound not only jumping through the ranges, but evaluating different lengths (10 feet long sound oh so different compared to 20 feet long, etc). But the topic is about interconnects.
""Finding the Right Interconnect is like Finding the Right Woman." "
.... and they all have their own attributes and baggage.
"You can't bring home 7 at a time!"
What if you're Mormon?
Maybe it's time to move on to your speaker cables.
speaker cable was much easier for me. third set i demoed screamed "i'm it"(az satori shotguns).
It seems for me that it is never over.Unless you buy used and even then you have to break in the IC's and that could be days or weeks waiting for things to settle in and then it may not be what you want.What works from cdp to preamp to amp may not work from other sources such as tv receiver,dvd/bluray or tape or phono.I am finding it really hard to get all them to give me what I want at the same time so my journey continues.
I have found out that you get a better idea right after first impression. It is not going to change a whole lot after (Break in may refine on the characteristics, but basic - like it or not- characteristics remain) that.
I've used or auditioned Kimber, AQ, Tributaries, Cardas, Transparent, Aperture, Monster, Esoteric, custom built stuff, home brew, etc, etc, etc... the trip stopped for me when I discovered PNF Audio. Absolutely the best value in cabling I've ever heard and they're CHEAP! The PNF ICON and Precision A ic's are both fantastic and a killer when you mate them with the Symphony speaker cables. You won't get better performance unless you can afford to have something liek a Bentley in your drive way.... I haven't messed with anything else in over two years.
i have often thought that i was satisfied with my ics, until i became aware of another. since all cables have flaws and i am curious, the quest is unending.