WOW, they are important, but in what order?

OK, I'll admit it right now. Cables are important (even if the one's I used were "high quality" but maybe not best suited for audio.

With a MOON W-8 amplifier and C4's run through a PASS LABS XP-10, differences in speaker and interconnect cables are as big as the difference beteen amplifiers. And I do mean both speaker cables and XLR interconnects.

As far as interconnects go, the ANALYSIS Plus Silver XLR brand is a very good sounding cable for the money. The NORDOST tyre2 are beyond reproach in sound and affordability, at least on C4's.

Also, XLR has a much wider soundstage than RCA's in my system. The RCA's sound like they image better, but it's because they are more left, center, right sounding. The XLR's have a sound "front" that is expansive left to right with no gaps anywhere. And, the image is much more holographic. Is anyone else hearing this between XLR and RCA's?

WHEN to do WHAT ain't as easy as it sounds (pun there) as every cable in your system adds to the end sound. Is there a "right" order to tackle this? Waht order did you all use? Why? Just dumb luck over time and random?

I decided to start with the pre to power XLR interconnects and get the best balance there as I used the garbage-in garbage-out process. Get it as close to right at the start as I can afford and put the best cable where everything can use it. Then go to speaker cables...I thought. But no, I have all those CD, phono ETC to XP-10 interconnects, too. Well, I'd better get those squared away BEFORE speaker cables (I think).

Am I doing something wrong with;
ANALYSIS Plus Silver RCA - CD to XP-10 interconnect
ANALYSIS Plus Silver XLR - LP5.3 head amp to XP-10 interconnect.
"some brand" higher grade tone-arm to LP 5.3 head-amp cable.
NORDOST tyr2 XLR from XP-10 to MOON W-8.

Once all that is sorted out, I can THEN investigate speaker cables for final "sounding". It seems the improvements would taper off markedly as you daisey-chain cables in the system such as; CD to XP-10, XP-10 to MOON W-8, W-8 to speakers. I haven't borrowed enough cables to do the full monty to hear any of this. Comments? Whaen did the jumpos in sound diminish? One cable in the chain, two?

The prices amaze me, though. But, it's sort of like this, what else can you buy that makes as big a difference in the sound for the same money? Going from my KISMET amps to the MOON W-8 sounds about the same amount better as moving to NORDOST tyr2 XLR's from the XP-10 to the W-8 amp and replacing my Belded 1694A with gold compression RCA jacks that were doing the same job. The amp was 10 grand, and the XLR NORDOST tyr2 cables are like a fourth of that, but gave the same (subjective, but you do hear it!) jump in sound. So yes, cables are expensive but "relative" to what improvements they make, they seems to have you by the high-notes! I have nothing left in my system from an active device standpoint that can do more than passive cables.

I refused to consider cables till I got the hardware done. But man, I was not ready for what I heard at all. I was definitely not ready for the prices. After listening to the system with good cables, though, the prices are easier to swallow as I'll keep the cables through sveral upgrades of hardware. Modern equipment can really separate cables by sound. No, the stuff I use may not be best for what you use, either. THAT is also a major frustration as so many cables contribute to the sound in so many combinations. Where do you stick the brighter cablers to offset the softer cables? Can you find all "just right" cables (I haven't)?

And, I'll never buy something I don't know the "sound" of. They are THAT different. Sure, any good cable will beat my initial reference Belden leads but, ONE will catch your fancy tonally. Find a good dealer and get some loaners in YOUR system. Go with what you HEAR. Be nice and get a couple cords from him before you get them on AudiogoN used. His service deserves a sale. Cables are like speakers, people change around all the time. So, you can find good cords you like, even if someone else moves on from them.

So all you guy I told that cable are more like fine tone controls, you can now tell me I was wrong, because I was. You need to keep repeating your experiences and see if things have changed, and have they. You learn, and then keep re-learning!At this level of equipment it is simply mandatory to get high grade audio only cables. The differences are like different speakers, and I've just replaced the XLR or speaker cables at separate times and not at the same time. I can't wait to get a full chain completed and listen. But, buddy can you spare dime? Power cords, though still escape me.
Rower30 drank the Koolaid.
Good luck navigating the Universe..
Also, XLR has a much wider soundstage than RCA's in my system. The RCA's sound like they image better, but it's because they are more left, center, right sounding. The XLR's have a sound "front" that is expansive left to right with no gaps anywhere. And, the image is much more holographic.
You most likely realize this, but it's worth mentioning that by changing between RCA and XLR, a whole lot more than just the cables is being changed. The output stage circuit in the component that is driving the cable is being changed, as is the circuit that receives the signal in the destination component, and probably also gains and signal amplitudes (and therefore in many cases volume control settings), susceptibility to ground loop effects, susceptibility to pickup of low level noise, output and input impedances, and probably also the relative amplitudes of some harmonic distortion components.

-- Al
Rower30 I had the Nordost Norse Series 2 demo case for a while. One thing I was very interested in was which made the larger difference in sound - speaker cables or Ic's? I made the assumption the Ic's would make a bigger difference considering everything starts at the source. Well my ears proved me wrong. I found the speaker cables made a bigger difference in sound. The Tyr2 Sc sounded much fuller than the Try2 Ic. Now My original cables were the Frey 1 Ic and Sc so that was my reference point. I'll grant you the originals and series 2 are quite different but make an interesting mixture of both series. For me I went the Tyr2 Ic and kept my Frey1 Sc. Honestly that's all I could afford at the time. That was a tough choice because I would think the Vahalla Ic and Try2 Sc would be a killer combo. Yeah talk about expensive.

Personally I tend to agree with you regarding Rca vs Xlr. I get a wider sound stage with Xlr but prefer the pinpoint imaging the Rca's bring. Also I don't care for the gain you add with Xlr's.

I think I mentioned in a previous post regarding amps I have an Octave V70SE tube integrated with a black box driving Dyn C1 Signatures with a Meridian G08 source. We both have great taste in speakers but have our differences in amps. I prefer more musical with great control over highly detailed with great control. When my Dyn dealer carried Sim Audio I found myself listening to the equipment and instruments more than the music. Anyhow we all have our preferences ;-)

I wish you you the best of luck in your cable search. But based on your sonic preferences you may just want to check out the Vahalla's. Yes they are even more expensive than the series 2 but again quite different. And yes you finally have a system were hi-end cables will make a significant difference.
...Rower30 drank the Koolaid...

Hey Elizabeth, don't you hate it, though! A belief is what you think you know, knowledge is what you do. Early on (thirty years ago!) I had the knowledge as to how important cables might be and decided to re-affirm that knowledge as it was is so old that it becomes a belief system. So, you have to re-learn the ropes.

That said, with regards to interconnects and speaker wire, it does provide as much of a differene as any other component aside from speakers which tend to be a bunch different. Funny, speakers are all supposed to be "the same" but in reality are far, far from it. With interconnect and cables I sat down and easily heard the difference and, it pissed me off, initially. Why? I was wrong, that's why! After I got over that, and just listened, I was thrilled with what cables can do in my system. So if that's Koolaide, I'll drink up to what I can afford.

Almarg, yes, unbalanced is a "somewhat" different circuit as in true balanced equipment, the unbalanced side is half the balanced, and often of much higher quality as to the requirements of balanced electrical needs. So I guess it's super quality unbalanced with the XP-10 and MOON W-8! With unbalanced straight through, that's often not the case, corners can be cut for costs. Not always. So far I much prefer the soundstage of the XLR. It is DEEPER, more OPEN, and WIDE! Listen for ninety minutes with XLR, and RCA is hard to go back to with my system. I'll have to drag back a tyr2 RCA lead and use that to even-up the comparison since BOTH channels are now the same level of interconnect.

Xti16, yes, I listened to the OCTAVE integrated tube amp. It was far and awy the best tubes I've heard. too. But, my ear liked the MOON W-8. Remember, though, that the C4's are warmer than the C1's by nature. I listened to the C1's to a great extent auditioning amps. Dynaudio highs are pretty sweet and would be hard to totally get wrong compared to some other products, but the interconnects and speaker cables really bring out the openness and gets the music even more out of the box. The opposite is true, too, in that the C4's bring out the hard edgy sound using 1694A RG6 interconnects with compression cold welded gold RCA's. My speaker leads went form soft (1313A type) to hard, brighter and edgy (multiple pairs premise cable derived leads). 1604A RG6 is fantastic video cable, but for audio it is left behind by the current products in a big way that are audio specific. Likewise with interconnects, general XLR cable is not cutting it.

My now HEAVILY modified 1313A leads (no jackets and leads untwisted and separated 3.0" to virtually remove capacitance and mutual inductance...leaving only self inductance) are sounding pretty good. Good enough to let me attack all the interconnects, first. This "version" of 1313A is very sweet sounding (like tubes!) so it isn't obnoxious to live with. No, it isn't tyr2 cable! That said tyr2 cable is soft in the deep bass, maybe too soft. But I'll give the nod to everything above that, so they "win".

Cables are like buying another component, figure 5K or least, once it's all done, on a budget. I'll buy as good a sound as I can afford. My first issue is pre to power amp as everything sees that cord. So the tyr2 level (so far anyway) seems to be my affordable upper limit. I even moved the amp closer to the equipment rack to save a grand on the tyr2 XLR! But, the longer speaker cable may steal that away. Catch-22 for sure. Speaker leads will still only be 6 feet long.

I've "heard" about the Vahalla's, but never listened to them. The dealer got a set in (I think they are "improved"). I would like to "borrow" the whole channel(s) from my CD player to speakers and give the iterations a listen. People change leads like speakers, too, so I can keep an eye out for(realatively!)affordable interconnects maybe a grade up. But, more $$$ doesn't mean better sound. That's the hard part. I also want to service the dealer fairly since allowing an in-home audition prevent expensive mistakes. So a set of each may go his way and buy used / demo's after that.

The ANALYSIS Plus Silver are a close second to the tyr2 XLR leads. What's everyones experience in using a super high grade pre-power interconnect and using very good CD to PRE RCA's or XLR's? When do the improvements taper off? I guess I'll have to give that a go and see where it "leads" to!
Wait until you figure out that power cords make a bigger difference in the sound than interconnects and speaker cables......sheesh. :)
Thanks to Jmcgrogan2 I now only have a few more payments until I own my power cords! LOL
LOL! Jp1208, I've heard that you can now take out a 20 year mortgage on some power cords...hahaha
No, never heard power cords. I tried, though. So my knowledge there is the same as it was before. Final verdict is to listen to them, I don't read about them.

As far as the order, I'm setting-up all the interconnects first and THEN the speaker cables last. This way, I can better match the final sound with a single set of speaker cords.

But yes, there is a rediculousness factor in cords. Prudence is all I can say about that.
Luckily for you Rower, NordOst has some pretty decent power cords so you can start spending in another category. IME, (very good) power conditioning and power cords can make the system more musical than interconnects can and as more come to hear, even a fuse makes a big difference (for very little money).
Polyglot, well I've tried to hear power cords and conditioning but nope, can't say I hear that at all. Interconnects and speaker cords, yes, thoise are suprisingly easy to hear. XLR verses RCA is also apparent in the sound stage in my system,with XLR being much better filling in across the speakers (no left, center, right with gaps between sound).

So I don't have to "figure" anything out...just listen. Knowledge, yes, beliefs (power cords) no not at this time.

if I may make a suggestion;
1st change any power cords. Then, proceed w/ IC & Speaker cables.

Well, I "hear" that response but it does not compute in my system. Interconnect and speaker cable sure do, though, as I hear those changes. Not so power cords.

Here is my take on why. The manufacturer of components KNOWS what criminal intent is coming down the power line, and compensates for it in the power supply. DC is DC. It has no sound. They use RF simulations and voltage spikes to design accordingly. Call your favorite builder and tell him his power supply is no good because of a cord!

I've read all the theory, and have NEVER seen the improvement shown as DC Vcc bias level shifts in the audio output, ever. Remember the Vcc DC bias shift has to be long enough in duration to HEAR, too. Ears are better INTEGRATORS verses pole (spike) detectors. We mostly ignore surface noise on records all day, for example. Yet, a big SPIKE or POP (I rate them snap, crackle then POPS!)is required to really shiuft your attention off the music. Does the Vcc bias drift change THAT much? And, "something" outside of the normal AC power coming in the wall has to do it. I never hear it in my system.

So, show me the DC Vcc bias drift over time feeding the AC amplification circuits and we'll talk. THEN, we need to talk about the AMOUNT of DC bias drift that would even be audible in the AC amplification gain stages. Fix it if it's broken. I challenge any AC to get past 140,000 uf of filter capacitors in a good power supply.

Not so the effects of the interconnects. They use ”standard" output impedance (mostly) and input impedance (mostly). But, the length of the cord and / or the type is NOT ever going to be consistent. So, we hear changes that cannot be accounted for ahead of time. That's not the case with a power supply. All interconnect and speaker cords have differing inductance, capacitance and resistance. Worse, the same cord is different based on it's length and output / input relationship.

So I don't have to "figure" this out. I do not hear it. I use 12 AWG power cords that are well in excess of what the wall outlet will EVER deliver to any one component in the circuit. The power supply is what turns the AC to DC, not the power cord. A simple capacitor or diode knows more about AC rectification than any power cord ever will.

Point to consider, how is that ALL power supplies need a cord? Are they "all" incompetent, really? Or do we just stick one in there anyway because we can?
Rower30, what power cords have you tried? Have you tried any Nordost cords? I fought the power cords for years, because it didn't make any sense to me either. It was a losing battle. I can't explain it, but I am now a firm believer in power cords.
The problem with power cords these days is you never what they're going to sound like until after they've been cryo'd and burned in on the Nordost or Audiodharma cable cooker. Choose wisely. :-)
I have a 4M BH Nordost powercord and 4 1M Nordost BH power cords. 4M from the wall to a Nordost QB4 Power Distrobution box with the 4 1M Powercords plugged into the box. The Powercords made more of a difference than the box, tube rolling, Nordost IC's or Nordost Speaker Biwires in my system. Powercords do help.
Great story. I spent a long time bringing samples home owned Chord signature, Analysis Plus Silver oval etc before deciding on Nordost. Started with some SPM and then Valkyrie to Tyr 1. Have almost finished the complete upgrade to Valhalla. You have spent a considerable amount on fine equipment and the proper cabling makes the differenc between good and amazing. The best cabling should not be used as tone controls to correct mis matching of sysyem synergy if possible. You also made no mention of power cords and you will be amazed at the improvement particularly if you are going from the black cord provided. I have read more than once that in the order of priority the power cord comes first followed by interconnect and then speaker cable. Just picked up a valhalla power cord for a very good price last week that is being reterminated to RCA and I can't wait to put it between phonostage and preamp. One Brahma to replace and then my Valkyrie speaker cable. It has been a long process but if you have ever experienced a Nordost demo you understand. If you are able to borrow a Brahma power cord to match the Tyr try on your amp!Best wishes.
Still, I "read" the comments, but no compute in my system. Not so interconnects and speaker cables. Big changes there. And yes, I just dropped a big coin on NORDOST tyr2 XLR's pre to power amp (everything sees the benefit). Tonearm cords to head amp are next, as that signal is fragile.

Maybe my AC is simply OK, and I'm not aware of it? Possible. On a more congested grid (your system perhaps?) I'd hear the improvement? Also possible. So we can all be "wrong" about "why" and it's more related to the variations in your AC grid than the cord itself (does nothing if the grid is decent!).

So before I am a victim of power cord "analysis" verses auditions (can't tell in my system)maybe we need to shift our matrix to, the cord does nothing if there is nothing for it to do (my system)!

Once you prove there is something for it to do, does it now "do it" (your system)?

You're putting a power cord between a phone stage and a preamp? What gauge are the conductors?

They gave mustard, too. The XLR tyr2 is an interconnect cable, not a power cord. That's why I mentioned that it is an "XLR" balanced interconnect.
01-21-13: Fossda
Just picked up a valhalla power cord for a very good price last week that is being reterminated to RCA and I can't wait to put it between phonostage and preamp.

@Rower30, Ketchup was refering to this line from Fossda's post, not anything you wrote. I found this quite confusing too.
My apologies. Should review comments first. Meant to say new interconnect was for phonostage. Have been slowly replacing Tyr/Brahma. I will start looking for one more powercord this summer that will go on the preamp.
No, all these cords can be confusing. No problem.

Still, there are likely systems that do not have issues with AC line noise and won't benefit from power cords. I'd LOVE to "hear" someone's system that does benefit from a power cord change. Just havn't heard this situation yet.