XLR interconnects?

I'm in the process of upgrading my interconnects to XLR balanced cables. My gear is a Bryston BCD-1 cd player, Bryston SP 1.7 pre/pro, Sherbourn 5250A multi-channel amp, and my speakers are Anthony Gallo Ref 3.1's.
I'm looking to find a cable that is fairly neutral as I'm happy with the sound of my system. If there is a cable out there that may benefit my system please make a suggestion. I'm looking to spend between $200-$300 per pair. Some I've been thinking of trying out are Cardas Qualink 5c's, Kimber Hero's, Harmonic Technology Truthlinks, and Straightwire Maestro II's. Right now I'm using Ultralink Platinum series interconnects. Hope you can help.
At risk of sounding iconoclastic -- Canare L-4E6S Star Quad in a decent termination. Terminate them in Neutrik XLR's (HD's are nice mix of function & appearance) or Xhadow if you feel so compelled.

Bish has a good suggestion.

Two more:
1) Mogami 2534 Neglex quad mic cable.

2) Bryston XLR interconnects

Otherwise, experiment with those on your list.
Grover Huffman terminated with Switch Craft connectors.
Audio Metallurgy GA-Zeros are very good value
I have had great results with Virtual Dynamics, and they have an upgrade/trade in program
another fan of the canare or Mogami. I have had great success with both.
I found the neutrality and exceptional imaging capabilities of the Stereovox Colibri interconnects to allow Bryston gear to really show its outstanding 3D imaging capabilities, and probably your Gallos too. Don't look for it to add warmth or fullness however. Best of luck.
I agree with Tvad and Chosenhandle , I'm a great fan of Mogami Neglex 2534 XLR too... so pure so open so flat you can't listen any other cable
i just upgraded to the canare with my b&k gear. It seems to me to make it more fluid, almost like the system is breathing better if that makes sense
If you enjoy transparency: Before you decide that "can't listen to any other cable", try the Kimber Hero. Within your price range it's VERY hard to beat for honesty.
I'm selling a new pair of HT Truthlinks for $195...hard to beat!
02-17-09: Dave_b
...new pair of HT Truthlinks for $195...hard to beat!

Mogami 2534 @ $35 will equal the Truthlinks...at the very least.
The Cable Company recommended Aplha Core Goertz Micropurl AG XLR's. They said it's has been a proven match with Bryston gear over the years.
Ah yes, the micropurls...owned them when they were first released. Couldn't send them back fast enough. Enjot the trip...it took me many years and much cash to go through all the offerings...studio cable like mogami and Goertz are just a couple examples of mediocre wire. But hey, have some fun and play the field for awhile. When you grow up maybe we can talk.
Dave, if Truthlinks are an example of the wire used by grown-ups, then there's not much further to discuss.

I went through the Truthlinks phase many years ago. They are average at best.

I'd buy Mogami 2534 before I bought another pair of Truthlinks. Performance is about the same if one is using them between differential balanced components.
I should add that I used HT Truthlinks between a Bryston BP-25 preamp and a 14B-SST amplifier.

They worked well and are certainly an interconnect to "buy-and-try".
Alpha Core and Mogami mediocre studio cable wire? Not in my system. Alpha Core TQ series is a nice cable in your budget and there is a trial period so there is no risk.
Truth Links are by no means a reference wire, but it is superior to the others mentioned. As I said, if your new at this stuff, enjoy the ride...maybe the 'Bama will send you some audio stimulus money (assuming you don't already pay taxes).
Well I'm looking a quite a few cables, some I can demo, some I can't. I can afford to go up to $550 cdn($425 US) for a 1m and .5m or another 1m lengths, I need 2 sets. Some of the cables in that range are Unity Audio Solid links, Alpha Core Goertz Micropurl AG's, PNF Audio Icon's, Purist Audio Vesta's, Kimber Hero's, Harmonic Tech - Thruthlinks(Demos), DH Labs Air Matrix's, Aural Thrills Black Axioms. Morrow MA2's and Grover Huffmans may be pushing it. The 3 I'd really like to try are Virtual dynamics Testament 2.0's, Reality Cables, and Audio Metallurgy GA-0's but the funds won't allow me to.
Darrenmc - what about Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II?
From my experience the Antipodes Audio Katipos will stand out amongst that lot. As good as any silver cable I have ever heard without any hard silver sound. They aren't too well known in the USA as they are made in New Zealand, but the whole range are fast, open, dynamic and well balanced. Has a half-price, 30 day money back offer on Audiogon last time I looked.
I am really impressed with the Clear Day balanced interconnects.
The xhadow XLR are a real treat in a solid silver interconnect and the price that vonwaffen is charging is very reasonable for the quality of construction and parts.
I did a free audition of them to see how they would match up with his speaker cables.
Iknow this is used a lot in this hobby, but my system never played music so effortlessly before.
I should add that the other IC I used were Cardas Golden Ref and Shunyata Aries, both good cables yet each had their own sonic strenghts and weaknesses with the Clear day speaker wire.
The Clear Day combo just clicked .
Maybe it's because the same solid core silver wire is used in both the speaker and interconnect, or it's because the xhadow XLR are really good.
I've run a lot of cables as a manufacturer. Not only that but we made the first balanced line product for high end audio- the MP-1 preamplifier. Over the years one of the more obvious deals for an interconnect between the preamp and the amp has been the Mogami mentioned several times already on this thread.

If you know only one thing about the balanced line system, the thing to know is that its purpose in life is to eliminate interconnect artifact!

In order to do that the equipment that the cables are used with has to support the standard: pin 1 is ground, pin 2 is non-inverting, pin 3 inverting, but most of all whatever is driving the cable should be able to drive a 600 ohm load without ill effects, which is how all the cable artifacts are swamped out. Most high end audio manufacturers don't get that last part.

IOW if the standard is met, the cable and its length will hardly affect the sound at all- and will be far more accurate than single-ended. So if you are hearing big differences between cables, that is an indicator that you are not getting everything out of them they have to offer.
Hello,Ralph,I used Canare speaker wire and canare wire in balancd cables when I had my Atmasphere MP3 and S30 and stacked Quad 57.
The sound was good,I was happy, no reason to experiment.
Now I have other gear that needs balanced cables.
This time an Audio Aero Capitole cd direct into a pair of Red Dragon power amps into 15 inch Tannoys.
I was now running very thin 14 ft runs of solid core silver wire to my Tannoys,and I was using the very same run of Canare balanced IC.
Since I had excellent results using canare IC and Canare speaker wire I thought I would audition a run of IC from the same company as my speaker cables.
This time there was an improvement over the canare cables, so I bought the silver wired version.
I am at a loss to explain why there was a difference.
Is it because the wire is the same guage and material as the speaker?Synergy again?
Was the Clear Day solid silver not a good combination with the copper Canare?
Was it the difference in construction of the Xhadow XLR's on the clear day compared to the Neutrik's on the Canare?
I loved my time with the Quads and Atmasphere gear, one of my better systems.
I know it isnot the electronics that are masking cable differences.
A friend of mine has the servo powered Acoustat 4 speakers and an MP3(he liked mine so bought one and kept it).
He wired everything up with Cardas neutral ref. balanced.
Then he experimented with some nordost and eventually settled with Harmonic Tech magic two.He invited 5 of his audio friends to a cable shoot out.
The Cardas Neutral, Nordost ValHalla and Harmonic Tech magic two were auditoned,and we all got very sick of listening to the same Pat Barber track.
Several of us confirmed that the Harmonic balanced cables gave his system a more robust yet detailed sound.
The Nordost cost more but didn't work as well as the Harmonic but outperformed the Cardas.
Sorry Ralph,but that's 5 pair of ears that voted for the Harmonic cables, and we didn't know the price discrepencies.
No agendas other than what cable gave the best sound.
I should add that all cables were the same length and were factory terminated.
I don't think it was a case of mass dillusion.
Lacee, I agree. I suspect that your CD player does not support the balanced line standard, and so the cables are making a difference where they should not have.

RCA cables have a connection standard, but no termination standard. Balanced line has a connection standard, but also has a termination standard, which is 600 ohms. It is that low impedance which makes the difference. If your source has a high output impedance, it can't swamp the effects of the cable and so the cable artifact can be heard. That's not taking advantage of everything that balanced line has to offer.

In the past, you used our preamp, which supports that standard, and so a fairly inexpensive cable worked fine. So IMO your experience is spot-on.

I don't know if I could have sat through that much Pat Barber, regardless of the cables :)
I haven't played her since.

At that cable shootout, a Meridian G08 was the source into the Atmasphere MP3.

We all preferred the Harmonic.

The outcome of this was that my friend replaced a complete run of Cardas Neutral Ref with the Harmonic magic.

This is balanced xlr cables from his tone arm,from his Meridan,and balance xlr out to the servo amps(these were mod to accept balanced inputs when he got the MP3 pre amp).

It was a worthwhile expense.
His whole system has a more robust sound.
If his vinyl sound remained the same as with the Cardas, I would maybe agree with what you say, but it too benefitted from the wire upgrade.

Maybe the XLR's that Harmonic use are superior to what Cardas uses.
The Neutral Ref is not the top of the heap, whereas the Harmonic were at the time.
Perhaps not a fair comparison.

What I do find intersting is that the Atmasphere pre amp allowed the differences between cables to be heard.
I wouldn't want to own a pre amp or any electronics that did not.

Ralph I don't doubt your findings, but are they based on measurements alone?

Some of us hear dead people.
Hi Lacee, do I understand right that in your post above, the cable shootout was going on between the source and the preamp?

The preamp is designed to support the balanced standard, but its inputs are high impedance to make it easier to drive. The result is that sources that don't support the standard can still work with the preamp, but you will hear cable artifacts- this sounds to me like what you experienced.

In any event, if the cable is not terminated you can get into differences. I'm pointing this out because like I mentioned earlier, the balanced system exists for the sole reason of eliminating cable artifact. So if you are hearing artifact, the system is not being employed to its fullest extent.
Then I guess companies like Meridian had better get with the program.

Same goes with my Audio Aero Capitole that I run balanced out into the balanced in of my mono blocks.
I can distinguish cable differences, does that mean that the Audio Aero Capitole 24/192 or the Red Dragon or both are not up to industry standards when using their balanced connections?

I always thought that the concept of running balanced was to eliminate or lessen the effects of long runs of cables.
Regular rca interconnects can pick up noise and loose signal if they are longer than 20 feet.

I have great respect for Atmasphere and their products,but I'm having a hard time with the concept that a properly designed balanced system would eliminate the differences between xlr connected balanced cables.
Is Atmasphere the only company that can claim this?
Is everybody else wrong?

There are just so many variables in cable materials, construction and in the quality of XLR's and how they are terminated to the wires,that makes me wonder just how can these things differences be eliminated?

Perhaps a trip to the local Atmasphere dealer and some cable swapping would be a lesson learned one way or the other.

Lacee, this is a good portion of the reason that we saw several of those letters to Stereophile in the mid-90s from 'audio engineers', wherein the engineer was convinced that the high end audio market was composed of charlatans. In the letters, the engineers were complaining that in high end audio there was this huge market of cables- IOW that somehow the cables were responsible for big differences in sound.

The engineers knew this was not true, and so were trying to expose the charlatans. But as you and I know, cables **do** make a difference, so what gives? Why would the engineers go off like that?? The reason is that they use balanced line equipment in the studio, and all of it supports the balanced line standard, whereas in high end audio, very little balanced equipment actually supports the standard. So in their world the cables **don't** make a difference, and not because the gear they use is any less transparent.

So the reality behind these letters was real, but so is that behind high end cables. That reality is simply that when you ditch the termination standard, the cables will have an artifact. As a manufacturer, we recognized this back in the 1980s, and so when we introduced the MP-1, which was the first high end audio balanced line product (1989), we made sure we supported the standard. A lot of other manufacturers have gotten on the bandwagon since then, Audio Research, Aesthetix, BAT, Roland, Wadia, etc., but very few of them acknowledge the standard and so you get cable differences, counter to the raison d'etre of balanced-line operation.

In fact, a number of manufacturers simply have the connection because it is stylish or convenient. So in your supposition, is Atma-Sphere the *only* one that actually supports the standard? -no, we are one of the very few.
In the end, the only person who is right is yourself. What YOU HEAR is what matters...not what SOMEONE ELSE says you SHOULD be hearing. Knowledge, understanding and sound engineering get us most of the way there, but for the rest of the journey? Well, I'm afraid you are on your own my friend:O)
Dave_b, I agree with you 100%. My point is simply that if you want to take advantage of what balanced line operation has to offer, you have to adhere to the balanced line standard to get it.

Not doing so is very similar to running a high performance car on the wrong octane. At that point everyone will agree that the car is not performing at its best.

Imagine IOW that there is a technology that can eliminate cable differences, such that all cables sound excellent, like the best you ever heard. That is what balanced-line operation is for. It works too, but you have to adhere to the standard.
I agree with you somewhat Atmasphere, but there will always be the cables geometry, network/non-network, insulation and conductor purity/type of metal that will act as a variable. To risk sounding redundant, the technology will get us close, but we will always have to chase Schrodinger's cat the rest of the way:O)
No chase - Schrodinger's cat is dead!
>>03-25-09: Dave_b
I agree with you somewhat Atmasphere<<

I'm sure Ralph will sleep well tonight knowing that.
That's weird-I just checked on him and he was hooking up some single ended tube gear with RCA's! See, depends on the observer and when you check on him. Of course with an infinite number of possible outcomes one should not be surprised that we are both right...right?
Ralph seems like a reasonable man who keeps himself open to a free exchange of ideas. Sadly, your profound understanding and insights into the realm of audio preclude any of us mere mortals from even attempting a discussion with your most knowledgable eminence. FYI, I also spoke with the owner of Merlin Music Systems, the head designer of Synergistic Research, and the head of marketing for Shunyata...I hope that was ok with you oh great ONE. By the way, I think Atmosphere makes just about the best amps available. If I had the room for a pair I would re-mortgage my house:O)
Hi Dave_b, of course geometry, the purity of materials and the like all effect the cable- until you have a termination resistance value that is low enough to swamp that stuff out.

As audiophiles, we have been working with single-ended cables that use exotic geometries and materials for so long that it is hard to imagine that those techniques won't also serve balanced lines the same way. If you don't have a termination, that is true. But if you don't have a termination, you will be limited in how long the cable can be, and you will be subject to the various artifacts that those materials and geometries impose.

Mercury records use to record the Minneapolis Symphony at Northrup Auditorium on the UofM campus here in Minneapolis. They used their recording truck to do the recordings- it had the recorders built-in to the truck. They placed the mics at the optimum location in the hall, and ran the mic signal a good 200(!) feet to the truck, which was parked in back. You have to ask yourself: how did they get away with that in 1958 when no exotic cable industry existed, yet did it in such a way that no matter how you improve your own stereo, those LPs continue to sound better?

The answer: the balanced line standard really works; really eliminates cable artifact! But-0 you have to play with equipment that supports the standard to really get the significance of that fact.
Point well taken Ralph. Thanks for the insight and background..it is really something to think about.
Ralph those records and most all the classic and jazz cut in the 50's and early 60's sound better than today, but I wouldn't say it was because of balanced cables.
I think the fact that the equipment was all tubes back then and you or all people know that tubes rule.
Also, the engineer probably just rode the volume control.
They didn't have all the noise gates and limiters and external electronic crap that they play around with today.
Those old recordings were about as true to real as you could get.
Now what amplification were they using back then?
It was probably push pull and transformer coupled workhorse amps of the Williamson variety, Macs at best.
Certainly nothing with the quality of parts or the technology of todays best amps your's included.
Yet, like you say very good sound and with 200 foot runs of generic cables.
So I guess it doesn't matter what cables or amps you use, as long as both are configured for a true balanced circuit?
I owned the S30, please don't tell me it sounds just the same as your top of the line mono blocks.
Lacee - old recordings sound like shit in comparison to best current recordings. You could even tell by the amount of distortion and noise what decade they come from. To add insult to injury they digitized them long time ago when high quality low jitter clocks were not available. As a result they contain jitter that is impossible to remove.

The fact that certain studio uses long runs of generic cables doesn't bother me. I'm not even interested why they do that - it could be ignorance or lack of money or a believe that we'll buy any crap (it's true - look what they release!). I cannot help it and can only improve things on my end.

Inductance, capacitance, dielectric absorption, metal purity play role in balanced cables the same way as in unbalanced cables. The only difference is external noise immunity and locking connectors to prevent disaster.
Some old recordings sound like shit,I will agree,
that all new recordings are superior I do not agree.

Most if not all the mags that I read, rave about the re-issued modern pressings of vintage jazz recorded on vintage gear.And I have to agree.

The sound off those old masters is the reason why the new re-issues sound so good.
However there have been instances where over stressed pressing plants have run into problems now that vinyl has made a comeback.
Some 200 gram pressings had serious problems, the old original pressings were better.

The reason why many of the old recordings sound so real is because of the minimal amount of dicking around with electronic toys.
All the gimmicks they use on modern recording sessions today weren't around way back when.
In fact most of the modern recordings are not done in real time .
Individual musicians "phone in" their parts and it is all pasted together with computer programs.
Not very many recordings are done live, off the floor anymore.
I will say that I agree that when done this way modern recordings can sound good.
But not many are and not many do.

Adding a touch of reverb and maybe tweaking the tone was about the only tools the old guys had to play with.

Keeping it simple,most often sounds the best.
As do the first takes of a live recording.

Listening to some of the old classic jazz lp's, cut live for the most part, still sound more like the real thing to me than most of the cd's I have bought in the last 20 years.

If everything you play thru your system sounds good,then there is something going on that is masking the differences.

"If everything you play thru your system sounds good,then there is something going on that is masking the differences."

Lacee - absolutely agree. I'm not into vinyl for the same reason I'm not into drugs - addictive and expensive. Is vinyl really coming back? - I thought it was dead.

On many occasions memory plays trick on us and we remember good sound of 60s, 70s, etc. People often believe that gear was better. Why would it be? Just look at HDTV. Nobody sane would say that picture was better in sixties.

I often listen to old recording praised by other people on this forum for sound quality and find them less transparent, distorted and often noisy. The good popular example would be The Beatles recordings. If you listen to first ones and the last ones you'll see progress audio recording made. They started playing out on 30W Vox amps that had tons of distortion not because they liked it but because nothing else was available.

Today's technology, like CD, is often a compromise of quality for practicality but is constantly improving. I just read Stereophile review of $17k Meridian 808.2 CD player. John Atkinson says that it's the finest player he ever heard (it should be for $17k).

As for the quality of the recordings, I noticed that while dynamic range of some recordings is preserved, most of recordings have very compressed dynamic range. We represent very small buying power and sales are oriented towards people who listen on boom boxes.
Yes music was mostly dumbed down in quality and content over the years.
The more way you could alter the signal the better it must be was the way things went in most studios.
Remember the Aphex Aural Exciter?
It was suppossed to be the best thing you could process a recording with since sliced cheese.
But that's what it was ,sliced cheese.
It is long gone.

But a lot of other toys filled in the gap.

The old engineers had to rely on getting it right the first time, and so did the musicians.
It wasn't about fix it in the mix.

Not so today.
You mention the early Beatles recordings sounding lousy.
That's not the recording, it's the pressings.
Have you given a listen to the Beatles Love cd ?
Modern tech has really done a great job here.
Yet most of the stuff was recorded on 4 tracks and looped together.
But Sir Martin was a master, as this cd illustrates.
If it wasn't good on those old master tapes to begin with this cd would not sound as good as it does today.

There are many more examples from Rudy van Gelder that show how a good recording can stand the test of time.

As for most people listening to boom boxes, I believe they are now buying turntables and the very same vinyl records I am talking about.
Lacee - Boom box people don't listen to vinyl but they influence recording quality (as well as MP3 people).

I do have The Beatles "Love" but it's remastered CD. It has nothing to do with pressing quality. It just simply means that somebody altered the master tape by cleaning it up (improving). I have no idea what was improved (other than obvious lack of noise) but I can tell they sound much cleaner and more transparent.

If you really think, that there was nothing wrong with original recordings and only pressing was deficient then why CDs made of the same material sound poor (compare to CDs made of later songs) and why early songs were mono? It wasn't Beatles desire to record mono - it was just poor state of recording industry.

I agree that today we often do gimmicks instead of putting money into the process. 200 feet of XLR cable should be of high quality but my 0.5m XLR IC runs above $2k retail and asssuming $1k per foot for the highest quality cable means $200k just for one mentioned 200 feet cable. No studio can survive this. Stereophile "reference" recordings are made with high quality cables (and their names are listed).
I have a vast collection of unique and hard to find CD's. Most are classical and jazz but they do put to shame many recordings from both the past and present (vinyl included). Great recordings are made by people who care and have an ear for the music they are recording...the technology used seems to be unimportant in many cases.
Dave - we talkin' correlation here - exceptions always happen.
What I am saying is that great recordings have been made from the 50's on up thru to today. Great recording engineers make the difference, not the technology. I have 16bit recordings that are amazing and I have the latest SACD's that are rather conventional sounding. Some tube recordings from the past are amazing, while others sound like crap. I will say that mainstream recording practices are quite abhorant...sound that is compressed, multitracked from here to the timbuk 2 and all of it put through mixing boards that can suck the lifeforce out of even the best source.
Everyone is waitng for the Beatles catalogue to be given the same sonic makeover as some other artist's catalogues have.
If it is done on cd only and if it is given as much care as the Martins did with Love, then those would be far superior to the muck that has been released of Beatles material on cd.thus far.
It is very obvious to most of us why the first Beatles cd's sound so bad.
Most of the early cd's paled in comparison to the lp's back in cd's infancy.
Maybe you have forgotten or just weren't around then.
If the catalogue is also available on lp in 180 gram pressings at 45 rpm, I think that would open even the most jaded eyes about how great the original recordings of the Beatles were.
They recorded at Abbey Road the same studio that released some great classical recordings, they used the same gear and when they were hooked up with George Martin and his engineers, magic was made.
Maybe those more familiar with the later Beatles feel that the early stuff was primitive in comparison, it really wasn't.But most of it was mono and that was better than the hard vocal to the right, band to the left stereo treatment on the stereo versions.
Sgt Pepper was the pivotal lp, that unleashed everyone's imaginations and potential, those of the musicians and the recording engineers.
Sgt. Pepper with all it's sound effects was recorded on just 4 tracks, not 32, 48 or more that are available today.
I am not saying that the technology today sucks.
Proof of this is the Love disc.
It's just that to me, the problem isn't with the tech, it's with the people at the controls.
Have a listen to some of the remastered 180 gram, 45 rpm lp re-issues of the Blue note recordings from the 1960's if you want an example of how modern tech done correctly can improve upon the older tech that was also done correctly.
It's win, win, 2 + 2 equals four, simplicity.
If there was good sound to begin with you have half the battle won.
If the original recording(quality of recording, not musical content)was poor, then there really isn't too much you can do to improve it.
The old silk purse from a sow's ear concept.
Lacee - CD might be not as good as LP but judging different period Beatles on CD I can see big difference in quality between early and late Beatles recording. Long time ago I had Beatles on vinyl and it was pretty much the same - early recordings sounded poorly. There is, of course, recording studio/engineer factor but I'm talking average.

What puzzles me is that certain old recordings on CD praised by some as great sounding sound bad on my system. It couldn't be system resolution since I have very modest gear. I'm not a musician and don't have very good/trained hearing but can hear difference clearly.

Abbey road was one of the LPs recorded well, but can you find earlier Beatles recording that sounded better than Abbey Road?

Old recordings "remastered" sound much cleaner than the same recordings on the same media (CD). It is not even noise but clarity/transparency in general. Do you know how they remaster records? Remastering alone proves deficient technology before - I've never heard of remastered new recording.