DNM Reson is my preferred unbalanced RCA IC. THey always seem to sound the most coherent and lively end to end and in particular through the critical midrange and draw me in the most as a whole compared to others I use. Currently using these throughout my main rig for both digital and phono sources and from pre-amp to amps.
Various Synergistic Research cables, the Bybee Ultra PC and the ASI Livelines (entire line). I use cables in series and parallel. The results are superior to using single cables -- if the synergy is right.
So far, in my system the most dramatically positive cord changes I have made were the Elrod EPS 3 Signature AC cord on my Ayon Amp, and on the other end of the price scale it was the J W Audio speaker cables, which replaced many sets I have tried at 15 times their price. Both cables gave me a lot more dynamic energy, clarity and detail with no negative colorations. Both were very welcome changes for the better, one at a big price, and the other got me enough money back after selling my previous speaker cables to by the Elrod!
Morrow MA-3's! Have had a number of various cables in my systems including Cardas, A'quest, Tara, Tributaries, Goertz, AudioStream, et al. Read good things about Morrow here on A'gon. Bought my first pair 6 mos ago. I have since replaced every interconnect in my systems to Morrow.
Probably the most jaw dropping expeience I've ever had with cables were the Nordost Valhalla. Stunning cables, though after time I found them too difficult to live with long term. They were so revealing that I found my listening sessions growing shorter due to listening fatigue. I still say they are the best demo cables in the world, but I wanted cables that I could listen to for hours everyday.
I found two other cables that I would say tie for the best for long term listening, IMHO. The Jade Audio Hybrid Gold and Stealth Indra, They are very different, the Stealth being almost as transparent as the Valhalla, but a bit more musical. The Jade being probably the most musical cable I've ever heard with incredible dimensionality.
Competitors? Far too many to even think about listing, sorry.
After blind testing cables with a scoring system for over 30 years with 5 other guys; in my opinion your goal should be to achieve an emotional experience from a truly great cable. Our testing has told us that there are less than 10 manufacturers that have the capability to actually put you in front of the artist at the recording studio. My main recommendation would be do not buy cables that are made in someones garage and stick with the same cable manufacturer throughout your whole system that actually has a real factory. In my opinion great non snake oil cables will connect you emotionally with your system. All 6 of use now use an Italian made cable call HiDiamond and we have been for over 2 years. The technology is very different and there is no other cable that scored a perfect score in our blind test. There are very few really great cables out there. If you are looking for emotion in your system this is the best cable I have heard!
I've had a few jaw dropping experiences with cables. My latest and hopefully my last (said that many times as well) are cables from Mark Cole's Sablon Audio, both ic's and power cords. Mark is almost ready with his speaker cables. You can audition his demos which have been making the rounds. Highly recommended.
My only jaw-dropping experience with cables was thirty years or so ago when I replaced my manufacturer-supplied wire interconnect with an Audioquest Ruby IC. What a difference! I believe there is a magnitude of difference between cables worth hundreds, maybe thousands (maybe?). But I still can't believe the megathousand dollar cables that some cable manufacturers try to foist on gullible audiophiles. I use mostly Kimber KCAG and Tara Labs Quantum and they're just fine for me.
NVS Sound Silver 1 power cables: Literally re-writes the rulebook for what power cables can do. After a year, I still ask myself "How?" Descriptors seem to provoke disbelief and anger among audiophiles.
Jade Audio Reference Platinum/Gold IC, Hybrid Gold IC, Vermeil Gold SC: JD stumbled upon the formula for putting the sound of a good tubed amp into a wire. The Reference line is uncompromising.
My experience matches Jaybo's. Maybe it's because I upgraded very gradually over the years, but I can't say that switching cables has made the type of difference you're describing. Now if I had upgraded directly from a generic patch cord to my current Kubala Sosna or similar quality cables, I might have had the kind of reaction you're asking about.
I was most impressed with the Kubala Sonsa Emotions. But the speaker cables don't remind me of garden hoses but more like a fire hose. I'd be afraid they would pull my monitors down LOL!! Anyhow I own Nordost Frey's (they won't pull down any speaker).
Like others have said if you had some basic cables and demoed some high end cables you would eventually find a great jaw dropping cable. I'll add as your components get better the cables will reveal more. So what I found great cables on mid-fi will bring out the flaws where with Higher-fi it will bring out more of the good.
Some three decades ago perhaps, swapping my common for the day speaker cable for Monster Cable 12gauge. Even my sister Renee noticed the difference. So I knew it wasn't simply the I just brought it so it must be better syndrome. It made me a believer to this day in larger gauge speaker cable.
I agree Kubala Emotion and Elation tested very well in our blind test but HiDiamond was a more emotional experience and it cost 50% of what I can buy Kubala for. I have had both cables on my system for extended periods and the HiDiamond cables put you in the recording studio with the artist which for me takes my listening session to a whole different level.
My two "holy crap" wire moments came (1) from moving from generic lamp cord (or equivalent) to Kimber Monocle XLs for speaker cable and (2) replacing the stock wires on a pair of Sennheiser HD600s with Cardas wire. (Not that either is an "ultimate" in and of itself.) Everything since then has involved trade offs and increments, but those two were definite night and day moments.
I had previously installed the Masterbuilt speaker cords and interconnects to good effect. I then tried installing the MB powercords on my Spectron monoblocks in place of Shunyata Python CX powercords. As soon a I powered up the first Spectron, it was obvious that the quality of realism had taken a huge leap. Since then, I acquired Double Kronzilla's, using them in a biamp configuration, all with the MB cables. The Krons, like the Spectrons, love the Masterbuilt power cords.
Without exception, every time I demo the difference for audiophiles or casual listeners, there's the same reaction. Oddly enough the first words are usually "holy crap" or equivalent.
By the way, I got the same result replacing Anacondas elsewhere in my system.
My word of advice is once you've tried the Masterbuilt cables, you'll miss them if you don't keep them.
Musicxyz, I am very interested in your observations about HiDiamond cables. I have never heard them. Have you and your friends had a chance to listen to ASI Liveline cables. If so, could you comment on them versus HiDiamond? In my system ASI Liveline give me that "being-there" feeling -- the emotional connection. I run them in series or in parallel with other cables for maximum effect. On some CD's you have to invert the phase to get the best effect.
We have tested ASI and we thought they had a unique sound and were also live sounding. In my opinion you should always stay within the same manufacturer throughout your cables. You will know when you have it right with your cables when you stop thinking about changing your cables. Every cut will be very emotional and sometimes you wont even recognize the song you are playing because it never had the effect on you the way it does with the new cables. Great cables should be an emotional experience!
Musicxyz, thanks for your observations. I could not agree more about the emotional experience. You're right not to divulge too much about the cables you've tested. You'd create the biggest hornet's nest on the forum. I'm sure you're aware.
I just put the Shakti Hallographs into my room today. They take the "aliveness" experience to a higher level yet.
Replacing the Audioquest phono cable going from my TW Akustic Raven One to the Fosgate Signature phono pre with Synergistic Tricon Analog. It was then I realized how fogged and dull everything was before but only with the before/after comparison.
Morrow Audio's MA3 Xlr and Sp3 biwire took my sessions to a whole new level of playback, also latter adding a Ps Audio Perfectwave cables to my gear was nice! really nice when I dropped the AC12 on my Halo A21 it was like two Coy fish in a pond!
To be honest HD makes a great cable but there are many great cables out there. Every time I mention a brand name I get way to much crap so all I can say is buy a cable that gives you an emotional connect to the artist.
Musicxyz, I have had the HiDiamond Carbon 2 XLR digital cable in my system for only one day. I was going to hold off posting for a while. But right out of the box the sound is stunning. It blows away all other digital cables I have had in my system -- or ever heard. The sense of realness, of being there, is amazing. I could talk about coherence, detail, sound stage, dynamics, tonality and many other criteria we use to describe the sound of cables. But this would not do justice to the HiDiamond.
Clarity Cables are the best I have tried in my system and I've tried MANY! No other cable has the midrange quality and the ability to portray an actual instrument within a 3D landscape. I'll give the analogy of Clarity Cables as tube like and the others I've tried as transistor like, thin sounding with very little flesh on the bones.
Even with a 100% change in all of my electronic equipment, Clarity Cables has still reigns supreme...
This is an expanded version of my earlier post about the HiDiamond Carbon 2 XLR (AES/EBU) digital cable.
I have had the HiDiamond Carbon 2 XLR digital cable in my system for only one day. I was going to hold off posting for a while. But right out of the box the sound is so stunning that I am impelled to make some initial observations.
The HiDiamond embarrasses all other digital cables I have had in my system or have ever auditioned anywhere. In an email I received today from Audiogon regarding the general nature of an initial attempt to post about this cable, Audiogon encouraged me to go into the details regarding my observations. I am glad to do so here.
I have had many other digital cables in my system and have auditioned many others, as well. Some were excellent. So why is the HiDiamond so special? The HiDiamond transmits the feeling of being connected to a real performance in the way the other cables were not able to do. By this I mean that the instruments and voices are fleshed out and made real in a way that brings them right into your listening room and connects them to you on an emotional level through the feeling of being at the actual performance.
So, the music is more than the various criteria we use to describe the listening experience -- the air around instruments and voices, a black background, low level detail, tonality, dynamics, transparency, sound stage, coherence, etc. With HiDiamond a description of the parts cannot come close to the musicality that is portrayed. Talking about the parts is simply inadequate.
There are no parts. There is just a totality -- an utterly transfixing musicality -- a feeling of being one with the ambiance, of being connected to the emotion that the performance portrays. I have tried to put this experience into words but I have inevitably fallen short. Words cannot do this justice.
While delivering a pair of Cirrus to a customer in Dallas this weekend we had the chance to do some cable swapping. His prior speakers were forward and edgy, so he had the system setup to be as laid back as possible. Speaker cables he had were Ridge Street, not sure exactly which ones ... but we swapped in some silver/gold speaker wire from Downsize Audio and it was an immediately noticable improvement. The system went from closed in and dark to more dynamic and open. I'd say the silver/gold Downsize cables were an across the board improvement.
Hornguys, regarding your point #2, actually the Teo Audio Standard Mk II balanced interconnects are $4200 for 1m and $11,000 for 3m respectively. Jawdropping for sure, but don't want to exaggerate :) The RCA single ended versions are less, and there are three models under the Standard.
Why wouldn't you want to hear the speaker cables Essential? Are they bad or simply "pricey"? Now I REALLY want to try these out for myself! Just bought my cables (Acoustic Zen) and they are fine for my needs but this talk of "jaw dropping cables" has me intrigued! I do wonder if there are any stores (in Ontario) that carry these in order for me to listen to them for myself.
Musicallyinclined, it was said tongue in cheek. They are expensive: a 2m pair of Standard are $16k, while a 2m pair of ParaHelios (Reference) are $28k. Longer lengths are a lot more. One of my customers had this to say:
"Well, I knew it was a mistake to borrow the Reference [ParaHelios] speaker wire from Teo Audio and I did it anyway. Again, what is the point of upgrading electronic components if you are not really getting nearly what your current gear can deliver? Every step up in Teo Audio cable reveals more about what your components can deliver from the recording. More focused and clear vocals and instruments. Better bass. Expanded soundstage. Timbral accuracy. I find myself turning the volume down because everything is so much easier to hear when it's not smeared. I didn't know the sound was smeared till it wasn't! A remarkable product."
As you might have guessed, he purchased a pair.
As for dealers in Ontario, you might contact Taras of Teo Audio for a referral, 613-546-1631.
I recently purchased a set of Placette Audio speaker cables and IC's and it has transformed my stereo. My jaw drops every time I listen to it. These cables are highly transparent and totally get out of the way so that my components (Modwright tube Oppo 83, Placette Active preamp, Pass Labs XA30.5 and Tyler Acoustics Linbrook system speakers) can shine to their full potential. Here's what I've tried before: PNF Audio, DHS Labs, Signal cable, MAC, MIT, Anti-cables.
The "right" cables really depends on the specific system (components, roon acoustics, etc) and particular taste of the listener. I have rarely experienced cables that seem to work well in most systems. The more extreme the capability of the cable in certain aspects of performance (e.g., "fast and detailed"), the worst that cable seems to be in a system where those qualities do not need to be boosted.
The closest thing I've heard to as a univerally "great" cable system (I heard it sound great in three completely different systems) involved NBS Black Label interconnects and speaker cables. Too bad these are extremely expensive.
I suppose another surprising experience involved speaker cables made by the turntable manufacturer Basis. I heard those swapped for XLO Limited cables in a friend's system. Inexplicably, the system sounded considerably louder and more dynamic (not subtle) with the Basis cables. In my system I also heard an increase in volume over the NBS cables I use, though in other respects the sound was not an improvement, in my opinion. Still, I am amazed at the subjective loudness increase given that all cables have extremely low resistance.