Cable upgrades

Happy Holidays to all!

I’m reconfiguring my system and am interested in upgrading my interconnects and possibly my speaker cables, and I was wondering if you could make some recommendations.

I was running Audio Sensibility Impact SE XLR between my Benchmark DAC3 HGC (as a DAC/pre) and my Benchmark AHB2 power amp.  The amp is running bi-wired Kimber Cable 8TC (I think that’s the model #) to a pair of ATC SCM40 tower speakers.  In this setup the bass is tight and the mids are clean - overall I’m quite happy - but sometimes I feel, for my ears, I’d love a bit more openness / brightness in the higher end.

My questions are: would improved XLR interconnects help to open up the top end a bit, without being harsh, and perhaps increase the dimensionality of the soundstage?  Or would I be better off starting with upgrading the speaker cables?  I’ve been looking at the Cardas Parsec level of cable, and could perhaps stretch to the Clear line, pending your recommendations.

Also, one other question: pending the possible move to 2 AHB2s (in mono-block configuration), do both XLR interconnects have to be the same length?  If not, would it cause any timing issues between, say, a 2' XLR and a 6'?

I’d appreciate any guidance.  Many thanks in advance.



A safe bet.  All around Reference SQ.  Not insanely priced new=  Audioquest Pegasus XLR.  A hidden jewel!!!

Phenomenal sound for the money, especially if you can find a pair used.     

Hi folks:

An update.  2+ weeks and 120+ hours of run-in on the Cardas Golden Ref XLRs.  They are sounding good!  Vocals are smooth, articulate.  Soundstage is wide but not thin.  Bass seems well-balanced, maybe not as beefy as some XLRs, but very pleasing and controlled.  Great dynamics/slam.  Highs are clean, clear, and not fatiguing.

However, the biggest improvement was the addition of a Cardas Beyond Clear PC, currently supplying the Lumin U2 and Benchmark DAC3 HGC, via the PS Audio Duet.

It was a game-changer.  Like a new system.  A true WOW factor improvement.  I was shocked.

I don't think I had an understanding of 'synergy' until I heard this change.  I still have to experiment further, swapping the Beyond with the AQ NRG-4 (which is powering the amplifier on a direct 20A line), but it's sounding so good I am reticent to upset the balance!

I still have to upgrade the stock PCs on the DAC and streamer, but I'm taking my time.  And I am curious about going back to the Neotech Mk IIIs and seeing how they perform now.  Originally, I felt the tonal balance was titled up, favouring the highs at the expense of the lows -- not all that different from what I felt about the Cardas GRs -- but now I wonder if that had more to do with the PC balance/synergy.

Anyway, I promised myself I'd give the GRs at least a month in the system, even though at this point I don't expect much to change.  I'll keep y'all posted on my further findings.

Best, JAMES.



Thanks for your report on how it is going.


Yes, the change from good power cords can be huge and really counterintuitive.