Quality (& Costly) Balanced XLR Interconnect

Does anyone here own a balanced XLR interconnect costing up to say £5k which to your ears sound noticeably or significantly better than any other cable you have tried in your system? It doesn’t matter if it’s RCA, XLR, DIN or RCA-DIN but my focus is more to XLR. Serious question as I am looking at a good (and rather costly) interconnect as a final cable upgrade, perhaps sometime next year.

I recently bought a Wireworld Silver Eclipse 8 XLR and it sounds different from the Acrolink XLR which I own.

You could try reading through this thread.

Maybe not expensive enough but there is a bit of background. Apologies in advance if this is all old news.

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I use Audience Audio, FrontRow Balanced from my Dac to amp. Exceptional, and expensive.

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We tried quite a few interconnects for the Chord pre-amp and between the pre and power amp. It’s a balanced system with XLR sockets.
I started with inexpensive Mogami cable + Neutrik connectors then progressed up as far as £4k Atlas Asimi via Townshend F1 Fractal, Atlas Mavros, Witchhat Morgana, Chord Signature Aray, Siltech and a couple of others.

Being balanced, I expected them all to sound tonally errr balanced and smooth but was in for a surprise or two.

The humble Mogami cables were super. Slightly grainy compared with the best but they sounded more naturally right than most of the £1,000+ ones. Remember, they cost about £45.

The Townshend F1 sounded stunning in all respects except that music sounded a little tonally lean or thin.

I had high expectations of the Atlas Mavros, hopes that were not fulfilled. They were okay but not great. The Asimi were gorgeous but eye wateringly expensive.

We ended up with Transparent Super. We put them in, sat back, started the music and went, “ah, at last, that just sounds right.”

YMMV.

Best regards, BF

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Thanks for all experiences. I was using Acrolink 8N-A2080III XLR for the past 3 years and recently bought the Wireworld Silver Eclipse 8 XLR just to compare. Initially the WW showed better clarity with a slightly lean and thin sound in comparison to the Acrolink which sounded fuller and warmer across the frequency spectrum. I thought the WW sounded better during that time.

I then upgraded to the Furutech DPS4.1 mains power cable about a month ago and this cable changed everything. The Acrolink now sounds tonally more correct than before with improved clarity and everything. There is weight and heft to the presentation and the details sound sharper and not smeared. The WW now sounds even more tonally lean and thin. The difference is not night and day but it’s there. I will need more time to compare both cables but so far they sound different. Both sound good but the Acrolink XLR now sounds better than before, and I now prefer this to the Wireworld.

I’m seriously looking at the top Acrolink XLR but at £4k I am questioning my own sanity. All my components and speakers are endgame so I either fiddle with the cables or just forget about it. I usually don’t waste time with cheap cables but used to have a Mogami for my old subwoofer.

Ryder , are you asking about XLR cables for a Naim system or that other brand you were using? Was it Luxman?can’t remember now.
I no longer use Naim, I am Lumin/Nagra now.
My power distributor is a Shunyata Venom PS10, so I was planning on trying Shunyata power cables eventually. They also make interconnect
cables,which can get expensive.
Over on another forum I am on,which is kind of high end based,there are a lot of people using top of the line Shunyata power distributors, grounding devices (Altair) and full looms of their cables.
I hardly ever hear people mention Shunyata here, yet they seem to know what they are doing.
Right now I only use Oyaide XLR’s between my P1
and Nagra Classic amp, but like you said, once the gear is maxed out, cables are something I will spend more time exploring.

As you’ve also a Luxman amp, have you not had a play with the lowly and very affordable Luxman XLRs? They do a couple. One set is like $200, the other closer to $2k. They are a bit on the no frills end of the spectrum. I use them though in a non Naim or Luxman system. JPC-1500 XLR is what I was thinking of.

If I was not using those I’d probably try something like the high end ATLAS XLRs but I can’t speak to them directly not having used their XLRs specifically.

I have tried quite a few since acquiring gear that has true balanced connections.
From the cheap one’s at £10 upto over £10000 transparent one’s.
They all mostly sounded great, but a few are real star’s, and in my system really stood out.
Chord music best suited me, and it was the first cable that really made a big enough difference to make it worth spending the money. I also liked some from transparent, but tried a few and cannot remember now which one’s, but definitely worth trying.
I also tried townshend F1, and i also use this cable between my phono stage, and sia030. It’s good value, but it’s not chord music.
But i would try a few, and also try the matching rca’s, and see how you get on, as just being balanced doesn’t mean it’s naturally better, as balanced circuits inside each bit off gear can be very different, and they are more complex than the rca’s, so it can be possible to mess the sound up.

Cheers dunc

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If I were you and with such a good system, and if to optimise cables in the higher end to match (or range you are looking at), I would look at upgrading the speaker cables for your Dukes? Very much more impact than interconnects in my experience and more room to improve from the Sig XL? (Not that they are bad or so easy to improve!:))

No-Quarter, I’m asking about XLR cables for my Luxman L-590AXII amp. I am not using Naim at the moment (although the Naim amps are on the rack). I also use a Lumin streamer feeding a Chord DAC going into the Luxman amp.

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Yes, I did think of the Luxman XLR. Too many choices out there. I’m not in a hurry and will decide when the time comes.

The current Acrolink and Wireworld XLRs do nothing wrong and sound great. The Luxman JPC-15000 XLR is decently priced. It costs close to the Wireworld Silver Eclipse 8 XLR which I currently own. The Acrolink XLR costs higher even though I bought it used.

Thanks. I am aware some RCAs can sound better than XLR but I have limited funds to experiment. I’m inclined to stick with XLR as the connection feels more solid and sturdy. Feels more high quality with a click when it locks.

Chord Music is expensive but your Vitus SIA-030 surely deserves it. It costs close to my Luxman amp…

I did consider trying another speaker cable but I really have limited funds to experiment. My mains power cables are sorted, spent a fortune there and they are all very good. If I wanted to make a change, it would be interconnects or speaker cables. I upgraded from Naca5 to Chord Epic and finally to Chord Signature XL and the latter surely sounded best to my ears. A very accurate and high quality sound (mains power cables played a vital role too). I’m not sure if there is anything out there in the price range of £2k to 3k that can surpass the performance of the Signature XL.

The interconnects are currently the cheapest in the system. The power cords in my system now cost about £7k in total, the speaker cable £2.4k and interconnects £1.2k actual price paid. Although the system currently sounds very good, I’m wondering if another pair of interconnect might give more…

ps. The Marten Duke 2 is very good. I love it a lot.

I know, at some point it’s getting really steep and hence my slightly disruptive comment (sorry) about maximum effect at this stage.

In my case it’s kind of the opposite and not to undermine the rest in any way but my speaker cables are the biggest investment as far as cables go (roughly as much as the mains block and all other cables and ICs put together), this has worked better for me in experimentation within the same overall amount spent (of course everyone may feel differently about this so above all it should remain fun not pain in the process :))

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Generally, I have found that 7N/8N copper is excessively warm for my taste. Silver plated over copper tends to be too sharp, while pure silver often comes across as too harsh. I was disappointed with OCC silver, which is purported to be similar to monocrystal silver. Eventually, I settled on a full loom of monocrystal silver, which includes my power cords, interconnects, and speaker cables, primarily from Albedo. I chose network cables from Crystal and Siltech. Specifically, my current XLR is the Albedo Metamorphosis Signature.

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Just curious. What are your speaker cables and which one do you think will sound better than the Chord Signature XL?

Thanks for this. Your experience largely mirrors mine. I only have experience with 7N/8N copper mains power cables and interconnects (Acrolink) and copper with silver plating interconnects and speaker cables (Wireworld Silver Eclipse 8 XLR and Chord Signature XL speaker cable). I just realise I actually used to own pure silver interconnects about 15 years ago (Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II) but during that time my gear and speakers were low end and warm sounding so that might have nullified the character of pure silver which you have shared above.

Albedo Metamorphosis Signature XLR is almost equivalent in value to two units of my Luxman amp. :flushed:

I have ChordMusic speaker cables. They are just very good and as I could manage with fairly short lengths, this made them feasible for me. I did look at Jorma Design as well but could not demo and their better/higher models are just too steep!:slight_smile:

I see you are discussing wire materials and they matter but I find knowhow and overall design go beyond that e.g. I had the Titan Audio (PCOCC silver) and they were very good (and not bright) but I found Chord Signature/Sarum (silver played copper) or Shunyata copper only versions sound more coherent overall. In any case, less difference between good interconnects (than speaker cables) for me but worth finding some that fit the system best.

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Are you considering the Furutech DAS-4.1 with NCF XLR to maintain the warm and full-bodied sound characteristic of your power cord?

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No I wasn’t. Actually I was trying to avoid warm and full bodied interconnects earlier and was looking for an interconnect with more clarity, detail and dynamics to match the warm sounding Acrolink power cords. I was using the Acrolink 8N-A2080III XLR before this and the overall sound was a little warm, smeared and muffled so I recently tried the Wireworld copper with silver plating, hoping that it would brighten things up a little. It somehow did help a little but I wasn’t fully satisfied with the overall sound quality of the system.

I then got the Furutech DPS 4.1/FI-50 NCF (R) replacing the TCS31/FI-28 (R) and this move changed everything. Somehow the DPS4.1 when combined with the Acrolink cords managed to bring a level of clarity that was previously missing with the TCS31. In summary, the TCS31 sounded too warm and smeared with reduced clarity when compared to DPS4.1 with FI-50 NCF. The Acrolink 8N-A2080III XLR now does not sound warm or smeared anymore and actually showed better tone and balance than the Wireworld copper with silver plating XLR which sounded a bit thin and lean in comparison. Small differences between the interconnects but they are there. I’ll need more time to ascertain the differences and will swap the cables again in due time.

These days I don’t do quick A/B comparison anymore and will listen for several weeks or months before I switch to a different cable to assess the differences. I used to do quick A/B comparison by swapping the cables a dozen times in a day and it really messed things up as I couldn’t reliably tell if there was a difference or not (Chord Signature TA DIN cables vs standard Naim).

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