I need to purchase an HDMI cable to go from whatever streamer I buy (Holo Red? External box for my existing Bridge II? AirLens???) to my DS Mk II. I may also want to upgrade the ethernet cable from my switch to said streamer. This is my main listening source. My second source is a PST, which also uses an HDMI cable that could be upgraded.
I would appreciate recommendations for HDMI and ethernet cables that offer good SQ but are not at the very high end in terms of price. I know that some folks here have had very good results with AudioQuest Diamond cables, but they are more than I want to pay. At the moment I am using a Purist Audio Design Diamond HDMI from the PST to the DAC. It’s a good-sounding cable for about $300 but I haven’t been able to compare it to anything more expensive. I like a natural sound with accurate instrumental timbre and no excessive treble, analogue-like but with good detail.
Over time, with planning, I could pick up one of the top of the line cables if I really wanted to. I’d also be interested to hear from those who have upgraded from a mid-range cable to something like the AQ Diamond or Shunyata; was the increase in SQ commensurate with the higher price? (I realize these are personal conclusions and are system-dependent, but would appreciate comments anyway.)
From my Jay’s Audio CDT2-Mk3 to my DS mk1 DAC I went from an AQ Vodka to an AQ Thunderbird. This was the most expensive cable I’ve ever owned at $750 and in my estimation was worth the cost. Love the way my system sounds to the point of having no burning desire to change anything (famous last words).
My ethernet cable needs to be 1.5 m; the HDMI cables can be a half or 1 m. I’ve read that there’s some dispute about the length thing, with some people claiming that a meter is a minimum (was that for ethernet or HDMI?).
I haven’t heard any AQ ethernet cables, but I have tested and still use several levels of Shunyata ethernet cable. I’ve read reviews that claim Shunyata’s product line for ethernet is unquestionably the best… to which I reply “Question it.” (That’s just me though. Question everything!)
But… you can do that pretty easily. The Cable Co has a loaner library, and the net cost to you is basically the shipping, which will remain a credit on your account to apply towards a purchase.
So I’ll suggest you try the Shunyata Venom-X ethernet. In my opinion, it’s not worth the step up to the Delta. At some point later, if you have budget available for it, the Sigma is a considerable step up.
Are you in or near Southern California? I have Venom, Venom-X (I think), Delta and Sigma in my system, and an Omega on order. If you’re near, I could probably spare a few hours on a weekend day to bring them to you so you can hear them in your system.
I personally think you should reconsider HDMI entirely. At this point I believe that USB into the MK2 is widely considered as good as I²S. I suggest you look at USB streamers and cables. The marketplace is bigger, it futureproofs your purchase since so few DACs use I²S, and there’s a wider market if you decide to sell either the cable or device.
There are fewer HDMI selections than other types of digital cable. I have always used AQ (Vodka, Coffee, Firebird48, and Dragon48) and like them very much.
I hesitate to recommend buying used since AQ has too many fakes out there (unless you know a trusty source). If you have trade-in credit with PSA, you can get a discount from them. The best source is from Nick in TMR, he can give you a good deal.
When I first purchase PST (or M1200?), I had a trade in gear with higher price than the trade-in value. I asked can I get discount for an AQ power cord, and I got a discount. But that was a couple years ago so I am not sure about the % now.
I run AudioQuest Vodka for the AppleTV and TV set up, and Diamond for the hifi system from the wall to streamer and on to DAC. Swapping the Vodka into the hifi has less definition and venue acoustic present. That’s the really big change, but the Diamond is also just more classy and elegant.