Experiences With Costly Balanced XLR Interconnects Above $3,000

I’ve had great success going with quality (and costly) mains power cables in the main system. In my experience power cords bring the most significant difference in comparison to interconnects and speaker cables. However, I have not really tried the best interconnects out there.

I currently have the Wireworld Silver Eclipse 8 XLR and an Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo XLR in the system. Both sound excellent although different in their presentation. I’m wondering if the top-of-the-line WW Platinum Eclipse 8 XLR or Acrolink Mexcel DA6300IV XLR will bring a noticeable or worthwhile improvement to the sound.

Any experiences would be appreciated.


The wonderful thing about cables is that they’re incredibly easy to buy and sell used. My advice is to buy any interconnect you wanna try and if it doesn’t work for you just turn around and sell it at little/no loss. That said, it’d be most helpful if you’d share what specific improvements you’re looking for over what you have now as it would make for more meaningful and more targeted recommendations.

My CARDAS CLEAR XLRs were a a superior performance choice in my system  after upgrading from NORDOST FREYs. 
Having them in a full same brand array offered further incremental performance uptick. 

@soix i recently upgraded a mains power cable and was pleased with the improved sound quality. It is sounding quite perfect at the moment but I’m not sure if the system could improve further with a higher quality interconnect. If it’s possible I would like to have a more dynamic presentation with better clarity and separation across the frequency spectrum. Perhaps a slightly airier and lit treble as well. The cables I’m looking at are quite rare in the used market so I’ll have to buy new if none are available. They will be my final cable upgrade when the time comes.

@akg_ca thanks for the post. Good to know the Cardas Clear XLR is superior to the Nordost Frey.


Given what you’re looking for I’d try these, and if they don’t work out just sell them for little/no loss.  They excel at 3D soundstage, detail, air, but don’t throw it at you and present music in a very natural and organic way.  Give’em a shot and I think they could be your end-game interconnects. 


Thanks Soix. Guess what, I owned the Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II XLR about 15 years ago and sold them for $300. I see the used price has tripled. 😅 I am not in a hurry and will keep these in mind. Thanks.

I use Transparent for all of my interconnects, speaker cables and all but my amp power cord. I find them exactly that, transparent, dynamic, low noise. I have tried: Cardas (all upper tier), DHLabs, WireWorld, Harmonix, Straight Wire, Nordost (Odin 2 bested Transparent… but at $17K they should have)… and I am sure a couple more.

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Can you talk about the presentation/sound of the WW and Acrolink XLR?


Happy Listening!

Have owned a audio store for a decade 

I can say these ultra expensive $2500+ interconnects ,power cords, speaker cables ,digital  yes maybe a few % points better then a $1500 interconnects .

is paying double for say 3% worth it , in truth if your $$ pockets are very deep then yes ,if not save it for maybe a better front end .

I tired some others but the Cardas Clear Beyond XLRs on my system are great. Here's a pair very nicely priced.

Hijiri Million Kiwami XLR cables are also great so I have been told but I have not heard them. You wanted over 3K!

I just don’t get it. The reason behind using XLR connectors is to eliminate noise, hum and whatever other signals coming from alien planets from the audio signal.

"This process is called Common Mode Rejection Ratio or CMRR and it is used to eliminate noise and hum which can be common to a signal. CMRR is most often taken advantage of in XLR balanced cables but it can also be used in single ended RCA cables as well. How does this work? Imagine a two-wire cable going from a turntable to a preamplifier. On one end you have the phono cartridge which is a coil of wire - with a beginning and end wire - each end of the coil is connected to one of the two wires of the cable. The other end on the preamp has a differential stage amplifier and on each of the two inputs we place the other end of the wire. With me? Now we start to play a record. The coil generates a moving voltage which is different at each end of the coil - it’s AC so it’s going + to - and then - to + so the voltage is moving back and forth over the coil - the signal always the opposite on each end of the coil wires. Our differential stage is loving this - it amplifies the differences between each end of the coil as the signal moves back and forth and we hear music. Now imagine a noise source - hum from a nearby transformer, noise from a cell phone or anything radiated in the air. That radiated noise is going to pass right through our two wires and be present on each of the two wires in equal amounts. So each of our two wires has lots of noise on it but the noise on each of the two wires is identical. The noise is common to the two wires. What does our difference amplifier do with this? Nothing! It rejects the noise completely. So you have high noise and signal coming into the differential stage and only signal coming out with the noise gone! It’s a bloody miracle. And there, my good readers, you now understand Common Mode Rejection, how it is rejected while at the same time amplifying only the music. XLR cables do this best because they have the two wires inside them surrounded by a third wire that is called a shield. An RCA cable has only one wire and the shield and they are not equal in construction so the noise isn’t as common as it could be and thus rejected not quite as much."


Can somebody here explain to me why $3,000 XLR connectors supposedly have a better CMRR than say $100 XLR connectors? Thanks in advance.

I would say the only advance I’ve seen to XLRs in 40 years of professional recording is star quad it uses a ground and 2x + and - signals that phase out physically along the cable. Nearly all of the studios and all the production sound I’ve done with XLRs have been Canare star quad.

If you use 10k$ XLR interconnects in your system you will never get more info than the original XLRs which cost about 2$ a foot, and we generally never used more than 100 feet of it. If an XLR changes the signal of the channels on the mixer there is a problem with that cable there has never been a time when an XLR changed the imaging of a recording in the studio we would change the cable (there are probably 3 of them between the mic in the studio and the mixing console in the control room). Most mics are phantom powered usually 48v and if one conductor of the XLR has a problem there is a 48v pop and it blows your head off. I’ve seen frequency problems on 3 conductor XLRs with dynamic mics but never low level (changing imaging). Also after the audio signal gets into a component it goes through lots of changes in both analogue and digital circuits so the external XLR is the least of your problems. It’s the cheep unbalanced internal wiring of the component or audio transformer that makes the difference.

Hey its your money but it reaches a point when physics doesn’t care about your psychobabble about a wider and deeper image created by XLR cables and the money you waste could be better used by buying needy kids meals at the rescue mission. Look up 2nd law of thermodynamics then talk about how XLRs create information that doesn’t exist on the original recording.


Can you talk about the presentation/sound of the WW and Acrolink XLR?

Jafant, WW Silver Eclipse 8 XLR sounds leaner with better separation and tighter bass, Acrolink sounds fuller and warmer in the midrange with more bass. The last comparison was made when the WW was in the process of breaking with the old mains power cable. The results may be different now as the new mains power cable (Furutech DPS4.1 with FI-50 NCF (R)) has replaced the TCS31/FI-28(R). The difference is not subtle. 

Thanks for the responses guys. I’m trying to find justification to spending the money for the ultimate XLR, perhaps my last cable upgrade before I call it a day. @audioman58 made a valid point and I surely agree. It is diminishing returns with most of these costly high-end cables as one will need to spend a huge sum of money for a supposedly small difference. I have to admit I may have overspent on the cabling in my system but I do appreciate quality cables, usually the costlier ones. It’s the small differences that make a (big) difference. It’s the same with components.


You may want to try Inakustik NF-2404 Pure Silver XLR 1m for $3700. Its price is not outrageous like Transparent Opus or Nordost Odin. The Inakustik is better than a lot of higher price cables. My system uses Inakustik, made in Germany.

Thanks for the recommendation @cfa88. I will look into it later. I am aware about the advantages of some of these pure silver or monocrystal silver interconnects from the likes of Siltech or other brands which have been recommended on the forums before and have no doubt they are excellent. It’s only the high price that is preventing me from trying them.

I think the monocrystal silver cables from some manufacturers are costlier than pure silver.

Test out The Cable Company's lending library and try a few different cables. Let us know what you tried and what worked. 


The answer your question is easy.  Yes, having the second “Hot” wire cancels noise, but quality of the conductors and the plugs still make a difference as well.

All the best.

I have only one set of XLRs that go from my Horizon DAC/preamp to my Gryphon EVO amp so its been less costly to go up the product lines. I have been running a Shunyata Sigma V2 Interconnect and have on loan from my dealer an Audioquest Dragon. These are both great cables but there are clear differences between the cables. I find when cable shopping there are clearly diminishing returns, BUT once I hear them in my system it's impossible for me to un-hear that 2% difference. I think it's risky logic to have one of us say one high end cable is better than another as it's system(including your room) dependant. I vote yes, thry the upgrade. If you are buying retail and your dealer won't let you try the cable before you buy it, find another dealer. I think buying used and selling if its not a fit is great as well. Good luck!

OP check Tellurium silver diamond interconnect XLR or Nordost Valhalla 2 ic.

I had top four Audioquest 2M Mythical Creatures series in my system for 2 weeks on industry loan. For warm yet incisive at superb value for $ difficult to beat Pegasus IMO. IF you want the last bit of detail and air but at significant cost go up the line into Silver. 

Best to you on your quest for better sound

I have tried so many cables through the years. I must admit I do like the Infigo Signature XLR and USB cables. Even though I had many problems with the distributor.

They have a very dynamic sound quality that bettered anything I have tried or owned.


Try the Iconoclast UPOCC 4x4 Gen 2 

about 2300.00

No restocking. They even pay return shipping. Absolutely not one cent out of your pocket if you return. Get the 5 ft. Cable is stiff and you may need the extra length. 

Bob from Iconoclast a true pro. 

OP, I suggest you try every cable above $3k retail. That's the only way to be sure. But since I tried their entire line, I will mention Wywires cables. Yes, every step gave a serious improvement, the biggest one - the last step. But I am talking about RCA cables, with XLR it might be different, much depending on your equipment. Still, you could try Wywires Diamond and send it back for a full refund if it doesn't work out for you. There are many people who like the Diamond and rightly so. It's around $3k. And if you want to go higher sky is the limit. In terms of price. In terms of performance - who knows ? But yes, there are better cables. What is the level of your system ?

I tired some others but the Cardas Clear Beyond XLRs on my system are great. Here's a pair very nicely priced.

I just bought those yesterday from Mr. Resnick (WBF). Moving up the Cardas chain now.

I need to do a write up on my cable journey this year from Transparent, to Purist, to Kubala, then to Cardas. Technical term warning: I spent a crap-ton of money on cabling in 2023. And I'm actually not quite finished so more pain ahead.

Can somebody here explain to me why $3,000 XLR connectors supposedly have a better CMRR than say $100 XLR connectors?

@pwerahera They won't. CMRR is a function of the electronics, not the cable.

The goal of the balanced line system is to eliminate sonic artifacts of the cable and eliminate ground loops. To do that, the equipment has to support the balanced line standard, known as AES48.

If this standard is supported, you'll find you no longer care about various cables because they all will sound the same regardless of cost.

But many high end audio balanced line products don't support the standard, so the benefits of going balanced are vastly reduced. Now we're back to having to audition cables!

Auditioning cables is bad because while its good you can hear the differences, its bad because you hear the differences. What that means is no matter what cables you audition and pick the best, next year that manufacturer will have a better one and if he doesn't, someone else will, and around and around we go.

The whole idea behind the balanced line system was to eliminate this problem, and if you adhere to the standard, it works. I run Mogami Neglex in my system; 30 feet per channel and maybe cost $300 for the pair. And no worries.

@atmasphere Appreciate your response. I am curious to know why won't manufacturers follow the AES48 standard. Do you think Audio Research, Mark Levinson, Cary Audio, Krell, and most of BAT all (Balanced Audio technology) don't follow this standard? For the kind of money these guys charge, I really doubt they will not adhere to the standard. But then how do you find out whether a particular manufacturer adhere to the standard of not?


Because there is no need to follow those standards, and having to buy expensive cables is not a problem for most audiophiles. 

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... The goal of the balanced line system is to eliminate sonic artifacts of the cable and eliminate ground loops. To do that, the equipment has to support the balanced line standard, known as AES48 ...

With all respect to Ralph, that’s a circular argument and the claim not quite exactly true. The AES48 standard he touts was only adopted in 2019, and balanced audio circuits predate that by many decades. To suggest that only those complying with the standard are capable of such feats as eliminating ground loops is just not accurate.

if you adhere to the standard, it works.

I have differentially balanced Audio Research gear that works, yet the components are not AES48 compliant. As with many things, there is more than One Way. Similarly, I’ve heard AES48 compliant equipment that sounded like drek. In the end, AES48 is just a standard.

I am curious to know why won’t manufacturers follow the AES48 standard. Do you think Audio Research, Mark Levinson, Cary Audio, Krell, and most of BAT all (Balanced Audio technology) don’t follow this standard? For the kind of money these guys charge, I really doubt they will not adhere to the standard. But then how do you find out whether a particular manufacturer adhere to the standard of not?

@pwerahera , @inna got that partially right; you can build a balanced output that does not conform to AES48 easily and it can perform quite well.

To support the standard, there are 3 ways I know of. The first is to use an output transformer and that’s how a great deal of studio equipment does it to this day because transformers do that really well and at the levels required can also have good bandwidth.

The second way, if you are going solid state (or if you don’t mind a hybrid circuit) is to use an IC like this one.

There is a third method that involves the use of a balanced circuit known as a Circlotron.

Each of these techniques have their strengths and weaknesses. Transformers are expensive and you have to pay attention to loading them properly to prevent ringing or bandwidth issues. The IC chip isn’t going to do it if you want to have an all-tube embodiment. The third way is also more expensive and to do it right probably means the manufacturer would have to pay a royalty.

So, since cable manufacturers don’t mind making expensive balanced cables, most of high end audio has chosen to ignore the standard.

With all respect to Ralph, that’s a circular argument and the claim not quite exactly true. The AES48 standard he touts was only adopted in 2019, and balanced audio circuits predate that by many decades. To suggest that only those complying with the standard are capable of such feats as eliminating ground loops is just not accurate.

@cleeds This statement is incorrect. AES48 was updated in 2019 but existed long before that and all it did was codify the existing practice. One of those practices is to ignore ground when an input or output is used (IOW the ground is only for shielding and not to complete the circuit, unlike single-ended connections). That practice goes back to the early 1950s. If you take a look at this Ampex 351 schematic you’ll see that the microphone input uses a transformer and neither side is grounded, nor is there a grounded center tap.

I would be interested to know exactly how my argument you quoted might be considered ’circular’.

In case it wasn’t clear, sure, you can run equipment that is balanced and does not support AES48, and it can sound fine. But you’ll have to audition the interconnect cable to really winnow out the best performance from the equipment. As I pointed out yesterday, you’ll never succeed at that last bit, because the best cable you were able to find will still not be right and I explained why. The equipment will also be susceptible to ground loops (which should never happen with balanced equipment...), and if you’ve wondered why some people say single-ended connections sound as good or better, its because the balanced standard is being ignored.

The balanced line standard, as it existed in 1958, made possible the golden age of stereo, along with the Westerex 3d stereo LP cutter head, and is this (long before AES48 codified it):

1. Pin 1 is ground, pin 2 inverting, pin 3 inverting (in Europe pins 2 and 3 are reversed)

2. Pin 1, ground, carries no signal circuit and is ignored by the signal circuitry. This means that the pin 2 signal is generated with respect to pin 3 and vice versa.

3. For each side of the signal, pin 2 and 3, if there is an impedance to ground, it will be an equal impedance on each side.

4. There is a low impedance aspect; in 1958 the termination standard was 600 Ohms for line level (150 Ohms for microphones).

IMO/IME if you really want cable immunity, your equipment should be able to drive loads as little as 1000 Ohms. This last bit requires a low output impedance from the circuit driving the cable. The chip I linked above has no problem doing this and you’ll notice that balanced line transformers are often designed for low impedance operation. This impedance helps swamp artifacts caused by inductance or capacitance in the cable.

BTW, this standard is used to prevent cables having a ’sound’ so you don’t have to compare cables to get things to work- its meant to allow plug and play. It has nothing whatsoever to do with how that equipment itself actually ’sounds’; your allusion to some of it sounding like ’drek’ is a red herring.


A number of manufacturers offer a 30-day trial period or more, so seek them out and give them a try. The Cable Company will charge you around 10% of the cable cost to try their cables, but will credit the amount if you end up purchasing from them. Also, they tend to push the Synergistic Research line.

I used audio questions lapis power to pre for a number of years. After I went to transparent  reference  there was a slight hardness that disappeared  that I never really knew about til it was gone. I like the newer generations better  in there line reference  xl is as high  up as I have gone. I own the first three generations  of reference  speaker wire there is a small step up in each generation. 

Used many…only heard really musical differences from Transparent and MIT…diminishing returns past a certain point however.  Up to 12k per meter as I recall :)

I might add, that the most musically revealing cable I have heard for the least amount of money is Anticables speaker cables and power cords…mixed results with IC’s!



Gotta admit, I had to look up the 2nd law of thermodynamics...

Learned somethin' today...


I know the 2nd law of thermodynamics but it doesn’t help explain why the Transparent cables and MIT CABLES sound so much better than just plain wire.

Regarding Nordost XLR cables: I owned several pair of Frey 2 cables in different lengths, but I was never as happy with them as I was with comparable lengths of Frey 2 RCA cables. Counter-intuitive based upon the way they’re supposed to work, yes, but that was my experience. Once I upgraded to the Tyr 2 XLR cables, I could definitely hear an improvement on par with what I heard with Tyr 2 RCAs. 

The Tyr 2’s don’t come up for sale pre-owned and in good condition often, but they are out there. 

+1 for using the same brand throughout the loom.

i have the WW Platinum 8 XLR and love em. there are deals out there. worth it. ...... Lumin T2, Pass XP-12, Pass 250.8, Legacy Sig SE's..................my 2 cents

Wireworld is all midfi junk and their top stuff is just tinny silver from midfi Neotech supplier in Taiwan.

Try Kubala Sosna Sensation or realization level and you have to match speaker cables as well. If you don’t match speaker and xlr cables with same line and same level you are peeing in the wind.

I just bought the Acrolink DA6300 after comparing with Jorma, Vertere, Argento Flow and MIT. The DA6300 was the quietest and had more depth and separation. Vertere was also very good the others smooth but homogenous sound in my system. The DA6300 was a no brainer beautiful cable very involving and transparent. Tight bass, crisp highs with out being bright, and smooth mid range. 

I think you would be well served by reading Audio Science Review. These cables are pure snake oil and there is no objective  scientific evidence that these exotic luxury cables sound different from a $50 cable. 

Yes there is a lot of snake oil, but I let me ears decide if something is a worthwhile upgrade. If you hear a difference there is a difference and Acrolink is not snake oil, very transparent about the cable construction. Cheers

@rtorchia +1 At last - a sane responder! I have been called deaf but IMO one piece of wire is the same as another. If it has continuity, fine!

And so it begins again… the blind telling those with sight that they cannot really see. We all have mass confirmation bias.

The naysayers that come to these forums to pester audio hobbyists have some serious insecurity issues.  And the ASR guy has found a way to make a profit off of those insecurities.  

Think of high school where the idle underachievers would pester the scholastic achievers because they could think of nothing better to do.  It was beneficial to work out and get in shape because the best defense was to avoid engagement.  Mark Twain said, "Never argue with an idiot.  He will drag you down and beat you with experience."