Yes, I admit I am fussy but having read these forums for quite a few years now, I see that a lot of you are really no different to me. If you are buying better quality equipment you expect a high level of build quality. Me too. I won't go as far as some of you and try to return a pair of headphones because the cable insulation got a little squashed by the cable ties in the packaging but nevertheless, I expect anything I buy to be built and packaged with care, particularly as I go up the price scale. I don't expect 100% perfection but I do have minimum standards that I expect (and which actually are no different to the legal requirements here in Australia so far as fit and finish is concerned).
I've had no trouble at all with my previous Audioquest purchases, namely the Coffee USB (for my computer setup), a Sydney RCA (for my #1 headphone system) and various Evergreen, S-Video and Component cables for my audio-visual system setup. So when I needed to get a cable for my #2 bedroom headphone system, I thought it would be a risk-free proposition to opt for the Victoria RCA interconnect. After all, the Audioquest website description is - literally word-for-word - precisely the same as that of the Sydney cable I already own, with the only two differences being the copper purity (purple on the Sydney and red on the Victoria) and the presence of the Dielectric Bias system on the Victoria (caveat: this applies at the time of me writing this and also at the time I purchased the Victoria cable). And I already know what to expect with the Dielectric Bias system since it forms part of the Coffee USB cable. So I really had a fair and reasonable expectation that the quality of the Victoria would match the Sydney I currently own.
I then proceeded to purchase the brand spanking new Victoria cable from my "usual" supplier - Sydney HiFi at Castle Hill who are an authorised Audioquest dealer. The cable arrives in the mail a few days later and I immediately perform a visual inspection of it upon receipt. I was dismayed to see that the RCA plug barrels were marred by numerous scratches on the areas surrounding the little Philips-head screws on the RCA barrels. It was almost as if the assembler had never used a screwdriver before and had to take numerous energetic stabs at it before it made contact with the screws. And those screws also came as an unpleasant surprise - they don't appear on any images of the Victoria I have ever seen and as I say, the product description is the same as the Sydney. So I expected to see an assembly commensurate with the Audioquest website images and description - i.e. screw-less, "smooth" barrels as I have on the Sydney (and Evergreen) and as per all existing illustrations of the Victoria cable.
You might wonder why I worry about these screws. Well, firstly the picture below should give you a hint, because you can see what happens with what I believe to be careless assembly followed by (what must surely be) poor quality control. But secondly, I know how Audioquest physically package their RCA cables. It is not very good packaging at all in my opinion. The cables are tightly coiled in relatively small boxes and the barrels of the individual RCA plugs at each end of the cable are free to grate against each other. The tips are insulated, but not the barrels. So you make a potential problem worse with the packaging - you've now got screws that can grate against the neighbouring barrel even while the cable is merely sitting in the packaging during transportation. If you want an idea of what I feel is good packaging, you can look at the Wireworld cables. Nothing can contact anything else with their packaging and it is generously sized so that the cables are not put under the sort of tension that the Audioquest cables are. And most importantly, metal cannot grate against metal - something that can all too easily occur with the Audioquest cables unless they decide to revise their packaging.
Here is a picture of one of the RCA plugs so you can see what I mean. Remember that we are talking about a genuine, brand new $360 Audioquest cable here - not a $20 cable you buy for your iPod at the supermarket. If this does not bother you in the slightest then please contact me via PM as I have a great deal for you on a brand new, un-used, genuine Audioquest Victoria cable! Not very impressive construction for a premiu-branded, premium priced $360 cable if you ask me:
What was even more astonishing was the initial attitude of the selling dealer - Sydney HiFi at Castle Hill - when I contacted them about the problem. I was literally told that so long as the cable actually works then these cosmetic defects don't matter so far as they are concerned!! They even then went on to say that because of the way these particular cables are made (i.e with the screws as opposed to nothing), they are prone to possibility of defects and I just have to accept it for what it is! So if that is the case, why do we bother with all these "factory second" stores around the World that sell perfectly functioning brand new goods with warranties at massive discounts? Well, one of the reasons is because these products have cosmetic flaws and blemishes. And when that happens, people don't expect to pay anything near full price. So far as Castle Hill HiFi is concerned, I'll just say that at this point in time after much further argument, we are agreeing to disagree. It is a pity that they have now permanently lost a loyal customer of three years who has bought about $1500 worth of stuff from them in the past without the slightest hassle or complaint.
Oh well, that is what I get for buying Australian. Saddest thing is I deliberately "bought Australian" in order to "do the right thing" and support an Australian business. I could have bought this cable from the US for slightly cheaper (including the shipping) and had the massive benefit of an unconditional 30 day money back guarantee. And had I received something resembling the above I would have not hesitated to use such a guarantee. I guess there is a bright side to all of this though. I was thinking of going over the top and buying the Yosemite (at double the price). Luckily for me, I realised I could never afford it. Just was well. I would have gone absolutely mental if I had seen this in a $750 cable!
Edited by ADD - 2/10/14 at 12:04pm