Audio GD system and cables
May 4, 2012 at 6:02 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 23

JulienM

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Dear fellow head-fiers,

I've been wanting to share and update my impressions about my Audio-gd systems for quite sometime now... I have 3 systems in my house, all using Audio-gd gear, but let's start with the main one, only for audio, all Audio-gd, and by far the most interesting.

System:
Apple MBP 15" (latest model) -> DI (with PS) -> NFB-8 DAC (with TCXO) -> C-3 (Final Version) preamp -> C-10 amp -> Thor speakers (fat cabinet, 100 liters).

This is the cleanest, most transparent and revealing system I've had. And I've tried almost everything I could afford to build or buy in the past 14 years. Tubes, SS, Class-D, OTL, pro audio, NOS DACs, chip amps, etc, etc...

But after putting together my main system and connecting all components using ACSS with Audio-gd cables, I felt the system lacking emotion. It was revealing, but the highs seemed forced, and the low end restricted. Soundstage congested. Even after full break in.

So I began experiment with cables (nothing exotic or too expensive). I first tried a braided unshielded cable using "audiophile" hook up wire, a la Kimber. Not much improvement there. The sound was a bit grainy and fatiguing... I went back to The Audio-gd cables till I found a better solution. That was a year ago...

Recently I've started experimenting again. this time by simply going from ACSS to XLR between the pre and amp. I used balanced pro cables from Monoprice. I was floored by the musicality of the system! There was something there worth pursuing. It was night and day!

So the question was: were the cables or the circuit change making the big difference?

My next step was making a pair of XLR cables using the well regarded Canare 110 ohm AES/EBU DA206 I had home from my pro audio experiments. These can be used either digital or analog connections. Their main advantage is a very low capacitance compared to star quad geometry. Well, again, there was a big improvement. This time in clarity, top end resolution, and micro dynamic. The Monoprice were just too slow...

So, the XLR connection was sounding good! In communication with Kingwa, he suggested that the extra circuitry was pleasantly coloring the sound. But I wasn't totally convinced that this was the only answer...

Next step, build CAST cables for the ACSS connection using Canare DA206. These are not so easy to work using the mini XLR connectors, I opted to use the Canare DA202 instead (I might still try the DA206 in the future...). A smaller gauge 110 ohm AES/EBU cable, also with excellent electrical properties. Well, they sounded really good as CAST cables!

Better than XLR? Well both have their attributes! At this point, I feel that between DAC and Pre, ACSS is definitely the way to go. The difference in transparency is clear. But between pre and amp, the extra lushness the XLR connection provides is a nice way to make your the system more musical. But using similar cables (DA206 and DA202), the difference is not so dramatic. The quality of the cables seems to influence the sonic presentation more than the type of connection chosen...

I still have more experimentation to conduct. My next step is to build cables using Belden 1800f, also a well regarded 110 ohm AES/EBU with even better specs than Canare's. That should happen in the next few days... I also have a set of Canare L-4E6S XLR I want to through in the mix. That's a very popular pro star quad analog cable, recommended by Markertek.

I hope to have a cable comparison in a few weeks... But for now, the Canare's are sounding wonderful...
 
May 4, 2012 at 6:14 PM Post #2 of 23

FinBenton

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You need someone else to do all that cable changing so you can compare that new shiny cable to the old one reliably. If you plug off your cheap old cables and your brain will see that you are plugging those new, shiny and more robust connectors in, your brain WILL hear the difference even if its not there.
 
For example; if you take 100 people to judge the SQ of 2 identical amps and they are told to try lifting those amps up in the air before listening and one amp is 50kg (extra metal or rocks inside) and other one is 3kg, most of them will say that the heavier one did sound better.
 
May 4, 2012 at 7:51 PM Post #4 of 23

ccschua

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yes. I too play with the cables.
 
cd7FV -> blackcat -> NFB 7 -> CAST -> C3 -> CAST -> C1 -> XLR -> floorstander.
 
I have tried many combination of xlr cables between dac and pre and between pre and power.
 
at the end, I stick back to CAST after advise by audio-gd frens.
 
It is true audiogd gears lacks some finesse when it comes to cables.
 
it is very senstitive to power cords, cast cables and even the coaxial. I have been trying to find replacement for blackcat (silver star would just be waste of time)
 
I read across the forum that someone recommends double helix cast cables. The price is reasonable but the effects yet to know.
 
Again my audiogd fren strongly recommends Furutech FA220 as CAST cables but alas I have little time to DIY.
 
so if u think CAST cables dont make a difference, wait till you try.
 
Recently I change all my cables to Japan made AET cables and I am very happy with it. it is the best cable I ever had.
 
May 4, 2012 at 7:52 PM Post #5 of 23

ccschua

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Looking at the power cords you use, I just you to spen some time going thru some good power cords. the effects is greater than the signal cables.
Quote:
Canare DA202 CAST cables:
 

 
May 4, 2012 at 8:01 PM Post #7 of 23

JulienM

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Yes, PCs make a big difference! These are 12 gauge solid long crystal copper with a PVC/Teflon insulation, braided, unshielded. My favorite design so far, I've been using it for many years. For PC, simplicity is key! For other components, I use smaller gauges (14 and 16).
 
May 4, 2012 at 8:14 PM Post #8 of 23

JulienM

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Quote:
I have been trying to find replacement for blackcat (silver star would just be waste of time)

 
My favorite 75 ohm coax is the Belden 1695A using Canare BNC connectors. I built and sold them back in 2001. Labeled JM75. I still use them today.
 
May 4, 2012 at 9:54 PM Post #9 of 23

oculus

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I have to agree about the Audio gd gear.  I have an nfb-8 going via ACSS into a C500 amp.   Since getting this combination I have not bothered looking to upgrade any audio parts.  I am happy as.  Biggest thing now is trying to find music good enough to do justice to the gear.
peace
 
May 4, 2012 at 10:24 PM Post #10 of 23

JulienM

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Quote:
I have to agree about the Audio gd gear.  I have an nfb-8 going via ACSS into a C500 amp.   Since getting this combination I have not bothered looking to upgrade any audio parts.  I am happy as.  Biggest thing now is trying to find music good enough to do justice to the gear.
peace

 
They are good!
 
May 4, 2012 at 11:03 PM Post #11 of 23

estreeter

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I think we are veering dangerously close to cable DBT here, folks. Other than that, it reads like a paid promotion for audio-gd - just sayin. 
 
May 5, 2012 at 12:27 AM Post #12 of 23

JulienM

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Quote:
I think we are veering dangerously close to cable DBT here, folks. Other than that, it reads like a paid promotion for audio-gd - just sayin. 

 
That should be fun!
 
I wish Audio-gd would pay me to write here... No associations, just a regular customer.
 
I still think that OTL amplification is the best around if a bit unpractical compared to a good SS design. I'm saving for The Beast from Transcendent.
 
May 5, 2012 at 2:16 AM Post #13 of 23

ccschua

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Can I know what digital cable u are using. it doesnot look like stock. will the digital cable make a differrence ???
 
if u are still using belden I wud definitely recommend u black cat as a start. u will be amazed.
 
May 5, 2012 at 6:07 AM Post #14 of 23

estreeter

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Quote:
 
That should be fun!
 
I wish Audio-gd would pay me to write here... No associations, just a regular customer.
 
I still think that OTL amplification is the best around if a bit unpractical compared to a good SS design. I'm saving for The Beast from Transcendent.

 
Sadly, the mods dont share your concept of 'fun' - I would strongly advise against anything that veers toward cable DBT. It has a long history of firing people up on Head-Fi. 
 
May 5, 2012 at 8:19 AM Post #15 of 23

JulienM

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Can I know what digital cable u are using. it doesnot look like stock. will the digital cable make a differrence ???

if u are still using belden I wud definitely recommend u black cat as a start. u will be amazed.


In my main system, I'm just using a BNC male to male connector between the NFB-8 DAC and DI. Only when I add a player, I use the Belden.
 

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