Cable Matters
post-13695368
Thread Starter
Post #1 of 36

Mshenay

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Messages
15,416
Reaction score
1,417
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Posts
15,416
Likes
1,417
Website
oakforestaudio.blogspot.com
With so many different thread's about Cables I figured I'd start one that's non specific. Hopefully when the search function is improved I'll be able to better organize this with links pictures and concise impressions from my self and others.

But for now I'll list my impressions of the Cable's I've purchased over the years! Including Headphone, Power, Digital Transport and Analog Transport Cables.

Preface;

Before I start any impressions I'd like to add that I personally feel that Cables should be the VERY LAST thing you purchase for your system. When you have a Dac you like, an amp you like and headphones you like THEN maybe look at cables. As of today, I'm satisfied with my Rig. While it is NOT perfect, the only upgrade options I'm interested in are going to cost me upwards of $1000 per unit, seeing as I'm not ready to make that jump I chose to instead spend around $400 on components to upgrade what I have, which included a Schiit Etir and new IEC 320 power cables for everything that accepts them, as well a Blue Jean Cable Coaxial and 2 pairs of BJC RCA Cables. One purchased new the other second hand!

Also any improvements that I list in % relate to either... for example 5% would be out of 20 songs one of them was NOTICEABLE improved from start to finish. Or out of one 5 minute song, there is about 15 seconds worth of "new" audible detail I didn't notice before.

So if your reading this thread, I hope that your at a point where your ready to make small purchases to improve a system you intend to live with for a while. Also once you have a nice set you can obviously transfer over to what ever components you upgrade to. Thankfully ALL of the Cables I've purchased recently have made a noticeable improvement! I installed the Etir and my RCA's at the same time, and added my Power Cable Later.

Also do take a moment to re-familiarize yourself with how I describe sound using the "audiophile" vocabulary

Power Cables;

I just got some Pangea Audio AC 14's and they made an immediate and noticeable improvement... granted they are replacing some 7-8 year old likely super generic IEC 320 cables so who know's what negative effects they had.

But for $35 a pop I'm impressed, some one also suggested if your PC is suffering from freezing it could be issues with brown outs, so to solve that I got a Power Conditioner like 4 years ago... but I still had an issue with freezing... so I replaced all my input output cables [also old and of unknown origins] and that helped kinda but it still persisted. Finally after replacing my IEC 320 power cable I've been running for 5 days without any freezes!

In terms of sound the first and only immediate improvement I noticed was a black background out of my NFB10ES2's Dac Out and internal amp, I also noticed less noise from my Ember II and a more defined top end. The highs on my Ember II with my 1944 Sylvania 6sn7GT Black Base White Label Bottom Getter Flashed Tall Bottle* became very vivid, having this new incredible sense of attack, while retaining an even more pure sweetness to the decay and well defined tactility to the top end as a whole. People would often say of that tube, the High's will "singe" your ear drums, but I never quite understood that till now. There was a clear improvement in micro-detail as well without any added emphasis to ambient noise or macro detail

An were taking marginal improvements of maybe 5% at max... also interesting was my NFB10ES2 amp began to sound a little darker. Most people described the NFB10ES2 as a some what darker/warm solid state but I'd never felt that to be the case. The result of what could be noise introduced from the PSU Cable.
*say that three times real fast lol

USB Cables;

Also interesting, I used to use a blue stock USB 2.0 A-B cable for my Audio GD NFB10ES 2... I think it came with it... Either way I recently added a Schiit Etir to my rig which I sourced with the Belkin USB Gold 2.0, rumors were it performed better than a lot of the "audiophile" usb cables out there. So I grabbed one. An here's the catch... the cable I had previously connecting my PC to my NFB10ES2... when I plugged it into the Etir caused a BSOD error... I don't know why but obviously there's something not quite right with that old Cable! An based on it's flexible but durable build I'd recommend the Belkin USB 2.0 Gold to any one whose looking for a USB Cable. I can't speak of the audible improvements, but the build quality is good and it's yet to create any complete failures in my system. I guess if a USB Cable crashes your PC regularly it's terrible... even if it's PERFECT sounding in short instances

In reviewing these three little USB OTG C cables I found NO audible differences.



Rather any and all differences were more function and durability as the biggest issue I've always had with USB OTG Dongles is wear and tear! They break down after a while and I start to get drop outs so to that effort I started looking for a better Dongle for long term use!

I tried out USB C OTG cables from

  • iFi Audio
    • Had the best balance of flexibility
    • had the smallest physical footprint, least bulk
  • Anker Cables
    • stiff cable, little to no flexibility
    • kinda chunky an short
  • Cable Creation
    • bulkier than iFi but not as much as Anker
    • "Gold" plating wears off after a few months
    • Longest and most flexible
So all in all while there are a lot of brands and options, I do feel the iFi USB C OTG was the best of the three.

Bulk
I has the thinnest physical connectors so it doesn't add a lot of weight or bulk when I'm using it
Durability
Over time, the iFi Cable had the least amount of wear compared to the other two!!

Function
I again felt it had the right balance of flexibility
  • Easy to shape/bend
  • Rigid enough to hold that shape while in my pocket
Often times the Cable Creation was too flexible and would wind up coming up plugged if I was using it with a system in my pocket. An the Anker is just too rigid... I don't feel comfortable bending it to any degree

This is a case were a higher price up front yields a low cost over time.

I got a chance to briefly demo the @iFi audio Mercury Cable and I was pretty impressed with it! I was listening to the iDSD Pro with the Stax Energizer they make with the SRL 5## Series, with just the standard USB I got from amazon I felt the bass was a little... murky or lacking texture, swapping out to the Mercury cleaned that up and brought a little more texture back into the sound!


Analog Interconnects;

Sadly this is the one cable that I've not noticed a huge difference in, I replaced some old Mono Price RCAs with a pair of Blue Jean Cable 6 footers, the problem is I also installed my Schiit Etir at the same time I swapped out my RCA's. Still some very casual A/B sessions with my Project Ember II and the two set's or RCA revealed little to no difference. Though I've not sat down for a very serious listen, at $40 a pair what I liked about the BJC RCA's more than anything was their build! Not filmsy and cheap feeling like the Mono Price cable's I've had for years. Much more robust with better grip. Truth be told the Mono Price RCA's would slip a little from time to time and I'd have to readjust them. So when I dropped the Etire in alongside the BJC Cables the differance was immediate! We all know the improvements the Etir Can bring, so whose to say the BJC Cables didn't add to that. Either way my verdict is out on what audible improvement the BJC's cable have made. I still feel they were worth the purchase for build quality alone.

Our rigs are interconnected systems, it's possible that when I swap back into the old RCA's I won't hear the improvements made by the Power Cable, it could be that the improvements from the Power Cable are audible as a result of the BJC RCA interconnects. Ideally, I hope that with this thread we as a community can explore what impact our Cable's have on our systems as a whole.

Headphone Cables;

In Short most of my @PETEREK Cables sound the same, they all had improved clarity over what ever stock cables they replaced. Though honestly, all of my cables from him were built for utility not for sound quality. Hopefully he will remember what wire we used for the build... I believe it was Mogami Coreplus 4Strand Speaker wire or what ever equivalent existed back then, but... they've held up extremely well over the years!

In terms of performance, my cables from Brandon aren't as full bodied as the ZMF Cable OFC Copper an they are also not as lean and dry as my BTG Audio OCC Sunrise. They sit happily in the middle, speaking of sound and cables, I've paired the ZMF OFC with my HE 4 and the BTG OCC with my Eikon. As each of those cables changed the frequency response of those headphones in a manner that suited my tastes. I will however revisit this section to make a more definitive comparison [/SIZE]

Had a chance to hear these at AXPONA and loved their overall clarity! Very impressive, and priced pretty reasonably too at around $300. Haven't heard these in my home system just yet so future impressions to come soon!
20180415_110848.jpg


Did some quick cabling rolling with a stranger and was happy to say he liked what he heard!

20180415_130104.jpg
This is the first time I've heard an HD 650 and really enjoyed it! This Copper Cable not only added clarity but also helped clean up what I've always felt was a very thick and overly smooth can.



After spending a number of weeks doing reviews it's nice to finally sit down with my HD 800 and just enjoy it. I've been living with the Audio Envy Copper Cable for around a month or so now and after being away from my HD 800 for about 2-3 weeks I was nervous about firing it up again...

Thankfully, upon listening pleasurably for the first time in a while I really found my self drawn into the music, and "draw" seems to be the biggest difference. My Silver cable really "wow'd" me with it's clarity, but what it also did was remove some naturalness from the music, now compared to the smeared sound of the existing stock Copper Cable, I felt the added clarity was a huge improvement!

How ever coming back to my HD 800 with the Audio Envy Tone Kraft Copper I found... no lack of clarity but rather clarity with an a bit more naturalness especially in the low end. Where as the Silver Cable presented a some what stripped down low end, with evident focus on the fundamentals which often;
  • Added a slight emphasis to the hollowness of Timpani drums
  • Stripped away some of the harmonic content added by the body resonance of a cello or double bass
  • Presented kick drums with a dry artificial edge

Switching to the Tone Kraft Copper I found I still had all the impact but without the slight emphasis on fundamental frequencies. So;
  • Both large and "kick" drums had that hollow sound but also retained a little more their from the body resonance - they quite literally sounded heavier and more substantial without being bloated
  • Larger stringed instruments like the Cello and Double bass again sounded more substantial having plenty of texture from the bow/strings but also a softer presence or force from the vibration of the instruments body

I ultimately found the harmonic frequencies of much of the low end were perceived more clearly without being over shadow'd by emphasized fundamentals. An this is Audio Envy's aim, accurate sound. So I can certainly say in my system which features some rather dry and cold Tube Gear the Tone Kraft made a noticeable improvement over silver!

Though the only draw back how ever was how revealing the Tone Kraft is, I previously switched to silver to help remove some excessive harmonic emphasis from my HD 800 and with my reference gear the Tone Kraft strikes a nice happy median, but with amps like my Schiit Vali Gen 1 or my Aune B1S I still prefer using silver to help further balance my Headphone within that system.

So as Captain would say I'm fighting one kind of distortion with another, and while ideally we as audiophiles aim for sound without excessive distortion, I do still feel that there is some benefit to fighting fire with fire. Or rather use cables to correct an existing issue within your system. As often times with high end desktop systems correcting imbalances within a system is usually far more affordable than getting upgrades to remove them all together!

But if you feel your at a point where your system has plateaued and your pining for just a bit more naturalness without any loss in resolve, give the Audio Envy Tone Kraft a try! I imagine you'll likely enjoy it as I have!


20180130_180727-01.jpeg

@teds headfood
So I took the time to get around to listening to both of these beautiful cables back to back! Overall I found the copper to have a sweeter fuller sound with a nice smoothness and silver had more texture and clarity almost always. For my HD 800 I preferred the silver, as I felt the headphone it self already has a a very natural slightly sweet & full mid range. I also found improvements in the low end bass texture as well. While there was a little less body, there was more impact overall. Low notes were more visceral with a cleaner envelope overall.

My track list and notes for these impressions are as followed. An each track was volume matched Prior with White Noise and my SPL Meter




Personally, I only really enjoyed the Copper's presentation of the mid-range with Igor Levit's rendition of Aria. While the bass was noticeably hazier I did like the slightly sweeter more natural timbre of that presentation. So if your listening to a LOT of Solo or Duet classical Copper may be better for you with the HD 800 or cans like it, how ever with a larger band such as what we find with Hotel California by the Eagles, the added clarity of silver results in a clearer more vividly differentiated timbre of each of the individual instruments
 

Attachments

Last edited:
     Share This Post       
post-13695373
Post #2 of 36

Mshenay

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Messages
15,416
Reaction score
1,417
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Posts
15,416
Likes
1,417
Website
oakforestaudio.blogspot.com
reserved
 
     Share This Post       
post-13695936
Post #3 of 36

PETEREK

Member of the Trade: ThePETEREK on Etsy
Previously known as cCasper TFG
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Messages
3,884
Reaction score
813
Location
Holland, Michigan
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Location
Holland, Michigan
Posts
3,884
Likes
813
I no longer use Mogami cable unless someone is on an extremely tight budget and just needs something to get by, utility like you stated. But I'm glad they've all held up nicely for you over time. ZMF cables are great as well, I've been able to use a couple during demos over the years.
 
     Share This Post       
post-13695954
Post #4 of 36

Mshenay

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Messages
15,416
Reaction score
1,417
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Posts
15,416
Likes
1,417
Website
oakforestaudio.blogspot.com
I no longer use Mogami cable unless someone is on an extremely tight budget and just needs something to get by, utility like you stated. But I'm glad they've all held up nicely for you over time. ZMF cables are great as well, I've been able to use a couple during demos over the years.
Yeap super budget friendly was the range I was purchasing in back then! An honestly your cables STILL outperform most of the bare bones stock cables I've come across, but what materials do you like working with now? An what improvements have you noticed them making?
 
     Share This Post       
post-13696036
Post #5 of 36

PETEREK

Member of the Trade: ThePETEREK on Etsy
Previously known as cCasper TFG
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Messages
3,884
Reaction score
813
Location
Holland, Michigan
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Location
Holland, Michigan
Posts
3,884
Likes
813
I can't really get into that, I'm an MOT. The other thread you posted in earlier shows some stuff I'm currently working with.
 
     Share This Post       
post-13696110
Post #6 of 36

Mshenay

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Messages
15,416
Reaction score
1,417
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Posts
15,416
Likes
1,417
Website
oakforestaudio.blogspot.com
I can't really get into that, I'm an MOT. The other thread you posted in earlier shows some stuff I'm currently working with.
That's alright, others can chime in later
 
     Share This Post       
post-13696230
Post #7 of 36

theveterans

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 2, 2014
Messages
2,252
Reaction score
843
Location
Santa Rosa, Laguna, Philippines
Joined
Sep 2, 2014
Location
Santa Rosa, Laguna, Philippines
Posts
2,252
Likes
843
Age
29
I wanted something better than Mogami, but none of the botique cable makers have a 1/4" tip sleeve to RCA cable. Anyways, the Mogami came with a nice Amphenol connector and neutrik for the tip sleeve connector. The XLR to TRS connector came with both neutrik connectors.
 
     Share This Post       
  • Like
Reactions: Mshenay
post-13697143
Post #8 of 36

Mshenay

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Messages
15,416
Reaction score
1,417
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Posts
15,416
Likes
1,417
Website
oakforestaudio.blogspot.com
Liked this post from another thread
The cool part about power cables is after you buy some you can if you want keep them for your whole audiophile journey. I was allowed to try my power cables for a couple days before having to either return them or buy them, I also purchased used so I payed a fraction of full price.

I thought I could hear a difference so I'm happy. Though if someone tries power cables and does not hear a change it could be the system or their hearing or both. I realize that placebo is powerful and could be a huge perception changer. But really it's a free world, folks can spend their own money any way they choose. That said it's truly hilarious the final ends audiophiles go to improve sound. The crystals and rocks, special audio stands and cable elevators can and do generate placebo for many listeners. I mean why else would they not make mirror shine faceplates, they drastically improve the sound!


The part that's confusing is many audiophiles believe it's the cable section from the socket in the house to the equipment which is ALL important. Simply that small section many feel makes the difference.

So no matter how bad the electrical is going into your house, even if you haven't regenerated the current in pure form, the cable is still going to make the difference.

I used to use cheap computer cables for my amps but now feel the boutique cables sound better. A heathy viewpoint is to try them and see.

Also if people have a hard stance about it being a waist of money they need to get respect too. Both sides can agree different equipment change outs other than cables make the most difference. Here though we have enthusiasm from people who have gained a level of sound and believe cables are taking that sound to a slightly better level.

A final attitude stems from many which believe it's the combined efforts of each piece of equipment that simply add-up. Cables, amps, sources each can do their part to cause a tone to be parlayed in the end.
In Response to @Redcarmoose post, I think that's really it, everything comes together at the end. I made all of my cable improvements within like a week and saw a difference, with regards to the Cabling in home I've had a power conditioner for years, it made a difference when I dropped it into my rig years ago and I'd like to think having it has helped or worked with improved cables to further home my rig's clarity as a whole
 
Last edited:
     Share This Post       
post-13715381
Post #9 of 36

kiler

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 26, 2011
Messages
495
Reaction score
84
Joined
Mar 26, 2011
Posts
495
Likes
84
I really agree with you on the interconnect basis, I even recently found 1$ interconnects on Ebay that fulfill my needs

Don't notice any difference from my own homemade OFC copper cable :D
 
     Share This Post       
  • Like
Reactions: Mshenay
post-14010335
Post #10 of 36

Mshenay

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Messages
15,416
Reaction score
1,417
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Posts
15,416
Likes
1,417
Website
oakforestaudio.blogspot.com
I really agree with you on the interconnect basis, I even recently found 1$ interconnects on Ebay that fulfill my needs

Don't notice any difference from my own homemade OFC copper cable :D
That's pretty awesome man!

I'm also happy to say I've finally got an update for this thread. I got my first ever silver cable and I'm really diggin it! Just pics for now as I'm still gathering a few more headphone cables for a big comparison I'll add later! Big thanks @teds headfood for allowing me the chance to hear both!

20180130_180727-01.jpeg
 
     Share This Post       
post-14010644
Post #13 of 36

Mshenay

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Messages
15,416
Reaction score
1,417
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Posts
15,416
Likes
1,417
Website
oakforestaudio.blogspot.com
     Share This Post       
post-14162485
Post #15 of 36

Mshenay

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Messages
15,416
Reaction score
1,417
Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Posts
15,416
Likes
1,417
Website
oakforestaudio.blogspot.com
That's pretty awesome man!

I'm also happy to say I've finally got an update for this thread. I got my first ever silver cable and I'm really diggin it! Just pics for now as I'm still gathering a few more headphone cables for a big comparison I'll add later! Big thanks @teds headfood for allowing me the chance to hear both!


So I took the time to get around to listening to both of these beautiful cables back to back! Overall I found the copper to have a sweeter fuller sound with a nice smoothness and silver had more texture and clarity almost always. For my HD 800 I preferred the silver, as I felt the headphone it self already has a a very natural slightly sweet & full mid range. I also found improvements in the low end bass texture as well. While there was a little less body, there was more impact overall. Low notes were more visceral with a cleaner envelope overall.

My track list and notes for these impressions are as followed. An each track was volume matched Prior with White Noise and my SPL Meter

HD800CableHotelCali.JPG
HD800CableEve&Igor.JPG



Personally, I only really enjoyed the Copper's presentation of the mid-range with Igor Levit's rendition of Aria. While the bass was noticeably hazier I did like the slightly sweeter more natural timbre of that presentation. So if your listening to a LOT of Solo or Duet classical Copper may be better for you with the HD 800 or cans like it, how ever with a larger band such as what we find with Hotel California by the Eagles, the added clarity of silver results in a clearer more vividly differentiated timbre of each of the individual instruments
 
Last edited:
     Share This Post       

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top