Cable Matters

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  1. Mshenay Contributor
    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

    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!

    [​IMG]

    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]

    TIME FOR NEW ADDITIONS

    20180415_110826.jpg
    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.

    [​IMG]

    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

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    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: May 25, 2018
  2. Mshenay Contributor
    reserved
     
  3. PETEREK
    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.
     
  4. Mshenay Contributor
    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?
     
  5. PETEREK
    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.
     
  6. Mshenay Contributor
    That's alright, others can chime in later
     
  7. theveterans
    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.
     
    Mshenay likes this.
  8. Mshenay Contributor
    Liked this post from another thread
    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: Sep 2, 2017
  9. kiler
    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
     
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  10. Mshenay Contributor
    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
     
  11. headphones1999
    damnn this looks so nice
     
    Mshenay likes this.
  12. headphones1999
    very very nice work
     
  13. Mshenay Contributor
    Thanks! But these were both built by @teds headfood, he does ship globally so shoot him a pm
     
  14. headphones1999
    lol im currently broke so cant do, only can feed my eyes
     
    Mshenay likes this.
  15. Mshenay Contributor

    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: Apr 9, 2018
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