Cable Reviews

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Dick Olsher  |  Mar 08, 2018  |  First Published: Feb 01, 1991  |  26 comments
Why cable again?

Well, the obvious reason is that it has been a while since my last foray into Cableland (July 1988). Many new products have been introduced in the interim, so it appeared appropriate to once again open Pandora's Box. Those of you who still remember my speaker cable article of 2½ years ago will recollect the considerable controversy that evolved from that project.

Some of the response was quite predictable, though the venom with which it was laced was not. The manufacturers of those outrageously priced "garden-hose"–type cables that I failed to rave about were more than just perturbed.

Kal Rubinson  |  Mar 01, 2018  |  5 comments
Merging Technologies' original NADAC Multichannel-8 ($11,500) is an impressive device. (NADAC is an acronym for network-attached digital-to-analog converter.) It has eight channels of high-resolution D/A conversion, and two more for its front-panel headphone jack; a cutting-edge Ravenna Ethernet input (based on the AES67 Audio over Internet Protocol, or AoIP); and, to my delight, a real volume-control knob on the front.
Art Dudley  |  Jul 26, 2016  |  133 comments
I should have seen this coming: Less than a year after the last time I railed against the darkness of cable reviewing—the indignity of crawling around behind my equipment rack, the tedium of comparing one wire to another, the frustration of trying to wring from the experience some fresh and hopefully entertaining observations, the horror of dealing with manufacturers whose hunger for good publicity borders on the vampiric—I have once again invited into my home a cable manufacturer and his wares.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 23, 2016  |  45 comments
It would be an understatement to say that in 2001, when Nordost introduced their original Valhalla cables, they were a revelation for me. Their focus and resolution of detail were like nothing I'd ever heard, and revealed in recorded performances a startling energy and realism. Throw in their seemingly absolute transparency, and similarly unique levels of spatial and temporal precision, and the Valhallas established a new standard of sound quality in audio cables. Although their tonal balance was cool, as I reported in my first review of them in the November 2001 issue, they were the only game in town in terms of reproducing the feel of a live performance. I immediately adopted them as a reference cable, and they remain a reference for me today.
Stephen Mejias  |  Jan 28, 2014  |  First Published: Feb 01, 2014  |  6 comments
Last month, I wrote about Light Harmonic's use of Kickstarter to fund the final production and packaging of their Geek Out portable USB DAC–headphone amplifier. The campaign raised $303,061 from 2146 backers. That success led Light Harmonic to create a new division dedicated to mass-market products: LH Labs. The Geek Out would be its first product. (Pre-orders are still being accepted.) LHL's second product would be the Geek Pulse, a "pure class-A" desktop integrated amplifier–DAC capable of handling 32-bit/384kHz PCM files, as well as decoding native DSD64 and DSD128 files.
Brian Damkroger  |  Dec 20, 2013  |  1 comments
A reader once noted that I tend to stick with the same reference gear longer than most reviewers. In addition to Audience's Au24e interconnect, I've been using Nordost's Valhalla, Nirvana's S-X, and Stereovox's SEI-600II for many years. They're ancient in audiophile terms, and, other than the Audience cables, have long since been discontinued or replaced. However, they are still excellent, and conveniently define a continuum of qualities that I use to assess cables. At one end, the Nordost Valhalla is sharply focused and excels at reproducing transients. At the other end, the Nirvana S-X strips away electronic grunge, and beautifully conveys the continuity of the space and musical flow. The Au24e and Stereovox are near the middle and share many—but not all—of the others' strengths.
Stephen Mejias  |  Jul 05, 2012  |  14 comments
It was unusually warm for early spring, without a cloud in the big, blue sky to tame the sun's dazzling light—far too beautiful a day to be indoors, but Uncle Omar and I had already planned a little listening session, and I was determined to show him that high-end cables would make a difference in his system. I wasn't necessarily feeling bullish about the task, though. It had taken me a couple of years to convince Omar that he should replace his old boom-box speakers with something better, and it was only dumb luck that finally made it happen: I was with him when he found a gently used pair of B&W DM602 speakers at a junk shop in Jersey City. When they were new, the DM602s sold for around $600/pair, but on this happy day they were tagged at $50. "Do it," I begged him. "Doooooo it!"
Stephen Mejias  |  Jun 20, 2012  |  1 comments
"Marvins Room," the second track on side two of Drake's platinum-selling Take Care (LP, Cash Money/Universal Republic B0016280-01), is a veiled but nonetheless intriguing confession from a sensitive young man whose addictions to alcohol, sex, and fame have prevented him from developing any sort of healthy relationship. I've come to this conclusion after several happy hours of listening to the song from beginning to end, over and over again, while swapping between two very different interconnects: AudioQuest's Sidewinder ($65/1m pair, now discontinued) and Kimber Kable's time-honored PBJ ($110/1m pair).
Art Dudley  |  Nov 23, 2011  |  9 comments
As Mick Jagger has sagely observed, things are different today. Now I don't get complaints only when I give a bad or mixed review: I get complaints when I give a good review, said complaints coming not from the reviewee but from his competitors.

In a related story, America's park rangers and amateur videographers report a near-epidemic of wild animals getting their heads stuck in carelessly discarded food containers. In one such instance, a six-month-old black bear cub in Florida scarcely avoided death when a glass jar was removed from his head, after being stuck there for nearly two weeks. Employees of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who saved the cub, named him Jarhead, for all the obvious reasons.

Stephen Mejias  |  Aug 16, 2011  |  4 comments
"I'm going to have my birthday party here!"

We were at Lucky 7, our favorite little bar in downtown Jersey City, and Natalie was shouting above the loud music.

"Cool!" I shouted back.

"Would you want to DJ?"

"Huh?"

"WOULD YOU BE THE DJ AT MY BIRTHDAY PARTY?" She smiled brightly.

"Are you SERIOUS?"

"Yes."

"HERE?"

"Yes!"

Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 28, 2010  |  0 comments
Call me shallow, but what first attracted me to Audience's Au24 cables when I reviewed them in August 2002 was their looks. In contrast to superstiff cables as thick as garden hoses, the Au24s were slender and elegant. They were wonderfully flexible, too, and even their custom-made RCA plugs were slim and easy to handle. Instead of having to fiddle with a system of locking collet and barrel, merely slipping them on resulted in a tight, solid connection. Compared to the Au24s, a sizable number of audiophile cables seemed excessive, even a little foolish.
Art Dudley  |  Dec 23, 2009  |  0 comments
She responds as expected to the only sound: hysterical voices!—Brian Eno
Art Dudley  |  Aug 24, 2009  |  0 comments
I used to be with it, but then they changed what it was. Now what I'm with isn't it, and what's it seems scary and weird. It'll happen to you.—Abraham Simpson
Brian Damkroger  |  Mar 03, 2009  |  First Published: Oct 03, 2001  |  0 comments
Everyone loves a bargain. Everyone loves finding an undiscovered gem. But for audiophiles on a budget, finding good, reasonably priced cables isn't a luxury but a necessity. In a $1000 or $2500 system, there simply isn't money for $500 interconnects or $1000 speaker cables. Even a $5000 system—which most of my well-educated, music-loving, affluent friends view as pretty extravagant, by the way—can't accommodate premium cables like the Nirvana, Synergistic Research, or Nordost models that we reviewers rave about as "critical to getting the most out of your system."
Brian Damkroger  |  Dec 01, 2008  |  First Published: Mar 01, 2000  |  2 comments
In the last year I've written about several components of a truly engaging system: the VPI TNT Mk.IV turntable and JMW Memorial 12" tonearm (February '99), Grado Reference cartridge; the Wadia 830 CD player (October 1999); and Thiel's CS7.2 loudspeakers (February 2000). I've recounted the evolution of my listening-room setup as well, and described its optimization using ASC Tube Traps and Art Noxon's MATT test in the February issue. The final piece of the puzzle, and the one I'll tackle here, was the cable package from MIT: the MI-330 Shotgun Proline interconnects and the MH-750 shotgun speaker cables.

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