Audience AU24 vs Acoustic Zen Matrix Reference

Has anyone compared these two interconnects?

I have AZ Mat Ref (MKI and MKII) in my system right now and wonder that the sonic differences would be if I went to the AU24.

Is one warmer?

Which has better detail?

thank you,
Hey Phil,

Along with the amp and preamp comparos I've been doing since spring, a set of biwired Acoustic Zen Hologram II and a single run of Audience AU24 speaker cables w/ jumpers has been dueling it out in my system.

I'm not sure if you can make any direct correlation between the Matrix Ref II and Hologram II, and the AU24 speaker cables and interconnects, but I'll share my perceptions.

First, I think all AZ cables are very smooth. I'm using the MC2, Silver Ref II, Matrix Ref II in addition to the speaker cables I mentioned. So, I'm definitely a fan of the AZ line. However, when it comes to speaker cables I find the Hologram II and AU24 to be quite close in many ways, yet very different in nature.

They are both very smooth, but the Hologram II has more top and bottom frequency extension. The AU24 favors the midrange and places singers and acoustic soloists up front and center. The Hologram II may have a slight edge in refinement, meaning you can hear more of the detail and nuances of a performance while maintaining its smooth character. The AU24 on the other hand adds extra life and body to voices, acoustic guitars and pianos, and has a livelier presentation.

I feel singers like Diana Krall and Jacintha sound further back in my system with the Hologram II, almost on a stage with me in the middle of the audience. While the AU24 makes me feel that I'm in the front row and I can hear more of the their unmiked voice.

Cymbals and top hats shimmer better with the Hologram II. The AU24 makes me more aware of the stick hitting the brass as opposed to the shimmer. Kick drums also have a bit more snap with the AU24 because of the lower midrange/upper bass emphasis. The Hologram II has better extended, more controlled mid and lower bass.

Both cables soundstage very well. And I don't know how biwired versus single run plays in to this, because my single run AU24 sound very holographic. Again, the Hologram II creates a bigger gap between the performer and the listener, and give an excellent picture of placement. The AU24 recreates the same performance in an intimate nightclub, but that doesn't mean a smaller soundfield. I have the illusion of being closer to the performers. Both have good center focus and throw wide soundstages.

While I have definite favorites among the amps and preamps I've compared, choosing between the Acoustic Zen and Audience speaker cables is much tougher. What cable makes it into my system depends largely on my mood at the time. It's expensive keeping both around, but I'm finding it difficult to part with either.

I've read that people perceive bigger differences with the AU24 speaker cables as opposed to their interconnects, so I'm not sure how relevant my experience is. While sounding very different because of their silver versus copper design, the AZ Silver Ref II and Matrix Ref II still share an Acoustic Zen family sound. I'm not sure if the AU24 interconnects and speaker cables do.

I hope this has helped. Good luck.

If like AZ product, the silver Reference is a Much better cable. AU24 is warmer. Neither one gives good detail.
You can also get an used NBS King serpent II or signature.
For source cable, I would used M-21 special from Stealth.
Hey Dean - great comments you've made above...that's the kind of reviewing I can understand and appreciate, as opposed to using words like "decaying transients" and "superfluous prognostecation of the dialectic wicket-waveform". Thanks for that my friend. Hey, so you mentioned your tests with the pre-amps and I do recall your waiting on delivery of that new Eastern Electric, but I couldn't find any threads you've started on those. How about some comments on the preamps since you said you definitely have favorites. I'd like to hear more! Or if you made some extensive comments just point me to the thread.


Your review has been very helpful to me as I am believer in the 'house sound'.

I think the Audience may be more to my liking as far as the more immediate presentation but, the part about not hearing the cymbol shimmer like the Hologram has me a little concerned. I used to own the Hologram I (single run) speaker cable and sold it for Reynaud HP216A bi wire for my Reynaud Trentes. I think the Hologram beat the Reynaud wire in only one way, and that was the amount of color/hues the cymbols had which is something I really like, the sensation of the cymbols cutting (and floating) through all the other instruments is very inviting too. I guess I am looking for tighter bass and a more open sound, maybe I should look to AZ Silver Ref instead of Audience.

A little note, the Reynaud wire is terrific, I am really getting picky with the cymbol comment because in the areas of detail and focus and definition (especially the bass) the Reynaud wire betters the AZ (single run) Hologram.

At least I am under the impression that the Audience is a sideways step and not going the trounce the AZ anytime soon.


I read a little about the M21 Stealth and they do sound really nice, especially the open quality that came up a few times. Will look into the NBS too. I do not have the money for them right now and consider the AZ and Audience bargain cables. I have heard the Silver Ref MKII quite a few times and think it has quite good detail so the cable you mention must be special.
I've had good results using the AU24s between my Electrocompaniet EMC1 and Thor TA-100 tube preamp, with a set of AZ Silver Ref Is completing the signal chain to a Bruce Moore Dual 70 tube amp.

The AU24s do favor the midrange, putting vocals and solo intruments a little more forward in the soundstage than the AZs. The AZs between the pre and amp round out the overall presentation by slightly emphasizing the frequency extremes. The overall result is a very balanced presentation with a nice wide soundstage, great imaging and excellent frequency extension.

By the way, I've tried reversing the order of the interconnects, but felt that the highs became slightly brighter, while the mids were not as warm and lifelike. Interestingly, as others have mentioned, I find that I can easily hear the differences by focusing on the way cymbals are reproduced. Must be that combination of transient attack, upper midrange fundamentals, overtones and decay.

Hope this helps.
Hey thanks Marco. When I listen to music I always hope to be moved emotionally, so when writing about my impressions they tend to be expressed in the same way, and not very analytical. If you got my e-mail you know what I mean, heheh.

I'm glad I was able to help Phil. Yes, I believe the AZ will bring you closer to that magical cymbal shimmer. If you currently have what you feel is a balanced cable scheme and insert the Silver Ref II anywhere, I think you'll be shocked by the extra clarity with cymbals.

For a few months I was using Silver Ref II from my DAC to preamp with full-sounding Mullard tubes in the DAC. During the course of my preamp testing I changed the tubes in the DAC to more revealing Siemens CCas and the DAC to preamp interconnect with Matrix Ref II. I was surprised that the balance was almost the same, but with just a slightly fuller sound.

However, if you swap out the Matrix Ref II for a Silver Ref II without any other changes you'll find that a massive amount of sonic information will suddenly become available, especially in the high frequency percussion you like. This is quite amazing and seductive initally, but I found that over time I had difficulty staying in the music because the overall balance became much thinner and areas I felt that should have a fuller, earthier presentation like acoustic guitars and pianos became too lean for me. They lost all their weight.

So I disagree that one is better than the other. They're just very different in this respect, and how they perform will depend on the rest of your system and what you value in playback.

But for you my friend, I'd like to say that when substituting the Silver Ref II for the Matrix Ref II in my system, the details revealed with cymbals and top hats become so abundant it's almost as if I have quantum/nano view into each vibrating superstring of each musical nuance.
Jax2 I totally agree with you, Dean made a very good
review, its so understable,Iam tired of reading words
like the one you mentioned,it makes me vomit(involuntary
protein spill) at least I gave the meaning.No seriously
Thank you again Jax for being honest, And to Dean if
ypu keep doing it, Ill put you on my favorite Agoners
on Best of Forum.

Thank you for your input, between your reply, rereading Gunbei's response and correspondence with someone else I feel the Audience may be the way to go as my impression is that it has less bass and favors the midrange.

Anyway I am buying the Audience AU24s and will let you guys know in a week or two how things go.

I had a similar experience switching an AZ WOW (from CD to pre) with an AZ Mat Ref (from pre to power) and the sound became much less focused and more vague with less impact and extension. It was a big difference.
I have listened to the Audience AU24 IC in my system for 3 days now and can say they have quite a bit more detail and nuance than AZ Mat Ref MKII. Also the tonal balance is much more to my liking and seems to favor no particular region where the AZ favored the bass and the high end always seemed recessed. I am not sure if this is a function of soundstage or frequency response (or both), even though I agree the Au24 is more forward I just prefer the perspective it offers. Also on the AU24 I prefer the way the bass integrates with the rest of the sound, gone is the constant bass 'drone' or 'bump' and replaced with articulate bass, the word plumey keeps coming to mind, the bass has pluck, if these words make sense. I guess the bass is more articulate and nuanced and can be quite powerful if the music calls for it. Bottom line is the AU24 is neutral, detailed and refined and the AZ is smooth, tuneful and warm.
In my stereo it is no contest as I think my Reynaud Trentes and the Plinius 8200 MKII are both slightly warm and benefit from the neutral and detailed quality of the AU24. I will not bother with the Silver Ref as I am pretty darn happy at this point and a friend who replaced his Silver Ref MKII with the AU24 confirmed that the AZ has more bass drive, something my stereo does not need.

thanks guys
Happy Holidays

try out Straight Wire Crecendo
this interconnect is the most engaging I have heard
and I have AZ Matrix Ref on my cd and turntable