Audioquest vs. Others

   I realize that this post will probably open a landslide of responses but my question is focused on the comparison of Audioquest vs other manufacturers. This is not aimed to address power cables or speaker wire but only interconnect cables. Like Audioquest, many brands offer cables in a range of prices....low, medium, high, and super high. My interest is not to compare a lower price/quality cable to one that is far superior but to ask if comparisons have been done within equal price ranges of different brands.

   Yes, some systems are capable of distinguishing minute changes in a cable makeup. Some manufacturers even offer a free trial and return policy. I know that. But, in a moderately priced system, are there any opinions that would deter one from using the Audioquest brand vs another brand? Remember....staying in a comparable price range.

My system was only several thousand dollars total when I bought my first Audioquest cables. I know you said interconnects but the reality is all the cables made by the same guy under the same brand share the same signature sound. Might take you a long time and a lot of listening to understand this, which I happen to have done going back to 1991, so let me save you some time.

There's also a whole Audioquest record label where if you like blues they have some great ones by Doug MacLeod, Terry Evans, Mighty Sam McLain and more. The gimmick as it were, all the wire used across the whole recording chain is AudioQuest. Listen to a few of these and after a while its pretty obvious what I said about the House Sound is true.

The AudioQuest House Sound is articulate and detailed but weak in harmonic development and tone. It emphasizes attack relative to fundamental development. 

You asked about value. The well over a thousand dollar AudioQuest cables I had were easily bested by $350 worth of Synergistic Research. The SR had easily as much detail, but cleaner, with less grain and glare, and a lot more balanced fullness of fundamental tone. In terms of palpable sense of 3D depth and imaging, and dynamics both micro and macro, it wasn't even close. Took me mere minutes to decide. Then the hours and days melded into weeks fully soaking in just how much better and more sophisticated the SR cables are.

That's one story. Same has been repeated across more years and brands than I can possibly recall. If I ever once heard anything compete with Synergistic and at the same price I would let you know. In fact I would probably have bought some myself. It just never has happened.

Between new and used, active and non-active, there's so many different options out there I'd be as misleading as everyone else to just say what to buy. But if you don't at least find a few from Synergistic to audition, and then find yourself searching around trying to "system match" to fix the shortcomings and imbalances in what you got instead, don't blame me.
Back in the early ninetys I had Audioquest  cables.My dealer let me borrow any I wanted to try.Each interconnect I tried sounded completely different from the one before it.Radically different.I actually wish they still made them like that,really fun to experiment with.The ics were all named after jewels-ruby,emerald,diamond,etc.
Their entry level cables now are well built and sturdy but not very resolving,very bland.We all have to start somewhere though,so they would be a decent baseline to start with.Down the road you try something new.
AudioQuest makes excellent cables and if you are just starting out, they would be a logical cable choice.  I used their cables for years before moving on to other brands.  You really can’t go wrong. 
I am a big fan of certain Audioquest products because they are one of the only manufactures who make pure copper solid-core cabling.  Most everyone else (including super expensive items) are typically stranded.  The speaker wire is excellent at the Rocket 44/88 and above level.  The downside is the terminations being silver plated (why doesn't anyone use rhodium?!).

The power cords are excellent too, but still suffer from silver plated plugs.

I would avoid their digital and HDMI cables.  Not sure about the interconnects.
AQ is fast, detailed, and a bit forward in the upper mids which helps give it a more front-row perspective. It wasn't my cup of tea since I prefer a more laid back, harmonically rich type of sound.
@dustsailor - that's the silver-plated terminations at work that pushes the upper mids/highs more than anything else.
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I just auditioned some of the newest AQ cables- with some very high prices, and can say that they are unbelievably great.

In my opinion, AQ prices their cables realistically with regard to their capabilities. That being said, as you work your way through the different series, you will/should notice an increased sense of sound quality.
As much of this is system dependent, YMMV. But, if you have a decent system, the AQ hierarchy seems to be well ordered- not only between series but within.
If in the AQ mode for cables stay with the highest quality (purity) conductors you can afford and always go with their FEP (teflon) dielectric.  If you can afford it, the FEP tubes are the very best.  If you are not in a rush you can often score a great deal on AQ cables when they launch a new line as MusicDirect and others will need to sell off inventory of the previous line.
Cables are part of a system and must mate well with the other components. Forget about brand names and manufacturer malarkey. Use your ears. See

Ignore ALL recommendations as no one here has your gear, your room or your preferences.

If you don't attend live acoustic performances, spend the money on that until you have a valid frame of reference.

Audioquest is a price point manufacturer. Their cables do not share a signature sound with all gear. see

I’m still using Audioquest Colorado’s from my DAC to preamp. Is there anything better? Sure, but I’m still happy with them.

Jr pride Audioquest has plenty of price selections, I like their cables, but there are plenty cables that you can also compare.Dont limit yourself to one brand if you have time To auditions.
your other components should get along with audioquest the only way to know is to buy and try them. if your system is too laid back or polite and you need it to be more alert and fast maybe more lively or impactful it can help a bit. if it's too  forward already it won't fit .the "front row" thing is not for everyone and can be too much and sound kind of overly loud at all volumes with no air .
Anybody who believes L, R, C is all that’s going on with cables and power cords must be living in a cave. We know it’s much more complicated than that. Everybody and his brother can find some anti-audiophile pseudo-scientific screed on the internet without breaking a sweat. This is not the 1980s, gentle readers. 

I used AudioQuest Truth Silver and Truth Copper air dielectric interconnects and digital cable respectively way back in the 90s. Even back then AudioQuest honored the inherent directionality of wire so the sound is more resolved, more natural and just plain better. I’m currently using AQ Carbon HDMI cables which also honor wire directionality and use some percentage of silver in the connectors which translates into a super duper picture.
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My local dealer sold me some used AQ Copperheads and G-snakes, some years ago. At one point, I had separates and used a set of "Better Cables", silver plated 99% OCC cables between the amp and preamp. These cost $80/ft. in 2006. I was using this cable, later, between my DAC and the amp, I currently own. I had to switch back to the G-snakes due to re-configuring my system set up. At the pricepoint my system is, I really couldn't hear much difference. In my mind, the Better Cables had slightly more detail but it might have been influenced by the difference I paid per foot.
JR if I were you I consider to try kimbers, cardas, MIt,trAnsparent , Nordost, this guys has been doing cables for at twenty yrs
I had some Audioquest Emerald ICs and always felt that there was too much HF emphasis. On paper, they were the answer to an audiophile's prayer. Functionally-Perfect Copper (FPC) wire including the connectors. I disected one of the cables and found four incredible small gauge wires, explaining the titled response. These were very expensive cables at the time.

More recently, I tried some AQ Type 8 speaker cables and they were totally outclassed by Kimber 8TC.

I'm sure that Audioquest has many fine cables in their current lineup but, based on my experience, they are expensive for what you get..  
Anybody who believes L, R, C is all that’s going on
It's not belief. Changing any of Mr K's magic parameters affects LCR.

Functionally-Perfect Copper (FPC)
That's a HOWLER!

I consider to try Kimber, Cardas, MIT, Transparent, Nordost,
+1 on everything but Nordost speaker cables. IMO, Nordost is a very colored speaker cable. It may work well with some components, but that direction is the wrong way to go. Take Cardas copper claims with a grain of iron pyrite, aka fools gold.
Audioquest's cheap stuff is garbage. Their ICs (Earth/Colorado) is where you start getting good performance; any models below that isn't worth the money and is easily outclassed by other manufacturers in the same price point.
Any of you guys compare AQ to BlackCat cables? I have a friend who really likes BlackCat. 
@mkash3  +1.  You need to get to the FEP air tubes in the AQ line for the bass to resolve impact and for the soundstage to open up.
Did anyone hear AQ Thunderbird?I am very interested in buying that cable bi wire.I have actually AQ Volcano single wire.One day the dealer in Argentina borrowed the Purist Venusta bi wire luminist y it is far superior than the Volcano.
I almost decided to buying purist Corvus bi wire because the seller told that the Corvus is superior and more neutral than the Venusta.But one day I read the article of the audiobeat that they tested AQ Wildwood ( $18000 ) and AQ William tell ($3000).They said that William tell is far superior and it seems a change of amplifier more than change of cables.I really cant believe it.Is the new line of Audiowuest so good?The problem is that it is impossible to test AQ Thunderbird before buying in Argentina.

I've had a home audition of AQ's ThunderBird Zero and FireBird Zero in my system. Cables are about system integration to me. I prefer Clarus Crimson speaker cables over the ThunderBird and FireBird. Your results may differ. 
Full loom AQ here.
I have tried plenty of their cables vs some other brands such as vertere, atlas, sablon, what ever friends have vs mine.
I started with two thunder power cords and a diamond AES. Once i heard the bass control AQ cables offer, in addition to detail, excellent sound staging, opennes, i could not stop.
Most of my cables are PSS or PSC+.
I have few firebird HC and source. I believe that's the sweet spot in the strom series. Hurricane is not bad, but firebird is has more sparkle and transparency. The only issue is its price! 
Have firebird zero + thunderbird bi wire speaker cables conneting my diablo 300 to kef ref 5s, it feels just as there is no cable! Dynamics, transparency, and grain free. Doesn't sound too forward to me at all. I believe AQ cables are colourless, the just allow you to hear your equipment true sound. If you have something garbage in your chain, they will expose it.
The higher you go up, the more transparent, better everything. Before i started using AQ, i had a bad idea about silver cables. Turned out silver done right, would sound full, beautiful and warm even possibly, in a good way, with crazy resolution.
I have friends who prefer coloured cables. I can understand using cables as system tweaks. But i prefer transparent cables that doesn't add or subtract, and getting properly voiced equipment.
In my opinion, AQ cables should work in any system. If they don't work, something along the chain doesn't sound right/ neutral. I could be wrong, but i do love my cables, the extremely black background, being virtually distortion free, the energy they allow to pass unhindered, the grip. They are just awesome.

Thank you.A salesman of Audioquest answered me that the new line of AQ sounds better that AQ Wildwood of $18000 because of the new tecnology Zero that AQ Wildwood didnt have. That tecnology give the ultra neutral sounds in the tube system or transistor system. I never heard that a cable  of $3000 surpass a cable of 18000.of the same company. It is very hard to believe it

It may be hard to believe, but always trust your ears. I wonder if Audioquest will adjust the price of the $18,000 Wildwood cable since their new $3,000 cable outperforms it? They could probably sell the Wildwood for $2,000 and still make a profit.
AQ was certainly bright and tipped up in my system, almost to the point where other cables I tried sounded dull and boring in comparison. I suspect this brightness was due to the silver spades/silver RCA plugs in the AQ cables I used (all the other cables had gold plated connections).
@dustsailor Please read and the links to Garen Galeis articles therein.

Silver does not make cables bright.

IMO, AQ is an egregious fraud, selling ridiculously overpriced tone controls rather than neutral cables.
As I noted on another thread...presumably companies like Decware and others that make and sell speakers and electronics that also offer their own cables are offering cables that they believe bring out the best in their equipment.

To that end, and as an is what Decware is $340 per cable...


A Pure UN-insulated SILVER Ribbon with an organic
bees wax core protected inside a polyefelin jacket of mostly air and terminated with top quality silver connectors".

Or Benchmark Media Systems @   $35 per cable

IMO, AQ is an egregious fraud, selling ridiculously overpriced tone controls rather than neutral cables.

@ieales Since the cables are not neutral, what exact sound coloring is to be expected of Audioquest cables?
Depends on the cable and the gear to which they are connected. I've heard different AQ cables with the same gear sound dull, muddied, bright to rip your ears off.
AQ is an egregious fraud.
Wow, you think Audioquest is not just a fraud, but an egregious fraud? Perhaps you should alert the authorities if you truly believe that.
Depends on the cable and the gear to which they are connected. I've heard different AQ cables with the same gear sound dull, muddied, bright to rip your ears off.
That's generally the difference between the lower end, which uses long-grain copper and gold-plated connectors.  The higher end uses much better PFC and PFC+ (similar to OCC copper) and typically uses silver-plated connectors.
I would say that AQ is in the top five. If you did a blind test among those five, you might discover a new brand. It's certainly worth a try. There's a whole lot of hype in the audio world.
I have used AQ cables in the past and they never impressed me. For a long time my reference cables were home made with solid sterling silver wire, teflon dielectric and Neutril terminations. These were in use for quite a long time until I recently tried a Morrow cable. They BLEW ME AWAY!!!! I have bought several of these over the past few months and they are amazing at a very very reasonable price. In fairness, I have never tried the top of the line AQ cables because they are totally out of my financial capacity, so they could definitely be better...
I'm going to throw another recommendation out there. Try Audio Envy cables. They are unique in the market. They are incredible with electrostats! He has a 45 day trial period, so no risk except the few dollhairs of shipping. Ignore the less than stellar website. These are quality, hand-made cables with fantastic tech specs.
I would say that AQ is in the top five.
There is no top anything other than sales volume. Cables are system dependent and what is cheese in one is chalk in another.

Audio Envy
The marketing copy is malarkey. They may sound fine, but not for the reasons they state. 6:00 AQ Comet and Minute 11:30 AQ Thunderbird.
It is hard to believe that Thunderbird is superior to AQ Wildwood.But between two cables of this video, the diference is really huge
Just my 2 cents worth . Read the white paper on the Analysis Plus website regarding their research into cable geometry . Amplifiers are tested for square wave response . Cables have to pass the same signal, but who tests cables for square wave response ? All music is dynamic and all cables reduce it to one degree or another . I am overjoyed with my silver oval two speaker cables and plan to upgrade to their interconnects when finances allow . NASA bought AP's cable for it's proven performance .
I'm going to throw another recommendation out there. Try Audio Envy cables. They are unique in the market. They are incredible with electrostats! He has a 45 day trial period, so no risk except the few dollhairs of shipping. Ignore the less than stellar website. These are quality, hand-made cables with fantastic tech specs.
+1  I recently gave these a shot and am seriously impressed.I agree that the website will not inspire confidence in your decision,lol!After verifying myself that several customers did indeed put their much pricier cables up for sale and kept the AEs I had to try them.The ics by themselves are all about the midrange.The addition of two pcs(dac +pre) brought in the highs,bass,and dynamics.They are very slightly lean in my all tubed system,but so transparent,detailed,layered,and 'musical'.
🤔 hmmm..
I’m surprised no one yet praising the virtues of the proprietary AQ battery pack cables??
Sorry but this is really a very typically intellectually lazy thread. The op wants everyone’s opinion without them doing any real listening. Then you get the egos, I used SR 99’s and Glorious brand they all sounded better than AQ blah blah blah. Here’s the whole nut OP. Cables will all sound different because your room, gear, and hearing are unique. Everything else is opinions.
AQ makes great interconnects, only complaint I have is how high the cost is going for their higher cables (unless getting used).

The higher up you go the more transparent the cable gets.  As ricred1 mentioned this is all system dependent.  Transparency does not necessarily mean a good thing.  Other than their Niagara/Wind cables, AQ silver is fairly balanced, not bright.  I would actually categorize the Fire interconnects as being on the warmer side.

All AQ cables have a similar sound characteristic, going from copper to silver adds to the resolution in the mid-to-upper end.  I recently did a test between AQ Earth, older Niagra, Fire, and WEL.  They all have similar sound signature, but emphasize different aspects of frequency range.  With the WEL the balance of resolution, depth, and bass is amazing.  This means it does not hide anything, so if your system is balanced then it may sound amazing (though it is still room and preference dependent).  Not a good choice if you tend to balance the sound in your system via cables vs. changing components.

I would definitely try to demo some AQ interconnects.  Depending on budget I would try out Earth or Fire.
All AQ cables have a similar sound characteristic
on a system that is either low resolution or impervious to cables.

On systems that resolve well, especially in the time domain, AQ cables are all over the sonic map.
 Hi Jrpnde,

For you reference - Interconnects brands I have had/ auditioned in my system,($750 - $8,000)   Analysis Plus, Audio Quest, Aural Symphonic, Kimber Kables, MIT, Nordost , Stage 3 Concepts, Synergistic Research, Tempo Electric, Thales, Transparent, and WyWires.  

This is the Brand I liked best. The Brand while under the radar are highly well regarded. As for Direct Comparisons, IMHO these cables bested or were just as good as brands that list for 2-3 X the price.

THALES ($2,200)

These cables accurately reveal a rich, musical, transparent, enormously detailed sound stage that is all together silent and  essentially disappear into the sound system. 

Thales uses micro conductors 1/10th the size of others. Each conductor is made of ten ultra-thin, Pure copper wires, pairwise twisted and caste into nylon.  

The fact that they are copper and not silver is an added bonus as you get the warmth of copper with all the resolving power of silver. 

I am sitting on 2 pairs, like new, of RCA if interested. Reason - I got 2 pairs of XLR. They will most likely be the last cables I invest in, barring some sort of catastrophe.

I am particularly fond of the vodka series from audioquest... those cables must solve a lot of problems, beyond audio/video.
My friend borrowed me an audioquest Blizzard and a Shunyata venom digital for esoteric sacd player k07xs.Audioquest Blizzard is far superior than Shunyata venom digital.It is really fluid, natural and many details.The venom doesnt exist. I compared the venom with the tramsparent mm2x that costed above $2000 in the past. They perform very similar But Aq Blizzard is the another league.
Really the test of audioquest Thunderbird bi wire will be very interesting.
I know that the OP asked specifically about AQ interconnects but the discussion, as it often does, has veered into different cable types. I was recently interested in the new AQ speaker cables and there is very little posted online regarding their performance.  

I just finished demoing several cables and in my system, a pair of Synergistic Research Atmosphere X Level 2 biwire (IFT) clearly outperformed AQ William Tell Zero/Bass at a lower cost.  I have a system of Vandersteen 5A, Ayre MXR-Twenty, Ayre KXR-Twenty, Ayre Codex, Sota Cosmo/Graham Phantom II/Soundsmith Aida and listen to mostly rock with some jazz.  The SR had much better dynamics, soundstage width and imaging.  I found the AQ to lack bass and was not engaging.  I actually preferred my much cheaper Anticable level 3 to the AQ.  I broke in the AQ for over 400 hours.  With Ayre and Vandersteen, the "classic" cable is AQ.  In my system, the SR was much better.  

I also demoed Anticable level 5, Morrow Elite Grand Reference, Cerious Matrix and Audience AU24SX.  They all had their strengths and weaknesses but were not as good as SR in my system.  

Thank You for the report. I am looking hard at the Ayre Twenty Series and it is good to learn that SR is an option against the classic Audioquest, Cardas,  cabling.

Happy Listening!