As usual, nicely done!
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Tek what power source are you using for your active shielding power supply? If it's the little wallwart power pack then you're not realizing all the potential of your Designers Reference. If it's the Master Control Center then that's an improvement, but again that depends upon which AC cord you have supplying power into the MCC.
I tried all of Synergistic's AC cords with my MCC (I did not expect to hear any difference no matter what AC cord was used) & came to the same conclusion as the manufacturer, that their best AC cord makes their active shileding system sound the best, dramatically better in fact. Econmically speaking, this combo adds another $2400 already (it can be had for considerably less if you look around) for the MCC with a Designers Reference Squared AC. For just one pair of interconnects this makes no economic sense. But if you have all active-shielded interconnects like mine, then the cost of the MCC divides by the # pairs of interconnects it is supplying. Additionally the MCC has two different bias levels available, 30VDC & 15VDC. You can experiment with the different DC voltages to different cables & pick the better per each application. These differences aren't dramatic, but they are still worthwhile optimizing.
"Synergy" of cables with your components is of course another issue, & what works best for me won't necessarily work best for you, vice-versa, etc.
The results of your experiments are interesting & please do post your further learnings here. I am particularly interested in the Van den hul. However unless I misunderstand you, I don't believe you've yet heard the full capabilities of the Synergistic system.
Bob, that's Synergistic's fault then. If it is true that the MCC makes such a big difference, then why does Synergistic not stay awy from these little wall warts, which does not show the whole potential.
Imagine, is this was true, then the chances are the Synergistic is loosing customers who will never discover the real potential.
But what about the price factor here also?
Two pairs of the squared interconnects with MCC are a lot more than the Valhalla and even if the MCC will make a difference, I doubt that the cable will beat the Valhalla. So the Valhalla would be the better buy for the money, I guess. Have you done an A-B with Synergistic and the MCC and the Valhalla?
Tek and Bob; both good reports-- thanks. Mine is a little different perspective. I use Syn. Res. Phase II Active Shielded ICs, and they were excellent ICs even without the Active Shielding. But when I went to the "wall wart" active shields, I was amazed at the improvement in especially soundstaging, but also dynamics. I have not tried the MCC yet, but that is next on my list of "to do's".
Tek, the wall warts are only $50. apiece and they make a significant sonic improvement. Not everyone can afford "top of the line" or "State of the Art" equipment and wires, eg the MCC is over $1000.-- isn't it? And I would argue that Syn. Res. is doing many users an economic favor by making a variety of good products available at a variety of price points. It seems that I am slowly working my way up into their more expensive products.
Bob, thanks for the tip that the MCC needs a good power cord. Personally, I'll probably start out with a std. Master Coupler on an MCC just because I have several of them.
Something I really believe in is a clean AC supply, and I have five 20 amp dedicated receptacles. If you're not plugging your components into a good dedicated AC supply, you're not hearing what those expensive wires can really do anyway, IMO.
But it seems this thread is about comparing speaker cables that retail for several thousand dollars a set, so if my cheapskate comments are out of line, sorry.
BTW, who makes the Valhalla cables?
Please pardon my ignorance, I did a quick search and see that the Valhalla speaker cable is made by Nordost, and it lists at $8,000. for a 10 ft. set-- yes, you saw right, $8000. And Stewart, my wireman at Sanctuary of Sound in Seattle, WA. carries them. Wow-- gonna' have to talk to him! Cheers. Craig
The Master Control CenterII comes standard with a Designer Reference AC now, as a package priced discount deal. Pkg. discount is also available w/ a Des. Ref. Sq. AC. They won't sell it any other way; I asked. But if you buy an MCC used here, then you can pick your AC cord more flexibly. The newer MCC-II comes with a front panel AC switch & BNC connectors unlike the original MCC (no AC switch & has ~3.5mm mini-phone jacks).
I am not trying to argue which is better: Nordost, Van den hul, or Radio Shaft. What's better for me may not be better for you? I have not heard any of the others. My whole point is that you really don't know the full potential of what you did hear, & others reading here should be aware that more potential is available before making a decision perhaps based upon this report. Obviously shouldn't do that, but...
QUESTION? Has anyone tried the new kid on the block, Jena Labs? The underground, reports that it surpasses the Valhalla with ease.
An A B comparison with some of the cables mentioned here would be a great help. I am considering upgrading to them for my entire system. The Symphony series is supposed to be the most bang for the buck.