I have the PV which replaced my original vdH SME V cable. I think there is a thread here somewhere that discusses/compares all the ones you mention except for the Nordost. See if you can find it. (I'll look too ;~))
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I have compared the Purist Venustas to the Graham IC 50 and the Hovland. Sorry I can't type more. Order of preference...Graham last...hovland...then the Purist is a big step ahead. The Graham and Hovland are good...the hovland being warmer. The Purist is just a competely different cable...much blacker background...much more details and extension.
I've owned all 3 for a least a year each...The Purist will stay for a very long time! Maybe a dominus one day !
I always thought for phono cartridges, a "phono" cable was required and thus I only used such in this application. When I was looking to upgrade the Audio Research balanced phono cable, I contacted SilverAudio. Max there suggested I try their SilverBreeze tonearm cable. This brought on so much more resolution and openness over the ARC that I had not imagined possible. Initially this was on the Linn LP12 (din connector) and then later on a Clearaudio Ref TT (RCA-phono connectors). For $400 then, this was an unbeatable value. Even now in the $500-600 range, I suspect it has few if any peers in its price range.
With the Clearaudio tonearm having RCA connectors, I was recently able to try the Kubala-Sosna Emotion RCA ICs. According to Joe Kubala, these would work fine and he said they had no need to market a "phono" cable. He was right; this cable worked beautifully improving upon the SB's strengths with the K-S's trademark of greater see-through and blacker background attributes which resulted in more silence between the notes; tonality was as close as it gets. The differences were not subtle but they were not huge. At that point (late last year) the $2000 cost difference made no sense in this link of the system. The SB remained as it is that good.
And then two months later, I tried the Purist Venustas RCA ICs. The differences here were as dramtic but for different reasons. The Purist brings on a greater dynamic contrast and thus a more lively presentation over the SB. I did not hear any greater degree of resolution in the Venustas over the SB like I had previouslt with the K-S Emotion. Overall, I found the Venustas to be more musically involving so I ran with this for a month and then returned back to the SB. The SB's presentation was indeed more mellow but still I was so impressed with this cable. I guess it would depend ultimately on the cartridge or music as to which one to go with. With a $800-900 difference, the gap narrows. But on the used market, the difference is only $300 or so which makes it more realistic to compare the SB to the Venustas. For these auditions, the cartridge was the Clearaudio Accurate. Phono stage is Aesthetix Io.
I then got the opportunity to try a Purist Dominus "phono" cable. It was a bit shorter than the others so I had to shift components around to get it to work, but the result was incredible. The strengths brought on by the Venustas were magnified significantly here. Not only did the contrasts increase, but so did the bass foundation and the Dominus trademark of doing lower midrange textures like no other cable I have heard. To go back to the other cables was VERY difficult. But with the Clearaudio TT, this short of a cable would be a hassle. With the Versa Dynamics, where the RCA connectors are way down at the bottom of the back of the TT, these cables would be perfect.
I was able to borrow a 1m Dominus-B RCA IC from a local audiophile friend. When I tried this cable on the Clearaudio arm, I got the same benefits as to the Dominus phono cable. I did not compare the two Dominus RCA cables as I would have had to move the gear around again. But if there were any differences, they had to be very small. For my situation at least, the need to rely solely on a "phono" cable was determined to not be necessary.
Based on the above comments on the Venustas, I suspect the SilverBreeze could easily compete with the Hovland and Graham. So try and give this cable an audition. I suspect SilverAudio still offers 30-day home trials.
John, I enjoyed reading your write-up on the different phono cables/setups, but I think I got lost somewhere:
You had the SB w/ DIN on your Linn. Then did you try a different SB (RCA to RCA) on the Clearaudio?
And was the Venustas RCA to RCA you tried a regular IC, or a tonearm cable? (I do understand the KB was a standard IC)
Also, what were you using to connect the Io to the preamp? Did that remain constant, or did you match it to the manufacturer of whatever you were using from the tonearm-to-phono preamp?
I'm asking all these details because I almost got a SB from Max to audition, but before I did, I went to CES (2005) and Jim Aud gave me a great buy on a Venustas phono (DIN to RCA) and a regular Venustas RCA/RCA to go from my phono preamp to my preamp. So I never got to compare the two -- but before I heard the Venustas, the SB was going to be my choice if it performed as many said it would.
Hello Neil: Sorry for the lack of clarity as I described one cable to the next.
The SilverAudio SB purchased from Max was Din-to-XLR. Phono stage then was ARC PH2 that I ran with for about 5 years, then BAT VK-P10 for about 2 and now 2.5 for the Io. Each of these has XLR inputs so the XLR terminations on the SB remained. But when I changed from the Linn to the Clearaudio, I changed the SB to have RCA connectors on the tonearm side. I was finally able to find a tiny hex wrench, pop off the din connector and then solder on RCA plugs to connect to the tonearm. The signal was still truly balanced as I was driving the PH2 with + and - phases from the cartridge.
Late last year, with my system fully loaded with K-S Emotion cables except for speaker cables (which were NBS Statement), one final test was to compare the SB to the K-S RCA for the tonearm. The differences here were previously reported.
I then returned all the K-S cables to the factory, which meant I went back to using the SB tonearm cable and the NBS Statement XLR from Io to Callisto. The Io MUST be driven with an XLR cable to the Callisto or the dimensionality is greatly reduced. Even the much more colored and muddy NBS XLR easily outperforms the K-S RCA here, in the context of dimensionality and textures. This made me realize the need to run balanced in this link.
Not being able to afford all the K-S at the time and still wanting to hear the super expensive Dominus before I locked myself into the K-S, I got RCA and XLR Venustas IC cables to try as the tonearm and Io-Callisto link respectively. Since the K-S RCA worked beautifully as a tonearm cable, it made sense to try the std Venustas IC here as well.
It took me no time to realize how the Venustas XLR was as refined over the NBS as the K-S XLR had been....but just in different ways. In any case, the NBS was history as a cable from Io to Callisto. The Venustas XLR was used from then on in the Io-to-Callisto link and remains there today until I can further compare the top-echelon of XLR cables. The tonearm cable shootout of the SB vs. Venustas RCA followed with the results previously reported.
I do not think it mattered what cable I had in the Io-Callisto link when it came to hearing the tonearm cable differences. Tonally, the SB vs. K-S RCA and the SB vs. Venustas RCA are so very close. The strengths of the K-S (ultimate resolution and silence) and Venustas (dynamics) are what came through vs. the SB tonearm cable. And once again, for the price, I feel the SB has no peers. It really is that impressive.
I have since managed to again borrow K-S Emotion RCA and compare to Dominus RCA from my DAC to the Callisto. The strenghts of these two cables is consistent at each link I compare them. The Io-Callisto link comparison remains as I have not been able to borrow a Dominus XLR. When I can locate one, I will again borrow a K-S Emotion XLR. So far these two lines impress me the most. And they work so very well together. It is a personal balance between the ultimate see-through nature and detailed top end of the K-S vs. the more lively, bass-extended and textured Purist.
Hope this answers your questions.
John, thanks for the additional info. Now I understand what you did.
For those who aren't aware, and to back up what John mentioned, using balanced interconnects (if your equipment allows) between (especially) cartridge > phono preamp > preamp, or CDP/DAC > preamp, almost always results in better sonics. (Phono cartridges, whether MC or MM are inherently balanced output devices anyway.)
I mention this because balanced ICs are often only discussed in the context of long runs between preamp and amp (to eliminate noise.) And often people forget (or don't even realize) that balanced circuits usually provide more signal strength as well.
Nsgarsh,as a very good friend of EBM,and having almost the exact set-up as him,except speakers,I'll have the good fortune to compare the Venustas Phono link to the IC-70.This in about two weeks,as he HAS ordered the Venustas.I'm intimately familiar with his set-up,as I helped in setting it up,and have heard it dozens of times.I cannot wait for this,final comparison,for me,before really knowing any meaningful result.Should the Venustas "trump" the IC-70,then I will obviously move in that direction.BTW--it was your influence and input that put me up to recommending my friend move to a Venustas,since he was very curious about it possibly improving his already superb phono performance.He has a very "high res" system,that is Kharma based.
As an aside,I just called Bob Graham to ask for his input on this cable choice matter.His answer was very firm,in that he felt STRONGLY "there is no way the IC-70 can be improved",and "any other choices will only diffuse the sound,or add a different flavor".Obviously I hope he's correct,as this will save me some dough,but I will finally have my answer,soon!Thanks for being so generous with advice,but I DO hope you are wrong,on this one!
Speedy, my suggestion? Get out your checkbook!
For some time though, I wished I'd had a chance to hear the Silver Breeze before the Venustas (accidentally) came my way, fully broken in and about 2/3 off retail. Which I mention only because that's the only way I would have bought them sight unheard without an audition. As for the SB, I'll take John's word for it since he's apparently spent a lot of time comparing.
PS: Well what the hell did you expect Bob to say?
Neil, I wanted to make one clarification concerning the Aesthetix Io phono stage. The ARC PH2 and BAT VK-P10 are balanced phono stages from input to output. I had always read the Io's INPUT is not balanced; the input signal is ultimately converted to balanced on the input stage and then balanced from then on.
I used a DMM to confirm the above. The Io has XLR and RCA connectors on the input. With the RCA ICs into the Io, the DMM confirmed that the signal-return line is indeed grounded. It is easy to see this with the L & R returns measuring zero resistance relative to each other. The two phases could have been lifted from ground with the use of a separate ground line but the Io does not support this.
I then plugged in the SB's XLRs into the Io and the measurement indicated each minus phase was grounded. An easy confirmation on the XLR's pins of the Io's chassis showed this was indeed not due to the SB cable. So yes, the Io grounds the cartridge's return signal for each channel rather than floating the cartridge above ground which would result in the cartridge acting as a "balanced" or complimentary device.
I'm not sure why the Io was designed this way, but in the final analysis, I'm currently not running my cartridge in a truly balanced manner. There is no benefit to use a tonearm cable terminated with XLR cables into the Io. But perhaps with a unit like the BAT VK-P10 which also has XLR and RCA inputs, but with the XLRs being truly balanced, maybe the SB would outperform or be closer to the RCA terminated Venustas ICs.....just a thought.
The proof is in the pudding as the Io far exceeds the musical performance of the very good PH2 and VK-P10 that I had before; there is much more going on than processing the cartridge as a balanced device but I have to believe it would be beneficial.
John, that's interesting. Mark Levinson, in their highly acclaimed 32 and 320s phono stages does something similar. If you go to their website and open the pdf owner's manual for the optional phonostage cards, it talks about how/why they achieve a "balanced" input circuit for the cartridge, even though the inputs are RCA.
My guess is it's a way of achieving lower noise phono amplification, even if you have, for instance, dedicated tonearm cables that terminate with RCAs only.
Nsgarch,well we had the comparison yesterday.Yes the Venustas had a darker,more silken presentation.However the IC-70 had a more dynamic presentation,with fuller bass.All at first blush.
The arm was the Graham 2.2.What we did(three experienced audiophiles)was,first compare both cables with exact arm/cartridge parameters.Here,it was surprisingly close,with The Venustas being a bit smoother and refined,with a deeper stage.However the IC-70 had stronger bass and dynamics,with a wider stage.Yet two of us felt the Venustas was bringing out a bit more high freq detail,and smoother too.At this point a riot almost broke out,as my other pal(the most qualified of us all)was adamantly pushing for re-voicing to each cables strenghts.This was VERY time consuming.He won!
At this point,my friend Sid,a very experienced 'phile,asked if I would go through the process again(a pain in the butt,btw)but to see if the arm/cart parameters could be slightly re-voiced for each cables personality.This proved quite intriguing,as there was a definite arm/cart voicing for each cable(go figure).
The final result yielded a blacker background(I think)and enhanced depth,for the Venustas,with a slightly smoother high end and gorgeous high freq decay.The IC-70 still is more dynamic,in this particular set-up(my friend's),with a wider,almost explosive stage presentation.
Truthfully,I think there is a system dependant aspect to this,and am really at an impass,as to whether it was really all that big a deal.Even with the differences,which were clearly obvious,it was easy to voice the arm/cart parameters,slightly,to close the gap.This is my delemma,as I have gotten really good at this,yet don't like to rationalize,if something can be made better.
I have to really do some careful pondering,and maybe bring my own records to my friend's house,to quantify if it is worth spending the extra dough.Though I loved the Venustas,the IC-70 is NO slouch.Yet I cannot get away from the fact that I never heard such STUNNING high freq decay in my friend's system.
One final note(sorry for the length)--We had a 90 degree connector added to the arm side of the Venustas,to compensate for the required angle needed to properly connect into the Cosmos table(I have a Cosmos too).This turned out to be sourced from Cardas,and though superb,it almost required a pliers to seperate it from the arm.Also,due to the "pin" connections in the arm,the ninety degree(right angle) connectors did NOT allow the cabling to go straight down,as does the IC-70(which it should).I'm concerned that if I were to go Venustas,this could affect my table's suspension.Thought I would mention this.
Anyway,as this hobby is quite cerebral,I'm forced to think on all these matters,before making any changes.Also,I hate using my brain,too much!
Thanks for all your valuable thoughts,and any correspondence,on this matter,is always welcome.
Speedy, I have a couple questions and one comment.
Were the Purist and the Graham cables both broken in? Same amount? >100 hours (Cardas test record makes this easy)
Were you using a separate phono preamp? If "yes" then were you using each phono cables' matching ICs (Purist or Graham respectively) between the phono preamp and the preamp?
Comment: At the small voltages we're talking about, inserting that additional rt. angle DIN in the signal chain would be a definite "no no", certainly for any apples-to-apples comparison. (Venustas are available w/ straight DIN plugs BTW)
As for "arm/cartridge parameters" and "re-voicing" them to match the cables -- well you can probably guress I take a dim view of that ;~)) As far as I'm concerned, you set your arm, cartridge, SRA, and load as optimally as you possibly know how, using any phono cable, perhaps even a "disinterested" third brand! Then leave it alone and run the comparison. Otherwise, you'll start "foolin' around" in order to hear what you think you should hear, and wind up in la la land, results-wise!
Of all the things I mentioned above necessary to design a fair and useful experiment, probably the biggest hassle is providing well broken-in specimens. That takes a bit of pre-planning, but is essential to making meaningful comparisons.
In my case, I bought my Venustas already broken in, and compared them only to the vdH silver hybrid that SME supplies w/ the SME V. That experiment only took about 3 minutes!
I have an extremely neutral and very revealing system. If the Venustas were any more "dynamic" top to bottom, it might actually result in listener fatigue. So it would be interesting to hear a (broken in) Graham, Hovland or Silver Breeze sometime to see if they are in fact bright(er). I guess the Cardas Golden Reference has gone out of favor for being too warm and schmaltzy -- but I wouldn't know, that's just what I hear ;~))
Nsgarsh,yes it was broken in.Also,the first comparison was with no changes,for voicing.Also,it was Jim Aud who added the right angle connector,so I assume he knew what he was doing.Do you still feel that I would benefit by not having this connection path?I could probably get away with the straight one,but is it a technically better way to go?And,why didn't Purist Audio recommend my pal NOT get the ninety degree connection,if it was not as effective?
You know I trust in your comments,so any afterthoughts would be appreciated.
Oh,I forgot to mention what could probably be a salient point.My friend,Sid,who has WAY more experience,and knowledge than anyone I've ever met,in this hobby,brought up the point that when there is less bass present,there is always the perception of greater high freq extension.I don't know for sure,but I'd hate to attribute the slightly more enhanced high freq performance of the Veustas(GOD it WAS gorgeous,though) to the slightly lower bass impact,it had compared to the IC-70.BTW both cables were STUNNING overall and I'm splitting hairs,yet there seemed to be real silky beauty derived from the Venustas,and Big Boy bass bloom from the IC-70,with a definitely wider stage presentation.I could happily live with either,yet when I factor in that I've got to spend about 7-8 hundred bucks,out of pocket if I go for the Venustas(taking into account what I'd get for the IC-70),I have to wonder,based on how critical the cart/arm voicing was,and how it impacted overall performance(AFTER the original NO CHANGES comparison(which was closer than you'd think),whether the money would be better spent in going to the SUPERB Winds guage instead.My current guage is accurate to 50/100's of a gram,and we do tune by ear,after a point.However once we found the EXACT downforce,the 1/100 of a gram Winds guage proved indispensable!HMM!My pal Sid felt this was as valid an expenditure as moving to the Venustas.Actually he felt it was the fine tuning of the arm/cart that was the "end all" here,and the "cable thing" was audible,yet of
little consequence as compared to the differences attributable to the voicing of arm/cart.I am still in the dark,as to how I feel about the whole issue,but it's my dough,I'll be spending!
"What, O What to DO"!!
Either DIN termination is electrically identical. The choice of rt. angle vs. straight DIN connector is purely a function of your tonearm configuration and/or how the cable has to exit the turntable itself -- as you indicated ("the ninety degree(right angle) connectors did NOT allow the cabling to go straight down") I was simply referring to the extra set of contacts brought into the picture when you had to add the Cardas rt. angle adaptor to the mix. So if you do decide to buy a Venustas, just make sure you specify you want it with a straight DIN connector, that's all. I can't imagine Jim A. recommending someone not get the straight DIN if that's what would work best in your setup. Does the Graham receptacle point straight down, or to the side?
If everything's right with the arm/tt setup, then the Venustas should give you flat response top to bottom. If it doesn't, then it may be you need to adjust the cartridge loading in the phono preamp to a slightly lower value, to compensate for that extra DIN connector which is adding resistance (and unductance, which sucks up bass) that the Graham doesn't have to contend with. (That's why I said using the adaptor wouldn't give a true comparison)
Try using the Venustas without the extra DIN. Throw a loop in the pigtail (so it won't affect the suspension) and secure the outgoing side of the loop to the TT base with a nylon cord clamp secured to the bottom back edge of the base.
I don't think I originally made myself clear.Instead of the straight line connector,originally used on the Venustas,Jim used the Cardas "right angle" connector instead.However due to the pin positioning in the bottom 2.2 arm block this basically rendered the Cardas right angle connector as no better than if we went with the original connector.The cable,still ran sideways.No real big deal,but the IC-70 goes straight down,as the pin orientation is exactly lined to let the Graham right angle connector do it's thing.The Cardas,as supplied by Venustas did NOT require any additional adaptor.It worked just fine.
Also,please don't get me wrong.The Venustas DID give superb flat response,top to bottom.It's just that we DID do a very extensive comparison.Both cables compared with EXACT arm/cart parameters.Then both cables compared with a "small" voicing to what the three of us felt they both "liked the best".How many people do you think actually "like doing this"?It SUCKED,as I was the "schlep" set-up man!
In the first(no change case)there was really not nearly as big a difference as we'd have expected,except for a slight darkening in the Purist,with smooth,not rolled,highs.The IC-70 may have been a bit more diffuse,but had clearly more dynamics,and deeper bass.We are talking SMALL,but detectable differences.
In case two,we voiced to each cable's preferences,based upon how they related in the overall sound of my friend's system(quite legit,actually).Here a small voicing of fluid/downforce/vta(really small,btw)definitely impacted what our perceptions were.The overall slightly dark(in a good way,to my tasres)Purist cable was more enhanced in it's "harmonic" strengths,with the IC-70 edging it in dynamics and bass power(the Venustas was NO slouch in bass,though).These were our observations,though my friend who actually bought the SUPERB Venustas was really beginning to lose some credibility,as he clearly "wanted" the Venustas to smoke the IC-70,which it did not.
I tried to really be open minded,yet it was my friend SID,who is a qualified music and audio maven(BIG TIME),he wrote the original Mercury LP reviews for TAS,who really hit the comparison on all cylindars,and I really heard it ALL as he did.
The Venustas was,and is SUPERB.Really in ALL areas,but I don't think anyone touting the Purist stuff has done this particular comparison,as we did(real blood,and sweat)on Friday.Even you,Nsgarsh(and I definitely take all comments by you as knowledgeable,and informative,as well as pretty accurate)admitted to getting the Purist because it was a "good deal",which is FINE with me.You knew it was great,and could not,and did not go wrong!Yet,as is human nature, it is all too easy to dismiss another "no longer implemented in one's set-up" product as "significantly" inferior,which is what I've been led to believe about the IC-70.Well it simply is NOT the case,based upon our observations.The IC-70 is competitive,and I really think the "actual" system personality will dictate which is preferred.My friend's set-up is Kharma based,and we have always felt it was a bit lean.It is better now,no doubt.I run Avalons,with Cardas Golden Cross speaker cables(I had to run the Cardas for two reasons.First-I have to tri-wire,and anything else would be very expensive.Second-my Amp and speaker are cabled with Cardas,so it was common sense,to go this way).To me,a beautiful,articulate and warmer sound than my friend's stunning Kharmas.Maybe the IC-70 would meet my tastes,here.Who knows for sure?
Well that's about it,but I'm not definitely ruling out a change.
BTW-I too had the original IC-30.My friend did,as well.When we both moved to the IC-70,there was NO contest.The IC-70,here,was a clear winner.Please don't think I'm going on some IC-70 "binge".I would love to move to a possibly better link,but I have to be really careful,and follow my own methodology,unless some of you more well off Audiogoners would like to give me a freebie.
Speedy, you're right, I don't think I've read anything about the IC-70? The IC-50, yes, but not the 70. Is it something more recent?
Not that I'm about to give up my Venustas, or if/when I do, it'll be because I scored a killer deal on a Dominus, if John doesn't get there first, that is ;~))
No one ever mentioned it before John just did, but it's so true that as you move up to really great phono cables, you can "zero in" further on your TT/arm setup as you are able to refine the setup and hear subtle differences you couldn't before. For example:
Yesterday, I spent a couple hours re-leveling my TT and then arm/platter level match. Then redoing the anti-skate. The improvements in image and channel balance were obvious, not only to my ears, but I was using the Cardas record and a pair of accurate VU meters which I finally got set properly to match the specified dB levels on the record. What a trip! So guess what Virginia? You can make big improvements in your system for zero dollars + your time, and that's the 'art" part of this hobby (for those who may think I'm just a science guy ;~))
My next step I think will be to have the four Camac connectors on my beloved Levinson 25s phono preamp changed for RCAs (which the later models had ;~(( I can no longer bear the thought of four unnecessary contact points in my phono signal path! I was going to ask Jim Aud if he'd reterminate my Venustas RCAs with Camacs, but I was afraid he'd never speak to me again!
Nsgarsh,from my experience,you are dead on,and correct in your observations.There are numerous ways to keep pushing the envelope,if one is willing to keep learning,and go "hands on".Yet there is always the contingent who crave the "cache" stuff,which is fine with me,but the better systems I've been privy to belong to the "I won't replace it until I hear something better in my own room" crowd.
BTW-as of this moment(4:30 pm est)I'm really feeling like if I don't hear the Venustas in my own set up,I may be rationalizing,and never really know if I can improve upon what I already have.I'm getting a HUGE sales pitch from my friend(who went for his),and am having a hard time fending him off.Do you have any loose cash hanging around,that you can spare?
earthlink denies your existance
Do I have a Digi-One SFG -- I think it's actually called an Audio One SFG from Audioparts? Is that the one you're
referring to? I got mine on an Agon auction but they're
available (a lot) cheaper if you want to do without the
little offset platform (or make your own.)
Anyway, if that's the one you're talking about, you don't
need a screwdriver, just a ball point pen will do. There's
a small 1/8" half-round cut-out next to the rim of each
battery. You just stick the point of the pen in the little
hole pushing it gently under the edge of the battery and
it will just pop out.
It requires 2 x 3V lithium batteries No. CR 2032. Install
plus side up. Should be available at Walgreens Drug,
or any camera store.
Thomas,I had that guage,which was accurate to 1/100 gm.The only problem was every time I wanted to check downforce,on the fly,I had to charge it for a day.Not good,if you have some critical friends over,who claim I need a bit of additional downforce,or if I feel like playing around,during any specific listening session.
Speedy, as you know I never heard my Venustas phono "new" so to speak because Jim had already broken them in. And he was very emphatic about pointing this out (as an added extra!) when I bought them. So I'm sure it's an issue. I suggest you call or e-mail him and ask. He'll get right back to you, although his responses themselves are often somewhat cryptic!