More listening and I think piano has lost a little body and weight...
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More listening and I think piano has lost a little body and weight...
And so it begins!
I've always found Nordost cables to be stunning cables for demonstration purposes, but I could not live with them for long periods of time.
The more Nordost cables I added, and the more I listened, the more apparent their tilted up upper midrange/lower treble region began to annoy me. Music gains apparent detail, as the upper midrange section is emphasized, at the expense of musical weight.
There is no one cable that does ALL things better, there are ALWAYS trade offs, no matter how much you pay for your cables.
Three key points in my experiences:
(1) There is no one-size-fits-all "silver bullet" cable choice among the brand contenders and pretenders. We all know that your cable choice is entirely system dependent....full stop.
(2) I settled on an all NORDOST FREY full array (shotgunned speaker cables, matched shotgunned jumpers, and balanced interconnects) as my final choice governed by a performance versus budget matrix.
In an extensive in-house series of A-B shootouts, having a matched loom array with matched model ICs supporting their speaker cables took it to the next level.
(3) The higher up in their model line you go, the better they get.... bottom line. There is a reason why many reviewers use them.
Here is the CANADA HI-FI reporter’s take from the NORDOST cables bake-off exhibit actually performed live at an audio expo show in TORONTO .
I personally attended that show and agree with the reporter’s following article on his experiences.
They stopped at the improving model bakeoff summit at the Valhallas (one below the Odins) with the inference that a move up the model trendline in improvement keeps going further.
".....I had a chance to sit in on a couple demonstrations in the Nordost room, giving my feet a well deserved break. I’m very familiar with the benefits of high quality cables and use a full Nordost Heimdall 2 loom with my reference two-channel setup.
That being said, I always find the Nordost demonstrations to be an “ear-opening” experience. Michael Taylor from Nordost demonstrated the significant sonic benefits of replacing an OEM cable with a Nordost model – in particular
1) a swap of a single USB cable, from OEM to Nordost Blue Heaven ($250/2m), to Heimdall 2 ($500/2m) and;
2) a swap of a single RCA interconnect, from OEM, to Blue Heaven, to Heimdall 2, to Tyr 2 and finally Valhalla 2.
Along with convincing the audience in the room that cables DO matter, I’ve now got the bug to upgrade...."
(1) There is no one-size-fits-all "silver bullet" cable choice among the brand contenders and pretenders. We all know that your cable choice is entirely system dependent....full stop.
@akg_ca , I fully agree. In fact I am sure that all cables can be made to sound great given the proper matching components.
I would think that the Nordost cables would sound best with gear that is very warm and full sounding. Combined, they may balance nicely.
Well looking back to your first point, I would say that experiences here would differ too. I have not found happiness with any one cable manufacturers full loom in over 25 years now.
While I will admit that I found happiness in the early 90's for a few years with a full loom of Tara Labs Decade cables, I have not been able to reach that level of satisfaction with any cable since.
Manufacturers I've tried include:
Nordost, Tara Labs, High Fidelity, Jena Labs, Jade Audio, Stealth Audio, Purist Audio, Silent Source, Cardas, Cerious Technologies, and probably a few more which have escaped me.
What I have found, in my experiences is that the more cables/cords I use from the same manufacturer, the more the weakness' of that cable manufacturer products become apparent to me.
I have had far more success mixing and matching cables from different manufacturers to help balance the sound to my own personal tastes.
(3) The higher up in their model line you go, the better they get.... bottom line.
In general, I do agree with this with almost any manufacturer.
However, there are always exceptions.
I have tried almost every major cable
ie. Kubala Sosna, Transparent,Tara MIT
any many more
I am using GT Audio Works planar speakers no crossover on the mid planar pure copper traces
And got best results from Triode Wire Labs
cables - the most musical cable you can buy
very affordable- detailed, non fatiguing and 3 dimensional
What I can’t wrap my head around,especially as an electrician,is how it’s possible for an electrical signal conductor to effectivelly change the regeneration of the signal between the amp and the speakers...
Bell labs and the U.S.Gov.spent how many millions wayyy back to test wire and they say it makes no difference but I know what I hear...
I think my next dilemma is do I get the new McIntosh I/A I want or the really really good cables for what I have...
Any advice on how to go about mixing cables for best results, based on your learning curve? Thanks.
Sure, take as much time as you need, and listen to your system.
Decide what you might want to change about the sound.
Does it sound a bit too lean, a bit too slow.
Do you want more speed and resolution OR more musical body and weight?
This is the important step, because just as you cannot go east and west at the same time, you cannot find cables that are full and musical, yet offer high resolution and fast transient speed.
Once you have determined what general direction you wish to go in, then you need to look at your cables/cords and decide where to start.
I recommend changing one variable (in this case cable/cord) at a time.
Too many changes can lead to mass confusion (which variable did what?).
Then, I just keep my eye on the used marketplace at several sites I have found good deals here at Audiogon, US/Canuck Audiomart, Audio Asylum Trader, amongst other sites. HiFi Shark can be a helpful tool too.
Some folks may prefer using the cable lending library at The Cable Company. However, I find their prices a bit steep, and I have to add 6% for state sales tax since I live in the same state (PA).
So I actually find that I can try many cables for less money using what I have dubbed the "Buy 'N Try" methodology.
From my experiences, I know which cable brand might lead me in which direction. For example: PAD, Kubala, High Fidelity, Jena Labs, Cardas, etc., would bring me more musical weight and body. While brands like Nordost, Morrow, Silent Source, etc., would bring more transient speed and resolution.
In general, I find that silver clad copper offers the greatest speed/resolution, followed by pure silver. OCC copper tends to be fuller and warmer sounding compared to the above, with gold sounding the richest and warmest.
Again, these are just general guidelines.
If you watch the market daily, like I do, you know when you see a good deal on a cable/cord you might like to try. Buy it, try it, move it around in your system until you find the right spot. If you never find the right spot, sell it and move on. Sometimes this happens.
There really is no magical formula for success. The key is to simply listen to your system, decide how you would want to change the sound, and move slowly in that general direction.
Knowing which direction you want to go in is critical. If you are unsure, then perhaps you don't need to go anywhere at all. Perhaps you are in the sweet spot.
One other word of warning, changing any major component many times causes me to readjust my cable choices. Since the sound of the entire system is basically a balancing act in which everything affects the sound, one change can lead to others.
Also, keeping spare cables around may help to make minor changes from boredom, or general change of pace, since the recording itself also plays a large role in the sound of the system.
Well engineered and recorded recordings may sound best with higher resolution cables, though we still want to listen to recordings of great music that was not so well engineered/recorded.
I usually have extra cords/cables laying around, and if I find myself avoiding certain "recordings", I might switch cables just to change my listening patterns.
While many others may be fortunate enough to have several systems setup for each type of recording, I am not as fortunate.
However, I find changing a cable is easier than changing a phono cartridge, and gives me many of the same benefits.
Sorry to ramble, I'll get off my soapbox now.
My style is choosing the speaker cable first then pc, from there I will play with interconnect.if you been expose to many different cables, you know which cable to choose, example if I want more clarity I go with Kimber ic, their kcag and silver streak does that, they have expensive one as well.If I want to have more weight n tonal balance Audioquest cables are good choice.If you want more air Teo GC is good at it. Nordost are really fast...Clearday are silver less bright than other silver, If you want with sparkle sound siltech is doing that... It’s a lot of work....if it’s your passion it’s really fun...other tip, if you think the cable has potential to your liking leave it till it settle in the system.
Agree with Jmc that what initially can sound exciting and more detailed can become too much over time. Not saying it will, and it all comes down to system synergy and individual tastes in the end, but something to keep in mind while auditioning. Also realize that you're comparing to cables that cost about 3x your current cables. At that price you'd skip two levels at AZ to the Holograms, which would be a more realistic, fair, and probably a more interesting comparison. Be that as it may, enjoy listening and comparing.
David Iam fortunate to be mentored by two brothers , they have good ears, they brought me to their houses to listen to their 20k systems, their system do have 3d, good bass, palpable, micro and micro is to die for, PRAT all there.They are so musical.So I knew what a good system sound. It took many years before I accomplished , what they have, one I did not have the finances to do it, second I did not have a lot exposure to different cables to mix and match, so it took time.i also attended many Axpona show , I live 30 min from the venue , it still did not help much.Also Iam very impatient to leave gears and cables to settle...I know you have good gears , synergy is the key, expensive does not mean it will work, John is right, Until I decided to commit longer hours to listen to my systems, I really did not know exactly what’s happening in both of my systems, once I committed my listening skills got better and better, there are times I recognize all the teaching of my two mentor during my listening time, usually from 12 midnight and 4am.I realize it will take our time sleep and money, to be able to learn this hobby and how to listen properly.Reviewers spend weeks months to review such cables and gears, they are fully committed why 99% of the time they get it right.This open up my eyes. It’s about my goal, my commitment , willing to learn this hobby, trust me once your system go so musical , the reward is non ending enjoyment listening to music...
@jayctoy , @david_ten , thank you for the compliments.
I am not as fortunate as jayctoy, as most of my experience comes from my own experiments.
Unlike jayctoy, I do not find that reviewers are right 99% of the time.
Too many variables between system synergy and personal tastes.
I don't read many reviews anymore, but occasionally I do. I do know that the only way for me to REALLY know how a cable sounds is to put it in my system and listen for myself.
There is no problem with asking for ideas on websites like this.
To get the best answers though, you should know what direction you wish to head in sonicially.
Many times people will just ask "What is the best cable?"
There is NO best cable!!!
Different tools for different uses!
Many times I will ask a poster "What are you trying to gain? Musicality? Speed?" Once a direction has been determined, then a path can be aided. Anyone who offers directions without knowing which way you want to go is not very helpful.
@freediver If you want to know why, see https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/it-s-simple
Your initial comments are entirely consistent with what one would expect from Acoustic Zen Epoch to a Nordost. The AZE have a poor PVC dielectric relative to the Nordost FEP. The AZE inductance is probably higher. The Proximity Effect will be radically different between the two geometries.
What I can’t wrap my head around, especially as an electrician, is how it’s possible for an electrical signal conductor to effectively change the regeneration of the signal between the amp and the speakers...The signal is not 'between' the amp and speakers. The whole kit and caboodle is a system. The LRC of your amp, cable and speakers interact dynamically.
Do not be in a rush to choose.
@jmcgrogan2 +1, twice
@soix Agreed an initial patina can wear off rapidly. Price has little to do with performance. Some components are very sensitive to cables and others are not. An inexpensive cable may function better for any given component depending on said component parameters.
Freediver, I see these cables come coiled in the box, but are you (and anyone else on here who has them) using them partly coiled or have you completely straightened out the cable prior to use?
Any coiled section in the cable could potentially act as a capacitor and additional capacitance will likely change the tone (eq) of your system - regardless of what your cables are made from.
Sadly, for this debate, the only cable rule I buy into is the longer your run, the stouter your cable should be. If your Nordost Red Dawn Rev.II cables are much stouter than what went before and your runs are long - i.e. at least 5 meters, then this may be a factor. Have you tried good regular stout copper cable as a test?
Well, Nordost is certainly all wet on their explanation of cable directionality. Maybe Nordost should pay closer attention to how Audioquest controls wire directionality.
“Are Nordost cables directional?
Yes, Nordost cables are directional. This is especially true for single ended (RCA) interconnects as the shield is connected at the source or output end only.”
>>>>But what about their unshielded cables? Why do they have arrows?
“Which way do directional arrows point on Nordost cables?
The directional arrows always point away from the source. For example, from a CD player to an amplifier, the arrows should point towards the preamplifier or power amplifier. On a speaker cable the arrows would always point towards the loudspeaker.”
>>>>>>If cables have no directionality when they are manufactured then why have arrows, unless all Nordost cables are shielded, including speaker cables? (Apparently, from what I can tell Nordost speaker cables are unshielded.)
“How can cables be directional?
When cables are manufactured they do not have any directionality. However, as they break in, they acquire directionality. Although the cable signal is an alternating current, small impurities in the conductor act as diodes allowing signal flow to be better in one direction over time. This effect is also called quantum tunneling, w hich has been observed in experiments over 25 years ago. Regardless of the purity of the metal used, there are still diode effects in all conductors. In addition, the insulation material will change when it is subjected to an electrical field.”
Editor comment: Yikes!
Blimey - that’s a bold statement by a manufacturer:
"Although the cable signal is an alternating current, small impurities in the conductor act as diodes allowing signal flow to be better in one direction over time. This effect is also called quantum tunneling, w hich has been observed in experiments over 25 years ago. Regardless of the purity of the metal used, there are still diode effects in all conductors."
Whilst Quantum Tunneling is offered as an explainaion for certain phenomena (and tunnel diodes do indeed exist), I haven’t seen any evidence to link impurities in metals with this effect. Either way, how would they know in which direction these impurites were arranged? I wonder how they came up with that??!!
Eggs Ackly! Not only that, for typical and ubiquitous very high purity conductors the amount of the impurities is inconsequential. One millionth. Besides, if Nordost’s theory of directionality were true then fuses would exhibit the same phenomenon. But they don’t! That Nordost theory is actually what HiFi Tuning’s theory was, a long time ago - that wire directionality was dertermined by the break in process. But now HiFi Tuning understands that the manufacturing process determines the directionality of fuses (and wire in general).
I am now onto the Heimdal series and for my system and my ears each step up the Nordost line has brought benefits.
Bass bloom has been much reduced compared to the all copper speaker cables I was previously employing, speed and detail is enhanced but not to the point it is tiring and wearisome ( at least not yet). I generally listen to music 4 to 6 hours a day.
All of my Nordost cables have been purchased used so two benefits in that, cost saving and already broken in (hopefully).
Will I continue to upgrade further? Maybe not as even used prices on higher product like Valhalla are quite prohibitive right now.
But am I happy with my present loom of Heimdal, heck yes!
John maybe 99% is way too high? Maybe 80%? In general, on their own system maybe? John , I never plan to have two systems , although 90% of my gear and cables are used, In some way I am fortunate but the downside I end up comparing my two system, it’ get complicated. It never stop. Your post will help a lot here , it’s very accurate...Uberwaltz you won’t regret with the Heimdalls, they are very good , I do have the Speaker cable heimdall 2, and the ic heimdall 1, and the Vishnu pc.just let them settle for at least 6 days...
Hopefully one can tell the difference between natural and unnatural bass bloom......
Very happy so far with the Heimdall, all purchased used so broken in and have not noticed any further changes since installing them. I am not sure that the cost vs sq factor in going higher up the chain will be of benefit to me with present equipment anyways.
@freediver - in addition to the many comments above regarding purity of conductors and different material types - I believe a couple of other factors in cable performance is the "geometry" and "size" of the conductors
Geometry: is how the conductors are placed withing the actual "cable" itself e,g, one of the most well known geometries is braided - as in Kimber Kables.
Size: of late there is now a growing trend to use a different gauge conductors for signal and neutral conductors.
Personally, after a lot of trial (and error) experimentation - I now use a "helix" cable, where the neutral is twice the gauge of signal conductor and is wrapped around the signal conductor. See link below
My thought process is that this design eliminates any noise transfer (by inductance) from the signal conductor into the neutral conductor, which can occur with cables where the two conductors lie side-by-side inside a sleeve.
The noise transferred into the neutral is fed back into the neutral side of the amp and interferes with its operation , so removing that noise enhances clarity. Enhanced clarity also improves the "phase effect" between left and right channels which improves the Imaging.
I’ve found the Helix design provides exceptional clarity and superb 3D imaging along with a more detailed and deeper bass performance.
My thought process may be "flawed", but the Helix Cables works exceptionally well :-)
Anyhow - I believe geometry is just one more thing to consider when selecting ALL cables.
Regards - Steve
Yes there are cables out there that emphasize the bass region. There are also cables out there that emphasize the treble region.
All cables are basically tone controls, just as all gear/speakers have some type of tonal balance.
That is why I believe that NO cable is neutral. One may think that one cable sounds more neutral in their own system, with their equipment, to their ears, and that is fine.
All cables can find a happy home. Cables that emphasize bass region may be just the ticket for those whose gear is a bit lean, or whose musical tastes enjoys a bit of added bass.
The same goes for cables that emphasize the treble region, they may sound neutral on a system that has warm gear, or whose listener enjoys added detail.
The question is: Do you change the cables around to tune in your gear, or do you change your gear around to tune in your cables?
I believe that most use cables to tune in their gear, but there are always exceptions.
I have come to regard all cables as some form of tone control along with any other aspects they may enhance in ones system.
Just me but it is easier and usually cheaper to swap cables around than gear.
However my next plan is trying out a Lyngdorf with room correction which hopefully will eliminate any need for "tone control" surgery.....we will see
Listening to Robert Hall Lewis on my system....the Transparent Gen 5 Ultras are astounding! If you frequent the symphony or live music in general, what the Transparent cables convey is just simply jaw droppingly right across the frequency range. From triangles to double bass....and the tympani :(). Oh my!!
factors in cable performance is the "geometry" and "size" of the conductorsgeometry trumps material
size affects resistance which is almost negligible
People, Electronics 101: Ohms Law : An amplifier / loudspeaker is a series circuit and the same current flows through all of the components.
Ergo the same current flows in both the plus and minus wire.
A wire configured differently for each leg may sound different but it sure ain't due to the signal contaminating the neutral.
Weird geometry will change the Proximity Effect and thus the cable eq.
@ieales - I find your comments in response to my post a little perplexing...
People, Electronics 101: Ohms Law : An amplifier / loudspeaker is a series circuit and the same current flows through all of the components. Actually Ohms law states
The potential difference (voltage) across an ideal conductor is proportional to the current through it. The constant of proportionality is called the "resistance", R.Ohm’s Law is given by: V = I R where V is the potential difference between two points which include a resistance R.As stated above ohms law actually applies to a DC circuit - there is inductance and capacitance (i.e. reactance) to take into account when applying it to AC circuits.
But I do concede that it can "loosely" be applied to AC circuits - just not that loosely in this case.
Ergo the same current flows in both the plus and minus wire.That may not exactly be the case for speaker cables...
Allow me to cite Physics 101"...
Energy can be neither created nor destroyed, but can change form
And the definition of a loudspeaker...
A transducer is a device that converts one form of energy into another form. For example, in a loudspeaker, electrical energy in a wire coil set up by the current is converted into the vibration (mechanical energy) of the speaker diaphragm and then into a sound wave (acoustical energy).So, there is current (i.e. energy) flowing down the signal (i.e. the plus) conductor, which in a loudspeaker is "mostly" converted into motion and heat in the driver coils.
Ergo - the current (i.e. energy), or maybe even the voltage, in the neutral (i.e. minus) conductor cannot possibly be the same as the signal conductor.
As for ...
A wire configured differently for each leg may sound different but it sure ain’t due to the signal contaminating the neutral.You then go on to cite
Weird geometry will change the Proximity Effect and thus the cable eq.Proximity Effect? would that be (i.e. according to Wiki)
A changing magnetic field will influence the distribution of an electric current flowing within an electrical conductor, by electromagnetic inductionSo we appear to agree on one thing - INDUCTION causes a cable to behave differently
Listen - I do not know the why’s and wherefore’s as to the reasons why helix geometries perform better than standard geometries.
What I AND some "industry professionals" have observed when using cables utilizing a Helix geometry...
- they outperform most other cables having more "conventional" geometries
- they offer outstanding clarity and expansive imaging
- they excel in dynamic performance
- they provide exceptional control and depth of the lower frequencies
- they do not colour the sound
I thought long and hard before responding to your rather bombastic response to my post above.
We are all here to learn and share - no one person has ALL the answers.
I was just offering an opinion as to...
How These Nordost Speaker Cables Do What They Do
From that perspective - what I have seen is that some Nordost cables appear to be using a type of helix geometry combined with different gauge conductors.
But thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Regards - Steve
Steve (Williewonka), your response to ieales about Ohm’s Law was correct, but he is correct in saying that equal currents exist in the positive and negative conductors connecting an amp and a speaker. (Although later in this post I’ll mention an extremely minor exception to that which might occur in the case of an active speaker).
For current to exist, there must be a "complete circuit," from source to load and back. In the case of an AC waveform, such as an audio signal, the direction of the current in both the positive and the negative conductors alternates every half-cycle, and the two conductors play an equal role in the transfer of energy from source to load. Energy is transferred in the form of an electromagnetic wave that is distinct from but is intimately associated with those currents, and that electromagnetic wave in turn propagates mainly in one direction, from source to load. (In the case of an amp/speaker interface some energy may also propagate from speaker to amp, as a result of "back-emf" produced by the drivers, or as a result of the release of energy stored in the inductive or capacitive components of the speaker’s impedance, or as a result of reflection effects that can occur at RF frequencies due to impedance mismatches).
An analogy that can be drawn would be to an ordinary light bulb. It consumes energy, of course, converting some of it into heat and some of it into light. But the amount of current entering it and leaving it via its two terminals, one of which is connected to AC "hot" and the other to AC "neutral," is identical.
The very minor possible exception I mentioned earlier is that in the case of a powered speaker a tiny fraction of the current in the positive conductor could conceivably return to the amp via a ground loop, part of which would consist of the safety ground conductors in the power cords of the amp and the speaker. In other words, to a very small extent, depending on the internal grounding configurations of the amp and the powered speaker, the AC safety ground wiring might be part of a relatively high resistance path that is in parallel with the negative conductor in the speaker cable, and it might thereby conduct a tiny fraction of the current in the positive conductor that would otherwise be returned to the amp by the negative conductor. (When two paths are present between a source and a load, current will utilize both paths, and at a given frequency will divide up between them in inverse proportion to their impedance at that frequency). But even in that case the amount of current leaving the amp will be identical to the total amount of current returning to it via whatever return path(s) is or are present.
Regarding "how Nordost cables do what they do," I have not studied them sufficiently or seen enough information about them to be able to provide meaningful comments at this time.
sorry you thought my post bombastic :-$ perhaps I get a bit carried away when fundamental laws are ignored.
the current (i.e. energy), or maybe even the voltage, in the neutral (i.e. minus) conductor cannot possibly be the same as the signal conductor.It cannot be otherwise. As you state, energy cannot be created or destroyed. It changes state in the load.
The work is done by V pushing I through the load. If you measure a loudspeaker circuit, very little V is lost from either amplifier terminal to the speaker. Almost all V is across the load. Power is V x I. If the current were different in each leg of the cable, energy would either be gained or lost.
Apply a steady 1kHz 1V signal to a speaker. Regardless of where an ammeter is inserted in the circuit, the RMS current is the same.
In a DC circuit, V and I are in phase. In an AC circuit, V and I are not in phase if there is any L or C. Cable LRC change the phase and relative amplitude in combination with amplifier and loudspeaker LRC.
Phase angle is dependent on the difference between L reactance XL and C reactance XC, which vary with frequency. In cables like zip cord XL & XC may vary by a factor of 100 to 1. Some exotic cables XL & XC may vary by a billion to 1. XL can vary by a factor of 10,000 and more between zip cord and exotic cables. Exotic cables should endeavor to have less inductance, but some are worse than zip cord.
Asymmetric cables have a different L & C relative to parallel or woven and as such affect the current phase differently. These phase changes may be euphonious with some amplifier / loudspeaker combinations, not so much with others.
Some put sugar in coffee and prefer the 'sweetened' result.
One cannot, in absolute terms, say it is better [more accurate].
One can only say it is more accurate if one compares the source wave form to the resulting sound at your ear!
@almarg - I think the lightbulb analogy is not a great example because the bulb is connected between two terminals that are both carrying an alternating voltage/current - I agree in that scenario there would be the same voltage on the +ve and -ve conductors
However in an amp, only the "SIGNAL PATH" of the circuit carries the alternating voltage/current
- the "power rail" is always at some +ve DC voltage
- the neutral rail is always at zero volts.(or should be)
The output terminal of transistor or tube performing the amplification carries the AC signal
- but the neutral side of the amp's circuit remains zero volts
The neutral conductor in the speaker cable, being connected to the neutral rail, should be at zero volts - should it not?
I can see there would be "a flow of electrical energy" that is from +ve output terminal - via the loudspeaker and cable - returning to the amp's -ve terminal. But somewhere along the way power has to be converted/consumed and that means either the current or the voltage has to change - doesn't it?