Digital Research 4X12F Speaker Cables Follow Up Review

I wrote a review of the Digital Research 4X12F cables and posted it here on Audiogon almost three weeks ago as a recommendation for these high quality speaker cables that were IMO very inexpensive given the build quality, quality of its component parts and in view of the four figure cost of their direct competitors in my side by side and blind comparisons and foremost, how my system sounded with them and with other cables. I am not an electrical engineer and I do not work in the audio industry. I am a long time audiophile enthusiast (over 45 years down the rabbit hole) and I have one immutable rule of thumb – Don’t buy what you can’t hear. I read the reviews but then I listen on my own.  I know individual components and interconnects make a difference in how your system sounds because I have done the side by side tests in my own system. Why they may sound different or better or worse than the standard they are being compared with (my existing system components) I cannot begin to tell you. You either hear or the difference or you do not. If you do not hear any difference or any improvement – end of story. If you do hear a difference IMO you then have to beware of really hearing an audible difference versus perhaps a psychological one. To combat the latter, I try to use as many blind tests as my fiancé will indulge me by connecting and disconnecting and reconnecting cable and interconnects from multiple sources repeated for each comparison.

Its now been a several weeks since I posted my first review of the Digital Research cables which were new at the time of my first review. The cables I tested them against were not new. They have now about 200+ hours on them. Initially, I must confess to being skeptical of the entire “burn-in” process. I read up on the electrical engineering explanation which exceeded my lay understanding of such things as current orientation, dielectric break in and the vanquishing of stray molecules of moisture or other imperfections.  Again, IMO whether this is a real phenomenon or not, or has its roots in science or snake oil, I fall back on – Don’t buy what you can’t hear. That being said, after another round of testing side by side and several rounds of blind testing I do believe these Digital Research 4X12F speaker cables sound better than the thousand dollar plus options I auditioned and I believe they sound better now than when I first auditioned and tested them with the other cables. Was it night and day? No, categorically not. Was it a matter of degree? Certainly yes. As I said there was no OMG moment 200+ hours into the process where the clouds parted and angels began to sing -- nor after 45 years of critical listening did I have the expectation that they would. (Let’s completely put aside for this update the very real possibility that 200+ listening hours later I can actually recall to any reliable degree what these cables sounded like.) But I have to be honest, IMO they sound better now than I recalled at the outset – more like a fine wine that has been opening up for a while. It was not rubbish out of the bottle, but it’s just a little more refined and defined than immediately after opening. For my hard earned audio money I just cannot believe these cables cost what I paid for them. I simply like my system’s sound with these Digital Research 4X12F cables better than I liked it with others costing many orders of magnitude more and even costing less than the existing cables they replaced.

Good luck – please this was not intended as kindling for re-igniting the burn in period debate – about which much, maybe too much, has already been written, sniped at, belittled advocates and opponents of each position – like I said – it does not matter to me until I hear the difference and I believe I did, maybe you will too. I voted with my dollars.

Yes of course burn-in happens. Sometimes with some components the changes are so fast I can hear they sound different at the end than at the beginning of a song! The McCormack DNA1 amp, Herron VTPH2A phono stage, and Koetsu Black Goldline cartridges were like that. Other times the changes are different or at least harder to get a handle on minute by minute, and yet within a few hours or days you know it definitely is even better now. The Tekton Moab, Townshend F1 and Mr White are like that.  

There's lots of examples of components that punch well above their weight. I got my eyes opened up to this big time when Stewart introduced me to Synergistic and some other stuff. One of the few times I was able to sell my used gear for more than what it cost to upgrade to better. It has been a very long time but now that is the case once again with Townshend. No wonder you are excited. The only thing better than better sound is better price! lol!