High end Cables not important for certain electronics?


I am a believer in using higher end cables for my gear. I have bought various types of cables over the years and have kept Audience, AudioQuest, and Virtual Dynamics (plus a few others) long term.

So I was interested to read the following Mola Mola quote when I was looking into the Mola Mola Makua preamp.

https://www.mola-mola.nl/makua.php  (click READ MORE)

The Makua is amazingly immune to influences like mains quality and choice of interlinks.

Are there other gear people have owned where the designers eschewed higher end cables? I am curious as to what aspect of the design leads to this type of statement.

yyzsantabarbara
Yes, in the case of balanced interconnects equipment can be designed such that there will be little or no sensitivity to cable differences. Atmasphere has explained the requirements, and offered what I consider to be compelling proof of his contention, in his post dated 3-22-2013 near the beginning of this thread. Also see his answer to my follow-up question later in that thread. Unfortunately, though, as he indicated the majority of consumer-oriented audio equipment (and a lot of pro-oriented equipment as well) does not meet those requirements.

I looked at the link you provided, including the block diagram and text shown under the "read more" link, and it looks like the Makua preamp might conform to the requirements Ralph cited. But to be certain about that more information would be necessary, probably including a schematic.

Regards,
-- Al

Since I am about to purchase a fairly long pair of balanced cables, I read that thread with great interest. I’d love to be able to buy some well-made ‘basic’ xlr cables from an assembler like Blue Jeans Cable and not worry that I was short-changing my gear.  

The cables would connect a PS Audio BHK preamp to PS Audio Stellar M 700 mono power amps. Is it possible to tell from the kind of information available on the PS Audio website whether or not the BHK preamp meets the criteria that Atmasphere describes?  They specify output impedance at less than 100 ohms, which seems good, and there is repeated reference in their product description to “fully balanced” and “fully differential”.  But their design permits use of single ended and balanced outputs at the same time, and Atmasphere seemed to be saying that a design that ‘met the standard’ would need to include a switch to go between balanced and single-ended outputs.  

(According to Atmasphere,  the crucial question is whether or not the preamp “puts signal current on the ground connection of the cable,” and, if both single-ended and balanced outputs can be used at the same time, then it is likely (certain?) that it does.) 
 I am curious as to what aspect of the design leads to this type of statement.


Not design. Marketing. 
Is it possible to tell from the kind of information available on the PS Audio website whether or not the BHK preamp meets the criteria that Atmasphere describes? ... their design permits use of single ended and balanced outputs at the same time, and Atmasphere seemed to be saying that a design that ‘met the standard’ would need to include a switch to go between balanced and single-ended outputs.

@tcatch,

No, I wouldn’t interpret Ralph’s (Atmasphere’s) comments to mean that a balanced/unbalanced switch for the outputs is necessary for the criteria he stated to be met.

If the unbalanced outputs are not connected to anything then their presence would presumably have no relevance to whether or not the balanced outputs meet the criteria. And even if they are connected to some component, if the preamp drives them with an output stage that is separate from the one which drives the balanced outputs they still would have no relevance to whether or not the balanced outputs meet the criteria. (Some designs which provide both balanced and unbalanced outputs drive the two sets of outputs with separate output stages, although many and I suspect most just provide the RCA connectors with one of the two signals in the balanced pair of signals that are provided to the XLR connectors).

The low output impedance of the BHK preamp is encouraging with respect to the criteria Ralph stated involving drive capability, as you realize. **If** the preamp connects pin 1 of the XLR connectors to chassis/AC safety ground (as opposed to circuit ground) it would be encouraging (although not conclusive) with respect to the criterion you asked about, but of course that can’t be determined from the information provided at the website.

The bottom line would seem to be that it would be best to ask PS Audio if their design meets the criteria Ralph stated.

Good luck. Regards,
-- Al


@almarg Thanks for the info an link. Maybe I can live with my existing lower end XLR's. I need to research what you have posted and see how it applies to what I am considering.
Not allways true even in a fully balanced system .
i owned a audio store for 10 years in Europe and had many top 
electronics top quality Balanced interconnects trumped the lesser models every time , maybe with what some would call diminishing 
returns for example the $2k cables were roughly 5% + better then a similar cables at $1k ,this applied to Every one of at least 4 well
known brands. Noise floor even lower and resolution and separation was just more defined. Equipment too will vary to some  extent I used  world class Amplifiers and preamps , not fake balanced, like most. Outthere . That have xlr,then wired to same rca grid. True balanced has Transformers input to output.and yes I used Solid state as well as vacuum tube. 
But it says right here in the manual.....
High end cables are unnecessary. End of the story.Check out Ethan Winer's null test.
As a former professional recording engineer, I can attest that cable is every bit as variable on balanced connections as unbalanced.

In some situations, cables make next to zero difference and others, large.

The only constant is YMMV
We are a Mola Mola dealer based in the U.K.

While I have the utmost respect for the designer of Mola Mola, Bruno Putzey, it seems that many top designers suffer from “blind spots” when it comes to the question of  immunity of cable quality with their designs. Lack of addressing seismic isolation in their products is another “blind spot” some top designers seem to neglect as well.

Cables, of all types, make a difference to sound quality and Mola Mola is not different in that respect. In our experience I can recommend taking a look at the cables made by Sablon for high quality, naturally balanced cable designs, that won’t break the bank.


If they can fit a DAC and Phone Stage in the preamp then God Bless them.  My phono and DAC have 30 lb. power supplies so getting them in my preamp would be quite a feat.  BUT when it comes to cables, they can have an impact on sound, personally I can change the sound of any component with a resistor, cap and AC filter choke additions or changes (anyone can do this) that to me have a greater impact on the sound then any cable I have heard to date.  Not saying they don't have an impact, but not as much to my ears. 
@toetapaudio Thanks for your feedback on the Makua, I was hoping you would chime in. Not many people in the USA have this preamp and it is hard to get feedback on it.
FWIW I did post my question to the "Ask the Experts" forum at PS Audio.  A couple of experts (Ted Smith, designer of the Directstream DAC ,and Galen Gareis, longtime Belden cable engineer and designer of Iconoclast Cables) have weighed in.  I've learned a lot about balanced wiring variations.  No one has yet had an answer to the question about how the BHK preamp is wired.
https://forum.psaudio.com/t/how-balanced-is-the-bhk-preamp/11556

His name is Bruno Putzeys. Blind spots, indeed.
Excuse me, I was not making fun of his name, at all. His dealer, toetapaudio spelled his name incorrectly in the post above. I was correcting the spelling out of respect for Mr. Putzeys, a brilliant designer.

So so why don’t you lay off that bottle of Thunderbird wine the next time you feel the necessity to tap out another spurious accusation on your keyboard.
@viridian Glad to see you were not been juvenile and making fun of a name. So apologies for my accusation. Your lack of detail in the post led me to believe you were acting trollish.
I have the Mola Mola Kaluga / Makua and I purchased Inakustic Cables to go with them.  On another note, I have use the Synergistic Blue fuse on my tube amp to great results.  I am planning on adding the SR Blue to the Kaluga and Makua even though I was told by a Rep it would not really impact the sound.  
@willgolf How do you like the Makua? Can you compare it to any other preamps you have had in the past? Did you get the DAC module?
I also have the Makua with the DAC module. My system is an Innuos Zenith mk2 se / Makua w/DAC / Simaudio Moon 870a / YG Carmel2's. I went through several preamps and DAC's before I decided on the Makua. I absolutely love the Makua. The sound is very refined, detailed and a really good match for my Sim amp. The DAC decodes everything that is available and the fact that it is software based and can be upgraded via the internet through Mola Mola was one of the deciding factors for me. Space was an issue for me so I was looking for a 1 box solution (preamp/DAC). I also think only having to use 1 pair of analog interconnects (in an all digital system) is a plus, money wise and noise floor.  

As far as cables for the Makua, I did find that after market power cords did not make as much of a difference in SQ as they did for my other components, however interconnects did make huge difference.

My Mola Mola dealer allowed me a 2 week in-home demo with the Makua.....sealed the deal for me.


@ron17 Thanks for the feedback. I am also going to do a home demo of the Makua w/DAC using a Luxman m900u amp. I was told I may like that combo better than the already heard Luxman c900u/m900u combo. I like the idea of having 1 less box (eliminate the DAC).
YYZ --sorry that I can't tell you how I like the Makua yet.  I will say after talking to WorldwideSales - Robert, he convinced me that there is no better cable than the Inakustic for the Mola Mola.  I did not get the DAC.  I run a Lumin X-1 with a Synology 4TB NAS for all of my music.  The Lumin is fantastic and the APP is super user friendly.  I also purchased a Inakustic 3500P power conditioner from Robert.  Great Reviews on that component.  Next up is new speakers.  Driving to LA from AZ to listen to Piega Master Line Source 3 and YG Acoustics on Monday.  
@willgolf Sounds like you have some great gear. Lot of good dealers in the LA area with a lot of variety of speakers.

BTW - I have not heard this but your Lumin X1 connected via a fibre optic cable is something I want to hear. Before ethernet connectivity became common I was wondering if ethernet would become popular for DAC, now that question is whether fibre optical connectivity will become more common. Sonare is making it rather easy to try fibre optic to a ethernet DAC but you should have the best option (direct fibre optic)
Why do audiophiles praise short connection paths in ultra-high-end equipment and then purchase long interconnects? Anybody see the contraction?

In the droning conversation of the value of very expensive cables, the only practical advice is that this debate is over personal opinion. Substitute the word "speakers" for "cables" and there is no debate. Otherwise, just avoid poor quality of materials and workmanship and you can be confident that your money is well-spent if YOU hear a substantial difference. 

As to balanced cables being immune to quality differences... that is just silly talk. 
As to balanced cables being immune to quality differences... that is just silly talk.

@mambacfa, no one is claiming that balanced cables, in general, are immune to quality differences. The Makua preamp, specifically, is said by its manufacturer to be "amazingly immune to influences like mains quality and choice of interlinks." The OP’s question was:

Are there other gear people have owned where the designers eschewed higher end cables? I am curious as to what aspect of the design leads to this type of statement.

The link I provided in the first response to the OP, which is to a post by a highly experienced designer of renowned high end equipment, explains that equipment can be designed to be largely or entirely immune to differences between balanced interconnect cables, although in most cases it is not. And he states the technical criteria which are necessary for that immunity to be realized, as well as providing what I consider to be compelling proof of his contention.

Regards,

-- Al


I own an Antipodes DX3/Curious USBcable/MakuaDAC/Acrolink $2k balanced IC/Electocompaniet AW250R power amp/ Gauder Berlina RC7 speakers. I auditioned for 2 years before buying the Makua.

Like Ron I wanted less boxes. The Makua replaced a Weiss DAC202 and Tortuga passive balanced preamp. The Tortuga had blown off a couple of $20k active preamps and I found the Makua was even more transparent and involving than the Tortuga.

The interconnects unfortunately make a big difference and I have found a $5k pair of Acrolinks that are better than my existing $2k ones. I prefer to spend less, and let my ears do the deciding. 

I have not tried different power cords on the Makua but had in the past found a bigger impact on the power amp than the Weiss DAC. I use Acrolink power cords which replaced Oyaide Tunami power cords. 


And it’s here at that ‘fully balanced’ point that things become really interesting. To many audio companies, ‘fully balanced’ is more to do with a balanced circuit ending in XLR connectors. This notionally gives zero noise across long cable runs, but the difference between ‘domestic’ balanced and ‘pro’ is the use of balancing transformers in the signal path. These effectively nail the no-noise connection, and if you peel apart any recording studio, broadcast studio, or professional transportable studio or TV ‘OB’ (outside broadcast) unit, you’ll find balancing transformers throughout. This is probably a bit ‘belt and braces’ for home audio (you are unlikely to have to run 100m of XLR cable through a noisy environment) but it guarantees the optimum operating conditions for balanced connections
. Interesting description of the XLR on the Lumin X1 DAC/Streamer.

http://www.luminmusic.com/downloads/LUMIN-X1-HIFI+169.pdf