Inter Connects - What I know and don't know

I've been researching Balanced Cables in anticipation of adding a new pair of mono-blocks (Atma Sphere Class - D) to my system. I'm hoping some of you who know a thing or two about cables might help me (us) clarify or demystify certain assumptions.   


My assumptions:

- You get what you pay for ($300 Brand X will produce more detail than say $60 Mogami Gold).

- The larger the gauge the better.

- Crimped and soldered connectors are better than screw tightened.

- Two or more large braided strands are better than several smaller gauge braided strands (all things being equal).

- Silver conductors are better sounding and measuring than Copper conductors.  

- Rhodium, Gold, Silver, Copper, & Brass, connectors objectively sound different. (as opposed to in your system).  


Remember, the more objective your responses are the more helpful they'll be to a majority of readers. 

Thanks in advance for your "feedback"





Perhaps it would help if you explained why you are referring to criteria relating to speaker cables when you should be focused on the balanced cables between your source (pre amp?) and your new (to be) amps? Or am I just missing something?


I am referring to XLR cables, although one could extrapolate these criteria to apply to a number of cables, AC, RCA, speaker, etc. 


I would toss assumption A out when it comes to cables. You can find high value cables that can best high cost cables through auditioning process. 

As for the other assumptions it is equipment and room dependent. 

Start the audition process with something uber expensive to set the bar. You can then compare everything else to find value.

In general, more expensive cables sound better. Each company has a number of factors they feel  critical in achieving great sound. They use them. Only in the case of low quality wires will you find a good correlation between the parameters you listed. 

‘’High end cables use so many different combinations of materials, geometries and shielding you just can’t draw strong correlation. See Cardas cable site. They have great diagrams that show their approach.


But then there is the other problem. You have a unique system… any given… sets of three say $1K cables… they are likely to sound very different. I have had a set of $7K interconnects of a highly respected brand that sounded terrible between two particular components… when their othe cables sounded great. You must try them.


Finally there is your desired sound. The same set of interconnects in the same system may sound better to you and worse to the guy next to you. You like warm and natural and he likes detailed and flashy sound. So, you have to try them.


Also, you need to know exactly what your system sounds like before you go looking for interconnects. Everything needs to be broken in and you need a lot of listening time so you know how to make good comparisons and know when you found what you were looking for.


Finally the rule of thumb is to invest about 10 - 15% the value of your system in interconnects, cables, and power cords. I have never followed this rule, but over fifty years alway end up in that bracket when I have finished an upgrade cycle.

Rules of Thumb are great... And there’s no no substitute for demoing gear. But if there are some objective shortcuts based on science (psychoacoustics) that we might all benefit from, well that’s what I’m leaning into here.

The criteria in the initial post, I had hoped would help highlight some areas where differences are beyond subjective. Perhaps they’re a little too broad. While absolutes are hard to come by, certain other criteria should be fairly easy to measure/experience.

For example (2) cables with the exact connectors, the same, length, with the same shielding, braiding, etc. but different gauges. Shouldn’t the thicker gauge produce a better sound in the majority of systems? Many manufacturer’s have this exact set up, and we’re simply selecting one gauge/price over another based on our budget. I would think at some point the differences become negligible, say between 12 gauge and 10 gauge (again on the majority of systems). At what point can most humans differentiate between the two (say 18 to 16, 18 to 12...)? Knowing this we might all be able to save a little money and spend it elsewhere in our rig.

OP I would reach out to Ralph for his opinion on an IC to use with his amplifier. What say you @atmasphere ?

Rather than hear opinions from people who are not using the same components in their audio chain. 


I already reached out to the dealer. He recommended Mogami Gold. He assured me the manufacturer would agree.

That said there are thousands upon thousands of people who swear their more exotic/expensive cables are significantly more resolute than something as affordable and pedestrian as Mogami.

Thus began the deep dive into cable construction.

@jerryg123 @69zoso69 

Our amps support the balanced standard (AES48). To that end, if your preamp does too, then inexpensive studio balanced line cables will work quite well with very little to be said for exotic cables costing quite a lot more! I use Mogami Neglex at home. If your preamp does not support the standard then you may find that you have some auditioning ahead of you trying to sort out what works with your source.

Heavier gauge is useful for speaker cables- the lower the impedance of the load, the more important this becomes (this being an advantage of higher impedance speakers BTW). But for interconnect cables its not needed and might be a hindrance since it might cause capacitive issues which some preamps or sources might not like.

@atmasphere Thank you Mr. Karsten. 

As a stop gap measure I'll be running direct from my DAC (Denafrips Ponuts II), until I save up for a well mated preamp. 


I already reached out to the dealer. He recommended Mogami Gold

The dealer will likely have higher profit margins on $$$ cables, this seems like a good starting point. When a dealer recommends something LESS expensive why not try it?

@69zoso69 If stop gap is the measure then why bother with expensive interconnects till you have everything sorted? I think you will find the Mogami cable to actually be quite good.

@atmasphere Thank you sir. Nice to know I can put my money towards a preamp rather than cables (at this point in the journey). 


I've heard you say previously (on a different post) that one quick and dirty way to tell if your preamp supports the AES48 standard is to see if there's a toggle switch between RCA and XLR. 


The Pontus claims it's a "true balanced DAC" but does not provide such a switch. And the "RCA and XLR outputs are shared". Does this mean the Pontus is *not* AES48 compliant? There's no mention of this standard on their output section in their product literature.  

"The Balanced output via XLR (pin2 hot), singled ended output via RCA. The PONTUS is a true balanced DAC, we recommend using balanced output whenever possible. The RCA and XLR output are shared, please use either of the output at a time. It is not recommended to use both RCA and XLR output simultaneously."



There's an easy way to know. If you run it single-ended into our amps and it plays at a certain volume, does it play louder when running balanced?

If yes= does not support the standard

if no, volume is the same = supports the standard.

This is because the balanced standard ignores ground- the output signal is generated with respect to its opposite rather than being generated with respect to ground. If its generated with respect to ground, its really just two single-ended outputs, one of which is out of phase with the other. While that is balanced, it doesn't support the standard.

If paying more means better sound, a good many manufacturers would be happy to upgrade your $60 cables by charging $300 for the same thing.  Dielectric materials and metallurgy have more impact than gauge.

@knotscott  Thank you, that was so very very helpful of you. it's nice to know there are people here who you can depend on when seeking advice. 

- You don’t always get what you pay for. I know $200 dollar cables from one brand that sound better than $600 cables from another.

- MSRP doesn’t really mean anything in relationship to sound quality escpecially across different brands.

- Once you’ve actually establish a brand you like the sound of, then going up in budget then mostly gets you what you pay for. Point of diminishing return happens when your cables cost way more than your components. This isn't technically a bad thing though as your ceiling is higher if you plan to upgrade.

- Large gauge wire isn’t a hard fast rule, just because a wire is thicker doesn’t mean it sounds better or is more detailed than a thinner wire. It’s all about the cable design. I tend to like thinner cables.

- Faci is that silver conductors are better conductor. It’s a matter of personal preference if they sound better because of it. For sure, they are more expensive because the marketing dictates it, but I tend to like OCC high purity copper over silver. when it comes down to it, conductor material is only important if that’s what you’re focused on.

- Only way to know is to listen for yourself across different brands. People, myself included, can wax poetic about their cable of choice because that’s the sound or brand they like.

- I tend not to trust brands that have a too many levels of products. For example, If you have 4 upgrade levels going from 50 to 300 dollars, then another 4 levels that go into the high end there’s obviously some marketing head games going on.


@69zoso69 system sound is a very individual taste, only you can make the final decision on components and cables. With that said, take my comments as my opinions.

I use Mogami interconnects in my main system, and I think they offer a wonderful sound, and value. I build my own cables to keep the cost in check, and eliminate cable clutter. Each cable is made the exact length I want it. I have spent more on "better" bulk wire, and have a whole rack of interconnects that I have tested. There are others I have liked, but the Mogami really sounds great to me overall. Kimber PBJ is another cable I se as an outstanding value. I have another Kimber cable from "higher" up the line, and it's pretty good too, but I could easily live with the PBJ. I prefer my system sound signature to be warm and dynamic. I have McIntosh C2200 with Acrosound tube amps and GR Research XLS Encore speakers. I just can't justify spending $1000 on interconnects or speaker wires. Proportionately it makes no sense to  me. 

I would follow you dealers recommendation on the Mogami, get it in your system, and live with it for a while. Once you live with it and identify what you want to change, then start looking for a cable that fits that description. Maybe you will love the sound, and find yourself listening to the music and enjoying it, instead of wondering or worrying about how much your cables cost, what they are material or gauge they are made from, or what other people think of your selection. Good luck and don't forget to enjoy those new amps. 

I would follow you dealers recommendation on the Mogami, get it in your system, and live with it for a while.



I am running Mogami W2549 Balanced microphone cables w/ Neutrik Gold Connectors and love them. Many find the W2549 more neutral than Mogami Gold (W2534). You can order custom lengths at  Enjoy the $$$ saved and musical presentation with the Mogami.


Most of your assumptions are not real when it comes to sound quality. Each interconnect performs as a whole with the type of wire, connections etc. that was intended by the designer.

You probably need to actually try some yourself. Each has its own sonic signature.


@m669326 -

    The only way you can determine whether a, "better" cable might make a difference, when it comes to YOUR listening pleasure: AUDITION a few.    Their are a multitude of variables and no one can answer the question for you.

     Ideally: that would take place with the intended gear, but: since Mogami's variants are preferred by the manufacturer of your target amps, you might begin by comparing other cables with one of theirs.

     To me: the least painful way is renting test subjects from The Cable Company*.

     ie: a pair of Kimber Hero or Silverstreak variants, in XLR, would cost under $100 to audition/compare, in your home, with your system and ears.



                                                   some prospects:

Getting back to the main topic... 

I'm curious what (if any) objective truths their are regarding cables, conductors, connectors, shielding, etc.?

My hope is that we learn a thing or two about cables that might help give folks a head start when considering purchasing new/used cables. 

For instance, I would think OCC is indisputably better than whatever they put in old aunt Bessie's 52 year old table lamp.  




Objectively from my empirical assumptions  :

-silver wire conduct better than copper (7% more) -> better sound

-OCC produces wires with larger crystals and less boundaries between crystals ->increase in sound quality

-Silver plated wire tend to be birther than any of the pure wires.

-tin plated wire tend to be not as bright than any of the pure wires.

- wire diameter does not affect directly sound quality but changes the tonality of the wire because the resistance of the wires varies with frequency. A larger diameter wire will have more bass (lower electrical resistance in the low frequencies compare to a cable of smaller diameter) , hence wires are a form of ton control and serve to achieved synergy with other component of the system.

multi-strand wire tend to have a tonal behavior some where between the equivalent solid core wire and the corresponding litz wire because every strand is not always in contact with the other all along its length.

-Sound clarity, speed and low level details are function of the dielectric material used to insulate the conductors. Less dielectric or more air in the dielectric provides more details, speed and clarity.

Hence, when choosing an interconnect start with what you have and ask yourself what you want in terms of tonality: more or less bass, more or less highs and choose a cables with conductor of larger or smaller gauge than what is in your system. Then from cables using similar gauge wires (of occ silver or occ copper) chose the cables with the less dielectric material to audition on your system.


OP… “I’m curious what (if any) objective truths their are regarding cables, conductors, connectors, shielding, etc.?”



Only generalizations like copper is warmer than silver coated copper, which is less warm than pure silver. But, typically this only holds for inexpensive cables. I can’t tell you how wonderfull Nordost Odin 2 heavy silver cables are… not bright at all.

Not much can add here. Usually hear lot of negative comments about cost of cables. But reading lot of good comments about different types of cables. Yes, usually get better as pay more, but clearly there are deals. Kimber Hero is on my home theater and is award winning, very good for the money and known for its bass. Definitely better than PBJ which is good, but edgy. Biggest issue is personal, fitting the right sound into your system. So perhaps use say cable company where can try out cables. Believe that is a credit system though. But definitely try to get trial periods which number of sellers have online. Be aware of burn in, though, controversial but I have heard it myself where cable is edgy at first and then fine after only 15 hours. Last comment, Nordost Odin 2, ouch, lot of money spent there. Have Cardas Clear, copper, but less expensive. But is difficult, many brands, mainly American manufacturers that you could test out. Might have to read lot of reviews, too, to get some idea of the different sound comparisons before you try cables out on your system.

While I have found that more expensive cables tend to have a bigger change in sound quality, I have not found that the change was consistently in a good direction.  Better to have a cheap cable that is neutral than an expensive cable that is too dark.

Also, a lot of cables which emphasize sound stage do so by darkening the overall sound.

Crimped/cold welded connections > screws > solder

There’s a reason why your 200A home panel is not soldered!

I don’t know if silver measures better, but using simple silver wire IC’s got me 100% off the cable merry-go-round.


I took a look at your system from your profile and I'm thinking before you do anything pull those speakers out a bit from the wall and you'll notice immediately a change in the spacial imaging soundstage etc aspects. Ie. It should sound better.

Cables are highly dependent on a system. Better systems appreciate better cables. Yes all cables sound differently to the extent your system can distinguish them.

I'm not a big fan of the blue sound Device as the dac is not the greatest, but it can be bypassed so that's good




My assumptions:

- You get what you pay for ($300 Brand X will produce more detail than say $60 Mogami Gold).

The cable companies can charge any price they want to. Doesn’t mean it’s going to be better. Reading too much of their marketing material may result in too much wishful thinking.

- The larger the gauge the better.

That depends on the length of the interconnects. Long interconnects should be lower AWG to avoid slight losses in gain, therefore preserving overall performance.

- Crimped and soldered connectors are better than screw tightened.

Yes. They are also more reliable.

- Two or more large braided strands are better than several smaller gauge braided strands (all things being equal).

That’s true.

- Silver conductors are better sounding and measuring than Copper conductors.

True. Silver is the best conductor of electricity. Why isn’t it widely used? Well because of how much it costs vs copper. If silver were the same price as copper, your home would be wired with silver wire rather than copper.

- Rhodium, Gold, Silver, Copper, & Brass, connectors objectively sound different. (as opposed to in your system).

True to an extent. When rhodium and silver plating are combined for example, it results in slightly better gain and lower noise. inexpensive/light 6.3mm adapters that are gold-plated can sound a bit warmer. Higher conductivity with silver is the gold standard.

@jumia Thanks but those photos are out of date. The presentation was slightly bass heavy, so I pulled them out so the front baffle is now about 40 inches from the rear wall. The frequency response is much more balanced now. I've never heard the DAC on the Node 2i, it's bypassed into my Pontus DAC.  

I also went from an equilateral triangle to the much improved Jim Smith rule. (X/Y = 83%: Where the listener to left/right tweeter = X and the distance between tweeters = Y) But that's a whole other thread/topic. 


After hearing all the great feedback here I've decided to get the hardware sorted out first before cable matching. There's just no way of knowing what's going to sound best (to me) unless I make the effort to listen to several typologies. 

So step one is to hold a shootout between my Atma Sphere Class D mono blocks and the Decware Zen amp (25th anniversary) on order. I'm also adding a Burson 3X preamp to the mix, taking the pressure off the DAC to drive the load to the amps. I'm really hoping the Atma Sphere's win out since I'm less enamored with tubes these days, just too many variables and fuss. And the Atma Sphere mono-blocks would allow me to keep all the interconnects balanced. The Decware is single ended only. 

I tried Mogami Gold XLR balanced ICs because they are cheap ($125) and so many postings indicating that balanced ICs don't make a difference if well constructed.  Baloney!!!  After breaking in 100 hours, they sounded like crap in my high end system (let them play without me in the room).  Flat, tonally thin, lacking dynamic contrast, totally uninteresting for domestic home use.  They are touted as the best studio recording cable.  I grant them their neutral tonal balance, clean and noise free qualities.  Maybe that's what is needed in a recording studio.  For listening pleasure (lack of), they are awful!  Monster 300s sound superior (light in the highs, very rich bottom, dynamic, not neutral but very listenable for a $15 cable).

My ICs cost $700 and have patented air core suspended wires (Grover Huffman) with a very elaborate construction.  I've heard other moderate and high end cables (I'm a cable beta tester).   Some are awful (High Fidelity-dead company) and some are quite good with wide range of price. 

I think the comments on XLR's not affecting the sound is tied to gear that is AES48 compliant. Most consumer audio gear is not.

My Benchmark gear is AES48 compliant and XLR's from Benchmark XLR level and up, such as Audience AU24 SE do not make a difference between the Benchmark components, DAC3B, LA4, and AHB2. With my other sources connect to the LA4 preamp the XLR matter, so I use Audience and WyWire with those.




FYI. I am friends with dealer. He let me try a set of Nordost Odin 2 for a few weeks. I actually did not own them. After a couple weeks I had to take them out of my system as they were so good, I was starting to wonder how I could scrape together and buy a set every year. My average component cost is $20K…buying $17K interconnects… well, i’m retired… this is not something I should be considering. But I was…. They are really amazing.

OP -- I would start with a lower cost balanced cable and, as others have suggested, try borrowing something expensive to compare.  But I would only do that comparison after living with the Atmasphere amps for a while.  Also highly recommend prioritizing budget for a preamp before pricey cables.  That's going to make a much bigger difference in the sound quality you hear.  I've tried the streamer (with volume attenuation) into the DAC directly into the amp and didn't love the sound at all.  If you had something like a Lumin U2, maybe that would sound good with Leedh processing but I think you're giving up a lot doing it through Bluesound Node. Sounds like you're getting a Burson to try -- haven't heard it but better than no preamp.

I'm really curious about your bake-off between Decware Zen Triode and Atmasphere digital monoblocks with your Tektons.  I can't imagine they'll sound anything alike and seems like an odd comparison, but very interested in the results.

Have fun!




Hi, I asked T+A about whether or not their DAC 200 is AES48 compliant and they responded:

"The AES48 standard was paid attention to when designing this DAC. There is a small difference, though: the connection between pin1 and enclosure is not direct but via a 100nF cap. This cap has no negative effect on EMI or shielding."

However, their specs state 2.5V SE and 5V Balanced i.e. the typical doubling of output for non compliant balanced output. ("High level (RCA) 0...2,5 Veff / 22 Ohms, balanced (XLR) 0...5,0 Veff / 22 Ohms")

What do you make of their statement? As per your post above it sounds like this DAC is NOT AES48 ...

@nquery My guess is that it isn't.

If you think about a simple audio transformer that has an input and output, and the output is connected to the XLR connection, that transformer only has a winding driving the output and so there are only 2 wires for each end of the winding. One of them is tied to pin 2 and the other to pin3. You can see that grounding pin 3 to pin 1 would not change the output level, and you can see that the output of pin 2 is produced with respect to its opposite, pin 3.

There is no connection to ground- its only used for shielding. So its perplexing to me how the output voltage would double if both pin 2 and pin 3 are used as opposed to the RCA connection. Clearly an output transformer isn't used (although a lot of solid state pro audio gear does use transformers).

So my surmise is that in order for the RCA connection to work, the XLR connection that corresponds to it (IOW, if both are the non-inverting outputs) will be the same as the RCA. A digital voltmeter will reveal what that is about- there will be zero Ohms between the signal pin of the RCA and pin 2 or pin 3 of the XLR...



Iconoclast Cables has white papers that describe how they designed their cables- gives one a basic background on audio cabling design and cost.  This is a good place to understand the complexities of audio cable design and why some are costly.

@69zoso69 - here’s what I have learned in the past 10 yars of collaborating with many DIYers around the globe...

Having spent many years investigating cables, I have had first hand experience of how different things can positively impact the sound we get to enjoy from our systems

I have has success implementing cables on mini-systems costing as little as $200, up to pretty good systems in excess of $70k - other members have much more expensive systems and have observed similar improvements also

Unfortunately the cable companies like to spin their jargon as to why their cables are the best.

But the answer is pretty simple - a good cable will use...

  1. excellent quality wire - copper or silver
    • There are varying grades of copper in used, the best being UP-OCC copper
    • There are varying grades of silver used, with UP-OCC Silver currently being the best
    • What is the difference? - Conductivity
      • beryllium copper, teryllium copper, Bronze or Brass
        • are all copper alloys
        • their Conductivty is 70% or lower
      • Pure Anealed copper is rated at 100% and is the Benchmark for Conductivity
      • OFC copper is around 101%
      • UP-OCC copper is 102% -103%
      • Silver is 106%
      • UP-OCC silver is 107%
    • What is the benefit of using a high conductive metal ?
      • better details and improved clarity
      • better/faster dynamic performance
      • better/faster transient processing response
    • there are many combinations you can use to tailor the wire to your liking
      • e.g. Dulund wire with cotton insulation is preferred by many for the signal wires in interconnects and speaker cables for a more mellow sound
  2. good quality insulation
    • lowers cable related noise issues - so it lowers the noise floor of a cable
    • The Dielectric Constant (Dk) The ratio of the permittivity of a cable
      • is the metric used to indicate the electrical activity of the insulation
      • As the signal changes polarity in an AC sifgnal it charges the insulation in one direction
      • and then recharges it in the opposite direction when the polarity changes
      • this flip-flopping injects noise into the metal wire
      • using insulations with a low Dk reduces the maount of noise generated and improves clarity, details and imaging
        • PVC has a Dk of 4 (ish)
        • Teflon is 2.2
        • Foamed Teflon is 1.45
        • Cotton or Silk is 1.3
        • Air is 1.1
        • Vacuum is 1.0
  3. built using a good noise cancelling cable geometry
    • Cable Geometry is how the individual conductors are situated with respect to each other.
    • When you have two wires side be side in close proximity, as with many cables in use, you get distortions induced from one wire into the wire next to it
    • This is noise and impacts overall cable performance
    • "separating" the wires will be beneficial
    • Some examples of cable Geometry are
      • twisted pair (the most prone to noise depending on tightness of the twist)
      • braided (e.g. Kimber Kable products)
      • Helix Spiral designs (e.g. Anticables)
      • Ribbon designs - Like Nordost speaker cables
  4. use great quality connectors
    • many connectors use brass or some copper alloy, but as identifed above, the low conductivity metals will impede cable performance
    • Also, in the case of interconnects and speaker cables, the mass of the connector also impedes signal trasmisson
      • well enginnered Low Mass, high conductivity connectors provide significantly better performance
    • For Power connectors, pure copper or silver plated copper provides better performance
    • the flatness of the pins (US and UK style connectors) will also help

As with everything in this hobby there are improvements that can be achieved with "refinements" to the above basic design points and those refinements will be reflected in the cost.

RE: the "Power supply" to the system

  • most power supplies to the house are stable, but some people do experience noise related issues often from commercial builds that are close by,
    • This type of "noise" is generally tiny voltage variations on the AC signal
    • for this type of issue a good power conditoiner or power regenerator is often reqired
  • Othrewise, if the power supply to your house is relatively clean then simply having a good power cable to each component will improve sound quality, Why?
    • this is how it was explained to me by a very knowledgeable person with a wealth of Electrical Engineering experience
      • At each connection point in the "power supply line" i.e. at each breaker, outlet and plug - the transfer of electrical energy is only depedant on the quality of that connction and the quality of any wire used to bridge from one connection point to the next
      • This is why a good power cable will provide improvements in performance
  • A dedicated line from the breaker panel to your system provides noticeable benefits
  • Quality outlets, like Hospital grade MRI outlets from companies like Pass and Seymour, will grip the plugs more tightly and provide better power transmission

RE: the power supliies inside components...

  • Power amps tend to have very large transformers and banks of capacitors (i.e. compared to source components), which are designed to supply enough power, especially when large transient signals are encountered
    • But even the very best amps can also benefit from having a very good power cable
    • But for the best amps you will need an exceptionally good power cable in order to achieve any noticeable benefit
  • Source components, especially in the more budget oriented designs, tend to have a less capable power supply, so having a good power cable will provide a more noticeable benefit.
  • Wal-Wart power supplies are perhaps the worst - I avoid them or replace them

The cable companies I typically recommend include

  • Audio Envy - Great bang for the buck
  • Zavfino - a little more refined
  • In-Akustik - exceptional perofrmance but a bit pricey
  • Hijiri - one of the very best out there

There are a few others, but these provide good and noticeable Bang-for-$Buck

Audio Envy features great wire, insulation and connectors for a great price

Zavfino is a great place to start and their product line caters to many budgets and their products actually perform.

There are many opinions out there.

Some believe in the benefits of cables and other do not

So use the Audogon search feature to aquire knowledge from postings from other members pertaining to cables.

Apologies for the long post, but this subject gets complicaed very fast

Hope it helps - Steve

||$300 Brand X will produce more detail than say $60 Mogami Gold||


so blunt man... so blunt.


@williewonka Thank you for taking the time to post. There's a lot of great information in your share. I'm hoping others benefit from the experience of those like yourself that have taken the time to actually test various cable typologies. 


I've decided to start off with Zafino Arcadia OCC (XLR) cables:

DAC to PRE and PRE to Mono Blocks.

I've enjoyed their RCA version and have heard there are benefits to building out your loom with the same make/model if possible. Again that may just be marketing speak, I'm not knowledgeable enough to refute that claim. 


I also came across these guys from the Netherlands for AC cables. Their pricing to build quality seem almost too good to be true. I wish there were more reviews to go by, but will probably give them a try.   





fyi, here is a portion of a followup response from T+A regarding AES48 compliance. I tried to parse the diagram in the draft AES doc but this is now officially way over my head :)

The analog signal circuitry of the DAC200 is referenced to the analog signal ground. This conforms to AES48 (see "REF" ground in figure_3 of draft AES48-20XX).

The generation of the balanced audio signal is already done in digital domain - not in analog domain. So this balanced signal is not generated relative to any (analog) ground.

[edit - another point of contention is that AES48 is concerned with the connectors, not the cable between them]



Good post. Value added. Excellent that someone with the DIY bent chimes in. There are lots of variables… which is why different companies have pursued many different approaches. 

@nquery this might be easier to understand:

Balanced line connections

Its from the Rane website- they are a manufacturer of studio equipment. 

The reason ground is ignored (whereas in a single-ended connection the ground is part of the signal) is because ground loops are endemic. So rather than trying to prevent them, the balanced line system simply doesn't use ground. In a recording studio where you might have an enormous amount of equipment, this makes it easy to hook things up with confidence; hunting down errant buzzes is much more rare.

An advantage of not using the ground is that the cable itself becomes more neutral. So much of what we hear as differences in cables has to do with how the shielding is constructed since a signal (at ground potential) is being passed through it. When that issue is removed the cable becomes more neutral. 


@69zoso69 - - that Ludic Power cable is very affordable considering the materials crafttsmanship and design. It should be a very good performer

The Zavfino cables should also perform very well, since I am yet to hear any negatice comments about them.

In my own quest for great cables, one thing that I became very aware of is allowing sufficient break-in time. Ive had cables that took over 400 hours to sound their very best.

But generally...

  1. cables can sound very good immediately
  2. after about 20 hours they can start to sound as little rough around the edges - not as smooth
  3. 60 hours and up, they start to shine again
  4. 100 hours and they are almost at their peak
  5. 150-300 hours you may start to really notice the appearance micro details in the venue acoustics - i.e. the very small echoes and reverberations of the concert hall

My own break-in method is to run my streamer 24/7 for about a week and then return to normal listening for a month or two.

You should be hearing some very nice improvements with the cables you have selected

Enjoy - Steve


@ghdprentice - glad you enjoyed the post  - and I definitely agree with your statement...

There are lots of variables… which is why different companies have pursued many different approaches. 

Cables can get very complicated - if you let it🙂

Regards - Steve

@atmasphere  thanks for the followup and link. I read it and understand it in and of itself.

T+A previously stated that pin 1 is connected to the enclosure (chassis) and not signal ground so this would suggest that they do match the "recommended practice" in Figure 1b of the article you linked. i.e. "equipment using 3-pin, XLR-type connectors must tie pin 1 to the chassis (usually called chassis ground) -- not the audio signal ground as is most common."

So far so good. Now, that's where the article you linked stops.

T+A then said "The analog signal circuitry of the DAC200 is referenced to the analog signal ground" and that this matches figure 3 in AES48 Draft. In this figure 3, the pin 2 and pin 3 (signal circuits) are tied to the REF = "Signal Reference" which I assume is what they meant when they said "signal ground".

This is where I am having a disconnect - isn't this the same thing as when you state that pin 2 and pin 3 need to reference each other and not 'ground'?? I assume you mean chassis ground, not the REF = Signal Reference in the AES diagram.

I don't believe the DAC uses an output transformer ('The generation of the balanced audio signal is already done in digital domain - not in analog domain.') so isn't it possible that the differential circuit could legitimately push out twice voltage for balanced vs SE and still remain AES48 compliant?

Thanks for your patience and understanding, I am learning a lot.

@nquery I don't see any figures in the document at the link which have the signal pins tied to 'REF'. If they were tied in such a fashion, I imagine they would be shorted. Perhaps you can list the page number on which the figure is found?

@atmasphere See figure 3 on page 7 of AES48 Draft. Maybe I was being presumptuous by assuming that the signals pins == "signal circuitry" in the diagram. The REF label is next to the black lines coming down from "signal circuitry".

Twisting cables is for blocking outside noise impacts from other nearby sources of magnetism (EM? too). Standard technique, so not sure why simplest twist would give more noise. See Twisted Pairs: Why are Wires Twisted? – Audio University ( for explanation. Most obvious company here is Kimber. They do seem to use more complicated twists in higher cost cables. Do not believe Cardas twists with their complicated geometry of different size conductors. But many cable companies use different shielding (foil, polyethylene, etc.) for blocking as well. 

Did read ASircom review of Odin 2 when came out. Is actually copper with silver overlay. He did actually test 100,000 British pounds of cable in a 10,000-pound system. Loved Odin 2 which seems to be the general consensus (like ghdprentice who tried them) and admitted likely used in more expensive systems. Have seen this before with the plating of silver over copper. Not due to cost, but many saying silver can be sibilant, emphasizing the highs. Some saying copper good for lower regions and silver for higher so the compromise. Not sure how that relates to the higher conductivity of silver unless an inductance game for reactance as that is proportional to frequency. So then maybe silver would enhance the highs.

Is certainly a varied game with monofilaments, Cardas the different sizes (golden ratio), Kimber (complicated twisting), anticables (naked), square conductors, oval conductors, etc. Questions about skin effects and high frequencies running there. Seems like number of manufacturers are able to use different constructions and still come up with great cables. That is why trial basis is best way to go.

Lastly, could also try Audience now acclaimed Forte f3 power cables. Considered very good for the cost. Am very happy with mine, even if considered entry level.

Do generally agree with excellent, detailed comment from williewonka. Classic movie by the way! (the original, of course!)


Also want to add that the OCC I believe is the Ohno continuous casting. This was a major advance by Japanese researcher Ohno with continuous casting in one crystal. Thus, there are not variable size crystal grains and grain boundaries to deal with for the electrical current. Also reducing the level of non-conducting elements like oxygen has been a major improvement. Annealing heat treatments likely reduces stresses (though heat treatments can impact overall composition if look at material diagrams). Perhaps that is what happens with the mysterious burn in. Some talk about moving cables even producing temporary stresses which may impact sound. I have found that raising cables off the carpeting does impact the sound, likely due to static electricity of the carpeting impacting the charged dielectric.