I haven't compared the 2 b4 but currently use monitor iv balanced interconnects. I find it lets the signal through. Can sound slightly lean in the wrong system. Great bottom end and treble extension. Wouldn't recommend if lot of treble energy in your system. Monitor iii is supposed to be superb.
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I agree there is quite a jump up from the Classic to the Monitor. I have done my whole system in Monitor III and can't believe the improvement. Also, I was able to get a good deal because I bought all the cables at once. One thing I would say is that it is very sensitive to the rest of the cable in your system, so just changing the speaker cable or one interconnect may not work as well. Also, I have a new power cord, speaker cable, and interconnect all Monitor III left over. I was going to post them here, but if you're interested, drop me a line on [email protected]
Snowok's description of his Monitor IV balanced interconnects ("great bottom end and treble extension"--My God! Art Blakey's ride cymbals on an NBS!) sounds like a description of the King Serpent II interconnects I have in my second system (the Monitor IV and KS II cables are at a similar price point). I agree with Skull that the NBS Classic is forgiving and colored (unlike Wireworld Gold Eclipse III which is dead accurate and mercilessly unforgiving). I think the Classics are a good choice for many systems which are digitally oriented. For instance, I use a Master II balanced interconnect between a solid-state DAC and a STAX headspeaker tube driver unit. (Incidentally, STAX's reputation of sounding thin seems a result of using inferior digital sound sources or unsuitable cables... STAX fans! use a full-frequency NBS or CARDAS cable on your STAX driver units!). Skull's remark that the new Monitor series is "cleaner" sounds like a description of good studio equipment and his remark about "blacker background" sounds like the phrase I always used when comparing the NBS Classic cables to other manufacturers. I always thought that the Classic cables had a very black background and were supremely quiet ("Is the CD player really playing?" between the tracks), so if the new Monitor series can top the Classic in that department, I am impressed, because this can only bring about more low-level detail. I agree with Hifimeomy's remark about the NBS cable's sensitivity to other cables in the system: the effect of the cables seems cumulative; the more cables you use in a system, the more the change in the sound. However, I was able to drastically improve the sound of my second system with just one King Serpent II interconnect between my integrated CD player and my integrated amp (the music sounded more unpredictable, energetic, more natural, and the fundamental tones were stronger, the bass earthier). So the first interconnect cable can also be a big change as well, depending on the previous cable and the equipment. The second NBS cable in the system may not be as big a change as the first cable. And the change in sound when you add a top-of-the-line NBS digital cable is very small, I hate to say (has anyone heard a big difference? what was it?). The virtues of the analog interconnects and the power cords seem much more noticeable. Anyhow, the reason I started this thread is that many audiophiles here in Germany are actually scrambling to find the old NBS Classic II cables before the suppliers run out, because there is a strange suspicion about the Monitor series (are they still handmade? are they manufactured with the same tolerances? why are they more flexible and lighter in weight?) only compounded by the fact that nobody here really knows how these cables are made. What is the "secret" of this cable? We only know very little about the basic design. Nobody has really dissected it. Germany audio magazines typically show a picture of the component "with its guts out" to satisfy the technical curiosity of the readers, Germans like to see things from the inside. But no magazine has ever shown the inside of an NBS cable--except for an x-ray of the woven fibers of a Classic cable on a promo brochure. This has led to speculation about "knots" being tied in the copper wires at esoterically calculated intervals and other ideas. Even if German audiophiles are notorious for being ruthlessly doubtful about audio products, I always think it is healthy to be sceptical about the idea of progress in the audio industry. There are some companies--we all know a few of them--that have gone downhill throughout the years, starting from "reference" and "state of the art" high end and sinking to "mid-fi" slowly throughout the years. Already with the Classic series, it seemed to me that NBS had a cable product that was excellent, probably "the best there is," so I wondered why they felt the need to change their design and product line. And I have not had time to compare the Monitor series in depth with the old Classic series (kind of sounds like Classic Coke).