Review: Jade Audio Pure Solid Gold Interconnect

Category: Cables

Hi everyone. This is to tell you about a new line of interconnect cable built by J.D. MacRae of Jade Audio. And by the way, he is everything that a few other members have so eloquently articulated and then some. I have only had the pleasure of knowing JD for just a few months and without reservation say he is one of the nicest and kindest people on the face of this earth as well as a genius in building audio cable. Why ? First, he listens to you and what you have to say about his or any other cable. And second, he listens to his own cable with an ear that knows what sounds good and with an ear that is always looking for improvement. Which brings me to a time several months ago when I purchased a meter of JD's Hybrid interconnect. A very fine interconnect indeed and for those who already have a pair of these in your system and it is a good match with good synergy then take what I have to say with a grain of salt. If you already have good balance and synergy then you might already be "there".

Anyway, after 5-7 days of settling in (I don't think you can be totally objective in one day) I did not feel the Hybrid accomplished in my system what I was looking for. I needed more smoothness in the mid-range with even better timbrel accuracy that I had read that the Hybrid was famous for. So I called JD and he said he would see what he could cook up possibly in an all gold formulation. I told him to take his time as I did not want any undue pressure on him or time constraints in his experimenting as he is always battling a severe disability and needs a heart transplant. God bless him and I pray he gets one soon. Well, all I can say is the wait was worth it!

J.D. fabricated for me a new all gold cable (this one is different from the one previously reviewed years ago) that simply blows the socks off of any cable I have ever heard before. Now relax, I am not like some of you guys that have heard most of the other megabucks high-end cable out there. In fact, other than J.D.'s Hybrid the best interconnect cable I have ever tried doesn't retail for much more than $600. So please don't e-mail me asking if I have compared this cable with Purist, Kubala, Prana, ect. The answer is no. All I can say is compared to the Hybrid the all gold cable J.D. made me is everything the Hybrid was but better in every which way. For example better soundstaging and a smoother and richer tonal quality through every frequency range that came ever so close to my analog rig. I don't know how he did it but even with the all gold there was not one negative characteristic heard that is sometimes associated with this metal. Highs were there in spades but smooth as silk. Midrange was the richest, smoothest, and full of tonal color that I have ever heard in the digital realm. And bass, well, talk about tonal color it had the best and richest bass tones I have ever heard.

So, I really don't know what else to say about this great cable. As you can see I am not a professional reviewer. I just wanted to tell you guys J. D. is still producing new stuff and in the right system it's as good or maybe even better than his previous stuff. If you want the details about the construction or gauges of wire in this cable I'd rather you talk to J.D. himself at Jade Audio.

As for my system, I was running this wire from CD player (BAT VKD-5) to pre-amp (Sira Emotive Audio) connected to a pair of 300B monos with Cardas Golden Cross.

Associated gear
300B Monoblock Amplifiers
Emotive Audio pre-amp
The new all gold cable uses more gold in finer strands to achieve what I can say is as good a performing cable as I have ever heard. I can say with all sincerity, I believe it to be the most complete and balanced cable in the world. It is able to achieve a few things I did not know were possible. One particular surprise to me was the inner detail, texture and hues brought out in a simple bass note. What has always been the definition for me is a sharp leading edge, a bloom and scale and a gentle decay became a sharp leading edge, a bloom of energy, with inner texture and color that changes as the note decays. I discovered the string vibration does not just retain the exact same hue as the energy lessens, it reveals the actual textures.

I guess I am not sure how to phrase it. In Violins, the same textures are more detailed, as if it is almost a different recording. Brass is very sharp and biting, but not painful or biting. High frequencies open into an infinite effortless decay. All I can say is I was stunned, and I am not easily stunned, especially after all the cable development I have done. I simply do not believe there is a better cable available, not just in one aspect, but in every aspect. I know that is a bold statement, and I am sure I will regret thinking it, but…

This cable is available now, but will not officially be launched until after my heart transplant. I hope to introduce this and maybe a speaker cable that uses over seven ounces of 99.99% pure solid gold combined with gold plated silver wire this fall. I have some other designs in the works, we will see if they work out.

Jade Audio, LLC

Thank you for sharing your experiences with what appears to be the next generation of Jade cables. JD is not only a dear friend, but he's also quite the devoted audiophile. He's clearly on a mission to take music systems to the next level through what he is learning from cable construction and materials.

In 2005-2007 JD and I went through a bunch of ICs from several companies. Every time we got a new cable to try in our systems, we were eager to get it into the other's system for a second opinion. A couple products had great success in some areas but did not quite meet our "needs" in every way. With very little success to find a cable that truly had it all, i.e., the resolution, clarity, dimensionality and tonal coherency, JD wanted to play as a hobbyist in this domain to see what he might learn and achieve.

By 2007, the Jade Vermeil and all-Gold products came along. These were a step in the right direction for me but ultimately I preferred the Stealth Indra for its outstanding tonal coherency. The Jade Gold brought on a hint of what was possible in the areas of richness and dimensionality. This was a stunning cable between the Aesthetix Callisto and Io at that time. But elsewhere in my system, there was just something so "right" about the Indra for me at that time.

It was only a matter of time that JD found success with a new design: the Hybrid. As reported elsewhere on A'gon, the Hybrid has been my reference IC. The Indra had a wee bit more extension, maybe clarity on the top, but otherwise, the Hybrid was a master with the portrayal of space. I tried another cable that got all the rave but it was not even close. After trying so many ICs during those few years, I was finally done with the IC game. I've been running with 2 sets of Hybrids for 18 months now.

And then a month or so ago, JD had mentioned he was trying new materials for a new generation of cables. I was excited for his enthusiasm to improve what he had already achieved, but I was so overwhelmed with what the Hybrid does in my system. I was just not all that interested to get back into the cable game. But JD was eager to try the cables in my system and ultimately I was too. In fact I began to pester him to hear these. I did not want to yet again pay for new cables as I was truly content. But the curiosity was killing me to hear what might be possible.

A few weeks ago JD brought over a new prototype cable. I could hear a hint of more "magic" in the mids but overall the Hybrid worked so much much better in terms of tonal coherency. Over the last 18 months I have tuned the system with tubes in the CDP, preamp, MC headamp and amps with the Hybrid and Dream State Dream Catcher and Veridical PCs. It was no surprise that the Hybrid sounded so good. Ultimately this new design did not work in my system mainly due to problems in the bass. It was a bittersweet ending as I imagined this new cable could take my system to the next level as the hybrid had done last year. I was also relieved that I would not be spending any money! But I sensed something special might be coming soon. JD had one other design he wanted to try. I would have to wait for another meeting to hear that.

Finally last night, I got another visit from JD. He brought three new prototypes of various cost with differing materials, gauges of wire and number of wires. JD had listened to these and documented their sonics with in his system but would not tell me anything about the results. They all looked the same so I had no knowledge of internal design or cost.

I read a lot from people who say you need to live with a cable for a day or two or week or whatever before making any judgements. My experience does not coincide with this. Last night's trials confirmed this yet again. As we listened to several tracks and swapped each of the new cables vs. the Hybrid, back and forth each time, the sonic signature of each cable was immediately evident when it was inserted back into the system. Repeatability was quite impressive. Removing the Hybrid that had sat in my system and putting it back did not require days of stabilization to bring the magic back. And in fact, every time we returned to the Hybrid the result was very good....but one cable in the set of 3 that he brought just stole the show.

All three new designs had a level of clarity that the Hybrid could not match. Returning to the Hybrid showed some weaknesses I had not been aware of before .... mainly, a layer of grain in the mids on up to the trebles. And even the lowest bass was a wee bit boomy but that is secondary to me. But oh the tonality and dimensionality of the upper 7-8 octaves of the Hybrid in my system is truly outstanding.

Two of the prototypes had too much energy on the top in my system to result in a "natural" presentation. No matter how much clarity existed elsewhere, and I was so impressed at this, returning to the Hybrid brought me back to the music. As with 3 weeks ago, I knew JD's new designs had some potential, but still I felt he had more work to do. In all honesty I was disappointed as I had dismissed these two designs after going back and forth with each a couple times. JD had one more cable for me to try. And we were doing this in my basement while tornado sirens were going off. I learned later that night that a tornado had actually touched down in my city only 3 miles away during this time. Well, we were in the basement!

We started again with the Hybrid and then we switched to the 3rd cable. Tonality was nearly identical compared to the Hybrid. I was immediately excited at the possibilities here. The lowest bass was more controlled with the new cable but otherwise they were neck and neck on tonal coherency. But this is where the similarities stopped. As the song progressed and we relaxed, the differences were more and more evident. As with the first two cables, the 3rd cable had that very very impressive improvement of clarity. And now with the tonal coherency in check, there was a new level of detail and spacial queues coming through. We could hear the vibration of the reeds on woodwind instruments. We could hear more of the structure of the singers' (Eric Clapton and Lucinda Williams) voice. The cello sections on a movie soundtrack were coming through so clearly now. We could distinctly hear the 3 sections of strings vs. a mush of strings. Trumpets too had a greater presence of follow-on structure. This cleaning up of the signal brought on much longer decays and echoes to the far left and right behind the speakers. In each case, returning to the Hybrid, the sound was quite good but it was no match to the 3rd cable. Tonality was excellent but once you have heard all those other details going on behind the speakers, you want them back.

Our listening had been predominantly with LPs but we did try some CD tracks as well. And much of our testing had been from the preamp (Aria WV XL) to the amps (CAT JL3). Time after time, I read here that people claim that your "best" cable should always be at the top of the chain. But my experience has so far been that the preamp-amp link is the most sensitive to IC differences for dimensionality issues alone. Our observed differences between the 3rd cable compared to the Hybrid from the CD Player (APL Denon) to the preamp were in sync with the differences we had heard earlier. But the system much more benefitted with the one cable from preamp to amp. I was impressed with the consistency of the cable differences in the two tried system locations.

With the trials completed, I learned that the cable that was so exceptional here was the one with the most elaborate topology of materials and number or lines. And thus it is the most expensive. This is unfortunate for me but now I know what is still possible here. I am a happy camper with the two Hybrids but I will have to scrape up the resources to at least get one of these cables in my system once JD finalizes the designs for his next line of products.
Hi John,

Thanks for the great report; as usual you are articulate and thoughtful. More than any outcome regarding my cables, the friendship is priceless. Your system sounded so good I was amazed, and to think you kept my Lucinda disk, yea she is there not with me…

I came home with a much better understanding of what I had been doing after our tests, Funny that even I confused myself with the A (all 99.99% pure solid gold and platinum strands of wire in cotton dielectric using my patented design), B (all 99.99% pure solid gold), and C (all 99.99% pure solid gold and platinum) model, and forgot which one was which. Two additional experiments must now happen; again I would like to use Scott and you at your house. First I want to try the Bocchino B11 RCA connectors on the old Hybrid to see if that brings us close in clarity. It is possible we can save you and others a great deal of money. Secondly I spent the weekend testing the B (Reference Solid Gold) design with some different wire configurations, and think I surprised myself by adding an additional 26 gauge solid gold strand to the other six strands on the return. It will cost more, but I was impressed, the only question is how well it solved the high end extension issues.

This all makes me begin to wonder how much wire, if properly balanced between positive and return can be used before it is too much. I think it’s more an academic question than a functional one as cost will eventually out pace performance. To most folks, the cost of my solid gold and now platinum cables will indeed be beyond there pocketbooks, but if one is looking for the best possible…

Anyway, I think I am confident in the C cable design (to be names Reference Gold/Platinum Hybrid) and close to a final Reference Gold cable. The one decision I have made is Bocchino B11 will be the reference level connector, wait until you see the B2 RCA and the BAXLR, these are unbelievable. The B2 will be an option and the BAXLR the standard XLR connector.

My hope is to resolve the final small issues in the next 30 days and launch the new Jade Audio Reference Gold and Reference Gold/Platinum Hybrid interconnects along with the new Reference Hybrid speaker cable (with nearly seven ounces of pure solid gold plus gold plated silver wires) by mid September. If people are interested in ordering these ahead of time for a small discount, please contact me directly.

As for you John, thanks for your time, ears and above all friendship. You have been one of the big reasons I continue to wake up each day!

Jade MacRae
Jade Audio, LLC
I just wanted to mention that I heard John's system for the first time a few weeks ago, and it is truly reference caliber. His attention to detail and the willingness to do the hard work of fine tuning and tube rolling really shows, and simply cannot be ignored when dealing with the delicacies of cable design.

With the elaborate gear and it's seemingly awkward placement, you'd never believe how good his room sounds. I've heard many systems of all levels, and his counts easily in the top 5 best. You simply could not assemble the gear he has in the dedicated room he has, and achieve the results he's getting, with out an amazing amount of hard work and listening. My hat's off to him.

It is easy to take John's (or anyone's) opinions with a grain of salt, but in this case I would tend to believe and agree with his listening impressions (I do my best to not promote gear online, only results). Although I was not there for this testing, I would be happy to trust his impressions as if they were my own. As you may have guessed by now, John's ears are also darn fine, it would be ridiculous to think anyone could assemble such a system without a love of the adventure and a dash of golden ear...
I just sent off a pair of Gold Reference with Bocchino B2 connectors. WOW are those amazing RCA's!!! They arrived today in the customers hands, I hope to hear from them soon, maybe they will write in to this review for insight.
Wow. Those look good, but those are amazingly expensive RCAs... It looks like $1200+ for enough connectors for one set of ICs...
You got it, $1200 plus shipping from AUS, about $1300 when all is said and done. The dynamics, clarity and tonality are virtually perfect however. I will be using the B11 as my standard for my Reference line, which are $140 each, or $560 for a set of four, much more reasonable for nearly the same level of performance. Beyond this, they are fully screw set so they are great for DIY'er's.
Thank you Rf_gumby for your comments. I have learned much about many tube types from a few A'gon members. Their willingness to share experiences and to provide suggestions of other tubes to try have much to do with the results here. Achieving tonal coherency has been a great challenge. But finding tubes with all the other magical properties, and not messing up the tonality has taken much time as well.

My room indeed has many challenges with various utilities, on one wall and in 2 corners; options are limited. And with the SoundLab A1 speakers having so much bass energy, the only way to tame the base nodes is to bring the speakers out into the room 6 feet or so. And this makes for limited seating possibilities. But I am now addicted to nearfield listening.

I understand JD's quest to try all available materials, no matter their cost. The "ultimate" implementation will likely be outside of my affordability. I appreciate his efforts to achieve another design at lower cost that approaches his top product. So many manufacturers claim the trickle-down effect to less costly products but all too often I just don't hear it. But I gotta hope for possibilities here.

Multiple strands of solid gold and platinum adds up quickly. This makes for challenges for JD to keep his products affordable to many of us. But it was the one prototype I heard last week with many wires that was truly so outstanding. It always seems to be this way! 8-(

One thing to note here: these are not cables with $50 in wire and $50 connectors with a 10-20x markup. I have owned two such products. When I had to disassemble them for repair or re-termination, the quality of materials was pretty bad.

As good as the original Hybrid cable has been for me, I am aware of the new possibilities. It's hard to imagine that a change in connectors will contribute much to the improvements in clarity .... but I will keep an open mind. I await the opportunity to hear the Hybrid that I own with Furutech connectors vs. another Hybrid with the Bocchino connectors. I hope to report on this soon. And then I really REALLY need to get off the cable train.

And tonight I tried an IC, the Von Gaylord / Legend Audio Chinchilla. Contrary to a rave review in IAR, in how the Chinchilla stacked up against higher-cost ICs, it was no match to the Jade Hybrid's performance. Once again, this is unfortunate as I want so much to find a cable of less cost here, but it's just not looking good.