Review: Virtual Dynamics Nite Interconnect
My musical tastes are eclectic, in that I enjoy classical, rock, jazz, and some pop music. I have used the following recordings for test purposes. Eva Cassidy's Live at Blues Alley, Los Lobos KIKO, Patricia Barber's Modern Cool, Murray Perahia and Radu Lupo's Mozart: Concertos for Two & Three Pianos, Helene Grimaud's Rachmaninov's Piano Cocerto No.2, and Itzhak Perlman with Carlo Maria Giulini conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on Brahms Violin Concerto in D, Op.77.
The most important aspects of sound to me are transparency, soundstaging, rhythm and pacing of the instruments, and an overall ability to present a reasonable illusion of being at the musical event. A component which calls attention to itself for one aspect of sound over another will destroy the illusion for me more than anything else.
I have had Virtual Dynamics cryo'd Audition cables in my system for over three months. They replaced my MIT 750 Plus speaker cables and MIT 330 interconnects. Right out of the box, the VD cables were much better than the MIT cables in soundstaging and dynamics. After an initial break-in of about 150 hours, I came to realize that the VD cables did everything better than the MIT cables, in that they threw a much larger soundstage, and enabled me to hear much further into the performances, through better micro dynamic shadings and presentation of instrumental detail.
The strengths of these cables are their purity, dynamics, and sense of being at the musical event. Their only weaknesses are that they need a substantial break-in period and are somewhat unwieldy. However, once easily bent into their proper shape, they retain that shape and never cause any problems.
If money were no object, I would purchase the top of the line Virtual Dyanmics Nite series, but the Auditions work fine for me for now. Currently, I am auditioning the Nite series power cables, which seem to just do more of everything the Audition cables do, particularly in their improved presentation of dynamic contrasts. This leads me to discuss a recent review written by an Audiogon member regarding his impressions of the Virtual Dynamics Nite interconnect cables.
First off, let me state for the record that I am not affiliated with Virtual Dynamics in any way, but am only one of their satisfied customers. I own the complete Audition cryo'd series of power cables, interconnects, and speaker cables, and have recently been auditioning their latest Nite power cable.
Second, far be it for me to take issue with anyone's subjective opinion of what sounds good in their particular system. Whatever makes music more enjoyable in one's audio system is ultimately all that is important.
However, based on a "Direct Shootout" review by this Audigon member whose username is Sutts, although he seems as if he wants to appear objective by using the title, "Direct Shootout," I feel that his review techniques and the resultant conclusions he makes when comparing Coincident CST IC RCA with the Virtual Dynamics Cryo'd Nite Series cables are not entirely valid. All that I really take exception to is Sutts omission of key information and to some of his review procedures; not his impressions of what he heard.
Without so much as telling the reader what his system consists of, Sutts comes to the unequivocal conclusion that Coincident cables succeed in presenting the musical message while Virtual Dynamics cables fail. He states that “this music played through the VD was altered in a fundamentally negative manner.” Without using caveats such as, “in my system,” Sutts leaves us to believe that his associated equipment is not important in judging his impressions of the cables. One’s opinion of whether Coincident interconnect cables or any other cable brand are superior to Virtual Dynamics cables, may depend among other variables, upon the associated equipment used in the review, none of which were even mentioned. All that Sutts says is that "The cable was inserted between DAC and preamp. Everything else remained the same." What remained the same? I am left to assume that all of his other cables are Coincident, since he doesn't state otherwise. While Sutts says that prior to this review he owned Coincident speakers, based on reading some of his past threads on this site, he appears to have used or may still be using other Coincident products, which probably have synergy with the reviewed Coincident cables. I base this on reading an earlier thread of Sutts where he states, "Also- luckily I live just a few miles from my buddy Israel Blume-Coincident Speaker Tech. Have 2 sets of very cool modded monoblock tube amps from him, and a pair of Super Eclipse speakers on the way!" He wrote this last December. Did Sutts sell these speakers and his other Coincident components since December, as these were his prior components? Don't get me wrong; I am not questioning the impression that the Coincident cables left on Sutts, only that there may be synergistic reasons which could explain why Sutts feels the Coincident cables worked far better than the Virtual Dynamic cables in his particular system. Sutts does not consider this in his review. Given that Sutts may have been using Coincident cables along with the Virtual Dynamics interconnect, a lack of synergy between the two cables may have occurred. It seems that Sutts was using all Coincident cables while reviewing the Coincident CST IC RCA, but not using all Virtual Dynamics cables while reviewing the Virtual Dynamics Cryo'd Nite Series cable. He only mentions using the one VD cable between his DAC and preamp. This is hardly a fair and objective comparison in a “Direct-Shootout.” A “Direct Shootout” implies that the reviewer should be comparing components using identical conditions. Having spoken with Rick Schultz of Virtual Dynamics in the past, I believe it is his philosophy that it’s not optimal to mix brands of cables, particularly when comparing one component to another. You could even make the assumption, although I’m not really implying that this was the case, that if the Virtual Dynamics cable were more revealing than the Coincident cables, the VD cable could have been revealing problems upstream in the system, including the Coincident cables. While others may take exception, it is my opinion that there is a synergistic effect when using cables of the same brand. I had previously mixed and matched cables such as MIT with Audioquest and other brands, and have concluded that mixing cables is (excuse the pun)a mixed bag.
Then there is the issue of the Virtual Dynamics cables winning round one and losing round two, based on the comparison between two different recordings. If two recordings are of relatively equal quality and dynamics, the results of a component should not differ markedly, based solely on the recording. However, if two recordings are quite different in quality and dynamics, then the difference in results cannot lie with the component. How could the Virtual Dynamics cables sound more "precise and focused" in the first recording and not so in the second recording? I have not found this to be the case in my system. In my system, when a recording is good, the VD cables will reveal it, and when the recording is bad, the VD cables will reveal that, as well. I don’t say that with the bad recording, now the VD cables don’t work properly. Sutts states, “It became apparent to me throughout the session that the CST handily outperformed the VD in virtually every parameter.” Apparently, he states, in the first recording, it did not get outperformed in precision and focus, which should be considered extremely important. In fact, IMHO, I unequivocally state that, in my system, Virtual Dynamics interconnects leave quite the opposite impression. The high frequencies are not attenuated, but extended, dynamics are not softened, but explosive, where appropriate, the ebb and flow of musical passages with all of their macro and micro dynamics are easy to follow, and the overall sound is musical, cohesive, and "organic." The Virtual Dynamics cable does not isolate various parts of a musical performance in my system, as Sutts suggests occurred in his, but presents the various musical parts as a whole. In my system, when the music becomes dynamic, the Virtual Dynamics cables do not collapse the soundstage and sound bright and irritating, but simply allow the music to come through, as recorded. I obviously do not believe that music played through Virtual Dynamics cables is altered “in a fundamentally negative manner.” In fact, I brought some of these cables over to my local high-end audio shop for review a few weeks back. They concluded, after listening to a variety of music on systems of extremely high quality, in a room costing over $50,000 to build, that the Virtual Dynamics cables were better than any of the cables they stock. And these were the Audition series! In my system and that of my high-end dealer, we exclusively used Virtual Dynamics cables and did not mix and match them with other cables.
Finally, there is the issue of proper break-in of the VD cable and its relationship to cryo’d cables. It is apparent from his review that Sutts did not follow the manufacturer’s recommended break-in period on the VD cable. Playing the cables for “about a week, 24/7” is not following the recommended 200-300 hour break-in period. Also, contrary to what Sean stated he had been told about the relationship of cryo'd cables to cable break-in, applying cryogenic treatment to a cable is no substitute for proper cable break-in and allowing cables to settle into your system over time. If cryoing cables were the same as cable break-in, then why would some cable manufacturers who sell cryo'd cables also burn them in for their customers on their cable cookers? The answer is that the two processes are not interchangeable. Breaking-in a cable basically removes any residual polarization of the electrons in the dielectrics and wire, particularly important in a cable like the Virtual Dynamics Nite, whose overall conductors are nine and one-half gauge. I have read that cable break-in is like an electrical capacitor's filling of electricity. The more the capacitor is burned in, the more efficiently it can transmit an electrical signal. Burn-in has the effect of increasing the cables “capacity” to absorb and pass electrical signals more efficiently. Cryogenics, on the other hand, it is said, causes a chemical and mechanical reaction, which affects the density of the cable, due to the molecules collapsing upon one another, caused by the sub-zero deep-immersion freezing process. This has the effect of improving conductivity. These two processes are therefore mutually exclusive, and are not to be substituted for one another. According to the manufacturer’s literature, even after cable cooking the Virtual Dynamics cables, it still takes at least 200-300 more hours to fully break-in the nine and one-half gauge conductors. Other brands of cables may need less break-in time due to smaller gauges and other factors. However, in order to make an objective and fair comparison of two competing brands of cables, it is the responsibility of the reviewer to follow each of the manufacturer’s recommendations. In my system, I found that the Virtual Dynamics cables continued to improve after playing “dynamic” music for about 150 hours. As it reached about 150 hours playing time, I would estimate that about 80% of the effects of break-in were completed. Before break-in, my Virtual Dynamics cables, while still quite good and better than my MIT and Custom Power Cord cables, did not reveal all of their sonic attributes. In trying to form an opinion on two competing products, patience is a virtue. I have a cousin who owns a pair of Avalon Eidolon speakers and had to wait about 200-300 hours for them to break in, but when they finally did, the rewards were many. It seems that the very large crossover capacitors and internal wiring in the Eidolons have a residual polarization prior to break-in, which as music is played through the speakers; the signal will gradually anneal the materials.
Again, I am not disagreeing with Sutts listening impressions of the two cables. Everyone's opinion of what they hear is valid. What Sutts says he heard, he most likely did hear. I only object to his omission of important information, and to his review procedures, which I believe contributed to a subjective and premature review opinion of the Virtual Dynamic Nite cable.
My full system consists of a Spectral DMC-20 preamplifier with phono section, two Spectral DMA-90 power amplifiers running in bridged monoblock mode directly into ProAc modified Studio 100 speakers, an Electrocompaniet EMC-1 MkII 192/24 CD player, a Linn Sondek LP-12 Valhalla turntable with Kiseki-Blue MC cartridge, an Aragon 8008B amplifier, which serves as a subwoofer amplifier, whose signal passes directly into a Mirage LFX-1 electronic crossover and then into custom-built twin transmission-line KEF B-139 subwoofers. All components except for the Linn are connected with Virtual Dynamics cryo'd Audition cables. I have six dedicated lines with cryo'd 10-gauge wire that terminate into Virtual Dynamics cryo'd 15A and 20A receptacles, each with it's own dedicated ground to earth, outside of my home. The dedicated lines separate digital, analog, video, Spectral power amplifers, Aragon power amplifier, and all other source components from one another. A Richard Gray Power Company RGPC 400S is used on the video side only.