The kit will be arriving later this week and I will let you know how stupid you are when I install it and give it a run (sorry you really need to know this). Brulee will also be using the wire and should be able to give you an idea of how it actually sounds.
Don't fret kiddies.
You'll only feel stupid for a short while after you get your teeney -tiny little package with the weedwhacker line in it.
You'll probably have a good chuckle and then worry about hooking them up to your amp cause it's so skinny that you'll be positive that your amplifier will cause the sheath to and set the house afire.
These things take an incredible amount of time to burn in tho.I recall about 2 weeks to stop shifting tonal balance & settle in and another two before they completely stabilize.Have fun.
I may be stupid, but I am not alone. In fact I like the company.
I was surprised to find the cable was delivered yesterday (only ordered it Thursday last week). The manual was something less than I expected. First I made up the interconnects and installed them. I was relieved that the cable did not sound like Cat5 at all. My immediate impressions were that the cable was a "contender". No bloat, wonderfully natural, very large soundstage (particularly depth), exquisite bass (so open, deep and powerful), possibly rolled-off on top. Of course that lasted about fifteen minutes and the sound started to change becoming thin and congested in the mids, getting some high-end extension and losing some of its bass extension. Over the next hour it kept on changing. So no miracles here folks - the same old burn-in stuff. So it was then decision time. Do I make up the speaker cables and let it all run in, or do I wait to see how the interconnects mature? You guessed it, I made up the speaker cables. On first listen to them the mids and highs became more open but the whole bass region was pretty awful. An hour later the sound was improving but not yet good. Oh well, I shall have to be patient.
Interestingly the sound was nothing like CAT5 conductors, which are the same solid core conductor guage, but with a much thinner teflon insulator. The grade of copper and teflon is also different of course.
Ken, I am interested in how you have configured the cables. At first I just ran the conductors separately, and then twisted them together to see what effect it had. The sound was more open, more focussed and more coherent when the conductors were twisted together. But at this very early stage it is difficult to determine how they might change in sound. And from experience flexing the cable (whether twisting or untwisting) tends to cause any cable to go through a burn-in cycle, so it is always going to be difficult to figure out the best configuration by just listening. By the way my Martin Logans definitely prefer being bi-wired, so I am running shotgun (or should that be double pea-shooter) bi-wire speaker cables. I am expecting that twisting will be a good idea for cancelling interference. I was somewhat disappointed that the manual from Sakura Systems makes no mention of this at all.
I cannot help being reminded of the Jimmy Hughes fad for thin solid core cables many years ago. I experimented with various guages and mixtures of guages and settled on 0.6mm as the ideal. It is interesting that this stuff is thinner than that. By recollection, the thinner guage tended to be very fast on top, very focussed but slightly thin in the mids, and tight, articulate and dry in the bass - in comparison with 0.6mm.
From your post Ken it will be some time before I will be able to post any conclusions. Are you able to post a description of the interconnect and speaker cables as separate items? I must admit the sound so far indicates a lot of promise, but with some question marks over the cable between my valve monos and the woofers on the Logans - but clearly too early to tell yet.
I first started out with the speaker cables alone and didn't introduce the IC's till well after the speaker cables had broken in.
I likewise tried twisting them into a loose weave but eventually decide that doing so made for a somewhat "tight" and more analytical presentation and so went back to running them as separate strands(bi-wired Neat Elites on Mana Soundbases).
I am somewhat hesitant to describe the sonics as my own system is quite different from your own(Roksan ROK s1.5) but will say that you should not fart around too much for a while.
It seems that burn in goes thru plateaus and stages that seen to completely alter the presentation by frequency bands.
At first I found the quickness and transparency that are so alluring(and upper octave harshness as well) but later it became very dark,even brooding and warm. Finally it regained the openness,fine detail and sweetness along with the speed.The tonal qualities did not fully balance out for almost 3 weeks tho all the basics of its signature had become evident by that time.
btw, I had tried the old DNM solid core years ago and had come to the erroneous coclusion that solid cores worked wonders in the mid band but always rolled the top and truncated the bottom.The 47Labs Stratos OTA has completely altered my perceptions, particularly in the superb power, articulation and extension of deep bass.Cardas and Harm Techs never made my room shudder,shake and growl like these little 2 ways are doing to my room now.
Yes Ken, when I tried the solid core stuff years ago, each thickness seemed to have its sweet-spot, with 0.6mm having it smack in the mid-range, rolled-off top and bottom, very smooth but lacking fine detail resolution. So far these cables don't sound like that at all. Tight and analytical is certainly the direction that twisting tended to take the sound. I judged that beneficial at the time because it was sounding vague and dark. But I will take your advice and separate them again. I just listened to an album where for the first few tracks the voices sounded high and not fleshed out, but by the end of the album they were sounding wonderfully rich and full. I am just going to have to be patient, but so far experience tells me there is a good cable trying to come out.
I have emailed Yoshi on the twisting question and will report back if I get a reply.
Redwiki, looking forward to your results with the Sakura Systems cables when you have them.
The cables have gone through some interesting changes. But at all times there has been excellent PRAT, a grainless smoothness and minimal smearing - each parameter being significantly better than with any stranded cable I have heard. The lack of smearing means transients are not accompanied by any noticeable distortion, the soundstage is fab (and very deep), and fine detail resolution is excellent. All this is not exceptional because many solid core cables I have heard have had these qualities to some degree, but fell down in really only getting a narrow band of frequencies right. The problems I have encountered have been with tonal anomolies and an occasional swimmy vagueness. But these problems only last an hour or so and then are replaced by another.
My assumption is that all the good points will remain intact and the problems are just burn-in issues. I just have to be patient enough to wait for that to happen. Most of the time the mid-band is pretty good (except when the lower-mids occasionally disappear. The biggest changes are in the bass and treble where they are occasionally good to very good, and then do a disappearing act.
Something about the sound of these cables make me very optimistic.
I would like to make a few notes on IC assembly for those that may be ordering the kit (or that have already received it). When assembling the Black portion of the RCA, the cable insulation needs to be beveled at the edges in order for it to fit into the channel (along with the bare copper wire). When you have the kit in hand you will see what I mean by this. I shaved the end of the insulation from approx. 1/16" out to the end, at an angle with a razor knife. Before figuring this out I botched two sets of IC's twice and then made up one pair successfully (which means that I now have 20 connections involving the Black RCA portion under my belt, though have wasted quite a bit of the cable in the process:-(. The White portion of the IC does not require this treatment to the insulation and is a snap. When initially stripping the wire for both the Black and White section of the RCA's 1 3/4" to 2" is adequate to work with, so take this length into consideration as a portion of the bare wire will double back instead of extending the length of the cable (again this will be clear with the kit in hand).
Sound wise (so far) I find RedKiwi's comments about lack of "smearing" interesting as I suspect that he is describing something that I did not previously have the proper "words" to describe. I have referred to this in the past as a sound that somehow accompanies but that is not really a part of the music as it kind of rests behind (though is attached) to each note (I like "smearing" a lot better:-). What I do notice with the speaker cable at this point is that the background is very silent and that the notes seem to manifest in the air and not from the speakers (with well recorded CD's). The "smearing effect" if that is what I am describing, always hinders this illusion to some extent and the speakers are more evident in the mix. I have rejected a number of CD sources and IC's in the past because they did this to the sound and am now discovering that my previous Kimber Kable was also adding (though slightly) to this affect. Otherwise, I do not have a clue as to how the cable will sound as it has been all over the map in my setup as well and will post again in a couple of weeks.
Just a comment on what I term smearing. If smearing of sounds occurs due to cables then it tends to happen to all sounds (as opposed to vibration which tends to just affect one narrow band).
The effect it has on all sounds is to obscure the fine detail, but accentuate transients by making them last longer. So the cymbals spit, voices are overcome by sibilance and go hard when they are pushed hard by the singer, and the bass seems nicely weighty but lacking articulation and seemingly behind the beat. If you approach these effects thinking they are merely an issue of tonality you will be wanting to tighten up the bass, but smooth the upper frequencies. A warmer cable or component may tame the harshness of upper frequencies, but the bass gets worse. A leaner cable or component gets you more articulation in the bass but the upper frequencies get harder. Sound familiar at all?
Solid core cables tend to be better at avoiding smearing, and the sound is smooth and grainless, with black silent backgrounds. You don't get that crispy crunchy sound accompanying the transient (which I think is what Dekay is describing) that comes from smearing the initial attack. So instruments like classical guitar can sound wonderfully natural with solid core cables. But finding one that performs well over the full frequency range has always eluded me. It is too early for me to tell whether the 47Labs Kit is the exception, but Ken (Caterham1700) reports that it is, and so far the 47Labs sounds more promising than any other solid core cable I have tried.
The most interesting part to me is the fantastic PRAT that is emerging from this cable. I reckon PRAT comes from minimising smearing, so that the listener perceives the transients to be happening at the correct time, thereby perceiving the band to be playing "in the groove" together. That should suggest that all solid core cables have good PRAT, but not so, which comes down to the fact they tend to only work well over a narrow band. But this time the speed of this cable has a coherence top-to-bottom that I cannot recall hearing in my system before.
All of that makes me think I should have tried some Tara Labs cables before now. I would be very interested to hear from some Tara owners on this one.
RedKiwi: Both of the IC's that I was using before are solid core (pretty sure that the Mapleshade is, though I can barely see the wire itself, and I know that the Homegrown Audio's are). Are you using analog IC's made from the 47 Labs kit as well or the speaker cable only at this point? I am going to try using one of the 47 Labs IC's as a digital cable once my DAC arrives back from Bel Canto and currently have 47 Labs IC's installed with the speaker cable (thought that I would let it all run in together to get it over with).
Hi Dekay. I am using the 47Labs for interconnect and speaker cables. I couldn't stand the idea of running them in separately either. I no longer use any digital interconnects and only need a stereo pair of ICs and a stereo pair of speaker cables in either of my systems. I have not used solid core cables for a while, except that the cables I have been using each use several or many solid cores separately insulated. Given I am getting quite excited by these 47Labs cables I feel I need a reality check with a good solid core cable in case it is just my system context that is causing me to like single solid core cables now, when I did not before.
The impact of twisting the cables is an interesting point. I first ran them untwisted, and the sound was a bit vague, so I twisted them together loosely and the sound tightened up a bit. Later the system was sounding a bit thinned and congested and flattened, and so following Ken's advice I untwisted them again and the sound was better. It is hard to know where the sound of these cables will end up but I feel untwisted is probably going to be better. Very hard to know since moving the cables results in more burn-in.
I emailed Yoshi of Sakura Systems on the twisting issue but his reply was non-committal.
By the way, I didn't have any of the problems you encountered with threading the cables into the ground connectors - which is a little bit odd because we must have ordered the cables at about the same time. I just held my mouth right and gave the cable a shove and it went in.
RedKiwi: I shoved the cable so hard the first eight attempts that I still do not have any feeling in the tips of my thumb and index finger and this was a couple of days ago. I started out with the speaker cable and then later added the IC's. My problem is that I am coming from solid core silver IC's which can be very addictive and much prefered the sound of the HG's to the newly installed 47 Labs IC. This happens every time that I switch to a copper cable and it usually takes a few days to wear off. I do like the the sound of copper IC's, but the change is always rather drastic. I have the speaker cable running through the front wall (the one behind the speakers:-) through four separate holes spaced 10" apart (finally got the electronics moved to the hallway closet) and do not have the energy to try twisted pairs at this point as it would require too much work. I will leave the cables as four isolated runs for the next three weeks, but am interested in what you come up with using twisted pairs as I can always try this out after the cables are run in.
Well blow the feathers off m'Kiwi and call it a Wallaby! Listening to the system the last fewdays has been like watching a new flower open up to the sunshine. There have been times when I have been close to ditching these cables and going back to my Coincident and Wireworlds for some decent sound. But in the last four days the sound has been circling 'round perfection in the mids and tops, and in the last day they have been zeroing in. The last day the cavalry has begun to emerge on the horizon - we now have some decent bass emerging! I got so excited I just had to take a reality check and put the Coincident ICs back in place (which had been kept percolating on another system), and.... YUCK! The 47 Labs is so much more vibrant, resolving, natural...
I reckon these cables are getting near to reasonably run in at last. I will come back when I am more sure that the sound has stabilised. But I don't feel nearly so stupid now.
Redkiwi, you lone ranger! Do you have the OTAs between your TT and the phono stage as well? This is the one connection I can imagine where a thin cable might work superbly. Based on your positive experience, I am going to try to convince the European distributor of 47 Labs to sell me a 25cm run of four for my TT setup: I am not daring enough to hook them up throughout the whole system like you. At least, not until you have some realistic bass steadily coming out of your speakers. (FYI, be careful about publicly criticizing the Coincident IC: I just received maximum negative points for hinting they are a bit dry and unnatural on voices in a different thread.)
Slawney. I happen to agree with your comment about the Coincident cables. They are still very good indeed for the price and I have a friend who is desperately waiting for me to sell mine because he likes them so much (I lent them to him for two weeks in place of his Kimbers, then took them back and it was hard to get away).
Kimosabe, the bass has arrived. Still a little rubbery at the very bottom, but strong, powerful, fast and extended - better through the upper bass and mid-bass than either my Siltech or Wireworld. The PRAT is outstanding. The vibrance of the sound with these cables has no nasty edges, just that silky presence you get from a great MC cartridge, making some previously difficult CDs sound very good. The sound is still changing slightly, oscillating between the slightly warm and slightly lean, and the bass continues to improve, but I am officially excited now.
I cannot quite comprehend how such a thin and simple cable could be giving so much more than all those other cables I have or have had. These cables give you none of that pride of ownership you get from the high-end looks of the expensive stuff. As Ken says, it looks like you have your gear connected by some nylon weed-wacker cord. My wife accepts them as not being "totally destructive of the room's ambience" - I think she is reluctantly admitting she likes how the system fills the room with music like never before.
When I am more satisfied the sound has stabilised I will describe all the goodies about this cable's sound. Shame about the very painful burn-in phase. Who ever says burn-in is a myth is just plain ignorant.
Sorry Slawney i didn't answer your question. I only have them as ICs and speaker cable at present.
I'm sold now. I will be brief.
The sound is vibrant (perhaps forward) in that instead of images flattened behind the speakers, the room is now full of music. None of this is accompanied by any nasty sounds except those obviously present in the recording.
I can hear every tiny detail of transients like cymbals, bells, rim-shots etc. The speed is stunning and the timing is so coherent top to bottom that the music just takes over from the sound. What a treat to be not fretting about the sound of the system and just boogying to the music.
Incredibly, these feeble looking cables make it sound like I have 1300w monos, not 130w monos. The music just breathes, shimmers and shakes.
No congestion, some vestiges only of unwanted warmth (still diminishing as the cables continue to burn in). Otherwise incredibly neutral. Several CDs that were just too aggressive to listen to are now wonderously rich sounding. Some CDs that were muted and a bit lifeless are now brought to life.
I know unqualified raves are not well received here. So I will leave it at this. If you get hung up on the difference between price and the intrinsic value of the materials (as many here seem to do with cables) then forget these cables. If you are mad enough, like me, to lay out USD600 for cables on a chance - then I reckon the odds are high that you will not regret it, provided you have the patience to let them burn-in. If you don't believe in burn-in you will throw these cables away in the first week - just remember to throw them in my direction. If you think these cables cannot be great because they cost ONLY USD600, then you should think again. If you want to spend less than USD600 then work something out with a friend, because the kit gives you 50m of conductor (or 12.5m of stereo pair) and 12 RCA connectors, and you can buy extra connectors and/or cable. I'm stupid enough to be considering buying a second kit so I will have plenty to be able to make cables up in the future as my system changes. My Coincident, Cardas, Wireworld and Siltech cables are not going back in the system.
I received my speaker cable and 2 pairs of IC that Dekay (thanks David) made up for me. I am going to burn them in and will compare them to my FIM Gold and the Coincident Total Reference speaker cable. I can't see these speaker cables when they are hooked up to the speakers. Where did they go? I am so used to those big ugly hoses sitting on the carpet. Am I skeptical? Yes I am. What if this stuff sounds better than my big bad expensive hoses? Will my audio buddies kick me out of the club for using this stuff that I can't see without my glasses? I'm holding you resonsible Caterham1700. If this doesnt work out I am going to sic Cornfedboy on you. I will give comparisons in a couple weeks. I like your batting average Caterham1700. So far your batting 1000.
Welcome to the lunatic fringe Brulee, me ol' mate.
Redkiwi, I am jealous. It cost me 50 times more in cables to get the "vibrant" sound you describe ("room full of music"). Just for the scoreboard: exactly how many hours break-in did the OTAs need before you were sold?
Hi Slawney. Your 50 times more expensive cables may well be considerably better because I am damn sure I haven't heard anything at that price. That must be round about New Zealand's GDP??
Actually, since my last post the sound went a bit flat for a day or so and is now 90% back to its best and seeming to improve by the minute. I got them about 21 May - and I listen about three hours a day, and my wife plays the system around two hours a day. In addition I have run the interconnects over night at high volume with a burn-in disc a few times. Not so with the speaker cables due to the need to sleep.
So the ICs are probably the equivalent of 200 hours, and the speaker cables only 100 hours. So when I look at it like that the cables are probably going to change some more for a while. Maybe I am being somewhat premature here. But the brilliant rendition of transients has been almost always present with these cables - and when they are not off on a tonal detour, the wonderful microdynamics result in the vibrant room-filling sound you and I have referred to.
I have approx. 250 hours on both the IC's and the speaker cable at this point and have been running it in 7 hour stretches with an hour or so of rest between them. The sound has been fairly stable past 200 hours and I wonder if the deviation that I am hearing is just my regular electrical fluctuations being somehow more noticeable due to the clarity of the cable. I am going to give it another week (150 hours) to see if this is the case before posting. This is by far the best that the system has ever sounded though and I have already switched out IC's a couple of times for a reality check.
You know guys, everything you've said - and its all very good (thank you...) - sounds very familiar to my reactions to Kondo's AudioNote cables. They are also bare wire connected and use thin strand conductors. Sound? Also "vibrant", extremely "dynamic" without "smearing", pressurize a room with sound that is not necessarily from the lowest octaves, etc etc. Hmmmm... After many years of audio psycho-pathology, I too am past the need for "substantial connectors". Any comments on Kondo/Sakura comparison? Do you think its simply a coincidence that both designs emanate from minds that see their designs in terms of Zen-like simplicity? Most professional, knowledgable, well thought out thread I've seen here, by the way.
Asa: Please include your detailed observations on the Audio Note cable and we can, at least, compare the cables in this thread for a start. If it is of a similar design (the OTA is .4 mm, or 26 gage solid core copper wire with a thick Teflon, I think, insulation and retails for $600.00US with 50 meters of cable and enough RCA's to make up 3 sets of analog IC's) then the information will make a nice addition, I feel anyway as it will be more like comparing apples to apples. I also wonder how the OTA compares to the Mapleshade Double Golden Helix speaker cable which I was considering before going with the OTA kit (which offered better value for me as I can equip two systems with both speaker cable and IC's from the kit).
I just received a flyer from Maplshade and they now have improved versions of their speaker cable (drat).
get back on the merry-go-round, dekay. we're all still riding it.
Red, Brulee,...- I just couldn't pass up trying the OTA kit considering the descriptions and the cost. My kit should arrive mid-week. After a respectable burnin period, I'll let you know what I hear in my system. Actually, I had my first taste, though quite limited, of the interconnect at Brulee's and was favorably impressed. I'll see how it holds up in a long run (27ft) and over a longer period of time.
(BTW,what are you talking about Brulee? You're getting to the point where you need your glasses to see the "big ugly hoses"! Just kidding.)
Thanks to all for bringing Sakura to my attention.
I've got Mapleshade double helix on order, about a week before you guys came up with the Sakura; I'm a day late and a dollar short, once again. It's taking Pierre so long to make the jumpers, maybe he'll include the "secret sauce".
Kitch: I will be very interested in your take on the OTA Vs the Mapleshade. Did you order the speaker cable, IC's or just the jumpers? I will post on the OTA in another week and I use the Mapleshade Double Helix digital IC between the Bel Canto DAC (now a 1.1 version which I have reservations with Vs the 1.0 version, but will give it another week) and the Cal player. I just shipped OTA IC's to Albert Porter to audition and when I receive them back, I will try the OTA out as a digital IC (in place of the Mapleshade) and will then have only OTA in the system. I will post about the 1.1 version of the Bel Canto DAC at that time, as well, in the 1.1 thread that I originated for those that are interested in the BC.
Just the speaker cables, Dekay. You'll have to pry my Silver Lace IC's from my cold, dead hands. They'll be up against the T-14 bi-wires I have that stood up pretty well to Coincident's. Which is not to say they're as good, they're not.
Reading thru back posts about Mapleshade, I was struck by the accolades for the jumpers as much as for the cables themselves. Once I have the jumpers, I intend to embark on testing several other non-bi-wire cables.
All donation's cheerfully accepted.
Kitch, good, you just saved me a bundle (even on a 30 day basis). Are they the new "improved" version of the Mapleshade speaker cables (plus $70) or the standard version? The OTA IC's have definately replaced my Homegrown Super Silver IC's in the living room system at this point (I did some A/B's this past weekend). I am also testing the OTA with both solid state and tube amplification (Musical Fidelity X-A1, run at moderate volumes while in Class A and an Audion Silver Night 300B based amp). This is all of course system and taste dependant as the Homegrown IC's do wonders as far as dynamics and pushing the sound stage forward and I will most likely still be using them in one of the bedroom systems as they sound great at lower volumes (better in this context than the OTA, I would say).
Apart from the upper bass just plain disappearing for a few hours on Saturday, the sound has been very stable since my last post 5 days ago. It is only in the bass where I have had reservations with this cable - during burn-in, the bass has gone just about everywhere except to the target.
I can relate to your comments Dekay - these cables seem to make the system more sensitive to being played at just the right volume. They are not at all bright or aggressive. At low volumes and with relatively bass-less material they do sound bass-light compared with the speaker cables that lurk in my cupboard.
But turn the sound up to reasonable levels and any bass that is in the recording is super-fast and very solid with no bloat or overhang, and there is NO sense of being bass-light at all. I suspect it is just very accurate but perhaps may not be to everyone's taste. With some of my Charlie Haden CDs his bass breathes wonderfully.
Might it be worth trying garden hose on the woofers and OTA on the tweeters?
Kitch29, I suspect it would destroy the coherence of the pacing. I am getting very boring on PRAT I know, but happen to believe that many audiophiles get lost in failing to distinguish between the sound and the music, and that this is the reason why so many keep getting dissatisfied with their systems soon after being blown away by the last change they made.
I am also getting boring on reporting changes in the sound, but yesterday and today there was a surprising (to me)change that stripped the unwanted warmth I have referred to before out of the picture altogether, and the bass came up into better balance at low volumes - I have no idea whether this will continue.
To be honest, almost regardless of how these cables end up sounding in a tonal sense, I am going to find it difficult to go back to anything else, because the PRAT is outstanding, and what is keeping me enthused through a sometimes ugly burn-in process.
Kitch29 - I will eat my hat now because I think you are right. I took the OTA speaker cables out and put in my Wireworld Golden Eclipse III cables and something sounded more right about the whole thing. Listening some more I was not happy with the smearing I was now hearing from my panels (I drive Martin Logans with tubes), but the powerful bass of the OTA interconnects was great to hear. The OTA as an IC works very well in my system. The bass may be a wee bit dry, but otherwise is very powerful and tight, and goes way down. Bothered by the reduction in resolution up top I put the OTA back on the panels but left the Wireworld on the bass, and then for another permutation used a double run of the Wireworld on the bass (which improved things in a variety of ways including eliminating the dryness). It is clear to me now that the OTA as a speaker cable between my tube amps and the woofers was strangling things. I will have to listen to this some more, but there is no loss of pacing as I had feared. What is odd is that the panels sound better now than when I had the OTA on the bass. This suggests to me my tube amps were just not liking something about the OTA speaker cable on the bass and its performance in the upper frequencies was being affected.
Boy, does the system boogie now.
Kiwi, so you presently have OTA everywhere BUT the woofers. The set-up being, tube-to-tube to the Logans / analogue & digital sources?
Pls excuse *my* confusion -- nothing to do with your postings.
Just digital sources, but otherwise correct Gregm.
From what I can tell, some of the other guys trying this cable (but who are wisely keeping their powder dry) are liking it but not necessarily getting the same results. I find as an interconnect the OTA is vivid, fast punchy, even forward, with room-filling sound, but possibly slightly recessed on top. In particular the bass is stunning - incredibly fast, firm and extended - maybe a bit dry. On the panels of my MLs the sound is wonderfully resolved and vibrant. No other speaker cable I have gets even close to resolving cymbals and sibilance, and having it on the panels cures the sense of reticence on top. But with the OTA on the woofer of my MLs there is good and bad. The bass is fast - drums in particular are very life-like (I suspect because it handles transients so well), but other bass sounds can be a bit uneven. I don't think this is a burn-in issue but it might be. Therefore I am taking the OTA woofer cables off my system and putting it on my daughters' system, and I will just leave it there for a month before retrying it. Right now the results with garden hose on the woofers sounds better - interestingly, in the upper mids and lower treble as well.
Not so fast, Red.
So far after 8 months of using the 47 Labs/OTA cable, EVERY time I got to thinking that there might be a weakness or anomoly that was cable induced, it turned out to be pinpointed to problems, inappropriate tweeks or coloured/flawed components elsewhere in my system.
I'd advise going back over your speaker set up for starters.
In my case, I use Mana Soundbases beneath my Neat Elites and discovered that the spikes were out of "tune"(overtight nuts) and another instance where I had assumed my cartridge setup to be "nutz-on-perfect".Not!(antiskate was a smidge off and VTA was slightly too low).
OK Ken (as Mr Webb said), but I will have another go when the speaker cables have had more hours, because the bass performance was definitely still moving around.
RedKiwi and Dekay-As you know, I've been breaking in the Mapleshade Double Golden Helix as you have with the OTA. Now, at about 100 hours, I can report that the soundstage has settled in to where I have stopped moving the speakers around every 5 minutes. There's a nice arc in front of them which curves back to the sides and is very deep. High frequency transients like brushes on cymbals are still too close to the speakers and there is a little of the shift left or right as sounds go up or down the scale. This was more pronounced with the DH Labs T-14 as well as the Coincident. I'll look elsewhere in the system (Cambridge D500SE, passive volume control, Music Reference RM-10, Meadowlark Kestrels)to solve this.
My biggest fear about these tiny gauge cables is groundless, bass is just excellent. I have the new 50 greatest Philips Symphonie Fantastique on right now and the double bass, tympani and low brass rattles the teacups. Last night, I kept playing Patricia Barber's Cafe Blue over and over because of the incredible double bass under a couple of the cuts. I even listened to her singing Ode To Billy Joe, one I usually skip (I hate that song!) because her deep, husky contralto was just mesmerising.
The mid-range and treble that won me over when I acquired the RM-10, Silver Lace and passive volume is augmented, in spades. Although brushes on cymbals, as noted above are problematic from an imaging standpoint, the sound is very alive with sharp attacks and lingering decays. Snares on or off is easy to pick out, now. And voices, oh my.
There goes track 4: marche au supplice; the tympani is way back in the hall and the English Horn nice and woody. You've gotta hear those trombone pedal tones. Blaaaatttt.
......Sorry, Sir Colin was complaining about the fan noise from the Hewlett-Packard. Just finished hearing the tutti and I have chills. Get this recording.
So now I've tried a few tweaks. I had vibrapods under the CDP directly on the 1 1/2" maple shelf. Maybe it was better, it didn't hurt. But I've always noticed that the RM-10 had a buzzy vibration you could feel when playing. Took the pods away from the CDP and put them under the amp; a definite step up in tonal clarity, I think. But, the main thing is I clearly heard the difference. Same thing with power cables. I was happy to help adopt an orphan but didn't hear much, if any difference, with the Asylum cables. Well, when I put the stock cord back on the amp, the soundstage worsened and everything was too bright.
You have to know how delighted I am to be hearing these things especially as today is birthday number 54 and these ears heard Hendrix live, big city traffic and even 80 mm. mortars.
I guess Pierre Frey is on to something. These cables will be around for awhile.
Kitch: I am glad to hear that they are working well in your system. Would you say that they have an unusual sound (like "way" more musical than other cables that you have used in the past)? Yes, I am fishing as I will write about the OTA kit at the end of this week. Funny, I don't really know who Patricia Barber is, but have been listening to "Modern Cool" which I picked up at a thrift last week, quite a bit, along with some Tomita (my Pink Floyd of the 70's).
As I was writing here about an hour ago, I'm noticing that something is different about what's playing. So after I finished the post above I slid my listening chair over behind the sofa and, bang, the soundstage is live. I think, hmm, my chair is higher than the sofa I usually listen on.
I always wondered what the trade-off was between the sloped baffle for time alignment and the speaker firing up at an angle. Well, with my ears at 50"!, everything came together. No sound is coming directly from the speakers and the soundstage is wall to wall. The purity of voices and instruments has to be heard.
Did I spend a lot of money in vain? I put back the DH Labs T-14 and the image lessened and the magic diminished. It's still a pretty good buy, though.
So here it is. For now, this is the best music I've ever had at home. $300 for the speaker cables and less than $5000 in the system. I hope the OTA gives as much pleasure.
Very interesting Kitch. I don't know anything about the Mapleshade cables so would be interested in a description. With the OTA the most significant "sound" improvement is with cymbals - no spit or smearing - every little detail seems so like the real thing it is amazing. My speaker cables to my woofers are percolating away on my older daughter's system - she gives them a decent work-out, but her room is sufficiently distant for me to be able to run a burn-in disc while she is at school, so I reckon they will be ready to re-audition soon. But in general I love the way the OTAs do not smear or emphasize anything and the music comes alive in a very natural way.
Redkiwi- they're about 24 gauge with a thin shield; very stiff and springy. You should visit the site http://mapleshaderecords.com/tweaks/index.html
Yes, cymbals just shimmer like mad. I played the Chieftains 'Tears of Stone', cut two Bonnie Raitt; thats not crossover chestiness, she had a cold that day, it's so obvious. Miles Davis use of the mute, amazing. The orchestral color I noted above. I could go on.
I'm just a little confused about what's the better tweak: the cables or the adjustable height chair!
One thing intrigues me about the OTA you haven't mentioned, the soft plastic RCA plugs.
Kitch: The soft plastic RCA's are much easier to take off with your teeth, if you are so inclined. But their main purpose is to guide the wire itself to make the signal contact instead of the RCA itself. Also, thank you for coming forward with the "WOW" factor, that I have read about from a few other users of the MS cables (of course no one but them believes you:-). It's kind of funny in that we have had 12 gage or even larger drilled into our heads for many years and yet these tiny wires have "major" full bass response as well as the rest of the frequencies in spades, yet don't get hot to the touch when pumping out the tunes. LOL. When I was a teenager I gave a couple stranded out in the boondocks (in Iowa) a car battery jump with the speaker wire that I had installed in a 67 Volkswagon (it was the only thing on hand). It was the cheapest speaker wire that I could find (when installing the stereo) and was probably 22 gage (maybe even 24 gage). It not only jumped the battery, but went back into the bug to serve again as speaker wire, after trimming the ends where the insulation had melted. Wall to wall and a room full of sound is the only way that I can describe the OTA (all of the IC's as well as the OTA speaker cable are of a micro wire design as the digital IC is the Mapleshade Double Helix).
I have been using the OTA cable kit in the system listed in Virtual Systems under "SET Hide Away System" for one month now (both as Analog IC's and as speaker cable), the playing time exceeds 500 hours. Two things that changed, off and on, in the system over this period of time are: #1. The Bel Canto DAC was upgraded to 1.1 status (and then broken in for 300 hours) and #2. I periodically switched from a Musical Fidelity X-A1 solid state amp to a 300B SET amp for comparison purposes. I started out with the MF (SS) amp, first with the IC's and later added the speaker cable. Switching from a pair of Homegrown Audio Super Silver IC's the sound of the OTA IC was not quite as dynamic (no big surprise) but was equally "upfront" in that the sound came from the plane of and the space in front of the speakers (instead of from behind the speakers and then a bit forward from there as it did with a pair of HT Truthlink IC's that I had used before in this system). I ran the OTA IC's for approx. 70 hours and at this point the bass and clarity was pretty much stable (they went all over the place, sonically, during this time period, so don't drive yourself nuts if you are running/breaking a pair in). Other than still missing the added dynamics of the previous solid core silver IC's (it had only been 3 days and I still had a strong "silver" memory) these were the best IC's that I have ever tried in my setup, by a long shot. Cymbals, bells, brass and drums sounded very real (like the metal they were made of), vocals strings and piano were also spot on and the separation/distinction between various sounds was eire. I don't mean imaging by this, just that the sound was very clear, but not on the bright or thin side. They did however still sound a bit hazy overall, for short periods of time, off and on, with frequencies (narrow bands) in the bass and mid bass either dropping out or peaking (hard for me say which as at the sides of a peak are two drop outs and I have trouble telling the difference with new equipment/cable). I was becoming impatient at this point (having broken in various PC's during the months of April and May) and decided to install the OTA speaker cable and let everything run in together. I ran the combo up to a total time of approx. 200 hours (still using the SS amp) and keep in mind that the IC's now had double the playing time, plus, of the speaker cable. The speaker cable during this 125 hour period went through the same ups and downs that the IC's did, in the beginning (I wish that I had a cable burner). The speaker cable replaced was Kimber 4VS (a good budget cable) and the OTA speaker cable stomped it on the SS amp. The difference/improvemet was unbelievable and is hard to put into words as it like the difference between a bull in a pen and a bull released from a pen. It was as if the music that was now flowing had been held back (in the pen) by the previous cable. It was smoother (much more liquid sounding) yet again with amazing detail (as when you are not paying attention to the music and an instrument startles you, like a percussive that you think is someone on the patio or a knock at the door, well this was happening quite often). I had previously said that the OTA cable is a bit forward sounding (either in this thread and/or in private emails) and do not feel now that this is a good description. What is does do, on good/decent source material is free the music from the speakers in that the sound/music comes from the air (when you close your eyes) and not from the speakers themselves. This has always been a priority in my setup (which is why I am very pleased with the last PC's that I upgraded to as they also add to this effect) and this is what I like most about the OTA cable. After a total of 300 hours on the SS amp, the only changes that I was noticing (with the kit) were most likely the changes in the quality of my power supply throughout the day as late night listening was always consistent. From here I switched to the 300B SET amp, first starting with the previous IC's and speaker cable for a day and then switching to the OTA. This time, though I switched both the IC's and speaker cable at the same time, there was not as pronounced a difference between the old and the new (OTA) though is was still night and day. Maybe this was due to me being used to the sound of the OTA, maybe it really did make more of an improvement on the SS amp (due to a mismatch with the old cable?), I really don't know and was too lazy to look into it and just wanted to get more hours on the OTA cable. With the OTA cable (the IC's not the speaker cable) there is a definite settling in that takes place everytime I remove and reinstall it (even though it is fully broken in). It can take one of two days (figure 15 hours of play) to sound its best again. I have had the cats shear a few of the speaker cables and did not notice any difference when I re-stripped the end (half an inch) and reconnected them. I have not experienced the dryness, or lack of bloom, in the bass as has RedKiwi (even with the SS amp), though we have entirely different setups and also I do not use full range speakers and therefore cannot hear the bottom register as he does. So in a nutshell the OTA Cable Kit is fast, open, smooth and detailed (detailed but not thin or bright sounding). As far as the "visuals" go the sound stage is wide, deep and tall, but in the imaging department (unless it's my imagination) it seems that things have a tendency to move around a bit. I have never really concerned myself with imaging before and only notice this when listening in the near field on some recordings. Maybe it's on the recording (the engineer switched or combined tracks), but I never noticed this before with the old cable which may have been too blurred to tell, who knows? Anyway, if someone else notices this hopefully they will be able to explain what I am hearing, as I can't, and it does not detract from the musical experience as far as I am concerned. Although it is only 26 gage wire, it is full range and not rolled off at either end. Though I was coming from a budget cable (so is the OTA, when you think about it) it was on the level of replacing/upgrading a major component in my setup(s). I will be using the cable in our second budget system as well (ordinarily powered by the X-A1 amp) and when I receive an extra pair of IC's back, that are on loan, they will be used on some analog to digital recordings (tape to CD) that I will be doing later this summer. Sorry for not going into more detail (although, boy, is this a long one), but I find the sound of these cables hard to describe as their is no glare, no lack of bass or detail, etc., and they sound so different than what I am used to (as if they are not even there). Hope Audiogon doesn't charge me for this one. That is all.
Interesting post, D-K. Thanks for info!
PS: I forgot to mention (in my rambling) that I will also be trying out half a set of the analog IC's as a digital cable (maybe in a month or two) as the Maplshade digital cable that I currently use is neither of a 75ohm or coaxial design and I figure that it's worth a shot. Maybe someone else with the "kit" will want to give this a try.
I largely agree with Dekay's findings, but came off using Coincident ICs and Wireworld Gold Eclipse speaker cables. I have other cables from Kimber, XLO, Siltech and Straightwire (probably some others lurking in the cupboard I have forgotten too). All of them sound as if they have additive distortions compared with the OTA. I endorse all of the positives Dekay has referred to, particularly how the soundstage floats free in the room, and the utterly natural treatment of percussion (nothing else come close). The negatives I note are a certain vagueness to images, that still comes and goes, and the burn-in being prolonged and odd-sounding with the speaker cables between my valve amps and the woofers on my Martin Logans. I have been burning in the woofer cables on my daughter's system and will re-insert them in mine this weekend. It will no doubt take up to a week for them to stabilise again, so will try to remain quiet till then (unlikely, I admit).