I don't want to derail the Sternklang thread but I promised an update on my Power Cord and Cable demo tour. I do have a Sternklang SPDIF cable coming on Monday.
Let me start with a quick review of my equipment as a baseline:
Canary Audio Grand Reference 300B mono amps ( 16 WE 300B tubes)
Lampizator Pacific DAC
Lucas Audio Music Server
Viking Acoustic Grande Voix Dual Horn Speakers
Inakustic 3500P Ower Conditioner.
I have two MIT Matrix 2 Power cables for my 300B amps and the rest were Helix Dueland DIY PC's
The music that I chose to listen for all of my comparisons was:
Al DiMeola / Jean Luc Ponyu / Stanley Clark - Live At Montreaux
Foy Vance - Live in London
Birdy - Live in London
Freya Ridings - Lie at St Pancras Old Church
Calres Benavent - Quartet
I was comparing distinct female and male voicing along with some great individual musical instrumentation.
My first venture was comparing 3 very good RCA cables: Tchernov, Hijiri, and Inakustic 2404 Air. The Inakustic was my go-to for the last 3 years. Tchernov was good but it was from Russia and sadly I said screw, Putin. The Hijiri won out. The level of musicality increased bass presence and smoother detail won out. I immediately sold the Inakustic and had 8 offers in 10 hours. Obviously, it is a really good cable.
I really like my Helix Dueland power cords. (thx aniwolfe) but I decided after reading about Infigo, Hijiri, and others I would give Hijiri a try. I first used the Nagomi on my Music Server. I really did not hear a significant difference so I was a little disappointed. However, it was a testament also to the Helix Dueland Cords. I talked to Colin at Gestalt and he suggested I try the Takumi for my Power condition and DAC. I was reluctant because I did not want to pay $5k for each cord. Both cords were brand new so they needed a break-in period. At first, I was not impressed with the Takumi's. I put about 50-70 hours listening to them and I was still not happy. I guess my expectations were really high. Then I decided to put back the Helix Dueland Cords. After about 5 songs I immediately heard the difference. The Takumi provided me with another level of detail that I was missing with the H-D cords. Accordingly, I purchased the Takumi's. These are endgame for me and I am not going to invest in any other Power Cords or RCA cables.
Finally, I am comparing these SPDIF cables: Albedo, Hijiri, Neodio Origine, and Sternklang. I forgot to mention that I did have an FTA Callisto USB cable which is very good, but when I put it up against the Albedo spdif it just could not compete for the overall sound. I am looking for crystal clear vocals, maximum detail, speed, lush sound not bright, and separation of musical instruments.
The Albedo - Great vocals and detail, the vocals are right in front of you and maybe a little bold.
The Origine - fast live sound, more attack with each instrument, bass response was deep,, and vocals were clean and crisp.
Hijiri - everything above but more musical, lush, and a little more relaxed with great speed. I could listen to this cable for hours without getting tired of it.
I still have the Sternklang to demo but right now the Hijiri has a very slight lead. To be honest, I think I could be happy with any of the 3 SPDIF cables I tested. It was just that close. There may be something to be said for having cable and cord synergy.
I will provide my comments on Sternklang asap. I do not always use all of the audio buzzwords because I don't know what they mean. I just try to listen to music to see what music sounds the best to me. Many thanks to Colin King, who is a fair, knowledgeable, and great dealer to work with. Also to Tom W who has guided me through this process.
BTW, if anyone wants to hear my system prior to these changes go to Youtube videos under Viking Acoustic Grande Voix speakers. There are two videos.
Thanks for allowing me to share my experience and thoughts. One final comment - I am functionally blind so if there are grammatical mistakes, I am a lousy typist and can't see what I type.