What do you think about this cable company?

In this thread I am going to withhold the names to protect the guilty. However, everything I state is true, and I have documented in correspondance I have had with a certain cable company's distributor.

About a month ago I posted a brief comment on an Audiogon thread where I offered to do a review of a rather inexpensive cable,

Here is the link to that thread:

Anyway, I receive an email from a distributor of a different cable company that sells expensive hi end interconnects. This distributor offered me the cables for 30 days with no strings attached for review. I thought to myself that this would be be a great chance to demo some of the finest cables made in the world, and possibly get them at a good discount if I really liked them. I would in turn tell the truth in my review since I really did not have anything to loose or gain by doing this review.

So we (myself and the cable distributor) emailed back and forth about 14 or so times discussing the agreement, and about 3 weeks ago he ordered the cables. He did not have XLR cables in stock and he had to order them which takes approx 2 weeks.

During this time, I decide to buy a reference turntable/tonearm combo (Rega P9 w/RB1000 tonearm) to better help me in the review. I also buy several albums that are particularly good recordings that I know many audiophiles have. I also start really spending a lot of time getting a good handle on my system's sound with the Nordost QF IC and SPM speaker cable. My system really does sound good with this combination. I spend easily 20 hours getting prepared to do this review...

I then am informed by the distributor that the cables have arrived and that he is going to put them on a cable cooker for a few days. Sure thing I think.

About 5 days go by and I do not hear anything from the distributor. I send him a few emails to no reply. Finally he emails me with the following news:

The manufacturer has changed their policy to only let distributors send out cables to people who prepay for the cables. Thus, if you want the cables you are going to have to pay for them before I can send them to you.

I have put a lot of time and effort into getting ready to do this review, and the manufacturer wants me to send the distributor money after the distributor proposed to let me use the cables for 30 days with no strings attached to do a review of their cables.......

I then sent an email stating that I could not afford the cables unless I sold my Nordost QF and SPM which I would be judging the cables against. I asked the distributor that he talk to the manufacturer to make an exception.

Low and behold, I find out there are NO EXCEPTIONS.

What do you think folks? I think it is sad that a manufacturer will not back up their distributor.

Would anyone buy cables from a company that pulled stunts like this? Or maybe I am being too hard on the company and the distributor? I was pretty upset about the last developments, and I have sunk way too much time into this review endeavor.

Let me know what you think.

Sounds like you oughtta buy another brand of cable, to me. There are alot of cables out there that sound good, and that are competing for your money. If that company doesn't want your business, then another one surely will.
The distributor should just ask for your credit number but won't charge it unless you didn't return the cable within the 30 day trial period. Well, it's their loss then.

I think P.T. Barnum was right (and would have been proven right in this case if you'd actually paid for the damned things).
I'd like to find out the name of the company so I could AVOID their cables in the future.
Let the free market run its course...
If someone contacted me because a bizarre thread that had nothing to do them, this about what I would expect. At least your set for the next audition.
The manufacturer's policy is not unreasonable, and the distributor may have overstepped his authority in extending the offer to you.

What boggles me about this whole story is the notion of manufacturers approaching us Audiogoners and asking us to write reviews of their products. Is this a sea change in the way the high end works the media? (Are we the media?)

Hey guys, over here! I'll review your products!
Like Kinsekd I think the best thing to do is name names and let God (and the rest of us) sort them out. To be fair, both the distributor and manufacturer should be sent the link to this discussion so they may "defend" themselves if warranted.
If you get free use of the product with the expectation of being able to buy them at a deep discount, then you definitely have a financial interest in the product. If you had gone ahead and actually evaluated the cables you wouldn't being doing a review, but instead a paid endorsement. If this type of arrangement is the norm, then the whole A'gon review feature is suspect.
Funny how in this case it's not the bait but the switch that stinks.
Even with a discount these cables were expensive. However, I would have reviewed them from a NEUTRAL position. I had little insentive to like them since I would have had to sell my QF and SPM to get them (and pay a bit more). Why would I review them favorably if I did not like them??? Just to get a discount on a cable I did not like? That would be amusing. I do not buy the flavor of the month product. Look at my system. I have components which match each other and sound wonderful together.

This review idea was not mine. It was the distributors.

Anyway, I am not here to name names. Nor am I here to point fingers. I just want to know what the community thinks of this. Maybe I am insane.., or expect too much.

I think Ohlala had this right the first time around. Your return in this misadventure would have been worth exactly what you invested in it - had you not gone off the deep end and upgraded, as you would have us believe, soley for the proposed 'review'. FWIW, your beef is with the distributor, not the manufacturer, whom I consider to be acting ethically and trying to get their distributor to do the same. Enjoy your new TT and albums, and hang on to your day job. :-)
I don't know about the cable company but the distributor is handing you a line of crock! He can do as he desires with his inventory as a distributor. He's just trying to lay the decision/change off on the manufacturer.
If he were a "rep", this could be the case...but not as a distributor.
Good luck
I have been approached several times by people asking me to review cables. Thankfully, this has not happened in the past year and a half. My hope is that as the economy turned down, taking high end audio with it, the fire has been quenched somewhat.

Of the experiences I have had with this type of thing, only one has been positive. The company was forthright, we agreed to terms prior to all this happening. When the time came, the cables were excellent, I give them my personal recommendation.

All of the other offers(8 - 10) either did not come to fruition or ended up worse than neutral. After 2 or 3 rounds of this, I set up a list of things we needed to come to terms on before I went any further than the initial contacts.

My conditions for reviewing cable were:
1) Having the cable broken in is a plus.
2) To review a cable is not such a fabulous experience. I take listening to your cable seriously. It is work. You have entrusted me with this task, it is my obligation to do my best. But, you have not bestowed a gift or any priveledge upon me.
3) I do not pay you for your cable. Some companies made this whole charade up to be nothing more than a sale. "Of course, with the 30 day if you don't like them..." You can get that deal anywhere. I should pay shipping back to your company, fair is fair
4) This is a review, NOT A SALE!
5) Understand this, I believe that cable is overpriced and overhyped. I doubt you will ever get me to say that a $1000+ cable is a steal. I also do not believe that cable is the key to world peace. Just so you know where my biases are
6) I will not reconfigure my system to show your cable the way you want. Telling me that my whatever component needs to be replaced with something with a different type of sound is not an option. "We want you to review this cable, but it sounds better with a [warmer CD player]/[less warm CD player]/[solid state this]/[tube that]." Sorry, maybe I or my system are not the best fit for a review of your cable
7) I write what I honestly hear in my system, with my tastes. I will do my best to find out as much as I can about the sound of your cable. I will do my best to highlight its strengths. If I do not think your cables are the "best I have ever heard, taking my system to heights I never believed possible" you will not become a big crybaby telling me I don't know what I am talking about, that I am the only person in this big blue world who feels that way, or start asking me questions like how long I have listened and why do I feel competent to give an opinion.
8) I am not here to provide you with a testimonial unless we work something out about that first. Do you view this as an opportunity to see what a cross section of people find your product or a way to create ad copy? Please understand you are probably going to profit from someone writing about your product in a positive light and attaching their name to it.
9) Again, this is a review. NOT A SALE!

While I agree that this whole thing became a mess, in my experience, when reviewing cables that is the norm, not the exception. I also think that Onhwy61's point of you "reviewing" the cable in order to receive a deep discount questions your motive and objectivity in the review. Is your goal to perform a cable comparison or upgrade your system? Please do not take this as an attack, I mean no malice here. But, it's a major contention I have with audio reviewers, praise in return for product.
I like these rules Trelja. I am going to cut and paste them and save them.

Also, folks I did not buy my new Rega P9 solefy for the review. However, I was motivated to upgrade my vinyl for the review. I probably would have put off buying a new TT for a bit if I did not think I was going to be reviewing these cables.

The only reasons why I asked for a discount on the cables was because of the following:
1 - I am putting a lot of my time into reviewing the cables, if I like them, I would like to be able to afford them.
2 - I do not put ANY cables or components into my system that I CANNOT afford. It is very painful to remove a component from your system that is superior in your system than the component that it replaced. I learned this a long time ago...
3 - I could not afford the cables at full retail price.

Frankly, I did not care either way if I liked the cables or not. This was going to be the beauty of the review. I had no insentive either way to like them or not like them. If the cables did not work better than the SPM/QF in my system, I could easily write that review and send the cables back. If I liked the cables better, I could write that review, and sell my QF and SPM and raise a bit more cash and buy the cables.

I am not one to equate more $$$ with better cables or even components. For example, I would love to try the Analysis Plus Oval Crystal (Analysis Plus is NOT the above manufacturer mentioned above) cables in my system and discover that they are better than the SPM/QF combo. This would be great because it would save me $$$ since the AP runs about 1/3 the cost of the Nordost cables. I could sell my Nordost and sink the $$$ into vinyl, heh heh. I am looking at Demoing some of the AP cables right now. AP and their dealers are much better to deal with than the above mentioned one. And if I found out my Nordost was still better, well the AP dealer would take back the cables.

Tok20000, please do not take my earlier post as a personal indictment against you. It was not my intention to question your integrity and if I have done so, then I sincerely apologize.

However, the situation you described does raise ethical issues. Let's say the cables you were offered sold for $1,000 MSRP and that after your review you could have acquired them at a 50% discount. In effect, the distributor has given you $500 of monetary consideration for your efforts. That's why I would use the term "paid endorsement". I used to think that one of the most powerful comments a reviewer can make about a product is that they purchased the review sample. I guess I should now take such comments with a grain of salt.
Are we speaking about Orbeck? They seem to be the rudest company that ever spammed me. And, they have the nerve...
No, Orbeck did send me an email, but they were very polite. Orbeck did not take me up on my offer that I made to them in my post on their thead.

Always read a review with a grain of salt no matter who is doing the review. This is my motto. I tend to read reviews for mainly entertainment value, and to get some idea of what a piece sounds like (but I still want to hear for myslef). This can also be applied to listening to any system or speakers in an audio store. People listen to a set of speakers in a store, and come to some conclusions about them right then... Many times they forget they are also hearing all the equipment driving the speakers. Personal home demonstration is best with any component.

Always remember that professional reviewers tend to make less than $300 per review AND do get at least 40% off retail any high end stuff they buy. Companies also have a habbit of sending them gifts CDs and audio associated products. They also write reviews for magazines that have advertising that is bought by the same manufacturers that they are reviewing. I see this as a small conflict of interest. I think it was funny all the controversy brought about when Stereophile started advertising BMW cars in the magazine. Many people went into an uproar. Heck, I applauded the car ads. At least these car ads do not represent a conflict of interest like audio manufacturers advertising in a publication while their products are being reviewed.

I think independant audiophiles do not have the nearly as much conflict of interest as reviewers for audio publications. This is why I wanted to do the review. I wanted to give the Audiogon community an honest opinion about these cables in my system. But of coarse, my review would be in my system only, and for this reason, anything I had to say should still be taken with a grain of salt. Unless you have the exactly same gear as I do... then you should take everything I say as Gosphel.


Tok2000, you are a well intentioned, honorable person.

I think this episode is serving as a learning experience, which is what life is all about. Continuing to grow forever, as if we do not grow, we are regressing.

Cable companies are a breed apart in audio. You are wise to formulate a strategy for dealing with them. I only came to these conclusions because of a lot of frustration that would come out on either side of the relationship. Eventually, I had to put up this type of notice to avoid a lot of the misunderstanding that took place during an especially bad episode. Not to go into detail, but imagine a company having false intentions, viewing a "review" as a sale. Then, when the review was over, in order to return the "no longer new" cable, a depreciation fee would need to be assessed.

I have no doubts about your eagerness to become a reviewer. I think we all dream of that. Make sure you pursue it as far as you want to take it. The world of audio needs good reviewers. Just understand that a lot of the people who will come to you will not really care what you think. They are interested in having you say this cable blows all other products out of the water(to use in ad copy and get sales). They are interested in maybe having you become a distributor for them(to get sales). And, they may even be interested in selling the cable to you(no need for ad copy to generate sales).

All of this was the only reason I needed to come up with rules that make me look like an ogre.

But, I must say that the one company who I had a positive experience was fantastic. They really were interested in knowing what I heard. About the bass, its extension, impact, fullness, warmth, speed, integration with the midrange, etc. The same kind of thoroughness went along for the midrange and treble. They spent the time asking about my system, room, tastes, and music. Questions were asked like, "Does this kind of sound appeal to you", "How would you like it better", "If this were this or that, what would you think", "What would you change".

Believe it or not, based on my experience, his experience, and our correspondence, a new product was created. It is their most successful and highly regarded product. In the end, I have undying apprecation for this company, and feel the owner is one of the best people in the industry.

Ok, Trelja, ya gotta spill the beans. I do not like naming specific companies I am critical of (per se), but whenever a company does something positive, I name them and give them the recognition they deserve.

What company did you have this positive experience with? and what product came of this?

If you do not want to name them in the forum, please at least drop me an email with these answers.


BTW I was just joking about that Gosphel part in my above post. I had actually put 'Just Joking' at the end of that in lesser than and greater than signs, and for some reason it dod not come up as text. I am not much into HTML or imbedded links, but I imagine something along that lines happened to my Just Joking.

One of the oldest scams, drawn out to look like it's a "change of policy". This one is usually done with books, videos, septic tank additives, etc. I would never look back.
Hey! How come no companies ever approached me with review requests? I feel left out! What am I, chopped liver? How does one go about getting selected for such activities? It seems that with all the posting I do hear, surely I would have attracted some company's attention. Or maybe it's just that I am always broke from the last purchase, that I can't afford to buy these exotic cables that they want to sell under the guise of letting me be a reviewer. Hey, that's the ticket! Convince an audiophile that you want him to be a reviewer, and sell him some cables. Yeah! That's it!
Uh huh. :^)
Twl, your system is too tricked out.


No one knows what it sounds like...
But I am sure it sounds pretty good. :-)

Tok2000, the company that I had the positive experience with was HomeGrown Audio. The other companies I won't go into here, as I am sure there will be a lot of blood if that happens.

I am happy to say that in addition to being wonderful to deal with, the prices of their cables are actually cheap. Especially, when viewed against the competition. There were a lot of correspondence between us.

My intention was not even to review a cable, I simply wanted to purchase their Super Silver interconnect. I previously found Kimber KCAG to work well in a tube based system, but thought KCTG to offer a bigger sound, with fuller low frequencies.

We got into discussions about KCAG, and it seemed Super Silver was a copy of it for about 1/8 the price. The only basic difference between the two was that HGA used solid core wire instead of stranded because they found it to alleviate some of the harshness sometimes found in KCAG, depending on the equipment. The downside was that the stranded wire is easier and faster to braid. Seemed like a win - win for the consumer.

In our discussions, my goal was to put my own spin on their cable, making my own KCTG. We talked about it, and the reasons. At the same time, a lot of noise was being made here on Audiogon about thinner gauge wire. When it finally got to the point where I was ready to jump, they let me know that while they could provide me the parts or build me what I was after, but they had done some tinkering around and blended my ideas of more wire with the thin wire concept. That was when the offer to review was extended to me.

The cable is HomeGrown Audio Silver Lace.

I spent a lot of time with the cable, and was more than impressed. In fact, the cable is still the best that I have in my system. Recently, I did a cable shootout between the Silver Lace, Alpha Core Goertz copper, Audio Quest Emerald, Coincident CST, Musical Fidelity NuVista, and Stealth silver ribbon(SCR?). The Silver Lace was the winner, slightly nosing out the Coincident in my system. Basically, only because of slightly more impactful bass.

In no way do I think I am the reason for Silver Lace. But, I do think that my involvement and impressions left some imprint on the product. Like I said, it is a good cable. Some will love it, some will hate it, some will think it's OK. That's cable, they're like flavors of ice cream, we all have our own opinions and favorites. But, this cable does get my highest recommdation. A reference cable for about $170!!!