View Full Version : Bloody Cable Differences....... GRRRRRR!!

17-02-2010, 13:45
If only audio life was easy where you pick the products on price and visuals, choose a cable of the right termination and length, plug in and go..

Some would say it's easy and maybe in certain product niches it is, but out in the real world of audio enthusiasm, I've found it's never quite that easy..

Back in my 1990's ATC days, the mic cables recommended to connect domestic preamps to ATC's active speakers was usually either a standard RS mic cable with tinned copper cores and a semi conducting layer before the drain wire, or a Belden type which I never got to know until more recent times. I used a chocolate brown RS cable with good gauge copper cores and a double wrapped copper screen with bits of cotton or string inside to hold it all together - not sure if it's still made.

I didn't dare say much to the likes of Ashley, then Sales Manager at ATC, but all of these wires made a difference, albeit subtle..

Wind forward to the last couple of months. All the hoo-ha about Mark Grant and his wonder-wires first had me gazing to the ceiling. My home made Belden 9272 and 16A mains wires seemed fine to me and indeed they were, being of good basic quality and pretty cheaply made with good connectors. However, a comment made by Marco regarding the Beldens he'd tried being a little "tinny" got me thinking....

I'd replaced the Croft preamp with the AVI, which definitely has more bass weight and is as un-forcedly three dimensional now as the Croft. The revelation of the Croft definitely inverting the phase being the major difference I think. The feelings about the Croft being a bit brightly lit remained though, so I first started with the G1000HD cables between the pre and Crown D-60 power amps, the amp ends terminated with 1/4" jacks accordingly.

The result was a confirmation of Marco's feelings, the 1000HD's widening the perceived frequency range and appearing to open up the mid as a result. if WTF are still using a totally "dead" sounding room for their audio listening, I can understand anything with a neutral balance being rejected in favour of a harsher and more impressive tone - how sad.....

There still remained the cable between the CD player and preamp to deal with.. Mark very kindly made up a version of the 1000HD with the inner core carrying the + signal and the screen carrying the return. The result was low gain and hum, the latter cured by earthing the CD player to the preamp. As the former couldn't be cured and as I didn't want a refund, I changed this cable for a mains lead and Mark has made up some XLR to phono cables for me using some fancy cables he has but not used up to now..

Firstly, the mains cable isn't a night and day difference in my setup and location, but if push became shove I'd say that there might be a subtle improvement (we do live in an area with good mains, the Port using its own supply I understand).

As for these new quasi-balanced cables between the CD and preamp. The old cables once again had a tinny quality by comparison. At first, I thought the sound slightly "dead," but further listening has shown a greater precision in image placement laterally and especially in the depth plane - most contemporary music being multi-mono, sometimes starkly so.

The conclusion to all this is that the better cables I've tried over the years seem to improve the sonics in the vein of getting a better type of stylus, the sound becoming less smeared and cleaner, with a wider and less distorted frequency range and image if it's set up right. I do appreciate that a good system should NEVER stand or fall by the wires connecting it all up, but to add some icing to a very good cake..

Apologies for the ramble and I hope some of you got something positive out of it. I'm happy and shall get the Croft out shortly to try it again. Sadly, I can't invert the phase of the headphone amp and don't want to re-solder the headphone socket. The speakers will be a different matter though..... I suspect the Croft will be significantly more refined with these better cables..

17-02-2010, 17:05
Your definitely getting your moneys worth from those Crown amps. You seem to have stuck with them
over many years which must be a sign of a good product. Some people jump from the latest
great thing to next, I wonder if they will ever be as content with their amps as you are with the Crowns.

17-02-2010, 18:19
Quick story..

I sold one of these Crowns to a school-mate's Dad back in 1975. he added another a couple of years later used, together with the IC150 preamp. Both of these were in the expensive walnut cases, but sadly these went awol decades ago..

This chap who became a close friend used them daily until he passed away over three years ago and my school-mate, who had a bridged pair of his own, suggested I have them.

So, although I've not personally owned them for all this time, I've known them well since first purchased. They had a very good spec and were designed never to over-run the components inside, as a prime function for these little amps was to be left on 24/7 and often drive headphones. If the studio or home user wanted more power than the standard brick-wall 35WPC, they were encouraged to go for the D150 which had a brighter sound, incredible damping (the two may go hand in hand) and was fairly cool running. The D-60's could also be bridged into 85W mono's, but I don't know if many did this. Used this way, the D60's will VI limit severely into low impedances loads, but thankfully, the Spendors are a doddle of a load for them..

The thing about these amps for me is that, like good modern amps of whatever persuasion, they reproduce any changes going on further back in the chain. They don't need warming up and have no Diva tendancies whatsoever (my AVI amps were very similar). It's a good job they're so good for me, as I cannot afford to replace them right now...

I've had the system running all day and have just had another blast with these new MG cables. The sound is superb and if you want some recordings to try the benefits on, the Rupert Hine produced albums by The Fixx are perfect for this (I used Reach The Beach and Walkabout for this). The productions are compressed, very sibilant and yet the better CD masterings of the former have a wealth of details in the mix which these cables allow through more clearly. Sadly, the long awaited release of Walkabout is inferior to the vinyl, reverb being suppressed into a grainy, murky background. Listening on headphones to the tail ends of fade-outs shows the sound fuzzing up the quieter they get. A "proper" 24bit "Bitmapped" transfer and a modern console wouldn't have done this, sadly...

17-02-2010, 21:32
Well it sounds like you are slowly but surely building yourself a coherent cable loom there.

18-02-2010, 00:16
It wasn't bad before, but I do like the extra focus I now have :)

21-02-2010, 08:15
The result was a confirmation of Marco's feelings, the 1000HD's widening the perceived frequency range and appearing to open up the mid as a result. if WTF are still using a totally "dead" sounding room for their audio listening, I can understand anything with a neutral balance being rejected in favour of a harsher and more impressive tone - how sad.....

Nice one, Dave. I'm glad it worked out. I think that the G1000HDs will work very well indeed in most systems :)


21-02-2010, 08:45
Nice review Dave. It sums up my feelings too. ;)

21-02-2010, 13:09
Thank you...:)