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Thread: XLR Cable shoot out - including the Spotfire IC

  1. #1
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Durham - UK

    Posts: 1,574
    I'm Ken.

    Default XLR Cable shoot out - including the Spotfire IC

    .
    I've been using balanced equipment exclusively for some time, I went this route almost by accident, having purchased the Pro-Ject Box RS gear, which favors balanced hook up. I recently upgraded most of my equipment, a bit at a time, staying with balanced, so each piece would work with the rest of my gear, at any given point in the upgrade process. I'm now looking at which reasonably priced interconnect leads will get the most out of this new gear. Up until this point, I've been using Klotz MC5000, which I've been fairly happy with.

    I'll start by saying I don't believe in spending massively in this area, my speaker cables are Van Damme 6mm sq HiFi for Bass and Atlas Hyper 2 for mids/Twtr, neither of which could be described as exotic.

    A lot has been made recently of Oli's (Bigman80) new Spotfire IC cable, when compared to the likes of Klotz MC5000 and Sommer Carbokab. These comparisons have been made with the cables made up as single ended interconnects, with KLE Harmony “bullet” RCA plugs or similar.
    These were all originally designed as balanced microphone/interconnect cables. It will be interesting to compare some of them in this guise, within my balanced set up and see if they rate the same as when used single ended.

    Connectors used: Neutrik NC3MXX-B/NC3FXX-B XLR. These plugs have gold flashed pins and meet the AES/EBU digital standard for connectors. They are by no means high end, at less than 5 each, but are well made and meet a high specification, my XLR of choice in all applications.

    The price indicator below (in brackets), is approximate for a DIY 1.5m pair, using the Neutrik XLR's. The 1.5m Spotfire pair was purchased ready made from Oli, using the same Neutrik XLR plugs.

    The cables up for review are:

    Klotz MC5000 (26)

    Mogami 2549 (28)

    Sommer Carbokab 225 (35)

    Spotfire IC (140)



    The object of the exercise, is to compare these three major players at the budget end of balanced cabling and also see if spending a bit more on the Spotfire brings improvements. As always, my choice of equipment and its environment will effect the results, so YMMV. Some have expressed the opinion that the differences between balanced leads may not be as large as for single ended, we will have to see.

    The cables were all made into 1.5m length interconnect pairs, using the Neutrik XLR's mentioned above. The cables will be inserted between my Pre Amp (PS Audio Stellar GCD) and Active crossover (DIY Rod Elliott), which feeds 4 channels of Nord NC500 Class D Power Amp, via Van Damme Classic XKE Microphone Cable. The semi-active speakers are modified Yamaha NS1000m, that use 12” Scanspeak bass drivers in place of the stock Yamaha drivers. These give deeper bass from a similar volume sealed box, in room, measure flat to 32Hz, f3 at 29Hz. The system is very detailed with a silent as the grave background, so any differences should be apparent.

    All equipment has had 300+ Hours use and all cables will have had 100+ hours use before testing takes place.

    Note:
    I'd intended doing the comparison in a week or so after the last cable acquired (Spotfire) had 100 hours use, the same as the others. But Darren (DarrenHW) and his brother Luke were visiting me today, picking up an Amplifier. Now even though the spotfire has had only 25 hours use at this point, it seemed too good an opportunity to miss, so we had a mini session to compare the cables. Another more extensive testing will be done at a later date, so this is just a first impression, but we all seemed to agree on the merits of each, which were not night and day differences. Feel free to jump in Darren if you disagree with any of my observations.

    A). Klotz MC-5000
    Warmer mid range and upper bass than the others, but the least transparent, almost muddy in a direct A-B comparison.

    B). Mogami 2549
    The most transparent, well defined clean deep Bass, top end maybe too evident on some tracks. Can be stunning with the right material.

    C). Sommer Carbokab 225
    Not as Transparent as the Mogami, sound stage bit shut in, voices further back in the mix compared with others. Good top end, a touch better than Mogami in this respect.

    D). Spotfire IC
    Highest level of detail, especially mid range, which has a nice warmth, but not as rich or smeared as the Klotz, almost as transparent as the Mogami, solid Bass, no stand out deficiency across the frequency range. An easy listen.

    So on that basis we unanimously rated them in this order:

    1). Spotfire

    2). Mogami (very close second)

    3). Sommer

    4). Klotz – The other three were a step up.

    So while not dramatic, the differences between these cables, in a balanced set up, was noticeable. We ran the Mogami/Spotfire again head to head, with Darren and Luke not knowing which was playing and they both preferred the Spotfire. It will be interesting to see if the Spotfire improves further beyond its 25 hours usage, Oli suggested a min 30 hours use.

    I'll run some more comparisons with local participants once the Spotfire clocks up 100 hours and see if the results tally. I picked 100 hours as a decent amount of time, to prevent the nay sayers pronouncing one or other cable hadn't run in enough to perform at its best. Please bear in mind, our findings on the day were for balanced use, with my gear, in my room, so your experience could differ.

    Looks like its a thumbs up for the Spotfire Oli.
    However, at this point, with only a small performance difference between it and the Mogami, it's debatable whether the significant extra cost can be justified.
    I will wait for the 100 hour test before calling that one. (Local volunteers please).
    Ken

    http://www.jkwynn.co.uk/
    DIY Technics/Pro-Ject based Turntable + Terminator linear tracker + AT 33PTG II / AQVOX Phono 2 CI / PS Audio Stellar DAC-Pre / ESP Active X-Over / Nord MC500 Power Amps/ Modified semi-active Yamaha NS1000M Speakers / Stello CDT100 Transport.

  2. #2
    Join Date: Sep 2014

    Location: brighton uk.

    Posts: 3,852
    I'm jamie.

    Default

    your findings seem to mirror mine,ive gone from klotz to sommer and then tried the spotfire,on one test track the singers voice moved more forward towards me when using the spotfire.
    My System
    John Wood KT88 Amp.
    Paradise Phono Stage
    Sony TTS-8000,Pioneer PLC-590 Turntables.
    PMAT-1010 MK6 and Pioneer PA-5000 Tonearms.
    Sony X555ES Cd Player
    Yamaha NS1000m Speakers
    Karma Cable interconnects

  3. #3
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Durham - UK

    Posts: 1,574
    I'm Ken.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jamie123 View Post
    your findings seem to mirror mine,ive gone from klotz to sommer and then tried the spotfire,on one test track the singers voice moved more forward towards me when using the spotfire.
    Is that balanced use Jamie?
    Ken

    http://www.jkwynn.co.uk/
    DIY Technics/Pro-Ject based Turntable + Terminator linear tracker + AT 33PTG II / AQVOX Phono 2 CI / PS Audio Stellar DAC-Pre / ESP Active X-Over / Nord MC500 Power Amps/ Modified semi-active Yamaha NS1000M Speakers / Stello CDT100 Transport.

  4. #4
    Join Date: Sep 2014

    Location: brighton uk.

    Posts: 3,852
    I'm jamie.

    Default

    the sommer had the screen connected at one end if thats what you mean??
    edit ,no its not
    My System
    John Wood KT88 Amp.
    Paradise Phono Stage
    Sony TTS-8000,Pioneer PLC-590 Turntables.
    PMAT-1010 MK6 and Pioneer PA-5000 Tonearms.
    Sony X555ES Cd Player
    Yamaha NS1000m Speakers
    Karma Cable interconnects

  5. #5
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Durham - UK

    Posts: 1,574
    I'm Ken.

    Default

    You had me going there

    It would seem the differences and basic sound signature of the cables are similar, regardless of single ended/balanced use.

    They were all better than my present Klotz cable, the Spotfire was a nose ahead, but this is improving all the time. Even with an extra few hours use this afternoon it has nudged further ahead.
    Ken

    http://www.jkwynn.co.uk/
    DIY Technics/Pro-Ject based Turntable + Terminator linear tracker + AT 33PTG II / AQVOX Phono 2 CI / PS Audio Stellar DAC-Pre / ESP Active X-Over / Nord MC500 Power Amps/ Modified semi-active Yamaha NS1000M Speakers / Stello CDT100 Transport.

  6. #6
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 7,877
    I'm Oliver.

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    Great write up Ken and obviously I'm happy to see the SPOTFIRE come out on top.

    One thing to keep in mind is the use of XLRs are not something I have experimented with or even heard as a completed cable. Burn in time is an estimate from my trials with the KLE plugs.

    The SPOTFIRE usually have Silver plated copper KLE RCA plugs and I have to admit, with ANY other RCA plugs, the synergy that exists with the cable and KLE is not as good with other RCAs. One might argue thats where the magic is. KLE recommend 100 hours!!!

    Mogami is a very good cable and one I've experimented with extensively. Yes cost is important but you made the Mogami yourself so there's a bit of a difference there too.

    I'll look forward to your review when everything has 100hrs on.

    Sent from my VKY-L09 using Tapatalk
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+ With Allo Boss.
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator & Krell KSA100 MK2 Amplifier
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & NEW SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

  7. #7
    Join Date: Mar 2010

    Location: Sheffield

    Posts: 2,921
    I'm Simon.

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    Ken how do you have the chassis sockets terminated inside your gear? Does pin1 go directly to chassis as per the aes guidance?

  8. #8
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 7,877
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by sq225917 View Post
    Ken how do you have the chassis sockets terminated inside your gear? Does pin1 go directly to chassis as per the aes guidance?
    Pin 1 - Shield on the plug

    Sent from my VKY-L09 using Tapatalk
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+ With Allo Boss.
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator & Krell KSA100 MK2 Amplifier
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & NEW SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

  9. #9
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Durham - UK

    Posts: 1,574
    I'm Ken.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sq225917 View Post
    Ken how do you have the chassis sockets terminated inside your gear? Does pin1 go directly to chassis as per the aes guidance?
    Yes, I use the tab provided on the back of the Neutrik sockets and use a short (thick) single copper strand to connect to pin 1.

    I also added a thick strap connection between the (separate) rear panel and the base of my case, which has the star ground point fitted, to guarantee good continuity between sockets and the star ground.
    I strictly followed AES guide lines. One single connection from audio ground to star ground. One from PSU to star ground and one safety earth connection to star. all cable shields connect to star through panel socket/chassis. This is all followed in my DIY active crossover, which is Rod Elliots design/PCB's. I deviated slightly from Rods wiring layout, as he had a cover all applications approach for each individual board. He hadn't considered all 4 being used together. I followed AES best practice and the active x-overs insertion adds nothing to the inky black silence of the PS Audio Pre and Nord NC500 class D Power Amps.

    Rane have published some good (simple) advisory papers and I believe they were involved in establishing the AES standard.

    Easy to find using Google, but I can send you those if you like?
    Last edited by Qwin; 29-09-2018 at 19:09.
    Ken

    http://www.jkwynn.co.uk/
    DIY Technics/Pro-Ject based Turntable + Terminator linear tracker + AT 33PTG II / AQVOX Phono 2 CI / PS Audio Stellar DAC-Pre / ESP Active X-Over / Nord MC500 Power Amps/ Modified semi-active Yamaha NS1000M Speakers / Stello CDT100 Transport.

  10. #10
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Durham - UK

    Posts: 1,574
    I'm Ken.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigman80 View Post
    Pin 1 - Shield on the plug

    Sent from my VKY-L09 using Tapatalk
    He's talking about internal connection, via Pin 1 of the shield within the case Oli not the leads.
    You shouldn't connect pin 1 to the connector body of the lead, just on the chassis socket.
    Ken

    http://www.jkwynn.co.uk/
    DIY Technics/Pro-Ject based Turntable + Terminator linear tracker + AT 33PTG II / AQVOX Phono 2 CI / PS Audio Stellar DAC-Pre / ESP Active X-Over / Nord MC500 Power Amps/ Modified semi-active Yamaha NS1000M Speakers / Stello CDT100 Transport.

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