It sure is easy getting lulled into a routine and forgetting to think about those things that I know so well; but I seem to do it on a regular basis. Case in point, the difference in cables.
I’ve spent literally years designing audio and power cables and trying to gain an understanding of why some designs work while others don’t – so you’d think I would be one of the first to always make sure I have the best installed – but such isn’t always the case. Having been away from audio cable designs for a few years and focusing solely on power cables has perhaps dulled my itch to get everything perfect when it comes to audio interconnects.
I say all this as a preamble to explaining how I recently made a 1:1 upgrade in audio cables and subsequently found myself totally taken off guard with the magnitude of improvement heard. I had no idea the extent of difference between a pair of PS Audio’s best interconnect and Audioquest’s latest offerings. Here’s what happened.
At the suggestion of many of you, I am in the process of upgrading the Denon phono cartridge to that of a Lyra from Scotland. As Audioquest is the importer I badgered Joe Harley into putting me on the waiting list for one and, in the meantime, sending me whatever he recommended for an interconnect between the cartridge and the NuWave Phono Converter. I honestly didn’t think much about it when I replaced the older PS interconnect with this new one and there it sat for several days as I finished the repair job on the IRS woofer system.
Once I was sure the woofers were back in shape and working, I put on a copy of Sefel Records Turandot, by Pucini, a live Jack Renner Soundstream digital recording beautifully pressed onto German vinyl and one of my favorites. Not expecting to hear anything different I was really shocked by the sound coming from the IRS. Deep, wide, you-are-there like I’ve never heard from the recording. At first I thought it must be the new components in the servo system but what I was hearing had nothing to do with the bass; no, it was like a veil had been lifted from the speakers and I could clearly see into the music as never before.
Then it dawned on me what it must be and I quickly put the old cables back on. Thunk. The sound truncated back onto itself, got darker, colder with less life and soundstage presence – traits that were immediately vanquished by putting the new cables back – and letting Carrera’s magnificent voice sing Nessun Dorma. Wow. I had no idea cable technology had advanced to this degree.
I guess the lesson for me is a reminder that every part of the system is critical and it can’t be taken for granted – I need to kick myself every time I get lulled into thinking I can keep the status quo and it’s good enough.
Good maybe, enough it ain’t.
Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.