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Jan Vigne
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Recommended Components

In the October, 2007 issue the Recommened Components contain no interconnect priced beneath $350/m pair. There are no recommended speaker cables to be found at less than $800 per 8' pair. While digital cables fair somewhat better with recommended items to be had at as little as $12.52 per 3' cable (?), can these recommendations be true? The implication would be I cannot have even a moderately "recommended" system unless I've spent at least $1,150 on cables for a one source, two channel component system with speakers placed approximately five feet apart. At $1,250 for the next recommended speaker cable and $450 for the second lowest priced interconnect, isn't this pushing the limits of reason when someone thinks about using the Recommended Components listings as a guide to create a starter system? The lowest priced recommended speaker cables cost more than several of the lowest priced amplifiers suggested by Stereophile's staff. Quite a few recommended speakers cost substantially less than what you would suggest I spend on an interconnect. Just what sort of allocation of funds does Stereophile now suggest? It would appear that 50-70% for cables is not only reasonable but "recommended".

dbowker
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Yeah it IS out of proportion, but that's not how they list the cables. They take the lazy man's way out and say "well, here's what WE use, so maybe you should too." Given that most reviewers systems cost anywhere from $30k-$150K, I'd say what they see as reasonable cable expenses as not exactly in line with much other than Class A components.

It's WAY past due for someone to do a real world cable comparison. Go from cheap to stratospheric, but give readers a true range and an idea of just how much better $20 ICs are to those $200, and on up to $1200 ones (or higher). Are they really THAT much better? Fine, tell us about it in actual measurements and subjective reviews. I mean seriously, did we really need to have a review of a dozen or more record cleaning fluids?!

Buddha
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Guys, you just don't understand.

I bought a Sony Playstation I for 15 bucks, and it sounded pretty good with my usual interconnects, but with the Nordost Valhalla interconnects, it sounds as good as any 2000 dollar CD player out there!

Ya gotta put this cable stuff in the right perspective.

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Re: Recommended Components

Look at the Audioholics website for some good info on speaker cables. They tested some basic and I suppose not so basic cables for typical electrical properties and came to some interesting conclusions. Their conclusions were based on measured electrical properties, not listening experience/experiments. Interesting stuff.

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hahahaha

Good one, Buddha!

dbowker
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Re: Recommended Components

Those dudes at Audioholics are violently anti-cable. I'm looking for editors I more or less respect for their experience and perspective, not just basic measurements. And playing a 15 second tone to subjectively test a component is not my idea of a valid evaluation.

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Re: Recommended Components


Quote:
And playing a 15 second tone to subjectively test a component is not my idea of a valid evaluation.

Really? I spend a lot of time listening to and enjoying sine waves on my system.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Recommended Components


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I spend a lot of time listening to and enjoying sine waves on my system.

That's one reason we pay no attention to your posts.

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Re: Recommended Components


Quote:
In the October, 2007 issue the Recommened Components contain no interconnect priced beneath $350/m pair.

There are lots of lower priced cables available, however Recommended Components only lists what we've evaluated. We can't recommend components we haven't heard.

Recommended Components doesn't cover everything there is out there. In the opening essays and in the "How To Use The Listings" sidebar I think we make this clear.

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It's WAY past due for someone to do a real world cable comparison.

I'll mention this to JA.

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Re: Recommended Components

What Stephen said.

But, maybe it's a true reflection. If your not going to go stratosphere, may as well just save your money cause there really isn't THAT much difference.

I would think those of us who have been at this a while have proof of that in a pile in our closets!

RG

Jan Vigne
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Re: Recommended Components

I understand that, Stephen. But someone must have a pair of Kimber or AudioQuest cables around that don't cost what most would consider a rather large chunk o' change. What's a newcomer to think if they pick up this month's issue for some guidance? If Stereophile also feels there's really little difference until you spend a chunk o' change, shouldn't that be noted also? Shouldn't there be something to give the little guys some hope they can afford this hobby? Hell, even I feel left out and I have a pile of cables in my closet.

ElGreco
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Re: Recommended Components

1. Audio cables are like Coca-Cola: the bulk of the company expenses is advertising and they have a huge profit margin.

2. If one wants to optimise their sound system, cables must be rendered irrelevant. A component with a well-designed power supply (there are not that many, you know) renders its power cable irrelevant. An active speaker (there are far superior to passive ones, you know) renders speaker cables irrelevant. And so on and so forth.

It irks me greatly to see idiots spend thousands on snake oil cables when they could reap huge sonic benefits by investing far less money to buy, say, an external wordclock device.

It is high time audiophiles looked at how studio professionals do stuff. They would find out that by turning to "professional" gear they will have far better sound for far less money. They will have to sacrifice looks but then again, I thought that audiophilia was about purism, not frills and foo-foo.

I would urge consumer audio magazines to do likewise, but it would fall on deaf ears.

bjh
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Re: Recommended Components

Stereophile is the last place one should look for reviews of reasonably priced cables. Stereophile reviewers are seen as the cream of the crop to cable manufacturers who fall over themselves to get their best products in the reviewers hands no only for review purposes but also to have their product listed in the "Associated Equipment" area that appears in each review.

Incidentally I would maintain that the net result is that reviews of "budget" components are in many cases inadvertently tainted... anyone who thinks that the performance of a $1000 CD Player isn't helped along by being connected to an interconnect that costs a few $1000s is seriously deluding thenselves!

Jan Vigne
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Re: Recommended Components


Quote:
It irks me greatly to see idiots spend thousands on snake oil cables when they could reap huge sonic benefits by investing far less money to buy, say, an external wordclock device.

Is it a different time outside than inside? No wonder the mail's always late.

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Re: Recommended Components


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What's a newcomer to think if they pick up this month's issue for some guidance?

I hope they'd be encouraged by all the affordable gear we do mention, and know that they can find recommendations for affordable cables elsewhere until we do review some.


Quote:
If Stereophile also feels there's really little difference until you spend a chunk o' change, shouldn't that be noted also?

We haven't said we feel this way.


Quote:
Shouldn't there be something to give the little guys some hope they can afford this hobby?

I think we give newcomers to the hobby a lot of reasons to be hopeful. Of course, we could do more, and we will.


Quote:
Hell, even I feel left out and I have a pile of cables in my closet.

I'm sorry you feel left out, Jan. Why don't you post a review of some affordable cables in the cable forum?

RGibran
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Re: Recommended Components


Quote:
Incidentally I would maintain that the net result is that reviews of "budget" components are in many cases inadvertently tainted... anyone who thinks that the performance of a $1000 CD Player isn't helped along by being connected to an interconnect that costs a few $1000s is seriously deluding thenselves!

That's a fairly strong blanket statement. I don't know that they are any more tainted than having an aftermarket power cord, power conditioner or magic fuse installed during the review process, which seems to be increasingly popular these days.

But who is to say the unit wouldn't have sounded better in stock form?

If we have yet to measure what it is that these magic items do to the sound, why is it some would seem to only believe when/if we do discover these truths that they will be positive as opposed to discovering most of these magic devices actually have a detrimental effect on the music?

RG

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Re: Recommended Components

"It is high time audiophiles looked at how studio professionals do stuff. They would find out that by turning to "professional" gear they will have far better sound for far less money. "

If that's the case, then why is Skywalker Ranch, the premiere studio for sound effects and film industry benchmark for sound use MIT cables throughout their studio? MIT makes some of the most outrageously expensive cables around and yet it was chosen by a team of engineers who INVENTED many of the innovations that have been adopted in film and music. These guys aren't a bunch of yo-yos who just get sucked into a sales pitch to impress their friends or make themselves feel better by fancy looking wire. They are in business first and foremost and would not be outfitting an entire studio in what you call snake-oil or magic. Oh damn, they mentioned they actually LISTENED to how the cables sounded compared to other ones- they must be idiots after all....................

Link: http://www.mitcables.com/pdf/pv.com_mit.pdf

Jan Vigne
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Quote:
Why don't you post a review of some affordable cables in the cable forum?

I did, Stephen. My ultra-thin DIY cables. It ended up in the Dead Zone. Twice, I think. Do you really want to go there again? 'Sides, what's in my closet hasn't been sold for years as the cable manufacturers have discovered new ways to make cables with different names.

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Re: Recommended Components


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why is Skywalker Ranch, the premiere studio for sound effects

I guess that "sound effects" is your benchmark. Mine is opera.

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Re: Recommended Components


Quote:
It irks me greatly to see idiots spend thousands on snake oil cables when they could reap huge sonic benefits by investing far less money to buy, say, an external wordclock device.

I wonder could you be so kind as to make a few suggestions of budget CD Players and/or DACs that feature an external wordclock input, and also a few budget external wordclock devices.

Thanks in advance.

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Quote:

Quote:
why is Skywalker Ranch, the premiere studio for sound effects

I guess that "sound effects" is your benchmark. Mine is opera.

I didn't think it was necessary to clarify that they do all the best soundtrack mixes as well- which includes a fair amount of opera... They also do straight music editing and mixing. I'll take the following as a reasonable benchmark any day.

" With 18 Academy Awards

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Re: Recommended Components


Quote:

Quote:
In the October, 2007 issue the Recommened Components contain no interconnect priced beneath $350/m pair.

There are lots of lower priced cables available, however Recommended Components only lists what we've evaluated. We can't recommend components we haven't heard.

Recommended Components doesn't cover everything there is out there. In the opening essays and in the "How To Use The Listings" sidebar I think we make this clear.

Dudes, if all they get sent is Cristal, Salon, and Dom, why would they bother with Chandon?

In the world of fine dining, the 350 dollar per person and up places average a 100% "review rate."

The places that charge 20 bucks for dinner get a token review in one of those "local flavor" inserts, and they send the intern to do the eating.

Same with wines.

It's one of the laws of human nature.

I think a reviewer, whose initials were MA, once said, "The audio peasants are complaining that there are no cables under 350 dollars? Then let them listen to TARA Zeros!"

(Sorry. I walked in a saw this big old spoon demanding it be used to stir...I don't trust cable reviews, anyway, so feel free to skip the affordable kind. I do appreciate the great attention y'all pay to other affordable components!)

Kal Rubinson
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Re: Recommended Components


Quote:
I didn't think it was necessary to clarify that they do all the best soundtrack mixes as well- which includes a fair amount of opera...

This is not meant to be contentious but can you tell me of some opera projects done there?

Kal

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Quote:
they do all the best soundtrack mixes as well- which includes a fair amount of opera.


Impeccably, I am sure, mixed in with dinosaur footsteps and intergalactic swooshes. Which is mighty fine by me, because, as you correctly point out:

Quote:
They are in business first and foremost


I'm interested in the art of music, though, not business, so when the Vienna Philharmonic hire them, then will I take notice.

Quote:
I wonder could you be so kind as to make a few suggestions of budget CD Players and/or DACs that feature an external wordclock input, and also a few budget external wordclock devices.


Each man's budget differs, but surely if a cable is priced higher than an SLR camera, anything is "budget"! Rosendahl make a mean (Nano)clock for the price of a "Recommended cable" and I'm sure that if one looks towards Tascam, Alesis, Behringer, Weiss Pro, etc, much merriment will be occasioned. That is, until Klein+Hummel replace their O500C with a wordclock input model I know some of these are somewhat expensive, but at least one is buying their money's worth, not a Pinto covered in sculpted Perspex and titanium milled by karmic witches on a full moon when Jupiter aligned with Mars and Saturn's rings jittered menacingly towards the Death Star.

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Re: Recommended Components


Quote:
Each man's budget differs, but surely if a cable is priced higher than an SLR camera, anything is "budget"! Rosendahl make a mean (Nano)clock for the price of a "Recommended cable" and I'm sure that if one looks towards Tascam, Alesis, Behringer, Weiss Pro, etc, much merriment will be occasioned. That is, until Klein+Hummel replace their O500C with a wordclock input model I know some of these are somewhat expensive, but at least one is buying their money's worth, not a Pinto covered in sculpted Perspex and titanium milled by karmic witches on a full moon when Jupiter aligned with Mars and Saturn's rings jittered menacingly towards the Death Star.

Ah I see, it's not really a budget issue per see, certainly not if we allow for the diversity of possible budgets, please pardon the reductionism.

So then it's really a question of the merit of choices, and on that you clearly feel that those who allocate funds toward cables when instead they could be opting for choices that you would approve are "idiots". Idiots, yeah they can really irk a guy, I understand completely.

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Quote:

Quote:
I didn't think it was necessary to clarify that they do all the best soundtrack mixes as well- which includes a fair amount of opera...

This is not meant to be contentious but can you tell me of some opera projects done there?

Kal

I personally have heard Skywalker Ranch's recording of Chewbacca singing the main aria from Carmen (L'Oieseau rebelle.) I also got to hear the Ewoks sing the "Ewoks Chorus" (La Sui monti dell' Est) from Turnadot behind "narration" by C3PO. I think it was produced by Malcom McLaren.

Lastly, I heard a bootleg recording of Darth Vader singing parts of Mephistopheles using P.D.Q. Bach's transcriptions.

Hope that helps.

Oh, wait...once, I heard Liz Phair's Skywalker Ranch's production of a cover version of Whole Lotta Love - it was so "real" it gave me wood. It certainly had a happier ending than "opera," though.

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Quote:
That's a fairly strong blanket statement. I don't know that they are any more tainted than having an aftermarket power cord, power conditioner or magic fuse installed during the review process, which seems to be increasingly popular these days.

But who is to say the unit wouldn't have sounded better in stock form?

If we have yet to measure what it is that these magic items do to the sound, why is it some would seem to only believe when/if we do discover these truths that they will be positive as opposed to discovering most of these magic devices actually have a detrimental effect on the music?

RG

My opinions are based upon my experiences and as to the nature of those experiences I can only say that I'm not holding out for measurements to inform what is positive or detrimental to sound, I use my ears for that.

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Lastly, I heard a bootleg recording of Darth Vader singing parts of Mephistopheles using P.D.Q. Bach's transcriptions.

The Star Wars saga will culminate in "La Fanciulla del Tatooine: A Hyperspace Oprah". In the climactic scene of the second act, Queen Turandala will stab Senator Scarpatine with a light saber, yelling "Muori, muori!". She will then dance with seven magnetic veils and give birth to a kryptonite ring while hitting several high E's in a row. The ring will transform into MIT cable and thus the balance of the Force will be permanently restored. Word.

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Re: Recommended Components

A friend of mine who owns pretty high end gear (dcs stack and JM Labs Nova Utopia speakers) and I did a non-scientific cable comparison. We found that there is indeed a difference among cables, with Audioquest Amazon and MIT cables sounding the best. However, once we connected the system using balanced interconnect, it became clear that cables play a much less negligible role. He is now using Audio Technica's $15 balanced cables in his system, which sound better than single ended MIT and Amazon cables. In retrospect, it makes sense why the pros don't use overly priced cables: they're balanced all the way through.

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Quote:
A friend of mine who owns pretty high end gear (dcs stack and JM Labs Nova Utopia speakers) and I did a non-scientific cable comparison. We found that there is indeed a difference among cables, with Audioquest Amazon and MIT cables sounding the best. However, once we connected the system using balanced interconnect, it became clear that cables play a much less negligible role. He is now using Audio Technica's $15 balanced cables in his system, which sound better than single ended MIT and Amazon cables. In retrospect, it makes sense why the pros don't use overly priced cables: they're balanced all the way through.

Two of my audio buddies, one a cable designer whose products I use (and lend my ears during evaluation of), the other someone I met via the net, use balanced ICs.

I've found in both systems that cable difference are as pronounced as they are as for single ended.

Mind you it's not that simple. For example in the cable designer's system I preferred the sound of his Meridian G08 (since sold) when connected single ended finding the balanced connection a bit "electronic" sounding in comparison; he didn't agree but that doesn't bother me, I tend to expect certain biases on his part thats come natually from him being an engineer.

For me I've come to the firm impression based on my expereinces that the idea that balanced levels the playing fields for cables is a myth. I beleive it comes down to the component, what the design favors. I definitely prefer the XLR connector however even over locking RCAs (which while great are a royal pain when it comes to swapping).

I suppose for very long runs balanced would have the inherent advantage of superior noise rejection but to judge by the second hand market (i.e. AudiogoN) short ICs (1m, 1.5m) seem the most common by far even for balanced cables.

...

Anyway your buddy must be tickled pink with his discovery of the fine sounding $15 Audio Technica, perhaps he's come across a true giant killer! If you get a chance could you ask him the model (and vintage) as other may benefit from his find.

dbowker
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Re: Recommended Components

OK- I will clarify using Skywalker Sound as an example to "possibly" learn from for one reason ONLY. It was stated that audiophiles are more or less idiots by thinking higher grade cable has anything to do with better sound. It was then further stated that we need "to get with the pros", who by implication, NEVER bother with such magic and snake oil as expensive cables. I posted the example to say that, far from pros never using them, one of the best in business does and uses some of the priciest around. Arguing whether they produce music anyone here personally listens to is absolutely beside the point. Seriously, just follow your own posts. It's not that hard.

And for you "Music" but not soundtrack lovers, here is a link (one of many) of purely classical music projects. Nuff said...
http://www.ladyslipper.org/rel/v2_viewupc.php?storenr=53&upc=09304672692

And yes, Opera, thank God.

http://www.bestprices.com/cgi-bin/vlink/600445040823.html

Kal Rubinson
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Quote:
And for you "Music" but not soundtrack lovers, here is a link (one of many) of purely classical music projects. Nuff said...
http://www.ladyslipper.org/rel/v2_viewupc.php?storenr=53&upc=09304672692

And yes, Opera, thank God.

http://www.bestprices.com/cgi-bin/vlink/600445040823.html

The latter, despite being derived from Puccini, is a soundtrack, not an opera.

Kal

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Quote:

Quote:
And for you "Music" but not soundtrack lovers, here is a link (one of many) of purely classical music projects. Nuff said...
http://www.ladyslipper.org/rel/v2_viewupc.php?storenr=53&upc=09304672692

And yes, Opera, thank God.

http://www.bestprices.com/cgi-bin/vlink/600445040823.html

The latter, despite being derived from Puccini, is a soundtrack, not an opera.

Kal

CORPUS EVITA - Opera In Two Acts

The recording audio, set down at Skywalker Sound in Calfornia (within text)

Jan Vigne
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Re: Recommended Components

Wow! You guys are getting that tree awful wet awfully high up.

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Quote:
CORPUS EVITA - Opera In Two Acts

This is an opera? Do I get french fries with it?

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Quote:

Quote:
CORPUS EVITA - Opera In Two Acts

This is an opera? Do I get french fries with it?

You're not confusing "Opera" with "Oprah" by any chance, are you?

In fact having the benefit of our correspondence I

ElGreco
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Via, resti servita,
Madama brillante

Buddha
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I think "Corpus Evita" is what they say as they take communion in Argentinian Catholic churches.

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Quote:

Quote:
It's WAY past due for someone to do a real world cable comparison.

I'll mention this to JA.

Consider it mentioned, Stephen. It's an excellent suggestion.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

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I think "Corpus Evita" is what they say as they take communion in Argentinian Catholic churches.

LOL!

Very, very good Buddha

Jan Vigne
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Not a reply to the above post but this should certainly help the situation alluded to in my original post.

http://forum.stereophile.com/forum/showf...=true#Post27405

Only $5k for these cables. How many $5k cables does a dealer or a user need? What do you do with the $4k cables you're replacing?

I just read the review of the Muse universal player and its "simplified" optional remote for $375. This is getting downright pricey!

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Quote:

Quote:
A friend of mine who owns pretty high end gear (dcs stack and JM Labs Nova Utopia speakers) and I did a non-scientific cable comparison. We found that there is indeed a difference among cables, with Audioquest Amazon and MIT cables sounding the best. However, once we connected the system using balanced interconnect, it became clear that cables play a much less negligible role. He is now using Audio Technica's $15 balanced cables in his system, which sound better than single ended MIT and Amazon cables. In retrospect, it makes sense why the pros don't use overly priced cables: they're balanced all the way through.

Anyway your buddy must be tickled pink with his discovery of the fine sounding $15 Audio Technica, perhaps he's come across a true giant killer! If you get a chance could you ask him the model (and vintage) as other may benefit from his find.

Yeah, my buddy is ecstatic that he found a cable really cheap and that it's better than the multi $ cables he used before.

Here's the link to the Audio Technica cables he got.

bjh
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Quote:

Yeah, my buddy is ecstatic that he found a cable really cheap and that it's better than the multi $ cables he used before.

Here's the link to the Audio Technica cables he got.

Thanks. I'm going to order a pair and try them in my friend's system.

One more little favor if possible... could you ask your friend if he feels those AT cables require burn-in, and if the answer is affirmative, how many hours?... just want to make certain the comparison is fair as possible... I'll also call and see if they can provide a 3 ft (1m) version for the same reason.

Thanks

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cables require burn-in, and if the answer is affirmative, how many hours?

That's an easy one. Just as in the question "How many grains of salt should one sprinkle on an egg?" (from Moli

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Quote:

Quote:

Yeah, my buddy is ecstatic that he found a cable really cheap and that it's better than the multi $ cables he used before.

Here's the link to the Audio Technica cables he got.

Thanks. I'm going to order a pair and try them in my friend's system.

One more little favor if possible... could you ask your friend if he feels those AT cables require burn-in, and if the answer is affirmative, how many hours?... just want to make certain the comparison is fair as possible... I'll also call and see if they can provide a 3 ft (1m) version for the same reason.

Thanks

No burn in. Straight out of the box - good sound, no issues.

Here is your 3ft version. Note that this is the price for the single cable, so you'll have to order two to play stereo.

AceMineral
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Re: Recommended Components

How recent are the prices for the recommended components?

Ariel Bitran
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Re: Recommended Components

All of the listed prices of the recommended components were checked and updated in July of 2007 through correspondence between Stereophile (that would be Stephen and I doing the communication)and the manufacturers/PR Agencies of the listed. If we could not find an updated price or model name confirmation, the product was dropped from the listing.

AceMineral
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Component Prices

Thank you.

quadlover
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Re: Component Prices

before everyone gets crazy about this cable comparison thing again remember when comparing cables that when removing and installing cables to clean connections as oxidation will play a huge difference in sound quality. i can't remember what the product's name is/was but it was an industry darling some time ago to keep connections from oxidation. i wonder how many "golden ears" can be tricked with "blind cable comparisons just by removing and cleaning connections? just a thought!

johnmarks
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Here's my perspective, FWIW... and, it's Caig Pro Gold

Dear Jan,

I think that part of the problem here is that the Rec Comp list is derived, as far as I know, mostly from formal reviews and to a degree from coverage in columns. For instance, when I was the first to write about the original Stereovox interconnects and speaker wires, what I wrote run under a separate subhead in my column. That subhead serves to "flag" that coverage for later indexing and attention, such as Product of the Year, and RCL.

However, there is a level of coverage that "flies under the radar," and that is mentions in the course of reviewing other equipment. For instance, when I wrote up the Ars-Sonum Filarmonia amp, I used two different pairs of speakers. Those will get flagged. However, under the radar I mentioned Nordost Blue Heaven wire goods as well as Cardas Neutral Reference. Those, I expect, will not get flagged.

Sorry, the system is not perfect. And anyway, why should people have to index and carry forward passing mentions? Between RCL and the Equipment Guide it's a wonder poor Stephen is not being talked back in from the window ledge.

FWIW, and I don't know what your idea of "budget" is, my usual "Great Cheap Chardonnay" cable recommendation is Nordost Blue Heaven. This I have mentioned several times over the years. Two years ago I gave favorable mention to affordable Analysis Plus wire goods, in the columns about a cost-effective system for a music teacher. Furthermore, I have several times recommended the pro audio wires available from Markertek (www.markertek.com). Indeed, I have stated twice at least that most people will be better off getting Canare or Mogami pro wires from Markertek and spending the money they save on an acoustical consultation from Rives Audio.

I also should put in a good word for Wire World, whose cables I have used in both home and pro settings.

Any questions, you can write me care of stletters@primedia.com

JM

PS, for the person who wanted to know the pro contact cleaner, AFAIK the industry standard is Caig Pro Gold wipes.

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