Cable Reviews

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Art Dudley  |  Jul 26, 2016  |  134 comments
I should have seen this coming: Less than a year after the last time I railed against the darkness of cable reviewing—the indignity of crawling around behind my equipment rack, the tedium of comparing one wire to another, the frustration of trying to wring from the experience some fresh and hopefully entertaining observations, the horror of dealing with manufacturers whose hunger for good publicity borders on the vampiric—I have once again invited into my home a cable manufacturer and his wares.
Art Dudley  |  Dec 31, 2018  |  46 comments
Among the many bits of audio lore that never have and probably never will be aired in public is the story of the amp that ignited the reviewer's curtains. (I assume that at least some of you hoped I was going to say "pants.") I can't tell it in any great detail, partly because the reviewer in question is a friend (though not a Stereophile colleague), and I'm not sure how much of the story he wants out there. In any event, my object here is to offer a long-overdue apology, to all concerned, for having laughed at that story over the years, because it has now happened to me—not the part about the curtains, but definitely the part about the burning amp.
Art Dudley  |  Mar 25, 2008  |  0 comments
I'm old enough to remember my family's first table radio that was made out of plastic. It was cream-colored, and it sat on the rearmost edge of our kitchen table: a less-than-timeless design in its own right, destined to be discarded at the end of one era and treasured again at the dawn of another, for more or less the same reason. But in 1958, a cream-colored plastic radio looked fresh, clean, and right, and its cheap wooden predecessor seemed dowdy and sad by comparison. That would all change in later years, of course. Then it would all change again.
Art Dudley  |  Aug 24, 2009  |  0 comments
I used to be with it, but then they changed what it was. Now what I'm with isn't it, and what's it seems scary and weird. It'll happen to you.—Abraham Simpson
Art Dudley  |  Dec 23, 2009  |  0 comments
She responds as expected to the only sound: hysterical voices!—Brian Eno
Robert J. Reina  |  Oct 17, 2008  |  1 comments
These are the first interconnects and speaker cables I have reviewed for Stereophile. Each of us has his little niche, and editor John Atkinson likes us to play in the sandboxes we most enjoy. For me, that has usually meant inexpensive speakers and expensive tube electronics. But there's another reason I've tended to shy away from cables.
Brian Damkroger  |  Dec 01, 2008  |  First Published: Mar 01, 2000  |  2 comments
In the last year I've written about several components of a truly engaging system: the VPI TNT Mk.IV turntable and JMW Memorial 12" tonearm (February '99), Grado Reference cartridge; the Wadia 830 CD player (October 1999); and Thiel's CS7.2 loudspeakers (February 2000). I've recounted the evolution of my listening-room setup as well, and described its optimization using ASC Tube Traps and Art Noxon's MATT test in the February issue. The final piece of the puzzle, and the one I'll tackle here, was the cable package from MIT: the MI-330 Shotgun Proline interconnects and the MH-750 shotgun speaker cables.
Brian Damkroger  |  Feb 22, 2004  |  First Published: Feb 01, 2004  |  1 comments
I've been in a nostalgic funk of late. What started it was visiting Golden, Colorado, where I spent my graduate-school days, and seeing all of the changes, not to mention the lecture halls full of kids who couldn't be a day over 12. When I commented on how young the freshmen looked, our host—a colleague of mine from grad school, now a professor—responded, "Those are seniors, Brian." I felt a little old.
Kalman Rubinson  |  Mar 01, 2018  |  5 comments
Merging Technologies' original NADAC Multichannel-8 ($11,500) is an impressive device. (NADAC is an acronym for network-attached digital-to-analog converter.) It has eight channels of high-resolution D/A conversion, and two more for its front-panel headphone jack; a cutting-edge Ravenna Ethernet input (based on the AES67 Audio over Internet Protocol, or AoIP); and, to my delight, a real volume-control knob on the front.
Brian Damkroger  |  Oct 30, 2005  |  0 comments
Nirvana Audio's cables have long been fixtures in my audio system: first the SL interconnects and speaker cables, and, after their debut in 1998, the S-X Ltd. interconnect. In 2002, after a long development process, designer Stephen Creamer introduced the companion S-X Ltd. speaker cable ($2780/2.5m pair, add $50/pair for biwire configuration). He explored a wide range of options, including dramatically different structures and materials, but always returned to the elements he'd used before—and ended up with a design that combined elements of his two existing speaker cables, the SL and the entry-level Royale. At its core, the S-X Ltd. has the Royale's two conductors, each a symmetrical Litz element consisting of 285 isolated strands of high-purity copper of several different gauges. In the S-X Ltd., the conductors are spaced slightly apart to minimize capacitance, wound into a twisted pair, and wrapped in FEP insulation.
Brian Damkroger  |  Nov 24, 2008  |  First Published: Aug 24, 2000  |  0 comments
Recently, I caught myself smiling at a tiny ad for Nirvana cables that proclaimed them to be "the quiet cable." My smile wasn't because the claim was outlandish, which it wasn't, but because it was so typical of Nirvana Audio Products—small, understated, and all too easy to miss. The ad could just have easily and just as accurately have read "Nirvana...the quiet company."
Art Dudley  |  Oct 22, 2006  |  0 comments
The good news: Domestic audio has survived its first half century and continues to live above ground. The bad news: At an age when most hobbies can enjoy the luxury of splintering into smaller factions that hate each other with impunity, ours isn't big enough. There are too few audiophiles on Earth to indulge that kind of specialization, let alone support the very different magazines that would ensue—so we'll never get to enjoy such promising titles as Liberal Tube Lover (not that I didn't try), The Elderly Skeptic, or, of particular interest, Cable Hating for People Who are Barely Audiophiles in the First Place.
Jason Victor Serinus  |  Jan 10, 2019  |  26 comments
As a longtime user of Nordost's cable and AC-power products, my ears opened wide when they released their three QKore Ground Units and QKore Wire at High End 2017, in Munich. While I've never questioned the importance of proper electrical grounding, to prevent problems with safety and noise—the latter including measurable noise generated by transformers, appliances, LED lighting, power supplies, and Bluetooth, WiFi, and cellular devices—I couldn't fathom what difference a passive grounding device might make in a high-end system that, in my case, is fed by an 8-gauge dedicated line with its own copper ground rod driven into the terra infirma of the fault-ridden Pacific Northwest.
Brian Damkroger  |  Jun 23, 2016  |  45 comments
It would be an understatement to say that in 2001, when Nordost introduced their original Valhalla cables, they were a revelation for me. Their focus and resolution of detail were like nothing I'd ever heard, and revealed in recorded performances a startling energy and realism. Throw in their seemingly absolute transparency, and similarly unique levels of spatial and temporal precision, and the Valhallas established a new standard of sound quality in audio cables. Although their tonal balance was cool, as I reported in my first review of them in the November 2001 issue, they were the only game in town in terms of reproducing the feel of a live performance. I immediately adopted them as a reference cable, and they remain a reference for me today.
Brian Damkroger  |  May 30, 2004  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2001  |  0 comments
One of the highlights of any Consumer Electronics Show, I have found, is Nordost Corporation's demonstration of their cables. Using a relatively modest system and non-audiophile source material, they run through a simple, straightforward sequence, climbing up through their product line, culminating with their new, just-introduced model. At each step, the system sounds distinctly better—clearer, cleaner, with more body and tonal purity—than with the previous model. There's no hype, artifice, or magic, just a clear demonstration of the progress that Nordost is making as they refine their designs.

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