As mentioned in my previous reviews, I’ve gathered a few impressions on the RCA interconnects I’ve been listening to. My goal was to find the best pair that will go between my Omega Compact Alnico Monitors and the Chord DAVE. The Chord DAVE has enough power to drive these high-efficiency speakers and, with the help of adapters, enables me to skip the speaker cables entirely. It’ll also enable me to hear the “true sound” of these RCA interconnects.
A single power cable or component swap and the cables will sound a bit different, sometimes it’s dramatic. However, I’ve found the key sonic characteristics of the cable are still intact and the relative differences between the cables are preserved across systems. If cable A is warmer and punchier than cable B, it’ll usually be the same case in another system to a higher or lower degree.
Unlike my experiments with digital cables, I don’t think any of these analog interconnects sounded terrible/unbearable. Most are using quality materials and appropriate geometries.
After months of listening, here are my findings. Obviously, they’re system dependent, but I did try them on multiple systems and focused on the commonalities between systems. I’m hoping this will help others tune and flavor their systems accordingly.
I’m planning on keeping this a living document so I’ll update as I go. I’ll also update to a quantified list with attributes (warmth, soundstage, resolution, etc). If you’re interested in sending in your cables, feel free.
The table is sortable.
|High Fidelity Cables||CT-1||$1,600/m||A very rich and dense sounding cable. One of the sweetest midrange of the bunch. Doesn’t have much shine up top but is incredibly musical.||If you need to add a lot more meat on the bones, this cable would work very well. Should sound great on most solid-state amplifiers or more higher resolution systems.|
|High Fidelity Cables||CT-1 Enhanced||$2,800/m||Similar tone to the CT-1 with some improvements. When tracks get busy, there’s a beautiful coherence and composure. Fantastic delineation and great timbre.||A natural upgrade from the CT-1. The background isn’t the blackest (price for warmth) but will pair well with a resolving system.|
|High Fidelity Cables||Reveal||$559.20/m||I wrote an entire review of this cable. This doesn’t sound like either of the CT-1s. It’s more open, uplifted, forward, and has a more dynamic presence. It also has an inherent excitement and is quieter to my ears. Compared to the CT-1, delineation isn’t as great and edges are slightly fuzzier with some grain. Timbre is also better with the CT-1.||I think this cable will work well on most systems, especially warmer but not darker systems. It’s a very musical and engaging cable.|
|Vovox||Textura IC direct||$625/m||I spent a ton of time listening to this cable. Something sounds “right” about it and I preferred the BulletPlug connectors over all the other ones. Although it doesn’t have the most resolution or air, it has a tonal gradation and articulation that makes it very inviting. It’s a pleasing cable most will be happy with and the price makes it a no-brainer.||Great to add more mass to a more neutral or leaner sounding system.|
|Vovox||Fortis||$2,200/m||This (expensive) cable fixes everything from the Textura line. It is probably the richest sounding cable of the bunch (at the expense of some dimensionality). Timbre/tone is one of the most accurate but may be a little thick for some. There’s a slight bloom in the mids but overall very full-bodied, impactful, and addictive. There’s also a slight softness which makes quick transients not as apparent.Overall, a weighty, euphoric, sweet, and “honest” sounding cable.||This rich cable will add a large amount of density to your system. If your systems sound thin or a bit dry, this cable might be what you’re looking for.|
|Furutech||Lineflux||$1,473.00/1.2m||Great timbre and tone. Lots of slam and rhythmic coherence which provides a euphoric sound. Lacks a little in dynamic tactility and resolution. Misses out on some micro-details and doesn’t have much contouring of the actors. Overall, it’s a very pleasant and balanced sounding cable.||I think this will pair well with high-energy and high-resolution systems with hard edges and plenty of details to contribute.|
|Danacable||Sapphire Reference IC||$695.00/m||Fantastic tone/timbre, healthy layer of warmth, and refined articulation. Layering and dynamics aren’t as apparent as the much pricier cables but sounds great regardless.||Probably the most balanced cable in the group and will work well with any system.|
|UIT||IMP-RCA 150 Perfect Music Purifier||$790.00/1.5m||This cable actually uses their Perfect Music Purifier technology (PMP) along the cable to eliminate grou9nd circuit noise. This is a forward, detailed, balanced, clean, tight, and well-delineated cable. It’s a bit of the counterpart to the HFC CT-1E. Noise floor is incredibly low and music sounds spacious (Speakers disappear). It is a bit leaner (not bright at all), provides fantastic layering and a very holographic sound. This is at the expensive of some body and some low-end weight.||Great sounding cable in all respects, especially for the price. If you’re looking to add a little shine and dimension to your setup, the UIT may work well. If you’re looking for more density and body, this isn’t the cable.|
|Zenwave||D4||$1,175.00/m||A superb sounding cable made with a gold/silver alloy, similar in tone/timbre to the UIT. Spacious, holographic, fun, and highly resolving. The layering capabilities of this cable are world class. Every part of the music is relayed without losing musicality. It’s a tad lean for my tastes but this cable was recommended for systems with tubes installed in the amp/preamp portions. It gets pretty close to the Audience Au24 SX but won’t have the body of the HFC Reveals. Very good control, very quiet, smooth, and impressive imaging.||This cable was a tad lean for my tastes but should work well with tubes. Might be a bit bright for SS amp owners or those looking for a meatier sound.|
|Zenwave||D3||$549.00/m||A very organic, natural, and warm sounding cable. Accurate tone/timbre, even more so than the HFC Reveal. This is at the expense of some clarity and shine. “Soothing” and “Cozy” comes to mind. It’s silky smooth but doesn’t have the low-level nuance and dynamics of the other cables.||Will work well with systems with a lot of shimmer, dimension, and detail. I suspect it’ll do a great job warming up an analytical system.|
|Blue Jeans Cables||LC-1||$30.00+||It’s nice to revisit an old cable from my earlier audio days. I would say this is deeply in the entry-level line as far as fidelity. I’ve heard generics I actually liked better. It has resolving capabilities, soundstage, and weight commensurate of price.||These cables work fine in sub $500-$1,000 complete systems.|
|Audience||Au24 SX||$2,085/1.5m||This is currently my reference cable and I wrote a full-blown review about it a few months ago. This cable just breathes. Perhaps not as refined as the D4/UIT or not slightly leaner in tone from the Textura/Lineflux but instruments sound accurate with the proper amount of weight and dynamics. I believe it to be the most realistic sounding cable with the most gradations in the sonic spectrum. My only gripe: I wish it were a little warmer but the tradeoff is understandable and worthwhile for me.||Should work great on any system, especially warmer and even darker systems.|
|Cardas||Cygnus Clear||$790.00/m||Similar philosophy as the Purist Audio Design stuff as far as smoothing out edges and having more of an “analog” sound. With sound this liquid, there’s less “definition” and grittiness (the good kind). This cable is more light-footed and polite.||If your system has a more edgy and gritty sound and you would like to smooth them over, this cable is perfect.|
|Purist Audio Design||Venustas Luminist Revision||$1,630.00/m||Like most PAD cables, nothing to complain about. It doesn’t overly smooth like the Cardas Cygnus. It’s not an exciting or vivid cable, but a silky one with a greyer background. Instruments and vocals don’t quite float but blend in a cohesive and musical way.||If you like PAD’s house sound, you can’t go wrong. I think this cable will work a variety of systems. It’ll tame and smooth out whatever you have in a musical way.|
|Purist Audio Design||Musaeus Luminist Revision||$950.00/m||True to the PAD sound: Super liquid, dynamic, and no grain. Great tone/timbre. Maintains the proper amount of grit and texture. Fantastic musicality. Not as clean as the Venustas Luminist but pretty dam close.||If you like PAD’s house sound, you can’t go wrong. I think this cable will work a variety of systems. It’ll tame and smooth out whatever you have in a musical way.|
|Harmonic Technology||RecTa OS RCA||$550.00/m||I felt vocals had a very natural tone, even vs the Audience Au24 SX. The Audience, however, has a more insightful and airy sound. This deeper tone seems to come at the expense of some rounded outlines and weight of instruments and voices. It’s a bit more unfocused/untextured but still musical and slightly softer. This could be due to the ample amounts of shielding vs the rest.||If you want to bring a system closer to neutral, this cable may help. It’s not overly warm or cold and provides good timbre/tone.|
|Requisite Audio||Silver/Copper RCA 3.5||$136/pair||It definitely has the “silver” elevated sound but with a twist. The midrange actually has a decent amount of warmth and body. More than most silver RCA cables. Articulation and texture are top-notch. This cable has speed and the ability to provide spatial cues that wrap around you. If you’re a transparency nut, you have to hear this cable.||If you tend to gravitate towards silver in your system and don’t mind giving up some low-end density, this cable performs extraordinarily well for its unbelievable price. I would buy it just to keep it around as a reference of how good silver/copper could sound. Regardless of price, this is one of the better sounding cables.|
Very interesting article – thanks for the summary.
Are you going to try the Zenwave D5? I’m eyeing two pairs up for dac / pre / power in my system.
D5 is en route 🙂 Supposedly pairs well with SS amps.
You should not use rca interconnect to drive speakers, because their resistance could be to high for speaker use. It is easy to make an rca to banana wire adapter. I have made up my own speaker cable, 2 meters of 0.5m silver wire, more length needs a doubling the wire.
I’m still doing a few experimentations. Planning to just go RCA directly into the driver without adapters. Not practical but I’m curious as to how it’ll sound.
Cables do make a difference, but too bad you didn’t cut a sample open and calibrate the gauge , tinned, wrapped, etc. Your review is for you, and does no one any good. Subjective survives of very expensive accessories come off looking like you’re a shill. I only found this due to a link where people were much less kind. If you expect a long run in this you shouldn’t sell out so fast.
are you ferrite encumbering these beauties?
Informative post. I have got some important info about RCA cables. Well done. Keep sharing. Thank you.
Holy shit ya’ll are crazy. Their is zero evidence that cables change the end sound. Provide evidence to the contrary.
@sceptic…: WHY the heck are you reading these kind of articles then?? To tell us that you a) know nothing about HighEnd audio, b) you don’t trust your own ears (which would easily be able to proof – if clean) or c) to get a reaction to feed your narcissistic ego and ‚proof‘ that you’re still relevant….what you are not. At least in this genre here…Go to sleep!
Michael, don’t be so hard on Skeptic; it’s very possible he has a very basic, entry-level, low-fi pos stereo and cables really do not make a difference. Using a high end power cable on a Bose Wave radio doesn’t help. Many years ago we used zipcord (extension cords with their ends cut off) for our hippie-era speaker cables & thin junk Radio Shack interconnects; and they were just fine. Our Sansui receivers and Pioneer speakers wouldn’t know the diff if we’d used gold Audience. Now… with Avantgarde horns and delicate PX25 amps, cables make an incredible difference.
I am One of those skeptics who never believed in High end expensive cables made a difference I was in the camp of Gene DellaSalaof Audioholics, until I got myself a system that cost me in the five figure range starting with Daedalus Poseidon MTM floor standing speakers QuickSilver Mono amps, DS-2 pre amp and a PS audio Directstream DAC so started my journey with Demo ing different IC & Speaker cables costing in thousands sadly speaker cables make a difference more so Interconnect cables I am Demoing the Zenwave D4 right now and find them to be spectacular and agree with the author a bit lean for my taste
I have used a large variety of cables and they can make a difference. The difference can range from obvious to very subtle. I once was a skeptic and could not believe cables have a sound.
The most obvious differences are found in passive components where impedance makes a big change. I used to have a passive preamp and switched to Kimber Hero’s based on a very positive change.
On active equipment the changes are more subtle. High quality cables excel at the transfer of very low level signals without interference. The lower level the signal, the more need for quality cabling.
Phono cabling is very important. Cabling for hooking up LOMC cartridge output is especially critical because the signals are so small. Any issues when dealing with these small signals is something to consider.
It depends on your audio gear. Cheaper equipment will not benefit as much from higher end cabling because these products are incapable of reproducing very low level signals without distorting the signal.
High end stereo is all about the reproduction of the lowest and highest level signals. It is much harder to reproduce low level signals without adding to or losing some of the content.
The highest level signals requires power and gear capable of transmission of high level signals but this info is not as fragile as the low level stuff.
The cabling can add or subtract from the lowest level signals due to cheap connectors, too much capacitance, impedance bumps and non linear response at signal extremes.
It is not as simple as we would like when the signals start to reach extremes. Cheap audio will sound cheap no matter what you do but better quality gear justifies investment in better cabling to preserve all of the signal content.
While I am just getting into this and pretty much being blown away by the costs for many of these cables, I have a what appears to be a somewhat different “need”. I am going down the rabbit hole of a tri-amped system. That being said, I seem to be hearing (for both power and interconnect cables) different abilities at different frequencies. So I think I am headed to different cables for my different amps right now. It seems like I can both optimize and be a bit more economical other than the fact I have to triple up on the connections. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
FWIW, I’m still using Iconoclast UPOCC cables. I might be trying their new line soon. $1,500 is the sweet spot from my experience. But you could find something you really like around $500. https://www.iconoclastcable.com/rca/index.htm
Thanks – a very informative survey! I became so intrigued by your description of the Requisite Audio SC cable, that I contacted them and ordered 1,5 meters of the 5SC. It cost me 188 USD plus shipping. My enthusiasm over this rca interconnect is still rising after installing it in my hifi setup between my preamp (Belles VT-01 with exotic tubes) and EAM Lab monoblocks. They simply outperform my former interconnect at a thousand dollars. After only a couple of days’ use, the 5SC yield a tremendous threedimensional soundstage, with uncanny transparency, balanced timbre and unwavering precision. The low-end density you mention was excactly that with my former cable – density heard as less resolution, less timbre information. At this price point, the 5SC’s are a tremendous bargain. I would recommend it to any hifi enthusiast, and should they still prefer the cables they are used to, « … just to keep it around as a reference of how good silver/copper could sound.» They will remain in my setup indefinitely.
Thank you for the in depth research.
Dug through Requisite Audio’s website (sure be nice if provided a search option) and seems no longer manufacture RCA cables.
I have a vintage setup, why would I spend the same price is what the whole system cost new (about $2,500USD in the 1980s)? My concern is spend all this money and the cables are too nice for the setup, where $150 cables be an improvement and maybe the limit.
Thanks in advance for the help.
Go to http://www.requisiteaudio.com/
Click on “Line Level”
Under “Unbalanced Series” click on Silver/Copper and you’re there. Cable price are for one cable.