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 deep tone seems to come at the expense of some rounded outlines and weight of instruments and voices. It’s a bit more unfocused but still musical and slightly softer.||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.|