As you probably know, I’ve gone into the deep end with audiophile cables. The reason? Cables could make the difference between feeling tepid about a system – and being emotionally enthralled. As such, that was enough reason for me to journey out and listen to hundreds of digital and analog cables.
Cable design has become akin to winemaking. Many cable designers put their own twists (pun intended) and flavors based on listening tests. It’s a lot of trial and error. Well, there’s a new kid on the block.
An Engineer’s Approach
Interestingly, Iconoclast doesn’t “voice” their cables. They’re designed purely on measurements. Their goal was getting resistance, inductance, and capacitance as low as possible. More importantly – they have the resources to build the “ideal” cable.
A bit of a backstory from our previous Iconoclast cable review:
Galen Gareis has 32 years of experience as one of Belden’s Principal Cable Design engineers – and is responsible for most of their patents. He was basically the Tony Stark at the Belden Engineering Center in Richmond, Indiana.
As such, he has free reign over all the equipment and materials he ever needs for experimentation. Also, if there’s anything that requires being measured accurately, this was the lab to do it in. As such, it’s perfect for testing the feasibility of designs.
For example, inductance is difficult to measure accurately with a meter priced below $8,000. But Mr. Gareis is able to profile his meters to an $80,000 Hewlett-Packard LCR machine. Most cable designers won’t have this luxury. And without the proper tools, you’ll just be designing (or measuring) blindly (aka voicing by listening).
If cables were to measure the same, could they still sound different?
After decades of debate, the answer is an unequivocal yes.
So Galen isn’t just an expert cable designer with access to the world’s best machinery – he’s also an audiophile. Who better to ask as to what is measurable – and what is not? Please take a look at our review for more about his very interesting journey.
What is measurable?
At the same time, Iconoclast is very open about what they do and do not understand. For example, Galen reports in his white paper that he has not objectively measured nor subjectively can hear a difference from cryo treatment of wires.
At the same time, he recognizes the limitations of what he can measure. This is especially the case with different types of copper (ETPC, OFE, UP-OCC). He admits to hearing a difference between the various copper variants – and agrees it isn’t measurable. And that is why the cables are offered in a variety of copper pulls.
Each pair of Iconoclast cables have similar LCR values, are built with exactly the same dielectric, geometry, and connectors. Any audible differences would only be attributed to the copper used. Fortunately, we have the variants on hand to do these comparisons.