I’ll keep this short. 2019 was yet another full-filled year of HiFi adventures. Although I’ve experienced the most audiophile burn-out ever – it was an incredibly rewarding experience.
plenty of shows this year. Check out my Munich 2019 Grand Tour video which has about 200,000 views! As far as reviews, my focus was undoubtedly on audiophile cables. There aren’t many reviews of cables (due to the crazy amount of trolls) so I’m happy to fill that gap. I strongly believe it could be the most overlooked tweak that could make or break a system. And it doesn’t have to be expensive.
As for 2020, I’m looking forward to reviewing more loudspeakers and amplifiers. Hence, it only makes sense to set up a new dedicated listening room on the ground floor. We’ll see how that goes.
Thanks to you, Audio Bacon has grown exponentially over the past few years. These reviews take an
enormous amount of time, effort, and personal resources. I just want to thank our supporters and those who have sent kind words of appreciation. They go a long way in keeping me focused, motivated, and sane. I look forward to providing even more value in 2020.
Happy New Year everyone!
https://www.similarweb.com/website/audiobacon.net Headphone RAAL Requisite SR1a These headphones sound absolutely incredible. I even wondered “Does this sound better than most 2-channel systems I’ve heard?” I sat there trying to pick on it. And was left dumbfounded by how different yet accurate these headphones sounded. It has some of the best alignment and forming of tonal cues I’ve ever heard. Both in perspective and colored variations. Notions of soundstage, imaging, and resolution don’t come to mind. It just sounds naturalistically full, textured, and I dare say – analog. And this is in a noisy show environment. In-Ear Monitor Periodic Audio Carbon At $399, the Periodic Audio Carbon is probably the most high-value IEM I’ve heard. In a way, it combines the sonic qualities I enjoy about some of the higher priced universal and custom IEMs – into a much more affordable package. Unless you’re a die-hard sparkle and soundstage chaser, the Carbon is guaranteed to provide the utmost enjoyment of music. Power Cable Snake River Audio Signature Cottonmouth Out of all the power cables, I’ve spent the most time with the Snake River Audio Signature Cottonmouth. This cable simply has the most accurate tonal color and timbre I’ve heard from a power cord. And by a fair margin. The result is a more emotive listening experience. It encourages you to rediscover and be drawn into your favorite recordings. The Cottonmouth Signature doesn’t sugar-coat or glamorize. It’s faithful to the variances in tone, texture, and percussive energies. It’s an open, free spirit with spectacular tonal balance. It’s aggressive (Snoop Dogg) or soft (Adele) when called for. Not to mention, an effortlessly large soundstage. Digital Coax Cable WAVE High Fidelity STREAM Although I haven’t written a formal review of the WAVE High Fidelity STREAM, at around $1,000 USD for a PAIR, they’re not only great value but has a tonal balance I enjoy over other cheaper and pricier options. RCA & XLR Interconnects Iconoclast UPOCC From the first few seconds to months thereafter – the only thing that crosses our minds about the Iconoclast isn’t a “flavor” but a “ faithfulness.” This, in turn, converts into a deeper and more emotional connection to our music. Isn’t that the point of this journey of ours? We’ve had both feet firmly in the subjective camp. After listening to the Iconoclast, we now have a foot in both. With perhaps the larger toes on the objective side (gasp). The Iconoclast cables sound “right,” measure well, and are relatively affordable. Needless to say, these cables will be our new reference – and are the cables to beat… at any price point. DAC Chord Hugo TT 2 I know I’ve been lagging on a full review, but I’ll have one up soon. Although not nearly as transparent or resolving as their flagship DAC, the Chord Electronics DAVE, the TT 2 has a tonal quality that sounds very natural. In fact, I had the TT 2 in my main system for months…and didn’t really feel the urge to swap back to the DAVE. It has a meaty low end, rich mids, and although treble doesn’t extend as far as DAVE, it’s enough for my ears. Going back to the DAVE and you get more of the impression that “they’re there” – and that’s what you’ll be paying extra for. For 99% of audiophiles, however, the TT 2 will be an end-game DAC. Floorstander Loudspeakers ACA Seraphim Loudspeakers ($25,000) From the low-level dynamics to its explosive yet controlled punchiness. There are a perspective and articulation I don’t hear from many of the systems. Resolution and timbre are also some of its strongest (and important) attributes. Piano and guitar sound as they should. And voices have an eerie and convincing presence. The soundstage was naturally sized and the performers were full-bodied with a gravitational pull. Bookshelf Loudspeakers Living Sounds Audio LSA-10 Statement Now I don’t say this lightly: I’m positive the LSA-10 Statement or LSA-10 Signature may be an end-game bookshelf speaker for many. It epitomizes what we as audiophiles are constantly seeking. A speaker that is dynamic, has fine tonal quality – and is faithful to the nuances and harmonics of the art. The word “truth” was recurring in my notes. Product of the Year Voices were locked in, textural cues were prominent, and the acoustic mold is definitive and precise. This is exactly what a musically holographic sound should sound like. There’s this huge acoustic image with some of the deepest and widest soundstage I’ve ever heard. It’s also scary in how it delineates the tonal variations of every recording. In comparison to their $129,000 POSH Statement, these Grande Avant Garde X loudspeakers seem to also have the touch of warmth I craved for. Being Best of Show at AXPONA 2019, I couldn’t wait to hear them again in Munich. This time with VTL electronics. My feeling is that the VAC electronics (at AXPONA) were a little warmer sounding while VTL focused more on spatial resolution. Overall, my impressions were the same – these Grand Avant Garde X ($13,590/pair) loudspeakers sound incredible – regardless of price. These speakers could be the end-game – without breaking the bank.
Sadly when you talk about a power cable have tonal signature etc… All respectability is lost on me for your view on a product. I am an electronic engineer myself. Please send me some cables and I will glady review them honestly. If they change my view on this contentious money making ISSUE I will happily agree. However, personnel testing I have made shows no difference between power cables. Anyone is free to spend what they like on this great hobbie. Please be more honest and kindly refrain from the fancy words. If you fancy a blind test would love to be proved wrong. Oh and just because I don’t agree with you does not make me a troll. Please understand we can all have our own opinion. Happy New year.
We can all have our opinions…yet I’m dishonest for describing what I hear? Lol. Congrats Andy! You are the first troll of 2020.
Beg on we all don’t agree until see to prove see u in Munich 2020
i woudn’t call him a troll actually, he is respectfull and doesn’t hear a difference, i didn’t hear differences for a long time myself.
Name calling, well done sir, first of 2020. Up for a listening challenge? You pick out your cable everytime? Thank you for being adult Geoffrey. It is wise to spend a certain amount on cables after that the return is pointless. I am up for a listening session so let’s see if the offer is accepted. Facts please by proving the outcome through test.
Name calling, well done sir. Up for a listening challenge? You pick out your cable everytime? No thought not.
on a decent system, not ultra high-end but expensive non the less, the difference between a stock cable and a another cable can be heard by everyone. Not just by audiophiles or reviewers. Sometimes It changes the sound drastically, sometimes slightly but you can easily hear it on a decent system in a decent room. Not on a budget system.
I only started to hear differences when i had my new system and my new speakers . Now i hear a difference between cables as well. Before i did not hear this. I was also very sceptical because i didn’t hear it in my own system. But now the system is good enough to hear it. My wife, friends and kids heard it when i changed a cable one night just for fun.
Play a track with spiked female vocals (Tracey Thorn is usually very sharp) twice for twenty seconds with a stock cable , and then once again with another cable. The changes are best heard on preamps and sources. It sounds different. Period. Hopefully in the case of Tracey Thorn less edgy. But it can be a change in the bass, become less sharp, or even more sibilance and brighter if the cable is not suited for the system but you usually hear something. Not always mind you.
My system costs about 15000 euros all in and Jay’s even more expensive. In one case AVM V30 preamp the entire product changed from dull to energetic and fun with another powercable.
-ATC SCM19 V2
-PS AUDIO STELLAR GAIN CELL
-METRUM ACOUSTICS ONYX
-ISOACOUSTICS APERTA STANDS
Happy newyear everyone.
Tend to agree mostly their is a lot of snake oil products in audio audiophiles including me tend to exaggerate a lot but a couple of years ago I started investing in very serious audio equipment starting with with speakers and than electronics nearly a cost of a Tesla car & plus , it was than I suddenly found out that power cables do matter! so do high end speaker cables & interconnects a lot of time as well as trial and error , scientifically and logically honestly I don’t understand this . but my ears and listening test seem to tell me different !
Even the engineers at Iconcolast/Belden don’t know why different metals sound different. They admit it’s something they can’t measure. So it only makes sense to listen.
It sad to say that majority of the audiophile reviewer’s are afraid of blind test. As an audiophile lets be honest.
Exactly what I said. However, looking through this website of Jay’s and other thread comments he is dissmisive of anyone who dare go against his word, he is right apparently. Sadly he is also very rude in how he handles the debating comments. His usual answer is ‘you are clearly not an audiophile and just a troll’ . I think that clearly shows Jay for what he is. He has to remember he has decided to put this on the net so expect to be questioned, otherwise keep your opinion to yourself and enjoy your cables quietly.
I don’t think it makes sense to use high end power cords for your equipment while the power cables supplying the wall sockets throughout your house are just regular power cables.
Cables are a contentious subject for a few reasons: many people don’t expect them to make a difference so don’t even try; some expect large improvements in low budget systems (where the internal wiring is low quality) and get annoyed because the difference is minimal; some simply don’t train their ears or lack the ability to experience / define the difference; some accept that interconnects make a difference but can’t see why digital cables should matter (common quote “it’s just 1’s and 0’s” No it’s a modulated electric signal just like analogue, only faster and therefore more critical!); some say power cables can’t make a difference because of the house mains (try a power conditioner or regenerator!); some say standard home mains cable is all you need for speakers… The simple answer is that any system is only as good as its weakest link, and in most systems the weak point will be the cables. My system is worth about £15k and at least one third of that is the cables and power supply. I trained my ears using the Harman How to Listen program (up to level 12 although my score usually settles out at 11 for those who are interested) and I would happily perform double-blind listening tests with cables (All types) because I have been able to clearly hear and describe the differences in every cable change I have ever made. In some cases the results of a cable upgrade were greater than a major component upgrade, and that includes a power cable upgrade which even took me aback!
Unfortunately inside many cases you’ll find cheap wires carrying the precious power and signal (digital and/or analogue), even in components which should not have anything less than the best internal wiring. That will limit both the sound quality of the component and the effect of any cable upgrade. So check the internals and if necessary upgrade the internal wiring. If you don’t have the skills or are worried about damaging your pride and joy there are a number of Hi-Fi retailers with qualified engineers who offer this service.
For those who refuse to accept that power cables can make a difference, please remember that a power conditioner or preferably a regenerator takes most, if not all of the noise out of the mains, leaving a pure sine wave AC supply which then requires good cables to reach the components intact.
Positioning and isolation of speakers and components is absolutely critical to creating an environment in which they can “sing” to the best of their ability, together with room treatment and careful decisions about seating: Get everything else out of the way of the sound.
Also, please remember that audiophile equipment is finicky; for example a cable that brings out high end sparkle from a tube amp will probably sound harsh with a solid state amp. Other difficulties are less easy to define logically, it’s all about finding the right cables for your equipment and your ears – an integral part of system matching. And what sounds great to a bass-head will probably sound bad to a classical fan. Everyone’s ears are different, as is our taste in music, so try to find a store that will let you try a couple of different cables and buy the one you prefer – or none of you don’t hear a worthwhile improvement.
If you don’t have a nearby store that let’s you try before buying then buy second hand and treat them well so you can sell them on for close to what you paid if you’re not happy and then try a different brand or type of cable. This is how I started my journey 20+ years ago and I haven’t looked back. Just last year I was certain that my headphones needed upgrading to match the sound quality of my speakers but a new cable made all the difference… That saved me £1,000 !
Lastly but possibly most importantly, cables require at least 200 hours of use before they sound their best. For those who don’t know, this is called the “burn-in” phase and whilst not yet fully understood it is a universally accepted fact which I’ll give a little insight into here. Burn-in time is another good reason for buying cables second hand – but be sure to ask the seller how many hours the cable(s) have been used for: Brand new, cables sound nothing like they will do after burning in (usually harsh and far from neutral when new). Many people either don’t realise this or are told it’s a far shorter process and so are understandably disappointed. So they sell an almost new cable after trying it for only a few hours (or minutes!) in their system. In short, don’t expect a new audiophile cable to sound anywhere near as good as it should straight out of the box: Good things come to those who wait! Well done to anyone who made it this far; I hope this has been helpful to some. Happy New Year.
Thank you for sharing your journey 🙂 An accurate summary of some of the experiences I’ve had as well.