Audience Au24 SX Cables

Au24-SX-group

Audio cables are an interesting product that can bring the best from your stereo components. I have listened to many types that vary in conductor type, dielectric material, and termination method. This time, I have replaced my system with the Audience Au24 SX cables- from wordclock, AES digital, to balanced analog, and their speaker cable. To understand Audience’s approach, we shall first examine their design/construction.

To start, Audience uses Ohno cast copper, 6 nine’s to be exact. The dielectric is a cross-linked polyethylene known as XLPE, made of a better quality than from previous generations. Cryogenics are also used to treat the individual components of the cable, as well as the entire cable after completed construction. As for there geometry, Audience uses a dual concentric coax, perfect lay ribbon wind with opposing angles of the two conductors. This design is said to have a better linear signal transfer with more accurate timing. While no shielding is used around the cable (this may slow dynamics), the angle or relationship between the two conductors is said to balance the electromagnetic field by rejecting noise. The construction of these cables is top notch, without any unnecessary bulk. Their flexibility and low-mass allowed me to easily dress these cables around my various systems.

geometery

Audience dual concentric coax, perfect lay ribbon

My listening was was done with several computer audio systems including a mastering facility, but for the long haul evaluation I chose to use a home system which included the latest DAC design from David Hill of crane song for my source. Every component was connected via balanced Au 24 SX cables. I was even fortunate enough to use a Sony broadcast CD player with word clock input, fed from an Antelope rubidium clock generator via a custom Au 24 SX bnc cable. For speakers, I used the Lipinski (powered), and Green Mountain Audio Eos HX. I also incorporated two passive power distribution centers from Oyaide to separate my analog and digital power circuits. I let these cables play for many days/weeks before attempting any evaluation.

As this is my first experience with Audience cables I will, as I always do, focus on the sound in relation to neutrality. My background as an audio engineer has always led me to better understand live acoustic sound and the way we can capture this with as much preservation and fidelity.

To get things rolling I started with the David Grisman Quintet’s Dawganova release from his own label Acoustic Disc (16/44.1) played through Pure Music via a macbook. This is a childhood favorite of mine, and subsequently got me chopping away on the mandolin. Featuring outstanding musicianship, with Enrique Coria (guitar), Jim Kerwin (bass), Joe Craven (violin, percussion), and Matt Eakle (flute, bass flute), and of course the original Dawg himself Mr. David Grisman. With the Audience Au SX 24 transmitting all the bits to my DAC and subsequent balanced analog to the amplifier and speaker cable, I dug into my chair for a critical listen. Being very familiar with this album, allowed me better insight into how these cables performed. Some cables have a tonal signature, or obvious color- not so here. In fact, I was amazed at the balance and stereo width and depth achieved with the Audience cables. With layers of competing midrange information, the Au24 SX cables allowed me to hear the cohesive group performing, but without blurring each instruments placement in the mix. Mr. Kerwin’s upright bass played full and extended with attack that connected with the musical whole. Speed and was a noticeable attribute, allowing my 2-way speaker’s diaphragm’s to more quickly respond to changing dynamics. Scale and size of instruments was also reproduced with clear  font-to-back and height information intact. I felt these cables brought the performance to my room rather than in the constraints of a stereo system.

I continued listening with a variety of musical material, including Kings of Convenience, Jenny Lewis, Herbie Hancock, and several orchestral performances by the Berlin Philharmonic. In each case I was rewarded with a full mid and low bass, magically clear midrange and extension to the top end frequencies without any harshness. With mastering varying greatly, some with heavier compression and other with a light touch, the Audience cables confirmed that they were not contributing or masking anything the artist intended you to hear.  The Audience Au 24 SX has quality I have only found with few other designs- distortion free transmission, without any congestion or compression.

You won’t find me endorsing many cable designs, simply because I have rarely heard such an improvement and balance to the presentation. With the Audience Au 24 SX, I have found a new friend in reproducing the magic of the original recording. It has been my pleasure to finally find a cable design that I can truly live with. The team at Audience has delivered a easily manageable cable system that extracts the whole performance from your recordings/stereo equipment with balance and grace.

Happy Listening!

Advertisements

Solid Core Copper vs. Stranded Copper Audio Cables

Solid Core Copper Cable by Evidence Audio

Solid Core Copper Cable by Evidence Audio

The way audio cables are constructed can certainly make a difference to their sonic characteristics. Over the past several years I have been comparing the sound transmission characteristics of different copper conductors. In addition to the conductors, different geometries, dielectric material, and shielding can make a cable sound different. While these can influence the sound, I feel the primary sonic impressions I have been hearing have to do with the interaction of conductors carrying an audio signal. Using both stranded copper and solid core copper audio cables in a variety of setups has allowed me to hear the differences.

Stranded Copper Wire

Stranded Copper Wire photo from Jimmy’s Junkyard

We use stranded copper wire in pro audio applications for a  couple of reasons. One main reason is that flexibility is important when dressing microphone and instrument cables. A stranded cable will be much more robust when repeatedly coiled up and unwound. The many strands of thin copper can withstand more bending than a single solid core copper wire. It’s the transmission characteristics that differ. With all those strands the signal tends to jump from strand to strand, and with a single solid core conductor this cannot occur. The sound characteristic of stranded copper vs solid core may seem minute, but any well trained ears should hear the difference. This example from Evidence Audio compares stranded monster cable vs. their solid core cable using a bass guitar.

SG

Gibson SG with Evidence Solid Core Lyric HG

Having heard the difference between stranded copper and solid core copper in my pro audio monitoring chain, I was curious to examine the sonic difference with electric instruments. For this, I employed the help of a 1973 Gibson SG and a Dr. Z MAZ 18 (non-reverb version) tube amplifier. After playing for some 30 minutes with a Mogami stranded copper cable, I switched to the Evidence Lyric HG. My first impression was that a haze had been lifted from my guitar sound. As I continued to dig into this new-found sonic experience I also noticed that my SG had become more responsive to my playing. Rather, a dynamic contrast now clearly existed and I was in control of the shading.

Switching back to the stranded copper cable immediately sounded blurred. The word that comes to mind is distortion, or disruption of the original signal. The guitar sound was now less pure. I want to avoid using words like darker or brighter, because what I was hearing had to do with the signal integrity. Yes, the stranded cable might sound darker, but I feel blur is a better word. On the other hand, the solid core guitar cable was clear and did not adding anything to the original signal.

A4

Analog Synthesizer with Evidence Audio Solid Core Cable

To further examine the sonic benefits of solid core copper cable, I pulled out an analog synthesizer. The Elektron Analog Four is capable of producing a variety of sounds with its analog oscillators, filters, and beyond. For this test I chose to use a simple sawtooth waveform and  a sub oscillator from this analog synthesizer. After using the stranded Mogami cable for the initial listening, I swapped it out for the Evidence Lyric HG balanced cable. The clarity of the sawtooth wave when transmitted over solid core wire was evident, but when I began adding sub harmonic oscillators, the difference truly stood out. Sonic integrity comes to mind. While adding sub harmonic oscillators to the original sawtooth waveform I was very pleased to experience a more (obvious and clear) layered sound.

These solid core cables from Evidence audio truly allowed me to hear the various harmonic additives I was creating on this synth. Moving back to the stranded copper showed me that the full tonal characteristic of the synth was lessened to a degree. Adding in the sub harmonic oscillator with a stranded cable is easy to hear, but the delineation of harmonic content (clarity) was not as good as with the Evidence Audio cable.

Happy Listening!

Stranded Copper Wire vs. Solid Core Copper Audio Wire

EvMo

The way audio cables are constructed can certainly make a difference to their sonic characteristics. Over the past several years I have been comparing the sound transmission characteristics of different copper conductors. In addition to the conductors, different geometries, dielectric material, and shielding can make a cable sound different. While these can influence the sound, I feel the primary sonic impressions I have been hearing have to do with the interaction of conductors carrying an audio signal. Stay tuned for a full write-up on stranded copper vs solid core copper audio wire.