file Knee deep in Snake Oil, or not?

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charliehatch Posted 3 years 4 weeks ago
#20995

WayneWilmeth wrote: So, do you think that between Morrow and Audience you would go for the later across the board?

Your dealer's preference for unbalanced is confusing to me, does not jive with most of the things I have always heard/read. Noise, OK, that is an advantage on long runs only, although with so many cables all crammed together behind my entertainment center, I think balanced MIGHT help a touch? And I do love the solid, dependable connection, not gonna come loose, fall off!!!!
Simpler? I can see that IF somewhere in the system you are unbalanced, then to introduce balanced would make things more complicated. BUT I "think" and I am no expert here, that IF you stay all balanced all the way through, then that would be simpler. The reason I say that is that my amps can accept both balanced and unbalanced inputs, and then go through the tube stages, but one tube is only there for handling the unbalanced input and splitting the signal and making it ready to be handled balanced. So in my system, balanced from my Oppo 95 to my Emotiva XMC-1 to my Vincent hybrid amps it stays balanced all the way and that tube is not even used.
And it is louder, so more headroom, IMHO.


Wayne, I haven't had enough experience comparing the Audience to the Morrow Elites to say whether one is better than the other. It's probably going to depend on your system, your ears, and what you prefer for your sound. I'll probably try the Audience speaker cables at some time, but I'm going to want to be able to return them if I don't hear an improvement.

On this discussion of balanced versus single-ended, I'm not an electrical engineer (I'm mechanical), and my understanding of this stuff is more at an educated layman level, subject to the limitations thereof.

Yes, balanced might help if you have a lot of close running cables where you're picking up noise from adjacent cables. But keep in mind that the point of touching of the cables will create a stronger noise signal in that area than on the opposite side of the cable. In other words, your noise won't necessarily be equal and common in both legs of the balanced circuit. Still, in this situation, I would expect balanced to make some improvement.

I'm pretty careful how I route my cables to try to minimize potential interference. I also have relatively few components in my system, so that helps. It still looks like a rat's nest back there.

The "simple" I was talking about has to do with internal circuitry. Every time you convert to balanced you have the potential for extra circuitry on both the driving and receiving ends. This circuitry is more complex (less simple) and there is more opportunity for signal degradation. Since each component has to do this conversion, the more balanced connections you have in the chain, the more complex the total signal path becomes.

Your extra tube for unbalanced shows that you have to look at the total picture. The details of the internal architecture will be important. When you are talking about "balanced" internal architecture, the question that comes to my mind is, "How well are these signal paths matched throughout?"

Like most engineering things in this world, nothing is for free and everything is a tradeoff. Noise reduction (balanced) versus simpler circuitry, fewer circuit components and solder joints, and less potential signal degradation (single-ended). What you choose depends on what your particular needs and preferences are.

Interesting that you mention "louder," and it seems to be true that most balanced implementations produce a higher output voltage. My Vega DAC does not; it's the same for balanced or unbalanced. I presume that they are reducing the gain by half when they do the inversion for balanced output.

Charlie
PS Audio P20 feeds all components of 2.0 System: Auralic Aries G2> USB > DSPeaker Anti-Mode X4 DAC/Pre > Core Power Diamond XLR interconnects > Bel Canto e.One Ref600M monoblocks > Core Power Diamond banana speaker cables > Triton References > IsoAcoustics Gaia II isolators
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charliehatch Posted 2 years 8 months ago
#22777
So, Wayne, as a control tower guy once radioed to me, "Are you still on this frequency?"

I did get the Audience Au24 SX speaker cables. And, yes, I heard a difference between them and the Morrow Elites I had been using. I find this whole cable thing fascinating. I wish I had the money to try many different brands. The real hard part is that cable break in takes a long time. It has always been weeks for me, so how can any reviewer slap in a new set of cables, run them for a while, and then pass judgement? Not possible.

The immediate difference in the Audience cables was sharper imaging, which was a surprise.

Tonally, they were similar to the Morrows, very neutral. Then, over a period of weeks, they broke in and the sound improved even more. They ended up sounding ever so slightly warmer than the Morrows, but with better imaging precision and fine detail.

The big break-in evolution (which I've heard with other cable break ins) was fine detail emerging slowly over time. That detail contributes to better imaging but also reveals subtle ambient reflections, increasing the sense of depth.

Being the engineer, I wondered why the Audience cables do better with detail. The Morrows are built with many fine, individually insulated wires. They are quite flexible because of this. The Audience cables are somewhat stiffer and much smaller in diameter, so my guess is that they use larger and fewer wires.

I think the insulation is the thing that breaks in, not the wire (I'm not the only one who thinks this, and I didn't invent this idea). A cable with many fine, individually insulated wires (Morrow) has a high insulation surface to wire volume ratio, so there is more opportunity for the signal in the wire to interact with the insulation. That also explains why the Morrow cables went through more significant changes during break in, quite wild at times, while the Audience cables were more tame by comparison.

Here's my part of the theory: the insulation (probably residual charges in the insulation) acts as a temporary storage medium that absorbs part of the signal, then releases it later, causing short transients to smear out in time. Like a low-pass filter. When cables are new, there are residual charges left over from the manufacturing process that have to dissipate. As the charges slowly dissipate over time, the cable's temporary storage ability decreases, and the signal better retains fine transient detail.

Insulation is never perfect, so there is probably always some residual factor that causes a small amount of signal time smearing. I think this is why some of the most expensive cables try to minimize the contact between wire and insulation structure and use air as much as possible. I'd love to hear some of those someday. But they tend to be very expensive.

Finally, I don't want to knock the Morrows. They are really great cables, but I think the Audience cables are a little better. At least in my system.

Charlie
PS Audio P20 feeds all components of 2.0 System: Auralic Aries G2> USB > DSPeaker Anti-Mode X4 DAC/Pre > Core Power Diamond XLR interconnects > Bel Canto e.One Ref600M monoblocks > Core Power Diamond banana speaker cables > Triton References > IsoAcoustics Gaia II isolators
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WayneWilmeth Posted 2 years 8 months ago
#22778
WOW Charlie, I am still here and thanks for that great review!!!!!
Those are some pretty expensive cables, so I am VERY glad they sound great for you!!!!!
Glad you finally got them broken in.
Your theory about the insulation is interesting, you are the engineer here.
I am very happy with my MITs (CVT Terminator 2) and feel myself quite fortunate to have bought them back when I could afford them, even though these are not nearly so expensive a cables as those you have.
Sounds like we totally agree that cables make a difference, and audible difference and better cables are not snake oil, but a great addition to our listening systems.
Thanks Charlie, happy listening,
God Bless,
Wayne
God bless the child that's got his own.
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