Another flight of fantasy about cables. What a surprise the more expensive items get higher marks! What you won't see is a properly conducted double blind test against say QED bronze at £55. The Emperor has no clothes; I am not falling for this bovine excrement any more.
Ooh! I thought, cable group test, that should be interesting, I've been finding my QED Silver Anniversary a bit bright and thought this might be a good place to start.
Now excuse me if this is stripping things back to basics, but a rough rule of thumb is that cables should make up approx 10% of your system value. Now ignoring the value of other interconnects you will undoubtably need, the cheapest cable reviewed would be pointless in much less than two grand of gear.
I think Mr J Kennedy may have lost his perspective, when he suggests it's for "when the budget is tight" and "will suit budget and midrange systems". The budget to which he is refering must be the chancellors.
All in all, I've learned little about what steps or improvements can be made to a slightly better than basic cable and what gains, dimminishing or otherwise can be made with increasing expenditure.
Totally agree with Russell's comments, the vast majority of owners will not spend out this amount on cabling, especially if they have a 5:1 or 7:1 set-up. I would suggest these prices are paid by persons who have their equipment installed by an AV specialist.
How about reviewing cables around the £10 to £20 per metre mark?
Actually I WOULD spend that much on cabling and It was nice to see this particular group - particularly the KSL which is rarely reviewed.
Double blind testing would be interesting. The only one that I've seen done properly was by Hifi+ which pretty much did show that there was a difference. I think that included some basic QED as the control.
I too was most interested in the artcile -as much to get some idea of whats out there and how the reviewer felt it compared to cables I had also heard before.
For some, like myself, we invest time and money in our systems to make them more 'Hi-Fi' and so these cable costs may not seem to ridiculous.
As for the 10% rule, for those people who have any 'high-end' kit (not me but i can dream :D) one component could easily have a 10% value greater than anything reviewed here nevermind as a whole system :S
I'm personally just pleased that they offered more scope than the usual sub £20 cable tests that the rest of the world regularly does :)
Russell, two things, firstly, you would do well to get rid of your QED SA cable,sure, it has great detail, but robs the system of bass, big time! I changed over to VDH Teatrack, the biwire version of their CS122, and the difference was amazing, it was as if id re connected my REL Quake sub! The VDH was then swopped for Chord odyssey, and to my ears wasnt that much different. ( both selling for around £20 a metre) Now, re the 10% rule of thumb, forget it! i was lucky to obtain a prototype speaker cable , from one of the brands tested (it too is as stiff as anything, so that might be a clue to the make!)to be sold at £300 a metre! and to use that old hifi phrase, it was "night and day" difference. The bass was good before, but with the new cable it was tight and controlled, the mid has a "creamy" feel to it, and the treble is just soooo sweet! Unfortunately (well, not for me!) it was not put into production, but,and this gets back to the point about how much you should allow for cabling, put my percentage at around 45% of the whole kits value(inc one ic)and, dare i say it, worth every penny, although if id had to pay full price, i might not be writing this!
Interesting points all. My point about the 10% rule of thumb was more along the lines of this, and I am just making a point: If spending £300 on cables improves bass, would it make as much difference as flogging your REL Quake, adding £300 to the procedes and buying a better sub? I suspect not. Of course, it's trickier regarding treble and midrange differences and I'll conceded that.
It's also a trickier problem for us AV boys. I have nearly 30m of cable involved in bi-amping, biwiring and reaching surround speakers. At a comparitively sane £20/m that's £600. That would pay for a serious upgrade to the 3806 or Kef Q series speakers.
The terms of the review, were up front as a high end review, a point that was entirely missed by me in my haste to skip to the results. As such, many of my comments are rendered null and void.
Icehockeyboy, as to bass improvement I've just upraded to a BK Monolith from a MJ Ref 200. Total cost of upgade after sale of MJ £40. If there's a real rip off going on, it's the cost we are asked to pay for some of our components.
I see your point about the cost of wiring up an AV system Russell,i recently seperated completely my AV from the stereo, ( was using the stereo amp to power the 2 front speakers to get the best out of music listening, except for some reason, with MF kit i got a hum which wasnt present with my old Marantz amp)and just like a lot of guys here need 7 runs of cable, and ended up using QED original for it at less than £3 a metre!which still outperforms the SA except in the detail of the top end.
The system used for this review consisted of a Townshend TA 565 CD player, Border Patrol Control Unit preamp, Gamut D200 MkIII power amp and B&W 802D loudspeakers. Total system price £17,000. So when combined with £500 worth of Living Voice interconnects none of these cables amounted to 10% of the total system cost. I used vinyl as well on an SME Model 20/V/vdH Condor and Trichord Delphini phono stage set up which was useful in finding the strengths and limitations of these cables. These are very expensive of course but this is because they are sold in small quantities but have to be bought in large quantities to specifications that aren't required outside of the hi-fi world. They are worth buying because when you've built the best system you can afford cables are the most straightforward way of getting more out of it and usually cost less than a worthwhile component upgrade. But, of course, there's no beating cat5!
But infact, if you just plait three lengths together, bare the ends, separate in to plus and minus and connect to banana plugs and it will work.
I used one of the three cables for the high frequency and the two remaining for the low frequency. It's easier than that description sounds. The results I got - with good connections - were better than Kimber 8TC.
Even without plaiting and using two cables per speaker (one positive and the other negative), it works better than most shop bought copper speaker wire under about £5-6 per metre.
Sorry Jason, but my main beef with the review was some of the terminology. " When the budget is tight" does not mean £30/m. As an AV bloke with 30m of cable, £900 is a component upgrade, not an interconnect.
"Will suit budget or mid range systems" does not include the £17000 review system that the cables failed to contribute to 10% of. Budget systems are bought from Richer Sounds etc and are connected with whatever can be afforded at the time of purchase.
Whilst I agree that improvements can be made with cable upgrades, I feel the quotes above lack a little perspective, that's all.
I spent a few years of my life in the trade flogging the likes of ATC, Meridian, Linn, Mark Levinson, Krell, EAR down to NAD, Arcam, Rotel etc. The added value of cables in the media was always overstated and often lead first time purchasers to compomise their spend on components to include cables they didn't need.
I'm not saying the bundled interconnects are in any way sufficient, but they were often willing to blow £100 of a £1000 budget on cables at the expense of the components when, a couple of £10 Monster interconnects and 6m of 79 strand would get them 99% of the way to what they wanted to achieve. It took a lot of persuading to suggest that they should max out on the components and then upgrade cables when SWMBO wasn't looking!
Please do not underate the ability of the press to sway, especially new, consumers. In a £1000 system, £100 of cable does not outperform the difference of a £400 CD player versus a £300 player and I know this may be over simplifying things.
Yours, willing to be proved wrong,
PS. Do not even get me started on the travesty of bi-wiring.