It still amazes me that people buy this stuff when there is no doubt that it’s worse.
Oh boy, another ASR review.
I also am very skeptical taking these “reviews” at face value. But, in this case, it appears that this AQ cable has some shielding issues.
Someone honestly doubting the academic measurements being displayed…? It’s the same discussion as between “99% true” Paul and his short and ugly, funny talking friend with his cable measuring thingy… Can’t remember his name. I love being massaged with snake oil…
I’m with ASR on this one. I’ve moved on from worrying about cables. Mine are cheap and the music cheerful.
Whenever I read an ASR “review” I think of an old joke that kind of summarizes the ASR approach. Here’s the joke:
A man was heading to his favorite drinking establishment on a dark, moonless night when he noticed another man down on his hands and knees under a streetlight. The other man appeared to have had a little too much to drink and seemed to be looking for something on the sidewalk.
The first man called out, “Do you need any help?”
The second man responded, “Sure, I dropped my car keys and I can’t seem to find them.”
“Where exactly did you drop them?” asked the first man.
“I think it was over there by the alley,” said the second man, pointing to a dark alley about 20 feet away.
The first man was confused. “So if you lost your keys by the alley, why are you looking over here by the streetlight?”
The second man explained, “Well that’s obvious - the light’s a lot better over here.”
It seems that the ASR folks always want to assess the sound of equipment using the only measurement tools they have at their disposal (usually some combination of frequency response and noise/distortion) regardless if those tools are likely to measure audible differences between the specific equipment under review. Measuring “where the light is better” is easier than developing the tools needed to measure differences that the ear-brain can hear but existing test equipment can’t.
I’m not a big Audioquest fan since their lower cost cables haven’t been a great match for my system, but this ASR review includes only limited listening testing and tells me next to nothing about potential sonic differences between the cables under review. Maybe ASR should stop looking under the same streetlight.
Could be a bad pair of cables? They are guaranteed if purchased from an authorized dealer. Exchange them and see if the test results can be replicated. Be careful of counterfeits. I use a combo of AQ Earth, Colorado, and Husky all XLR no issues.
Do you not like the ASR reviews? I find them very helpful. It’s good to see objective measurements.
ASR do sometimes miss the point. However, it does help to see measurements of a DAC because if it has a high noise floor there is no point in using it for high resolution files.
At the end of the day they prove that there are a lot of perfectly decent low-noise DACs and Class D amps that produce lots of power with low distortion. That should not be news to anyone.
Audiophiles can pursue their entirely subjective listening tests and judgements independently of ASR, never the twain shall mix.
p.s. The only RCA cable in my system, connecting my phono amp, is also about 20 years old.
My comment is not directed at ASR reviews per se, but rather the heated unproductive nature of the typical discussion of one of their articles.
I always take reviews that relies mainly on measurements with a grain of salt. Measurements don’t alway correlate with what you hear subjectively by ear, and how the sound from the cable inter reacts with your system. If a cable sounds good regardless of brand or price, then it sounds good and is a good balance for your system.
Like @stevensegal, I too have a RCA cable connecting my phono from way back that after trying numerous other cables costing upwards of $16k that cannot replace it! It just sounds more right than all the other cables I have tried.
And patch cords, forget it, I’m way past that stage, patch cords can add so much noise and distortions to the signal and can make your system sound flat and veiled!
My two cents on ASR is:
Problem 1: They start from the POV that $2k for cables is delusional.
This suggests that they have little or no subjective experience with various cables in resolving systems. Or if they do, they’re so enamored of the presupposition that cables cannot matter, that they reject anything costly out of hand. Yet - they are, as a result, reviewing cables without the sort of breadth of sample one expects from a credible review.
All this has NOTHING to do with whether the AQs are good or not. Or whether price matters. But you simply can’t tell if they are good or not, in your system, for you - without trying them. So rejecting (not trying) something out of hand based on measurement or price is not a rational, well-informed way to go about it.
Problem 2: It seems that they assume that if something measures better, it must sound better.
A guy I know (koff, koff) here has designed stuff that measures world-class fabulously on more than one occasion - competing on measurement specs with pretty much anything available. He nearly always ends up making changes so the piece sounds significantly, easily better (I’ve had firsthand experience of this on more than one occasion) - at the cost of the measurements. There are reasons for that. There is in fact a poor correlation between better-measuring items and sound quality.
We all hope for the invention of new types of measurement that correlate reliably to SQ, but the ones we have, or which are typically used, are woefully inadequate.
I once had some audiophile RCA, sold them, and my last system used Mogami balanced from the pro store. The 20 year old cable I use is a Nordstrom Blue Heaven, was simply the only cable I had left in the spares box, it’s works and I give it no thought.
ASR love Benchmark kit. That’s hardly surprising, since the company’s objective is to make the best measuring audio. The AHB2 amplifier is the ASR favourite and it is extremely popular amongst audiophiles in Europe as well. It’s just about ok in stereo mode, a pair is ideal with loads of headroom. They are far from cheap, contrary to the notion that ASR only like cheap stuff. They would be close or top of my list in a component system.
At $3,000 the AHB2 is modestly priced.
Benchmark’s goals, coming from pro audio, have long been to produce sonically neutral and transparent equipment, evidencing accurate impulse response/phase. They are consequently quiet with low distortion.
Steven: First paragraph - one of your trademark not-responsive-to-the-post responses. I have lots of Mogami in the studio rig, and used to own some Nordost ICs 20 years ago or so, and abandoned them at the time due to sounding clinical/lacking body. Haven’t heard any lately. This paragraph has nothing to do with anything either.
Second paragraph - The Benchmark DACs I’ve heard were to me very clinical, “hifi” sounding compared with PS DACs. Again, this is maybe 5 years since I’ve heard one. Good bang for the buck. But expensive? They cost about the same as a decent pair of cables.
I agree regarding the Nordost. Had a Blue Heaven and also Red Dawn 20 or more years ago. You can’t easily find something faster and they are quite tight in bass for the price, but totally lacking body and tonal colors with rather unnatural, very detailed and strong treble. I think when buying gear or cable from companies usually present in other industries, what you get is rather something technically than musically focused, which unfortunately isn’t always linked up. Can be a compensation for whatever in some setups imo.
Yes - I think it is hard to get around that cables are EQ devices on some level - for good or ill. If you have components that you generally like/have no desire to change, cables can be a comparatively economical means of getting a bit more or less of some attribute to show through from one component or another. Not to mention that if you put better sounding cables just before or after the Amp, it potentially raises all boats.
It’s £3,200, about $4,400 in the UK, so about $8,800 if you need two of them, and lots of users do have two. That’s pretty expensive, almost three times the price of the equally powerful Quad QMP.
50% more expensive in the UK after they are imported.
Your local products are of course less expensive. But is the QMP even made any more? It is pretty long in the tooth.
Apparently not, but there is some dealer stock. The Artera stereo power amp will do, 140w current dumping, £1,500. The Quad mono amps were overkill and they were not very popular. Think they only made 909 mono and QMP. The used market is good as they are fully serviceable for ever and cheaply.