Just wanted to share my experience… I had a pretty generic cable from my turntable RCA junction box to my phono pre. Changing from that cable to Cardas Clear Phono change things to a degree that just shouldn’t be possible Easily the biggest change in sound of any cable I swapped over the years. I guess the low output of a cartridge is REALLY sensitive to the cable.
Here’s the kicker… when changing the cable to the Clear, I had to reduce my cartridge load (from 1000 to 600) and drop the gain (from 66 to 63). It opened up the top end tremendously. At the higher load the top end felt a bit “restricted” almost like the sound was being held back. Dropping the gain also opened up the depth of the sound stage. I have no way to explain why, but I can explain what I hear.
I had a similar experience this past weekend. I have decent cables but nothing truly special. My dealer brought over Audience FrontRow cables so I could do a A/B test. We first started with the Phono Cable. It was like putting in a new High End component. I would have bet money that cables would not have change things this much but wow. After going back and forth between the Phono cables we installed the FrontRow cables through out the whole chain. Junction box to Phono - Pre Amp to Amp’s - Speakers. That change was not as pronounced as just the Phono Cable. In truth Im not sure I could tell a difference. With the time it took to switch everything out it was hard to A/B.
I agree with you that the sensitivity between the junction box and the Phono stage must be huge (my untechnical thinking but I will be saving my pennies for the FrontRow Phono cable.
I was never satisfied with the Van den Hul 501 phono cable provided stock by SME with my 309 tonearm. It had a threadbare tonal balance that wasn’t right. I thought I must be losing it … why would SME bundle a substandard cable with such a fine tonearm … but then I ran across complaints from equally dissatisfied SME tonearm owners on more than one forum about the stock Van den Hul cable. I’m partial to Cardas anyway, but I replaced that VDH hybrid cable with Clear Cygnus phono (Cardas offers its own superb right-angle DIN specifically for SME arms) and never looked back. The stock VDH cable really was as sonically DOA as I thought. Clear Cygnus blew it away any every area, but especially in midrange liquidity and tonality. The single most important turntable upgrade I’ve made short of an investment in a couple of first rate moving coil cartridges.
Yes, the phono cable makes a pretty huge difference in sound. Maybe the voltage is so low, the impedance of the cable really matter, I don’t know. Way back I got hold of a John Garland Signature and it outperformed just about everything else I tried. I have tried since a AQ Wild, Tara Labs Zero, Acoustic Zen Absolute, Synergistic Research Tesla Apex, Synergistic Research Galileo, WireWorld Platinum Eclipse 8, Nordost Valhalla, and yes, a Cardas Clear also. All those cables sounds fantastic, but different. Depending on the balance of your system, any one of those cable could be a clear cut winner. In my system, the only cable I like more than the John Garland Signature is the WW Platinum Eclipse 8. It brings so much body, texture, inner detail, huge sound stage, transparency, and frequency extension to my system, more so than the other cables. My brother has a different system, but he also tried the same cables and also ended up with the WW. We also tried the WW in other parts of the system with same results, but the phono does have the most impact.
FWIW, also using Cardas Clear Phono and can’t see a reason to look beyond it…