Speaker cables – making your speakers sing!
‘They are only wires that carry electricity, there is no difference’ I hear you cry!! Well, only one part of that sentence is true, that is they carry electricity. It’s how they carry this electrical current which makes them so different from each other. I won’t bore you with the scientific part of cable conductance and surface areas, as you can find many in depth papers published online. I am here to tell you about the recent cable tests I performed, and how well I think they did.
I used the best setup I could, so even the tiniest nuance could be detected. For the following reviews I used the Cambridge Audio 851A amplifier, 851C CD player, and the Dali Ikon speakers. This is a great system for exposing detail and dynamics, and would easily show up any flaws in any of the cables.
Easily the most expensive cable of this bunch, but also one of the best constructed cables. The Audioquest Rocket 33 is a thick, well insulated cable, which looks like it means business. I tried Money by Pink Floyd, as there is a lot of detail and tones that can test a cable. The Audioquest sounded completely transparent, a distinct lack of an colouration to the sound, with bass notes going deeper than I have often heard them. Vocals were well presented with no sibilance at all, everything sounded well presented, with plenty of detail and huge dynamics. The cymbals sounded very natural, with no harshness or graininess to them. The overall soundstage, dynamics and timing of this cable were spot on, and there was nothing missing from the musical presentation.
A strange looking cable when you first see it, as it looks like a black electrical lead. Upon closer inspection this cable is well insulated, and protected from the outside elements. I tested this cable with the same track used previously. The song started well, but I soon found the bass a little underwhelming with this cable. Treble frequencies, on the other hand, were well dealt with. The detail was astounding. There were good dynamics, but little less so than the Rocket 33 as the bass was a little less powerful. The music sounded tight and taught, with good precision and timing and sounded quicker than the Rocket 33 due to its more forward nature.
FLX SLiP 14/4
This cable, also from Audioquest, is a bi-wire cable, so it’s thickness is due to 4 cores running along it. Bi-wiring helps minimise resistance between the amplifier and speakers. A very easy to listen to cable that played through the test track effortlessly, with great authority and dynamics. This cable sounds very natural indeed and had perfect pinpoint timing & depth to the sound makes this cable a very hard to beat at this price. Great treble detail, great midrange and bass detail, this cable has it all. It doesn’t have the complete effortlessness and panache of the Rocket, but for its price it does a great job of it.
Cambridge Audio are well known for their superb quality and workmanship. The cable in question here is a silver cable of thick, well made construction and seems well insulated. Initial listening to this cable brings lots of detail from our test track. The treble is great, if a little tiny bit forward. Bass weight is good, with good dynamics and good timing. The cable does have a very tiny amount of sibilance introduced into the S’s on the track, it is hardly noticeable, but with the kit we are listening through it was present. This cable is a great cable none the less, giving a nice overall presentation, with tight bass, not as deep as the Rocket or the FLX, but it certainly sounds a nice and fast. If your system needs livening up, this could add the sparkle to it.
This is the best price of all the speaker cables tested. It’s made of copper, and is thinner than all the other cables on test. This cable is still well constructed and bends a little easier than the other cables. After putting it into the system, and having a listen, this cable still performs very well at its price point. The soundstage isn’t as wide or as open and airy as the Atlas or the Rocket 33, but it’s still authoritative and clear. The cymbals aren’t as clear and precise as I would like to hear them, but they are still detailed, midrange and vocals also sound very clear, though not as clear as some of the other cables on offer here.
In conclusion, what you put into your system is what you get out of it. The cable construction, the shielding and materials used all add to how good the actual cable can be. The Rocket 33 is easily the top of the table in this selection of cables, but all the other still perform very well indeed.
Come in and see us. We can demonstrate how these cables can make a difference with your music.
Author – David, Norwich store