How Hi-Fi Magazines Write about Cables, Part 2

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I recently posted an article about a hi-fi magazine and how it reviews cables. I thought it would be interesting to look around and see how some other magazines describe audio cables. This is quite edifying. Rather than analyze each of the excerpts I list below, I’m just going to toss them out, and let you try and imagine if they actually have any real value, or if they’re just buncombe.

From Stereophile’s 2014 Recommended Components Cables. This includes interconnects – cables that connect components, either analogue or digital – and speaker cables.

uses an RCA plug of tellurium-copper alloy with a single, small contact point, meant to reduce the formation of eddy currents

lacked some midrange body and warmth but produced a pleasantly forward, detailed sound with an unusually wide soundstage

produced a larger, more present overall sound, with deeper silences, longer decays, cleaner highs, more realistic bass, and richer tone color

lacked body and warmth but was more muscular, insistent, and precise

offered clarity without brightness, and reasonably good amounts of color, texture, and touch

offered a more organized and forceful portrayal of the music, with rounder bass, cleaner highs, and faster transients

the … interconnect is built into a hermetically sealed, helium-filled tube and terminated with proprietary solid-silver connectors. The overall sound was open and clean, with lightning-fast attacks, generous sustains, and long decays.

an air-dielectric–evacuated interconnect with noninsulated conductors … benefited from an enormous addition of lushness, texture, and warmth, along with major extensions of air, detail, and transparency.

infusing music with more low-level resolution, transient speed, clarity, and physicality

presented music with even greater urgency, drama, and purpose

was tonally neutral and produced well-defined images, powerful and fast transients, and incredible transparency

tended to smear bottom-octave pitch relationships, resulting in a less natural overall sound

had a richer, warmer sound, with a softer attack for a slower overall musical flow

Bits may be bits, but you’ll be gob-smacked by the improvement in sound quality

was quieter and produced blacker silences

Two points. Regarding the last excerpt, “blacker silences” is something that should be measurable; it is, most likely, a lack of noise. So I’d like to see the measurements. And, second, a lot of these cables – at least from what I can understand from the above excerpts – seem to alter the music, change it, which, I always thought, was something that audiophiles did not want. Things like “generous sustains, and long decays” are created by reverb; if a cable does that, isn’t that a bad thing?

In attempting to understand the above – and audiophile blah-blah in general – one may wish to seek out this book.

2 replies
  1. Scott Atkinson says:

    Let me also recommend this: the guy has a habit of puncturing audiophile myths, and isn’t loved by everyone, but the book is filled with common sense understanding about sound that, as far as I can tell, is grounded in the facts of the matter. (Disclaimer: don’t know him, don’t have any association with him or his stuff. I just like the book.)

    • Kirk McElhearn says:

      Thanks, that looks excellent; I’ve just ordered it. I can recommend Principles of Digital Audio (, Amazon UK), which, unfortunately, is out of print (it’s from 2010), but used copies are available. It covers everything that is purely digital, and is truly encyclopedic.


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