How 'Bout Speaker Cables?

Hope this is the right sub-forum for this topic...

I mentioned in another thread that a good friend had loaned me a pair of ProAc Tablette Anniversary speakers and a pair of Nordost Red Dawn speaker cables. I had much fun testing a bunch of speaker/cable combos while I had them. I listened to the same pieces of music using the PSB Alphas, the ProAcs, and my Meadowlark Swifts. I swapped them in and out of my system several times as I also swapped between pairs of WireWorld Eclipse, Nordost Blue Heaven and the loaner set of Nordost Red Dawn speaker cables.

All of the speakers preferred the Red Dawns. Eventually I settled into listening mostly to my Meadowloark Swifts with the Red Dawns. When I removed the Red Dawns to return them, I reinstalled my Blue Heavens. This is the weird part. I remembered that I'd liked all the speakers best with the Red Dawns. But, I didn't recall the Red Dawns being so dramatically different from the Blue Heavens. They were. I guess after having had a few weeks to really listen to a lot of different music over several media types... I really came to appreciate, and maybe even take for granted, the Red Dawns. The Swifts just loved them by returning some really good sound. The best I'd ever heard from my system. Well, the Blue Heavens are back in, and they're ok, and that's the problem. I know my system is capable of producing much better sound than the Blue Heavens, or the Eclipses allow. Red Dawns seem to retail for somewhere around $1,100. I see them on the used market for about $500, but they're mostly bi-wire and I don't need that.

I also know that Nordost isn't the only brand out there. Far from it. There are SO many choices. I'm curious if any of you are familiar with the Red Dawns, and if, in your opinion, there are other cables out there with similar quality and sound characteristic at a lower price point? These are the Red Dawn specs...
  • Insulation: Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP)
  • Construction: Mechanically tuned spacing
  • Conductors: 20 x 26 AWG
  • Material: Silver-plated 99.9999% solid core OFC
  • Capacitance: 10.0pF/ft
  • Inductance: 0.155μH/ft
  • Velocity of Propagation: 95%
  • Termination: Gold-plated Spade or Z-plug Banana
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
Sort of "High End" speaker cables in residence:
Nordost Red Dawn
Nordost Blue Heaven
XLO Type 5
XLO Type 6(?) - double run
Tara Labs

Even have some DIY pure silver speaker cables. :)

Not "high end" but with the SE/HE gear I favor, the Dueland 12ga and 16ga cable and the WE 16ga cable work best for me. :)
 
The Blue Heaven, speaker cables and interconnects, are a bit softer than the Red Dawn. The Red Dawn tends to be a bit "etched" or bright by comparison.

In my opinion.

And, I thank you for that. I love your description, and I agree with it. Spot on. I had to think about the "etched" part. I think that's what I liked a bit more. And, that was also a difference between the Tablettes and the Swifts. The Swifts were definitely brighter, but the more I listened, the more I really enjoyed hearing those mids and highs. I think the Red Dawns may have just amplified that a bit, but to me they just let more of that magical detail emerge. I guess I just find that sound... musical.

That said, you have me curious about Duelund. How would you describe their sound?
 
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JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
The Blue Heaven, speaker cables and interconnects, are a bit softer than the Red Dawn. The Red Dawn tends to be a bit "etched" or bright by comparison.

In my opinion.
That's interesting, as I have a pair of Blue Heaven interconnects and they only work in an overtly warm system. Otherwise they're kind of thin and lightweight sounding. The top end is nice if bright but its bright because there's just a lack of bass oomph. I....don't really like them. They're my cables that only get used when all my other cables are tied up doing something else, but they do work well in my Fisher/BC-1 setup. So they have their uses here. They're, more than anything I own, system dependent.

I wish I could help more. I've gotten way more into interconnects than I have speaker cables. I use some fairly basic Audioquest, bought off a spool, in my living room as I needed fairly long runs (gear is off to one side). In my 2nd setup I used older Kimber Cable, back when they used blue and black braids. I think its 4tc? Might be 8tc. I actually love Audioquest stuff, which doesn't seem to be the most popular opinion as its fairly common. I just find that it's a good balance of things and basically neutral and full sounding..its a constant for me, so I can tilt things elsewhere.
 

TubeHiFiNut

Administrator
That's interesting, as I have a pair of Blue Heaven interconnects and they only work in an overtly warm system. Otherwise they're kind of thin and lightweight sounding. The top end is nice if bright but its bright because there's just a lack of bass oomph. I....don't really like them. They're my cables that only get used when all my other cables are tied up doing something else, but they do work well in my Fisher/BC-1 setup. So they have their uses here. They're, more than anything I own, system dependent.

I wish I could help more. I've gotten way more into interconnects than I have speaker cables. I use some fairly basic Audioquest, bought off a spool, in my living room as I needed fairly long runs (gear is off to one side). In my 2nd setup I used older Kimber Cable, back when they used blue and black braids. I think its 4tc? Might be 8tc. I actually love Audioquest stuff, which doesn't seem to be the most popular opinion as its fairly common. I just find that it's a good balance of things and basically neutral and full sounding..its a constant for me, so I can tilt things elsewhere.

I used the Blue Heaven and Red Dawn (interconnects and speaker cables) in the Aragon DAC - Quicksilver Dual Mono Line Stage - Quicksilver SET300B - Lowther/Medallion system. In that system the Blue Heaven had the softer presentation.

Neither one was my cup of tea in that system. That doesn't mean that they are not good cables - they just didn't work for me in this particular application. Believe me, I wanted them to work.

I may try both types of Nordost interconnects in various locations and see if there are any synergies to be had. Who knows what I may end up with?

Like you, I got off the "wire and cable of the month" merry-go-round and now pretty much use the Belden 8402 mic cable with Switchcraft RCAs and the Dueland Tinned speaker cables and stopped worrying about it. Also have some solid core Tera Labs interconnects and speaker cable that "do no harm".

In the Living Room, I just use Canare interconnects and speaker cables.

Nothing wrong with AQ or Kimber. I have a nice 1M pair of Kimber KCAG and a bunch of Kimber PBJ. Lots of 4VS, 4TC and 8TC speaker cables.

Anyway, I'm rambling and probably making no sense..... ;)

Just my opinion. :)
 

Try1256

Very Special Member
I am using a pair of Acoustic Zen Satori speaker cables. They are 10 ga. UP OCC Copper. I started with some DH Labs T-14 and it was a very good sounding, inexpensive cable but as my system progressed, I could tell it needed better. The key to the Acoustic Zen products is that Robert Lee uses Ohno Continuos Cast Copper (OCC). It changes the crystal make up in the copper eliminating most of the crystal boundarys for a typical length. I started out with one Neotech interconnect which was UP OCC. Now all of my cable from my tone arm to the speakers is UP OCC. It makes a remarkable difference and I haven't spent a fortune to get there. The Satori's are the most expensive of the cables that I have and they retail for $798. I picked them up used on US Audiomart for a very reasonable price. Steven Huang at Audio Sensibility has a fine selection of cable all using OCC copper or silver for very reasonable prices as well. My phono cable is one of his Impact SE cables. They are made in Canada and with the exchange rate at the time, it cost me about $140. It punches way above its weight class. Everything else I was looking at was $400-$500. I am very satisfied with it and have no desire to upgrade at this time. The thing to remember is that all UP OCC cable comes from the same raw cable supplier. It is a licensed process and as far as I know, Neotech is the only manufacturer producing it at this time. There was another company in Japan that produced it as well but they discontinued production a couple of years ago. Many of the major cable manufacturers use this wire for their products and if they do, it is usually labeled as UP OCC.
 
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Thanks so much for all the input and opinions. It’s really helpful. I’d forgotten all about the interconnects. I did have a set of WireWorld Oasis that I’d forgotten about. I pulled out the Blue Hevens and slipped the Oasis between the DAC and the amp. I’ll have to run them through the paces to hear if it makes a difference.

I spoke with my buddy and he’s bringing the Red Dawns back for me to use on a long term loan. He also offered to let me audition his set of Frey 2s. He’s moving on to a set of Valhallas.

I’ve done some reading on both the Duelund 12ga and the Satoris. Reviews seem to echo both of your opinions: people like them a lot. The Duelund seem to be a DIY solution in that it’s possible to purchase the cabling, sheathing, shrink wrap and banana lugs. That might be a fun easy project. I did find one gentleman on audiogon who’s retired and builds cable sets at a fairly reasonable price.

I’ve known that, as a tube fan, that I can somewhat tune the sound through tube rolling, which I find fun when I can afford to do it. I’d somehow forgotten that cabling can do something similar. I’m beginning to understand why so many of you never get rid of anything. Being able to experiment is fun!
 

Redboy

Knobophobe
The Duelund seem to be a DIY solution in that it’s possible to purchase the cabling, sheathing, shrink wrap and banana lugs. That might be a fun easy project.
...or you can just run them "bare." Strip the ends and clamp 'em into your binding posts!

There's an argument to be made that the bananas or spades or whatever connectors you use will impart their own sound to the mix, and I have to believe that it's true. No connectors at all is the simplest and purest -- and cheapest! -- way to do it.

There's another argument that says your sheathing / insulation / shrink wrap and all that plays into the equation as well. Ten years ago, I would have dismissed that as the audiophile Kool-Aid talking, but I've found my tastes gravitating toward cables with cotton or other natural sheathing - Duelund calls theirs a "cotton and oil dielectricum" so you feel like you've been eating your granola, too.

Give the stuff a whirl - I think it's a good bang for the buck!
 
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