Exploring "professional" XLRs and RCAs

ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,214
edited March 26 in 2 Channel Audio
I just had an interesting experience in regards to XLR cables and their performance characteristics in my system, when running from my PS Audio Stellar Preamp to my PS Audio S300 amplifier.

Up until this point I had been using Monoprice "Premier Series" XLRs, which sell for $12 for a 3ft pair. I was impressed by what I was hearing and I wasn't necessarily longing for improvement. However, they are a 10ft pair and I don't like seeing the messy bunch of excess cable sitting on top of the amp. Also, I figured if these sounded so good, then surely going to Audioquest King Cobra XLRs at $150 for a 3' pair would yield an improvement. I am already using AQ KC RCAs with the rest of my components, so it seemed like a logical choice.

I put the AQ KC XLRs in on Sunday and did some listening and evaluation after letting the system play for about 15 minutes or so to warm up. The first thing I noticed was that the soundstage wasn't as wide - the sound seemed more localized to the speakers themselves. Additionally, the frequent and enjoyable 3d stereo imaging effects I had been getting seemed to be reduced. I could still hear this sensation on some tracks, but it seemed diminished and not as dramatic. I also observed that the bass seemed slightly accented or emphasized with the new cables. There was also a very slight increase to soundstage depth.

I revisited them today and took another listen. I generally confirmed what I heard on Sunday. I was missing that wide soundstage and seamless coherent wall of sound I was getting with the Monoprice XLRs.

I decided to listen to 3 test tracks I'm familiar with, and then I powered down the pre and amp, and swapped back to the Monoprice XLRs and listened to the same 3 tracks.

Within the first minute of the first test track after hooking the Monoprice cables back up, I already liked the sound more. As I continued to listen to the other two tracks, I noticed the soundstage width increased and the 3d stereo imaging effects were back. In general, they presented a more cohesive sound top to bottom. My desire to nod my head and tap my foot returned. I got that unmistakeable sensation of "Man this sounds good, and I want to turn it up even louder!".

Obviously this is a subjective experience that could very well ONLY be replicated in my system, in my room, on my setup, with my music, and with my ears, but still, I felt it was worth sharing. I just find it interesting that I preferred the performance of a cable that costs so much less.


So, it got me thinking about what other "professional" style XLR and RCA cables are available. Products marketed toward professional muscians or studios seem to be relatively free of lofty audiophile style performance claims and exotic construction materials. Instead, they seem to focus on build quality and reliability, along with well known conductor choices like oxygen free copper and durable connectors with gold or silver plating.

I decided to order a few XLR choices for audition that I found interesting and inexpensive:

Kopul Premier Quad Pro 5000 Series: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/878182-REG/kopul_m5003_quad_pro_cable_xlr_m.html - $38 for a 3' pair. 4 conductor design, 24ga OFC, Neutrik XX connectors.

Interesting internal geometry:

1412113587000_IMG_428853.jpg

RapcoHorizon SilverHog: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/999493-REG/rapcohorizon_slvrhogm_3_silverhog_microphone_cable_3.html - $40 for a 3' pair. 2 conductor design, silver plated copper conductors which is surprising and welcome at this price point.


I also started looking at interesting professional RCA cable options. I'd like to try the following against each other as well as against my AQ King Cobra RCAs:

Mogami Gold: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1154337-REG/mogami_gold_rca_rca_03_gold_rca_to_rca.html - $76 for a 3' pair. This uses their 2964 coax cable.

MOGAMI-2964-extra-big-19248.jpg

Hosa w/ silver plated REAN connectors: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/828290-REG/Hosa_Technology_HRR_003X2_Pro_Stereo_Interconnect_Dual.html - $16 for a 3' pair.

Kopul w/ gold plated REAN connectors: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1023115-REG/kopul_src_4003_stereo_rca_cable_3.html - $13 for a 3' pair.

In regards to the above three RCA cables, I'm not seeing any obvious shortcomings in terms of their material choices or construction quality.

In summary, I'm just trying to "simplify" the cabling in my system and take a different approach than what would be considered normal or expected. I'm genuinely curious how these low cost "professional" type cables will sound versus the AQ King Cobras. It could be a complete failure and waste of money, or it could be an insightful experience in regards to revealing what is possible in cable performance at lower price points.
"Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
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Comments

  • audioluvraudioluvr Posts: 1,379
    I've never heard Audioquest cables but I have the same Monoprice XLR's as you are using between my pre and amps and they throw a very warm and wide soundstage.
    Home System:
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    1000 Va Dreadnought- w/ WireWorld Mini-Eclipse cables
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  • VR3VR3 Posts: 23,480
    Hosa cables are garbage.
    - Not Tom

    Vr3Mods.com ///// Version3Audio.com

    "No, that's silly talk. Dude, you can't possibly be this audio dumb so quit the act." - Doro
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,214
    VR3 wrote: »
    Hosa cables are garbage.

    Have you used that specific pair I linked?
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • VR3VR3 Posts: 23,480
    I managed music stores for close to 6 years... We used about all forms of hosa, mogami, monster, cbi, rapco and a few other brands.

    All hosa products suffered a similar problem, extremely poor build quality. Doesn't matter how they sound if they fall apart in your hand
    - Not Tom

    Vr3Mods.com ///// Version3Audio.com

    "No, that's silly talk. Dude, you can't possibly be this audio dumb so quit the act." - Doro
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,214
    Ok, but have you personally used that specific pair that I linked?
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • VR3VR3 Posts: 23,480
    I have not, but at their price point, go for it.

    Just check the connectors for continuity first, make sure the shield and hot are not shorted. Maybe go as far to hook them up to gear you don't like first.
    - Not Tom

    Vr3Mods.com ///// Version3Audio.com

    "No, that's silly talk. Dude, you can't possibly be this audio dumb so quit the act." - Doro
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,214
    Your concerns about their build quality have been duly noted.
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • motorstereomotorstereo Posts: 1,324
    Good luck to you in your "experimenting" then you'll have first hand knowledge. A few years back I had all Mogami gold rca's (2524's) in my main rig and I still keep a few pair around as spares. They worked fine for me until my electronics got to a point that I could hear cabling differences and then I moved on to MIT's. I was surprised by how thin the Mogamis were but I can't remember having a pair fail
  • steveinazsteveinaz Posts: 19,061
    IMO, cables are like speakers, and should be purchased SOLEY based on personal taste.
  • pglbookpglbook Posts: 1,757
    edited March 27
    We all know that cables do not make a difference. Just kidding, of course.

    Look forward to hearing about the results of your cable experiments.
  • msgmsg Posts: 5,020
    audioluvr wrote: »
    I've never heard Audioquest cables but I have the same Monoprice XLR's as you are using between my pre and amps and they throw a very warm and wide soundstage.
    You know, I had similar experience as you and Drew with Monoprice XLRs, but can only speak to the warmth aspect. I've never had a wide soundstage experience, no matter the cable, unless my speakers were just really far apart.

    Those Monoprice XLRs were my first XLR cables, and I actually preferred them over some others. I should break those out again to see how they compare now that I've learned a little bit.

    I disabled signatures.
  • steveinazsteveinaz Posts: 19,061
    Signal Cables XLR's are really nice and nearly budget priced.
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,214
    Good point Steve. I thought about adding Signal to my XLR shootout. At $65 for a 3ft pair I believe they would qualify.
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • kevhed72kevhed72 Posts: 3,750
    I had a similar experience with the older model AQ King Cobras but the RCA version. I found the lower level Diamondbacks easier to listen to and less sterile. I always thought the best bang for your buck AQ IC cable were the older Sidewinders. On another note....I have recently been dabbling with Pangea SE XLR cables for my amp and pre amp run....and have to say they sound better in my rig than I expected.
  • erniejadeerniejade Posts: 5,087
    In my dj rig, i have a couple Mogami gold mic cables. . Great cable but a bit $ and i have several planet waves that are about 20 years old. Not a single failure yet. I would love to change them to the Mogami Gold but, outdoor and large hall acoustics for what i need them for, i can't justify the extra expense. If i was trying it for home or studio, Mogami Gold would be high on my list.
    Den: Lumin D1,Wireworld Silver Eclipse, KEF LS50 Wireless, Velodyne SPL1200, Technics 1200, Denon DL160, Jolida D9,

    Living Room:,T+A PA 1530R, Tyler Highland H2, Aries Mini, High Fidelity Reveal RCA, Grant Fidelity Tube Dac 11, W4S recovery, Wireworld Platinum Starlight, PS Audio Direct Stream JR.

    Have but haven't used in a while: LH Labs VI Dac, Cayin SCD50T

  • mikeyb128mikeyb128 Posts: 2,887
    Honestly I was never impressed by audioquest king cobras. They got a lot of praise, and I found the to be .... Meh. Diamondbacks were a better value. Sometimes a cable just works well In your system, sometimes not. Not necessarily a fault of the cable. I was never impressed by audioquest until recently. Their new cables are much better than old. It seemed you had to get into audioquest ultra expensive silver offerings to hear anything good.
    2 channel:
    Bryston 4B3, Bryston BDA3, Cary SLP05, Shanling CDT1000SE with parts conneXion level 2 mods, Nottingham analogue ace space 294, soundsmith Carmen MKii, Zu DL103 MKii, Ortofon MC 20 MKii, Dynavector XX2 MKii, Rogue Audio Ares, Core power technologies balanced power conditioner, Akiko Corelli power conditioner with Akiko Audio HQ power cable, Nordost heimdall 2, Frey 2, interconnects, speaker and power cables, Focal Electra 1028 BE 2, Auralic Aries Femto, Black diamond racing cones, ingress audio level 1 roller blocks, JL Audio E110 with Auralic subdude, Primacoustics room treatments.
    Theater:
    Focal Aria 926,905,CC900, SVS PB ultra x2. Pioneer Elite SC85, Oppo BDP93, Panamax M5400PM, Minix neox6, Nordost Blue heaven LS power cables.

  • halohalo Posts: 5,253
    mikeyb128 wrote: »
    Honestly I was never impressed by audioquest king cobras. They got a lot of praise, and I found the to be .... Meh. Diamondbacks were a better value. Sometimes a cable just works well In your system, sometimes not. Not necessarily a fault of the cable. I was never impressed by audioquest until recently. Their new cables are much better than old. It seemed you had to get into audioquest ultra expensive silver offerings to hear anything good.

    I had the AQ Sidewinder RCA/RCA IC's many years ago. I recently went with the AQ Golden Gate RCA/RCA IC's in my setup and I like them quite a bit. They're a good value with the PSC if you can find them used or discounted as I did. But, I had to go with the AQ Red River RCA/RCA IC's on the outputs of the Bottlehead phono pre as the taps aren't close enough together for use with the Golden Gates (same cable but the Red River is separated into 2 separate cables compared to the 1 with the Golden Gate). Again, I was lucky to find a good deal on a pre-owned set of cables > new.
  • steveinazsteveinaz Posts: 19,061
    Back when the models were current, I preferred the Copperhead and Sidewinder to the more expensive Diamondback. DB just came off dry and 2 dimensional sounding to me.
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,214
    I tried the Kopul Premier Quad Pro 5000 XLRs this weekend.
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • steveinazsteveinaz Posts: 19,061
    I ended up removing my Kimber Hero XLR's and putting my Signal Cable XLR's back in system. The SC's just dig a little deeper in bass; and I actually like the quality of the connectors more.
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,214
    edited May 10
    In preparation for my entry level XLR roundup, I've now listened to the following cables, in this order:

    Monoprice Premier
    Kopul Premier Quad Pro 5000
    Audioquest Red River (to be fair, these retail for more, at $150 for a .5m pair)
    RapcoHorizon SilverHog

    I'm going to listen to the SilverHogs for another few days, and then I will revisit the Monoprice and Kopul cables to reaffirm and validate my findings. After that I will write a lengthy review, describing what I noticed with each.

    I will say one of the most interesting things to me so far in this "budget" XLR cable roundup, is how each of the XLR cables I've tried has a different sound and a unique way of presenting the music.

    These are discernible, noticeable, and repeatable differences. It's been a great experience so far.
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,642
    Clipdat wrote: »
    In preparation for my entry level XLR roundup, I've now listened to the following cables, in this order:

    Monoprice Premier
    Kopul Premier Quad Pro 5000
    Audioquest Red River (to be fair, these retail for more, at $150 for a .5m pair)
    RapcoHorizon SilverHog

    I'm going to listen to the SilverHogs for another few days, and then I will revisit the Monoprice and Kopul cables to reaffirm and validate my findings. After that I will write a lengthy review, describing what I noticed with each.

    I will say one of the most interesting things to me so far in this "budget" XLR cable roundup, is how each of the XLR cables I've tried has a different sound and a unique way of presenting the music.

    These are discernible, noticeable, and repeatable differences. It's been a great experience so far.

    What your describing is differences in any cable, professional, Balanced or not. What you will find, if you ever get there, is the differences become more discernable the farther up the chain you go. To me, there is no such thing as a "professional" cable. Even pro's use cables from all sorts of makers like Analysis plus, Wireworld, MIT, Acoustic zen, and other brands you've never heard of.

    The trick of course, is matching cables to the quality of gear you have. Makes no sense to put 3k worth of cables on a 500 buck system, it won't transform mediocre into a superstar. Also makes no sense to put cheap cables on an expensive system, because you won't hear what the gear has to offer.

    Just my .02 and good luck with your experiment. Rock on
    HT SYSTEM-
    Sony 850c 4k
    Pioneer elite vhx 21
    Sony 4k BRP
    SVS SB-2000
    Polk Sig. 20's
    Polk FX500 surrounds

    Cables-
    Acoustic zen Satori speaker cables
    Acoustic zen Matrix 2 IC's
    Wireworld eclipse 7 ic's
    Audio metallurgy ga-o digital cable

    Kitchen

    Sonos zp90
    Grant Fidelity tube dac
    B&k 1430
    Tad 803 speakers
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 23,418
    edited May 11
    Of course different cables sound different.
    Why would they not?

    Resistance.
    Capacitance.
    Inductance.

    Two of these are frequency dependent.

    All three also depend on length.

    EDIT: Just to be clear, I don't mean to be negative nor dismissive with this post. All of the stuff that folks think about in terms of the construction of cables boils down to how they impact the cable's performance as a (more or less lossy) transmission line.
    Post edited by mhardy6647 on
  • delkaldelkal Posts: 595
    edited May 11
    Resistance is easy to improve. Just use a larger cable.

    Improving Capacitance and Inductance at the same time is difficult to impossible. Any design / braid /or twist you use to reduce Inductance will increase Capacitance (an vice-versa). So there is no free lunch and the cable manufacturers pick one (or "tune" their cables somewhere in the middle). This is probably the main reason we hear differences with the various cables and why the same cable can give different results on different systems.
  • Tony MTony M Posts: 8,358
    edited May 11
    I have no experience in this cable field beyond 200.00 monster cable speaker wire I got from a yard sale for 40.00 years and years ago.

    So my dumb question is...

    Do you guys and gals believe in the directional style cables?

    Have any of you reversed the cable's direction the arrows point towards on those type of cables JUST to see if the sound changes?

    I, being inquisitive sometimes might just do that. I saw some interconnects online the other day thought about this.

    I still need to get with Doug and order some of his cables!! ;)

    Most people just listen to music and watch movies. I EXPERIENCE them.
  • EndersShadowEndersShadow Posts: 16,897
    steveinaz wrote: »
    I ended up removing my Kimber Hero XLR's and putting my Signal Cable XLR's back in system. The SC's just dig a little deeper in bass; and I actually like the quality of the connectors more.

    Interesting to know..... I’m trying to get into a prepro and then use XLR for my B&K and pro amps, so it’s good to know you like the Signals better.

    They are quite a bit cheaper than Hero’s or even PBJ XLRs...
    "....not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." William Bruce Cameron, Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking (1963)
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 23,418
    edited May 11
    Tony M wrote: »
    I have no experience in this cable field beyond 200.00 monster cable speaker wire I got from a yard sale for 40.00 years and years ago.

    So my dumb question is...

    Do you guys and gals believe in the directional style cables?

    Have any of you reversed the cable's direction the arrows point towards on those type of cables JUST to see if the sound changes?

    I, being inquisitive sometimes might just do that. I saw some interconnects online the other day thought about this.

    I still need to get with Doug and order some of his cables!! ;)

    Some cable is directional simply because it has a shield attached at one end. This kind of directionality is "real" and simple to understand -- at least in principle. :)

    https://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/185121/a-simple-stupid-question-re-single-end-shielded-unbalanced-interconnects
  • kharp1kharp1 Posts: 3,391
    edited May 11
    I have a 1m pair of Signal XLR's I'll be willing to send to you if you want to try them out. I just checked them for proper continuity last week.
    Main System:
    Joule-Electra LA 100 MKIII Upgraded by Rich Brkich Pre
    Butler Audio TBD 2250 Amp
    PS Audio DirectStream DAC and MemoryPlayer Transport
    LSA-1 Statement
    SVS SB4000 & SB2000
    Wireworld Equinox 7 bi-wire, Wireworld Silver Eclipse 7 IC

    Secondary Rig:
    Parasound P5, Audio Electronics by Cary Constellation
    Marsh a200s, Audio Elecrtonics by Cary Hercules
    Pioneer Elite DV-45a, Denon DVD-2910
    Klipsch Epic CF-1, Vandersteen 3CE sig
    Analysus Plus Oval

    Backup Gear:
    Pass Labs Aleph 30, McCormack DNA-125, Parasound A21
    Marantz SA-14S1
    Usher CP-6311/Tyler Acoustics Taylo Reference Monitor, LSA-1
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 7,214
    edited May 11
    Hey Kerry! Thank you for the generous offer, appreciate it. You know I like reviewing cables!

    Allow me to finish this roundup/review first and then I might take you up on that. Right now I have more than enough to listen to and evaluate.

    Perhaps when I reach the conclusion of which cable sounds best to me, it will actually help guide me toward a higher end cable with a similar sonic character. Might have to defer to those who have "been there, done that" for guidance at that point! I'm still learning!
    "Electronic music is human sound adapting to indulge technology, and for some, it feels like the signature sound of energy. New and abstract sounds over hypnotic rhythms can conjure vast soundscapes for escape, pleasure, and transcendence."
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