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Theory about cables and Bryston DAC/preamp interaction


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I was listening to glorious music last night for the first time with the current setup of Power Mac G5 - Lynx - Bryston, and then balanced out to my preamp. Speakers are Thiel 2.4s. While I've found the Thiels to be very high resolution speakers, at times over-analytical, I've never found them to be bright.


For the first time I can say I heard undeniable differences between cables when switching between the analog out of the Bryston BDA1 and the preamp (if I can call it that - right now its a B&K Ref 50 HT processor; its doing no "processing", basically just serving as a line stage out to Bel Canto monoblocks). The changes switching cables between the analog output of the Bryston and preamp were in a couple of instances astounding. I didn't have a lot of cables around to try. Among those I did have were Better Cables Silver Serpent balanced, some old MIT-330 (not balanced), and newer MIT S3 Shotgun terminator (not balanced).


The silver serpent is a copper wire in a twisted pair configuration (I think) with a silver "coating." I started out with this wire. The results were astounding. Absolutely no digital "hangover" or artificial "decay" I'm used to hearing with digital and really great resolution of detail, wonderful "correct" timbre of instruments, good soundstaging, not really three dimension but you could very clearly distinguish which instruments were forward and which closer to the back of the hall. (All these tests were made with classical and some vocal jazz recordings). I found that I kept the volume at lower levels than normal. I've always thought that each recording has a "normal" playback level (especially classical) and if you go beyond that nominal perfect level eventually you'll be suffering listening fatigue.


With the Silver Serpent while I was just floored at the immediacy of the sound, there was a slight tilt up on the highs - just enough to create a very small bit of sibilance on female voices that was not very natural sounding. Trumpets and horns screeched just a bit. Mind you this was a minor tilt up on the top end. So overall I was very pleased.


I then tried the old MIT330. This is what I remembered about this cable and what I heard again last night. This is a very colored cable with regard to instrumental timbre. However it does have good soundstaging, nit definitely not bright, tamed the highs and sibilance quite a bit. The one thing that distinguished this cable was the way it presents vocals. Rather than a large vocal image, it provides a small, very natural vocal image just hung holographically in the middle of the space. While that was pleasant enough, the negative qualities of the cable outweight the positives.


Onto the MIT S3 terminator shotgun. This cable while relatively neutral did not provide the level of detail the silver serpent cable did. Whether this was due to an increase in high frequency energy in the Silver Serpent I don't know. I would say the MIT lacked the soundstaging capabilities of the Silver Serpent which through an extremely wide soundstage.


NOW MIND YOU I AM NOT AND NEVER HAVE BELIEVED YOU COULD HEAR REAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CABLES. Thus my purchase of cables from BetterCables.com, element cable, homegrown, etc. Here's my theory: When you're dealing with the kind of high resolution digital signal coming from something like the Bryston, differences among cables are made more self-evident. I'm running Silver serpent balanced from the prepro to the Bel Canto monoblocks. The differences however between the cables running from the analog out of the Bryston to the prepro are just astounding to me.


I would be interested in suggestions for cables to try. I'll definitely want to try the balanced versions. Any ideas? I noticed that in Chris' review of the Bryston piece he used (I think) Kimber select for his analog interconnects. (Correct me if I'm wrong if you read this Chris). Thoughts?




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