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Added New Preamp To System - Now Interconnect Isn't Long Enough, Causing Major Problems - What To Do?

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After a tremendous amount of research, evaluation, and searching for the perfect endgame preamp to add to my system, which would work well in conjunction with my dream DAC, I ended up with one I had long coveted. I was particularly pleased, because it can be extremely difficult to find, especially at a reasonable price, since it was a fairly limited run, and has not been sold in a number of years. 

 

For the purposes of discussion, the preamp model or manufacturer doesn't matter (if curious see my post in the DAC forum). What does matter is that the best interconnect cable that I had found to connect from DAC to preamp ( a critical point) is suddenly about two inches short due to the specific placement of the input and output connectors, and overall size of the two components. I sat there earlier tonight thrilled and excited that the preamp had arrived (and had time to warm up to room temperature) only to find I could not connect it with the desired interconnect cable. Yes, I had another set of interconnects or two available, although not of the same quality. The interconnect in question, is a .5 meter AudioQuest Niagara, a former top of line cable for them, back about 8-9 years ago. I bought it used (as I always do with cables) at a great price about a year and a half ago.

 

This situation resulted to not being able to do a complete evaluation of the new preamp, to my great disappointment. For starters, as I am sure you all know, you never introduce two new items at once to your system, and secondly, neither of the other sets of interconnects are as good as the AudioQuest. And the resulting issue is that I know everything about the sound of my system prior to the new preamp, but now, I don't know how the preamp would sound with the much superior AudioQuest cable that I have long had in place. So I can't honestly evaluate the preamp accurately as a part of my system. I have listened to it with two other interconnects but the sound is simply different, and it's clear that the preamp cannot wholly deliver its performance  using them. Unfortunately, besides the significant additional cost involved to purchase one, there are no used AudioQuest Niagara cables of any length (much less the .75 or 1 meter length I would need) anywhere to be found for sale, and they also appear rarely. I know because I wanted to add an additional one meter Niagara cable to my system earlier last year, and have only seen one come up for sale in the past eight months. 

 

I have read some reviews of newer series AudioQuest interconnects, but it is virtually impossible to know what they might sound like in comparison to my specific Niagara cable. And especially in my system, with my existing components. I did discuss this with two AudioQuest dealers, and they said that I would get very similar sound with a particular current cable, but that cable costs a fortune, of course. Also, the audio cable sellers that allow rentals do not have the older Niagara series available for rent any longer, or the series that followed it, since they are discontinued. The newer series that they do carry (the same one the other Audioquest dealers mentioned) are far too expensive to buy at this point in time. 

 

It's very frustrating as trying another cable entirely is a crap shoot, and I also can't fairly evaluate it against the Niagara, in my system, since I can't physically connect that cable any more. And, being so familiar with the sound of my entire system including the Niagara cable connecting preamp and DAC, using any other cable does not allow me to accurately judge the new preamp in the system, since I've introduced two variables. And thats the critical challenge I have, really seeing what the preamp is capable of. At this point, I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do. 

 

Lastly, if you are one of those who don't believe in cables having a meaningful effect on sound, I'm really not interested in hearing from you, or your opinions. I have never attacked your uninformed opinions in this forum, or any other, so please leave this topic alone. Thank you.

 

JC

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I don't play at this level, but intuitively, but wouldn't any mechanical advantage in your physical setup would be negligible to an electrical difference you have discerned before?

 

What I mean is, for purposes of evaluation, as much as the cable difference is a concern; Rearrange your components.  Put them back-to-back if necessary.

 

Maybe you have them in an isolated rack or something that makes this more difficult, but if I had the same quandary I'd have no problem re-connecting everything laid out on the living room floor.

 

 

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15 hours ago, jcbenten said:

Put the amp/pre-amp back-to-back on the floor.

Not that I don't appreciate any help, but honestly, if it were this simple, I wouldn't have bothered posting. If I did as you suggest, the cables would not reach from the preamp to the amplifier. And the amplifier is over a hundred pounds, and with a back issue, I can't move it.

 

JC

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20 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

time to get creative here. How are your components set up?

Trust me Doc, I can be extremely creative in getting audio components to fit and work within a particular space. Up until now, I've never failed to come up with a solution on ANY of my various and varying systems, and racks, and spaces, over the years. And thats a LOT of improvising and creativity. I once used a basket hanging from the ceiling temporarily for a DAC.  In this case, I can come up with nothing. The components are on a custom made furniture unit that I ordered about a year ago specifically for my system, not expecting the eventual magnitude of change. . A big part of the problem is that the amp is very large, the preamp is quite large, and the DAC might be the biggest one made, in terms of footprint. Also, my SACD player is quite wide. All of this adds up to no permanent solution, and not even a workable temporary one. :(

 

JC

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Okay, I don't care about your uninformed opinion.  I own/owned several expensive AQ interconnects.  I've owned a number of CJ preamp and amps. 

 

Your pre has a higher than usual output impedance.  You need a low capacitance interconnect. 

 

https://www.bluejeanscable.com/store/audio/index.htm

 

Get the length of these low capacitance cables from Blue Jean and you'll be fine. 

 

You can listen and benefit or keep your malformed ideas limiting what is available to you. 

 

Otherwise purchase whatever of the second hand AQ cables that have the goofy battery system in them.  Any of those should work as well as the particular version you have.  You wont' believe it, I don't care. Listen and learn or not.  NO SKIN off my nose amigo.  

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Would one of the AQ dealers loan you a current equivalent AQ cable for testing and buy your old one off you if the price differential was acceptable to you, and the new one worked well in your system?

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1 hour ago, TubeLover said:

Not that I don't appreciate any help, but honestly, if it were this simple, I wouldn't have bothered posting.

 

Why are you under the impression that "we" may be able to solve your problem, without even posting a photo of the situation ? IOW, wouldn't a few photos be helpful to those you ask help from ? I'd think so ...

 

I fully agree that you would want to change one thing at the time. But what about just trying an other very cheap interlink, run into the chance that you are the most happy and be done with it ? Just trying can't hurt ...

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7 hours ago, TubeLover said:

Not that I don't appreciate any help, but honestly, if it were this simple, I wouldn't have bothered posting. If I did as you suggest, the cables would not reach from the preamp to the amplifier. And the amplifier is over a hundred pounds, and with a back issue, I can't move it.

 

JC

Well ... sometimes the simplest solution is overlooked...

 

(If you put your connection points face-to-face , the closest placing is still a foot and a half apart?  I would like to see that.)

 

Looks like a cable round robin if you want to use the "new" preamp.  Sorry, I have no suggestions for cable selection other than longer version of the one you have; new or new, "updated" from AQ.

 

 

 

 

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On 1/12/2019 at 2:02 AM, TubeLover said:

After a tremendous amount of research, evaluation, and searching for the perfect endgame preamp to add to my system, which would work well in conjunction with my dream DAC, I ended up with one I had long coveted. I was particularly pleased, because it can be extremely difficult to find, especially at a reasonable price, since it was a fairly limited run, and has not been sold in a number of years. 

 

For the purposes of discussion, the preamp model or manufacturer doesn't matter (if curious see my post in the DAC forum). What does matter is that the best interconnect cable that I had found to connect from DAC to preamp ( a critical point) is suddenly about two inches short due to the specific placement of the input and output connectors, and overall size of the two components. I sat there earlier tonight thrilled and excited that the preamp had arrived (and had time to warm up to room temperature) only to find I could not connect it with the desired interconnect cable. Yes, I had another set of interconnects or two available, although not of the same quality. The interconnect in question, is a .5 meter AudioQuest Niagara, a former top of line cable for them, back about 8-9 years ago. I bought it used (as I always do with cables) at a great price about a year and a half ago.

 

This situation resulted to not being able to do a complete evaluation of the new preamp, to my great disappointment. For starters, as I am sure you all know, you never introduce two new items at once to your system, and secondly, neither of the other sets of interconnects are as good as the AudioQuest. And the resulting issue is that I know everything about the sound of my system prior to the new preamp, but now, I don't know how the preamp would sound with the much superior AudioQuest cable that I have long had in place. So I can't honestly evaluate the preamp accurately as a part of my system. I have listened to it with two other interconnects but the sound is simply different, and it's clear that the preamp cannot wholly deliver its performance  using them. Unfortunately, besides the significant additional cost involved to purchase one, there are no used AudioQuest Niagara cables of any length (much less the .75 or 1 meter length I would need) anywhere to be found for sale, and they also appear rarely. I know because I wanted to add an additional one meter Niagara cable to my system earlier last year, and have only seen one come up for sale in the past eight months. 

 

I have read some reviews of newer series AudioQuest interconnects, but it is virtually impossible to know what they might sound like in comparison to my specific Niagara cable. And especially in my system, with my existing components. I did discuss this with two AudioQuest dealers, and they said that I would get very similar sound with a particular current cable, but that cable costs a fortune, of course. Also, the audio cable sellers that allow rentals do not have the older Niagara series available for rent any longer, or the series that followed it, since they are discontinued. The newer series that they do carry (the same one the other Audioquest dealers mentioned) are far too expensive to buy at this point in time. 

 

It's very frustrating as trying another cable entirely is a crap shoot, and I also can't fairly evaluate it against the Niagara, in my system, since I can't physically connect that cable any more. And, being so familiar with the sound of my entire system including the Niagara cable connecting preamp and DAC, using any other cable does not allow me to accurately judge the new preamp in the system, since I've introduced two variables. And thats the critical challenge I have, really seeing what the preamp is capable of. At this point, I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do. 

 

Lastly, if you are one of those who don't believe in cables having a meaningful effect on sound, I'm really not interested in hearing from you, or your opinions. I have never attacked your uninformed opinions in this forum, or any other, so please leave this topic alone. Thank you.

 

JC

I am not really sure what you are expecting from this post. I understand the conundrum, but how are we to assist? Are you simply looking for a 1m pair of cables to match to shorter ones you already own?

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7 hours ago, PeterSt said:

 

Why are you under the impression that "we" may be able to solve your problem, without even posting a photo of the situation ? IOW, wouldn't a few photos be helpful to those you ask help from ? I'd think so ...

 

I fully agree that you would want to change one thing at the time. But what about just trying an other very cheap interlink, run into the chance that you are the most happy and be done with it ? Just trying can't hurt ...

In my original comments, I mentioned having on hand, not one, but two other one meter interconnects (one somewhat inexpensive, one mid priced). I unintentionally failed to also mention that I tried both, without being able to reach the same sound quality as I had with the Audioquest.  

 

And, for the record, I've found some less expensive, or at least only moderately expensive interconnects or speaker cables to work very well in the past. This former, top of the line Audioquest is simply something special, and it was apparent the very first time I ever added it to my system. A friend of mine who is, in general, a very cynical and questioning individual, remarked as soon as we fired up one of our evaluation songs, that there had just been a very positive change. 

 

And you have a point about pictures. I'll see about adding some tonight after I wrap up a day long football watching fest with friends who are coming over.

 

JC

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6 minutes ago, 4est said:

I am not really sure what you are expecting from this post. I understand the conundrum, but how are we to assist? Are you simply looking for a 1m pair of cables to match to shorter ones you already own?

My intent, other than frustration, in creating this discussion was to see what forum members thoughts might be on the conundrum of what to do when you clearly need a longer version of an existing cable to get back to square one, and that cable is long since no longer available to purchase, except used, and only appears for sale once or twice in a year, at best. 

 

There is immense, almost hopeless difficulty, to my mind, in trying to gauge what other cable might best provide similar results, and I had a forlorn hope that there would be some useful commentary in that regard. I seem to be between a rock and a hard place.

 

JC

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8 hours ago, Taz777 said:

Would one of the AQ dealers loan you a current equivalent AQ cable for testing and buy your old one off you if the price differential was acceptable to you, and the new one worked well in your system?

Thanks for your thoughts. One of the dealers did indeed make that offer. However, the current cable that he felt was the only one truly close in characteristics to my Niagara cable, would cost me well over a thousand dollars, and that just isn't in my budget. Which Is why I only buy cables used, at generally less than half of list price. 

 

JC

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Just for the evaluation, I would try the new preamp with the expensive cable, extended with an RCA to RCA female coupler and another cable. That will provide some of the flavour of your preferred cable.

 

I'm not sure what the reasoning is for getting a new preamp but if your new preamp with moderately priced interconnect sounds worse than your old preamp with expensive interconnect, then IMO this is not a worthwhile upgrade.

 

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3 hours ago, audiobomber said:

if your new preamp with moderately priced interconnect sounds worse than your old preamp with expensive interconnect, then IMO this is not a worthwhile upgrade.

 

If it would work like that, yes. But it doesn't.

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A quick update. I had a gathering of friends over today to watch the two semi final football games. One friend brought along his youngest brother (25) who is a very serious competitive weigh lifter. He has developed his body, without any illegal or questionable drug enhancements, to a point where he is rock hard, and massively muscled. It seemed too good an opportunity to pass up, so I had him stand there and hold the DAC just above the preamp (allowing me to connect the AudioQuest Niagara interconnect) while we all listened to my standard equipment review music. 

 

With everything connected back to exactly the way it was before the new preamp was added, and the correct cable, and new preamp in place, I was more than happy with the overall sound. It was simply thrilling. So at least I understand where I am in terms of cabling. How to deal with that, as I explained before, is another thing, as these cables simply appear very seldom for sale, and the logical, currently available AudioQuest cable is priced far above my ability to afford, new, or used. But, I now know what the system sounds like in the way I intended it to be, so that part of the issue is settled. An important conclusion.

 

With the entire group of us looking at the placement dilemma, and very careful measuring, during halftime , it has been determined that the power amplifier simply cannot fit on the lower portion of the audio furniture. Either the SACD player and the preamp, or the SACD player and the DAC can fit on the lower portion of the unit. All of this is driven by the combined width of the components and the length limitations of the furniture. The other issue is that given the distance between the preamp and DAC from the lower shelf, to the upper shelf, and the distance between the necessary connections on each (where they are placed from right to left on the back of the units), regardless of what you have on top, or on the bottom,  there is simply no way that a .5 meter interconnect cable can reach. A .75 meter could, but not a half meter. And sorry, I would have provided a picture, but by the time the second football game got to half time, it was dark here, and I have very little light in that room, so a picture wasn't really possible. I think that my description of the involved equipment on a two shelf furniture unit, with large support columns on the outside four corners, should give you an adequate idea of what we were dealing with. 

 

And so, now, I either need to listen to sub par music (using one of my other sets of interconnects) for six months to a year before a used Niagara cable appears for sale, or I need to find a way to determine what cable could replace it with essentially similar results. But at least have eliminated two of the three issues causing the entire problem. 

 

JC

 

 

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11 hours ago, TubeLover said:

My intent, other than frustration, in creating this discussion was to see what forum members thoughts might be on the conundrum of what to do when you clearly need a longer version of an existing cable to get back to square one, and that cable is long since no longer available to purchase, except used, and only appears for sale once or twice in a year, at best. 

 

There is immense, almost hopeless difficulty, to my mind, in trying to gauge what other cable might best provide similar results, and I had a forlorn hope that there would be some useful commentary in that regard. I seem to be between a rock and a hard place.

 

JC

I'd be surprised if you cannot readily find one used if you do not want to wait it out. I am sure there is a dealer with one laying around. I do understand this. Some things simply require patience. As a DIYer, I guess I am used to it.

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Are the pre-amp and amp side by side or on upper and lower shelves?  If the latter, would I assume correctly that any feet, wood blocks, etc., you might use to raise the lower component by two inches would cause you to run out of headroom for that component?

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1st world problems!

 

With no picture it sounds like your pre is on the top shelf?  Could you make a relatively nice looking sub shelf to hold the DAC just above the preamp?  Just two oak or walnut side pieces and a piece across between them that is wide enough to stand above the preamp holding the DAC.  Temporary only.  Allows time for a Niagra of the proper length to show up.  If your cross pieces are only where the DAC feet are it would still allow good ventilation.  

 

Maybe something already made like a shelf insert.   You could place a piece of oak or walnut wood on top to keep it from looking so utilitarian.  Maybe a maple cutting board of about the right size to dampen vibration. 


https://www.homedepot.com/p/Whitmor-Supreme-Shelving-Collection-30-in-x-15-in-Supreme-Wide-Stacking-Shelf-in-Chrome-6054-585/203877981


Whitmor Supreme Shelving Collection 30 in. x 15 in. Supreme Wide Stacking Shelf in Chrome
 

 

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2 hours ago, Jud said:

Are the pre-amp and amp side by side or on upper and lower shelves?  If the latter, would I assume correctly that any feet, wood blocks, etc., you might use to raise the lower component by two inches would cause you to run out of headroom for that component?

Jud, you're exactly right. They are on upper and lower shelves, one above the other. My initial thought was that raising the level of one could gain me the two inches, but tubes extending upwards cause me to run out of a safe amount of headroom. 

 

JC

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57 minutes ago, esldude said:

1st world problems!

 

With no picture it sounds like your pre is on the top shelf?  Could you make a relatively nice looking sub shelf to hold the DAC just above the preamp?  Just two oak or walnut side pieces and a piece across between them that is wide enough to stand above the preamp holding the DAC.  Temporary only.  Allows time for a Niagra of the proper length to show up.  If your cross pieces are only where the DAC feet are it would still allow good ventilation.  

 

Maybe something already made like a shelf insert.   You could place a piece of oak or walnut wood on top to keep it from looking so utilitarian.  Maybe a maple cutting board of about the right size to dampen vibration. 


https://www.homedepot.com/p/Whitmor-Supreme-Shelving-Collection-30-in-x-15-in-Supreme-Wide-Stacking-Shelf-in-Chrome-6054-585/203877981


Whitmor Supreme Shelving Collection 30 in. x 15 in. Supreme Wide Stacking Shelf in Chrome
 

 

Good idea, and thanks. Even if it temporarily allows me to use the system while waiting for a .75, or more likely one meter Niagara to show up for sale on one of the online sites, thats a usable option.

 

The bad news is that while I did yet another search for a Niagara cable on Audiogon, they apparently have a new service for such things. It asked me if I wanted to be notified when one of them was offered for sale, which I took them up on, only to be told I was the third person who had requested it for one of those interconnects! Guess I had better monitor my e-mail closely for the next period of months. 

 

JC 

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