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Balanced audio (analog) cabling for a multichannel/stereo room


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I am embarking on a road that I've not been on before; that is, soon I'll be setting up my new audio room (60% stereo, 40% multichannel use) using 100% balanced (XLR analog audio) cabling.  Long story, but that's what I'm doing.

 

So....although I'm not a newbie with balanced cabling, I sure don't know the latest sweetspots out there.  I do know that Mogami cabling has been a generic-like cable that seems to stand the test of time, but is nowhere near the audiophile's lips when describing most good systems  🙂, and now, to confuse things, Mogami has several tiers (Silver, Gold, etc).  Others on my limited inexperienced radar are Black Cat, Seismic, BlueJeans, Gotham and Furutech, but no idea who does XLR/TRS (see below).

 

I would like to list my needs and ask those experienced balanced audio users to feel free to interject with both recommendations or feedback on setup.  All  listed below are XLR except when noted.  Here is what I think I need, listed in somewhat order of most to least important (but like all things audio, all details matter all the time 😎 )

 

From                     To                                        Length                  Quantity

Holo dac              preamp                               1M                         2

preamp                main amps                          10-15ft                  2

pre/pro                4 channel Atmos amp         1M                        4            

mch dac               Coleman*                            1M                        6

pre/pro                Coleman*                            1M                        6

Coleman*            surround amps                    40ft                       2

Coleman*            center amp                          10-15ft                  1

Coleman*            stereo preamp                     1M                        2

Coleman*            sub (may be multiple)         40ft                        1+

                * need to be 1/4" TRS at Coleman end

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Hey Ted, I’ve only used balanced cables since I sold my Spectral gear years ago. I use Transparent. There are many lines of Transparent to suit many budgets. All good stuff. 
 

I also use a long run of Gotham UltraPro balanced interconnects. 
 

 

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Thanks Chris.  I'm anxious to hear about Black Cat and more Gotham feedback.  It seems long runs of Gotham makes sense, and I have at least thee that will be 40+ feet (through smurf tubes to rear surrounds and sub).  Did you find a value sweetspot in the Transparent lines?

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CJF, great feedback.  I have a dear friend who is a reviewer and swears by Mogami for all his balanced needs.  I was told if Mogami go Silver, but not sure where I heard this.  I think it was they preferred twisted pair cables to Mogami Gold's heavily shielded quad (but each install is different).  Not sure this means Silver is twisted pair, though.  Anyway, great feedback, thank you.

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Edit to above:  I see Mogami 2549 is indeed twisted pair, so that makes both you who favor it. One of the Gold versions can be star quad so I’ll stay away from that. 

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On 4/22/2021 at 7:06 PM, ted_b said:

Thanks Chris.  I'm anxious to hear about Black Cat and more Gotham feedback.  It seems long runs of Gotham makes sense, and I have at least thee that will be 40+ feet (through smurf tubes to rear surrounds and sub).  Did you find a value sweetspot in the Transparent lines?

 

Ted, I have both in my system.

 

For long runs where noise is an issue, I would go with Gotham GAC 3.  Better shielding than star quad without the issues.  

 

I have done shoot outs with my Black Cat XLR cables and Gotham GAC 2 AES cable.  The Black Cat is a little brighter through the midrange, if not quite as energetic on the very top end.  I recommend you try a short run of the GAC 2 AES, as well  Due to its low capacitance, it would also be a great cable for longer runs, but would not offer as much rejection of noise as the GAC 3.  

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I'm another fan of Mogami 2549 and Neutrik XLRs. I have mine made up by ProAudioLA, whose service and pricing have always been great. Right now, I use 25 ft runs from my Anthem preamp to a pair of monoblocks with PuriFi modules, driving Janszen Valentina P8s. (Also have shorter runs to subs.)

 

At that length, very few cable mfgrs or dealers will let you try at home before buying. A dealer with whom I've done business did get me a pair of audiophile ICs to try, made by a vendor who takes full-page ads in the magazines and gets great reviews. The cables were $2200 MSRP. (My Mogamis were ~$100.) I did single-blind tests with four friends (separately): one a composer, one an audio designer, one a musician, and one a very experienced audiophile and music lover with speakers costing more than my car. All of us felt the Mogami cables had far less coloration that the fancy ICs, which were doing something weird in the treble.

 

So, maybe it's not a bad idea to use what the pros use.  (P.S. I have tried Gotham cable, and it's great too, especially in high RFI environments. I found GAC-4/1 slightly rolled off compared to W2549, but I really had to listen for it.)

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