Soundstage! - Todd Warnke

Kimber Silver Streak

April 1996

Pure emotion. Words so heart-felt, so direct, and sung with a singular voice so expressive that it cuts to, and through the fabric of my soul. On the very good (stereo) days this is how Joni Mitchell comes across to me. In many ways this is the acid test each and every component in my system must pass. Added detail, a larger and more precise soundstage, deeper bass, more air, all come for naught if Joni (and Miles, and Bruce, and Van, etc.) is not rendered with greater emotional realism. So, after giving Kimber's new Silver Streak wire a suitable break-in period, I dropped in "Court and Spark" to see if this was going to be one of those good days. It was.

Most of us have heard of Kimber Kable, and I'd bet most of us have tried at least one of Ray's designs. His speaker wire, starting with the very good/ridiculously cheap 4PR/8PR (about $1 and $2/ft), extending to the fantastically popular/even better 4TC/8TC (about $5 and $9/ft) and reaching to the all silver/incredibly priced/and even better sounding 4AG/8AG (about $100 and $180/ft), have been universally praised and well received in the marketplace as well. His interconnects have also been well reviewed and received. The PBJ, at $68 a meter pair, is so good for the price that many audiophiles have never felt a need to audition more expensive wire; and when they have (and when their pocket books have allowed it), many just jumped straight to the all silver KCAG at $350 a meter pair.

Ray's designs have found a place in my system in the past. For about 18 months I used Kimber's PBJ, and was quite happy with it in the system as it was then configured. However, as the system changed, I began to feel that that some of the problems I was trying to solve weren't being addressed by the components I was changing out. There was a persistent upper midrange/lower treble glare, and try as I might, it would not go away. Eventually I auditioned a bunch of wire and found that when the Kimber was out of the system, so was the glare. After solving that the next difficulty was in finding a wire that let me keep the resolution, dynamics and imaging of the PBJ, without costing me 3 to 4 times its price. Eventually I found the MAS Black which seemed to keep 99% of the Kimber's virtues, while removing the glare, and adding a couple new virtues on it's own, one being an emotional directness which made the PBJ sound analytical in comparison.

During this time I tried out the KCAG for kicks, knowing the price would keep it out of the running. The KCAG, unlike most of my previous encounters with silver wire, seemed to offer excellent detail retrieval without sounding etched. In fact, I found it to be both an emotionally direct and an intellectually satisfying wire, which quite surprised me. It kept everything good about the PBJ, and added emotional impact and a great deal of refinement as well. At the time I was upset that Kimber didn't offer a step between the PBJ and the KCAG (except the KC1 which is just a shielded PBJ, or rather PBJ is a non-shielded KC1). Apparently enough other people felt the same way and told Ray. The result of this is a new offering by Kimber Kable, the aforementioned Silver Streak.

The Silver Streak is constructed similarly to the PBJ and KCAG. All three are solid core, braided designs, with one positive and two negative conductors, unshielded, and terminated with Kimber's own RCA jacks. The difference is the wire inside the insulation. The PBJ sports high purity copper, while the KCAG is an all silver design. The new Silver Streak keeps the 2 copper negative wires (Ö la PBJ), but uses the KCAG's solid silver positive conductor. The negative wires are encased in black, while the silver wire has a clear covering. It retails for about $175 a meter pair, neatly splitting the price between the PBJ and KCAG. The wire looks quite good. Though like its siblings, the lack of a shield or common covering does make you treat it with gentleness.

After breaking in the Silver Streak and spending some time listening to just it, it was time to set up a shoot-out. I gathered up a couple of competitors. Mike Fenech flew in from Austin to critique my system, to convince me how much better his speakers are than mine, and to deliver his Music Metre Signatures ($250 a meter pair) to the OK Corral. Magnan IIIi, my current sub 2 bills champ ($195 a meter pair), was the other competitor. To establish a baseline I used a pair of PBJ, and also managed to borrow a pair of KCAG at the very end of my time with the Silver Streak (I really wanted to check out the KCAG to see how close this hybrid comes to its big brother). All set, we started listening (Mike hung in with me for several days to help keep my ears honest, as well as to participate in the reality test, a trip to see the Hal Galper Trio at Vartan Jazz).

The good news it that there were no losers in this shoot-out. I don't mean to say that there was little significant difference between these interconnects, rather that each of the 3 main competitors had their own set of advantages that would make them a preferred choice under certain circumstances. It was also obvious that each of the three was superior to the PBJ. As I said earlier, the PBJ has always given me the impression of great detail, but in an analytical manner and with an upper mid-range glare. Each of the three other wires (and the KCAG as well) did a much better job of communicating both details and emotion. That said, let's move on to their differences.

The Music Metre Signature impressed me as a fine wire. It had an immediacy that was very beguiling. Recordings were presented without veils or obvious timbral mistakes. On the other hand, there was a persistent dryness that bothered me. Bass offers the best way to describe the Music Metre's benefits and drawbacks.

Richard and Linda Thompson's Shoot Out The Lights offers lyrics dealing with the breakup of their marriage in terms so emotionally harrowing as to turn Fleetwood Mac's Rumors into a "Dick and Jane" tale in comparison. And, in the Rykodisk AU24 format, it offers fantastic sound as well. The title track is driven by bass line and bass drum accompaniment. With the Music Metre the bass was both deep and powerful. It was easy to lock into and ride along with. I would have thought it was darn near perfect till I dropped the Kimber in. With it in place the drum took on more life. The drive it imparted to the song became considerably easier to feel. And how the drum lit up the original recording venue became much easier to hear. In short, it became much more tangible.

This dryness can also be seen in the treble. On the same Richard Thompson track the drummer rides the cymbals down to a whisper at about the 1:15 mark. With the Music Metre, the cymbals turned into a hissing sound as the volume lowered. The Kimber's greater accuracy never lost the feel of real cymbals. Once again, much more believable.

That said, please don't over emphasize my comments regarding the Signature. With the exception of the above mentioned track its highs were excellent, midrange was always vivid, and it portrayed the soundstage better than any of the other wires included in this short survey (including the KCAG). It had a very nice snap to the bass (as the British would say, "tuneful"), but try as I may, I could not get past the dryness. If asked to rank the Music Metre, I would place it third of the three main competitors, but oh so very close to second. And, if I had a system that needed a little off the bottom, it would rise to the top of the list.

I would place the Magnan second, which surprised me a lot (I expected it to win). From the first time I heard this wire I fell in love with it. It is so grain and glare free that it sets an almost impossible standard. Its presentation is relaxed, refined, and yet very involving emotionally. The stage is clear and widely laid out. And it has no obvious timbral errors (although it could reach a little lower in the bass). Yet with all that, the Silver Streak seemed a better cable to me.

In comparison to the Kimber, the Magnan sounded a little thin. That thinness was both harmonic and visual, so to speak. The very highest overtones on cymbals sounded lean compared to the Silver Streak, as did piano. Joe Pass's guitar also showed evidence of this thinness, lacking the body I've heard with other wire, especially my Cardas Cross. As for the visual side of the equation, the harmonic leanness seemed to take away from the solidity of images as compared to the Kimber cable. Still, this is an excellent cable, and in a slightly rich system would be a perfect fit.

As for the Silver Streak, yep, it won. While some elements of the other two cables bettered it (the Music Metre was less veiled, the Magnan very slightly more refined) it had an unbeatable combination of virtues. First of which is the ability to present instruments with a sense of reality. In spite of the Music Metre's deeper bass, the Kimber made bass guitar and drums sound more natural. And in spite of the Magnan's slightly greater soundstage, the Kimber gave every instrument a stronger sense of place and action. In fact, that may be the part of its presentation that struck me first and greatest impact. Miles Davis' So What from the Kind of Blue album is my single favorite track, and the first time I played it with the Kimber in place was a delicious experience. Each instrument had a golden glow of sound surrounding it, and yet each instrument was as precisely delineated as it had been before. This type of presentation seems to me far more like what I hear at a jazz club. Detail, with bloom, makes it easier to follow instrumental lines, and this was precisely what the Silver Streak delivered.

As I pointed out earlier, the Music Metre seemed more immediate, less veiled, and yet less accurate when compared to the Kimber cable. Previously I had associated greater immediacy and less veiled sound with greater accuracy, but in this case the Kimber taught me a lesson. Itís essential tonal accuracy, coupled with fantastic harmonic retrieval more than compensates for a slight veiling. As for the Music Metre's greater bass extension, the dryness it had as well gave the richer Kimber the edge again.

As for the KCAG/Silver Streak comparison, the KCAG was more refined (the Magnan and KCAG being equal in this regard), slightly less veiled, and slightly more extended at the frequency extremes. Other than that, they were just about a push, at least in my system.

In summary, would I buy this wire? You betcha! To me it would be THE killer mid-budget cable to drop into any system where its only real flaw wouldn't be a problem (the very slight veiling both Mike and I noticed). It's dynamic, involving, accurate, detailed and harmonically pure. Am I going to by this wire? Well, compared to the Cardas Cross ($398/meter pair) I would still go with the Cardas for its superb staging, even richer harmonic retrieval, killer dynamics and to die for top end. But at less than half the price, the Silver Streak sets a new standard for me. Anyone spending less than $200 a meter pair for wire needs to check this out. Heck, I'd even recommend that should you be budgeting less than $100 a pair that you try this out first, Iíd be willing to bet you'll find a way to increase your budget. It's that good.


Mike's comments

Oh - since Mike had to endure spending time with me, I thought I'd let him comment as well.

MJF responds: (very TAS-like, no?)

Unfortunately in my visit to Todd's place I only spent four hours with him during the interconnect comparisons, and I wasn't able to hear the Magnan cable at all. I wouldn't have been much help anyway, since he was in a better position to judge the merits of one cable over the other in his own system.

I did confirm my suspicion that the Music Metre would not fare as well in his system as it does in mine. My system, thanks to the inherent heavy midbass of my Proac Response 1S and all single-ended tube electronics, requires firm control of the bass without its further accentuation. The Music Metre balances everything nicely while leaving the fullness and body intact.

In the limited time I had to compare the Music Metre with the Kimber I thought both were very similar in nature. I was impressed in how articulate the Kimber was in the upper midrange with female voice and piano (usually the first thing I listen for). In contrast the Music Metre had a loss of definition in the upper mids and sounded smeared in comparison. Also the mids and highs of the Kimber had more air than the Music Metre did. I actually preferred the bass of the Music Metre over the Kimber. Also the transparency the Music Metre offered was a real eye opener. But I would have to side with Todd and pick the Kimber over the Music Metre in his system.

Which leads me to a point for anyone who's serious about their stereo investment to consider. You're cheating yourself if you don't take the time and effort to try out as many cables as you can in your own system. (Both Todd and I use The Cable Company's cable lending library to fine tune our systems.) Myself, I went through six major brands of cable before I tried Music Metre, and the Music Metre beat them all easily. Most people are content with what their equipment dealer suggests to match with their components. Big mistake...not that they are necessarily wrong, but in my case I talked to three different Proac dealers and the distributor about matching cables. Each recommended one of the cable brands I eventually tried out, and none were even close to the Music Metre. I'm certain that in some systems these recommended cables would fit. The only way you will know if a 'recommended' cable will work in your system is to try it out yourself at home.

Music is based on (power) cords, right?

February 1996

So, Iím listening to Keith Jarrettís The Cure album and I notice that it sounds better than ever before. In the title track, Jarrettís left hand sets up a drive thatís the heartbeat of this song - take it away and the song collapses. It pulses steady, sure and powerful, setting up the foundation for his right hand to improvise on. DeJohnette, as usual, adds brilliance, texture and color. However, what makes the song sound better than ever is an added clarity. I find Gary Peacockís bass far easier to pick out and follow. His subtle shadowing of Jarrettís bass chords demonstrate the tremendous interplay between these masters. Iíd always known he was playing in this song (and in fact, could pick him out), but Jarrettís left hand plays so far down the piano that he and Peacock inhabit much of the same territory, making it difficult to separate them. It takes a good system to properly reproduce not only the individual bass notes in this song, but more especially, the timbral differences between Peacock and Jarrett. The most recent addition to my system has made this delicate difference more apparent - and more enjoyable. What is that change? A power cord.

Iíve often wondered about power cords. Since so many 'audiophile approved components' have heavy power filtering built in, how much difference could they make? And, more importantly, could they change my system for the better? With that in mind, I decided to check out three of the more affordable cords. They are the MAS AC POWER masTER cord in both 2 and 3 prong versions, the Discovery Powercord, and the MIT Z-Cord 1. The 2 prong MAS retails for $69, each of the other cords for $99. The 2 MAS cords and the Discovery cord look similar. Each are non-encapsulated designs. While this may be a concern to some, they appear to be well built and quite rugged. On the other hand, the MIT is an encapsulated design and appears to be a slightly more solid than itís competition. It also has what appears to be a large ferrite bead near each end of the cord. One last, purely aesethic difference. The MIT is all white, while the other cords are black.

As for testing the effects of these cords, my current system has three detachable cords. They are on the power supply for the DAC (Audio Alchemy PS 3, connected to a DDE 1.1), the pre-amp (Tara Labs Passage), and the power amp (Parasound HCA-1000). I decided to try each cord one at a time on each of the 3 components. But before beginning I had to resolve one question. The instruction manual for the Parasound amp states that you should use only the cord that came with it. Wondering why, I placed a call to Chip at The Cable Company, who besides carrying Parasound, is an all-around knowledgeable fella about cables. He didnít know of any reason not to substitute the standard cord, but called Parasound anyway. According to the Tech who answered our question, the manual includes that warning to discourage people from using just any replacement cord. He assured us that high quality audiophile cords are acceptable. That question out of the way, the fun began.

I started by replacing the stock cord on the Audio Alchemy DAC. I started there for two reasons. First, itís the easiest cord to reach. And second, figuring that the cords would be least effective on my DAC, I wanted to minimize any placebo affects. The reason I thought the DAC would be least sensitive to cords has much to do with the Audio Alchemy method of design DACs. For those who are not familiar with the AA way of doing things, many of their products sport standard outboard power supplies, with optional, upgraded, power supplies available. AA does this by connecting their products to their power source using a supplied, small, DC only wire and connector. So a typical AA product can be connected to a wall wart PS, or to various outboard supplies which are then connected to the wall. The PS 3 is one of their top power supplies. With its additional filtration, beefed up power supplies, and large gauge standard cord I had little expectations of 'upgraded' power cords improving the sound. I was wrong.

When I replaced the stock Audio Alchemy cord with the MAS cord the separation between instruments became much easier to follow. This difference, while somewhat subtle, was immediately apparent. It also fell under the heading of Those Little Things That Mean A Whole Lot. It made the illusion of real musicians inhabiting my room easier to accept. The odd thing about this is that greater separation was not achieved by creating a sense of sharper edges, but rather by creating a stronger sense of center to each instrument. Whether bass, drum or trumpet, each instrument seemed to occupy itís own space with a greater forcefulness. The timbres of instruments appeared truer as well. For example, trumpet and flugelhorn were easier to distinguish. And perhaps best of all, the timing or pace of rock and jazz tunes seemed better defined.

When I moved the MAS cord to the pre-amp, the changes noted above were repeated, only with greater magnitude. This may be due to greater sensitivity by the Tara Labs pre-amp, the design of the Audio Alchemy DAC and power supply, or the fact that the cord I had on the pre-amp appeared to be a lower quality cord than the ones on the DAC and power amp. But, for whatever reason, the MAS cord showed the same gains here as it had on the DAC, only, as I said, more so. On the power amp the MAS cord made a difference, however it was gentler than the changes it had made on either pre-amp or the DAC. The changes it made were similar to those it had effected earlier, just of a lesser magnitude.

Switching to the Discovery cord, once again I heard changes in all three locations. And, as before, the changes proved consistent in type regardless of where the cords were placed. The changes were strongest on the pre-amp, then DAC and lastly power amp.

The Discovery, on first listen, seemed to brighten the presentation, which gave a feeling of added resolution. It also gave the system a slightly livelier sense. Just as the MAS had done, it made instruments easier to pick out, but this time by giving them a sharper edge definition. It also seemed to increase the depth of the soundstage a smidgen. However, on further listening the brightness I liked at first seemed to take on more of an upper midrange glare. This distraction was actually worse on the power amp than on the pre-amp of the DAC. The positives of the Discovery were very nice, but in my system, that glare proved to be too difficult to handle. If forced to choose between the MAS and the Discovery, for my tastes, Iíd go with the MAS. It gave me many positives, with out a single drawback, and it worked well in all three locations. But I don't have to choose between just these two as we have yet to talk about the MIT.

In my system, there was no doubt as to which cord had the best, and biggest effect. It was the MIT easily. While I canít say that putting it in completely changed my system, it certainly made everything that was there better. Just as the MAS had, it made instruments easier to pick out by giving them better solidity. It also seemed to improve the bass in quantity, quality, and timing. Using it anywhere, but most especially in the pre-amp, seemed to open the stage up considerably, just as the Discovery had, only more so. Timbres had greater purity, just as with the MAS. So, it had the best of each of the other two cords, but also a couple tricks of its own. Placing even a single cord in the system seemed to lower the noise floor, which had the effect of increasing both micro and macro dynamics. This lower noise floor also increased the ease with which subtle detailing could be heard. Adding more Z-Cords increased the magnitude of each of these effects. And best of all, it did all this without a hint of added brightness.

I want to be sure to point out that the MIT did not completely overhaul my system. While I love itís effects and would not take the cords out, I want to keep this change in perspective. This is not a tweak to change a systemís essential character, but rather one to mature a system. The differences I heard were not as great as those I hear by changing interconnects or speaker wire. They were subtle. However, their relatively small magnitude does not dismiss their importance. I am convinced that the difference between recorded sound and live music is composed of numerous subtle details, and in my system the MIT cords removed a couple of those. For me, thatís a worthwhile change. Additionally, at $99 per cord, these changes are cost effective as well, at least in an already well balanced system.

Well there you have it. T.o D.D.ís trip through low priced power cords. Yes, I bought some MIT cords. And yes, those are the power cords that made the difference I heard in the Jarrett recording. Try Ďem out, Iíd love to hear your results.


T.oD.D. Takes an Interconnect Safari

January 1996

I like wire, I like it a lot. I also believe that it is as important as any component in a system. No, I donít believe it can add as much to a system as, say, an excellent pre-amp. But I do believe it is as important in getting balanced sound out of a system. I also believe that it has as great an opportunity to detract from a good system, just as a poor pre-amp does. Thatís why I spend so much time listening to wire. That, and the fact that there is a lot of good wire available, able to bring out the best in nearly any system, and for far less than the cost of a new pre-amp.

As my system has evolved, many different brands of cable, both interconnects and speaker wire, have taken their place in the system. I have usually found many differences between them, differences great enough to snap a system into or out of proper musical balance. However, very rarely has the difference been great enough boost the system to a new level of musicality. To date, my experiments have included sojourns with wire from StraightWire, WireWorld, PAD, Kimber, MIT, AudioQuest and AudioTruth, Magnan, Ensemble, Simply Physics, MAS, Ensemble, XLO, Tara Labs, Audio Magic, van den Hul, Discovery, Music Metre and Cardas. Each cable has had different strengths and for just about each one of them I can envision a system where they would shine. Still, I have some favorites.

Kimberís PBJ is the cheapest wire I could live with. While it does have an upper midrange glare, at about $66 a meter pair it is an easy choice for someone with a dull sounding system and a light pocketbook. At $100 a meter pair, the MAS Black, in my system, offers even truer sound. In fact, when I first tried a pair it taught me a very good lesson. On first listen I dismissed them simply because they had no obvious sound! Fortunately, I have learned since then, and the MAS helped in that education of finding a truly neutral cable.

At $195 a pair, the Magnan IIIi is a virtual steal. It practically defines the word neutral. Textures seem very true, itís clarity and focus is formidable, and itís speed and balance is remarkable. Still, at around 3 times the price of the Kimber you may need a better system to appreciate its virtues over those of the PBJ. But if you have a nice system, itís such a stand out that youíd have to spend more to do better. How much more? Keep reading!

My most recent wire survey, which had resulted in the Magnan discovery, also left me intrigued by the sound of two of George Cardasí interconnects. The Cardas MicroTwin had an easy friendliness about it that I loved. If it were a wine it would be a cheery Beaujolais-Villages. It was dynamic, had very good bass, reasonable treble extension, and just seemed to want to please. It was also, perhaps, a bit uncomplicated. Not rough sounding, far from it, itís just that it lacked the ability to display nuances like I was used to them. On the other hand, the Cardas Quadlink seemed to have nuance by the handful. Cymbals seemed just so, staging was nicely placed, guitar strings were reproduced as individual entities. However, it seemed to lack the open, agreeable attitude of itís little brother. If it were a wine it would be a too dry Fume Blanc. In spite of the faults of these two cables, and even though I loved the Magnan, what I really wanted was an interconnect that combined the strengths of the two Cardas wires. I guess luck was one my side, because 6 months later I made a comment about the Magnan/Cardas experience on The Audiophile Network BBS and got a note from George himself, asking if I wanted to try his $398 a meter pair Cross interconnects. Of course, I said yes.

Before I get too far, I should fill you in on the system where this stuff happens:

Ok, nothing here really jumps out at you as "HIGH-END". But it does work very well together. The system has very good highs, well done micro-dynamics (even if the macro swings are just average), is flat down to 50 in the bass, with excellent definition and nice tonal accuracy. Overall, a balanced system, even if far from SOTA.

To give Georgeís cable a test, I lined up some competition. There were four contenders: the Cross, the MAS Black interconnect (which has been in the system for about 2 years), an additional 1 meter pair of Magnan IIIi, as well as a 1 meter pair of Audio Magic Sorcerer (a SS recommendation in Stereophile). Each of the cables were tried between the pre-amp and power amp, but most auditioning was done between the dac and the pre-amp.

First, compared to the MAS Black, each of the other wires were better in nearly every dimension. Don't read too much into that though. The MAS is a very good $100 wire. As stated earlier, I like it better than the Kimber PBJ (which I still use, handling the cassette record signal). But compared to the rest of this group, it lacks a general refinement. Neutral, yes, but still a little rough in comparison to the rest of the group. That out of the way, let's get to the fun stuff.

The Audio Magic, at $650 a meter pair, is the most expensive wire in this group, and had the most powerful bass. It seemed to go several cycles deeper than anyone else and had very nice tonal resolution of the bass. However, bass timing was a little less precise than either the Cross or the Magnan. Harmonic detail in the mids was nicely developed, if also somewhat short of the Cross. It was also the most transparent of these cables. While that is a complement, it was also a problem. Everything it played turned into analysis, rather than music. I'm not talking hyper etched, just clinical and distant. Perhaps the fault lies in my system, or perhaps with the lack of bass drive I mentioned earlier. Nonetheless, I found my mind wandering in and out of the music. At times I was captured by the detail, but really unable to find an emotional reason to keep listening.

The Magnan had wonderful clarity as well. That's one of the things Iíve always liked about this cable. It has a nice sense of openness and detail, but in comparison to the Audio Magic and Cardas cables that openness is accompanied by sibilants that seem over emphasized. Highs were extended, mids well mannered, bass well defined but lean. Staging, while accurate in a right to left sense, was very shallow, especially compared to the Cross. The IIIi still works well between the pre-amp and power amp, where it sounds virtually non-existent, but only when coupled with another cable. With two runs of Magnan in the system at the same time, the sound, while retaining a nice sense of detail, seemed to lean out too much, to whiten more than I like. Please keep in mind that this is in a system with 2 runs of the Magnan. I still have a pair between the pre and power amps, and quite like it there. The negatives I mentioned never showed till I added the second pair.

As you have probably guessed, the Cross was the real winner here. At the most basic level, it just made music happen. I can attempt to quantify their sound, and I will, but it's a waste. Simply, they just make music. They did the staging thing better, by far, than either one of the other cables. It had depth, width, and most importantly body, inside the stage area. It was very easy to pretend that the musicians were in the room and not being projected from two boxes. Their bass was excellent. Smooth balance, excellent definition and fantastic drive. The mids were equal to the bass in every respect. Each and every instrument, whether in an orchestra, small jazz group, or part of rowdy rock group, were distinctly and accurately portrayed. And best of all, the highs were perfect. BTW, I do mean perfect. Cymbals are a great example. No splashiness - nice, natural leading edges - beautiful decay - extended without being bright - bold, metallic, but never overbearing (unless the drummer wanted it that way). Macro dynamics, while slightly limited compared to the Audio Magic, were considerably more than acceptable, while micro dynamics were nothing but excellent. And, while I felt a slight (heavy emphasis on slight) loss of detail compared to the Audio Magic, the loss seemed consonant with the sound of live music from anywhere but a front row, center perspective. In short, these cables presented a natural, open, flowing, accurate and real picture of the music recorded on each disk that I played.

In summary, the Cardas Cross has exceeded my expectations of wire. It has done far more than just balance my system, it has taken it to a whole different level. The recent addition of the Cardas Hexlink 5-c speaker cable (3 months ago), as well as this interconnect, has taken my system from one having high-end dreams to one that has just Crossed (sorry) a special and elusive threshold of musicality. In short, I love this cable. And, so far, it may be the best $400 Iíve ever spent on audio equipment.