Quarter Notes #18 (Volume 5, Issue 2)

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

Dear Get Better Sound & Through the Sound Barrier owners,

Welcome to the eighteenth issue of Quarter Notes, published on November 23, 2015. Quarter Notes is a free newsletter for Get Better Sound and Through the Sound Barrier owners, expanding on both, as well as introducing new and timely subjects.

Best email address

Since you’re reading this, the e-mail address with which I sent this QNs must have worked. However, the only e-mail address I have is the one associated with your initial Get Better Sound or Through the Sound Barrier order. If you have an e-mail address that you’d prefer to use to receive Quarter Notes notifications, send it to js@getbettersound.com. Be sure to include the e-mail address I used originally, along with the one that you want to use to replace it.

Cheap ‘n Cheerful

I have to blame some of my Cheap ‘n Cheerful impetus for this Quarter Notes issue on Jeff Day.

Although the Belden 8402 interconnect and the Western Electric 16 gauge speaker wire idea came from his Jeff’s Place blog - http://jeffsplace.me/wordpress/, when I finally got around to checking it out, I was sufficiently interested that I discovered some other affordable products as well.

You may know that the recordings you listen to were probably made with Canare, Mogami, or Belden wire for microphone cable. I have a couple of sets of Canare 4E6S. One pair is 25 feet in length. I think the pair cost me less than $35(!). I have long used them to make master recordings and in other applications – their sound is quite good. So some may ask, why do I need a better cable than was used to make the actual recordings?

That’s always been a bit of a conundrum for me. I admit to owning and using cables that cost FAR more than the cables that were employed to make the recordings that I love. But that is most likely a topic for another time…

But first, the Belden 8402 interconnect –

I read about the Belden IC and the WE speaker cables on Jeff’s site at about the same time. The Belden was available in the US relatively quickly. I got mine from Best-tronics - http://btpa.com/. I ordered a 1.75M pair, with the nickel/gold RCAs. They were $70 for the pair, about 10% of the price of the IC cables that I have been using (and enjoying) for several years!

After burning them in, I engaged in an A/B session of sorts. First, were the Beldens as detailed as my current favorite cables? Actually, no… Did the Beldens have superior dynamics? Well, not really.

But they had something. I realized that they had a certain rightness to the sound. Yazaki-san (Jeff’s mentor along this path) refers to it as Real Sound. Presence and Tone were unmatched. It felt as if I could reach out and touch the musicians. Not in the sense of being hyper-detailed, but in the sense of a believable event, thereby allowing me to suspend my disbelief. And out of that grew greater musical involvement, with virtually every recording I tried. I admit that for me at least, it was kind of hard to give up the hyper-detail. But the illusion of real music in my room won out. Once I became acclimated to the Belden, going back to my high-end audiophile cables was increasingly less desirable. I wanted more music, not more sound effects.

During this time, I had several clients come for a RoomPlay Reference session. We went though the usual routine, although I do admit to having made it more refined as to the information and musical involvement I want to convey. Both clients pronounced the sound as their best listening experience (and both had considerable experience with far more exotic/expensive systems than mine). This was with the $70/pair Belden ICs between my DAC and integrated amp!

Western Electric 16ga speaker wire -

Jeff mentioned this speaker cable in his blog months ago. Initially, I didn’t pay much attention, as I was busy with TTSB and GBS issues. But when he kept referring to it, and since it was so inexpensive, I decided to give it a try. I managed to get 23 meters of it from a trusted source in Japan. I would identify him, but he can no longer find any, and I don’t want him to be inundated with e-mails.

The WE cable goes against what we as audiophiles are often told. First, it is only 16 gauge, which is considerably smaller in diameter than what we think is acceptable for “serious” cable. Second, it is relatively inexpensive. Third, it was designed many years ago, so it is hardly representative of the latest thinking in cable design. Fourth, it employs tinned copper, and we KNOW that is unacceptable! Fifth, when possible, it works best without being attached to spade lugs or banana plugs. Just wrap the tinned copper leads around the terminal or push through a binding-post hole.

To establish if I thought this was even remotely possible, I simply made up a dual pair of 3m pair of cables (my system is bi-wired). I did burn them in on the AudioDharma (Audio Excellence) cable cooker. I removed my high-end (and high priced) speaker cables that I truly loved. Once the WE was installed, I checked to see if they were working and once they proved they were, I left the system to run on music for a couple of days. When I got around to listening to them, here’s what happened…

Basically, the things I noticed with the Belden 8402 were similar, only much greater in effect. This time, there was no interest in going back to my original high-end speaker cables. None!

So I decided to wire my outboard Duelund bi-wire crossover with the WE as well as the wires from the crossover that go directly to my Tannoy Canterburys’ concentric drivers.

Now things were really cooking! I should mention that this use of 16-gauge wire may be most applicable to higher efficiency loudspeakers, such as my Tannoys and the Altecs of the day back when Western Electric was making this wire. The main thing is, don’t be afraid to try something that might be less expensive if it has a musical raison d'etre. More musical engagement for less money – what’s not to like?