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Analog Playback
Topic: Did I miss something?

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Posted by Romy the Cat on 06-05-2008

Since my “End of Life" Phonostage have materialized I got exposed to a temptation of finding a “right” cable between my tonearm to the phonostage. The most critical cable between the step-up transformer and phonostage does not exist in my system anymore. That is good. However, the cable’s sound between the tonearm and step-up still affected by the cable used.  I have no admit that I am not overly anal about it – with multiple arms the attention for it get diluted and subdued but I would like to find for my very best “reference” arm/cartridge a some kind of “perfect” interconnect to connect it to my “perfect” Phonostage. It is important to understand that I am not looking for any objective or subjective perfection but I rather I looking for a result with which I feel comfortable and that would make me do not worry about the phono interconnect aver again.

Last night I took dozen “better” cables that I had in my home and that I feel are suitable to be used as phono cable and plugged them in. All of them sound ridiculously different. That fact set off my curiosity what cable I would like to use there and will end up there in the end. Make your bets… I did mine.

I will slowly and none-violent I’ll with time try different phono cables and will post my reaction to them. I do not pretend for any conclusiveness or definiteness – I just a guy who wants a less compromised sound from a specific cable in my own playback. Unfortunately my #1 cable that I would like to use with my referees stereo arm I will not have, as it is imposable to found it anymore (The one that I have I use with my other arm that has DIN connector)

So, my reference arm is SME-3012 with 23g in shell and with Shelter 901 needle, loaded to 34K via 1:26 step up. I would need a cable of 0.6M-1.2M that would be OK to be unpaged frequently. Let game to begin…. If you have interesting experiences with phono-cables then please rise you voice.

The Cat

Posted by Romy the Cat on 06-14-2008

Since the 2007-2008 alchemic music season and consequentially live FM season was over (the event I marked with my “End of the live Phonostage”) I have been spinning a lot of vinyl lately. So, I spent some time with different phono cables with my different arms. I have 15 or so cables including 2 my custom made cables, different prices, materials, different made – you name it. They are all very different, in fact I was much more different then I remember – last time I went over the same 8-9 years ago. Here is what I end up, I will name up the winner and the second candidate.

1) Dirty Dally Arm: SME M2-12/Grado Platinum Reference - the winner is VdH D-501 Hybrid cable, second place is Harmonic Technologies Cupper Phono. For this arm I use Grado Platinum MM cartridge that is very dead needle. It is very midrangy, with very stale transients, compressed and not particularly good performer. However, with all it’s limitations it very nice balanced and generally if have not a lot of strictly sonic demands then it is somehow musical. It does well for my “Dirty Play”. For this arm I was looking for a “brutal” cables with a lot of own artificial spice. The Van den Hul’s D-501 (cupper hybrid) turned out to be surprisingly in place. The D-501 has extremely well-extend bass and very punchy cable everywhere else. It is hard to use this cable with my better arms as the D-501 tear music apart, making sounds literally disconnected. In context of the Dirty Dally Arm and Grado MM needle it is well masked out by the Grado own transient blindness. The runner HT Cupper has the similar effect and the VdH won juts because it is more mechanically more flexible and much better from the noise perspective.

2) Romantic Stereo Arm: SME 3009/Otophone SPU Classic - the winner is 2M of Purist Proteus B, second place is my custom-made cable made with combining wires from Cardas Golden Reference and gold strings. I do have high demands for Sound of this arm, so I was not kidding and was looking for better sound. Purist Proteus B got the winning ticket. Purist Proteus B in some cases sound remarkably similar to Purist Dominus. Dominus was not usable due to intrinsic, idiosyncratic SPU’s upperbass colorations. Dominus is too reach for SPU so I went for slightly more lean Purist Proteus B. Purist has new cable – Proteus Provectus that is very new design. I did not try it. I heard a number of very exuberant and superbly enthusiastic comments from specific group of Purist’s owners, primary blabbing about Purist at Audiogon. Those very positive comments are the only thing that prevents me to try Proteus Provectus. Those people are idiots: 7 years ago they all switched from Proteus/Dominus to Ferox, blubbing that it was much better. They are all are either deaf of juts simply part of Purist’s propaganda the famos audio voluntary whore-brigade (I know personally that two of them are). So, I have no pint of reference about the new Proteus Provectus cable. My custom-made running up cable is not bad but Purist Proteus is softer and has more lucrative HF. So, with all my ego collapsed I accept defeat from Proteus.

3) Reference Mono Arm: Micro 282AU/Otophone SPU Mono - the winner is Micro-Seiki “Fat” cable, there was no runners up as I do not know any better cable. Micro-Seiki made two cables: less expensive with plastic molded terminators and more expensive, large and fat cable with very small steal-made terminators. This second “Fat” cable is absolutely phenomenal – the cable does everything just perfect. The cable is long-gone unfortunately and it never pops up even at eBay. All that I did to it was changing the rusty terminators to the new one and it was it.

4) References Stereo Arm: SME 3012+23g / Shelter 901 - well here it is almost predictable - the Purist Dominus Rev “B”. Sine this is my best arm with best needle I was looking for something special from the phono cable. The old (can I say vintage?) Dominus is as special as it could be. It is hard to imagine how much I hate to use this cable for phonostage: the terminators got broken off, the cable is very large, heavy and stiff, the shielding is very not optimum, sometime the cable is noisy there are many other issuers and it is nightmare to use the cable. Do not forget that this cable weights more then some flimsy turntables! However, if to endue all usability misesry7 of this cable then the cable reimburses with sonic performance of unmatchable scale.  Ok, let to deep a little in my world: one of the very important characteristic for me is a playback treats a performing movement as an atomic but CONTINUES event. The sonic proceedings with a movement or within an aria should be connected even if orchestra or singers are silent. The length and the depth of the musical poses are superbly meaningful and should be filled with purpose and artistes intend. I hate the George Solti type of pointless slicing music with phraseological booleans. I would like to see an orchestra that starts with opening of movement and run line an engine to the very last note of the movement. Sure, the orchestra might decay to absolute silence and do not play at all even for minutes but the silence should be saturated with artistic message. Here where I take Barbirolli over Solti and here were I take vintage Dominus over any other cable. Dominus has own ghosts that live within it and the way in which vintage Dominus connects the events is nothing short of extraordinary. This and many other qualities made me to forgive vintage Dominus some lightness in lover bass and a few other sonic minor and seconday limitations


The Cat

Posted by Romy the Cat on 01-02-2010

I am all set with my reference arm but my dally arm with SME 3009/Otophone SPU Classic severely underperforms in my view. The arm use Otophone SPU Classic that is all together is OK balanced cartridge. Nothing overly exciting but more or less neutrally balanced. The arm is far from my Phonostage, so I need 2M cable. I used to use Purist Proteus B to connect it but a few months back the cable dried out. I sent to POD to refill and it was the last time it sound good.

I was tried a quite a few cables since then and I absolutely hate all of them.  None of the cables have good deep bass. The only one cable I have – a cheep $30 SME cable has phenomenal bass but not listenable upper range. After many tries I found one cable that like but it is 1.5m (there is no ways to get it longet) and it is too short to go around the TT. Also, it is very stiff. I have a stiff Dominus on another side of TT and I can’t have two stiff cable of both sided – it defeat the purpose to have a TT to be air-suspended.


So, I would like to find a 2M, very soft RCA- RCA cable that would sound good with low signals. I would pay $100-$150 for a good cable.

The Cat

Posted by Paul S on 01-02-2010
Who knows why, but I can get away with running tiny, unshielded 6N POCC Cu arm wires straight into my step-up transformer.  OTOH, I absolutely have to use shielded cable for the run between my step-up tranny and the K&K.  For well-shielded phono cable, Harmonic Tech "Crystal Phono" should be available at your price. It is not so much BS, and it is sonically acceptable. Funny, but with my TT mounted lower now, I only need .75 m, so I sold my 6' HTCP earlier this year.  I tried several replacement cables and wound up using Guy Hammel's house brand, which cost me about 125 USD, and this stuff is also acceptable for my purposes.  It is slim, fairly soft and "pro quality" (ie, it's not whimpy; it will take rough treatment, come to that).

I wish someone would make a decent shielded multi-metal IC for phono that does not cost as much as a car.  My own (DIY) unshielded, multi-metal IC (Cu/Ag) works out quite well between the K&K and the TAP, and I have long thought about doing a shielded version of it.  Unfortunately, I still need to get some braided copper tubing first; I've successfully procrastinated this seemingly simple task for a couple of years, now.

Of course, if you can get by without shielding, there are a lot more options.

Paul S

Posted by Romy the Cat on 12-28-2010

I have absolutely no assumption how those cables sound but the write up about them is absolutely idiotic.

The phrases like “fewer than two .80mm solid core conductors” describing the specification of a cable sure deserve Pulitzer Prizes for journalism.  Bu the phrases “Hulliflex jacket make this 11.3mm cable a must-have for serious audio enthusiasts” as a justification of a price tag $1.5K for $19.95 cable I am sure is good for Nobel Prize in literature.

Again, I do not make any presumption how they sound but the marketing descriptions of this type make me want to vomit. Why do not tall what everyone know – audio cables manufacturing for cables maker has the highest cost to wholesale value in the industry.  Furthermore the resellers have higher mark up for cables, up to 80%.

So, Van den Hul declared a “cable revolution” make 4 new cables from $9.95 to $39.95. How do they sound? I ma sure that they sound better then the “revolution” that the sales pimps declared last year.

What I am saying: the audio cables shall not be expensive and shall not be sold by trying them. The audio cables shall be cheap, person shall be it, and if she do not like it then it need to be thrown array – like baying extraction cord in Low’s. Why audio cable shall be more expensive if  Low’s extension cord  is more technologically complex then any audio cable in the market and has absolutely the same probability to sound good?

Rgs, Romy the Cat

Posted by Romy the Cat on 06-16-2011

Yep, I fixed it. If does sound very good now, exactly how it has to be. It turns out that my suspicion were correct: my Micro’s fat cable has died on me.  I absolutely assure you that no one would believe that a regular phono cable able to introduce dynamic compression to such a huge degree.  It was.

For my Second arm I use Micro 282 arm with heavy titanium J wand and SPU Classic needle.  It is not end of the world configuration but it is very stable and very all around musical set. Micro a bit duller then 3012 in bass (nothing can touch 3012 in bass) and a bit dryer. It is good reading arm and it read anything very nicely. The SPU Classic is not too demanding cartridge and with this arm if is very comfortable set that gives a very nice all together sound for dally playing.  I sill would toss out the Micro 282  and put another 3012 ever for dally arm but I have 4 interchangeable wands for Micro 282 with different needles. Micro wands are great- they hold own VTF and to place another want in use is a matter of seconds – this is why I keep the Micro 282.

The Micro 282 has this stupid phono 5-pin DIN output and I use Micro Fat cable that I found was surprisingly good. Now the cable pretty much destroyed the whole sound for the arm. Why?

A few year back I re-terminated the Micro cable and instant or 30 years rusty RCA connectors I put the contemporary good RCA jack.  The jacks did not have the mechanism to be fixed to the cable besides the soldering and I used the regular silicon from Home Depot. The sound of the cable did not change. However, now it sounded unbelievably compressed (!!!). So, what happened apparently is the Home Depot silicon has derided and for whatever reason it killed my Sound.

The reason why I bought a new cable and begin to suspect the cable and it silicon thing is because something similar happened with me 10 years back or so. I had borrowed from dealer at that time a Kondo phono cable, the special one that goes from cartridge directly to phonostage bypassing the tonearm wire. The cable was 1M of standard Kondo phono cable and then 1m of ultra light wire to work with arm and do not screw up the arm setting. It was about $3k or something like this. The dealer had it used and offer to me for $1K, I decided to try as I always would like do not use the tonearm wire and connectors. While I was playing with it accidently pulled the thin wire and fucked the cable. So, I gave the dealer his money and was sinking what to do with it as I did not like the sound if it anyhow. I cut off the thin wire, terminated the cut side with another pair of RCAs and made 1M Kondo RCA-RCA interconnect. I did not have right RCA males and I used whatever I have in my hand, filling the space inside the RCA jack with fast drying silicon and skew over the final RCA jack cover atop.  When I played the cable I was shocked – it was such a spectacular sound that I never heard from cable.  In a few month the sound from the cable died with the very same effect – it begin to do dynamic compression as no tomorrow. I was trying to open the RCA jack to refresh the silicon but it was sealed for good. So, I got rid of the cable for some kind Kondo devotee and moved over.  At that time I did not generalized on the result but the sound that I heard from my siliconed Fat Micro cable made me to wonder…


So, apparently dry silicon brings absolute death to Sound, go figure…. I need to try to use dry silicon on Republicans now…

The Cat

Posted by montepilot on 06-16-2011
You got rid of the Kondo cable.  The Micro cable had deteriorated silicon.  So what did you fix?

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