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Mega IC Shootout

Wharfedale EVO4.4 Speaker

keith_correa

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Kannan

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SEANDSILVA

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Thanks @jls001 @keith_correa & @Kannan for the suggestion. I ordered the Zeus Z1 on hifimart and it was delivered today. first-up impressions - there is a definite clarity to the vocals and well spaced out instruments. Basically a smoother overall feel to bass/mids/treble. I'm sure this will get better after the burn-in period.. Thanks @magma for the prompt dispatch!

IMG_20190809_151337 zeus z1.jpg
 

kbhuvi

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Greetings FMs
Any suggestions for 3.5mm to RCA IC for connecting Cayin N3 to amp. Budget is 3k to 5k. Currently I am using amazon basics IC.

Regards
 

Jayant_S

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I've been one of the IC agnostics forever. Didn't give the connecting cables a second thought and have been using Amazon Basics ICs all along. I've always thought "A cable is a cable - they're all the same" (don't shoot me!)

Then I started reading this thread amongst the several posts on the merit of various ICs, specifically following what Joshua @jls001 has to say. Reading up on what several knowledgeable FMs have to say about ICs here:

https://www.hifivision.com/threads/the-effect-of-cables-a-sane-debate.59567/

With so much real world feedback on the effect of ICs, I felt like a frog in a well!
I started picking Joshua's brain for a bit about my setup and some noob questions - he was kind and patient.
He suggested Mogami 2803 (expensive) or Klotz MC 5000 as a cheaper alternative from Kiran Sales in Mumbai.
Unfortunately the Klotz cable was not in stock and patience is not one of my virtues :p

So I bought these three ICs from Ali @magma of Sound Foundations :
Othello digital coaxial cable to connect my CD player to DAC

FB86D113-7F04-40DE-BC79-FC734BAF6226.jpeg

Zeus Z1 RCA IC to connect DAC to amp or Phono preamp to amp

7E3CF5F4-0495-4552-8556-6147BE6A97F5.jpeg

I ordered two Zeus Z1s and Ali very kindly offered me a new IC he's about to release for the same price. So I got the ARES SilverLine, again DAC to amp or Phono preamp to amp

9679F042-03AA-482A-9D47-3B5C18212FDD.jpeg
All three have been connected for about 4 weeks and I swapped the two RCA ICs to compare after 2 weeks running in the turntable and CDP chains respectively.

Here's my feedback on all three ICs. I won't pretend to know the technicalities of each connector. I'm just putting down the evidence my ears gathered.

First off the bat, I have to say I'm now an IC convert! The right connectors make a very noticeable difference to your listening experience and these did so for me in abundance.
All three took about 10 days to settle in before I started to hear the change.

Othello digital coax IC : with this cable replacing a generic coax connector I had from CD digital out to DAC, it felt like cotton plugs had been pulled out of my ears. No exaggeration - this IC is really that good! The highs got clearer, vocals sharper and bass tighter with the right amount of thump. I had been unfair to my CD player all this time calling it dull.

Zeus Z1 vs ARES: The only way I could be fair to both ICs was to compare them in my turntable playback chain, where I do 90% of my music listening. The Zeus is well balanced and doesn't add any coloration to the music. I could hear a higher level of transparency in my music. In contrast, ARES sounded lively and a lot more fun! Adding to the music in a good way - response across the frequency range is just so musical. I'm listening to Tubular Bells on my TT as I write this and getting fresh chills down my spine with the vivid Exorcist imagery. The ARES will stay right where it is right now and the Zeus goes into my CD chain.

Thanks @magma for the great ICs and @jls001 for your patience and guidance!
 

magma

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Thanks
Jayant
For expressing your thoughts and encourgment

The ares
Is a silver coated cable
I imported only a few
To get some opinions before i import the whole lot

The ares definelty puts the tap on your foot
It's more lively
But still not in your face
It dynamic bit still not bright or irritating to the ear


The zeus
By comparison is a really well rounded cable
It more musical and that's it's forte
Not a cable for clinical detail but definetely a easy listner with a mid bass hump for the vocals


Then of course there is the mogami 2803
Which has long been a favorite to many members here including the owner of this forum too.
The cable is absolutely plain Jane to look at but if you had your eyes blind folded you should be able to appreciate what it does

I think
These cables
Probably should conclude my porfolio for now
Since each of these cables is comparibly priced and each has something differnt to offer

I have long been thinking of starting a thread
Where i give members who are looking to buy a cable a "trial" set
May it be IC's
Or speaker cable
Or power cable

Maybe we could reach some consensus on how it can be done reasonably fairly protecting intrests of both parties
 

Dr.Lakshay

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I have long been thinking of starting a thread
Where i give members who are looking to buy a cable a "trial" set
May it be IC's
Or speaker cable
Or power cable

Maybe we could reach some consensus on how it can be done reasonably fairly protecting intrests of both parties
Now this is interesting. You could look at the model theheadphonezone follows. They take a refundible and complete deposit of the product price and ship the demo unit. If you like it, they pick up the demo unit and ship you a new one. If you don't like it, just return it and get your money back. There's a limit on the amount of time you can keep a demo product.

In your case if you are thinking of providing like a set of 3 pairs of ic's for demo, I guess you could just take more refundible deposit.
 

Jayant_S

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Location
Bangalore India
Thanks
Jayant
For expressing your thoughts and encourgment

The ares
Is a silver coated cable
I imported only a few
To get some opinions before i import the whole lot

The ares definelty puts the tap on your foot
It's more lively
But still not in your face
It dynamic bit still not bright or irritating to the ear


The zeus
By comparison is a really well rounded cable
It more musical and that's it's forte
Not a cable for clinical detail but definetely a easy listner with a mid bass hump for the vocals


Then of course there is the mogami 2803
Which has long been a favorite to many members here including the owner of this forum too.
The cable is absolutely plain Jane to look at but if you had your eyes blind folded you should be able to appreciate what it does

I think
These cables
Probably should conclude my porfolio for now
Since each of these cables is comparibly priced and each has something differnt to offer

I have long been thinking of starting a thread
Where i give members who are looking to buy a cable a "trial" set
May it be IC's
Or speaker cable
Or power cable

Maybe we could reach some consensus on how it can be done reasonably fairly protecting intrests of both parties
I for one will be happy to do the cable trials and would like to buy another pair of the ARES IC as soon as you get stock. Keep doing what you do Ali - giving much listening joy to your customers :)
 

SEANDSILVA

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Does anyone use this IC in their system? I'm curious to know how it compares with the likes of Belden, Mogami, Zeus etc

IMG-20171125-WA0011.jpg
 

SEANDSILVA

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This is sort of a long term report on the Belden 8402 cable used as unbalanced in my chain, and also a comparison of the Belden 8402 with two newer cables, namely, Klotz MC5000, and Helusound AES DMX cables both wired as unbalanced interconnects:

I've had the Belden 8402 in unbalanced and balanced for quite some time now (almost two years).

I've had the Klotz MC 5000 for much longer and I had never actually ever considered using it anywhere in my audio chain simply because I had sufficient number of cables to try/use. I didn't know that it is regarded highly in some circles. I got curious after I started using it between CDP and buffer and hearing how good it actually is, and that's when I saw forum threads dedicated to this cable. My CDP (actually an old Sony BDP-S370 bluray player) is the least used source in my audio chain as turntable takes first precedence, followed by music PC at a distant second. A complete breakdown of the music PC (motherboard problem) had me in a situation where I had to start spinning CDs more regularly. So I rummaged through my cable pile and dug up the Klotz MC 5000 and started using it to connect the Sony to my buffer. It was a low priority source and my expectations from this source was rather low. It was just to keep the music going. After several days of usage, I started noticing how good the sound from the bluray player was. I already knew that this player has a very fine analog output (and is also a very fine transport) so I had searched for it and was lucky to get one from fellow forumer magma/Ali. Suspecting that the pleasurable sound wasn't entirely the contribution of the bluray player, I swapped out the Klotz MC 5000 cable to my reference Belden 8402. This confirmed my suspicion that the Klotz is indeed a very fine cable.

The Helusound AES DMX cable (code number 400031) is a digital AES balanced cable. I've been using this cable for the intended AES function, and also as analog unbalanced cable, and as internal wiring on phono preamps, line level buffers and even power amps. In fact one pair of unbalanced Helusound AES DMX cable was part of the initial set of cables compared in this very thread (post#3). On hindsight, it was probably insufficient burn in at that time that led me to wrong conclusions about the quality of this cable. But what made me realize that this digital cable SHOULD actually sound good as an analog interconnect cable was the fact that it sounds consistently better than any wire I've tried as equipment internal wiring. So recently I actually made a 1m pair using Neutrik ProFi RCA plugs and have been using it continuously for about a week now between bluray player and buffer. Since my listening hours is a rather high nowadays, the cable has settled down well and is now showing its true colours.

I find that that its basic characteristic that I had described in post#3 still remains true - bass is a bit leaner than other cables, but the highs are very sweet. Very, very sweet. And it never fails to convey the emotion of the music. And it is the most resolving cable I've had the pleasure of using in my setup. It digs out that last bit of detail that all other cables fail to resolve. Its enthusiastic attack at the leading edge of music and its natural decay on the trailing edge makes it a lively and dynamic component. Tiny nuances like a singer drawing in breathe or his/her lips parting to make tiny smacking sound in closed mic recordings or a very soft acoustic string pluck, etc are made audible.

In contrast, the Klotz MC 5000 does all the hifi things with great elan. It's almost impossible to knock it off its poise irrespective of how complex the program content is. It's suave and sophisticated...but in a hifi sort of way. It doesn't have the upper high frequency extension of the Helusound AES DMX cable. Its mid also seems to be slightly subdued compared to either the Belden or the Helusound, so losing out a bit of warmth.

The Belden 8402 has shown itself to be neutral and balanced across the entire audio spectrum. It resolves micro details well (though it must bow down in humble submission to the Helusound AES DMX cable). It has great attack and a natural decay. The musical timing is unmistakable and the music just flows. The mids are fleshed out like no other cable in this mini shootout. It just sounds the most musical of the lot. This cable is the king of my cable hill and I haven't found another to knock it off its comfortable perch.

To be sure, these three cables are all very good. If you need to sweeten your highs and dig out the last ounce of details, the Helusound DMX cable will help. It never fails to be musical. If you want to inject that bit of panache and “hifi-ness” into your sound, try the Klotz MC 5000. For many, depending on their musical priorities, I'm guessing the Klotz MC 5000 will be their top choice. If I had not heard it against the other two, it would be mine too.

I hate numbered rankings as listening preference and musical priorities are so subjective but given my preference and priorities, I would keep the Klotz at number 3 and the Belden at 1.

Post script: I had enthusiastically recommended the Helusound guitar instrument cable in the past on this thread. Compared to these three cables, the instrument cable sounds like a rough and rustic country lad in the big city.
@jls001 I have been referring to this - https://audio-at-home.com/belden-8402-microphone-cable-interconnects-a-la-dominique

Please advise how a pair of the Belden 8402 is to be terminated as I will be using this cable specifically from TT to phono preamp.

option 1 - should both cores be soldered to RCA hot pin and the braid soldered to RCA ground only at the source end and left floating at the other end? Would this be the ideal way for a dead silent background? iirc the same method has been used with the Mogami 3106 as well.

option 2- should one core be soldered to RCA hot pin, the second core soldered to RCA ground and braid soldered to RCA ground at source end only?
 
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SEANDSILVA

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Please read this article.
Thanks for the reference.

quoting from the article.. "Yazaki-san constructs the Belden 8402 microphone cable interconnects like this:
One conductor goes to the RCA pins (hot), the other conductor goes to the plug housings (ground), and the shield is connected at each end to the ground."

This way of soldering will not result in a directional cable with a floating ground and either end can then be connected to the TT. I am just concerned about ground loop hum and hence wondering whether to terminate the braid at source end only. @jls001 what would you recommend?
 
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SEANDSILVA

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@jls001 after reading this article I'm not going to terminate as per Mr. Yazaki's method wrt the 8402. I'd rather err on the side of caution and go the conventional way i.e. one conductor soldered to hot pin, second conductor soldered to ground and shield soldered to ground only at source end.
 

jls001

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@jls001 after reading this article I'm not going to terminate as per Mr. Yazaki's method wrt the 8402. I'd rather err on the side of caution and go the conventional way i.e. one conductor soldered to hot pin, second conductor soldered to ground and shield soldered to ground only at source end.
Go right ahead. Both are valid.
 

keith_correa

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@jls001 after reading this article I'm not going to terminate as per Mr. Yazaki's method wrt the 8402. I'd rather err on the side of caution and go the conventional way i.e. one conductor soldered to hot pin, second conductor soldered to ground and shield soldered to ground only at source end.
Read the post dated "APRIL 17, 2020" on this blog. If you are not inclined to read the full post, make sure you read the summary. There is a reason behind an implementation of a floating shield.
 

Ramanuj

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Quite surprised to see the Audio Art IC3 under performed by such a huge margin over the Mogami. This does affirm the fact further that cables are indeed very system dependent. What is my potion could well be your poison!
 
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