Speaker Kable Komparisons

XLO 6A + Nordost Blue Heaven
VdH D-352 double biwire
Music Metre single biwire
Belden (made by Leslie) single biwire

By sheer coincidence, after auditioning several interconnects, several speaker cables came into my possession with more to come. What else could I do but more A/B testing? :) Anyway, I've recently come up with a new set of 5 CDs that I use to test hi-fi equipment. If I notice anything that requires further investigation, I'll break out other CDs to check on those points. Of course my test CDs rotate quite often or I'll get bored stiff...

Singer Track Test for
Amanda McBroom Dreaming

Vocals and excessive midbass (synthesised repetitive bass track that easily sounds overblown)


Tori Amos Glory of the 80s

Ability to follow complex passages (though often limited by the CD/DACs quality too)

Tori Amos Lust

Deep, deep, synthesised bass note


Sarah McLachlan


Building a Mystery Bright vocals
Mary Chapin Carpenter He thinks he'll keep her

Swing, rhythm, toe-tapping timing


Mary Chapin Carpenter I am a town

Vocals - oversized? excessively accentuated reverb?


Rebecca Pidgeon Spanish Harlem Plucked double bass (ubiquitous demo disc for good reason - its not easy to do well)

My Cables: XLO 6A (treble), Nordost Blue Heaven (Mid/Bass)
What can I say about them except that I'm very happy with them. Ok, maybe I can't say much about them because I don't have much experience listening to a variety of speaker cables :)

Given their price compared to the price of my speakers, I had better be :) The cables are of the lean, fast, detailed type with a good quotient of expressiveness. And no, they are not bright, though the Blue Heaven is a bit splashy in the treble if the BH is used for the treble for my Triangle (but if you read my JA Rm22si review, I had absolutely no problems using the BH with JA at the treble position).

VdH D-352 double biwire
These are the cables just bought for the JA Rm50s with WBT spades on the amp end and bare wire on the speaker end (I suppose no money left after paying for 4 WBTs :)) The D-352 is a very thick silver plated OFC multistrand cable with a carbon sheath and hullifex ('halogen' free insulation - halogen etc are suppose to corrode conductors over a very long time) with the positive and negative leads in parallel (unlike the twisted figure 8 configs of XLOs, Kimber, etc).

Listening tests revealed that the VdH sounded rather bright. There was apparently more detail retrieval and more ambience on initial impressions but after a while, I concluded that it was just brighter and treble seemed etched. This brightness made listening a bit difficult as the overworked tweeter probably distracted me from appreciation the finer points of the midrange and bass. However, listening to Lust I felt that the bass notes were a bit fuller with extension about the same.

The D-352s sound fine on the non-metal dome tweeters of the JA Rm50s though and at $30/m I think that they are kind of a bargain (personally, I feel that you really don't have to do a double biwire of D-352s, you can have D-352 for bass and the CS-122 for the treble/mid and save some cash).

Music Metre single biwire
I basically haven't heard anything about this cable except for the fact that its sold by CD Acoustic. Its a very small flat looking cable with an unassuming black sheath over it. As such, when I listened to this cable, I didn't have any idea what to expect. Music Metre appears to be a Californian company with a series of interconnects but only one model of speaker cable, but if its good, why do you need more than 1 model? :)

My initial impressions were exceptionally positive. It sounded a lot like my existing cables - the fast, lean and transparent category with high 'presence' factor in the midrange. More careful listening led to be realise that there was increased detail in the lower end. In Building A Mystery, the lower-mid growl of the lower notes of the electric guitar were more detailed and had an increased visceral edge. Fortunately, this did not translate into midbass boominess (using Dreaming as the test).

More interesting and important to me was the midrange; the midrange was slightly more forward with a greater 'presence' factor. This by itself would not count for much with me as such 'presence' is sometimes a trade-off with soundstaging. However, listening very carefully, I consistently heard a slightly sweeter presentation as compared by my cables.

Listening to Lust, my cables and the Music Metres handled the bass well (I've heard Lust on some expensive showroom systems so I kind of know how low it actually goes and what sort of detail to expect). However, the Music Meters did not have the same hard-hitting impact that my cables did, perhaps suggesting that single bi-wires do compromise bass quantity (but definitely not quality) at the lowest ends.

As for the treble, it was airy, open and extended and I did not detect any of tiny bit of splashiness of the Blue Heavens (when I plug the BHs into the treble position of my speakers). On the other hand, it might be a nasty metal dome tweeter issue (sorry to repeat myself again and again :))

DIY Belden
Leslie passed me his DIY Belden cables with banana plugs. 1 safety note about banana plugs. After DIYing, you should either shrink wrap them or take exceptional care to ensure that the bananas if they're completely metal, don't touch each other, especially if your terminals are closely spaced.

Anyway, soundwise, there really wasn't much to complain about and the weaknesses were minor. I noticed consistently a slight hollowness in the sound (suckout at some frequency), slightly less bass extension and a slight veiling of the sound. More importantly, the Belden exhibited no serious defects or flaws that I could hear in my system. Very often, I kept thinking to myself that the Beldens were kind of a 'lightweight' version of my existing cables. When you consider the price of the Beldens, that is very high recommendation indeed.


Conclusions and musings
Having listened to ummm far too many cables in a short period of time, it seems to be that interconnect changes bring about more 'fundamental' change to the sound than speaker cables. As such, I wonder whether most of the characteristics of speaker cables I hear is basically what the rest of my system is trying to 'say' and the differences just reflect how transparent the cables are...

Conclusion? I liked the Music Metres a lot. If I had a choice between the Blue Heavens and the Music Meters, I would choose the Music Metres. See their website at www.musicmetre.com