Dr. AIX's POSTS TECH TALK — 21 February 2016


The “HiFi+ Guide to Cables” is a 113 page advertorial piece sponsored by Crystal Cable and Siltech with interviews with fourteen cable designers, product reviews and announcements, articles on what’s next in high-end cables, and some editors’ choice recommendations. This type of publishing is done by most of the audiophile magazines. I’m sure the cable manufacturers have a love/hate relationship with electronic brochures of this type…I’m sure the advertising rates are healthy but the exposure is essential. I recently downloaded virtually an identical .PDF electronic brochure from the people behind The Absolute Sound. You can take a look at them both by clicking on the following links:

2015 TAS Buyer’s Guide to Cables, Power Products, Accessories, and Music

HiFi Guide To Cables

So here was have the online equivalent of an expensive glossy brochure/magazine chock full of product listings, very elegant products shots, and there’s not a single questioning word from any of the reviewers or contributors. If you’re purchasing an ad in any of these publications, I guess you can be assured of inclusion in the publication (there are a number of high-end cable companies that don’t get mentioned) AND that any review of your products will be positive.

Just how positive can a reviewer be about a digital interconnect cable? Well, here’s a quote from Jacob Heilbrunn about the Transparent Reference XL Digital Link Interconnect as compared to its predecessor:

“The improvement rendered by the new cables was not subtle or minor or difficult to detect. On the contrary, inserting them proved to be one of the most flabbergasting experiences I have ever had in the high end. The Reference line did not improve the sound; it took it into another realm. As good as the Vivaldi is—and it is superb—there can be doubt that ancillary equipment such as the digital cables employed on it not only can but do have a profound effect upon its reproduction of music.”

Later in the same review:

“But the greatest merit of the Reference XL is its supernatural ability to help deliver a kind of clarity on digital playback that I have never previously experienced. The slightest swish of the cymbals, a foot tapping on a piano pedal, the mildest brush of the bow on a cello—nothing is effaced by these cables. There is a limpidity and tranquility, a sense of ease to the sound, that are hard to forget once you’ve heard them. Whether on jazz, classical, rock, or rap, the Reference XL/Vivaldi possesses the ability to vanish from the signal chain, imposing no audible coloration.”

The sonic improvement afforded by this $3595 1-meter length of cable might be attributed by the new technological advances in the cable design. This quote from the company:

“Reference XL Digital Link uses Transparent Advanced Expanded Foam Technology for precise impedance control and low noise signal transmission. With a solid OFHC conductor that is significantly larger than the Reference 75-ohm Digital Link conductor, Reference XL Digital Link has far more surface area with which to transfer digital signals accurately.”

The outpouring of praise is uniform throughout both of these guides. I dare not quote anything from the HiFi+ publication because they state in rather emphatic terms that extracting even a single word would go against their policies. They don’t want any material taken out of context.

So go to their site and download their guide. Page through the document until you get to the interviews with the cable designers and read their answers to the question that asks them to respond to the claim that high-end cables can’t alter fidelity or sound because the signals are ones and zeros.

The responses are entertaining to say the least. I gathered them all in a single document but will honor the publisher’s wishes and not quote any of them here for fear that the context might be compromised.

Just remember my previous post…data errors don’t happen in 1-meter, jitter is a non issue because of reclocking, and noise doesn’t impact the successful retrieval of a data stream…that’s the whole advantage of digital!

We want digital cables that do absolutely nothing…no coloration, no alteration, no filtering, and no amplitude changes.

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About Author


Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

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