Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tributaries Series 8 HDMI Cable Review

Tributaries®Cable is the parent company of Claris Sound of Orlando, FL. While the Clarus line of cables is undoubtedly the company’s high-end interconnect cable line, the Tributaries line is quite good many regards, well suited for those audiophiles and videophiles on a modest budget. The Tributaries cables are priced to compete in the mid-fi to hi-fi range.  This review compares the following two HDMI cables: my older Monster 1000 series HDMI cable (MSRP of about $100) and the Tributaries Series 8 High Speed HEC HDMI cable (MSRP of about $130). Both cables were allowed to “burn in” for at least 120 hours before final evaluation.

Tributaries Series 8 HDMI Cable

The video evaluation system consists of an OPPO BDP-105 Blu-Ray player (firmware version 58-0719) and a 65” Samsung F8000 LED HDTV (firmware version 1110). Both devices are connected directly to a modified PowerVar ABC1200-11 Line Conditioner (ground loops removed, all terminal lugs soldered). All evaluations were done in the evening after the sun had set for at least one hour, all window shades drawn and all furniture in the same position, and all room illumination was constant.  Everything that could have influenced change from external sources was eliminated so that “apples were consistently compared to apples.”

My 2-speaker audio system currently consists of hand-made1-meter RCA interconnect cables, a McIntosh MC-2100 highly modified power amplifier, and highly modified Bozak B-302A speakers that are bi-wired to the McIntosh amp via my own hand-made Litz speaker wires. For those of you who have been following my 19 months of tweaking these speakers and crossover network, I am finally happy with them and have no plans to change them in the near future.


The OPPO came with its own 1-meter HDMI cable that performed adequately. Changing the OPPO cable out to a 1-meter Better Cables Silver Serpent HDMI was the first step to improving the audio and video quality. While the OPPO cable “worked,” the Silver Serpent cable had much better audio but the video favored the red and for this reason I searched for a suitable replacement.  The only cable I could find at local retailers here in the small town of Brooksville, FL, was the Monster and it is for this reason I purchased that particular cable.

When I initially plugged in the Monster HDMI cable, the picture detail, resolution, and clarity greatly improved along with colors returning to neutral (did no longer favored the reds). I believed at this time that the picture was performing as good as designed and felt quite comfortable watching most video sources. 3-D images were excellent and the colors reasonably accurate even before television calibration. But after calibrating the television and allowing the cable to burn in (it took about 20 hours), the colors were spot on. In the audio arena, the bass was significantly better than the Silver Serpent or the OPPO cable and the inner detailing more resolved again reassuring me that the upgrade to this cable was the right thing to do. Plus the tight-locking feature of the improved HDMI connector made positive and lasting connections with each piece of equipment. No buyers remorse here…at least for a while.

After about 100 hours of playing time, I began to notice that details with the Monster HDMI cable were just fading and the images seemed to get flat and dull. The sharpness that I once remembered now was gone and the sparkle had somehow left this cable. Returning the cable and exchanging it for another proved to have the identical results: initially good but after another 100 hours, the cable just lost its luster. While the audio quality was unchanged, the video quality faded like the memory of a golden sunset. Pictures still looked “good” but the edge resolution had somehow disappeared and images that should have been sharp and crisp were just uninteresting. Passing by video salons with similar televisions showed better quality than my home theater produced. And it is from this subjective point I searched for a replacement HDMI cable. A friend pointed me to the Tributaries Cable Company and after some interesting emails I obtained one of their Series 8 High Speed with Ethernet HDMI Cables (#8HEC-020).


I am a person who is interested in results rather than sales or marketing hype. Statistics, while useful in eliminating some mediocre gear, does not always tell the entire story and I rely a lot on my own subjective evaluations accompanied whenever possible with my own measurement data. There is nothing that compares to hearing or seeing something change and being able to substantiate it with real data. However, such subjective observations cannot always be objectively confirmed and must be described with etheric and inconsistent words. Whenever possible I attempt to correlate these subjective and objective details and hopefully from this approach you can judge for yourself if you wish to consider this reviewed piece of gear as a viable option to your own system.


While the connector is quite good and well made, this cable does not connect as tight as my old Monster 1000 series cable.


When I first plugged in this cable, I immediately noticed one thing: the picture was considerably brighter. I am presently working on a way to measure the actual illumination differences but unfortunately this hard data is not available for this review. I can tell you that my first impression is that this cable has a much wider dynamic range than my old Monster 1000 series cable. The difference is so striking that you may first believe that the calibration of your set has somehow changed, but indeed it has not. I presume that this change is due to the 2.5% silver plating used over the LC-OFC #26 wires and heavy copper-foil shielding. For whatever reason, this is a good thing.

With an apparently wider dynamic range, one would expect enhanced characteristics like more colors, blacker blacks, whiter whites, and richer saturation and indeed this cable provides all of these and then some. What this does to the picture is more than change its dynamics, the edge resolution lost with the Monster is regained with the Tributaries and while colors were very good with the Monster, they are even more accurate with the Tributaries. The most notable change is the interesting shades of gold and brown.

The first time I saw the color gold accurately reproduced with an LED TV was with the Pioneer Elite Pro-70X5FD. I still vividly recall the looping image of a dragon statue spinning slowly on a turntable capturing the unique character of such a piece. Many things are required for such accuracy to appear, most notably faithful color representation but also linear shading subtleties. This means that color accuracy is maintained through all levels of brightness; quite a feat. Until the addition of the Tributaries HDMI cable, this phenomenon was absent in my Samsung F8000. But with the Tributaries cable this TV now resolves similar detail that this Pioneer does.

As mentioned, the depth of brown colors is another revealing test for any television or cable. The Monster did a decent job pulling out variations in fur coats and the grain in wood paneling but once you see how well the Tributaries resolves these subtleties, you will understand why I am in love with it. Over the years, video programming has swung from uniform well-lit scenes with no shadows like those of the Today show to a new generation of interesting high-contrast scenes at the opposite end of the illumination scale such as with the series Elementary. In this latter show, Sherlock lives in a multi-story home with a lot of old wood and the cinematographer leverages subject matter against these high-contrast opportunities. The Monster cable was able to resolve variations in grain color but the Tributaries cable was not only able to resolve this same grain variation but also the color of the varnish and texture of the wood. Deep honey shades indicating aged wood and flatter shades of picture frames were easily distinguished with the Tributaries while only color variations noted with the Monster.

Lastly, the edge resolution was greatly improved over the Monster HDMI. Watching any movie is like watching it again for the first time since you notice things with familiar movies that were just not there before. For example, the movie UP has striking simulated 3-D depth in 2-D mode and colors of the bird Kevin are absolutely stunning. Not only due the hues of blue, red, and yellow catch your eye but also the blending of one color shade to the next is seamless as opposed to abrupt or edgy. The edge resolution of Kevin’s beak is distinct and clear as opposed to the Monster’s more smeary and blurry representation. The head feathers show distinct patterns as opposed to color smears with the Monster.

Full 3-D viewing is equally as striking. For example, in the movie Legend of the Guardians, the flowing texture of the feathers combined with the superb shading brings the otherwise obscured thin wisps of downy details forward in the image. Most notable are the fluffy breast feathers and their carefully crafted movements coordinated between air flow and bodily contortions. Also impressive are the facial features such as the eyelashes and radial texture of their irises both of which convincingly convey the 3-D space in which they occupy. Flights through trees and around obstacles are literally a hoot as are the high-contrast gradients in cavernous shadows.

 To my eye, video enjoyment is enhanced by this additional range of resolution provided by changing out the HDMI cable to the Tributaries Series 8 just as one would expect similar and striking enhancements in sound by changing out speakers. And that leads us to the next subject: changes in audio.


Moving from the standard OPPO HDMI cable to the Better Cables Silver Serpent showed improvements in the top octave of sound. Moving to the Monster from the Silver Serpent added a smoothness and uniformity bringing life and dynamics to an otherwise mediocre sound track. Bass with the Monsters was far more dynamic and overall very pleasant to listen to.

Changing out to the Tributaries HDMI cable at first was disappointing where the sound was about equally as good as the Monster, something I was not expecting. However, after about 20 hours of play, I noticed that the sonic contour began to slowly change. Inner details and fluidity of content began to appear from my speakers at which the Monster HDMI could only infer. With more than 30 hours of play time, the sound became very dynamic and full achieving deeper bass and more natural sounding highs. With the Tributaries, cymbal crashes contain that low-level fading hollow resonance unique to large brass objects where the Monster sounded tinnier and thin. Midrange presence and timbre also greatly improved making sounds of clarinets round and mellow as opposed to flat and electronic. Dynamics also improved with the Tributaries where thunderous explosions took on a clean punch where the Monster HDMI sounded muddy approaching mild distortion.


Swapping HDMI cables is a simple way to improve the video and audio quality of your home entertainment system. While some persist in believing that wire is wire, let those folks be happy with what they believe. For those of you who want more, try changing your cables. If you have spent thousands on your Bluray player and TV, it only makes sense to match quality components with a quality interconnect. Moving up the HDMI ladder to the right cable for your system can yield countless hours of enjoyment for a relatively modest investment.

If you are astute listener, you may also notice gains in sonic reproduction with better HDMI cables. The Tributaries Series 8 does an excellent job at creating a uniform sound field with highly accurate details. As compared to my old Monster 1000 series cable, the Tributaries Series 8 offers a step up in video and audio enjoyment. Putting it another way, if you like your old Monster 1000 series cable, you will probably love the Tributaries Series 8 HDMI cable. At a similar price point the Tributaries Series 8 cable offers a great improvement in video dynamics and a surprising improvement in audio fidelity. The downside of the Tributaries is its less-positive HDMI lock than the Monster but the upside far outweighs this minor shortcoming. The Tributaries cable is the new reference HDMI cable in my personal video system.

As an interesting side note, swapping out my other Monster 1000 series HDMI cable from my DirecTV™ receiver showed similar positive results when changing to the Tributaries Series 8 HDMI. While not as drastic as the video and audio differences noted from a Bluray disc, the 720p bandwidth of DirecTV showed similar visual and audible improvements. Watching the NASCAR National series on ESPN-HD showed improvements in resolution to decals, dents, and dirt. For example, the vibrant paint scheme on the eye-catching number 60 car of driver Travis Pastrana is something to behold. Resolving the correct shade of magenta on this car is a challenge that the Tributaries Series 8 HDMI cable does very well.

 I can’t wait for the NFL to kick off its regular season and see helmet scratches on Payton Manning’s good old number 18. Last week’s Patriots pre-season game routinely resolved the sparkling silver diamond-flake base coat on Tom Brady’s helmet. Sweet!

Is the Tributaries Series 8 HDMI cable the absolute best HDMI cable you can buy? Probably not. Is it a really good HDMI cable for the money? Yes, it definitely is. To many folks on a limited budget (myself included), getting the best bang for the buck is really important. If you are currently unhappy with your present HDMI cable, I believe you will be very happy with the addition of the Tributaries Series 8 HDMI cable in your personal home theater system. Give this cable adequate time to properly break in and you may notice more than just a refreshing improvement in video dynamics. 

If the Tributaries Series 8 HDMI cables are not available from your local dealer, you can find a dealer near you on their dealer search page.

Yours for higher fidelity,
Philip Rastocny

I do not use ads in this blog to help support my efforts. If you like what you are reading, please remember to reciprocate, My newest title is called Where, oh Where did the Star of Bethlehem Go? It’s an astronomer’s look at what this celestial object may have been, who the "Wise Men" were, and where they came from. Written in an investigative journalism style, it targets one star that has never been considered before and builds a solid case for its candidacy.

My other titles include:

·  Extreme Audio 1: House Wiring ·  Build an Extreme Green Hot Water Solar Collector
·  Extreme Audio 2: Line Filtering ·  The Extreme Green Guide to Wind Turbines
·  Extreme Audio 3: Chassis Leakage ·  The Extreme Green Guide to Solar Electricity
·  Extreme Audio 4: Interconnect Cables ·  Meditation for Geeks (and other left-brained people)
·  Extreme Audio 5: Speaker Wires ·  Althea: A Story of Love
·  Extreme Green Guide to Improving Mileage ·  Build an Extreme Green Raised Bed Garden
·  Extreme Green Organic Gardening ·  Build an Extreme Green Rain Barrel
·  Extreme Green Organic Gardening 2012 ·  Build an Extreme Green Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
·  Build an Extreme Green Composter ·  Extreme Green Appliance Buying Guide

Copyright © 2015 by Philip Rastocny. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Phlatman and Bobbin: Episode Four - R&D Costs

In a listening room...far, far away...

In this episode, our hero Phlatman tries to explain to his trusted sidekick Bobbin why it is important to invest in good interconnect cables. Phlatman , being a facts and figures guy, looks at the numbers and tries to correlate what he sees and hears to what is measurable striving to find the most linear frequency response possible regardless of operating band. Bobbin, a bumbling off-the-wall pimple-faced juvenile who thinks that iPods and ear buds are the bomb, explicitly trusts Phlatman to share sonic truths with him so that one day audio crime will not pay! Donning capes and masks so as to not reveal their true identities while risking getting laughed out of vinyl record stores, our masked marauders are on a continuing crusade to demystify audio subjectivity with supporting scientific data in the never-ending quest for the flat line.

Phlatman was truly shocked when Bobbin brought in his puny Radio Shack RCA cable. Aside from needing repair on the connector-to-wire junction, Bobbin was in a hurry.

"Phlatman, will you P-L-E-A-S-E solder the wire back into my cable? I have to pick up my skateboard at the shop and I can't go there without tunes."


"Leaping Lizards, Phlatman. What side of the bed did you get up on this morning? I said please."

"Bobbin, my dear friend, I am doing you a favor by not repairing this cable."

"Some kind of favor, going without tunes..."

"Bobbin you must understand something and that everything makes a difference when it comes to audio perfection. The weakest link in the chain keeps you from reaching audio nirvana."

"How so, oh great wise guy?"

Meandering over to a heaped pile of dead interconnects, Phlatman points to the pile, puffs up his chest, centers himself, and expounds. "You see all of these broken cables? Well, all of the could have been easily repaired with a spot of solder, some heat shrink tubing, or a new connector. But all of them are not worth repairing. You see Bobbin, all of them basically use a type of coaxial wire first invented to carry radio frequency (RF) signals from antennas to television sets. One day at RCA labs, someone designed an easy-to-use plug-and-jack system using this same RF wire to run audio signals between turntables, tuners, and tape recorders to a preamp. With these cables, you are using the same technology developed from when they were first created back in the 1940s. Audio signals are not remotely the same as RF signals and need very different designs to address very different issues."

"So you're saying my cables are junk?"

"Yes, Bobbin. They are indeed low-fi junk."

"So what do I look for in a good cable?"

"Good is a relative term usually tempered by one's budget. Good to person A means under $100 a meter and good to person B means under $1,000. The problem with designing a good interconnect cable is the initial investment. Just like anything worth doing, you must employ someone who has the expertise and equipment to produce what you envision in your mind. If it costs $50,000 to test out your theory in wire design, you either must have deep pockets or really understand what you are doing."

"So it's not so much the design as the investment in something that is uncommon?"

"Right you are, Bobbin, as usual. You have been paying attention. Now where was I..."

"Startup costs"

"Right. So if you make a mistake and design a worthless piece of junk, you've just wasted your money. Even if you are close but want to change it to get that last little bit of performance out of it, you still have to invest another $50,000 just to make that little tweak. Now the wire costs $100,000 and you have doubled your investment. The only way to recover the R&D cost is to pass it on to your customers and that is why high-end cables cost so much."

"So it just because a gazillion feet of what you want is not available off-the-shelf that drives the cost up??"

"Yes, Bobbin, and this rule also applies to anything else in any high-end industry, cables or otherwise. If you make 1,000 preamps and sell them all, you must spread the entire cost plus profit to stay in business. If you are building something esoteric, and who isn't in the high-end, then these costs must be absorbed by your customers. If you plan to sell only 100, then the price rises correspondingly."

"So that's why Ferarris cost so much!"

"Or a Lamborghini, or a solid gold and diamond-encrusted iPod case. It's an issue of economics."

"I wondered why those cases cost so darned much... I really want one."

So Bobbin, the next time you snub your nose up at the price of a high-end piece of gear, consider what it is these people are doing. Every one of them are trying to make a masterpiece, a one-off, a custom design, and each of them has a lot riding on the idea or design they wish to share."

"Gee whiz Phlatman, I didn't realize that. Thanks for clearing things up."

"Now go down to your local audio salon and get something decent. On your way out, toss your old cables into that pile of junk."

"By the way, Phlatman, where are episodes two and three?"

"I had an idea but it got lost when I tried mixing science fiction with loveable robots and ended up with interconnect cables that sounded like Black Sabbath played at 78 RPM. In the end, my audio addiction may have gotten the best of me... Maybe someday I'll be comfortable enough to rewrite the first three. But you'll have to wait until I finish episodes 5 and 6 first...then we'll see."

Join us next time as Phlatman and Bobbin continue their never-ending pursuit of the straight line audio graph. You may find them in your local audio salon, arms crossed and frown faced, encouraging you to be very serious about the things you allow into your home theater. Until next time boys and girls, remember what Phlatman always says, "On the Eight Day, God created vacuum tubes..."

DISCLAIMER: Phlatman and Bobbin are purely fictitious characters. Any resemblance to any or all real people, politicians, lawyers, or super heroes living, dead, or otherwise is purely coincidental. The USDA does not certify this as 100% organic. These are professional drivers on a closed course: do not attempt to do these things by yourself. Seriously, cars cannot fly. No speakers, capacitors, inductors, wires, tubes, transistors, circuit boards, knobs, gauges, meters, test probes, graph paper, instruments, or electricity were harmed in the production of this thing-a-ma-bob whatchyamacallit. Your mother was right.

My eBook Extreme Audio 4: Interconnect Cables discusses this issue and others that help you make informed decisions about which interconnect cables to try and what you can possibly expect. Knowing the “sonic signature” of a type of cable connected to a type of amplifier can help you narrow-down your search but the final choice should be made with your ears. What sounds right to you is what you should get.

Yours for higher fidelity,
Philip Rastocny 

I do not use ads in this blog to help support my efforts. If you like what you are reading, please remember to reciprocate, My newest title is called Where, oh Where did the Star of Bethlehem Go? It’s an astronomer’s look at what this celestial object may have been, who the "Wise Men" were, and where they came from. Written in an investigative journalism style, it targets one star that has never been considered before and builds a solid case for its candidacy.

My other titles include:

·  Extreme Audio 1: House Wiring ·  Build an Extreme Green Hot Water Solar Collector
·  Extreme Audio 2: Line Filtering ·  The Extreme Green Guide to Wind Turbines
·  Extreme Audio 3: Chassis Leakage ·  The Extreme Green Guide to Solar Electricity
·  Extreme Audio 4: Interconnect Cables ·  Meditation for Geeks (and other left-brained people)
·  Extreme Audio 5: Speaker Wires ·  Althea: A Story of Love
·  Extreme Green Guide to Improving Mileage ·  Build an Extreme Green Raised Bed Garden
·  Extreme Green Organic Gardening ·  Build an Extreme Green Rain Barrel
·  Extreme Green Organic Gardening 2012 ·  Build an Extreme Green Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
·  Build an Extreme Green Composter ·  Extreme Green Appliance Buying Guide

Copyright © 2015 by Philip Rastocny. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Clarus Crimson Cable Review – Part 1

On August 15, my wife and I toured the Clarus Sound factory in Orlando, FL. There we met the owner, Mr. Joe Perfito, who told and showed us why he believes that his cables are the right ones for you.  In this factory sat several technicians busily terminating custom cable lengths and creating audiophile masterpieces.  During the tour, we grew to appreciate many things about the care and concern about quality placed at each step of the production process assuring that no detail is overlooked, something in which few companies today invest and fewer at the level this one does.

After understanding the methods behind the manufacturing process, Joe entertained us with his tale of how he began his career in cable production.  The world of the high-end is one of many unique and varied specialists who in themselves are experts, dilettantes, and authorities in one field.  Joe, whose background was in electrical engineering and sales, had an insight to two-fields and combining that with a passion for listening found it natural to pursue the sonic truth and purity of the simple interconnect cable.  Listening to the differences in cables and wires while observing the need for electrical connectivity and end-user frustrations, he developed cables to not only make things sound better but also make the overall experience of audio cabling simpler. 

For example, in one of his many field trips to dealers, he developed an S-video cable that was quite the cat’s meow.  But when approaching his dealers about adding these cables to their inventory, he learned that the complicated switching between signal inputs and receiver settings made it difficult.  Late-day calls from frustrated customers not being able to figure out how to properly select the correct sound and the picture from the various audio and video formats proved to be a challenge for the non-technical crowd.  So his solution was a converter cable to unify all video signals to one format (a composite video to S-video converter) thereby eliminating this multiple-switching issue.  With this simple device, his journey into the mystical world of cable design began.

Joe heard differences in cables and as an engineer he could not really explain them.  But he also did not let that stop him from trying to better what the industry had available.  Starting with modest single-ended RCA cables, his engineering mind understood that once a cable is bent (something all audiophiles do when they connect one piece of equipment to another), the insulator inside of the cable distorts and the center conductor no longer stays exactly at the center of the cable.  An astute observation and one that changed the design of his simple RCA interconnects.  Developing a three-layered insulator that withstood twists, turns, and kinks, his cable’s center conductors remained centered as they should and his early cables indeed were superior to others.  With this success in the mid-fi field, he set his sights on the high end.

Now those configurations and considerations for making exotic cables were beyond his knowledge and fortuitously he encountered an individual who approached him at an expo.  Basically, this person said, “So what are you going to do next?”  After a brief interaction, Joe realized that to get better, he needed to surround himself with expertise, the sign of a true leader.  Long story short, this person who approached Joe (Jay Victor) had connections to not only lower his development costs but also employ a staff of existing wire-production experts.  Combine this with this person’s engineering prowess who already understood what it took to make a better sounding cable and it was a partnership made in audio nirvana.  The stage is set.

Designing a good sounding cable is an expensive proposition.  To test a design concept meant dedicating huge front-end funds into the minimal run needed to evaluate the theory.  Of course wire manufacturers charge their customers for the setup, tooling, and materials required for “sample” runs and this is where the majority of people stop: it just takes a huge capital commitment to realize what your design ideas are.  A mistake in just one small area makes the difference between a piece of mediocre wire and a superb sounding design.  Much thought must be given before taking the five-digit plunge in just the test cable much less the six-digit order for the first production run.  But partnering with Jay’s contacts these seemingly insurmountable financial limitations were one-by-one overcome and as a result, Joe has created his current cable offerings.

His line consists of three: mid-fi cables under the Tributaries brand name, the next step into the high-end realm called the Clarus Aqua line, and the no-holds-barred top-of-the-line models called the Clarus Crimson line.  In themselves, these cables are worthy of the finest praises for the highest-quality assembly and quality assurance techniques. But the bottom line is “how do they sound?”  So leaving with a box of their products, my wife and I drove back to our abode in central Florida weary from a long day’s journey but smiling from the friendship we just established.

I believe that there is no such thing as a coincidence.  In our chat with Joe, we discovered many, many parallels in our ideas and desires, but also the same friends, acquaintances, and professionals were also members of our elite audio circle.  We both began our life journeys in the United States Air Force, we both embraced a love for audio in our teen years, we both met the same people from prestigious audio manufacturers, we both…you get the idea.  It was as if we were looking in the mirror at our life’s dreams and goals and saw each other. 

At the end of this tour, I was handed enough cables and speaker wires to completely change all of the interconnect cables, speaker wires, and HDMI cables in my entire system.  With an armful of new toys, I eagerly drove the two-hour trip back home postulating how these may transform the sound.  Joe advised a burn-in time of at least 120 hours and so this is where Part 1 must end since any reactions to cables, positive or negative, will change as these cables “burn in.”

But a bigger question came to my mind: how can I test them with not only accurate subjective reports but also precise objective measurements and do so in a meaningful collaborative way?  This is a great challenge.

The objection statistic-based objective listeners have to subjective reviews is that they are etheric, meaningless words not repeatable between reviewers; the objection that content-based subjective listeners have to objective tests is that there is no correlation to what one hears and what the data reveals. I have an opportunity to hopefully change this, at least in some small way. What I desire to achieve is a better understanding of how measurements can glean some insight as to what something sounds like rather than a nebulous number implying that something is better than something else.  What I desire to gain is a correlation between this data and what one can hopefully expect to hear as a result of its review, a noble cause and one worth at least trying to unravel.

For decades, baseball ran on statistics evaluating batting averages, stolen bases, and other hard-core statistics that devised some measure of a player’s contribution to the team. These early statistics stayed with this sport from its conception until the creation of a new field of data called Sabermetrics. One day, someone decided that the data collected – while helpful – did not tell the whole story about a player’s abilities to be “good.” To do this, a new set of data needed to be studied with the primary objective of how to describe any person’s ability to “get on base.” After all, it was obvious that regardless of ERAs, batting averages, and the like, if you are not on base, you cannot score – and after all how you win is to score more runs than the opposing team. What I hope to do is to figure out how to measure what it takes to “score more runs” in a subjective audio evaluation, and maybe even what it takes to hit a “home run.”

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I have mood swings from serious data studying to blissful off-the-cuff reactions to haywire experiments as well as applied engineering designs. With a background in the technology behind electrical engineering, I understand, at a different level than most audiophiles, what it takes to make something sound better than something else. And contributing to this edge is my unbiased opinion – I have no vested interest in anything since I am paid nothing. For example, there are certain things one can do to coax better sound out of almost any audio design, just like the DIY hacker who swaps out capacitors for esoteric types. Certain things bring additional revelation to the table that cost considerably more than other remedies and it is for the cost-vs.-return ration that only the best features appear in high-end designs. 

But cable design is very different than equipment design and there are many other forces at play in getting an unaltered signal from point A to point B inside of a tight bundle of flexible wires as opposed to moving it from the output of one gain stage to the input of another. Connector oxidation, pin/jack materials, solder composition, shielding styles, internal ground loops, conductor elements, wiring configurations, and insulation are all important players in the search for the home-run king of an audio cable. But much like ripples from a stone cast into a pond, electricity does not just go from point A and stop at point B. Some of it bounces back toward point A “reverberating” if you will just like echoes in a concert hall. And if all of these other issues are not properly addressed, even the best selection of components and materials will not get on base.

So to start this series of Clarus cable reviews, I will investigate more than just what cable “A” sounds like compared to cable “B,” I will also describe how the construction techniques varied between the two and which technique improved their chances at hitting a sonic home run. I will also measure what the insertion of a cable does to certain electrical measurements taken before and after the change. From this approach, I hope to change a little of how the data taken to determine what ball players are good and what are passed over in training camp. It should be interesting if nothing else.

So stay tuned to this series and be ready to learn more about the inner workings of how things sound than you had before. In this grand experiment, we will most likely both learn a few things and together we may come out with a better understanding of what to expect when evaluating a change in audio cables. Let’s see if we can learn what it takes to “hit a home run” and what else it takes to understand what is “good” and what is not.

My eBook Extreme Audio 5: Speaker Wires discusses this issue and others that help you make informed decisions about which speaker wires to try and what you can possibly expect. Knowing the “sonic signature” of a type of wire connected to a type of amplifier can help you narrow-down your search but the final choice should be made with your ears. What sounds right to you is what you should get.

Yours for higher fidelity,
Philip Rastocny 

I do not use ads in this blog to help support my efforts. If you like what you are reading, please remeber to reciprocate, My newest title is called Where, oh Where did the Star of Bethlehem Go? It’s an astronomer’s look at what this celestial object may have been, who the "Wise Men" were, and where they came from. Written in an investigative journalism style, it targets one star that has never been considered before and builds a solid case for its candidacy.

My other titles include:

·  Extreme Audio 1: House Wiring·  Build an Extreme Green Hot Water Solar Collector
·  Extreme Audio 2: Line Filtering·  The Extreme Green Guide to Wind Turbines
·  Extreme Audio 3: Chassis Leakage·  The Extreme Green Guide to Solar Electricity
·  Extreme Audio 4: Interconnect Cables·  Meditation for Geeks (and other left-brained people)
·  Extreme Audio 5: Speaker Wires·  Althea: A Story of Love
·  Extreme Green Guide to Improving Mileage·  Build an Extreme Green Raised Bed Garden
·  Extreme Green Organic Gardening·  Build an Extreme Green Rain Barrel
·  Extreme Green Organic Gardening 2012·  Build an Extreme Green Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
·  Build an Extreme Green Composter·  Extreme Green Appliance Buying Guide

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