W A R N I N G !

W A R N I N G !

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Belden 1694A

Reason for getting this: I was nearby SLT and I wanted a cable upgrade from that flimsy-looking stock coax cable.

Reason for chosing this: It's like the whole world is saying that this is THE cable for digital coax cable, else at least it's value for money by a lot.

If others are using this on their Citypulse and higher I see no reason I can't use it on my Zhaolu. Oh yea, because it's only a Zhaolu and I'm feeding it with an Audigy. Hey, cables are meant to be overkilled so you feel good, because they're cheap yet affect the sound quality.

The moment I mentioned 1694A, the folks at LHS seem to know this guy pretty well too, and also offered me the common "standard" Canare connectors. Sweet, because I didn't know what connectors to use.

After checking online, turns out those were THE connectors to use too. Famous and true 75ohm, with good quality albeit duller-looking gold for the connectors and the ground part with multiple plates bending outwards to ensure good contact with the jack. Boy I should have upgraded the crap connectors on the Zhaolu.

Crimping was very fast, and it cost me $18.50.

I didn't really expect to spend much. But $18.50 isn't much. Especially when this is said to be better than the overpriced craps selling almost a hundred.

But all this performance (or price/performance ratio) comes at a price

Firstly, a high-performance coaxial cable => thick. It is thicker than the smaller gauge speaker cables out there. It sure is hard to bend. I'm lucky I bought 1.5m instead of exactly 1m because otherwise it wouldn't reach because of the bending.

Secondly, it looks plain ugly. The external have some words like blah blah high performance video cable 3ghz 1694A blah blah. If you didn't know this cable it would look like either some crap or some industrial shytz.
And the Canare connectors, yes they are THE connectors to use, but they are at least 5cm in length. And the color part is so freaking big. I got black, and if I'd gotten any other color it would look damn GAY.
In comparison, Kaichin has lots of cool-looking echoloft-DIY-type ones at $3.50 and less. For a while I thought that I should've chosen those instead. But the Canare connectors are still THE connectors.

So yea it does look ugly. But it looks like it does have lots of performance. Lets see how much it has.

I didn't expect much of an audible difference with this upgrade, at most subtle improvments in the highs, especially the extension, because it's the stock cable's weakness which I already know of.

But, the moment I plugged it in, I immediately noticed a big difference. The sound is so much cleaner like wow. Especially obvious in Shining Stars Bless. I didn't know some of the high notes reverb and is sustained for so long. Or is supposed to, because I couldn't hear them in the first place. Then switching to Reflectia, I'm getting back the correct high-frequency response, plus more.

And in general:
Soundstage seems to have increased... but I say seems to have because I'm not sure, because:
The instruments at the extreme sides are more pronounced => louder and more obvious
At any rate, I'm definitely hearing more "air", as in the "fake sounds" that's part of the recording.
But this increased "air" (what is it actually called anyway?) also sounds smoother at the same time.
Percussions are slightly more powerful now - bass is tight and puncy (although at most half the improvement I saw with the Zhaolu mod) and the cymbals and hi-hats strike with the nasty sound of hitting and ends off smoothly.
There is reduced cracking at high frequencies.
Because of better and cleaner highs performance I can hear more of the instruments' "noise" as they hit to make the sound. Like guitar, hi-hats, piano etc. (That's the "And more" in Reflectia)

And there's something interesting about the bass: It extended by 1/2 to 3/4 of a note, and the bass notes are now more pronounced also. But because of this, now instead of pure bass beats I'm also hearing the bass guitar together with it (for songs that do that of course). So it feels a bit wierd now, but I know it's good, since for that song (Megumeru ~cuckoo mix 2007~) I know it's meant to be that way, because it's half bass only and half bass + bass guitar next to each other to get that feeling.

That also means i can hear seperation between the bass beat and bass notes, as I later realized hearing other songs. Neat. That means I can now study bass notes better and hence compose better.

Lastly, one more song to add to the list that I'll always use for audio comparisons - sky ~version 2008~ by fripside. Reason for this song is because it is badly recorded and hence induces ear fatigue. A good system should reduce that (by introducing less noise and harsh into the system). And indeed now it's less strenuous to the ears.

This is supposed to be one of the best cables (and connectors) and there's no need for me to tell you that it's good. I'm just looking at how much the improvement it would bring to my setup. And for this amount of improvement, $18.50 is a steal. And I haven't even upgraded my analogue interconnects yet.

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