Reviewing high-fidelity audio equipment is fraught with peril, and snake pits.
Gauging relative sound quality (and writing about it) when inserting a component into an existing system can be a difficult thing to accomplish objectively. There are an incredible amount of variables to take into consideration. So anything that can be done to minimize those variables is a grail quest, and in my experience cabling plays a huge role in reducing said variables.
I’m an emotional creature, and I usually approach my reviewing from that same angle. I’m more the subjective sort, rather than the objective sort. Not everyone does it this way, and that’s good. While I do my best to objectively evaluate gear, it’s my subjective opinion that almost always ends up getting written about.
I want a sound system to make me feel something when I’m listening to music. I don’t want to sit there, and be fixated on this particular test tone, or that impedance dip in the upper midrange. No. I want to be reminded how complex my psyche is. How I experience melancholy when that minor third triggers unease in the back of my mind.
It’s a rather strange calling really. I earn a living listening to music through any number of systems, and write about how they sound, and how they made me feel (or didn’t feel) something inside of me. I’m committed to imparting my experience of making a human connection with the playback from an analog device like a diamond tearing apart vinyl grooves, or the proportional voltage output from a binary input that a DAC renders. Along the way from these sources we have phono stages, preamplifiers, amplifiers, and loudspeakers (to name but a few options in a signal’s path from source to transducer). But a key part of being able to tie a story together that someone would want to read when it comes to musical reproduction in an audiophile’s orbit is cabling. It literally ties every component together in a system to make all parts the sum of their whole.
This finally brings me to the point of this post: I have a bunch of mis-matched cords I’ve acquired over the years tying together my high-fidelity stories. This is certainly not a holistic cable approach (as I’m calling it), but I suspect that addressing it may be very important in order to be able to properly review gear. To address this intuition, the lovely people at AudioQuest have graciously sent me a number of their absolutely top-shelf cables to explore.
Let the games begin.