I had a very pleasant surprise at High End 2019 in Munich. For the last handful of high-end audio trade shows, I’ve been assigned to cover AudioQuest. I usually choose to cover this brand because I have many of their products in for review, and also because I have plenty of experience with them. Every time I walk into the so-called AudioQuest room, however, it turns out to be a room featuring a system from other manufacturers and they just happen to be using AudioQuest cables. I’m familiar with this scenario–as an exhibitor I did countless room shares with various cable manufacturers and during the show people would walk in and demand to talk to the designer. “Where is he?” one show attendee asked me angrily a few years ago about a well-known cable manufacturer. “I have a bone to pick with him!” I was happy to turn that guy away.
At High End 2019 in Munich, I picked AudioQuest again and get this…I actually went into a room that focused on AudioQuest. It was actually a seminar, hosted by Garth Powell, the gentleman who joined the company back in 2013 and has guided the development of such lines as the Wind and Storm power cables and the new flagship Mythical Creatures loudspeaker cables. Powell explained, in both technical and layman’s terms, AQ’s efforts to address characteristic impedance through the ZERO technology used in Mythical Creatures.
Using a very capable system fronted with B&W 800 loudspeakers, Powell demonstrated the differences between four different loudspeaker cables: the original Monster Cable, AudioQuest Wild, AudioQuest William Tell and the new Dragon loudspeaker cable from the Mythical Creatures line. These four cables represented the evolution of cable design over the last couple of decades and how the attempts to address characteristic impedance helps to lower distortion and reduce the compression of transients. The packed room at High End 2019 listened carefully for the differences.
The last time I attended this type of cable seminar, about a dozen years ago, I listened to an A/B comparison between a premium cable manufacturer’s $30,000 pair of loudspeaker cables and their new $40,000 pair. During the seminar everyone acknowledged that they clearly heard a difference, but afterward everyone shrugged their shoulders and admitted no, they didn’t, not really. I certainly didn’t. But during Garth Powell’s demo, each cable yielded more clarity and less distortion. By the time we reached the AudioQuest Dragons, attendees were wondering if Powell turned up the volume. He hadn’t.
AudioQuest did something daring and unusual–they went to a show and demonstrated the difference between cables! I’m sure the skeptics will continue to be skeptical, but every audiophile should attend this type of event at least once before declaring an opinion about high-end audio cables.