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"Mark Grant" digital coax cable.

Discussion in 'Cables & Switches' started by michaelab, Dec 21, 2003.

  1. michaelab

    michaelab
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    Available from the power buy forum. See this thread.

    As someone with more than a passing interest in digital cables I ordered two of these to check them out: a 1m RCA -> BNC and a 1m RCA -> RCA. £20 each + £5 p&p (I live in Portugal, p&p to UK is free).

    The buying process was completely painless and the cables arrived promptly. Physically, they are very well constructed and have a very quality feel about them even if they are rather stiff and therefore somewhat awkward to handle.

    Now, lets get onto how they sound. Contrary to what most people here would probably use a digital coax for (DVD player to AV receiver/processor) I tested them out between my CD transport (Teac VRDS-T1 modified with Trichord Clock4 and 'NeverConnected' PSU), upsampler (Monarchy Audio DIP 48/96) and DAC (Chord DAC64).

    Currently I use an Apogee Wyde-Eye cable with Eichmann "Bullet Plug" RCA plugs (which I soldered myself) between the transport and upsampler and a LAT DI-20 MkII (balanced AES/EBU cable between the upsampler and the DAC. The LAT cable costs about £120 (1m) and the Apogee costs about £30 + another £10 or so for 2 bullet plugs. I've tested them both against a number of other cheaper and more expensive cables and they've held their own pretty well. The Apogee Wyde-Eye in particular being an outstanding cable for the it's low price.

    Now, before I go on, here's a quote from Nic Rhodes (The Beekeeper) about the Mark Grant cables (taken from the power buy thread mentioned above):

    Well Nic, I hate to disappoint you but I didn't get a shock at all. The cable "WORKs" of course - I've yet to encounter a digi cable that doesn't but I'm guessing by your emphasis that you meant "work very well" with implications about the resulting sound quality. In that respect they don't "work" very well at all, in MY system.

    I tried the following:

    - replacing the LAT balanced cable (from upsampler to DAC) with the RCA to BNC cable that Mark sent me (the DAC64 has a BNC input aswell as XLR and optical).
    - replacing the Apogee cable between transport and upsampler with the RCA to RCA cable I got from Mark.
    - both of the above.

    In all three tests, the introduction of one of Mark's cables made the sound noticably worse. There was a significant increase in treble harshness and "digital edginess" combined with a drop in bass extension and definition. The soundstage also lost width, focus and stability.

    I would highly recommend anyone looking for an excellent value digital cable to try the Apogee Wyde-Eye, and if you can get it terminated with Bullet plugs so much the better (obviously only if you need RCA connections). I have heard cables that better it in my system but they cost upwards of £300 :) If you're wondering why I'm not using Apogee Wyde-Eye for my balanced connection between upsampler and DAC it's only because I haven't got around to making up a balanced version (I still have a spare run of the cable). The only caveat is that I don't know where you can get the Apogee cable in the UK. I got mine from a dealer in Portugal who ordered about 200m on a roll :eek:

    I guess if I have a point (beyond writing a review) it's that there's more to digital coax cables than meets the eye and not all cable companies are taking the mickey. I know many professionals (broadcasters, studios etc) use Belden 1694 + Canare plugs but that alone is never a guarantee of performance. I should point out that Apogee products (including their cable) are used mainly by audio professionals aswell - they aren't an "audiophile" company.

    Mark's cable is almost certainly better than anything else you can get for £20 in a shop (QED Qunex P75 and the like) but IMO (and in my system) it's not even close to the kind of performance you can get from a digital coax.

    Lastly, Mark - I hope you don't take this personally. Your service is exemplary and the cable is of good quality but it just didn't do it in my system. From the eulogies elsewhere on the forum it would seem that most people do really like it and it works well for them (at least better than what they had previously).

    Michael.
     
  2. cybersoga

    cybersoga
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    I can understand a coax cable not sounding as good as a balanced cable, but i'm surprised that mark's cable sounds worse to you than another coax, if they both do their job correctly they should sound the same.
     
  3. Gordon @ Convergent AV

    Gordon @ Convergent AV
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    "If they both do their job correctly they should sound the same". Indeed but the whole point is that many devices do not do the job properly...hence the difference. An interesting question would be how do you decide what is correct.....

    Gordon
     
  4. michaelab

    michaelab
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    You could say the same thing about amplifiers but then different products only get close to "doing their job correctly" and in the different ways in which they do (or don't) achieve it lie the differences in the way they sound.

    Also, there's no inherent reason why a balanced cable should sound better than a coax cable - afterall....if they both do their job correctly.... ;)

    The level of interference or crosstalk that a balanced cable would screen out over a distance of 1m compared to a well screened coax is negligible to non-existant. The protocol they use is, to all intents and purposes, identical. In fact, some poor implementations of balanced digital outputs and/or receivers make them significantly worse than their coax counterparts.

    Michael.
     

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