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REVIEW: DIY by Chris VenHaus Cat5 Speaker Cable Cable

So there I was in my pre-audiophile post DJ days in the Summer of 1997 making fun of the little brother of a (then) dear friend for spending several thousand dollars on expensive Kimber Cables. In my most impudent and ignorant of undergraduate solid-knowledge-of-General Physics laugh, I mocked his purchase with the classic naysayer wire is a wire argument. Fast forward to a few weeks later when we were over at his place comparing his new garden hose cables with the zipcord I brought over. In his rather modest ML CD player, ML Pre and Pass Aleph 1.2's driving some pricey Martin Logans, we compared his decked out Kimber cable setup to my freebie IC's and zip setup. I was impressed with the fact there were clear differences, but not to the point I'd spend that much for cables; I left thinking maybe I should spend a bit.

So, about a year ago as I was assembling some sort of mid-fi system, I picked up a PBJ and some 4TC from Kimber. They did offer up a soundstage with greater transparency and detail. Although my NHT 1.5's were already on the detailed side, the Kimber etched out a clearer picture of the sound.

Then along came the DIY plague and the inevitable tweaker problems - I just can't stop. I haven't even tried. When I run out of money, I'll give it a shot. But only after serious reflection.

I built a Foreplay, Tripath Amp, Selah Audio STS's and now a DAC board may soon be on the way from SDS Labs. I figured I needed some new DIY cabling to complement this system. It's not that I wasn't happy with the Kimber stuff, it's just that I wanted to see what kinds of benefits better cabling could provide.

So I fished around the web (as a side note, everyone should check out the tnt-audio.com articles on hi end cables) and the ChrisVH's looked pretty cool. I liked the design - many many conductors, higher capacitance etc etc + the cost was pretty nice. Went hunting for Cat5 cabling and found some appropriate teflon coated solid copper Belden stuff from MECI - I don't remember what the numbers were but will check if requested (1585 I think).

As soon as the big ol box arrived, chiggy the experimenter came out (note to self, try the new one from Pfizer). I wanted to hear the difference, if there was one, between a single pair strand of Cat5, three pairs, 9 pairs, and 27 pairs. I wanted 6 foot lengths of cabling from my amp to the external speaker xover and another two feet to my speakers. I initially used silver coated teflon from the binding posts to the tweeters and monster zip cord (i know, i know...more on this later) to the woofers.

Aural Notes as compared to Kimber 4tc's with each (except the single pair) used in system for about 3-4 weeks; with regards to my music + movies, this comes out to around 125-150 hours per set. The last setup has a bit more hours on it than the rest.

1 pair - garbage - fuzzy bass, hard mids and sloppy highs.
3 pair - not too shabby. not much bass but the rest of the sound is smoother and more detailed than one pair.
9 pair - uh oh...4tc still better but not by much.

At this point, I left 9 pairs going from Xover to tweeter and tried 16 pairs to the woofer. I liked the combo soundwize so I stuck with it. Also replaced the tweeter and woofer with the same sized Cat5; my amp finally sounded like it was "connected" to the speakers.

27 pair - I'm impressed. No oscillation problems with my amp, clear sound, sweeeet bass and hold on now, better than the 4tc! The detail, separation and all that good audiophile verbal crap running wild. I was quite pleased with this sound. It wasn't as bright as the 4tc which were no where near as detailed. Forget zipcord - these ChrisVH's trounced em. No blisters either as the work involved was spread out over some time.

As for my friend with the expensive Kimbers - he sold them and went on to buy some more expensive, IMO, snake oily garden hose which he now regrets. They not only don't sound as good as the Kimbers, they cost about 3 times more.

Although soldering all of the connections crossed my mind, I remained stable enough to just use bare wire connections treated with Caig Progold stuff. I may try some connectors if I ever get up and order the techflex and heatshrink my gfriend demands. I hope she doesn't have a problem with Purple :)

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Topic - REVIEW: DIY by Chris VenHaus Cat5 Speaker Cable Cable Review by chiggy at Audio Asylum - chiggy 13:37:55 06/11/01 (4)

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