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REVIEW: Audience Au24 Speaker Cable Cable

Model: Au24 Speaker Cable
Category: Cable
Suggested Retail Price: $431/ one meter
Description: OHNO Continuous Cast, Single Crystal Copper, coaxial construction, teflon insulation,cross-linked XLPE polyethylene jacket material, Cardas rhodium spade connectors
Manufacturer URL: Audience
Manufacturer URL: Audience

Review by UncleBob on September 27, 2001 at 20:50:02
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Since listening to the Au24 cable, I have had a number of unique insights. The Au24 cable really has shaken my world, and continues to offer me unique insights when compared to otherwise very good cables. The Au24 really is that much better than my reference cables to which I've grown accustomed [Kimber Select KS-3035, and the lesser, though still repsectable Kimber 8TC] . To say this cable is just another cable is not doing it justice.

This cable, by any self-respecting audiophile standards, is very thin: think much thinner than many entry-level, audiophile-grade interconnects, and you'll be on the right track. Think 4mm for the +/- pair, and you'll be there. When I first opened the box from Audience, I thought "No way. It would take 40 of these to match the diameter of my Kimber Selects."

None of this, to my audiophile's mind's-eye, made any sense. I spoke with Richard Smith, the director of product develoment for Audience, and told him that I was really not sure about even taking the time to hook these cables up. Richard laughed, and said to please try them, that he felt I'd be in for a real surprise.

I'm not going to go into details of construction, except to say that they seem to my clumsy fingers well-made, using Cardas Rhodium spades. For all the details on construction, visit Audience's website.

Onto the sound: I think these things define neutrality better than anything else I've heard. Timbre is incredibly spot-on. I was working late one night, at my desk with my back to the system, and against the far wall. Absorbed in my work, I suddenly was startled, convinced that I had heard strangers talking in my driveway. Nope, just voices on the CD I was listening to, GodSmack. This, in my limited experience, is about as good as it gets in our world: to be convinced, with your back turned, that you heard a live sound.

This neutrality extends throughout the frequency spectrum. Coltrane's sax sounds incredibly present, but never overbearing. Bass notes have a natural fullness and bloom; music just flows from my system much better than with my reference cables, Kimber Select KS-3035s. This is no small compliment: I'm comparing a sub-1,000USD cable to a 3,500USD cable, and the sub-1000USD cable is clearly the victor, in my system.

Soundstaging is one area where these cables excel. The Au24's permit a window upon a very wide soundstage, as wide as I can achieve with my system. My initial impression of this cable's window on soundstage depth was that it did everything very right, and I was hearing a correct perspective for the first time. As an example, one of my favorite CD's is "The Cowboy Junkies", "Black Eyed Man". One song in particular, "If I was the Man", is a great system evaluation tool. Featuring Margo Timmins
and John Prine in a duet, this song never fails to rivet me on a good system.

I noticed something for the first time by having the Au24 cables in my system: my reference cables, and other cables I've heard, smeared Margo's vocals, making them appear larger than life, while John's were ever-so-slightly smaller; this effect became quite noticeable, almost as though Margo and John were singing from different distances from me--not as a duet, but as separate performances. The Au24 portrayed none of that; instead, the duet became a duet, a singular event on the soundstage that captivated and enveloped me.

It's easy to be fooled into thinking that the Au24 gives up some depth; indeed, that's what I thought at first. Upon further listening, however, I'm convinced that the Au24 is getting things right, and my reference cables are providing a false sense of depth by blurring and smearing the space occupied by each instrument/voice in the soundstage. According to technical documentation provided by Audience, this is due to the design's low eddy-current resistance, which, according to Audience,

"is the key electrical characteristic for good time response. Eddy-currents are created by the magnetic field found around a cable when an electrical signal is present. This magnetic field builds up and collapses as the signal varies. When the field collapses it induces an opposing voltage back into the cable. This opposing voltage causes eddy-currents in the conductor. If they could be seen, eddy-currents would look like swirling water in a river. This late arriving, opposing voltage disrupts
the original signal by inducing a time-smearing artifact."

Unfortunately, as is the way with all things audiophile, there has to be a downside, however slight. That downside is that these cables are not as "loud" as other cables---literally. I find that I have to push a few more dB's of gain on my preamp to achieve my normal listening level. If you have a system that is tight on gain, this might be an important consideration; however, it's not a big deal in my system, and is more than offset by the upside.

What finally convinced me that the Au24 cables were getting things more right than other cables was extended listening. I'm a pretty instinctive creature, and my listening habits are as instinctual as any other element of my existence. So, I'll toss a set of cables in the system, and I might take them right out, or I might leave them in for weeks; I just go with it. And what I find myself doing is keeping the Au24 cables in the system, and not wanting to remove them: they've now been in the system for 4-5 weeks solid, I've lost count.

When I place my reference cables back in place, it's typically about a day or two before I start to think about putting the Au24 cables back in. And then I feel compelled to get the Kimber Selects out of the system, and put the Au24's back in place.

In conclusion, I highly recommend that you audition this cable in your system, to be given a new perspective and new sonic insight. I ended up buying the review sample. The folks at Audience offer a 30 day trial, so you have everything to gain, and nothing to lose.

For system details, see my user profile profile.

Music used during the audition:

Plastic People of the Universe
Dagmar Krause
Don Cherry
Holly Cole
Nick Cave
Birthday Party
Rollins Band
Art Bears
Johnny Cash

Product Weakness: Requires a tad more gain than other cables. Not thick enough to impress even a non-audiophile.
Product Strengths: Defines neutrality; extremely musical and accurate. Great soundstaging. Price!

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: n/a
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): n/a
Sources (CDP/Turntable): n/a
Speakers: n/a
Cables/Interconnects: n/a
Music Used (Genre/Selections): n/a
Room Size (LxWxH): n/a x n/a x n/a
Room Comments/Treatments: n/a
Time Period/Length of Audition: 2-3 months
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): n/a
Type of Audition/Review: Home Audition
Your System (if other than home audition): n/a

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Topic - REVIEW: Audience Au24 Speaker Cable Cable - UncleBob 20:50:02 09/27/01 (7)

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