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After reading some very positive reviews of these cables, I decided to purchase two pairs. My system consists of Arcam CD23, Conrad Johnson 17LS, Simaudio Moon W3 amp, and my DIY speakers. The speakers are 3-way with 10in. + 6.5in + tweeter. My system overall is neutral that errs a bit on the laid back side. I wouldn't say it's warm but it would veer just so lightly that way but if a recording or cable too bright you would know it. I once hooked up a pair of Monster between my preamp and amp, and typical of Monster cable, the sound just has too much energy on the upper mid-range and loose on the base. The system is revealing but loterable.
Before the QED, I had some stuffs that I bought for fairly low price but I always knew they were the bottle neck. The sound was either too thin or too bloated on the bass. Once I hooked up the QED, immediately I sense quite a difference in the sound presetation. The top end opens up very nice. The treble has nice sparkle and decays appropriately. The musical flow has certain easiness not found before. What Hi Fi magazine comented that the music has a nice rythm and pace and I would agree. The attack and decay are almost spot on which is typcial of QED in general. There is an "incisiveness" to the sound that gives it life and energy. Most equipment or cables that have this quality tend to sound bright or edgy, but I don't see it here. Initially right after I put the cables in my system, I played some early 1990's recordings that has bass+treble nothing in between, but it didn't sound bright at all. Female vocal recordings that would normally sound hard and harsh on low end system sound just find and smooth.
Is there anything that I might now like? Hm ... I am not sure. These cables do sound a touch lean and I mean just a touch, but I am not sure whether its my system or the cables. The Arcam CD23 and Conrad Johnson 17LS are not known to go very deep, but with my previous cables, the bass was a bit warm. QED cables in general based on what I've read online, do tend to sound on the lean side. In this case, the bass might be a touch over-damped, but on some records they sound fine. When I played Eric Clapton live "Running on Faith", this track needs some serious bass to bring it to life, if the system does not have enough low end, you will know it right away and the music will seriously lack any life or energy. With this track, I feel like my system needs another 10in bass driver. But on the typical rock recording like AudioSlave track Like a Stone, it sounds just fine. But I do think that if your system is the bright side, then this cables might not be a good match. They are very smooth and in NO WAY harsh or hard, but they could make your bright system sound lean.
Overall these cables excel in giving a clear soundstage presentation, nice layered sound, smooth and extended treble, nice vocal reproduction, very good rhythm, attack and decay. The only area of contention is on the bass. It could sound lean on the wrong system. At this price point, I guess you have to compromise somewhere, and ultimately it may lack a certain what audiophiles would say "juiciness". I don't know what that means either so read into it however you will.
On the side note I would like to make a general comment on British audio industry. Based on my personal experiences and what I've read on line, as far as mid price equipment, they are by far are the best in the business by a wide margin. To me even the low end stuffs, you can see there is a serious amount of R&D went into them. The QED reference audio 40 price is very reasonable and you can even make the case that they are down right cheap, but from the way they are boxed, the cables constructions, the locking mechanism of the connectors, you would think they cost a WHOLE lot more. I definitely was impressed when I recieved them. And the sound, I can feel that it is just not something that accidentally came about, but was voiced intentionally through proper engineer and there is actually a science behind it. I am not going to name any name but for about similar price, some stuffs I bought before for the same price from the states, and although the business was hornorable, looked like they were parts that were put together from a cable here, connector there and although they were well put together, I didn't feel like there was any appropriate engineering that went into them. On the very high end stuffs, I think we are here at the states do make some very good stuffs but it will cost a lot more money. That is why I always advise people that whenever in doubt, by British audio.
Where did you buy them?
I bought them from Analog Seduction, a retailer from the UK.
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