We previously wrote about the superiority of cotton sleeving over polyester braided outer jackets on our signal cables.
Yesterday, we delivered a complimentary upgrade to a local customer – a balanced tonearm interconnect to compare against a cable we delivered last Winter.
We were confident he’d like the update, but you never know …
Plugging a cable into someone’s system can be a roll of the dice, because cables (typically, being the last entry selected for a system) tend to be used as a tuning element.
We design our cables for neutrality and there’s always the possibility that upon plugging them in, they will end up highlighting system attributes that are best left hidden.
Having said that, every change we’ve made to our interconnects has rendered a more “relaxed, yet exciting” presentation – providing more insight into the music (articulation, delineation of musical lines, etc.), without introducing listener stress.
The cable we constructed for our customer last Winter was built before we discovered the virtues of eliminating polyester braid from their construction (see this post).
Shortly after that, we transitioned from the 2nd to 3rd (current) generation of ETI connectors. So, the revision we were auditioning comprised the substitution of cotton sleeving and ETI XLRs for polyester braid and Neutrik XLRs.
We were not disappointed.
Once my customer was satisfied that the new cable would be staying, I proposed an “experiment”. I snipped the polyester braid off the old cable – exposing the braided shield.
The results in his system were much the same as the previous times I performed this demo.
Several layers of grit were peeled away, and there was an improved coherency in the performance along with much better separation of musical lines.
This latter point is significant. The presentation became denser/fuller and yet there was far more insight into the performance.
The elimination of the polyester closed about 70% of the gap between the cables (assuming you can quantify this). In other words, ETI XLRs made a significant contribution to the upgrade. The Neutriks are very good (there’s a reason they have a place in the pro sound world), but the ETIs are on another level.
The photo with the Neutrik XLRs and exposed shielding braid was the subject of this experiment (cutting away the polyester braid). You can see some of the remnant red and blue material at each end of the cable.
When we build balanced/XLR phono cables, we install a separate ground wire for later conversion to RCA connectors, in the event the customer moves to an unbalanced phono stage. The extra ground wire is unused during normal balanced operation.