Fumbling Towards Audio Bliss - 4

"Andy?" asked Joe, "I really like what that custom power cable you suggested does for the sound of my little audio system. Plus, your recommendation that I get the Chang Lightspeed CSL 309 did to smooth out the sound. What other recommendations would you make if I wanted to enhance my audio satisfaction?"

AR-Schaub-TRV-88SE-Small.png"You're on the right track, Joe. I would build on what you have by getting more custom power cables and improving the analog interconnects in your system." "You mean like the kind of a difference we heard between USB cables?" "Yes, sort of, and then some."

I explained to Joe that improving the power cables through his system would further refine and improve the sound, and that getting higher-quality analog interconnect cables to go between his Ayre Codex and the Triode Audio TRV-TRV88SE vacuum tube integrated amp that was now on permanent loan would unclog the sound, like drain cleaner for his stereo.

"I'm a firm believer", I continued, "in using the same brand and type of AC power cable throughout your system for consistency of the sound. Some people like to mix and match; and that's OK, but using the same general power cable throughout your system has an additive effect that sounds greater than the sum of the parts. That's called synergy."

AR-codex1a.jpgTo that end, Joe ordered some more Audience PowerChord SE-i power cables, one for each device he plugged into the CLS 309, like his Aurender N100H, his Ayre Codex, and even the TRV-88SE integrated amplifier I had originally loaned him. Indeed, when the cables arrived and he plugged everything in, the sound seemed bigger with better bass livelier dynamics, or the difference between soft and loud passages of music. Plus, it lowered the noise floor in his system, meaning that silent passages between notes sounded darker and deeper.

Joe only needed one analog interconnect to go between his Ayre Codex and the Triode TRV-88SE integrated amplifier, so it seemed OK to spend a little bit extra. After thinking a bit, and considering all the analog interconnects on the market, I recommended that he order a pair of Cardas Clear Reflection interconnects from Music Direct, noteworthy for their clean but gentle presentation of the music. "If you don't like them, you have 30 days to return them", I added.

AR-Schaub-Cardas-Small.pngJoe pulled out his now heavier than average American Express card, went to the Music Direct website, and ordered a one-meter pair of the Cardas Clear Reflection interconnects with RCA-style connectors on both ends to match the needs of the Codex and TRV-88SE combined for a whopping $1,149.00. "I'm trusting you, Andy. Just don't tell my wife."

A few days later, the package arrived from Music Direct. We powered down his whole system for fear of sending any noise through his system that might blow out one of the woofers in his Audio Note AX-Two bookshelf speakers when swapping cables, traded out the generic analog interconnects he had been using for the new Cardas, turned the volume all the way down, then turned all his components back on.

"Let everything warm back up a bit", I suggested, "then we'll take a listen." Joe grabbed one his famous craft root beers and started browsing TIDAL in the Aurender Conductor App for a suitable test album. "Got it," he yelled.

AR-aurender1aa.jpgWe turned up the volume just a little while he touched the play icon for Keith Jarret's The Köln Concert. As Jarret's fingers pressed the first notes on his piano keyboard, we heard a tone emerge from the speakers that sounded pure as silk but with just enough impact to tell us that Jarret did not intend to proceed calmly.

It no longer sounded like the music came from the speakers but as if the piano sat slightly in front of and between both speakers. Like a dog with a bone, Joe turned up the volume a little bit more and stood there, his head high the air. As Jarret played, what once had sounded like a member of the of audience humming along became clearly Jarret singing to his own composition, and it sounded tremendous.

"Damn", cursed Joe, "that's just nothing but good". Joe put down his root beer and we both stood in silent adoration through all "Part I" and "Part II", transported to Cologne, Germany on January 24, 1975, the venue of the original performance. Then we played it all over.

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