Jun 192015
 

It’s been a fun & interesting time here at Jeff’s Place, with an overwhelmingly positive response from all of you to the posts about the DIY projects of Western Electric WE16GA wire for use as speaker cables, and the Belden 8402 microphone cable for use as interconnects, that Mr. Yazaki-san of SPEC told us about. Thank you Mr. Yazaki-san!

Belden 8402

The Belden 8402 with Switchcraft SWC-3502AAU RCA connectors ($5.91 USD each) makes for a fine combination, and delivers a rich, detailed, musical experience that is a delight to hear. You can buy Belden 8402 by the foot (10-feet minimum order) from Best-Tronics Pro Audio in Tinley Park, Illinois, for the princely sum of $3.25 per foot.  Here’s a link to their Belden 8402 page where you can buy it by the foot. So for an investment of a mere $56.14 USD in parts you can build an almost 2-meter pair of  Belden 8402 RCA interconnects that offer incredibly good performance. The Belden 8402 got so popular after the posts I made about it that it sold out, but Best-Tronics has it back in stock now.

Intact Audio SUT

I’ve been having a blast using my Belden 8402 RCA interconnects on my new pair of bespoke step-up transformers (SUTs) that I bought from Dave Slagle of Intact Audio. Dave sent me pairs of copper ($2400 USD) & silver ($3600 USD) SUTs optimized for my Ortofon SPU Classic GM MkII phono cartridge to try, and they’re phenomenal.

85 Ortofon SPU Classic GM MKII

I love Dave’s custom SUTs, and having a SUT that is optimized for my Ortofon SPU Classic GM MkII cartridge makes sure I get all the performance out of it I’ve paid for. I’m hooked!

Dave Slagle SUT

As Serge said in the comments, the Belden 8402 makes for great digital interconnects, and I want to build a pair of Belden 8402 RCA interconnects for my digital rig, so I hope to be able to report back on that before too long.

WE16GA

The Western Electric WE16GA wire has been an incredible hit as DIY speaker cables, but it is harder to find than the Belden 8402, is starting to get more expensive, and you have to watch out for forgeries when buying it online.  The real thing sells out almost immediately when it does show up, and I’ve missed out twice now because I dallied too long when I had a chance to buy it. Thanks to a heads-up from Mr. Yazaki-san, the third time was the charm, and I was able to buy 50-feet to use in some upcoming projects.

Duelund CAST External Crossovers

Duelund CAST External Crossovers

The first project will be to re-wire the low-frequency sections of my Duelund CAST crossovers with the Western Electric WE16GA, replacing the 14 gauge Neotech solid-core UP-OCC copper wire with a Teflon jacket that’s doing duty there now. Then I’ll re-wire the Duelund CAST crossover high-frequency sections with the WE16GA, replacing the 20 gauge Neotech solid-core UP-OCC silver wire with a Teflon jacket that is there now.

Panatela routed through WRSE cabinet

If you read my Duelund CAST crossover articles at Positive Feedback (1, 2, 3), you know that the wire choices used in the loudspeakers (Sablon Audio Panatela) and crossovers (Neotech) were very critical to getting maximum performance, and Mark Coles (Sablon Audio), Dr. Paul Mills (Tannoy), and I coordinated very closely on the choices, which you now know were a resounding success.

So I am a little bit afraid to change anything, because the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” maxim is true more often than not. So I definitely have my doubts that anything can work as well inside my WRSEs as Mark’s Panatela cabling, which is positively brilliant. Mark’s choice of the silver conductors used in the Panatela wires for the WRSE’s high-frequencies were an absolute must to get the maximum performance out of the WRSE’s high-frequency drivers, for example, and Mark coordinated closely with Paul Mills on that choice when we did the project. When I was a youngster racing motocross I lived by the maxim “When in doubt, gas it!” We’ll see which maxim wins out in this case!

I’ve got enough WE16GA now to rewire the WRSE loudspeakers & Duelund CAST crossovers, so if my experiments with the crossovers go extremely well, then I may try the same approach to the WRSEs internal wiring. Then again, I may not. We’ll see how optimistic I’m feeling.

Ron at work

Mr. Yazaki-san’s encouragement to do a capacitor adventure with my vintage McIntosh MC30 monaural amplifiers has been illuminating and a lot of fun. My friend Ron-san (above), well he’s the man who can, and due to the combination of the prodigious audio talents of Yazaki-san & Ron-san, we’ve been having a blast with the capacitor adventure (1, 2)!

Yazaki-san capacitor adventure MC30s

Ron and I were reveling in the result of the capacitor adventure on the MC30s, when Mr. Yazaki-san suggested that we up the ante on the MC30s’ performance even further, and do a Resistor Adventure, so that is now in the works. We are awaiting some resistors from Gary at Arizona Capacitors, and then we’ll be diving into the next part of our MC30 adventure!

Woody SPU on GP2015 6

I’ll also have more to say about Pete Riggle’s Woody SPU tonearm, which I am now listening to. One of the hazards of reviewing is that I change out equipment so often that it induces extra wear & tear on certain gear (e.g. interconnects and phono cartridges in particular), like my beloved EMT TSD-15 phono cartridge in the photo below. The green lead-wire literally fell off the cartridge in my hands while doing a cartridge swap. Man was I bummed. I have reasonable soldering skills, but I didn’t trust myself to do the sensitive soldering job needed on the EMT. Fortunately, Pete rescued me with a little deft soldering with a 15 watt iron and the EMT has been restored! Thank you Pete!

EMT

Life has conspired against me a bit lately to keep me from writing & projects & reviewing as much as I’d like to, but I’m hoping that I’ll get some more neat posts out for you before too long.

Stay tuned!

 Posted by at 10:35 am

  18 Responses to “Jeff checking in … Western Electric, Belden 8402, McIntosh, Westminsters and a Woody!”

  1. Thanks again for the post on the wire Jeff (and Mr. Yazaki-san). I am on my third batch of WE 16g and second batch of Beldon 8402. I am going to do a little internal speaker re-wiring myself.

    Not much additional insight to offer except I feel both wires get better with some hours on them and have synergy when used together.

    • That’s awesome, Tom. The WE16GA and Belden 8402 are a true find. I conditioned mine on my Audiodharma Cable Cooker and that helped speed the run-in process, but even after that I’ve found it continued to improve over time. It just keeps getting better!

  2. Hi Jeff ,
    Life is often cruel, (As a retired cardiologist I know a little) but being optimistic and having a passion helps a lot.
    I wish you all the best and hope many ,many more posts in the future
    Serge

    • Hi Serge,

      Thank you for the kind words, very much appreciated. 🙂

      You are so right, life can be cruel at times, but I intend to do my best at enjoying life in between those cruel times!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  3. For a somewhat contrarian view of the Belden wires, see my comment at Audio Asylum:

    http://www.audioasylum.com/audio/cables/messages/16/167024.html

    I have no desire to rain on anyone’s parade but a different viewpoint may provide some perspective.

    • I have to say I tend towards agreeing with the “contrarian” viewpoint, although I only use the Belden 8402 as balanced ICs with XLR terminations.

      In my system, the Gotham GAC2 and the Mogami 2543 tie for first place. The much more expensive Neotech NEI-3002 comes in third, with the Belden 8402 last.

      For further details on my system and my impressions of the different cables, see my reply to the Audio Asylum thread to which Salectric above gives a hyperlink.

  4. I have now purchased some of the WE wire from the EBAY seller who seems to have the real thing and also some Belden cable similarly from an EBAY seller who had an old pro audio cable made with it. These two changes have made my system immensely more pleasurable. Thanks so much.

    I do have a question. In searching for more WE wire I can only find some wire that is WE 14 guage with 40 tinned strands. This has VW-1 — CSA AWM I A/8 90C 300V FT1 A.I.W. CORP written on the wire. Do you think it will perform similarly to the great 16 guage wire or is it a different animal?

    Best,

    Paul

    • Hey Paul,

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the Western Electric WE16GA and Belden 8402, it truly is a musical combination, and one that I’ve been having a lot of fun with too.

      I have no idea about the WE14GA, sorry about that. If you decided to give it a try I’d really like to hear your thoughts on it, how it compares to the WE16GA, and such.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  5. I have been using the WE16GA in double runs ( 2 1/2 ‘ in length for about a week. They replaced XLO Type 5 speaker cable. The WE16GA runs from Bryston 7BST to Magnepan 3.7. Over the week the sound has improved but they still sound coarse compared to my XLOs. The bass is not as tight and the highs become shrill at times. Hoping that over time they will improve. Hooked up 8402 IC about three days ago. They replaced DIY IC with VehHas silver 28 GA wires insulated with cotton and suspended in a cotton strap keeping the wires 1: apart with KLE silver RCA plugs. They run from an AVC-1 Autoformer Preamp ( Slagle and Chapman ) to the Bryston 7BST. Unfortunately they are unpleasant to listen to. I plan to just run them at night for a week or so but use my DIY silver IC for actual listening. The 8402s have loose bass, and a significant lack of clarity in the music. The remainder of my system is Basis 2100 with Vector 4 tonearm with Shelter 90x feeding a Wright phono stage with Wright Trsf with this going into the AVC-1.Apologize for not being able to better describe the sound. Would like to know how many hours does it take for the WE16GA and 8402 to reach their potential. They are certainly inexpensive but I hope that they improve, Joe Fagan

    • Hi Joe,

      Hmmm … I’m not sure what to tell you, as your results don’t really match my own experience with them on my gear. They do take a while to settle down if you put them into the system without any preconditioning, but I’ve never had them sound bad like you describe.

      My normal routine for ICs and speaker cables is to burn them in for a week on my Cable Cooker before I put them into my systems, which I suppose is about the equivalent of a 100 hours or so playing time.

      Let me know if things improve for you over the next week or so. I hope so!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  6. Hmm,

    I have wondered whether or not the WE 16 GA is best on higher efficiency speakers, as they would have been used that way back when they were developed.

    Everyone who has heard my sound here says it is the best they have heard. My Canterburys are 96 dB with one watt.

    Maggies are far less efficient. Just wondering…

    Best,

    JIm

    • I’ve been wondering the same thing, Jim.

      I haven’t tried the WE16GA on my lower sensitivity Harbeths. I may try to do that. On my Tannoys and my Voice of the Theatres the Western Electric is fantastic.

      I like mine best when connecting with the bare wire. I thought terminations diminished the sound quality noticeably with my WRSEs.

      This sure is a crazy & fun hobby!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  7. At one time, I worked with the manufacturer who makes XLO cables, and so I saw first hand how they are fabricated. They use quality materials; however, most of the construction is purely cosmetic. I once met one of the sales managers for XLO at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest several years ago, and mentioned that I worked closely with their manufacturer, and he looked like he saw a ghost. He knew what I knew, and I wasn’t trying to bash his product, but he clearly avoided speaking to me during the remainder of the show. Again, the XLO cables are well constructed, but some of their claims are marketing hype and not necessarily solid physics. Working in California for many years, Ever since then, I have rolled my own cables–mainly following recipes on the Web, and I have had great results. Once I’ve switched to the Belden 8402 interconnects and WE AIW 16ga speaker wires per Yazaki-san’s recipes, I haven’t looked back.

    To my ears, the WE AIW 16ga wire took some time to settle in. Initially, the sound was thin on bass and tinny in the kids and highs. After about 20 hours of playing music, the sound quality has settled in with a very open, organic presentation. With the Belden IC’s, the sound started with rolled-off highs and loose bass, but within 10 hours of playing music, the sound opened up and the tone became warmer and more natural. The detail with both cables is exquisite without any hint of analytical highlights. Other audio friends of mine have adopted the use of these cables as well, and they’ve ditched their high-dollar audiophile cables in favor of the “Real Sound” cables. They have also experienced improvements after burning in their cables.

  8. Thanks to everybody for sharing their experiences. I have wondered about the inefficiency of my Magnepans and whether or not this would be a drawback to using the WE16GA cable. When I first listed to the WE I used only one run, (2 1/2′ ) then later I added a second run of the WE cable and the sound did seem better. Have enough WE cable to add a third run but am unsure of how to organize the wires. For my second run I used shrink tubing to hold the two positive cables together and likewise with the negative run and then lightly twisted the positive and negative runs together. Would anyone have an opinion about this way of hooking up the wires? Similarly if I add a third run should I just replicate my method used for the double run? Other suggestions? The double run of the WE is improving. Its main drawback that I initially described as coarse is probably better described as congestion of orchestras during loud passages is specifically getting better. Still just using the 8402 during the night to get more hours of play on them. Wish I had a cable cooker but alas I don’t. Joe Fagan

  9. Joe, My experiences with WE 16GA and Belden 8402 were somewhat similar to yours although not as extreme. I posted the following comment on Audio Asylum on my reactions:

    http://www.audioasylum.com/audio/cables/messages/16/167024.html

    However, even though the WE and Belden wires were not keepers in my system or yours, the fact that some people have reacted so positively to them simply goes to show that we need diversity in cable offerings. There is no single cable that will appeal to all tastes and all systems. And this is true regardless of price.

  10. David et al Another question has come to mind. I assumed that it didn’t matter if I used the WE all red cable as plus or minus as long as I was consistent and similarly with the 8402 whether I used the black cable as plus or minus as long as I was consistent. But I have seen references to one or the other cable being identified as the plus cable etc. Am, I wrong? Also on my last shipment of WE16GA cable one of the cables was black with marking of either 1-MA or VM-1 on it and nothing else. The structure of the black cable looks identical to the red cable with the black marks on it. Should I presume that it is functionally identical to the red cables on all the other cable I have purchased from theresa? Thanks in advance for your help. Joe Fagan

  11. Joe,

    I do not believe it makes any difference which cable is used as the plus and which as the minus. All of my WE samples (all purchased from Theresa) appeared to have the same construction even though some looked rather different.

    I always make a point of making each channel exactly the same, which is why I like to buy one continuous length of cable and cut it in half for L and R. That way I can be sure that the wiring is exactly the same and I can also control the directionality of the wire, i.e. each channel is used in the same direction.

  12. David thanks for confirming my irrational concerns. Now have over 100 hours on both WE16GA and 8402 and the improvement is amazing. No loss of detail, possibly some decrease in clarity but not sure, bass has tightened, highs have decreased in amount but not quality ( Magnepan 3.7s allow reduction of the treble by using a resistor which I have now removed ), Think that I will leave the WE16GA and 8402 in place for the time being. As I also have Magnepan Tympani IIIa bass panels ( XO 100 Hz ) which I run with the Magnepan 3.7s I am wondering if anyone has tried the WE 10GA speaker Cable that is supposed to be like the WE16GA but with 104 strands? Alternatively would a double or triple run of the WE16GA be a better alternative? Still surprised at the change in the sound of the cables. Thanks to all who have brought these cables to my attention. Joe Fagan

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