The Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA has arrived at Jeff’s Place!
If you’ve been following this developing story, you know how excited I am about the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire from Frederik Carøe in Denmark.
“Why?” you ask. I’m glad you asked, so let me give you a brief recap of events up until now to help explain why I am excited about the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA.
It all started with Yazaki-san sending me some vintage Western Electric WE16GA wire to try as speaker cables, a little over a year ago. Yazaki-san had told me that when used as speaker cables, the vintage Western Electric WE16GA wire had an “artistic and organic sound quality” that gave music reproduction a very “real sound”.
I first tried the Western Electric WE16GA as speaker cables on my Tannoy Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers with their Duelund CAST external crossovers.
Yazaki-san had warned me that the vintage Western Electric WE16GA could sound a little rough until it settles down, and then the musical magic begins to unfold, and sure enough, that was exactly what happened.
I was so impressed after I tried the Western Electric WE16GA as speaker cables, that Ron, Leo, and I went in on a spool together that Yazaki-san was so kind as to source for us.
So then I went ahead and rewired the gorgeous Duelund CAST crossovers of my WRSEs with WE16GA, and when that worked out splendidly as well, I rewired my Westminsters internally with WE16GA. It all worked out fantastic, and the rest is audio-musical history!
As word got out from my blog posts about how musical the vintage Western Electric WE16GA was on my Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers, it essentially went viral as more people began to experience its wonders on their own loudspeakers.
Then something unfortunate happened. The vintage Western Electric WE16GA wire essentially went extinct, and there was no more to be bought. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it got worse when purveyors of fake Western Electric WE16GA wire began to pop up.
In addition to my Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers, I also used the Western Electric WE16GA as speaker cables for my Altec Lansing A7 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers that were custom made for Leopold Stokowski, and the WE16GA sounded as magical with the A7’s as it did with my WRSEs.
Then I got started in earnest on my Altec Lansing A5 Voice of the Theatre project. Like a lot of you, I had been lamenting that the superb Western Electric WE16GA wire had become extinct, and that I was down to the last little bit of WE16GA I had left, which I was planning to wire the breadboard crossovers with, and to use for the speaker cables, for my Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers project. Knowing that I was almost out of WE16GA made me feel panicky!
So what’s the big deal about Western Electric WE16GA wire anyways? Vintage tone. Western Electric WE16GA wire has those very desirable tonal properties that musicians, musical instrument manufacturers, and a few discerning hi-fi aficionados refer to as vintage tone.
In enthusiast audio there is broad recognition and quite a lot of consensus that there are certain vintage audio components that have very special tonal properties, like vintage Marantz or McIntosh vacuum tube electronics, vintage Altec Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers, vintage Garrard 301 turntables, vintage Sprague Black Beauty or Bumblebee capacitors, and now, vintage Western Electric WE16GA wire, to cite a number of now well known examples.
All of these components possess what is referred to as vintage tone, which is to say, they are examples from our audio & musical history that possess special tonal properties that enhances the beauty, meaning, spirit, artistic intent, emotional connection, etc., of reproduced music.
My slow realization has been that it may only be possible to fully experience the entire acoustic palette of tone that vacuum tube equipment and horn loudspeakers are capable of by using a vintage tone style of wire, like the Western Electric WE16GA, which is a bittersweet revelation given that you can’t buy it any more. Or can you?
Thankfully, the recognition of the value of a vintage tone style of wire had not gone unnoticed, and one of the world’s finest high-performance audio companies, Duelund Coherent Audio, whose own philosophy highly values tone, was looking into producing a new version of ‘Western Electric WE16GA’ wire, due to witnessing the excitement generated by the vintage Western Electric WE16GA with audio aficionados.
In an ongoing dialog, Frederik Carøe (Duelund Coherent Audio) and I discussed much of what you have read about Western Electric WE16GA here at Jeff’s Place, and its desirable vintage tone. Frederik became intrigued by the Western Electric WE16GA wire through our conversations, and decided he wanted to produce a Duelund Coherent Audio version that was very similar to the Western Electric WE16GA in concept, but that utilized Mr. Steen Duelund’s original axiom of a natural materials philosophy, to get every last bit of that gorgeous vintage tone out of the design that was possible, and thus the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire was born that you see in the photos above.
If you remember, I dissected the Western Electric wire and described it to you.
The Western electric WE16GA wire consists of 26 tinned-copper wire conductors that are encased in a plastic sheath, which is covered in a fabric covering. I also measured the individual tinned-copper conductor’s diameter with a micrometer, and passed that information on to Frederik.
Frederik worked closely with a specialty manufacturer to develop the 26-strand, 0.25mm diameter, tinned-copper conductors that are the heart & soul of the Western Electric WE16GA wire, and the roll of wire you see in the photo above is the result.
Frederik, following Mr. Steen Duelund’s axiom that natural materials produce more natural sound, eschewed the WE16GA’s plastic inner sleeve in favor of a black cotton dielectric that is impregnated in oil, whose fully organic nature imbues more natural tone than the use of plastics can allow for.
The DCA16GA is slightly more slender than the WE16GA due to eliminating the inner plastic sleeve.
Frederik says the oil impregnated cotton dielectric is then baked “so people won’t get a messy cable” and that “its main role is to make the dielectric anti-static, and the cotton more durable.” Like all Duelund products the wire is all hand-assembled with meticulous care and attention to details.
One thing I noticed right away was that when you open up the bag, you get the pleasant aroma of fresh baked wire, which by analogy for you coffee lovers, is equivalent to the pleasant aroma of opening up a bag of fresh roasted coffee beans! Superb!
Frederik has told me that the MSRP retail price is $12.99 USD/meter ($3.97/ft), but I understand that Parts Connexion’s standard pricing will be 15% off this or $10.99 USD/meter ($3.37/ft.), so that’s a great deal for what is essentially a custom, hand-assembled, 16 AWG tin-plated stranded copper wire made to Western Electric WE16GA specifications, with an oil impregnated cotton jacket as a bonus.
I know that Frederik worked extremely hard to bring the DCA16GA in at this price level, which is about the same that I paid for the WE16GA back when you could find the real thing. Thank you, Frederik!
Parts Connexion will be pricing the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire at an introductory price of $9.95 USD per meter for the first 30 days after they receive it. The link to order the new Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA just went live at Parts Connexion here, so get it while you can!
Here’s the path forward: Over the next week I’ll make up a pair of speaker cables out of the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA that I can compare directly to the vintage Western Electric DCA16GA and give them a listen. I suspect, that like the Western Electric WE16GA, they will sound a little rough at first, then come to musical life in that inexplicable tinned-copper conductor fashion.
I’ve also found it helped to run-in the Western Electric WE16GA on my Cable Cooker, so I may give that a try with the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA as well.
Keep checking back on this blog post, as I’ll start updating it as I gather listening impressions on the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA.
Update 7/21/2016 – First Impressions
Last night, before calling it a night, I cut two pairs of two-meter lengths out of the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire to try as speaker cables. I wrapped some red microphone cable tape around the hot legs at each end so I wouldn’t mix them up while hooking them up.
I then set my new pair of Duelund DCA16GA speaker cables down next to my vintage Altec Lansing A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers, with the intent that I would hook them up over the weekend and give them a listen to gather some very preliminary first impressions, and then called it a night.
I got home from the office tonight, saw the DCA16GA speaker cables sitting there next to my A5 VOTTs, and I couldn’t stand it, I just had to put it into the system!
I attached the DCA16GA to my vintage McIntosh MC30 monaural amplifiers on one end, and my breadboard crossovers for the Altec A5 VOTTs on the other end.
My breadboard crossovers are wired with Western Electric WE16GA, and I’m using WE16GA from the crossovers to the drivers, so the only change I made was substituting the Duelund DCA16GA for speaker cables.
I was steeling myself for a first listen, and was telling myself that even the Western Electric WE16GA sounds a little rough until it settles down, and then unfolds to reveal a remarkably musical presentation that brings the music to life, so don’t get your hopes up, Jeff, the DCA16GA is bound to sound a little rough out of the gate.
Honestly, I’ve been a little anxious, after all, Frederik invested a significant amount into making the DCA16GA a reality, and what if it wasn’t as good as the WE16GA? I mean, what if it sucked? I really like Frederik, and I’d hate to be the bearer of bad news.
There’s at least one purveyor of very high quality components that no longer speaks to me because I didn’t swoon over the components sent to me, instead preferring some old vintage fossils. But, I prefer to tell it like it is according to my own tastes & perceptions, and let the cards fall where they will.
So with that in mind, I poured a bourbon on the rocks, and sat down for a listen. First up was the 45RPM remaster by Analogue Productions of Soular Energy by the Ray Brown Trio, which is a fantastic record and wonderful music.
What did I hear? Well, compared to the Western Electric WE16GA, from the Duelund DCA16GA I heard an overall richer presentation, a bit darker, smoother, more spacious, more timbrally colorful, with images having more presence, and superb portrayal of tempos, melodies, rhythm, and dynamics.
Essentially, I heard everything that I really like about the Western Electric WE16GA, but everything was better. Everything, musically & sonically.
Next I put on a real world recording, an original of Gabor Szabo Live With Charles Lloyd, that my friend Cindy gave me. It’s a pretty good sounding record, but not at the same level of refinement & musicality that the Analogue Productions 45RPM Soular Energy. Gabor Szabo Live sounded great with the Duelund DCA16GA, just like Soular Energy did.
On the Gabor Szabo Live I did hear the faintest traces of roughness that is typical of tinned-copper conductors until they settle in and begin to bloom, but it was to a much lesser degree than I hear from the Western Electric WE16GA while it is settling down.
Pretty much everything about the performance of the Duelund DCA16GA was better than my well run-in Western Electric WE16GA, and that was with the DCA16GA cold, straight out of the baggie.
Like the Western Electric WE16GA, the Duelund DCA16GA has an “artistic and organic sound quality” that gave music reproduction a very “real sound”, as Yazaki-san would say. I like what I’m hearing from the Duelund DCA16GA a lot, and I think it’s better both musically & sonically than my well run-in Western Electric WE16GA.
Okay, so that’s a very preliminary first impression (I’m listening to Paul McCartney’s Unplugged album right now, and it sounds equally wonderful). I’m really impressed, and unless things really go into the ditch during the run-in period, I’d say Frederik has hit a home-run out of the ballpark, and into the next state, with his Duelund DCA16GA wire. It’s really good. (Big sigh of relief on my part)
I’m going to do a lot more listening, and I’ll describe to you what I’m hearing as the Duelund DCA16GA runs-in. I want to evaluate it on my A5 VOTTs as well as my Westminster Royal SE’s, my Stokowski A7 VOTTs, and even my Harbeth Super HL5 system. I know, deep breath.
Update 7/23/2016 – Duelund DCA16GA on the A5 VOTT high-frequency horns
This morning after I got up I listened to jazz for a while, then I decided it was time to put some more of the Duelund DCA16GA wire on my Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers, and to hear what happens.
I removed my Western Electric WE16GA wire that I’m using between my Hiraga-inspired breadboard crossovers and my 288C Alnico high-frequency compression drivers & 1005B 10-cell horns combination, and then cut four lengths of the Duelund DCA16GA wire, marking the hot-legs with some red microphone tape so I didn’t mix them up during hookup, and put them in place.
I’m hoping to get in a little more listening a little later this afternoon, so check back for some more listening impressions in a little while.
Sorry guys, I got a little distracted with Pete Riggle’s visit to Jeff’s Place over the weekend (as well as by a few other things), and didn’t get a chance to post further impressions on the DCA16GA. Pete and I tried some different port sizes in my A5’s cabinets. Pete is really talented in dialing in the bass frequencies of loudspeakers (which Pete says is also the key to getting the mid’s and high’s dialed in optimally), and Pete was able really get the A5’s singing in the bass.
More to come on the DCA16GA, and soon I hope!
I would encourage those of you who have Western Electric WE16GA in your system as speaker cables to order enough Duelund DCA16GA so you can A-B them (a two-meter pair of DCA16GA speaker cables will cost you less than the price of a couple of Analogue Productions 45RPM LPs), and report back to me on the results, I think you’ll be impressed, and I want to hear what your impressions are.
I want to say a big “Thank you!” to Frederik for taking on this challenge of developing his Duelund DCA16GA wire, which is an even better vintage tone wire than the esteemed vintage Western Electric WE16GA that I have come to love. Is that cool or what?
So stay tuned, there is much more to come on this developing story. May the tone be with you, and thanks for stopping by!