Jul 292016
 

It’s been really busy lately for yours truly, but tonight I’m relaxing for a little bit, and listening to a little jazz over my vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers project, which at the moment is playing my Analogue Productions test pressing of Chet Baker’s Chet.

Analogue Productions test pressing of Chet Baker's 'Chet'. One of my favorites!

Analogue Productions test pressing of Chet Baker’s ‘Chet’. One of my favorites!

I probably shouldn’t say this, as it drives prices up, but the Analogue Productions test pressings are ridiculously good, and I absolutely love the one I have of Chet Baker’s Chet. Chet makes a great reference for how well the system is performing, featuring greats Chet Baker on trumpet, Herbie Mann on flute, Pepper Adams on sax, Bill Evans on piano, Kenny Burrell on guitar, Paul Chambers on bass, and either Connie Kay or Philly Joe Jones on drums, depending on the track. A jazz all-star lineup if there ever was one!

Duelund DCA16GA from the Hiraga-inspired crossover to the A5's HF horns.

Duelund DCA16GA from the Hiraga-inspired crossover to the A5’s HF horns.

The A5 VOTT crossover project is going well, and I’m getting to a place where I’m thinking I could call it ‘good’ and start thinking about doing some nice enclosures, and wrapping the crossover project up. When I get everything finished up with the A5 VOTT’s I’m planning on writing it up as a feature article for Positive Feedback, and I’ll be including my Stokowski A7 VOTTs in my Voice of the Theatre time-travel article as well.

The Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers (as well as the A7 VOTTs), with a Hiraga-san inspired crossover, are super speakers at relatively affordable prices, and ones that I can easily recommend to you for consideration as your last loudspeaker system ever – they’re that satisfying.

All those things you’ve heard about vintage Altec Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers are true, they’re magical music machines when you get them dialed in properly.

I’m finding that there’s very good reasons why Altec A7’s and A5’s are so revered among the cognoscenti!

Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire as speaker cables.

Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire as speaker cables.

I’ve already commented on the Duelund DCA16GA wire used as speaker cables from my vintage McIntosh MC30 monaural amplifiers to the Hiraga-san inspired breadboard crossovers for my Altec A5 VOTTs in a previous post, so I won’t repeat that other than to say the DCA16GA is working great, and has exceeded my expectations both musically & sonically in every way.

The DCA16GA on the 16 Ohm Altec 288C Alnico high-frequency compression driver.

The DCA16GA on the 16 Ohm Altec 288C Alnico high-frequency compression driver.

At the close of that previous post I mentioned that I had put the Duelund DCA16GA in the system from the breadboard crossovers to the Altec 288C Alnico high-frequency compression drivers and Altec 1005B 10-cell horns combination (I’m still using Western Electric WE16GA in the crossovers and from the crossovers to the bass drivers – one step at a time!).

The DCA16GA on the Altec

The DCA16GA on the Altec

Unlike the DCA16GA used as speaker cables (warm & rich right off the bat), the DCA16GA from the breadboard crossovers to the Altec 288C & 1005B combo behaved just like the Western Electric WE16GA, in that it sounded a little rough at first, the way tinned-copper conductors usually do, before settling down into that familiar Western Electric WE16GA-like musical wonderfulness.

I don’t know why there would be a difference with the initial sound of the DCA16GA used in those two locations, but that’s the way it played out, although as things settled-in they ended up in at that familiar musical territory that I have come to expect from tinned copper conductors, as used in the Western Electric WE16GA, and now the Duelund DCA16GA.

Chet Baker's 'Chet' test pressing being played back by the formidable Woody SPU tonearm.

Chet Baker’s ‘Chet’ test pressing being played back by the formidable Woody SPU tonearm (left, review underway).

I’m on a real jazz trumpet kick lately, and I absolutely love the way Chet played trumpet. I think Chet was playing a 1940’ish Martin Committee trumpet with Bach 6C mouthpiece, but I’m not certain (if you know for sure, let me know!). In any event, Chet’s trumpet playing is absolutely ravishing on Chet and the Duelund DC16GA lets it come through in spades.

I’ve noticed that one of the ways the Duelund DCA16GA excels is with overtones, even more so than the WE16GA, which makes the music sound rich and colorful, with a Kodachrome-like vivid intensity, and I’ve found it to make music really mesmerizing to listen to. Or as Yazaki-san likes to say, “real sound”, or maybe I should say “real music”.

A5 VOTTs with Duelund DCA16GA providing the juice.

A5 VOTTs with Duelund DCA16GA providing the juice.

I’ve actually found it rather difficult to be ‘analytical’ to characterize what I’m hearing the Duelund DCA16GA do on Chet because it sounds so bloody musical and emotionally engaging. Whether it’s Chet’s trumpet, Herbie’s flute, Pepper’s sax, Bill’s piano, Kenny’s  guitar, or Paul’s bass, etc., the tone is just out of this world.

I was going to put on another couple of LPs and tell you about what I’m hearing from the DCA16GA (there’s a lot more to tell), but I’m running out of steam after a long day, so I’ll continue with my listening impressions of the Duelund DCA16GA in future posts, and I’m just going to kick back now and listen to a little music for the pure enjoyment of it!

For now, let’s just sum it as “the Duelund DCA16GA is sounding great!”

Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire.

Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire.

Update Saturday, July 30th:

When I read Juste Wotan’s comment on my earlier introductory blog post to the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire, I realized not everyone has been reading along on the developing story of the tinned-copper conductors’ ‘vintage tone’ discussion here at Jeff’s Place over the last year or so.

So here’s a little bit of an intro for you about why I think the Duelund DCA16GA wire is such an important development:

In thinking back over my hi-fi life, I’ve used a lot of different kinds of wire in various hi-fi applications over the years, such as speaker cables, RCA interconnects, power cords, tonearm wires, headshell wires, USB interconnects, internal electronics wiring, internal speaker wiring, crossover wiring, and no doubt things I’m forgetting to mention, both as commercial and DIY projects.

I’ve tried copper, fancy copper, silver-plated copper, pure silver, and even gold as conductors, and they all have their merits. I’ve also tried cables with many types of dielectrics, from basic cotton to fancy multi-layer screened cables, some even included fancy little black boxes with quantum filters, and they too all have their merits. I’ve tried a lot of different terminations too, with the exception of balanced, because I’ve never used balanced gear.

As Robert has said in an earlier comment, the tricky part can be finding the most satisfying wire for your particular application and tastes.

Sometimes something new pops up, which is exciting, and sometimes something old pops, something forgotten, and it becomes new again, and that’s very exciting!

My journey into vintage hi-fi, particularly of late, with vintage McIntosh (and other) vacuum tube electronics and high-sensitivity horn loudspeakers, like my A5 and A7 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers, and my Tannoy Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers, has yielded some fascinating insights into wire using tinned-copper conductors.

One of those insights came after Yazaki-san sent me some vintage Western Electric WE16GA wire to try as speaker cables about a year or so ago now. The vintage Western Electric wire uses tinned-copper conductors in a fabric/plastic dielectric, which when used as speaker cables, and particularly when combined with Belden 8402 microphone cable as interconnects (which also uses tinned-copper conductors), sounded remarkably ‘real’ in a musical sense, providing a natural, vividly colorful, timbrally correct, dynamic presentation, that was full of life-like energy in the way tempos, melodies, and rhythms are portrayed, and provided a very direct connection to the emotional content of the music, and one that I found to be unique in my experience.

Tinned-copper conductors sound distinctly different from copper, silver-plated copper, pure silver, and gold conductors, and in ways that can be quite endearing.

I found out over time that quite a lot of the vintage wire used in hi-fi gear back in the Golden Age of audio used tinned-copper hookup wire internally, as did musical equipment like vintage guitar amplifiers, vintage electric guitars, and the like.

The guitar guys call this kind of tinned-copper wire ‘vintage tone wire’ for its combination of musical & sonic properties, and this sort of wire is in part responsible for what we associate with the rather unique musicality of vintage hi-fi, vintage electric guitars, and vintage electric guitar amps.

Now after having utilized various wires with tinned-copper conductors in a number of different applications (inside electronics, internal crossover wiring & speaker wiring for high-sensitivity loudspeakers, RCA interconnects, USB digital cables, headshell wires, etc.), I have come to recognize that tinned-copper conductors have a unique & particular set of signature musical & sonic traits that differ from those of the copper, silver, or gold, conductors that I have tried in the past, and which have turned out to be very desirable musically & sonically in the contexts that I have tried them in.

These desirable sonic & musical traits of tinned-copper wire conductors slipped out of audio & musical instrument consciousness into the forgetfulness of the past, but are now making a comeback in both audio and the guitar world for those seeking that desirable ‘vintage tone’ for which tinned-copper conductors are known.

The way to get that ‘vintage tone’ has been limited largely to vintage tinned-copper wire like the Western Electric WE16GA, which has become so rare of late that it can be considered essentially extinct.

What to do? Fortunately, Frederik at Duelund Coherent Audio recognized the value of producing a ‘vintage tone’ style of wire utilizing tinned-copper conductors that is very similar to the extinct vintage Western Electric WE16GA wire (and even improved upon it!), for which I am very thankful (Thank you, Frederik!).

The new Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA ‘vintage tone’ style of wire is of particular benefit to those who like vintage vacuum tube gear and high-sensitivity loudspeakers, and my success with tinned-copper conductor interconnects, USB digital ICs, headshell wires, suggests that it has broader applicability for those who appreciate a ‘vintage tone’ style of presentation.

I have not yet tried the Duelund DCA16GA (or WE16GA) on conventional lower-sensitivity loudspeakers like my Harbeth Super HL5, which is something, incidentally, that I have on my to-do list for the future.

I’ve found tinned-copper speaker cables & interconnects to work extremely well with the delicious sounding solid-state SPEC RSA-M3 EX integrated amplifier, as another example.

Will wire with tinned-copper conductors be superior to every other kind of conductor in every application? Probably not, but for those applications that it excels at, I am thankful that I can get it in the form of the Duelund DCA16GA wire.

The only way you’ll find out if you will prefer the Duelund DCA16GA for your particular applications & tastes is to give it a try and see how it works out. If you decide to do that please report back on what you used it for and your results in that context.

I think it is really exciting that we can be a part of the time when we are seeing the re-emergence of and increasing popularity of the ‘vintage tone’ tinned-copper style of wire, and many thanks to Frederik for making the Duelund DCA16GA available for us to use in our audio pursuits.

***

I was out at Ken Micallef’s Jazz Vinyl Lovers group on Facebook and was intrigued by a post about the album Jazz at Long Wharf with Doug Levinson on piano, Mark Levinson on bass (yes, that Mark Levinson), and Bill Elgart on drums, so I ordered a copy via Discogs so I could give it a listen. I’m glad I did.

Jazz at Long Wharf

Jazz at Long Wharf

Jazz at Long Wharf is a full-size 45RPM record that came out in 1977, greatly preceding the current interest in 45RPM remasters. There is one song on the front, one on the back, and they’re recorded very nicely.

The record is a flimsy thin vinyl, not unlike the Paul McCartney Unplugged album I’ve written about before, and like McCartney’s album, Wharf is some really nice music. If you run across a copy, grab it, you’ll be glad you did.

Jazz at Long Wharf

Jazz at Long Wharf

Jazz at Long Wharf is a simple trio jazz recording, and it is giving me some additional insights into what the Duelund DCA16GA is doing performance-wise on my Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers.

I’m having the same issue as I had last night as I was writing an update, and that is that the music sounds so utterly ‘real’ and emotionally communicative that I’m having trouble focussing on analyzing what’s happening. That’s a good thing for you & me, the music lovers, because the DCA16GA is really pulling me into the music, but its rough on me, the reviewer, because I just want to sit my MacBook Air aside and just immerse myself in, and enjoy, the music.

I know, so sad. But you should (and I do) note that from a musicality perspective the Duelund DCA16GA is extremely good, and better even than the mighty vintage Western Electric WE16GA, although not by a lot, but in noticeably meaningful ways, I think. Even if the Duelund DCA16GA sounded exactly the same as the Western Electric WE16GA, I would consider that an enormous success, and a huge complement to the DCA16GA, but the fact is it is better on my Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers, and that’s saying something!

Sonically the Duelund DCA16GA is impressively transparent in a very natural way, with lots of nuance being evident, but in a very musically consonant sort of way. It seems to me that more of the overtones are coming through intact, which makes it sound smooth, rich, and colorful (at least after it gets past its initial settling-in period where it can sound a little rough).

The cymbals on Bill’s drum kit sound utterly real and natural, with correct & realistic timbre, and when Bill gives a cymbal a hard “Whack!” the dynamic prowess of the DCA16GA made me jump. Ditto that for Bill’s drum kit in general.

Doug’s piano sounds gorgeous as well, with great tone color, and I really hear the interesting musical nuances he’s putting into the music, and the same goes for Mark’s bass and bass playing. One of the things that I really appreciate about the Duelund DCA16GA (and the WE16GA) is the insight it gives me into the artistry involved in a performance, and I think the Duelund does this even better – somewhat more intimately and with more nuance – than the Western Electric WE16GA.

The Duelund DCA16GA does the ‘real sound’ thing very well, and I’m hoping Yazaki-san too will be thrilled with the result when he gets to try it.

I’m tempted to say that the Duelund DCA16GA is a more nuanced and refined version of the Western Electric WE16GA, and it is that, which is a huge complement in itself, but there’s other things I’m hearing from it as it continues to settle-in, which intrigues me. I can’t help but wonder how much more the Duelund DCA16GA will have to offer as it gets more time on it.

***

Tonight I got a chance to get a little more listening in, this time to “The Alternate Blues” on Pablo, featuring Clark Terry (trumpet & flugelhorn), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet & flugelhorn), Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet), Joe Pass (guitar),  Ry Brown (bass), Bobby Durham (drums), and Oscar Peterson (piano).

The Alternate Blues

In other words, it’s one of the most talented lineups on a jazz album that’s ever been recorded, and the music & sonics are first rate. I picked up my copy off Discogs rather inexpensively, and I must say I’m blown away by the music. I’m completely blown away by the trumpet playing, which I’ve been really geeking out on lately.

Again I’m finding myself drawn into the music so strongly, I’m getting so emotionally engaged by it, so immersed in the artistry of the musicians, that I’m having a hard time being analytical about sonics (soundstage, imaging, resolution, sense of space, etc.) or musicality (timbre, tone color, beat, dynamics, tempo, rhythm, melody, etc.).

The Western Electric WE16GA excels at connecting the listener with the music, and so does the Duelund DCA16GA, to an even greater extent. I don’t have all that much time on the Duelund DCA16GA yet, so I believe it still has more to give, and I’m really intrigued by where it might end up.

Right now I’m hearing one of the most compellingly musical combinations of musicality & sonics on The Alternate Blues that I’ve heard in quite a while.

I’m definitely hearing that Western Electric ‘real sound’ style of presentation going on with the Duelund DCA16GA, but I’m even more impressed with the DCA16GA’s level of overall musicality and emotional engagement that I’m hearing. Really impressed. 

For me, and quite a number of you, the Western Electric WE16GA represented a sea change in what you could expect in ‘musical realism’ or ‘real sound’ or ‘vintage tone’ or whatever you want to call it.

When I first heard the Western Electric it sounded a little rough and brash to me, and Yazaki-san advised me to be patient, and to wait for it to settle down, and then get ready for a surprise. Yazaki-san was right, when the Western Electric settles in and its full musical prowess is revealed it is impressive to behold.

The same is true of the Duelund DCA16GA.  My first impressions of the DCA16GA as speaker cables were even more positive than my first encounter with Western Electric WE16GA as speaker cables. Then with the DCA16GA from my Hiraga-san inspired crossovers to the high-frequency horns on my Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers, at first I was getting a more typical Western Electric brashness at first blush type of presentation, but its starting to settle in now and its just blowing me away. Really blowing me away. 

I’m sitting here listening to, and being totally mesmerized by, my somewhat noisy pressing of The Alternate Blues … its sounding so ridiculously good, so musically compelling, that I’m truly enthralled, and I can’t help but wondering how much more the Duelund DCA16GA has to give when it’s fully settled-in.

***

Much more to come!

As always, thanks for stopping by. May the tone be with you. Over and out.

 Posted by at 8:38 pm

  16 Responses to “Some more listening impressions of the Duelund DCA16GA on the A5 VOTT Project loudspeakers!”

  1. I have had a similar adventure to yours though nowhere near as broad but tried many of the “new” ideas in wire.

    When you brought Mr. Yazaki to our attention there was something about him, even in your text, that made me take notice. If anyone else had suggested TINNED COPPER wire I would have laughed the knowing laugh of the ignorant. It could not possibly be any good! But it is very good.

    One great thing about tinned wire is what we are hearing we will continue to hear. The non-tinned wires may have some kind of charm initially but I would have to think with oxidation that goodness slowly goes away. I guess this is OK for those who change their wires frequently.

    I am glad to have been told of something that works very well. Now I can think about other aspects of the system. My thanks to you and of course to the exceptional Mr. Yazaki.

    • Hi Rick,

      Yazaki-san has been a true blessing, that’s for sure. If it wasn’t for Yazaki-san we would have never been introduced to the musical seduction that is Western Electric WE16GA and Belden 8402 microphone cable interconnects, which for me, completely rewrote the book on what to expect from interconnects and cabling.

      That’s a good point about the oxidation, that hadn’t even occurred to me, so thanks for mentioning it.

      Kudos to Frederik for bringing us a modern interpretation of the mighty vintage WE16GA in the Duelund DCA16GA. It is my hope that because of what Frederik has done that many more will be able to experience that ‘vintage tone wire’ experience.

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  2. Hi Jeff,

    The Duelund DCA16GA should come with a “WARNING CONTENTS CONTAIN REAL EMOTION” warning on the packet!

    Just received 35m of the Duelund DCA16GA and my initial impressions are mirrored with yours. On installation my thoughts were of music and NOT hifi, the notes contained TONE, EMOTION & WEIGHT. Really looking forward to how they will settle in.

    Really big thank you to both of you for bringing this cable to life.

    Kind regards
    Greg

    • Greg,

      Thanks for sharing your impressions with the rest of us. Even though I have a small stash of the WE 16ga wire, I will try out the Dueland wire as well. Unfortunately, Parts Connexion is already out of stock, but they are taking advance orders for a delivery of additional wire due next month. That said, I would be interested in additional feedback from those who also purchased Parts Connexion’s initial inventory.

      • Let me echo Rich’s comment, and just say how much I value all the feedback from all of you on both the Duelund DCA16GA and the Western Electric WE16GA.

        For me, both of these ‘vintage tone wires’ – along with the Belden 8402 – has been a major revelation in musicality that has really thrilled me, and I’ve been delighted that I’ve been able to share it with you all.

        Kind regards,

        Jeff

    • Hi Greg,

      I really like the Duelund DCA16GA, and I really appreciate Frederik taking on the challenge of building a modern version of the Western Electric WE16GA in the Duelund DCA16GA.

      There’s just something special about the tinned-copper conductors in the way they transmit the emotive qualities of music, and the Duelund DCA16GA with its oil-soaked & baked cotton dielectric is great contribution in the spirit of a vintage-style tone wire.

      I suspect the DCA16GA will just get better & better over time, so keep your reports coming!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  3. Well, mine arrived yesterday; I thought they sounded good but a little rough last night, I’ve had different LPs playing in the background this morning and just sat down to listen some more. The two things I can say about them now is that it’s hard to believe that a pair of $100 speaker cables sound like this compared to a pair of $15,000 speaker cables. Second, they have no particular sound that wows me, which is a good thing because usually what ever wows me right off the bat gets on my nerves later. It’ll take several days of listening to really know if I actually like them better than the High Fidelity Ultimate References, but I have no doubt right now they are better than any $1,000 speaker cables I have heard.

    • Howdy Beatnik,

      Thanks for the great comment and feedback. I recommend you give the Duelund DCA16GA plenty of time to run in, more like months than days, and I suspect, like the Western Electric WE16GA, the DCA16GA will continue to get better over time, with no end in sight.

      You’ll see in the comments that people found the WE16GA to get better even up to the 2000 hour mark, which parallels my experience on my Westminsters, it just seems to keep getting better over time, which is kind of amazing really.

      Keep me posted on your Duelund DCA16GA adventure!

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

      • Ok, I’ll give it as much time as I can, but it has to sound good enough to enjoy to keep it in that long. So far I’m pleased.

        • Howdy Beatnik,

          I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but just trying to give you a friendly heads-up based on my personal experience, that is, that the tinned-copper conductor wire like the WE16GA (in particular) and DCA16GA tends to go through a ‘phase change’ musically & sonically after a period of time (usually around 100 hours), then slowly gets better over an extended period of time. I have found this to be a much greater magnitude of change than you normally get with wire run-in, for whatever reason.

          Yazaki-san had warned me about this phenomena with the tinned-copper conductor style of wire (at the time the Belden 8402 and the Western Electric WE16GA), and I have found it to be true with nearly all the tinned-copper conductor wire trials I have done.

          Tinned-copper wire tends to initially sound a little ‘rough’ and brash, and a little flat, during its initial settling in period, before it comes on song.

          I just mention this because if you only listen to it for a couple of days you’ll never reach this point and you will be wondering what the fuss is about. If you can give it some time without taking it out of the system (I know, that’s hard for a hi-fi writer), you’ll have a better idea of what it is all about.

          There’s always a chance that you just will not like what it’s about, of course, as I’m sure there are contexts where the ‘vintage tone’ style of tonal balance won’t match well with associated equipment or a given music lover’s tastes.

          But in any event, if you can, give it some time so you can hear it at its best.

          Kind regards,

          Jeff

          • Well Jeff, I have stayed with it, and have about 50 hours on it now. I am quite pleaded so far. It has gotten far better and I look forward to hearing what the next 50 hours do to improve the sound. By the way I like it enough to have ordered some of the Belden.

            Thanks,
            jack

          • Howdy Jack!

            I think you’ll enjoy the combo of Belden 8402 & Duelund DCA16GA. They have a synergy together that is really complementary.

            Keep me posted on developments! 🙂

            Kind regards,

            Jeff

  4. Well yestday afternoon I broke down and put the High Fidelity UR speaker wires back in the system. I was surprised how similar they sound, but I definitely prefer the Duelund. The High Fidelity UR has a quieter background, there is a little more separation between instruments and voices, there was slightly more detail and the bottom end was tighter and deeper. In the upper bass through the upper midrange the Duelund was simply more alive, you can hear more energy, more overtones from both instruments and voices, drums sound more like real drums. The soundstage may not be quite as wide but it is more three dimensional and much more believable. When it comes to which one makes you want to listen longer there is no contest, the Duelund is simply more emotional involving and sounds more like you are there.

    By the way 3 meters of the UR cost $16,500 and 3 meters of Duelund cost $120. That means the Duelund is 1,350 times less expensive. Amazing

    I’m expecting the Belden interconnects today.

    • That’s awesome, Jack!

      Give the Belden 8402’s the same sort of treatment, and I’ll be really interested in hearing your perceptions as to synergy.

      Thanks for the update and comparison, it’s really great to hear about performance in different system contexts.

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

    • Jeff how did the Belden sound at first and how long does it take to begin to sound somewhat like the end product?

      Thanks,
      jack

      • It’s pretty much the same as the Western Electric WE16GA, Jack, and it’s something I’ve found to be similar among tinned copper conductors in general. The Duelund DCA16GA seems like it is a little bit of an exception, as it seems to run in quicker and sound better from the get-go.

        I’d say the Belden / WE takes about 100 hours to sound their consistent best, but I think both sound pretty good even from the start.

        Cheers,

        Jeff

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)

%d bloggers like this: