Aug 282016
 

I got up this morning and started a load of laundry, made some coffee, and fired up my Stokowski Altec A7 loudspeakers & SPEC RSA-M3 EX Real Sound Amplifier based system. Soon as the coffee was ready, I settled in to catch up on my correspondence while listening to the superb Jazz24 stream.

Jazz24

Yazaki-san’s amazing SPEC RSA-M3 EX Real Sound Amplifier matches my A7’s to a ‘T’, and I feel really lucky that I can enjoy listening to this system, so a big shout-out to Yazaki-san and Leopold Stokowski for making this wonderful listening experience possible!

Stokowski A7 VOTTs with SPEC

Stokowski A7 VOTTs with SPEC RSA-M3 EX Real Sound Amplifier.

For a source I’m using the humble combination of my old MacBook, Mhdt Paradisea+ USB DAC, and my home-brew tinned-copper pushback wire USB interconnect (you guys really need to try this, give it the requisite 100 hours of run-in, and you’ll end up tossing your ultra-expensive USB cables).

DIY tinned-copper pushback wire USB interconnect.

DIY tinned-copper pushback wire USB interconnect (foreground), my previous favorite Locus Design USB interconnect in the background.

I’m using Belden 8402 microphone cable interconnects and Western Electric WE16GA for speaker cables, along with a Sablon Audio Gran Corona power cord on the SPEC, which is a superb wire combination!

Streaming from Jazz24 it sounds freaky good!

As I was sipping my coffee I got this crazy idea of building a set of 2-meter interconnects out of the Duelund DCA16GA wire. I say ‘crazy’ because I tried the same thing with the Western Electric WE16GA and I didn’t like it as an interconnect, instead greatly preferring the Belden 8402 microphone cable as interconnects.

But, hey, you never know, so I plugged in the soldering iron, got out my bag of Switchcraft 3502AAU RCA connectors, cut four 2-meter lengths of the Duelund DCA16GA and set to work.

Soldering station

Given that the Duelund DCA16GA is all black, to avoid confusion I wrapped a bit of red Peavey color coded microphone ID tape at each end of the lengths that I soldered to the Switchcraft 3502AAU center pin. You can read about it in my blog post here.

Soldering DCA16GA to the center pin of the Switchcraft RCA.

Soldering DCA16GA to the center pin of the Switchcraft RCA.

First I soldered the DCA16GA to the center pin of the Switchcraft (above) …

Soldering DCA16GA to the ground of the Switchcraft RCA.

Soldering DCA16GA to the ground of the Switchcraft RCA.

… then I trimmed a little cotton insulation off another 2-meter length of the Duelund, moved the wire soldered to the center pin out of the way, then pressed down the small inner tab on the clamp terminal with a pair of needle-nose pliers on the new length of DCA16GA to secure it in place, and then soldered it securely.

Clamping DCA16GA to the Switchcraft RCA

Clamping DCA16GA to the Switchcraft RCA

I then clamped down the large clamp terminal tabs with needle-nose pliers onto the Duelund DCA16GA to hold it in place.

half way with the Duelund DCA16GA IC

half way with the Duelund DCA16GA IC

Then I threaded the Switchcraft handle onto the clamp terminal to secure it, then twisted the +/- legs of the DCA16GA together, slide the handle on for second termination and …

second end termination for the Duelund DCA16GA IC

Second end center pin termination for the Duelund DCA16GA IC.

… then I repeated the process of soldering the red-taped Duelund DCA16GA to the Switchcraft center pin …

Second end ground termination for the Duelund DCA16GA IC

Second end ground termination for the Duelund DCA16GA IC

… then clamped the second run of DCA16GA down with the small tab on the clamp terminal and soldered it in place.

clamping down the DCA16GA wires

Crimping down the DCA16GA wires on the clamp terminal.

Then I secured the DCA16GA in place by crimping down the large tabs on clamp terminal.

finished DCA16GA termination

finished DCA16GA termination

Then I threaded the Switchcraft handle onto the clamp terminal to secure it, and then I wrapped the handles on each end with a bit of red Peavey color coded microphone ID tape to help me ID them from the left channel when connecting them to equipment.

A pair of DCA16GA IC's

A pair of DCA16GA IC’s for a Sunday morning adventure!

I repeated the process to make a left channel interconnect out the the Duelund DCA16GA and ended up with the nice looking pair of 2-meter interconnects you see above.

Now I’ll plug them in and give them a listen and report back a bit later.

***

Update: First I listened to the Analogue Productions 45RPM version of Ella Fitzgerald’s superb Let No Man Write My Epitaph with my Belden 8402 microphone cable interconnects on my vintage McIntosh electronics & Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers for a baseline.

Mac & VOTTs

Mac & A5 VOTTs

As I reported earlier, the 45RPM version of Ella Fitzgerald’s Let No Man Write My Epitaph on Verve from Analogue Productions, is really something special. Let No Man Write My Epitaph is freaky good, and definitely one of my favorite Ella albums. It’s a minimalist studio album, with Ella singing some of her favorite songs with accompaniment only by pianist Paul Smith, and it has a beautifully intimate feel to it.

Ella

With the Belden 8402 mic cable interconnects in the system Ella sounds naturally ‘real’ and very emotionally engaging, making it easy to relax into and enjoy the music, and because this is a Sunday morning listening adventure, I naturally started with Ella’s Black Coffee.

Duelund DCA16GA ICs.

Duelund DCA16GA ICs.

Belden 8402 ICs

Belden 8402 ICs

Then I swapped out the Belden 8402 ICs and replaced them with the Duelund DCA16GA ICs I just finished. The Belden 8402 IC’s I have in the system are 2-meters long and are terminated with the same Switchcraft 3502AAU RCA’s I used for the 2-meter Duelund DCA16GA interconnects, the same solder was used for both, so the only difference is the wire, and that the Belden 8402’s have a ton of time on them at this point.

Duelund DCA16GA ICs

Duelund DCA16GA ICs

The 2-meter Duelund DCA16GA interconnects sounded really good, especially considering their zero-hour run-in time. The Belden 8402 mic cable interconnects can sound pretty ragged at first, but when they hit the 100 hour mark they sound so naturally ‘real’ you don’t want to touch them!

These are very preliminary impressions of course, but I’d say the zero-hour 2-meter Duelund DCA16GA ICs sounded nearly as naturally ‘real’ on Ella’s Let No Man Write My Epitaph, as do my Belden 8402 mic cable interconnects that have a year of time on them now. Not what I was expecting really, as I expected the Duelund DCA16GA ICs to fare much worse, given my previous Western Electric WE16GA interconnects experiment.

At this early point in their run-in, the first things that came to my attention were that the Duelund DCA16GA as interconnects were harmonically richer, with more overtone development, with the musicians having a little more naturally ‘real’ presence, they’re a little darker, and a little more transparent too, in the upper bass on through the upper midrange, than are the Belden 8402 mic cable ICs.

The Duelund DCA16GA doesn’t quite match my well run-in Belden 8402 from the upper midrange up into the highs, sounding a little less smooth, and a little more aggressive, in the sibilance region of Ella’s vocals, for example. Also, I think the Belden 8402 gave me more of a sense of the tempo, melody, and dynamics, than does the Duelund DCA16GA as interconnects. But it’s still too early to make a judgement either way.

Duelund DCA16GA ICs & The Alternate Blues

Duelund DCA16GA ICs & The Alternate Blues

A really good test of anything is brass, in particular muted trumpet. If anything is amiss, brass will kick your … fanny! My most listened to horn album these last few weeks has been The Alternate Blues on Pablo, with an all-star line-up of Clark Terry (trumpet & flugelhorn), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet & flugelhorn), Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet), Joe Pass (guitar), Ray Brown (bass), Bobby Durham (drums), and Oscar Peterson (piano), and which just blows me away with how musical and ‘real’ it sounds.

The Duelund DCA16GA interconnects sound really good on The Alternate Blues and the timbral realism was breathtaking! As when used as speaker cables, the Duelund DCA16GA used as interconnects excel with overtones, more so than the Belden 8402, which makes the music sound both richer and more colorful, giving it a vivid ‘Kodachrome-like’ intensity.

Ray Brown’s bass playing on The Alternate Blues sounds so real, with such great tone, the Duelund DCA16GA really nails it. The same can be said of the trumpets and flugelhorns, and Joe Pass’ guitar tone is stunning. But the trumpet and flugelhorns … OMG! … they are to die for!

The Duelund DCA16GA interconnects tone bests the Belden 8402 mic cable on this album overall. In fact, I was able to crank it up louder with the Duelund DCA16GA than I was able to when listening with the Belden 8402, and the tone still hung together superbly, which is a good sign.

Ok, it’s only the first round in a twelve round bout, so it’s way too early to say anything much yet, but the newcomer Duelund DCA16GA as interconnects made an impressive showing against the established pro Belden 8402 mic cable interconnects.

***

Update 8/30/2016: I’m getting a little bit more run-in time on the Duelund DCA16GA RCA interconnects I made on Sunday for the vintage McIntosh & Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre system, not a lot mind you, but maybe 10 hours or a little more now.

The upper mid-range up into the highs are transforming into a very enticing combination of ultra-natural ‘real’ timbral textures and ravishingly good tone, and the emphasis in the sibilance region that I was hearing early on has almost completely disappeared.

The overall presentation is warmish, beautifully musical, a little bit dark, but with a surprising amount of transparency and detail resolution, and with a vibrant presentation of tone color and musical nuance that seems to me to be the aural equivalent of a cinematic landscape of Technicolor. Very impressive!

I do have one quibble with the presentation of the DCA16GA as interconnects though, which is that the response in the bass region seems to be a bit too emphasized. I could almost overlook it because the overall presentation is so gorgeous, but it’s there and noticeable. This may be because the wire gauge is a little bit big at 16AWG for this application as interconnects (the Belden 8402 uses 20AWG conductors, for example).

I suspect that if Frederik ever offers a 20AWG version of this wire for use in interconnects, it would make for perhaps the finest interconnects ever created on Planet Earth for those who cherish ‘vintage tone’ and ‘real sound’. It’s possible I may be able balance the bass response better with my A5’s by fiddling with the A5’s resistor values (via the Clarostat’s) in the high-frequency circuit of their crossovers. I’ll report back on that experiment.

Even at that, I can say the my Duelund DCA16GA interconnect experiment has yielded the most musically communicative pair of interconnects I have ever heard.

Last night I thought I’d listen to a couple of cuts of some rock & roll records that I’m very familiar with to see how things were coming along, and it turned into an hours long listening session to a stream of great albums from the Eagles, Tom Petty, CSNY, Simon & Garfunkel, Lucinda Williams, and others. I was absolutely mesmerized by the way the Duelund DCA16GA interconnects were delivering the musical performances, and while I had quibbles about the bass being a bit too dominant, the overall presentation was so musically involving that I just couldn’t stop listening.

It’s still early in the run-in process, so I suspect things will still change quite a lot over time, so keep checking back and I’ll apprise you of my impressions as run-in continues.

Thanks for stopping by!

 Posted by at 10:21 am

  49 Responses to “A Duelund DCA16GA adventure for Sunday morning! Updates.”

  1. Very nice Jeff! Where were you thinking about trying it out? From the DAC to the Spec?

    • Howdy Josh,

      I tried them out on my Mac & A5 VOTT system first, and I just updated the post, so there’s some first impressions to read.

      Cheers,

      Jeff

  2. Hi Jeff
    Still having fun , good to see . One thing I would like if Frederik could make 10 GA version for you to try as speaker and power cable ? . The other thing is If you where to put Frederik’s outer covering on your cross over wires , could it have a effect on the real sound . Keep up the good work I love it.
    cheers Lance

  3. Hi Jeff,

    Sounds like a very nice Sunday. Thank you for keeping us up to speed on the experiments you have been running. So very much appreciated.

    Best,
    Pete

  4. Thanks Jeff. I echo the comment above and would like to see 10G wire as well. While I did not like this gauge for speaker wire, I love it for power cords.

  5. Jeff,

    Might be time to fire up that MC225 while you got the big metal horns out. Also the synergy with the bass response with the interconnects might be more to your liking.

    • Hi Bill,

      I think you’re right on. If I remember correctly Hiraga-San identified the MC225 as one of his favorite amps with the A5, so I’m looking forward to giving it a listen.

      Cheers,

      Jeff

  6. HI Jeff

    I love the way you have embraced DIY, which is what I did for many years with no electronics background. However you seem to have hit the jackpot on first go almost. I know you have had a little bit of help but with your enthusiasm and constant search for the better you are pushing on at the frontiers. Exciting stuff. Please dont stop.

    Knowing we have very similar systems and I too have had the Havanna and Playstation, in return for all your advice, which may or may not be useful for you, you might be interested in the ‘entry level’ Audio note cd player, the zero, but only the latest newer version. I picked one up used for £350. It has the vintage tone IMHO and indeed it uses a good old fashioned TDA dac! and a tiny valve! I know you were keen on improving your digital replay which is why i mention it.

    All the best Luke

  7. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for your recommendation on the DIY Belden IC’s …………
    ….
    Please inform me …which is the Optimal/Best Real sounding ,Lenght, for the Belden IC’s ??

    kind regads

    john

    • Hi John,

      We’ve tried them in a number of lengths from 0.5 meter to about 10 meters, and the Belden has worked well in all those lengths.

      I would pick the length bases on what works best for your system needs.

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  8. hello Jeff
    i get my Belden/ Switchcraft ready after the weekend
    i got the nickel connectors gold nickel was not available here in Europe
    hope these sound also good .

    regards Robert

  9. Hi Jeff,
    i need your help…….
    today i received the Belden 8402 cable…….
    my own has, in black lettering.,….Belden 8402 60C VW-1 022416 0900 ROHS
    yours has ,in white lettering,…..Belden 8402 60C VW-1 ROHS 2GK !!!!????
    is the same cable??

    kind regards
    john

  10. yes i but it also in Europe
    looks the same to me
    i will made a picture tomorrow

  11. hello i made a picture but i think can’t post it here
    on mine is printed in black with a matrix dot printer
    BELDEN 8402 60C VW-1 022416 0901 ROHS

    • Hi Robert,
      Yes I think that is the same cable …..
      I’ll send an email to Belden USA , to tell us for sure ……( if our cables is the same with Jeff one..!! )
      Is also tinned copper ??
      regards
      john

  12. Yes it is tinned copper
    and it looks exactly the same internally as the white printed cable
    Please let me now what Belden say.
    They play here now 2 days
    and its a little darker and rough and it is less detailed then my old copper gold cables
    but its new and i must give it time
    its to early to say something about it.

    • Hi Robert ,Jeff,
      I received an information/answer from Mr.Brad Bartosz of Best-Tronics Mfg., Inc. that……….

      They are the exact same cable. Belden changed their print wheel from white to black. That is the only difference.

      keep on Real Music …..
      john

      • Hi John,

        Thanks for letting us know about the Belden 8402! I’m glad to hear they are identical except for the color of the printing.

        Kind regards,

        Jeff

  13. hello John
    that is fine
    is the cable already working and what is your first experience with it ?

    • Hello Robert,
      just i received the Belden wire…..and i am waiting for the Switchcraft rca plugs…….
      I’ll let you know my impressions when i managed to make the IC’s……and give them the 100h that Jeff suggest..!!!!
      regards
      john

  14. Hi Jeff and Robert
    I have AvantGarde Fino speakers which have Mundorf 2.8uF Silver/Gold caps in the crossover for the tweeter. I am thinking of replacing them with Duelund caps. Would the RS copper suffice or the cast? Cheers. Dave.

    • Hi David,

      I’m not familiar with the Mundorf caps (they are intriguing with silver & gold), so I can’t say much there, but I really like the Duelund CAST caps that I use in my Westminster crossovers. I haven’t tried the RS caps, but I can recommend the CAST caps heartily. My favorites are the silver CAST, but they are budget breakers!

      Let me know how it works out for you, Dave.

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  15. hello Jeff
    a friend has a cable cooker
    i think you have also one
    how is this working for the Duelund and belden wire ?
    i think i have now around 60 hours on the Duelund and 15 on the Belden.

    • Hi Robert,

      I must confess that I haven’t tried my cable cooker on the Duelund DCA16GA. I’ve just been letting it run-in naturally so I’d be better able to describe what happens over time.

      The next pair of DCA16GA interconnects I build I think I’ll cook them though, and see how that goes.

      Best,

      Jeff

  16. hello Jeff
    and the Belden
    did you tried it on the cable cooker?

    • Hi Robert,

      I used my cable cooker on the first set of Belden 8402 interconnects from Yazaki-san (and maybe the first pair I built), with the normal sort of results that the cable cooker provides. I haven’t done that on the other pairs of Belden 8402, as I wanted to hear it go through its normal run-in without a cooker so I would be better able to understand what goes on with it over time. They get to about the same place, but it takes a lot longer without a cable cooker.

      Best,

      Jeff

  17. Hi Jeff,

    Have you try to make shielded DCA16GA interconnects? In Audiogon forum many said that their shielded WE16 sounds better than unshielded version. Thanks

    • Hi Dan,

      Not yet, but I am planning to investigate that as time allows.

      Best,

      Jeff

      • Great cant wait. Hope you can provide info on material to use for the shield, etc and how you wire them. I want to make XLR connection later/

        • Hi Dan,

          I definitely will not be doing an XLR version, as I have no XLR connections in my system, so you’re on your own there. If you decide to do an XLR version I would like to hear about your results though.

          Best,

          Jeff

  18. My experience with shielded cables is that it never sounds good to me
    no matter if it are inter connects or power cables
    it gives a shut in tight greyish sound unshielded give more openness bloom and more colour just more realness
    but that is my experience and taste of sound.
    Some just want a different more regular hifi sound.

    • Yes, that is my experience as well, with everything being equal I prefer unshielded cables. However, in the case of the interconnect from my SUT to my preamp an unshielded cable has unacceptably high levels of noise, so shielding is the only alternative. The question for this experiment is, “How will the Duelund DCA16GA perform as a shielded interconnect?” I’m hoping that it works acceptably well.

      • Jeff,

        To construct a shielded cable using the Dueland 16ga wire, you will probably need Tinned Copper braid with an inside diameter that will provide enough space between the twisted pair of Dueland 16ga wire and the shield to allow for some sort of a spacer between the conductors and shield. Next, you will need a outer covering to go over the shield like Techflex cable jacketing. I’ve used Teflon spiral wrap tubing around twisted pair conductors and then slid braided Tinned Copper braided shielding over that, which is then covered with Techflex. Typically, the braided shield is connected to the ground connection at one end where the shield can properly drain to ground.

        The Teflon spiral wrap tubing is flexible enough to keep the entire cable construction flexible, and the Techflex will provide a nice finished appearance. This composite construction will be somewhat bulky once properly laid up, so I doubt the slim Switchcraft RCA connectors would work for elegant terminations unless you get creative with heat shrink tubing.

        Rich

        • Hi Rich,

          I was planning on doing the tinned copper braid as a shield, and Chris from Parts ConneXion has recommended ConneX TCBRAID-70764 5/32″ tinned copper braided sleeving as being a good fit to the Duelund DCA16GA, so I will probably investigate that. I will only use the sleeving as a first trial, rather than add a spacer/filler as the Belden 8402 does.

          With my vintage Mac gear the spacing between the RCA inputs is very close, and a number of the modern ‘jumbo’ male RCA’s are too big to fit in the spacing, so I’ve stuck with the Switchcraft RCA’s, as their handles are among the most compact.

          Chris at Parts ConneXion believes that the Duelund RCA’s will also fit with the vintage McIntosh RCA spacing, so I may investigate that, as I really like Duelund’s use of natural materials wherever possible.

          Best,

          Jeff

  19. i think and my feeling is that the Duelund cable and WE has this quality because the lack of plastic or synthetic material
    and i think you don’t want pollute this with artificial material
    ist all natural that is the body of thought around this cable for the red markings on the cable i use red cotton
    i have also red shrink hose but cotton feels better Ok maybe i am nuts i now 🙂
    Some like me and i think Jeff also put this vision even deeper into the system look at the A5 and the wax/ oil capacitors wood cotton paper and so on.
    The vintage tone we like its the material, its not about the time that its made but the material it is made from.

    • I do think that the ‘vintage tone’ that I enjoy so much is a matter mostly of materials & design, rather than actually being ‘vintage’ as measured by years.

      It seems like in ‘vintage times’ they used a higher proportion of natural materials due to there being less synthetic materials available to use at the time. There’s probably a few materials that were used (like PCB containing oils) that are no longer allowed by law.

      It also seems that in ‘vintage times’ there was more of an emphasis on listening to results as compared to live music in the audio engineering process, instead of relying so heavily on measured performance, and the emphasis on performance related to hi-fi non-musical recording artifacts.

      I think about Stokowski listening to Altec components vs. live music and advising based on that comparison, and that sort of approach seems wise to me to be a very good one to get the maximum music out of a design.

      It does seem to me that the materials choice is very important, and natural materials do tend to sound more naturally musical, at least to my ears.

      I was first introduced to cotton as an interconnect casing by Mark Coles of Sablon Audio, who does beautiful work. At my place when we did comparisons with Mark’s cabling vs. the Belden 8402 & WE16GA it was an even split on which one was preferred by the listeners that day. Mark’s cabling is extremely good.

      I like Frederik’s variation on the Western Electric WE16GA with his oil-soaked & baked cotton casing. His Duelund DCA16GA is very good, and I attribute most of the difference in the sound quality vs. the WE16GA to his use of natural materials in the casing.

      I do confess that I too like the appearance of the red casing of the Western Electric, as there is something that seems elegant about it to me.

      One of the experiments I also want to try is to make a pair of single-conductor tinned-copper interconnects using the Gavitt cloth-covered pre-tinned 22awg pushback wire that I purchased from The Art of Tone via Amazon, that I used for my USB interconnect, as it turned out amazingly well. A pair of the Duelund RCA’s could make for a nice natural materials combination with the Gavitt. Possibly a new set of tonearm wiring for my Schick tonearm would be interesting as well.

      So many interesting things to try, so little time!

      • I have not made any interconnects with the Gavitt waxed cotton covered 22AWG Tinned Copper wire yet, but it is working extremely well for signal input wiring in my Texas Instruments TPA3118 Class D amplifier. Together with the Altec/Peerless 15335A bridging transformers and the Western Electric AIW 16ga wire for connecting the amplifier’s outputs to the speaker binding posts, the amp has great tone and there is no presence of that high frequency glare that Class D amps can sometimes have.

  20. What solder do you recommend for the RCA plugs?

    • Hi Cliff,

      I’ve been happily using the Kester, which was recommended to me by Jonathan Halpern (Tone Imports), who has excellent taste in solder!

      Kester solder

      Kind regards,

      Jeff

  21. Thank you Jeff,
    Do you still recommend the Switchcraft RCA or could better performance be obtained with some of the more expensive RCA plugs? Please name names.
    best regards,
    Cliff

  22. Sorry for so many questions, but what about flux?

  23. hello Cliff
    If i can say something about
    I like the switchcraft and i like furutech and ole innovations but also WBT Nextgen
    there i no best please try some or use what gives you the best feeling
    the kester need no flux ist in the core
    and i like the belden more then de Duelund as interconnect
    but try it yourself then you now it what is the best for you.

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