I have had 2 pairs of SL DIN-XLRs on home dem (courtesy Signals) in my active system since last Thursday – in place of the stock cables. (I already have SL IC and SL SNAXO). Radio (NAT01) is my most used source and I have found that its actually very good at telling me, very quickly, how my system is sounding. So, this is the source I tried first.
The first thing I noticed was that the SLs sounded quite distinctly different – quite obviously so. So, it was just a question of whether I liked the difference, or not. The NAT01 sounded somewhat more ‘intimate’ with the SL cables, but rather more ‘variable’. Into the weekend, from Friday onwards, it turned a bit ‘dry’ and tiring – which I found strange because the cables are already run-in as far as I know. It seemed the system had become rather more ‘sensitive’ – higher Q factor if you like.
I checked cable dressing etc., – you know, the sort of paranoia us Hifi nuts go through – all was OK as far as I could tell. On Saturday afternoon, just for the hell of it, I decided to check if we had any surge protector blocks connected to our mains. Well, what do you know! My daughter had 2 – one in her bedroom and the 2nd in the other bedroom which she calls her ‘office’. Pure neurosis?? I replaced them with ordinary ones with no light or any fancy surge protection and all that — ’good practice’ I thought – of course whether it would make any difference of not was another matter entirely.
Wasn’t expecting much as these blocks had been connected (via a ring) to the main consumer unit, whereas my system is on its own CU, supplied by a 10mm sq. radial circuit. Didn’t immediately do an AB-test, as I had visitors and other things to do.
On Sunday, again on Radio, I could tell the sound was ‘cleaner/quieter/cleaner’. But one has to be careful of ‘expectation bias’ – although if truth be told, I really wasn’t expecting the sort of difference I was hearing – and as I listened further, I convinced myself that removing those blocks had cleaned up things a bit – funny that the SL cables got me to do that (sensitivity?) – but mind you, perhaps I was subliminally influenced by a recent thread on this forum – but I don’t care – I like what to me is a definite positive change. I will be looking out for any sinful blocks that I might have left out.
Sunday night – well, let’s try vinyl. I’m glad I did!! I never really pay attention to impact on bass, treble etc., - rather I am more interested in how the music overall ‘washes’ over me and what I feel like as I result. When I took a break for diner – there were ‘lingering tunes’ in my head – precisely what I value. Yes, I could sense musical lines (especially vocal) becoming more apparent and coherently presented within the mixed – nuances and all – system playing much more quietly – and so, subjectively, dynamic range is higher.
Not all beer and skittles though.
When I played my NDS yesterday, I guess the best way of describing what I heard was ‘strange’. Yes, I could pick up more clarity – and the usual Hifi attributes - but the whole package was somewhat less ‘engaging’. Perhaps the SL XLRs present a more open window – exposing limitations of my NDS4.4?? Or these cables have a more fundamental positive effect on vinyl?? Or?? Dunno… but not what I was expecting at all.
Listening to Radio 3 now as type this. Sublime! Heavenly!
So, conclusion for now is that these cables have improved Tuner and Vinyl very substantially, but the jury is still out on my NDS. Is this some underhand trick to get me thinking about ND555? Ha! No chance! Practicalities like ‘bank balance’ quickly bring one to reality…