Now I am relatively new to this but please bear with me. It's kinda long and I know there are threads for each wire, but I ain't no typist.
Here it is....
Equiment used for comparison:
Carver SD/A 350 5 disc CD changer - using the digital optical out
RS Audio Gold 3 ft. Toslink cable
Sunfire Ultimate Receiver - using pre outs for a 2nd zone, which have no tonal control and put out a flat signal. Volume set at -35, which is 65% of full output
Carver M-400a amplifer - around 200 watts RMS.
Monster XP 14 GA. speaker wire - approx. 30 ft. runs with gold plated bananna plugs on both ends
Polk SDA 2B speakers - set up about 16 ft. apart in corners with 10" & 12" from sides and rears respectively, both toed in towards a sweet spot 20' away (aligned w/ a laser)
Six Pack of Corona Extra chilled to 40 degrees with a Freshly Sliced Lime
Empty House with NO WIFE AND NO KIDS (What a way to spend a Friday night if you have to work saturday, ALONE w/ some good beer playing with your toys...)
Average listening levels as measured with RS Analog SPL Meter - 85 to 95 db (I like it LOUD, and if I'm going to hear subtle differences, it ain't gonna be at whisper levels!)
Acoustic Research - 6 ft. Pretty cheap for a baseline.
Audioquest Diamondbacks - 6ft
Signal Cable Analog 2 - 3 ft
Source Music - I made a demo cd of 11 songs I like:
Yes - Love Will Find a Way Big Generator
Endless Dream (excellent digital recording)
Metallica - The Ecstasy of Gold/ The Call of the Ktulu - S&M
Shoot Me Again
Led Zeppelin - Bonzo's Montreaux (all percussion)
Eagles - Life in the Fast Lane
Steely Dan - Ricky Don't Lose That Number
Robert Plant - Big Log
Ok here are my (man all this typing is giving me finger cramps!) OPINIONS:
AR's - Better than the mickey mouse 20 GA. IC's. Good construction, pretty flexible, joined. Connections are gold plated and fit snugly. When I got these, I was just starting out. They were a step up and they made a difference at the time. But you could tell that the source to the speakers was flat. Imaging was OK, but nothing to brag about. Bass was kind of mushy, without definition (as compared to the AQ's and SC's). Mids were there, but kinda missing something. Highs just lacked. Soundstage was kind of blurred, you could tell that something was being played in a different position, but you couldn't pinpoint the location exactly.
AQ's - BIG DIFFERENCE. Build quality is good. Connector fit is not as snug as the AR's, but is good. Two seperate cables. One thing I did notice is that the ends are not the same. One is gold plated (black), while the other (white) is not. Things seemed to open up. Better definition in all of the frequencies, but especially in the bass. Things had more punch, you could feel it. Mids were a little more detailed. Highs had a crisper clean quality. The soundstage became more identifiable and a little more spacious. You could better tell where the sound was seemingly originating.
SC's - Nice wires. Excellent build qualty, connectors are plated with a nice smooth fit, This is making me think the AR fit is
too snug. Seperate cables. When I tried these out, things seemed to become almost live. Not Like a concert sound, but like you were listening to the actual recording as it was being done. The definition and clarity was more defined. Bass punch was not quite the same as AQ's, but cleaner. Higher frequencies actually hurt at elevated levels (Made me turn down my rig, the little bastards:D ) Soundstage opened up even more, with even more clarity and locatabilty. You could almost point to where the musicians were playing.
I have to say the SC's edged out the others. They just have a better quality of seperation that I'm looking for in my sounds. The AQ's have a better bass punch, and I like my bass. But I think this can be over come with a little equalization. I'm gonna use the AR's for TV.