After winning Sherard's holiday karma for a pair of Signal Ultras, I decided a comparison would be the best way for me to fulfill my requirement of posting a review of the new cables.
I started my comparison by performing an A/B test with 2 pair of RT800i hooked up to a Sony STR-DG800 avr. I then switched the sets of cables between the pairs of 800s to eliminate any speaker differences as a potential issue.
At first listen, the Signals seemed to calm the highs on the RTs to a more reasonable level (sometimes those tri-lams can be a bit too much) and boost the clarity and definition of the instruments.
I always considered the Monsters to be very detailed and crisp, as they presented very clear highs and seemed to not lack in bass. However, now it seemed they were a bit muddled in the midrange, and a little boomy at the low end compared to the Ultras.
After this initial listening test, I could conclude the Signals were better than the Monsters, but I had expected a blowout. I just wasn’t overwhelmed with the improvement.
Because I was hoping for more, I decided to repeat the A/B test with the same RT800i pairs, but with a Yamaha R-V1105 avr (I know another avr, but no separates in the rig yet). When I initially turned on the Yamaha and started listening, I was a bit shocked. I began frantically switching A to B to A and back…there was quite a significant difference in sound on this receiver, but I couldn’t quite pinpoint the difference. So, I did what every married electronics addict does…I asked my wife. :D She hates it when I do that. I said “do these sound different to you” as I switched A to B, then back. She indicated they did sound different, so I asked her to describe the difference. In reference to the sound coming though the Monsters, she said “you turned something off…part of the music is missing.” …I couldn’t have said it better.
I’ve since had the chance to listen to the Signals for hours of music and movies and am very content to leave these hooked up to the mains in the HT/Music rig and move one of the Monsters to the center channel to replace the cheap speaker wire previously feeding it.
Bottom line: The Signal Cable Ultras are clean, warm and natural sounding cables that give music more definition and clarity than I‘ve ever heard. The Monster cables sounded great to me before my “reference” changed - they are in no way a “throw-away” set of cables, I just now know there are good cables and there are better cables…and cost is definitely not the indicator, as I’m sure these Monsters were much more retail than the Signals (though I didn’t buy them…came w/speakers on CL). If you’re in the market for speaker cables, stop shopping and buy some Signals.
Now, thanks to Sherard (karma Signals), Dave/daboyz (AQ and BJC) and all of CP, I suppose I’ll have to eventually step up the rest of my cabling…slowly, but surely.
Cables DO make a difference!