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  1. #1

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    Default Need cable comparison testing advice

    Now that I've received the MAC 3' AgQ cables from Early B. I want to do some testing so I can hear the difference between them and the Monster Interlink 400 MK II's I've been using. Since my Denon 3800 has two sets of L/R outputs on the back, I've connected one set of cables to the Analog DVD DVD channel inputs and the other set to my TV/Sat channel inputs. This allows the Denon to do the DAC vs the amplifier (BTW, I notice a big difference between this setup and using an optical cable from the player to the amp). I have turned off all EQ on the amp to get the signal as direct as possible to the speakers.

    With that setup, my initial reaction is that the two sets of cables sound almost identical. Sometimes, I can detect what I believe are slight differences in vocals (a little fuller sounding) and on instruments (sax and violin seem to be slightly less harsh or brassy sounding). To me the difference is probably not big enough for me to do a blind listening test and tell the difference.

    My assumption is that I should be able to tell a noticeable difference unless there is something else in the signal path affecting the final outcome. So now for my questions/theories.

    Do the separate 5.1 inputs on amplifiers typically work the same as the regular analog inputs (i.e. DVD, TV, etc)? i.e. will I notice a difference by switching inputs on the amp?

    The speakers are connected to the amp via Monster Bass cables (for the RT3000 subs) and Monster 12gauge speaker wire (for the mids/tweeters). Do I have a weak link in the system? amp? speakers(say it's not so!)? wiring?

    Thanks in advance.

    BTW, in case it's important, the CD's I've used for testing so far are Dave Koz The Dance HDCD and Mark O'Conner 30 Year Retrospective.
    Last edited by dpowell; 03-15-2008 at 04:18 PM.
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    Home Theater: polkaudio Modded SDA SRS 2.3TL's, LSiM706c, 4 X TC265i Rears, SVS PB12 Plus/2
    Pioneer Elite SC-67, Sunfire Signature Cinema Grande 400, Oppo BDP-83

  2. #2

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    I've got a pair of the MAC AgQ's and they are not quite as resolving as my other silver conductor IC's..i.e. not as much top end sparkle and detail, although they are good. They almost sound more like copper to me. I'm sure if you were using a higher quality integrated or separates the difference would be more noticeable. Not to knock the receiver, but an A/V receiver is certainly not the last work in resolution. It looks like your source is pretty good. All that being said though, cable differences are rarely night and day and are very system dependant (as in synergy). I'll take all the subtle improvements I can get though as they do tend to add up over time.

  3. #3

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    Say what?! You're using Monster speaker wire???

    Well, you know what you gotta do...
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50 LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

    "God grooves with tubes."

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Early B. View Post
    Say what?! You're using Monster speaker wire???

    Well, you know what you gotta do...
    Well, tell me what you'd do....!;) You'd have to agree that the Monster (which came included when I purchased the RT3000's) is a step up from the wire I was using from Home Depot prior to that!:D For sure, I'm not married to it. That said, I am relatively new to having decent gear to power my speakers. That's the whole point of this post is to get input from those who know what they're doing.
    _____________________________________________
    Home Theater: polkaudio Modded SDA SRS 2.3TL's, LSiM706c, 4 X TC265i Rears, SVS PB12 Plus/2
    Pioneer Elite SC-67, Sunfire Signature Cinema Grande 400, Oppo BDP-83

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by dragon1952 View Post
    I've got a pair of the MAC AgQ's and they are not quite as resolving as my other silver conductor IC's..i.e. not as much top end sparkle and detail, although they are good. They almost sound more like copper to me. I'm sure if you were using a higher quality integrated or separates the difference would be more noticeable. Not to knock the receiver, but an A/V receiver is certainly not the last work in resolution. It looks like your source is pretty good. All that being said though, cable differences are rarely night and day and are very system dependant (as in synergy). I'll take all the subtle improvements I can get though as they do tend to add up over time.
    No offense taken. Even though the amp is the ES series, I've wondered what more could be achieved from my Polks by using the Sony as a pre and adding a higher end pro or just going with higher end separates all together. I was tempted by the B&K 3 channel that was listed for sale earlier in the week. Is something like that worth it if I leave the Sony in the mix?
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    Home Theater: polkaudio Modded SDA SRS 2.3TL's, LSiM706c, 4 X TC265i Rears, SVS PB12 Plus/2
    Pioneer Elite SC-67, Sunfire Signature Cinema Grande 400, Oppo BDP-83

  6. #6

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    You know, I tried for many years to be happy with music out of an HT setup and it just didn't work for me. I kept buying more expensive receivers thinking that was the problem. I tried a really nice Integra DTR-7, Pioneer Elite, external amps, cables. The signal is still being processed by the AV receiver even if you use an external amp, and in many cases the pre may be a bigger issue than the amp. It's hard to say what would work better. If I were you I wouldn't throw a bunch of money at cables in hopes that those will do the trick for you. In many cases it's a tradeoff with an HT system. I mean, it's sad but true. I finally ****-canned the HT and went dedicated 2-channel. When we built the new house I was lucky enough to have separate areas for each. That's the ideal situation. I'm sure your Sony ES is very nice. A lot of people are happy adding an amp. Buy used and you can always resell and recoup the money.
    Last edited by dragon1952; 03-15-2008 at 05:42 PM.

  7. #7

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    When I added an amp (B&K 200wpc) to my AVR I noticed an improvement. It wasn't night and day, but it was an improvement. When I changed out my IC's, I noticed another improvement. Also not night and day. When I added my Adcom Preamp (with an HT bypass so I could integrate it into my HT) I noticed yet another improvement, still not night and day. But in the end, I now enjoy music a tremendous amount more than I used to with the AVR alone. All those little improvements added up, and i'm still not done with the tweaking (probably never will be).
    Speakers: Polk LSi15
    Pre: Adcom GFP-750 with HT Bypass
    Amp: Pass Labs X-150
    CD/DVD Player: Classe CDP-10
    Interconnects: MIT Shortgun S3 Pro XLR
    Speaker cables: MIT MH-750 bi-wire
    TT:Micro Seiki DD-35
    Cartridge:Denon DL-160
    Phono Pre:PS Audio GCPH

  8. #8

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    I did the same type of A/B with the dual outputs on my Denon 3910 and I couldn't hear any difference between Audioquest Diamondbacks and generic Monster THX ICs in my rig. The Diamondbacks look better though.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpowell View Post
    Well, tell me what you'd do....!;) You'd have to agree that the Monster (which came included when I purchased the RT3000's) is a step up from the wire I was using from Home Depot prior to that!:D For sure, I'm not married to it. That said, I am relatively new to having decent gear to power my speakers. That's the whole point of this post is to get input from those who know what they're doing.
    Dragon knows what he's doing, so here ya go... http://www.polkaudio.com/forums/showthread.php?t=65350
    HT/2-channel Rig: Sony 50 LCD TV; Toshiba HD-A2 DVD player; Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro; Rogue Audio M-120 monoblocks (modded); Placette RVC; Emotiva LPA-1 amp; Bada HD-22 tube CDP (modded); VMPS Tower II SE (fronts); DIY Clearwave Dynamic 4CC (center); Wharfedale Opus Tri-Surrounds (rear); and VMPS 215 sub

    "God grooves with tubes."

  10. #10

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    Dam, those are nicer interconnects then I will ever own. Good luck comparing, you have the correct idea and I have done the same thing previously...same results to. If you could find a high quality analog audio switch that would be the ideal way to compare, just switch them on the fly.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gaara View Post
    Dam, those are nicer interconnects then I will ever own. Good luck comparing, you have the correct idea and I have done the same thing previously...same results to. If you could find a high quality analog audio switch that would be the ideal way to compare, just switch them on the fly.
    Thanks! Since I didn't have an analog switch handy and have 2 pairs of outs on the Denon, I'm using the AVR as the switch. I can switch back and forth between connections in about 2 seconds to get a good comparison.
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    Pioneer Elite SC-67, Sunfire Signature Cinema Grande 400, Oppo BDP-83

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by tcrossma View Post
    When I added an amp (B&K 200wpc) to my AVR I noticed an improvement. It wasn't night and day, but it was an improvement....All those little improvements added up, and i'm still not done with the tweaking (probably never will be).
    After reading through the thread on 'do cables make a difference' that Early B. recommended and based on your comments, it sounds like the best place to start is with buying the best components I can reasonably afford. I see where a lot of people on this forum end up with separate 2-channel setups; probably for the same issues I find myself dealing with.

    Since I don't have room for a separate setup, I guess I need to focus on acquiring separate high-end amps as money allows. Seems to me that cables should be purchased later if I'm still not happy with the results.

    So, for those of you who have taken the next step from an A/V receiver HT setup, what is the next best step to improve a setup?
    Last edited by dpowell; 03-15-2008 at 07:39 PM.
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    Pioneer Elite SC-67, Sunfire Signature Cinema Grande 400, Oppo BDP-83

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpowell View Post
    So, for those of you who have taken the next step from an A/V receiver HT setup, what is the next best step to improve a setup?
    Personally I am very happy with the route I took. I started with only an AVR, then added an external amp, then bought a good CD/DVD player, then added a preamp that has an HT bypass. When I listen to music it's CD=>Pre=>Amp, completely bypassing the AVR.

    To me, in my household where I don't have the option of two separate systems, this gives me the best of both worlds.

    My next upgrade will be some speaker cables and then a year or so down the road i'll upgrade to a dedicated CD player, possibly tubed. The DVD player will then be for HT and SACD only.

    Have fun on your journey. As many others have stated before me, half the fun of this hobby is in the quest itself.
    Speakers: Polk LSi15
    Pre: Adcom GFP-750 with HT Bypass
    Amp: Pass Labs X-150
    CD/DVD Player: Classe CDP-10
    Interconnects: MIT Shortgun S3 Pro XLR
    Speaker cables: MIT MH-750 bi-wire
    TT:Micro Seiki DD-35
    Cartridge:Denon DL-160
    Phono Pre:PS Audio GCPH

  14. #14

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    There ya go!

  15. #15

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    Thanks for all the great input. I'm considering the GFA 535mkII Troy has posted or the B & K Reference 3320 3-channel amp that Mark has posted for sale as a place to get started on separates. Since I only have 1 set of pre-outs on my AVR and already use them for running line level to the L/R and Center subs, is it advisable to add a "Y" cable to continue connecting them that way and also add the Pro amp in?
    Last edited by dpowell; 03-16-2008 at 11:45 AM.
    _____________________________________________
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    Pioneer Elite SC-67, Sunfire Signature Cinema Grande 400, Oppo BDP-83

  16. #16

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    I'd recommend you do some long-term listening. Many times, differences that are not caught during A/B'ing can be heard over the long haul, after you have listened to many different CD's.

    Just a suggestion...

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
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    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
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    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

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