Sunday, December 30, 2007

Oyaide OR-800 ADVANCE Speaker Cables

I was using the Dynaudio OCOS speaker cables then.
I got them from Nicholas from Dynaudio Singapore. Nicholas is a big guy with a loud voice and jovial laughter. I once told him that his job was fantastic, being able to, in his line of work, listen to superb speakers. He simply replied that at work he listened to the Dynaudio while he has his Cabasse at home. Wow, what a luxury! At that time, i auditioned his Audience 42, the most entry-level model in the Dynaudio line-up. BTW, i had already gotten the Dynaduio Acoustics BM6 then. The Audience 42 is a really small speaker but the sound it produced is so large. I was grinning from cheek to cheek then and exclaimed that this was what lured me into Dynaudio in the first place. The BM6 that i have is from the professional arm of Dynaudio. I might share the story of my BM6 some other day.
OK, back to the story at hand. I was curious what the Oyaide has to offer in their speaker cables so i made a trip down to Audio Basic again. By then, i am already his regular customer in the frequency i visit him. This time, he did not want to do a shop demo. Haha, probably tired of having to switch cables for me so many times during the last visits. :p Thus, he offered to loan me the cables for a home trial instead! I happily accepted his offer. He loaned me the Oyaide OR-800 and also the Acrolink speaker cables- cannot recall whether it is the 1000 or 1400 series- they look identical.
So i brought back the cables for a home audition. The Acrolink sounds wonderful. Very alluring and inviting. I really wanted the cables for their sonic beauty. But deep down, i felt that the signature seems to be a bit coloured compared to my OCOS- with the Acrolink, the music just sounds so beautiful every album i played. That cannot be the case right, i mean, the recording quality will vary due to the materials and also the recording engineer's preference.
How about the Oyaide?
Compared to the OCOS, the OCOS sounds less refined. Extension is roughly the same between both cables though i would say that the Oyaide is slightly more extended. Details come through easily and naturally on the Oyaide. The only thing i do not like about the Oyaide is that it is factory terminated in spades. The speaker posts on my Dynaudio do not seem to be designed with spades in mind.
After some time of home audition, i decided that i would want a full-oyaide wiring on my set-up, yeah! :D
Is this the end of my hardware journey? Alas, no! Because i still frequent Audio Basic and i come to appreciate the Acrolink signature...

Oyaide Interconnects- Across 750

I like the signature sound of Oyaide- airy mids with full bass and nice staging. I decided to venture into their interconnects also.

First, some background on the cables that were plugged into my system:

I was using the Grover 'S' interconnect then. I borrowed the Black version from Yotiao to audition at home before deciding to buy the cable off Yotiao haha. I need two pairs since i need one to connect from my CDP to my integrated and another to replace the jumpers between the pre and power on my integrated. It was coincidential that i chanced upon a sale of the white Grover 'S' on another local forum. The seller used to be into headphones also but is now into speakers. His home setup then was nothing to shout about- antique B&W floor standers powered by Pioneer A400. Now i am not belittling the equipment. It is just that the sound is so very warm and slow and boomy. His CD collection really impressed me though. He collects first-pressings, meaning the first few CDs that are cut from the master tapes, thus ensuring very good sound. My opinion is that his system does not at all do justice to his wonderful collection.

Back to the cables, Grover 'S' IC is quite decent for the money. It consists of wires brewed up by grover terminated with SwitchCraft RCA plugs. It is just that he keeps revising his model every few months. It is very difficult for the user to keep up. To be fair, Grover does offer trading-in and upgrading for a fee. Though the White version that i later got was an upgrade from the Black version that i got from Yotiao, personally, i do not find measurable differences between the two to justify the costs involved in upgrading the cables.

Prior to the Grover, i was using DIY interconnects- Klotz GY107 terminated with Neutrik Pro-fi and also DIY Silver interconnects.

The former is really decent for the money-the sound has a smooth mids with a mid-bass hump. Details-wise, nothing to shout about though it trounce the QED Qnect 1-my very first Interconnect (excluding those freebies type) :)

The DIY Silver interconnect was made myself after drawing inspirations (hehe) from the ICs that i borrowd from FuWen. Pretty simple recipe: I got 4m of teflon-coated silver from AHF-Art audio (pse do not pronounce the name of the shop with the hyphen before the F lol). Cut the wire into 1m length each and slot each length into teflo tubings. For the Right-Channel, use a wire for the Ground and another for the Signal. Terminate the hot and ground onto Neutrik-Profi and that is my DIY Silver Interconnect. Now, that is no cheapo- DIY Silver IC. A 1m pair costs (S$28 X 4)+ S$50= S$162. The Silver wire costs S$28 per metre and the 4 Neutrik Pro-Fi plugs cost S$55. The signature is very detailed but some have commented that the mids are not full. Well, i would only like to add that this is a very rudimental design and the quality of the sound derives simply from the materials used. Overall, i do not think this is a worthwhile exercise as the materials used are simply too costly.

A better alternative would be to get some Oyaide PA-02 and terminate them with Neutrik Pro-fi. A 1m pair would costs about S$90 and should be excellent sounding for the price. I have gotten a 0.5m length as a mini-mini IC. The details are really there and the colouration is minimal, if any. At S$25 (terminated with Canare mini plugs), i feel it is a bargain that it seriously worth considering.

OK, ramblings aside. I wanted to try out the Oyaide Interconnects so i went forth to Audio Basic again with my Grover IC to do a comparison with his Oyaide IC. He has two models available- the PA-02 and Across 750. The latter is more expensive compared to the former. I sprang for the latter to avoid upgradtis-(yeah right :p that time i did not consider the Acrolink IC that Steven also carries)

The mids of the Oyaide have more presence compared to the Grover 'S' IC. That was the first thing that struck me during the audition. Another factor that spurred me to switch over to Oayide was the price. The top-up would be minimal. One thing i have to mention is that the Oyaide RCA plugs are very tight. I have to use another female RCA plus to loosen the Oyaide male plugs before i can confidently plug the Oyaide onto my system.

So there it is, another Oyaide purhase. At this point, you might have guessed it- i got another Across 750 IC to replace the jumpers on my integrated. But would you have known that i am onto the Oyaide speaker cables next? :D

Friday, December 28, 2007

Oyaide Tunami

OK. I left off at the Oyaide Tunami the other time. Right, i was looking for more bass "rumble" then.

Audio Basic in Adelphi has this power cord. It was retailing at SGD399 at that time. The shop owner and salesperson all-rolled-into-one, Steven, was a very nice person-very obliging and relaxed. I brought along my Violet Z1 to do a comparison via his setup. I was looking for more bass quantity- that was my basis in the comparison test.

Steven has many CDs, both audiophile and non-audiophile alike. He is a music-lover himself since his days in the manufacturing line. Alas, i was Noob then (still is lol) so i picked the only disc that we both have in common- Eva Cassidy Live at Blues Alley. Steven also recommended the Acrolink P4030. So we have the Acrolink and the Oyaide against the Z1...drumroll....

All the cords were being auditioned by swapping them on the CDP since the impact will be the most apparent on the source- the amplifier and the speakers all work on signals from this very source. ( This is an obvious but often overlooked point-the source is very important!-but i disgress.)

First we tried the Z1. Steven commented that it is not a cheap cable, probably in the S$400-S$500 range. He was quite right except that it was near to the upper end of the price range including shipping costs (grumble). Next up was the Oyaide. I was immediately impressed. Vocals were more airy and the bass quantity was more than the Z1. As a bonus, it is actually less costly than the Z1- would not be a pain on the wallet if i were to change to this cord.

How about the Acrolink? Alright, this was up next. The mids to high frequency are very detailed and airy. The bass is tight and accurate. The sound staging and depth is staggering. The retail is around S$430, still less than the Z1. By then, i was thinking that the Z1 is really overpriced lol. Considering especially that the sleeving at one of the plug of my Z1 came lose exposing the inner configuration. Naturally, i was curious about its configuration. As far as i can tell and share without being unethical, the Z1 is simply 3 colored PVC cords in a purple coloured "plastic" mould. Of course, the essence in the cord is in the unravelling of the manufacture code of the 3 cords. But this is impossible due to the mould encasing these cables.

Back to the story. After comparing the three power cords, i decided to have the Oyaide Tunami since it has the most bass quantity-something that i felt my system was lacking. I paid up and brought it home.

The Tunami is a stiff 1.8m cable. It is factory terminated with bright red special editioned 046 Oyaide plugs. I immediately took a liking to the plugs after inserting them in my setup. The locking of the plugs is very secure ensuring optimal connection. The Marinco on the Z1 in comparison always seem to be only half-inserted into the IEC of my CDP.

Of course, i let the new Tunami run-in on my amplifier. I listen via this cord as it was running-in. My impression was that there is now more bass quantity but i could use more lol :D

Thus, another Tunami two weeks later :P

BlackSandCables Violet Z1 :D

I used to own the BlackSandCables Violet z1 Power Cords. They were introduced to me by SGH moderator Yotiao- poisonous person! :p

What happened then was that i have gotten a used amp- the Korsun v8i. I noticed that the power cord does make a HUGE difference in the sound for this amplifier. With the Belden 19634, the sound was quite alright- the mids were acceptable with decent amount of details but the bass was far too lacking in terms of impact and depth. Whereas using the Belden 82803, the sound was more powerful but there is this harshness that was disturbing particularly from the vocals upwards to the highs. The bass was OK.

So i searched around for cables that i could use to swap my Beldens. The Violet Z1s were much raved about then and still are. Just search Audiogon, AudioAsylum and Head-fi. In fact, the VIolet Z1 and the Grover 'S' Interconnect are supposed to a synergistic match- this combination is recommended in the BlackSandCables website. (Will share the Grover Interconnect story another time ;) )

To the best of my knowledge, Violet Z1 started off to retail at USD250 for a 1m pair terminated with Marinco US plugs. Over time, the price went up to USD299 for the same configuration. Lately, when BlackSandCables shifted their domain toCanadian, they changed the price to be in CAD denomination- CAD is much stronger than the USD lol!

So after a loan from the kind Yotiao for a home trial, i decided to get 2 pairs- one for my Korsun and another for my CEC. BlackSandCables promised me a price of USD269 for each 2m pair. The shipping was a costly affair- i was billed over USD80 for the shipping of the cables back to Singapore! The cables are at most half a kilogram each! :(

Anyway, they were at my place a week later. They were much better than the Beldens in ALL aspects except the price lol. They sounded a tad bright initially but i attribute this to the cables being new. What i did was to swap around the cables i.e. this week cable 1 will be conneted to the Korsun while cable 2 will be connected to the CEC. Next week, cable 2 to the Korsun and cable 1 to the CEC. I will alternate this every week. I do this because the Korsun consumes a maximum of 1200W while the CEC consumes a paltry 10W max. It is easy to figure out which device will allow a better run-in of the cable. Running-in of cables and the plugs is a controversial business to the uninitiated but the sonic attribute is rather obvious given a revealing enough speaker or headphone.

Once run-in, the the brightness is gone. The sound is 'creamy' but with loads of details. This would have been the end of my foray into power cords. Alas, i was not very happy with the bass of the Violet z1. Not enough bass quantity. The depth is there alright just needed some 'rumble'.

I chanced upon the Oyaide Tunami in the Echoloft...