Audience Au24 Loudspeaker Cables

Audience Au24 Loudspeaker Cables

Let me save some typing and share the description from the Audience Web site. I have omitted some of the text that sounded like marketing hyperbole or was superfluous, but have included editorial content that agrees with my observations.

"The Au24 cables are constructed of OHNO continuous cast single crystal copper conductors with polypropylene insulation and cross-linked polyethylene jacket material. All Audience cables ... are designed for low eddy-current resistance. This is the key electrical characteristic for good time response. Eddy-currents are created by the magnetic field found around a cable when an electrical signal is present. This magnetic field builds up and collapses as the signal varies. When the field collapses it induces an opposing voltage back into the cable. This opposing voltage causes eddy-currents in the conductor. If they could be seen, eddy-currents would look like swirling water in a river. This late arriving, opposing voltage disrupts the original signal by inducing a time-smearing artifact. These effects are clearly audible. Cables that sound (especially) "detailed" or "powerful in the bass" are usually victims of high eddy-currents.

Audience AU24 Speaker Cables"Many cables are designed for the lowest possible capacitance (and/or) the lowest possible inductance. Actually, for properly balanced sound reproduction ... the ratio of inductance to capacitance (L:C) must be optimized. ... The Au24 cables may not sound as exciting at first but the virtues become apparent as the listener becomes familiar with them. Perhaps even more importantly, the musical overtones arrive in their proper time relationship with the fundamentals. This creates a more convincing illusion of reality and improves sound staging. For example, when properly recorded, a drummer’s cymbals will now be placed back with the rest of the drum kit instead of appearing to emanate from the speakers. (In many systems I hear, cymbals seem to be detached from the location of the drums and appear more forward and closer to the speakers. - Ed)

"There is a common misconception that loudspeaker cable must be large in diameter and have a low DC resistance in order to provide good bass response. DC resistance is relatively unimportant. What really matters is the characteristic impedance (AC resistance) of the cable. Music is an AC signal after all. Most of these large diameter/low DC resistance cables have excessively high characteristic impedance anywhere from 100 to 600 ohms with some measuring in the 1000’s of ohms. The Au24 Loudspeaker Cable is only 4mm or 1/8" in diameter. Although the DC resistance may be slightly higher than the garden hose variety speaker cables the characteristic impedance is only 16 ohms. Musical signals from the bass to the overtones pass through this cable with less actual impedance than a cable with a lower DC resistance. The Au24 Loudspeaker Cable provides nearly perfect bass timbre and extension. Plus, the low eddy-current resistance means the cable is very quick and linear in the time domain.

"In developing the Au24 line we discovered how important simplicity is when highest possible performance is the design goal. Fancier connectors and layers of cosmetic sleeve would have made the cable look more expensive. However every time we made it look better it sounded worse. We were truly amazed at the sonically detrimental effects caused by bulky high-end connectors. Audience loudspeaker cables are terminated with rhodium plated spade connectors."

These cables are tiny. They are about one-half the diameter of a pencil, and fairly stiff. A standard length of 2.5m, single wire, lists for $1,204, and a bi-wire configuration will set you back $1,787. I immediately questioned these seemingly too-high prices given the small size and simple appearance. The Au24 cables receive some break-in at the factory, and break-in seemed complete after about 50 hours of use. After just a few hours to let the cables settle in, my attitude changed completely and I began to consider the price a bargain for the very high level of performance the Audience cables provide.

We could discuss tonal balance, soundstage, and dynamic ability. You know, the standard review criteria. Here you are: totally neutral, as wide & deep as any cable, and explosive, respectively. This is just a good place to start appreciating what Au24 brings to the party. Where the cables set a higher benchmark is the way they immediately and obviously bring a new level of focus to the music.

With most "water hose" cables, you are on a faster-than-light starship a fraction of a second before the ship drops out of warp. Stars are slightly elongated. Your ship stops. Stars are now pinpoints of light. This is Au24. Even though everything is in sharper focus, harmonics are seemingly increased due to less smear. The bass range is tighter and the strings of acoustic bass instruments can be heard to vibrate with greater clarity and definition. Voices are clearer and better defined, both in tone and in space. The upper frequencies, including soprano voices, bells, and cymbals, have such clarity and realism that other speaker cables can sound relatively distorted. You can actually hear the metal of a triangle vibrate and not just the ringing sound that this simple instrument produces. I am not talking about a reduction of grain, because other good cables are equally free of grain and harshness.

A result of this cable's remarkably clean transient presentation is that complex music, including large arrays of instruments or voices, sounds less complex. Single instruments in a section are more differentiated from those nearby, and it is easier to hear individual voices in a choir. Background singers become easier to hear as separate voices and not as just background sounds. Drums have greater head sound in addition to their resounding impact, and stringed instruments are much more clearly composed of individual strings instead of a congealed group of notes.

I could say this ten different ways and possibly still not effectively communicate this cable's large improvement over any other speaker cable I have heard. I suppose that my task is simply to inform you of a product that is worthy of your consideration, and one that would probably demonstrate similar characteristics when installed in a wide variety of systems. I really wish that these cables cost less, because then more audiophiles could appreciate and enjoy the important benefits that they would bring to your audio enjoyment. If you have the opportunity for an audition, please check them out.

Overall Rating: 10 LPs

Link to manufacturer's Web site: Audience A/V

Manufacturer's Response:
The review is great. You certainly “get” the Audience Au24 loudspeaker cable. Thank you for the editorial.

Regarding a lower price cable for more audiophiles to participate in, you really should try the Audience Maestro or Conductor cables. That is precisely what they offer. They are just like the Au24 in all musical aspects; at a fraction of the cost. The difference in Au24, Maestro and Conductor cables is in degree of resolution. They are all similarly balanced and musical. I can easily live with any of these cables.

Thanks again for the great review.

Very Best,
John McDonald
President