How do you improve on perfection? There is no Darwinian natural selection at work for manufactured products that enable them to evolve over time, making them better suited to the environment. If you are an expert marksman, hitting the bulls-eye each and every time, can you become an even better shot? If your name is Bond, James Bond... Well, you get the idea. These are the questions I had in mind when I installed the “enhanced” Audience Au24 “e” loudspeaker cable after enjoying the exceptional performance of the Audience Au24 cable, <a "_blank" href="audience_au24.htm">reviewed here on 10 Audio.
The standard Au24 is still present in the Audience cable product line. There is a small premium for the “e” cables. From the Audience Web site:
“As of November, ’07 Audience has developed proprietary technology to improve the conductivity of Audience Au24 cables and powerChords that results in a more refined product. The basic musical character of the cables is unchanged; however they are enhanced. This technology results in the seeming removal of a veil resulting in the improvement of a world class product. In addition to the standard Au24 and powerChord cables, this new technology is available as an “e” enhanced version.”
The first thing I noticed with the “e” speaker cable is that flexibility is noticeably improved making installation quite a bit easier. The size is very similar with both versions: about half the diameter of a pencil. The second thing I noticed was the sound, and the improvements over the “old” cable are indeed evolutionary. These improvements are very easy to hear but a bit challenging to describe. I’ll try.
We usually associate an increase in detail or resolution with some unwanted side effect, such as dryness, thinness, brightness, or some other negative “-ness” that is a definite compromise. Get more of “this”, but less of “that”. With the new “e” cable, there is more of the “this”, but no less of the “that”. There is an increase of smoothness, detail and resolution all across the frequency range without any sense, even a subtle one, that any compromise has been made. This is not to say that the original Au24 is grainy in any sense. But the new cable is obviously smoother and a bit sweeter sounding, while, at the same time, offering an obvious increase in low level resolution and an improvement in the natural harmonic structure of every note, voice, and sound. You have heard the expression, “no free lunch”, but in this case, there is no loss of any of the positive qualities that make the original Au24 a truly excellent cable.
Voices, whether from a male singing bass to a female soprano, have greater depth and presence in the room. They sound more human. Their apparent physical presence in the virtual sound stage between the speakers is more solid, less translucent. This is a direct effect of the increase in low level resolution. The natural harmonic structure of every sound is improved. I would not say that there is less noise, sometimes called a “blacker background”, but the new cable is definitely better at resolving micro-detail than its predecessor. This is not confined to a certain range of frequencies, however. From the lowest bass – which is a bit more powerful and dynamic than the non-“e” cable – to the highest frequencies, the increase in harmonic depth is readily apparent. But let’s be very clear on this point: the new cable does not accomplish this feat with any audible penalty. It is simply a better sounding cable.
In my review of balanced interconnect cables, both Au24 and Au24 “e” speaker cables were present. I made the following comment, which was made possible with the new Au24 "e":
“…you hear an orchestral cymbal just one time, with its immediate leading edge explosion of sound followed by a crystalline waterfall of winking stars dissolving into the background silence…”. Both versions of Au24 get that “leading edge explosion” right, but the new “e” cable is noticeably better at letting one hear that beautiful “crystalline waterfall of winking stars dissolving into the background silence”. It is really an awesome experience.
In my review of the Au24, I sort of copped out while describing the cables:
“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.” Audience Au24 “e” is not, quantitatively, a large change from Au24. But make no mistake, for a small increase in cost, the higher level of musical enjoyment is substantial. Natural selection or not, let me tell you that improvements on perfection are indeed possible. Thank you, Audience, for a new reference loudspeaker cable.
Overall Rating: 10+ LPs
This is the first "10+" rating ever awarded on 10 Audio.
Link to manufacturer's Web site: Audience A/V