Sugg. Retail: Granite: $48/ft. pair;
CV-4: $24/ft. pair (US)
As Reviewed: 8-foot pair: $576US
8710 Research Drive,
Irvine, CA 92618 USA (949)585-0111 FAX 585-0333
Reprinted from the Fall 2001 Issue
I think that no audio component that does less gets written about more than speaker cables and interconnects. A visit to the AudioQuest web site will confirm this. In the preparation of this review I downloaded 30 pages of cable theory and physical descriptions, with dozens of names and their acronyms. And this is just to describe something that gets an audio signal from one place to another. After reading all this stuff it starts to become like mythology.
I’ll try to boil the relevant bits down into something meaningful in relation to this hybrid speaker cable custom configured for our Energy Veritas v1.8s by AudioQuest founder Bill Low. Both use a copper compound called Perfect Surface Copper (PFC), “drawn and annealed through a novel proprietary integrated process which creates an exceptionally soft copper conductor with an astonishingly smooth and uncontaminated surface.” It is claimed to be purer and a better conductor than Oxygen-Free High-Conductivity (OFHC) copper, and its linear crystal structure having very low resistance.
Both CV-4 and Granite use PFC, while Granite uses them in a configuration called Double Quad-Helix winding using a mix of 16, 18, 19, and 21 gauge PSC, 8 conductors in 2 4- conductor helixes, the larger sizes used for bass in bi-wire setup. According to the literature, “PSC clearly outperforms previous AQ metals that cost over ten times as much”, this presumably meaning silver conductors. However, AudioQuest does still use silver for its most expensive cables.
The AudioQuest cables were terminated in a very interesting type of banana plug that is like a tubular spring and fits binding posts very snugly, making contact all along its length. They are not gold plated, but The CV-4/Granite hybrid cable was connected to the speakers through our Bryston speaker switchbox, which, while it may have its own colorations, allows instantaneous switching from our reference Kimber Select 3035/BiFocal tri-wire cables to the AudioQuest cables (in extensive comparisons with and without the box, I have never heard any degradation caused by this cable switching system, and have heard audible cable differences frequently when comparing cables through it. The box is fed from the 3B ST amplifier with less than a foot of Kimber 8TC).
I’ve been switching back and forth often between the two hybrid tri-wire cable sets, and noting differences with various types of music, and media ranging from 96 kHz DVDs to vinyl. The Kimber Select/BiFocal system is notable for its smoothness and utter transparency, especially its midrange resolution and high frequency clarity, plus its freedom from grain or texture. This allows the textures and nuances of the music, and the quality of a given recording to come through. Of course, we’re talking about cables that sell for a combined $5000US.
At just over 10% of that, the CV-4/Granite cables shouldn’t be as good as they are. I found them a little brighter in the highs, with more texture of their own, and a bit more veiled in the midrange. The AudioQuests were also a little more aggressive sounding, and not quite as pitch specific in the bass. But these differences were very slight, certainly not reflective of a tenfold price differential.
I found that I could listen quite happily to the AudioQuest CV-4/Granite combination for days at a time, switching back and forth with particularly high resolution sources like DVD-As and SACDs. I always came back to the Kimbers, but was impressed over the long term by the AudioQuest cables, in particular at their overall neutrality and musicality. If your system seems a bit dull and undynamic, you might want to try Granite, CV-4 or other mid-priced cables from this company. We’ll have more to say about other AudioQuest cables in future reviews.