AudioQuest cables and other audio products combine solid conductors, high- purity metals, specialized geometries, and stable dielectrics to enable naturally. March AudioQuest Sky Interconnects and Volcano Speaker Cables. by Marc Mickelson. “Sky [is] a reference-level interconnect, one of the very best on the. Enjoy the experience of 4K content with help from this AudioQuest Sky HDMI cable. The 4-foot length lets you connect components without leaving extra.
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Best Product Debut Review Summary Sound Volcano “has a big, robust presentation that’s not particularly light or dark, fast audioquet slow. It sounded just a touch sweet.
Use “It seemed apparent from the outset that AudioQuest’s claim that its DBS kept the cables in a ready-to-use state was the truth. We audiophiles split reproduction not only into different components, but those components often consist of separate chassis that are optimized to perform a few functions exceptionally well.
Speakers, for instance, can comprise more than one cabinet per channel, and CD and LP playback may require more than one chassis each. Preamps come with outboard power supplies, and mono amplifiers handle only one channel of information at a time. While you can put together a fine audio system that has as few as four separate “boxes” CD player, integrated amp, and a pair of speakersyou can also buy digital rigs that have that many chassis by themselves.
Specialization applies to audio cables as readily as audio electronics and speakers. There are interconnects and speaker cables designed for use with specific types of electronics and speakers, those that use in-line networks, and those that connect to outboard chassis that perform all manner of functions. And then there are AudioQuest’s latest interconnects and speaker cables, which use the company’s Dielectric-Bias System DBS and thereby carry the banner of specialization in a very obvious manner.
AudioQuest says great things about its DBS cables, but lofty claims fall especially hard in the world of audio cables, where hyperbole is abundant. Still, I was interested in AudioQuest’s DBS and in discovering if it did indeed represent a credible new approach to specialization in audio cables. AudioQuest is one of the best-known audio companies, having been in business for 25 years. Most audiophiles, therefore, have encountered an AudioQuest product at some point, especially if the company’s extensive line of recordings is taken into account.
During its history, AudioQuest has produced highly praised interconnects and speaker cables that were expensive Diamond and Sterling and inexpensive Turquoise and Type 4 and, from an outside observer’s viewpoint, has never stopped pushing the limits of cable performance, even as its products have seemingly sold at a brisk pace. Yes, the cynical among us would say that cable companies like AudioQuest change their product lines simply to spur sales, but these cynics are often blinded by their own dogma and won’t admit that they may not have all of the facts.
An improved version of Type 4 speaker cable, for instance, is still in AudioQuest’s product lineup nearly 15 years after it was first introduced.
I corresponded with AudioQuest’s Joe Harley two years ago about reviewing some of his company’s cables, and he told me then that AudioQuest had some special new interconnects and speaker cables in development that would soon be available.
Sky is AudioQuest’s top-of-the-line interconnect, while Volcano is a step down from Everest in terms of speaker-cable offerings. Both are handsomely made and incorporate many of AudioQuest’s signature design elements. For Sky, these include Perfect-Surface Silver PSS solid conductors, which are said to minimize “distortion caused by grain boundaries that exist within any metal conductor,” and Teflon Air-Tube insulation, which has “almost nothing but air around the PSS conductors.
Sky’s conductors are welded at amps to the interconnect’s RCA or XLR connectors, both of which are a deep blue and have the cable’s name printed on their outer casings. The RCAs are especially noteworthy because they look to be proprietary and are direct silver plated. AudioQuest includes a silver-cleaning cloth with each pair of Sky interconnects to aid in the removal of tarnish. I especially like the RCAs, which are not locking types but still fit snugly around the jack, and the flexibility of the cable itself.
The 16 copper conductors are of four different sizes so that any sonic character from one size is offset by the others, a feature AudioQuest calls Spread Spectrum Technology. The eight positive and eight negative conductors spiral counter to each other, the band of negative conductors on the outside of the positive conductors, so that the conductors cross each other instead of run parallel for the length of the cable.
This is a strategy that other cables companies embrace, but it is applied in different ways. AudioQuest calls its application Counter-Spiraling Earth-Feature Geometry, and it makes for a speaker cable that’s thick and somewhat stiff. AudioQuest argues that the phenomenon of cable break-in is actually a matter of the dielectric adapting to a charged state, and whenever the cable is not being used, it returns to its uncharged state.
The DBS consists of an insulated anode and uninsulated cathode inside each cable run that are connected to a pair of 36V battery packs affixed to the cable’s downstream end.
The battery packs keep the cable’s dielectric constantly charged with 72V DC and thereby ensure that the dielectric never drains its energy as distortion, providing “considerably better transparency and dynamics than are possible even zky a cable in continuous use. A small button and LED on each allows testing of the batteries, which AudioQuest claims will last for years, presumably because they are connected to nothing — no component other than the test LED — that presents a load.
I immediately wondered if some particular amount of DC voltage was optimal, or if more voltage audiqouest mo’ better. Think of it a bit like when you have iron filings and a magnet. When the magnetic field is more powerful, more iron filings are aligned. It’s the same with DBS, up to a point. AudioQuest has found that 50 volts is the threshold above which the benefits of additional voltage are “pretty subtle,” according to Harley.
All in all, Sky and Volcano appear to be thoughtfully designed cables, a far auduoquest from generic wire pulled off a spool and terminated with crimped connectors. What I see from AudioQuest is not an attempt to blind with science, as all of Sky’s and Volcano’s design features seem to make sense and are carefully implemented, not simply for show.
How well the cables aucioquest the task of passing the musical signal is the trick, however. I used AudioQuest Sky and Volcano with a distinguished lineup of reference-level components: Normally dky I review interconnects and speaker cables, I use the two together as a system exclusively.
I do this because you write us most often about full sets of cables, not just interconnects or speaker cables. Also, the cables I receive are almost always from the same grouping in a company’s product line and often use the same materials. However, these things don’t apply to Sky and Volcano.
Sky is AudioQuest’s top interconnect and uses silver conductors, while Volcano has skt similar geometry to the top speaker cable but uses copper conductors.
Given this, I thought it prudent to use both separately and then together, so I could report on any differences I hear in their presentations and then how well they work together. I began my listening with Volcano and a full set of Cardas Golden Reference interconnects, which I audioquwst been using and enjoying for some time.
Used audioquest sky for Sale |
Audiouest seemed apparent from the outset that AudioQuest’s claim that its DBS kept the cables in a ready-to-use state was the truth. Volcano sounded very good from the beginning, and I can’t say that its sound changed over time.
It has a big, dky presentation that’s not particularly light or dark, fast or slow. It sounded just a touch sweet when compared to the bulk of speaker cables I’ve heard, some of which sound more whitish and others more coppery. Volcano resides between these two hues — a very light gold, let’s say. Its bass was very good, though not quite up to the sheer power and slam of that of audoquest networked speaker cables I’ve used.
Its midrange was finely textured zky full, with strong image outlines. There was a certain corporeal nature to its presentation that gave vocals adioquest instruments a solidity that I valued.
Other listeners may prefer a leaner presentation, which may impart a greater sense of perceived not actual transparency. In summary, I couldn’t fault Volcano, but I didn’t find any one thing about its sound that I thought stood out, which begs the speculation soy it seemed to do everything well. No matter — it’s a very good speaker cable, one I would be happy to use long-term.
Once acclimated to Volcano, I swapped it out for Cardas Golden Reference speaker cables and put in the AudioQuest Sky interconnects in order to isolate their sound and you think audio reviewing is all fun? After that I reinserted Volcano and went completely AudioQuest. In both cases, I can’t say that the sound was initially “very good,” as with Volcano alone.
Instead, it was astounding. There was extreme air and extreme smoothness coupled with a more absolute sense of background silence — a combination that made it easier to hear deeply into recordings and never feel as though some ugly byproduct was lurking around the corner.
It was ssky though there were more sonic pixels and they were nudged closer together, presenting a soundscape that was sharp, rich and vibrant all at the same time.
It’s hard to convey in words the effect of this confluence of air, smoothness and blackness, but it was very easy to hear. Baker’s trumpet didn’t blat and sounded a bit wooly, but these characteristics were part of its sound, and the AudioQuest cables, especially Sky, let it through unhindered. It was difficult to sit still and not throw on CD after CD whose inherent expansiveness would be enhanced. Terry Evans’ Blues for Thought [Pointblank 8 2] and John Hammond’s Wicked Grin [Pointblank 8 2] are on the same label and sound very spacious, with Wicked Grin possessing the bigger bottom end.
Sky and Volcano did justice to all kinds of recordings. Here, again, the space between the two musicians became an important element in the recording’s charm, but the texture of both instruments stole the show.
Volcano and especially Sky are detailed cables, but not apparently so. Detail is never thrust at you — there is no forwardness or aggression — but every musical gesture, no matter how small, is present and accounted for. Does the dielectric’s charge drain as soon as the battery packs are disconnected? I mentioned this to a rival cable manufacturer, who promptly said that it makes complete sense because the cables’ dielectric would hold a charge “maybe for days,” so unplugging the DBS battery packs would do wudioquest or nothing in the short audloquest.
What I found was that after listening for weeks with DBS, listening without it led to a less spacious, more blunt presentation, which made the music sound smaller. The magnitude of the difference is similar to that of swapping out an entire set of cables, which is to say that the sound is utterly changed. After getting used to this, reconnecting the DBS on all of the cables brings back the sense of endless space and vibrancy.
But even this does audkoquest happen immediately; as I found out, you’ll need to give the DBS system a couple of days at the very least, presumably to recharge the dielectric completely.
As far as I’m concerned, those listeners who qudioquest they can’t hear the effect of the DBS aren’t letting it charge or drain, aren’t listening closely enough, or are letting their biases cloud their judgment. Audioqueest the other hand, I could argue that Sky and Volcano are more neutral because they let more of the space, smoothness and silence of each recording pass. Comparing the sound of these two cable sets is an exercise in unearthing and explaining subtlety, as sonic differences were never huge.
Golden Reference sounded rather like the Volcano speaker cables alone — very good at everything with nothing calling attention to itself. However, in combination with Sky, Volcano took on a slightly lighter, more energetic character that I preferred to Golden Reference. The soundstage of the Ksy cables seemed a bit wider and deeper than that of the Cardas cables, but nothing was compressed skh Golden Reference, so this may have been due to LMV listener mood variation more than anything real.
Elements Series · Analog Interconnects · Cables · AudioQuest
Break-in is vital with the Cardas cables — they sound pretty awful without at least 50 hours of time on them — and a non-issue with Sky and Volcano. If I could choose either and not have to pay for them! But both cable sets are the sort of products I wish I didn’t have to review so I could maximize my time simply listening to music with them. I feel confident in proclaiming AudioQuest Sky a reference-level interconnect, one of the very best on the market, and a sure Reviewers’ Choice.
I’m not similarly in awe of Volcano speaker cables on their own, but I can certainly recommend them, especially with Sky interconnects, in which case the end product is definitely greater than the mere sum of its parts.
The smoothness, air and quietude these cables bring to music are very convincing and, moreover, seductive. Hearing a favorite recording sound more spacious and liquid is a treat that Sky and Volcano deliver every time. I’m no engineer, so I can’t comment with any sort of credentials about AudioQuest’s Dielectric-Bias System, but I can say that it sounds like it works.
If you endeavor to experiment, just be sure you give the dielectric ample time to drain and charge, which means that quick swapping will prove nothing.
AudioQuest Sky and Volcano are a sonic accomplishment, and even at their prices represent good value given their competition.
If they are the standard-bearers of some new kind of specialization in high-end audio, I say bring it on!
Marc Mickelson marc soundstage. Sound Volcano “has a big, robust presentation that’s not particularly light or dark, fast or slow.