Product Review - Audiodyne Wavelength Bi-Wire Speaker Cable - April, 1999
Audiodyne Wavelength Bi-Wire Speaker Cable
Audiodyne, P.O. Box 34210, Las Vegas, Nevada 89133-4210; Phone 702-242-5629; Fax 702-639-8620; E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org; Web http://www.audiodyne.com.
Audiodyne Wavelength Bi-Wire Speaker Cable
This review is my second covering the Audiodyne line of cables. There is another Audiodyne cable, the PowerTap power cord, awaiting its moment in the sun, but that will have to wait until a forthcoming comparison review covering a few excellent power cords that I have in-house. For now, I'd like to focus your attention on the Wavelength Bi-Wire speaker cable -- it deserves it.
I often kid my wife about her seeming need of "change for change sake". The crux of my teasing is that she would prefer to rearrange our apartment on a bi-monthly basis, while I'm content to leave things "as is" for years (especially my listening room). Somewhere between those polar opposites we find compromise.
So what does this have to do with my review of the Audiodyne cables? I'll get to that soon, but first I should mention an important personal preference relating to audio:
Truth be told, once it's dialed in and sounding good, I'd rather leave my system (just like the furniture arrangement in our apartment) "as is" for long periods of time, preferring instead to focus on discovering more and more interesting music. I would rather maintain status quo with the hardware, cables and accessories rather than risk breaking the "groove" that my system was in by switching in an unfamiliar component, wire or tweak.
In other words, I need a real good reason to make a permanent change to my reference setup.
I know what you're thinking, that this preference is pure heresy coming from a reviewer. To a point, I agree. Honestly, though, I much prefer to discover and enjoy new music than change and tweak my system. I find that tweaking can drive you nuts, while great music can bring you to new levels of delight. Choosing between the two really isn't so difficult. If you disagree strongly, you may want to find a new hobby because audiophile burnout may be right around the corner.
With all that said, however, I always maintain an open mind about possible new additions to my system. As a part-time audio reviewer, I must. Opportunities to hear new gear in my system are about boundless, certainly more than I have time for. When something comes along that literally forces me to make a change to my reference system, I will gladly oblige.
All this lead-in brings me finally to my main point. Dear readers, I've got a new reference speaker cable, and I'm not simply succumbing to "change for change sake". This change in my reference system is being made because the Audiodyne Wavelength Bi-Wire speaker cable is simply that good.
Wavelength Construction and Specs
The Audiodyne Wavelength, the set in my possession being the Bi-Wire version, consists of two separate runs of cable for each speaker. Each cable is optimized for its specified use as either the high frequency or low frequency conduit.
The cables are true bi-wire and not physically connected at all. Each cable has its own excellent quality spade lugs at each end (banana plug adapters are available) which accommodate a variety of binding posts. The cable for the high-frequency run uses pure silver conductors while the low-frequency cable is of a heavier gauge and utilizes 99.9999% pure OFC copper with a silver coating.
As with Audiodyne's Multipath interconnects, the use of silver as the conductor of choice for high frequencies is a good one. My consistent preference is for cables using silver wire. The harshness that some attribute to silver just isn't present in my system. I'm not at all closed-minded about other metals as suitable signal passers, but silver usually gets pole position in my personal "Conductor Indy 500" cable race.
Low capacitance and inductance are traits of the Wavelength. The conductors in each cable are multi-layered and suspended in Audiodyne's ingenious twin-tube, air-core carrier that is said to eliminate dielectric distortion of complex music signals. I'm not familiar enough with the advantages/disadvantages of various dielectrics to go into a discourse on the topic, but I do know that when possible, the best dielectric is none at all. Seeing as how Audiodyne has found a way to run the conductors through an air core carrier, they are on the right track in my book.
The instruction manual, albeit a brief one (a single page), makes it clear which end of the cable connects to the speakers and which to the amp. This implies directionality, which as I found with the Audiodyne Multipath reviewed earlier, was right on. I'm always happy when cable manufacturers take the time to discern and note directionality on their products. About 95% of the time I find them right on, but it's always a good idea to try the cables both directions just to be sure. You will hear a difference.
I found that because of the physically separate low and high frequency cables, connecting the Wavelength to the amp was a little more effort that I prefer. Than again, keep in mind that many things are more effort than I prefer. The trouble was that my amp does not have separate terminals for bi-wiring so two spade lugs must be connected to a single binding post for both the positive and negative runs of each speaker. Typically, there is only one spade lug connected to each binding post on my amp, and for good reason -- connecting two spades to the same binding post is darn awkward.
The Wavelength is a good looking cable, very well constructed and is flexible enough to route it where you want. Because of this flexibility you control the cable, it does not control you.
Audiodyne makes great products and the Wavelength may be the most excellent of the three I've thus far auditioned -- the Multipath interconnect, Wavelength speaker cable and the Power Tap power cord. It's the one that has had the biggest sonic impact as I've moved each in and out of my system over the past eight months or so.
As other reviewers have opined, speaker cables have a real tough job. Try as you may, all your efforts to get the pristine music signal safely to your speaker drivers can be wasted if the last piece of cable in the chain mucks things up. The Audiodyne Wavelength doesn't muck things up at all. In fact, after about 50 hours of break-in, the Wavelength were allowing audibly more music to reach my eager ears than the DH Labs Silver Sonic T-14 bi-wire which they replaced (more on that later), especially in the upper registers. Immediately, there was a sparkle, shimmer and definition present in the upper registers that was previously masked.
The upper frequencies didn't get brighter or more strident with the Audiodyne, but it was easy to hear that I was getting a lot more information. The newly recognizable high frequency info was manifested as additional body and harmonic naturalness on sounds like well-recorded cymbals, triangles and the highest plucked notes on acoustic guitar. The human ear is sensitive in those ranges, and the improvement was easy to hear in my system.
The only slight weakness I heard when I reviewed the Audiodyne Multipath interconnects was in the depth, and to a lesser degree the width, of the soundstage. I'm happy to report that the Wavelength speaker cables excel in this area. Dimensionality is excellent and the acoustic stage is as wide and deep as my room setup will realistically allow.
Dynamics, both macro and micro, were also improved by one big step with the Wavelength. The thump of a bass pedal on a bass drum, the crack of a drumstick on a lower tom, or the strike of a hard-strummed chord on an electric guitar all took on a new sense of power and life. More subtle micro dynamic contrasts like the plucking of individual acoustic guitar strings were more defined and articulate than what I'd heard prior to the introduction of the Wavelength.
Farewell to the Faithful Departed
The Audiodyne Wavelength Bi-Wire replaced my reference speaker cable of three years -- the DH Labs Silver Sonic T-14 bi-wire. At the time of their purchase, this budget-minded cable was so much better than some similar priced (and higher priced) cables that the choice to invest in a set for the long-term was easy. It is truly a great performer and a solid bargain. I still recommend the DH Labs to anyone seeking that first step into a speaker cable that clearly outperforms anything in the mass-market realm. In fact, while I've refined my system quite a lot over the three years I've owned it, I hadn't felt the need to replace the DH Labs speaker cables -- that is, until I spent some time with the Audiodyne Wavelength.
Switching back and forth between the Wavelength and DH Labs made my decision to go with the Wavelength as a new reference that much simpler. Long term auditioning confirmed that my ears weren't playing tricks on me. Listening alternatively to the Wavelength and DH Labs, using lots and lots of familiar music, I noted a recording-to-recording consistency in the sonic improvements rendered by the Wavelength -- dynamics, detail and dimensionality were always a step ahead.
If I'd recently had other speaker cables in my system that did this-or-that better (or worse), I would tell you how they compare to the Audiodyne. However, since I've had the DH Labs in my system for three years straight, there's nothing more I can say in terms of direct comparisons.
To this point I haven't even mentioned the cost of the Wavelength Bi-Wire. That's a strange omission (but one I planned carefully) because along with all its positive sonic attributes, affordability may be the Wavelength's strongest attribute. Are you ready for a surprise? Current cost for an 8-ft. pair of the newest Reference Bi-Wire pair is $280 -- a steal! See the Manufacturer's Response following this review for an explanation of the changes incorporated into the design of the current Wavelength Reference Bi-Wire cable -- it should be even better than the cable that I'm reviewing here.
At their price, the Wavelength is within reach of just about all audiophiles that operate on a real-world budget, which I'd venture to guess is 98% of us. There are, most likely, speaker cables that are better in certain respects than these, but the potential improvements may be marginal and audiophiles should always be cognizant of reaching the ominous point of diminishing returns.
Your system can be highly revealing and refined, but the inexpensive Audiodyne Wavelength will likely not limit its ultimate performance one iota. In my system, which usually puts a revealing single-ended tube power amp to good use, the Wavelength performed just beautifully. So much so that they are permanently parked between my amp and speakers. There they shall remain until something better comes along, if that happens at all. Frankly, I think the price-to-performance ratio of the Wavelength will be tough to beat, but challengers will no doubt emerge as technology and design forge ahead.
My advice is that if you are in the market for speaker cables, even if you have budgeted much more than the retail price of the Wavelength, you will want to give them a try. There is a no-risk, 30-day money back audition period with all Audiodyne products. I, however, am betting that Audiodyne doesn't get the Wavelength back from you once you hear them in your system.
We wanted to let you and your readers know that there have been some changes to the original Wavelength Bi-wire. The cables now use a higher grade of silver wire (hence the name Reference), universal spades that will fit 6-9mm posts, and black and white polarity sheaths. Additionally, the price has been lowered.
The Wavelength was designed as separate cable sets where a joined cable is not feasible (separate amps and widely spaced speaker modules). For the audiophile who wants a bi-wired, bi-amp wired, or single wire, we recommend our Benchmark speaker cables. The concept is similar to the Wavelength except the LF and HF cables are housed in a single, quad-core jacket. The
cores are then filled with a gel as damping agent. This design also unifies the magnetic fields of all the conductors for improved phase characteristics. It is really an upgrade to the Wavelength yet it is reasonably priced.
Since your review of the Multipath interconnects, we have released an improved Multipath Reference which is to replace the standard Multipath. Also it will soon be equipped with WBT style connectors. As you know, we favor those BNC types, but we have received hundreds of requests for a locking RCA. This required custom made connectors to fit our air/liquid-core cables (an expensive investment) and we hope our customers will appreciate this.
Thanks for your exhausting efforts and support.
© Copyright 1999 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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