John McDonald is a crafty guy. After I asked him about the capacitors he manufactures some months ago, he, in turn, inquired if I might want to try some of his power conditioning products. Would I? Of course. But power conditioning isn’t all he manufactures. As followers of Avguide.com know, Absolute Sound editor Robert Harley recently wrote about listening to McDonald’s new ClairAudient loudspeaker, which doesn’t have a passive crossover network.
McDonald is probably best known, however, for the cables that his company manufactures. By high end standards the prices are quite reasonable. His cables are also thin. No network boxes either, which I personally tend to regard as something of a scourge. Do I want additional resistors in the signal path? Nope.
So when McDonald asked me if I’d like to try the latest version of his Au24e speaker cable, I was quite curious to see how it sounded. (It now carries the designation “e,” which I assume is for excellence? McDonald won’t say what the upgrade consists of, but I’ve seen speculation that the wire is cryogenically treated.) I used it for several months with the Wilson Maxx 3 loudspeaker as well as with the Magnepan 20.1. It’s extremely flexible, lightweight, and will fit snugly onto most any terminal.
The sound is fast, airy, and punchy. I liked the way it opens up the soundstage, particularly on classical music, where it allows you to hear row after row of an orchestra. Overall, the soundstage seems to be deeper than it is wide. Tonality is beyond reproach. It captures the bore of an instrument with great fidelity. What about bass? Can a diminutive cable create a big sound? Judging by the impact of the Au24, the answer is emphatically yes.
It’s easy to get caught up in an eternal race for the latest expensive and large cable. The Audience is neither. It proves that size does not always matter. What it delivers is value and performance.
Fans of this blog may recall that I recently extolled the work of Music Technology technician William Thalmann. I neglected to provide his website address:
It turned out as well that my Messenger preamplifier needed one last tweak. Thalmann installed a second soft start to bring the B+ voltage up after the regulator tubes have warmed up. Plus he removed some electrolytic capacitors and replaced them with film capacitors. I’m agog at the improvement—much greater spatial separation and an even smoother, more refined sound. This is just my way of saying that anyone who’s looking to have someone repair/upgrade either solid state or tubed equipment would do well to explore it with Thalmann.