You are reading the older HTML site

Positive Feedback ISSUE 30
march/april 2007


We sent out the same 20 questions to 50 manufacturers, the following are their responses. The intent of the survey is to address basic questions as to design along with any questions raging on various sites, while minimizing potential chest-thumping and friendly, or unfriendly, bashing of others....

Click here to read the other interviews in the series.


John McDonald of Audience
by PFO

We sent out the same 20 questions to 50 manufacturers, the following are their responses. The intent of the survey is to address basic questions as to design and any burning questions raging on various sites, while minimizing potential chest-thumping and friendly, or unfriendly, bashing of others....

PFO Why do cables make a difference? Interconnects, speaker, and AC cords?

John McDonald Audio and video signals delivered through various wires are influenced by the character of the cable delivery system. Power cords having an influence on sound and video is the hardest for many people to understand. However, many differing electrical properties of power cable also greatly affect the performance of the system(s) being powered. At Audience, this is proven out by using the most sophisticated test equipment in the world, the human ear.

PFO what about metals ...copper versus silver versus gold versus what? What about blends?

JMcD Each metal imparts a unique character. The use of silver, for example, is very popular. We found silver to be very pleasing. However, over a long period of listening, we discovered that silver was beautifying everything. At Audience ultimate neutrality is the goal. Our conclusions are that high grade copper in the proper configuration ultimately provides the most natural delivery of audio and video signals.

PFO What about dieletrics... Teflon versus what?

JMcD Dieletrics are an integral part of all signal delivery systems. Like most seasoned audio/video aficionados, we have found that everything matters. Audience focuses on low eddy current resistance. We don't hear much about eddy current resistance. However, our belief is that it is a big deal. Eddy currents are a powerful force and are used in braking systems to stop trains as well as engine dynamometers. Eddy-currents are created by the magnetic field generated around a conductor when an electrical signal is present. This magnetic field builds up and collapses following the signal. When the field collapses it induces an opposing voltage back into the cable. This opposing voltage causes eddy-currents in the conductor. This late arriving, opposing voltage disrupts the original signal by inducing a time-smearing artifact. These effects are clearly audible. Most often cables that sound "detailed" or "powerful in the bass" are usually victims of high eddy-currents. Therefore designing cables for minimal eddy currents results in the most coherent delivery of the signal.

PFO What about no dielectric?

JMcD Totally impractical.

PFO What about measurements ...what do they tell us? What do they not tell us?

JMcD Measurements are important. However many people too often get lost in measurements. The most sophisticated test equipment, the human body, reveals that many sonic characteristics are present, or missing, that simply cannot be measured with less capable conventional test equipment. Life is full of mystery that cannot be "measured" or even understood. That does not make such phenomena unreal.

PFO What about connectors... how important?

JMcD Connectors are very important. We were truly amazed at the sonically detrimental effects caused by most bulky high-end connectors. Exclusive Audience RCA connectors are used on all Audience cables requiring RCA termination. These simple, high quality connectors are far less colored than bulkier, fancier connectors. They are an advanced, minimalist design and have excellent grip and low contact resistance. See answers to questions 2 & 3.

PFO Why this geometry... ribbon, twisted, braided, spiraled...?

JMcD Geometry is an important aspect of the design of any cable as it plays a major role in the characteristic of sonic qualities.

PFO What about cryoing? What is going on with this?

JMcD At 300 degrees below zero, molecules tend to realign in a more coherent fashion resulting in a more coherent signal delivery system. Cryogenic treatment of many electric components has been found to result in an improvement of audio and video signal.

PFO Why shielding? Why not shielding?

JMcD Shielding can provide a significant barrier to electrostatic fields; i.e., noise. Shielding can interfere with sonic performance; as such it is not always a benefit.

PFO What about run-in? Why is/isnít it important?

JMcD Run in, or burn in, is one of the most controversial subjects. Some things cannot yet be fully explained or understood. However, our hearing devices confirm that electrical components do break in after an initial period of use.

PFO What about lengths? Why are/arenít they important?

JMcD We do not consider audio cable lengths to be of any significant importance under 30 feet. Power cords, on the other hand, can have meaningful losses if they have high DC resistance. The Audience powerChord has exceptionally low DC resistance; therefore works well even in long lengths

PFO What is directionality?

JMcD Directionality is an open question. We have found that cables tend to work better if always used in the same direction.

PFO How did you get into this?

JMcD Love of music and appreciation of good playback systems.

PFO What is your fundamental design philosophy/goal?

JMcD At Audience we strictly adhere to ultimate neutrality as a primary goal. We are not in the business of voicing, if you will. One tone control begets another tone control that begets another tone control each imparting another layer of something that was not a part of the original signal.

PFO Why these?

JMcD We believe that this is the path to ultimate truth in musical performance.

PFO How do you approach accomplishing those philosophies/goals?

JMcD Audience focuses on paying attention to every detail and doing everything the best that we can the first time around. An example of this is the design that went into the Adept Response power conditioner. Instead of going with commonly used thermal breakers that heat up and work against demand when needed the most, we use a very expensive magnetic breaker that has very low resistance at all times. Instead of using MOVs (metal oxide varistors) that sound bad and wear out, we went with a surge protection system free of these inherent problems. Overall low DC resistance is also an important part of the Adept Response design. We believe that we are on the right track reflected by the fact that other companies are changing towards the aforementioned.

PFO How successful do you feel you have been at achieving the goals that you have set for yourself?

JMcD We feel successful at achieving these goals. This is the acid test that must be passed with each and every product that is offered by Audience.

PFO How do you plan to push beyond what you have already accomplished?

JMcD We are always actively seeking further improvements in our existing products and we are constantly looking for better answers to the many problems commonly found in sound reproduction..

PFO Where is this all heading?

JMcD This is all about removing the veils of separation between our ears and the beauty of true musicality. It's about experiencing the fascination!

PFO Others that you admire?

JMcD The artists who have created all the wonderful music that we get to enjoy through our terrific music systems.

Click here to read the other interviews in the series.