ABX testing with AQ Dragon power cords

I was talking to my dealer about how good the system sounds that he sold me. I mentioned that I had tried some new speaker/interconnect cables from a local amp/cable manufacturer & both I and the company boss agreed that there was little discernible sound difference between his cables & mine. He couldn’t understand why. He also told me that my room acoustics were amazing, top notch. He’d like me to bring my cables (& his) to his listening room & we’ll compare there. That’s for next week.

My dealer said that in his 40 years this has never happened & he was ready to rise to the challenge. He said he would send me a couple of AQ Hurricane power cords to try on my amp/pre and I’d be amazed. I said why bother, send some Dragons. He told me to connect them to my amp & preamp & I should be amazed within 10 seconds of comparing. Today I received a Dragon HC & Source power cord. I listened to some music I’m very familiar with through my Lumin T3 playing FLAC files from the attached USB. Then I swapped the amp & pre to the Dragons and listened to the same songs. No difference that I could tell. So I redid the test, one song at a time, switching back & forth. Still no difference.

I invited two neighbors over (separately) and asked them to look at my FLAC library & choose a song that they knew well. I played that for them with both sets of power cords. One said he couldn’t hear any difference between the two. The other said that one (mine) sounded like it had slightly more treble, the other (Dragon) sounded like more bass. I played a third version (turned out it was mine but he didn’t know) and he said that was the bass version. He was wrong & admitted that the differences were so small that he really couldn’t choose between the two.

I called my dealer & he asked if the difference was earth shattering. I told him no & he asked how that was possible when he just sent similar cables to another customer last week with a similarly priced system as mine & that guy said that the SQ improved 50% and was ecstatic. I said that that guy must have decided already that he was going to buy them and determined that for that money they must improve the sound. My dealer said that either my ears are those a near dead 95 year old or his last 40 years experience have been a sham. I suggested that he was selling & demoing a product to people that had a propensity to believe it worked & therefore it worked for them. I offered to have him drive here (4 hour drive) and listen for himself & I’ll swap cables while his mind is blown. We may get there yet.

I hesitate to post a photo of my listening room as experience tells me that those that are strong proponents of cables will pick it apart and blame a myriad of other crap  rather than recognizing that the 3 of us heard no difference on a high resolving system situated in a room would good acoustics... but here goes.


McIntosh MC462/C2700, Pure Fidelity Harmony TT, Gold Note PH-10/PSU-10 phono stage, Lumin T3/Sbooster, Sonus Faber Amati G5 speakers, Sonus Faber Gravis V sub.


Well, I went to the OP’s place yesterday and listened to his system. Thank you Dave for allowing me to do this and also making me an espresso from your own home-roasted beans. Turns out we both have similar hobbies- a love for audio and coffee. This shows the OP’s passion and dedication, I have my own high end espresso machine and commercial grinder, but I don’t go to the extent of roasting my own beans. His taste in beans is different than mine, he prefers a slightly darker roast, and traditional chocolate notes, while I like to experiment with a variety of lighter fruity notes from beans shipped to my house in the form of a subscription.

I mention this because our taste in music differs also. I first listened to his fine turntable (listed in his original post) using a UHQR Steely Dan pressing. I haven’t listened to vinyl in over 20 years?. Peg Sounded great. Plenty of bass, much more than I get on my planar magnetics, as I expected, but great. I would like to emphasize that I don’t get out much to any other systems; no dealers, no pals with high end systems to hear, just my speakers in my setup for well over 10 years. The way he brushed off the platter, then swiped down the album before playing ensured a complete lack of any pops or crackle- it could have been a stream it was so clean sounding! Again, I want to emphasize the lengths he took to ensure the highest quality in preservation of the sound.

Onto streaming: I was hoping to eliminate the Mcintosh pre-amp and go direct from the Lumin T3 to the amplifier, just to eliminate one variable in the equation. At first he said he was fine with this, but when I got there he said he would never listen to this system this way, as the pre was needed for his 2 sources, so he declined. Okay, shouldn’t be an issue to still hear some differences in cables, right?

I first sat in the only chair in the room- the room was smaller than I thought by looking at the picture above. It looks like it may be a 20 x 30 room, but the back wall does not extend much beyond the right edge of the picture. Unfortunately it is a square 16 x 16 foot room. The speakers were 55" from the front wall, 84" apart, slightly toed in, and the seat was 104" from each speaker, but behind the seat were several GIK 4" thick traps with diffusion grating surfaces, similar to the ones on the front wall, and then a few feet to the back wall. Dave tried the 1/3 rule and has experimented with speaker positioning given suggestions from others here. Cardas has some suggestions for speaker placement square room setup or according to this they call it a diagonal setup? diagonal

Dave does not listen to jazz or classical. Oh oh, I hope I can convince him to play some tunes I am familiar demo’ing my stuff. Played the beginning of Peg again a couple times and I tried my best to put it in memory, but again this sound was so different than what I am used to- big bass, soundstage was not very wide, sounded so closed in compared to mine. Detailed, but closed in. I mentioned the huge bass again, and then he turned down the sub- Ahh the sub! I didn’t notice the sub- He then turned it off and wow- the speakers sounded so lean, by comparison. I forgot to ask how many hours were on them and if they were fully broken in ?? But It any case preferred to not have the sub on, elimination of another variable, but he likes it- again different preferences. The sub went back on- he did adjust the level at times via his phone.

First was the insertion of the Puritan PSM156 with a Puritan Ultimate power cord. He wanted to plug it into a 12 ga heavy-duty extension, I said no, directly into the wall please- elimination of variables. I don’t know how the Dragon power cords were plugged in, but his outlet is quite far from the rack- he should have either moved his rack over to where the outlet is. Even better is to put a new outlet behind the rack for future evaluations. A dedicated line even better. The Ultimate cord is 1.5m, and the power cords could reach to the PSM156, so he needs 2.5m from outlet to rack. Dave has ordered a PS Audio P12 with an Audioquest Tornado which will do the same. I think we can agree there is no point having a new hi-fi (Furutech?) outlet and a power conditioner/regenerator if there is an $5 extension between them. Dave said the extension is made of the same stuff in the wall- I know, but....anyone know how to answer this question?

We listened - nothing. Played the same piece of music- 20 seconds of Peg- and I honestly could not pick up any difference. Bummer. Tried some Fleetwood Mac Dreams, and Steely Dan Black Cow. Hmmmm....

Alright let’s put in some better speaker cables- out goes the Mogami and in were my Acoustic Zen Absolutes. He has 4 binding posts on the back of his Amati’s, with the stock jumpers. I know cable companies make jumpers for this purpose, but I would assume the supplied plates of metal from Sonus Faber would be decent? so those were used. I am not sure which post was used to connect the spades on the speaker cables- the high frequency ones or the low frequency ones.

We listened- again I got no difference. Double bummer. I was feeling quite disappointed with myself, I thought this would be easier, no such luck. I don’t do this for a living, thank Christ. Probably why his dealer is reluctant to set them up at this home. At this point I decided to take a step back from the evaluation. Again, this is his system he is familiar with, it sounded quite different from mine. I asked him to sit in his seat and see if he heard any difference.

This sounds really hap-hazard and not very systematic, but you know we just met each other, naturally we were chatting about other things etc., and not trying to make excuses for reasons why I was unable to hear what should have been a clear difference, but I am trying to find excuses for what should have been clear differences. This is starting to remind me of golf. We did talk about golf, actually.

Okay enough is enough. We then put in the 2 Zavfino Silver Dart power cords I brought, into the amp and the pre, and then the only pair of interconnects I brought as I thought I needed only one pair- Acoustic Zen Absolute XLR’s between the Lumin and the Mac pre. The Lumin was powered by a S-Booster, so no option for the power cord there. The existing Mogami’s were still between the pre and the Mac Amp and everything else was patched up with what sounds very nice in my system. He was not happy about how difficult it was to remove the XLR’s from the Lumin’s thin covered rear panel.

He was still in the listening chair, I asked if he heard anything- he thought on the Alanis Morrisette track he picked up some small level detail he hadn’t heard before. Finally! I asked him to play Anette Askvik Liberty. From listening at the side of the listening position it sounded good- some of the detail was more prominent than I recall getting on my system. One key part for me is when she says "bones"- I listen for the realism and lack of sibilance in that word. It sounded good. He said this music sounded like Trespassers William- never heard of it- when the sax started to play on Liberty he switched to a song from Trespassers William- I liked it and took note of the band. I mentioned some of my go-to’s for evaluation is the air on horns.

Last I had him insert my Apollon NCx500 in place of his Mac 462. I asked him how that sounded- he said it sounded good. It was definitely louder than the 462.

We then went back and swapped out all of my cabling for his Take Five Mogami’s. From the side I believe heard a less-tight bass and a less natural, more sibilant voice on Alanis. I wrote the word "believe" because we didn’t go back and forth for me to be certain, and I didn’t take the listening seat again. He wasn’t sure. He then went back to that low level detail he picked up- I hear it now too- no difference. I am sure he will say this so I will first: He then said for the loose bass, is that better? I assumed he turned down the sub- I said yes, he said I’m messing with ya, I didn’t change anything. Okay, fine.

So, I don’t quite know the reasons for the immutable system, where it was not easy to hear cable changes, as compared to mine- was it the tubed pre amp that was in the chain? Does it "smooth" out differences? Is the MC462 resilient? Hmmm, I recall when posting in Audiokarma many years ago when I had Mac amps there were posters claiming of improvements with cabling. Is it my lack of familiarity with this sound? Or was it the room? I wonder now if perhaps it was overdamped? He said he has tried putting the system on the other wall, he has used REW, and this was the best spot. There were many traps- first reflection points on ceiling, behind speakers, behind listening position. I really don’t know. I am perplexed- again- thank Christ I don’t so this for a living.

I have changed out single cables and heard differences in my system- yes, sometimes it takes several back and forths for me to be sure, but other times it was immediate- you know that 5 note "it is so obvious". My Silver Dart power cable was one of those moments. Cable deniers are rolling their eyes as their must have been a "confirmation bias" - Okay, well, it is the same as when someone might say they love lasagna over shepherd’s pie, and no-one would ever say "did you test them blindfolded?" because nobody doubts how obvious it would be to the person to tell the difference, because they have lived that experience.

Dave would like all to know he is not a cable denier. In his words: "I feel that the human brain isn’t able to remember the specific details from previous listening & make a valid & detailed comparison with a new session. So when you/I hear Dreams play with my cables, spend 5 minutes swapping all cables and then listen again, I don’t believe we can make a true comparison. Had we done blind testing I think that would have been borne out. So I’m not denying that cables can make a difference, I have some on order, I’m saying that you either accept they can & jump in without evidence, or you don’t." He did buy upgraded cables from the OEM ones, and may continue to do so.

Shame. I was really hoping to shed some light on the situation and point out some focus on sounds and make it more obvious for him, but this experiment turned out to be inconclusive.

Thanks again dwcda for allowing me to come over and listen to your system. 

A lovely honest assessment, good on you and the host. 
‘imo and excluding shows, I hear 20…30 systems a year…subject  system have reached the mac limits of resolution. 

So mclinnguy came over with his cables so we could experiment and see what differences we could hear. Initially we listened to the system as it was, Mogami 3104 speaker wires, Mogami 2549 XLR cables & Powerline 10 awg power cords with Furutech FI-11 Cu connectors (referred to as stock cables previously in this thread). I played some of my favorite songs & some songs that mclinnguy wanted to hear. I repeated them as necessary until  he was ready to swap cables. 

We started by  using the Puritan conditioner  and connecting the amp/preamp/Lumin to that. Then we played the same music. Neither of us could hear any difference

We swapped speaker cables. No difference.

Then we swapped power cords & the XLR between the pre & Lumin. Both of us could hear a slight difference.  A little more & fuller treble & mids. mclinnguy thought there was more difference than I could hear. I suggested that he let me swap some stuff blind and he could tell me what he thought & he said "I know, you're  one of those guys". We had a brief discussion about the value of not letting your brain override or determine what your ears are hearing but in the end I didn't push it & we swapped back to my cables. The change was not significant but there was a slight noticeable change.

The bit with the sub was more of me being a dick than anything. mclinnguy felt that the sub was loud so  I used the app & said ok, better? He said yup and I told him that I hadn't  changed the sub. It's not like he gave it a lot of thought. The only reason I did that was to try to make the point  that your  brain will tell your ears what they're hearing & by  thinking I'd adjusted the sub he believed the music sounded better.

Overall the most noticeable change (for me) was the swapping of the amp. But a lot of the difference was because it was much louder at the set volume of my preamp. So it was difficult to tell  if the amps sounded that different or if increased volume made it seem so. But his amp did sound good, for a fraction  of the price of mine.

It's my honest opinion that if he & I were to hear the system with his cables & my cables and we didn't know which was which neither of us could reliably choose either set of cables as "better". But I also believe that it's possible that different cables could sound better, I just don't think that the brain can store a sample and compare it to another sample reliably 5 minutes later. When I adjusted the sub the effect was immediate & we could both tell that something had changed.


One needs a clean sound audio system to hear the cable sound difference. All your systems sound un-natural (with noises) like a left speaker in below video. The much important sounds are masked by the glare and veils which makes hard to see/hear the music.

Below is a live recording of my system which is cleanest sound. Hear my system at THE Show 2024, OC. Costa Mesa audio show (my rm #272) on June 7-9. Alex/WTA

That's a funny title "To You Who Don't Love Me" instead of doesn't.

On a different subject, I'm really glad that the moderators moved that "What happened to us" thread.