AES/EBU cable shootout

As I had promised (please refer to Grimm Mu1 thread and Fee for Audition thread under Digital for more context), I am going to share my experiences using different AES/EBU cables in my system. I am going to gloss over the general question of whether cables, especially digital cables make a difference. I am always careful in choosing my components, and unless something makes a tangible improvement in sound, I will never pay for something. If something makes an improvement, I do evaluate if it’s worth the asking price, and only then do I purchase it. So it’s up to you to decide if something is worth the price that you pay for. Also, please note that, these findings apply to my system in my room and may not translate into the same findings in your system. 

Now let’s go into what I heard in my system. I had the following AES/EBU cables. The Mogami cable, Shunyata Omega cable, Nordost Odin 2 cable and  the Sablon cable. Unfortunately I was unable to obtain the Jorma design cable as I was unable to reach the cable company either through phone or email. I am not aware of any other dealer who carries it near me.

There is a significant difference between the basic Mogami and the rest of the cables. The difference is easy to discern in the bass. There  is simply more texture, dimensionality, and clarity that is missing in bass with the Mogami cable. This is unfortunate as this is the cheapest cable. The rest of the cables are closer to each other. It takes a bit of back-and-forth of listening to discern the differences.

First up was the Shunyata cable. This is an excellent digital cable which is extremely natural sounding. Everything sounds clear with a nice sound stage. The sound stage extends beyond the speakers with a nice depth to it. There is a sense of fullness to the sound, more fleshed out, but in a very natural way. This is the first cable that I had for evaluation (this belongs to my friend). I will be very happy with this cable, if it were my only option. This cable retails for around 4.5 k. 

Next step was the Nordost Odin 2 cable. I understand that there is a significant jump in price as this cable retails for over 12 K. The difference between the Shunyata and the Odin 2 cable is more subtle. The primary difference is in the sound stage. The sound extends well beyond the speakers and front to depth soundstage is increased compared to Shunyata. There is also more detail and air at the top end. There is slightly more dynamics with the Odin 2 cable on back-and-forth listening. Please note, these differences are not in your face but subtle. Whether this is worth the price difference is something only you can decide.

The last cable that I had was the Sablon cable. The other cables measured 1.5 m but the Sablon was 1 m. I could not test if the length of cable makes a difference as I did not have the same cable in different lengths. (Please refer to Grimm Mu1 thread for context.)

The Sablon cable brings a lot of nuance to the entire spectrum of sound. The bass is taut and has a lot of finesse. String instruments reveal a good amount of inner detail, whether it’s plucking or bowing. Percussion sounds realistic. It nicely brings out the textures and extremely accurate with regards to tone and timbre. The mid range is extremely clear and well presented, which is one of the strengths of this cable. The top end is clean and extremely accurate. It has an uncanny ability to make the softest sounds really fleshed out and clear. If are a Pink Floyd fan “Hello Colonel, how are you tonight” never sounded this clear, it’s like you are on shrooms. 

This is how I would compare the Shunyata, Nordsost and Sablon. The system plays a huge role in laying out the differences. The bass is similar in all the three cables, they go deep, feel taut and have a lot of textures. It’s the midrange and highs that sound different. Nordstrom has a very neutral and sweet presentation that is very inviting. It sizzles in the top end and has superb dynamics. The other two cables cannot touch the Nordost in the highs. The Sablon shines in the midrange. It has one of the most accurate midrange sound and sounds really organic. The nordost is close but Sablon wins the midrange. The Shunyata is close to the other cables but does not sound better. So what did I choose? The sizzling dynamic Nordost or the realistic sounding Sablon?

I always believed that the highs are most important for music to sound alive and  imparting the feeling of being there. But Sablon changed my opinion, it’s the midrange that gives the sensation of live music. The Sablon made the music sound more alive than other 2 cables.  The difference with Nordost is subtle but definite. The other important thing especially for me was tone and timbre. I play violin and I value tone and timbre (reason for the choice of my speakers) as the most important attribute.The Sablon again wins this. Of course the price is the icing on the cake. So I have decided to buy the Sablon. Of course, in your system and for your ears, the outcome may not be the same. My recommendation is to try before you buy especially considering the price of the these cables.


@panzrwagn no one owes you anything. You hopped onto a thread where the OP tested multpile AES cables in his system. He heard differences. I’ve heard differences and don’t recall anyone soliciting your wise counsel.

@panzrwagn I started reading your post and it was fine until you said there is no noise in digital. This is absolutely not true. Take your phone out and go to a dark area and take a picture. You see noise? Why? Everything is purely in digital realm, 1s and 0s. So why is there any noise? Of course this has nothing to do with audio nor am I implying any connection. I am merely enlightening you to the concept of digital noise.

I started my listening with the cheapest of cables. But I heard a difference when comparing to other cables. I just wanted to share what I heard. I did not say this was the absolute fact for everyone. I also said that if you do not hear a difference, you saved yourself a lot of money. No one is forcing anyone to buy something. The cable companies are just offering a mere invitation to consider purchasing their products. Most offer free trials. If anyone does not believe in the differences between cables or does not hear a difference, it is fine. You do not have to buy an expensive cable. 

Enjoy your music! 


Thanks for taking the time to share your cable showdown. It’s always better to hear reviews from an independent source rather than someone looking for likes on YouTube or getting paid by ? to give positive results.

I consider myself as an inbetweenist. I have a hard time ’believing’ stuff when no one can explain it.

@rudyb Love the term “inbetweenist,” and thanks for at least keeping an open mind with this I too was skeptical about how much digital cables can matter, and I happily used a $60 Apogee Wyde Eye cable (that I preferred to a highly-regarded Stereovox XV2 BTW) for many years until recently when I got “the itch” to try something else. I found a great deal on an Acoustic Zen MC2 SPDIF digital cable, and since I use and love AZ interconnects and speaker cables I thought, why not? I was shocked at how much better in every aspect the MC2 was compared to the Apogee — it wasn’t even close and I’m kicking myself for not exploring this area much earlier. Can I explain it? No. Do I care about that? Hell no, because I’m thrilled with the sound I’m now hearing. My advice is to bite ur lip, curb your skepticism, and just use your own ears as the final arbiter. Here’s the same cable I bought used just fyi…