WBT Nextgen update listening evaluation 2

Since my original thread in Dec 2004 regarding the WBT shoot-out and review I have since replaced all of my female RCA jacks in my preamp and other critical components in the signal path to the low mass pure copper WBT Nexten 0210cu connectors. The cumulative results of removing all copper alloys (brass) from my signal path on my RCA's, both male and female exceeded my expectations in performance once all of the connectors and new solder joints were broken in which takes at least 150+ hours. The Nextgen female RCA's were fairly easy to install in my preamp and amp chasse but I found in several cases the hole diameter needed to be enlarged to fit the new 0210's. I found a 7/16" Dia hole was a perfect fit for the female nextgen connectors and I purchase a high quality 6" 7/16" drill bit from my local hard wear store to do the job properly. The drill bit costs $9 but I find it is very important to have the right tools to get the job done correctly and fast with the least frustration so in my view it is better to spend the money on the necessary tools and be done with it. Once the hole was enlarged with my drill bit installing the nextgen connectors in my equipment was easy and straightforward. I again used my Weller 30 watt soldering iron and Cardas solder to make the connections on my new female RCA's. I have found both the Cardas and WBT solders to be excellent for high end audio upgrades as I have used both with positive results.

Over the past several months I have made every attempt to remove my older high mass brass connectors used on my interconnect, amp, preamp and phono preamp with the WBT low mass, high purity copper connectors and the cumulative effect has been amazing in transforming my audio system to another level. I also removed and replaced my spades on my speaker cable with Walker Audio high quality silver spades with excellent results (see another worthy tweak note below). The last area to be addressed in the signal path are the binding post on my convergent audio JL2 amp and sadly there is very little choice today for a quality low mass pure copper or silver binding posts but hopefully some manufacture will address this in the near future so all brass alloys will be completely out of my audio signal path.

Another worthy tweak: I thought I would share my recent experience in replacing my older gold platted brass speaker spades on my discovery Essential speaker cable with new low mass pure silver spades purchased directly from walker audio. Most stock speaker cable spades make today are again manufactured with brass (typically 65-68% copper) and I always suspected I was missing some musical information in the audio chain with these brass spades and I found this assumption to be correct after installing the new silver spades to my cable. The walker audio are low mass very high quality 100% silver spades that are a steal at $6.50 each. I purchased (10) spades directly from Lloyd Walker and installed them using cardas Quad Eutectic solder and a 80 watt soldering iron. I took my time doing the installation and the whole process took less than 2 hours to complete. The listening results directly after installation was very positive in a similar way to the experience I had with the WBT nextgen installation. I heard greater clarity, better definition of bass and mid bass and more vivid and life like qualities coming from the vocals when familiar music played on my Basis 2500 turntable. As the new silver spades broke in over the next 2-3 weeks the music became more relaxed and open and even greater detail emerged. It became more apparent over time just how bad my old brass speaker spades were and how the new walker spades added a sparkle and a musicality that was previously lacking. The spades now have about 125 hours of break in and are sounding better and better with more time. I suspect they will be at there peak with 200+ hours.

Looking back over the last several months I can not believe how murky, blotted, unclear, unfocused, slow and less involving my audio system was with the older and sadly most common copper alloys were used in my critical signal path. Upgrading to the low mass, non alloy pure copper/silver WBT nextgen 0110cu, 0210cu and walker silver spades has transformed my system in ways that must be heard to be understood. If found very positive improvements when several connectors were upgraded in the audio chain to the WBT nextgen but when they are all removed and upgraded the cumulative effect when all are broken in is quite amazing. It has become more obvious based on my listening tests that high mass impure copper metal alloys (typically brass) distort and degrades the audio signal coming from your source material in such a way that the signal loss results in your stereo system not reaching it's fullest potential. There are times when I close my eyes when listening and think back to how it was before taking out the brass and I can not believe the grater speed, detail and dynamics of my new system. Even though some of these new connectors are expensive dollar for dollar I feel this tweak was the most cost effective upgrade I have made. A close second was installing a dedicated line using non romex wire but that is a different subject. In short removing metal impurities from your signal should put a large smile on your face.

Enjoy the music
42659, Excellent and provocative review. I can imagine the performance improvements are as you say.

These are some of the little things that can make a profound difference in performance. If I had any confidence with a soldering iron, I would want to do exactly what you are doing.

It is amazing that so many equipment designers goes thru great pains in some areas and yet do so little in others.

Of course, cryo-treating those connectors before you install them might even double the performance improvements you now perceive.

May I ask where you picked up the WBT Nextgen connectors?

Very interesting, might be the best upgrade money can buy.

How do I order walker audio spade? I don't see it on their web, do I need to call them?

I thought soldering degrades sound especially for high current environment like speaker cables, therefore many manufactures use crimping instead and that also applies to WBT spade or banana plugs. Is Walker crimp-able or they are so hard they need to be soldered?
It is truly astonishing that even a number of top audio designers of very high dollar equipment I talked to know little or nothing about there connectors in there own equipment. Most of the time the answers I receive when the topic is brought up is I don’t know or I never thought about it. They spend a lot of money and time trying to perfect a new amp or preamp but they seem to overlook all of the points of contact for the audio signal path. The same lazy attitude existed 7-8 years ago in the audio industry regarding powerchors with most end users using the stock powerchords and many manufactures did not even install a male IEC connector for the interchangeability of upgraded powerchords. Audio research did not start installing male IEC's on there equipment until the very late 1990's otherwise they came with the stock el chepo attached powerchord with there expensive equipment.

I purchased the WBT Nextgen connectors at parts express but there are many places to buy them. The Walker spades can not be crimped. They are a flat piece of silver with the shape of a spade and are the same spades he uses on his silver jumper cables which are also soldered. Crimping in theory would be better on all connectors but that would also increase the metal mass of the connectors so like many things in life there is a trade off with either method. In a perfect word I would like to use 100% pure silver solder for the perfect connection but since the melting point of pure silver is over 1400 degrees the connector and housing material would melt before the solder could be applied, too bad.
Eichmann has low mass binding posts out now. They are on my list of things to eventually do, but I'm going to have to have new mounting plates built for my speakers as the post spacing is not standard.
I agree about the WBT 0110 NextGen RCAs. I had a pair of Discovery Signature cables fitted with them on Wednesday of this week and it is only Thursday night now. I have to say, for a mere $109.00 investment, plus the $40 my electronics repair guy charged to fit these, this is a killer investment. I'm sure others can solder: I've never done it and I wanted it done right. My dealer, here in Connecticut, does all the equipment repair for the High End dealers in the vicinity. I trust his work.
Although it's only been 30 hours since I put them on, I'm in no way disappointed. The improvement in the clarity, as well as the low level detail makes these a no-brainer. Just kill me now, while I'm still smiling.
After reading the HiFi+ review last month, I expected them to be good, but knowing that they're going to improve over the next 200 hours....Jeez! The cables had been fitted with Eichmann bullets (bought them here on Audiogon), and they sounded good. But the liquidity and reduction in a sense of "fractionalized sound," where it sounds like each section of the orchestra plays and then vanishes into a vacuum, is already significantly reduced. When a musician moves around in the orchestra on Also Sprach Zarathustra on the new RCA Living Stereo SACD (played on a JVC XL-Z1050, no less [hardly the last work in detail], the sound FLOATS through the light air, instead of sounding stiff and stilted, as though the recording environment's air was humid and heavy. It sounds "real-er" than before, even in a simple system. What is so deeply gratifying is that I don't have to strain to hear this, as I have with so many components. I had a harder time hearing the improvement when I switched cables from Shunyata Andromea to Nordost Valhallas (I own both!). I could MAKE myself hear that the Nordost was more "transparent," but I had to MAKE myself hear it: it wasn't a case of oh-my-God-is-this-Valhalla-Heaven-on-Earth-or-what????? It was more, yeah, I think I hear more ambience. Now, granted that that Billy Baggs rack rings like a bell, and masked some of the Valhallas transparency, so that may not be fair. It matters not. The WBTs are silly good for this investment and it'll be like improving your interconnects by going up the manufactureres' line by two upgrades, like going, photographically speaking, from a Canon consumer lens to one of the REALLY, REALLY, REALLY GOOD pro lens (and other photographers know that even among Canon's pro lens, there are significant differences in sharpness and richness of color. The 135 2.0 lens make the 70-200 2.8 lens, one of Canons very top sellers, look like it's broken in terms of sharpness and the shadings of color. In audio, we would call this part microdynamic capability.)
You just haveta get a pair of these with some Wonder Solder (I'm still waiting for the Johnson Manufacturing IA 423 OR-120 solder to arrive. On Audio Asylum, it's considered among the most killer of solders around, barring the Kester (which costs $100/lb and you have to buy a 5 pound minimum. Ugh!). Fortunately, I still have two pair of the 0110 RCAs, and I am very, very seriously considering soldering my Nordost Valhallas with these, even though it will void the warranty and make them impossible to sell. Nordost, incidentally, informed me the other day, that they're considering these plugs, but that, if I modified the cables, the warranty was dead. I'm not sure that's gonna stop me this time...Maybe I should do my Valkyrja interconnects instead! They cost a lot less. I also plan to modify the Shunyata Aries interconnects for the simple reason that they're inexpensive to buy on Audiogon (they didn't hold their value very well, did they??).
Anyway, RUN, do not walk to the phone and get a pair of these. I cannot imagine what type of music lover would be put off by these.
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Nordost loves those Pro-Fi connectors which IMO are no better than Radio Shack yet many praise the Valhalla cables. I would opt for Nextgens over Eichmanns but then there are the Bocchinos (sp). Crump seems to like his modified Cardas plugs so I must conclude that connectors are like fine wines.