You know you have audiophile system when...

The definition of an audiophile systems is truly unknown, but recently after dabbling with tube rolling, power cables, and interconnects my system achieved a level where its clarity was no longer what grabbed my attention. Instead, I was distinctly hearing the bloom and decay of every note in the music. It’s just a different level that I believe has me listening to music differently.  It translates into greater dynamics and voices and instruments having more distinct vibrato characteristics.


OP, To me it’s when the tone and body of the instruments and voices sound lifelike. I attend live music events regularly so I have some basis for comparison. Good topic by the way

@wyoboy - I have an Audioquest AC-14XL for my DAC and I have not noticed any obvious differences/improvements.

Before I upgraded from Chicago to Sydney interconnects I emailed Audioquest to answer some questions that had after reviewing their line-up.

The Bridges and Falls series are a single cable and the Rivers and Elements series are two individual cables (required for some setups) so the relative price point isn't an obvious indicator of quality across the series.

Their assessment was that Sydney would be a slightly better than Red River.  Red River is superior to Golden Gate.  They recommended Golden Gate ($80 for 1 meter) as being superior to Chicago ($100 per 1 meter).

My assessment is that I should have purchased Golden Gate over Chicago originally as a better value and think that Sydney is one of the better values when comparing price point to included design features.

I don't think that I'd upgrade from Red River to Sydney as I wouldn't expect a significant difference.  Part of the reason that I chose Sydney is that it was about the most I'd be willing to pay.  The Mackenzie is the next one up in price point and I believe that the triple-balanced design is optimized for balanced audio and they have just put RCA connectors on it because they can.  They did confirm that all other things being equal, the double-balanced design is superior for RCA use and that their lines will be splitting as they have done with the Yukon.

@tuberist --that's my standard as well and i feel like i'm there w/ my system--most of the time--ya never know exactly on amplified instruments b/c live you're hearing them through PA speakers so i use acoustic records to judge.

@mceljo thanks for that info--i was too lazy to ask AQ but it's interesting that they say triple is best for balanced (which is not what i do) and double is better for RCA; however, i agree with you that it's unlikely i'll hear any difference if i went to Sydney from Red River.

@wyoboy  - I specifically asked them about the double vs. triple because with single ended cables there is only two conductors, so there isn't anything beyond double to be balanced.  It doesn't mean that a triple-balanced design can sound good with single ended connectors, but I think it would be expected to result from other design factors.  It's kind of a snake oil move to put single ended connectors on a cable designed for balanced audio as the result is just a more expensive cable that likely doesn't have the same performance value as it would for balanced audio.  Too many customers simply assume that farther up the line and more expensive is always better.  Sometime audio manufactures advertise things that simply don't pass the common sense test.  The fact that the Yukon interconnects are double-balanced for RCA and triple-balanced for XLR with all of the other features being the same made me curious enough to ask about it.

There's only so many ways to connect a cable with either two conductors or three conductors...

@mceljo Totally agree but that really hadn't occurred to me at the time b/c i bought the RR cables used for half price (never unboxed according to seller and i'm reasonably sure that was the case) so it didn't matter to me much--if i were buying AQ cables from scratch i would probably have gone with Big Sur or Sydney as i use single-ended for everything and price seems a good value for features.