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DH Labs Digital Cables Review  Print E-mail
Home Theater Accessories AV Cables
Written by Andre Marc   
Thursday, 21 July 2011
Article Index
DH Labs Digital Cables Review 
Setup, Listening, and Conclusion


Set Up & Listening:

I decided to first check out the BNC cable by hooking up my Naim CD player to the Bryston BDA-1.  As reported  in my BDA-1 review, the combination was stellar, and I believe the D-75 was a major contributing factor. The quiet backgrounds and immaculately outlined sonic images were easy to hear and the excellent balance the D-75 brought to the table obvious, as was its superiority over lesser cables i had tried previously. I was extremely pleased and wondered to myself what some mega buck digital cables from other companies could do better, and how they could  to justify their prices.

DH Labs Toslink cableI then spent some time with the D-75 terminated with phono plugs and the Deluxe Toslink. According to DH Labs, the Deluxe Toslink  “incorporates many performance-enhancing features. By combining a very high-speed transmission optical fiber capable of handling over 150 Mbps with a Precision Focus Cladding, special flexible PVC protective jacket and a state-of-the-art connector, ultimate performance is guaranteed. A 24K gold-plated Exact Fit Center Ferrule keeps the optical fiber perfectly centered within the connector housing, and the convex, precision polished tip assures maximum data transfer to the receiving diode. All of this adds up to an optical cable that can even handle demanding 24 bit / 96 Khz digital signals with ease.”

I plugged both cables in to the Squezebox Touch. I toggled between both the coaxial and Toslink inputs on the BDA-1 to compare, and hard a time picking a winner in the end. As noted above, a lot of engineering went into the Deluxe Toslink, and in years past, audiophiles have always considered optical sub optimal, but I think that has changed in a big way. The advantages of optical are that it is not susceptible to ground loop noise and generally immune to environmental noise. In a product like the Squeezebox Touch, with a wal wart switching power supply, this may be beneficial. After extensive listening,  I found myself preferring the coaxial about 60% of the time, but I don’t consider this a clear victory.  As I said, at times it was a dead heat. Credit must also be given to the BDA-1 which seems to do an excellent job eliminating jitter, which to my mind should minimize differences between really good cables.  

D-75

Conclusion:

The beautifully built, wonderful-sounding, and reasonably priced DH Labs digital cable products are an absolute no brainer way to upgrade your digital set up.  As I said above, DH Labs really puts the onus on some of their competitors to justify their pricing.   I found all three cables to be superb, and they will be a permanent part of  my set up going forward.  

Value is a concept that has made a roaring comeback recently, and many audio companies who have ignored that premise have suffered the consequences. From DH Labs own website: “The audio industry today is about maximum profit margins and is thus full of questions and problems regarding "point-of-origin." As engineers and life-long audiophiles, we prefer to take the high-road, with an emphasis on sourcing materials and manufacturing in the USA. While this philosophy certainly lowers our margins, it also allows us to make use of cutting edge technologies, far superior materials & more stringent manufacturing specifications.”

DH Labs has chosen to take the longer view, and since 1992 has been making great cables that compete with the more exotic brands that often rely on clever space ads, marketing catch phrases, and flashy packaging.   While others are free to pursue sex appeal and pay through the nose, I will stick with companies like DH Labs and others who design their products based on proven engineering principals.  The D-75 and Deluxe Toslink digital cables are worth every penny and more. Highly recommended without reservation.

For more information, visit DH Labs online.

Pricing


D-75 coaxial digital cable-1meter: $75

D-75 with BNC connectors-1 meter: $100 ($12.50 for each connector)

Deluxe Toslink optical digital cable-1 meter: $45

Review System 1

Cd Player: Naim CD5 XS with Flatcap 2X,
Server: Squeezebox Touch, Olive 06HD
DAC: Bryston BDA-1
Preamp: Audio Research SP16
Amplifier: Audio Research VS55
Speaker: Thiel CS2.4
Cables: DH Labs Revelation (IC), Kimber KCTG (IC), Transparent  MM2 Super (IC),  Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Element Cable Element Cord, (AC)  Shunyata Venom (AC) Pangea AC-9 (AC) Audience powerChord e.(AC)
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Sound Anchors stands,  Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner, Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Salamander rack

Review System 2

Cd Player: Marantz 5003,  audiolab 8200
Music Server: Squeezebox 3
DAC: CIA VDA-2 with VAC-1 Power Supply
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Preamp: Belles Soloist 3
Amplifier: Belles Soloist 5, Revox A722
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3
Cables: Kimber/QED/Transparant/Shunyata(AC)/PS Audio, Pangea Audio (AC), RS Cables, Element Cable






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