|Nuforce A/V Cable Roundup|
|Home Theater Accessories AV Cables|
|Written by Andre Marc|
|Thursday, 08 October 2009|
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On hand, I had a QED Qunex interconnect (Approx $300, when available) and a Transparent Music Link Plus ($375). The Nuforce and QED were very, very close, to the point of being neck and neck. I did feel the Transparent offered a deeper sound stage, with a bit more of a relaxed, natural presentation. There was a bit more space around instruments. I had to listen very critically to hear these differences. It must be noted the Transparent is almost double the list price of the Nuforce.
Next up was the Nuforce Focused Field speaker cable. Nuforce claims this cable will optimize the performance of not only their own switching amplifiers, but also traditional linear devices and even tube amps. The speaker cable is made up of four conductors, two that are 12 AWG OFC and two that are 18AWG OFC. Other materials involved are polyethylene jackets and PEX dielectrics. The cable geometry is a bit unique as the conductors are stacked with layers of insulating material. In this arrangement, Nuforce claims that their “sandwiched” construction is superior, significantly reducing interactions with the magnetic fields of associated equipment. They also claim the cable’s low impedance diminishes interactions with variations in speaker impedance, resulting in better overall performance.
Moving along in the lineup, I hooked up the two digital cables: the NuForce Precision 75 Ohm Digital Coaxial Cable in BNC or RCA terminations and the NuForce Toslink Digital Cable. The coaxial cable is $149 for a 1M length. The cable uses a silver-plated copper core and a silver-plated copper shield as well as a solid Teflon dielectric. Nuforce claims their design rejects vibration, mechanical noise and is very low in jitter. Jitter is actually an important aspect of digital cables that is often over looked. The ability of a cable to transmit information free of timing errors is essential. The Toslink cable is $69 for 1M.
In many high end audiophile circles, Toslink optical connections were considered “inferior” in the past. But much has changed. High quality optical cables designed with more advanced materials have been accepted by many previous doubters. One clear advantage of an optical connection is that it is not affected by RFI/EMI interference.
The obvious use for these cables is with a music server and external DAC. You could also use them for feeding a CD transport to an external DAC or multi-box CD player set ups that provide a separate chassis for the DAC, transport, and even the power supply. The general consensus is that 75 Ohm coaxial connections are superior in this regard.
I personally prefer a Toslink connection between my Logitech Squeezebox and my outboard CIA DAC. It’s strictly a personal preference. Other uses for digital audio cables are for home theater set ups, for connecting cable boxes, DVD players, or HDTV’s to multi channel receivers and amplifiers. I used the Nuforce cables for all of the above and found them to be excellent performers. The construction quality is superb. This maybe even more important in the digital arena as users are more likely to connect, disconnect and reconnect digital cables more often than analog cables. The portability of digital audio and the fact that cable boxes, DVD players, and TV’s often get reassigned to different rooms around the house. I am certainly guilty of that practice!
My final cable to test out was the Nuforce HDMI cable ($99 for 2M). Only recently having purchased a High Definition TV, I never explored this type of cable as an alternative for my audio. HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface and is a compact audio and video interface for transmitting uncompressed, high bandwidth digital data. Basically, it is how the cable box, DVD player, and home theater components now interface with your TV. The quality of cable can have a distinct impact on the quality of the sound and picture in your home theater set up. Jitter, as mentioned above, is one reason. But the overall cable construction and the quality of the internal components are a huge factor. Switching out the HDMI cable supplied with my Oppo 981 universal DVD player, I immediately noticed a clarity and sharpness in the TV picture that surpassed the supplied cable. Mind you, the supplied cable was generic, but certainly well made. The Nuforce cable is well shielded and low mass. It is very easy to maneuver around complicated set ups and is quite flexible.
The Nuforce line of cables is very attractively priced, well made, and really have no discernible flaws that I was able to detect during my testing sessions. The cable in the line that I felt suffered a bit in comparison to more expensive makes from other manufacturers was the IC-700 interconnect. I preferred the Transparent in my main system, at almost double the price, but as noted, this was with very critical listening. System synergy will determine your results. The Nuforce digital cables are a real achievement to me. If you do some research, you will see digital cables from a variety of high end manufacturers that are offered at very exotic prices. I’ve seen coaxial, BNC, and even USB cables that cost as much as an audiophile component! That being said, and expensive digital music server set up with cheap cables is akin to putting cheap tires on a Porsche. But there is a point at which you are paying for fancy jackets and manufacturing processes that may not affect the sound quality, but are figured into the final price. Overall, the Nuforce cable line offers a high level of performance for a low entry fee into the realm of audiophile quality sound.
CD Player: Naim CD5x with Flatcap 2X
CD Player: Marantz 5003
Music Server: Squeezebox 3
DAC:CIA VDA-2 with XPS
Preamp: Belles Soloist 3
Amplifier: Revox A722
Speaker: Spendor S5e
Cables: Kimber/QED/Transparant/Shunyata(AC)/PS Audio(AC)
DVD player: Oppo 981 Universal Player