Here we are, wading in controversial waters, as the audibility of differences in premium cables is the source of much debate. Neither anecdotal accounts nor precise bench tests can settle such questions for once and for all, so the best I can do here is tell you what I heard and let you be the judge for yourself.
I approached this review with an open mind and a discerning ear; I ignored economics until tests were completed, and I encourage you to do the same.
Bill Benoit from Accusound came over to my Catalyst Recording studio for a demo of the company’s products. Accusound makes a number of different cables in a number of configurations, but we first tackled the IX3 line cable. This oxygen-free, silver-soldered, polyethylene-jacketed, double braid, shielded cable has a clear jacket and is intended not as a mic cable per se, but as an interconnect cable.
We listened to a few mixes through my normal interconnect—some Canare L6ES quad-mic cable with Neutrik ends in a short 6’ length—directly connecting a pair of nearfield monitors to my monitor controller. We then used a pair of IX3s in the same exact configuration, with the same mixes and could distinctly tell a difference. The biggest improvement was in imaging, as certain elements like percussion pops and lively synth patches gained precise placement that seemed to give them almost tangible form. My wide stereo lead vocals were quite wide, with the mono center seeming particularly centered and the fringes alive with my applied texture and ear-candy processing.
Bass response grew a little deeper, but only by a touch. High-end response didn’t extend any higher, so much as gain a little more pureness and smoothness. Dynamics seemed slightly more open and unrestrained but only very slightly. Could any engineer hear what I hear? Probably. Would said engineer deem it important? Maybe yes, maybe no. Could a consumer hear it? Consciously? Only some, subconsciously maybe all. Would they find it important? Probably not.
Next, I tried connecting up my mains with all IX3 cables—six in total: L and R from controller to room EQ, two from EQ to subwoofer, two from subwoofer to tops. Did I hear a difference? Yes. As pronounced as with the nearfields? Not even close. Was the difference similar? Yes—there were slight improvements in all areas, but not as pronounced. Is the difference noteworthy? To me yes and to other scrutinizing types yes, but to less discerning types, probably not.
Next, for a couple of months, I used a pair of Accusound MX4 mic cables as my main pair for routine day-to-day vocals/overdubs and for my drum overheads in band tracking sessions. These cables are high strand count, oxygen-free, silver-soldered, quad conductor, with polyethylene insulator and copper-braid shielding. The cables definitely sounded great, up to par with my usual Mogami quad mic cables, but I did not notice any differences in noise, clarity or bandwidth.
Then, I set-up my matched pair of Roswell Delphos LDC mics (via a pair of AMS-Neve preamps) as ORTF overheads and recorded my awkward drumming twice, switching out the mic cables only. The Accusound cables definitely had more high-end response, so they seemed a little louder than the Mogamis and created a slightly different shaped soundstage. The Accusound imaging seemed slightly wider (as if the width reached 180 degrees, not 160 degrees) and was just a little more detailed in the placements. I continued similar tests with percussion, cajon and piano until I was completely sure: The Accusound cables offered a little more high-end, a little more detail and a little more imaging.
The significance of this difference was not unlike my IX3 tests; compared to industry standard cables, the Accusound cables offered slightly improved performance that is discernible to trained ears, probably only subliminally heard by intent listeners, and likely unnoticeable by casual consumers and those suffering from hearing loss.
Everybody wants better signal from better cables, but ultimately this all had to boil down to economics. An IX3 cable terminated in XLRs in a 6’ length will cost you $90 direct from Accusound (15’ for $115). An MX4 mic cable will run you $90 for a 15’, $110 for a 25’. Pricewise, this finds Accusound above industry standards, almost up there with expensive entities like Monster, but well below the costs of silver-conductor cables like Zaolla.
Are such costs worth it for the increased fidelity? That, I’m afraid, I cannot answer, as it has as much to do with your clientele, prestige, your goals and your budget as it does audio fidelity. I can definitely recommend the Accusound cables for design, build quality and performance, but I’ll have to leave the determination of their value up to you.
Accusound • www.accusoundcablecompany.com