Well, I am sending the beldenators off to duff138 tomorrow, so it is high time that I put up my review of them. Lucky for me I had a gaggle of cables on hand to do some comparisons with them, so I could get an idea of their sound compared to a wide variety of IC's.
I inserted the cables between my DAC and my preamp since in my experience this will show off differences more than switching between preamp and amp.
The cables in the comparison were - Zu Oxyfuels, Kimber Hero's, the Beldenators, the (now discontinued) Bolder Type 1's, the Bolder silver bulleted M80's, and the Harmonic Tech Truth Links.
My system consists of:
VMPS RM40 speakers
Bolder Nitro Speaker wire with bybee'd biwire jumpers
AVA Fet/Valve 550ex
Bolder Bybee'd Nitro IC
AVA Transcendance 7 preamp
Mensa DIO DAC
nOrh CD-1 used as a transport
I think I'll go from the cable's I liked least and lead up to the ones I like best.
Worst of the bunch was the Zu Oxyfuels. Wow, bright, thin, and irritating sounding in my system. Easily the worst sounding of the group.
Next in line were the Kimber Hero's. Compared to the cables above it, it sounded quite boring - somewhat dark, somewhat rolled off, quashed dynamics, rather opaque. These and the Oxyfuels were quickly discarded from the shootout.
The Beldenators were quite a step up over the Oxyfuels and Heros. It was still a bit too forward sounding, with a bit too much emphasis on initial transients, and notes did not die down as quickly as they should. But overall, they were a lot closer to the other cables in this review than the Oxyfuels. Soundstage width was quite good, but depth was truncated. Tonally they were fairly neutral, but did not give quite the body to the lower mids that some of the others did. The strengths of this cable is that it did not quash dynamics, and it had a high toe tapping factor.
The Bolder Type 1's were next. They were actually quite similar to the Beldenators, the main difference is that the soundstage depth was not quite as truncated, and the notes "settled" faster, and there was a bit more seperation between individual sounds. But, like the Beldenators, they tended to get a little confused sounding when the music started to get busy with multiple instruments.
Next up were the Harmonic Tech Truth-Links. These had a very different flavor compared to the M80's, Type 1's, and Beldenators. They were much more laid back. The tended to constrict dynamics just a bit, and tended to round off some transient attack. But, they got the gestalt of the music right, and the music just flowed beautifully with them in the system. I liked them quite a bit. Not better than the M80's, but I think they are a good alternative to them, especially if you are looking for a different type of sound.
M80s - still my favorite inexpensive cable, at half the price of the excellent Truth Links, the m80's are a great bargain. The M80's have more in common with the Beldenators than with the Truth Links, in that they do not squash dynamics (in fact dynamics were really strong), and have very good toe tapping factor. Plus they have the best bass of the cables tested here. But where they really seperate from the pack is in transparency, with them in the system you hear every nuance of a vocal inflection, or every glint of a harmonic off of a violin solo. Soundstage width and depth were excellent, transient attack was the best of the bunch, and the settling of notes was excellent (tied with the Type 1 in this area).
So are the M80's perfect? No, they fall down compared to better cables (like the Bybee'd Nitro's) in smoothness, full reproduction of a venue's "space" and ambiance, and in tonal color (the tonal palate sounds richer and more varied with the Nitro's). The M80's are also a touch forward sounding.
So there you have it, comments are welcome.