I have put off writing this for a while, and several people have asked, so I finally sat down to do a head to head comparison of the Stereovox HDXV and Audience's AU24 digital cables.
The current iteration of my system is the Plinius 8200i MkII, Piega C-3 Limiteds, Scott Nixon TubeDAC with upgraded power supply, Sony DVP-7700S used as a transport. I used an Audience AU-24 to the Plinius, AU-24 speaker cables from the Plinius to the Piegas, and Audience PowerChords throughout.
I got the HDXV a couple of weeks ago, and put it in immediately. That was at 7AM one morning, and although the cable was 40 degrees F, it already sounded as good as the Audience on a quick listen before work. Since putting it in that day, I haven't taken it out to do a comparison. The reason is, I haven't been motivated to take it out. This thing is so damned good! It didn't require a ton of break-in, but after two weeks of constant play, this thing is unreal!
Another reason I haven't taken it off is because this bastard GRIPS. I am not even kidding. I am not exaggerating either. AU24 cables have a tight fit, and snug up really securely with RCA's, but the HDXV is supernatural in this respect. The thing clamps down so tight, I had to take my transport off the rack, and pull, and wiggle (probably not good for the transport) to get it off.
Nevertheless, until I hear of a better cable that Chris makes, I am not taking it off.
This thing is so amazing. Right now, I am listening to Rachmaninov's Isles of the Dead, and I am just enjoying it more than I ever have on my system.
So, the "official" shootout started with the HDXV. I used a few tracks as follows for testing:Two High String Band - Insofarasmuch - Track 3 - Sonny's Ride
Garcia, Grisman, Rice - The Pizza Tapes - Track 1,2 - Man of Constant SorrowBob Dylan - Time out of Mind - Track 7 - Not Dark YetAlison Krauss and Union Station - New Favorite - Track 13 - New Favorite
On the first track, the Two High String Band excels with a great tune featuring a fiddle performance by the great Vassar Clements, and a guest mando spot by Mr. Grisman himself. This track is a fun track that just showcases everyone's talent. I have seen the Two High String Band, Vassar, and Grisman, so I am very familiar with how they sound live.
This track was exceptionally rendered by the HDXV. The texture of the fiddle was so apparent. I could almost see the rosin flying off the bow into the lights shining on Vassar. Grisman is a perfect compliment to Billy Bright's mando playing, and even though there are two mandos, it is easy to tell who is who on stage. The detail brought out with the HDXV is astounding! I am still amazed how much detail this retrieves.
There's a flatpicked solo halfway through, and this time, it sounds as if the picker is right here in my room. A flatpicker myself, I really enjoy flatpicking, and have been around it for years, so that possibly is the best way for me to compare components is to listen to some flatpicking. Unfortunately, acoustic guitar is something that is very hard to render correctly on any system, and all but the best systems hide the subtleties that will instantly identify a picker, and his particular brand of axe. The HDXV was superb. I could tell right away this guy was playing a Martin. Of course, I had seen him before, and already knew that, but you'd be surprised how many "high-end" systems won't allow a listener to tell differences between a freaking Martin, and a T- - . . I can't say that word. . haha
Anyway, I digress. The AU24 on this track was great also, but instantly I was able to tell that I was listening to a way different cable. The HDXV is the most spatial digital cable I have heard. It shows all the space, and presents a much wider stage than my room. AU24 was more earthly in this regard. AU24 was also quieter, and if you keep reading, you will find reasons why.
AU24 was a very smooth cable. Much smoother than the HDXV. I think the little nuances that were easily heard, like the texture of the strings on the fiddle, they were missing with the AU24 ever so slightly. They just seemed to be smoothed over with AU24.
Krauss' vocals on the title track of New Favorite
are really wonderful, and angelic. I still was able to clearly hear most of the music with AU24, but the little nuances in her voice, and the fluctuations that you could hear with the HDXV, were not there with AU24. It presented a prettier picture than the HDXV, and might be right at home in a system in need of a smooth digital cable that is still somewhat "accurate".
HDXV also revealed much more of the ambience on the Krauss track. The extra space was readily apparent. The guitar strings squeaking on chord changes were also nicely pronounced with HDXV, and glossed over with AU24.
AU24 was my previous reference digital cable, so don't take this the wrong way, it is a heck of a digital cable, even for the money. It bested many others that I had compared it to, but the HDXV is clearly on another level.
When replacing AU24 with HDXV, there is instantly MUCH more detail than before, and the acoustic space doubles in size, recreating the illusion of a live show much more effectively than the AU24.
I don't know what else I can say except that you NEED this digital cable. I can't really explain WHY it's this good, and I cannot fathom HOW it can be sold for what it sells for. At $100, I can think of no better $100 I have spent on my system.