August 1, 2009

My Audioquest Journey.

This is an old post of ours in the blog we previously contributed to

I've always had Audioquest cables in my audio system. From the Coral, Viper range to the Jaguar with 24V dbs till today's Columbia and Colorado interconnects.

Since I've had a go or owned the latest versions from Columbia to Sky, I thought I'd dissect the range as we move upwards in the AQ dbs range of interconnects.

Columbia 48V dbs

It is at this level that Audioquest interconnects start to get serious. The Columbia is the entry level of the dbs series interconnect and sits smack in the middle of the full interconnect range. The 48V dbs does helps quieten the background hash in an audio system and only a direct comparison with the 72V dbs cables will show it's limitations. It's not a day and night difference, but subtle enough that if you listen to a few more tracks, you'd feel it. Tonal quality of the Columbia is very even, though at times, there were hints of mid range warmness. It's staging and imaging is slightly laid back in presentation. Transparency is good but only if you compare to it's bigger brothers, it'll come up short. It's great for mid end systems.

Colorado 72V dbs

The Colorado is the top copper interconnect in the Audioquest range. It retains all the good traits of the Columbia, but with more of everything. The bandwidth is wider, this cable goes lower and higher at the two frequency extremes. Transparency is improved upon. With 72V dbs it's also quieter. The tonal quality is dead neutral compared to the Columbia, but some may feel it's sound staging and imaging a little busier compared to the Columbia. Very much suitable for entry level tonally balanced high end systems.

Niagra 72V dbs

The Niagra is the middle brother between the Colorado and the more expensive Sky. It's got the Sky's silver but constructed similarly as per the Colorado. Being one up from the Colorado, again it's got even more bandwidth comparatively. It's as transparent as the Sky, which the Colorado just could not match. Tonal quality is on the brighter side of neutral compared to the Colorado. The sound staging and imaging is also slightly forward compared to both the Sky and the Colorado. This cable tends to be a little on the lively side compared to all it's other brothers. It's probably better suited for warmish or laid back sounding system, like an all tube system for example. It'll put back some balance in to the scheme of things in such systems.

Sky 72V dbs

The Sky has been Audioquest's top dog cable for a decade now or so, until the introduction of the W.E.L. Signature sometime earlier this year. I now come to understand the reason for it's continued popularity. The tonal balance of this cable is near perfect, there's a purity of calmness to the sound not available on the cables below this. Whilst it's not more transparent then the Niagra, it's presentation of the details is both subtle and non obtrusive in nature by contrast. The staging of this cable combines the laid back qualities of the Columbia, and the right amount of image outlining of the Colorado, to bring out the fullness of the human voice. It's a very good all rounder of a cable for any top flight system, value not with standing.


To sum up my conclusion. All the four pairs of interconnects I've tested are of the XLR version, despite some of the pictures showing otherwise. All are tested in my own familiar system with nothing changed or added in duration of 2 weeks.

I find the Columbia 48V dbs great value if your cable budget only goes so far. If you can top up some more budget, the Colorado 72V dbs is an even better cable. The Niagra 72V dbs, for me is something of a mix bag, and I don't quite know how to place it. Perhaps, I am being unfair to it because I first heard the Sky, so it was a bit of a let down after that. If you're going one up from the Colorado, I guess you should just reach for the Sky instead! Pricing issues aside.

Both the Columbia and Colorado are my own existing cables, the Niagra and Sky are loaners from a friend whom is in the process of upgrading all his cables for his system. I may choose to upgrade to either cables should I wish to. Guess which one am I going for?

2 December '08


bertiebear said...

Many thanks for this succinct review. Helped me settle on a Colorado rather than the Niagara. I'll post more nce I get the cable

bertiebear said...

An update: Got a pair of balanced Colorado second hand via eBay. Very happy with them. They are fitted between a Krell Evo pre and power amp, and sound better than any cable I have tried up to now (Chord, Missing Link etc).How can I describe them... Well - it gives that late night sound in the middle of the day. I can only assume this is because of the noise suppression and the charge placed in the dielectric insulation. They are very quiet ...and yet you can hear or sense the accoustic of a recording - sometimes it seems before the first note is played...but that might be the mind playing tricks.