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AUDIOQUEST audio streaming interconnects cable

THOSE marketing audio cables and interconnects would have you believe there’s much more to a bit of connecting wire than inductance, capacitance and resistance. It’s all a bit confusing for the layman, and the further you delve into this topic, the more complex and, often, less enlightening it gets. So, snake oil or credible science? The answer is never quite so straightforward – which is why I like to keep it simple when it comes to wiring up my system – nothing too fancy.

Which was why I was wary of the one-metre single-ended pair of AudioQuest Columbia interconnects passed to me. What on earth were those cylindrical packs affixed to the input end of the wires, I wondered? It didn’t help that there was a tiny button on each of these things which, when pressed, activated a small green LED.

Then again, AudioQuest is a cable company of some repute and surely, there had to be an explanation? The extra bits are what the company calls its patented dielectric-bias system (DBS). In theory, any insulation on the cable slows down the passage of the signal through the conductor inside.

DBS “creates a strong and stable electrostatic field which saturates and polarises the molecules of the insulation.” This, in turn, supposedly minimises energy storage in the insulator and non-linear time delays. The results, claim AudioQuest, are a quieter cable with improved detail and dynamic contrasts. There are batteries in the pack, which should last for years – the LED indicates battery status.

The conductor is solid and extreme-purity copper, and the dielectric is an air tube, and it takes about two weeks of use for the sonic effects of the Teflon shield to be eliminated.

The Columbia is available with RCA or XLR connectors – the review unit was the former.

The interconnects were used between an upgrade Bluenote Stibbert CD player and Krell KAV-400xi integrated amp, driving Audio Physics Tempo speakers via Stereovox Firebird cables.

For comparison, I had a pair of JPS Labs Superconductor Q and DH Labs Air Matrix interconnects. The usual running in was conducted over a few weeks.

What’s very obvious about the Columbia was how clean and focused it audio streaming sounded across the frequency spectrum. Initially, I found the treble a touch grainy and etched, but this smoothened out with use, and eventually, the Columbia settled down to audio streaming sound spacious and well-paced, if a tad more relaxed than the JPS (which also had more grunt) and Air Matrix.

It was a bit lean towards the bass end of things, but tight and well-controlled, so if your system has too enthusiastic lows and audio streaming sounds a bit too syrupy, the Columbia is a good bet to put things back on even keel.

These are remarkably well-behaved interconnects, never accentuating on any particular area but instead, allowing the music to flow freely, as any good pair of wires should, and very light of feet when it comes to dynamics. If you have a mid-to-high-end system that requires a bit of fine-tuning, and you need interconnects that don’t get in the way, the AudioQuest Columbia warrants an audition.


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