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Iconoclast by Belden Speaker and Interconnect Cables and BAV Power Cords Review

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Comments on results:

It can be seen that the number of permutations for wiring are greater than many audiophiles realize, and that I go to great lengths in comparison of systems! I am a System Builder; I put together these variants of systems within one week, did intensive listening, and formed conclusions for this article in that time period. No attention was paid to “break in” or “burn in” as it is completely unnecessary for assessment of gear. Building new systems is a far more powerful tool in assessing equipment than waiting for break in. I do not rely upon presumption; I build rigs to find out what actually will happen!

In recent years the general superiority of bi-wiring has seen two exceptions, the speakers involved being the Vapor Audio Joule White and the King’s Audio Kingsound King III electrostatic speakers. Apart from these, in every instance where I have compared bi-wired speakers, it has been superior to single wiring and with jumpers. Use of parallel (double) speaker cables and/or double jumpers to single-wired speakers opens up variables too great to isolate here. Generally, doubled speaker cables and doubled jumpers have been superior to singles. I do not have enough data to formulate a strong conclusion as to whether using both doubled up speaker cables and doubled jumpers is universally superior to bi-wiring.

Observations and conclusions regarding bi-wire vs. jumpers

The choice to use or not use the Schroeder Method of IC Placement has no bearing on results of bi-wiring versus jumpers; yes, I have tested it. What I mean by this is the presence of the doubled ICs does not negate the influence of manipulating the speaker cables or jumpers. The interconnects are an independent variable, not determinative of speaker cable operation.

If a speaker has only one set of speaker posts, parallel speaker cabling is usually superior, but see the comments below in regard to the Salk Sound SS 9.5 speakers in use with the Iconoclast SPTPC speaker cables. The question of whether speaker cables should be mixed (i.e., different brand/model) I am not addressing at this time. I recommend for proper assessment using identical speaker cable sets initially, and introducing particular alternative cables only after a preferred complete set is chosen.

My comparisons showed the bi-wire setup to be superior to the use of jumpers (either one pair or doubled). I strongly discourage use of a single pair of speaker cables with a double set of jumpers, as in every instance I have done so, the speaker system becomes imbalanced, the output of the driver(s) having the doubled jumpers increasing to dominate the sound, and making it unpleasant. When double speaker and jumper cables were used, with only two channels of the amp, a diminishment in the quality and strength of the bass was the most noticeable result, with an attendant emphasis on the upper midrange and treble. The most pleasant aspect of the result was a sense of openness in the upper frequencies, but this was the result of a relatively diminished low end, not a positive change. The treble and bass of the L5 MkII can be contoured, but this could not eliminate the issues of less clean transients and macrodynamic weakness.

Returning to the bi-wire setup was like breathing fresh air again. The system opened up and the midrange especially bloomed, voices filling with color again. A critical aspect of the superiority of the bi-wire setup was the use of two additional channels of the i.V4 amplifier to allow the bass to be properly driven without also having to drive the less efficient ribbon towers. I joyously recommend the Legacy Audio i.V Ultra series amps to all enthusiasts, and advise that if one has bi-wired speakers, do not make the mistake of opting for two channels (i.V2 Ultra). The extra channels (i.V4 Ultra) are relatively inexpensive, and make a noticeable difference in terms of giving your speakers robustness!

A seemingly small change, but surprisingly efficacious in terms of benefit to the sound quality, was swapping the locations of the banana and spade speaker cable connectors. On the third iteration, when reestablishing the bi-wire system, I put the spades on the mid/bass tower and the bananas on the tweeter. I much prefer this arrangement, as the L5 MkII took on additional resolution and a smidgen of warmth. I do have multiple pairs of Iconoclast speaker cables in the review pile, and they were employed as I did a special article dedicated to revisiting the phenomenon of “burn in.” That article has just been finished, entitled Audio Blast: Burn In Test Redux. I compared a never used I.V4 Ultra Amp placed on a piece of plywood on the carpeting, operating from an absolutely new state and a cold start, a set of unused Iconoclast cables and Belden BAV Power Cords, and without additional tweaks versus the same amplifier broken in for 200 hours on an amp stand, with burned in cables, isolation products, and warmed up! Anyone interested in best methods for assembling and improving their system will want to read the article!

Every slight adjustment to the speakers, from a miniscule turn of the attenuator of the ribbon tweeters to altering the baffle slope, was rendered cleanly by the Iconoclast cables. They are so clean and informationally rich that persons wishing to contour systems will be assured to hear whatever changes are made, and with such cables one can also be assured of this; if a change to the system does not result in an easily heard effect, it is negligible.


What about those power cords?

I have said little about the Belden BAV Power cords used in this review, the 19105 10AWG model. Do not let that give you the impression I was unimpressed by them. Quite the opposite; they are a fine sounding power cord, and at a remarkably low cost. I have used a lot of pricey PCs, but the set of BAV PCs was as capable as any. They are work horses, with an industrial sheath on the jacket that smells like factory shop for the first hours, but the smell seemed to dissipate well enough over a couple of hours. The plugs are robust and pleasant enough looking, certainly nice enough at the price point. They do not twist a great deal, but are more flexible than the interconnects or speaker cables.

They have one significant problem; they don’t stay anchored tightly in the wall socket. They slip easily, and sag from the outlet. This needs to be fixed forthright by Iconoclast. The slippage is so significant that it does not take much pull to loosen them entirely from the outlet — fall out, in other words. That is unacceptable for a PC for high end audio purposes. I will grant that I used them only in conjunction with a particular Furutech audiophile outlet, and they may not behave that way with all outlets. At the other end, they snug in at the 15 Amp IEC petty well, whereas some other PCs fit loosely into the socket of components while the BAV hugs them acceptably.

Am I going to stop using the BAV because it is loose in the outlet? No, but I watch them to occasionally push them back in. If pulling on another power cord, it is possible for one of them to become detached, and I have to reinsert it. I presume Iconoclast will hasten to correct this significant but addressable problem. Regardless, the price is a steal given the performance. I have had power cables in my system many multiples their cost that have not done better. I also have had no power interruption issues with these power cords. Even though the plug is not flush with the outlet (due to the weight of the cable), never did the power become interrupted.


Methods that work

Following my system building principles, I established several that I changed without regard to break in, in order to find an optimum result with the Iconoclast cables. Additionally, I did not see a clear indication of directionality of the cables, so I paid no attention to it. I believe Galen is not a proponent of cable directionality, and in my informal testing over the years it has failed the Law of Efficacy. If a cable has an indication of directionality, I will place it accordingly, but it means little to me.

Midway through the review, here is the system yielding the best result I have heard to date with the cables: SonicTransporter and SONORE Signature Rendu SE with systemOptique feature; Clarity Cable Supernatural USB (Iconoclast does not make a USB cable, but upon my urging, they are considering making one); COS D1 DAC+ Preamplifier, Kinki Studio EX-M1+ Integrated Amplifier, and the charming Aspen Acoustics speakers on review. In this instance the EX-M1+ continues to be used in output Mode 1+2 as an integrated amp powering the Lagrange L5 MkII’s midrange and treble drivers, and its preamp output (simultaneously) feeding the line level signal to the speaker’s plate amp for the oppositional, slot-loaded subwoofer. All power cables were Belden BAV Power cables (2m).

For this new configuration I swapped out an integrated DAC for a dedicated DAC. I have never read or heard of anyone else in the high end describe a DAC with volume control as an ‘integrated DAC.’ The classification is BS. One might presume from the basis of so many incorrect system building decisions in audiophilia that an integrated DAC with an integrated amp would not outperform a dedicated DAC with the same integrated amp. I have learned to not presume but to actually build alternative rigs to test presumptions. All system combos must be tried to find the best setup, or you will have no assurance you have the best setup. Another common presumption; if one should include a DAC with attenuation, just open up the volume control fully, applying no attenuation, into the integrated amplifier and use the integrated amp’s volume control for listening levels. That way the integrated amp can handle the attenuation and the signal is sent to the integrated amp with less signal degradation.

That would be the expectation, wouldn’t it? It would be wrong, at least in this instance, and the best result would be to do the opposite. It was clearly superior to put the EX-M1+ Integrated’s output at 95, and use the COS DAC’s preamp’s output as the Volume control to adjust listening levels. Surprisingly, the digital readout goes beyond 100, but the associated noise level was too high to merit using a setting beyond 95. How can this be? I surely do not have all the answers, but this is not the first time such unexpected results have happened. It occurs often enough that when I have two devices with attenuation, I always try all options as to which device should be set to fixed and which to variable attenuation.

In the past I opted for the Buffered output setting on the COS DAC because the Unbuffered output simply was not smooth enough. Now, with this combination of gear and the Iconoclast cables, the Unbuffered output was not only smooth but agreeably more highly detailed, a superior setting with this arrangement. Not only should alternative components be checked as to synergy, but settings on components as well! This takes time, and many listeners do not wish to put much effort into tuning a system’s hardware. That is a personal decision, but if the goal is to optimize performance, such things must be explored.

Along the way of this discovery, I had no doubt the Iconoclast cables would easily reveal all the changes, and they did. Reinforcement of the cables’ non-fatiguing character while having high definition and resolution was the outcome as well. I am confident that I can push any rig to an extreme and find an elegant sound quality by using the Iconoclast by Belden cables. I have been repeatedly using a few new tracks as I build and improve these systems, including Morgan James’s “Call My Name,” and Lake Street Dive’s “Baby, Don’t Leave Me Alone with My Thoughts.” I especially love cleaning up Morgan’s soprano as she reaches for high notes, and Dive’s upright bass playing of Bridget Kearney. Returning to Jamison Ross’s “Don’t Go to Strangers,” I am hearing the recording venue continue to deepen and his voice extend into it, while capturing more warmth. It was a most pleasing development that the Iconoclast cables seemed limitless in their ability to reveal system changes, while also resisting adding stridency as resolution increased.



Preferences continued to clearly show themselves when I did a comparison of complete sets of cables between the Clarity Cable line, which has been a long-term favorite, and the Iconoclast line. The comparison involved four power cords, two sets of XLR interconnects, and two sets of speaker cables, both systems configured precisely the same. As Iconoclast has no USB cable, I used the Clarity Cable Supernatural USB (1m) in both systems, my preferred USB cable to date. With my typical Small Green Computer sonicTransporter and SONORE Signature Rendu SE with systemOptique connection, I began with the Clarity Vortex Power cords on the COS D1 DAC + Pre-Amplifier, the Legacy Audio i.V4 Ultra Amp, and the two power cords on the Lagrange L5 MkII’s plate amps, which drive its active subwoofers. I used an alternative system configuration, splitting the output of the DACs under comparison by use of Audio Sensibility silver conductor XLR Y-Cables and two pairs of Clarity Cable Organic XLR 2m cables, making four outputs from the COS D1, which were sent to the i.V4 Ultra’s four channels. Two pairs of speaker cables, the Clarity Cable Organic Speaker Cables, were sent to the L/R Mid/Bass towers of the speaker, while another pair was used for the tweeter towers. There remained a need to send a signal to the input of the L5 MkII’s plate amps driving the active bass. For this I relied upon a pair of Clarity Cable 3m RCA cables, also connected to the output of the DAC. Both the stock configuration of the Exogal Comet and the COS D1 DAC + Pre-Amplifier allow for both XLR and RCA outputs to be used concurrently.The output of the plate amp on the L5 MkII is adjustable, so any difference in output between a source component’s RCA and XLR outs can be compensated for.

My play list for this comparison included, but was not limited to:

  • Acoustic Alchemy “Templemeads”
  • Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews/Lenny Kravitz “Something Beautiful”
  • Erin Bode “Chasing After You”
  • Marc Cohn “Ghost Train”
  • Everything but the Girl “Downtown Train” (live)
  • Don Williams “I’m Just A Country Boy”


The baseline sound of the Clarity Cable setup was as typical for this product, a sound that I have been familiar with for years due to continuous use of complete sets with much gear. The Clarity set was weighted heavily toward the bottom end, with prodigious amounts of both warmth and weight. The Clarity Cables are one of the very few that have this bottom end weighting, as other cables in sets I have reviewed are not as tipped toward the bass range. There is a slight gap between the treble and bass, with the midrange recessed, or weaker, and the presence of the treble stronger again, but not quite as powerful as the bass. The sound is clean and, compared to the Iconoclast set, rounded, and the treble does not have edginess or glare. The cables I have used that sound worse than Clarity Cable have exhibited lighter low end, and if they add resolution, they do so in a more strident fashion such that the cable set seems brighter and more forward. None of these had superior midrange to the Clarity Cables, and many had worse bass. Especially with a harsher, brighter sound from any given set of components, I reached for the Clarity Cables.

With the first change from the Vortex power cords to the Belden BAV, the system snapped into better resolution without calling undue attention to the treble. The abundance of bass presence, really a mid-bass emphasis, was pushed back into line with the Iconoclast set, such that no longer could the bass line call attention away from a singer or instrumental soloist. Additional resolution pushed back the boundaries of the recording space, and a higher degree of air around instruments such as guitar added to the sense of ease.

The change to the Iconoclast interconnects was perhaps less jarring but was striking in the package of extra information revealed. The guitar work on “Templemeads” lost some of its brusk quality and smoothed nicely. Integration of the separate instruments on the soundstage was also a result of the superior detail retrieval. Sibilance on “Hello World” by Lady A was chased away to some degree by the addition of definition.

All through the comparison I relied heavily upon Roon’s user interface, particularly the drop-down menu’s “History” function. This allowed me to backtrack to the precise list of previously played pieces for replay. I use this continuously in comparison of equipment as it allows for timelier access to performances. The Iconoclast speaker cables shelved up again the positive changes until it became abundantly clear that a major transition had occurred. The Clarity Cable set was less clean, less clear. It was more rugged, less refined. Some like that character, as though hearing a home studio recording, but it is entirely less precise.

One significant aspect of Clarity Cable that Iconoclast cannot mimic is the bass presence/emphasis. I presume Galen would call this an anomaly not in keeping with the purest signal transmission, however it is quite possible that individuals with harsh, strident systems lacking low end presence would benefit and perhaps find the Clarity Cable set’s sound more to their liking. But, with all of my speakers, I did not feel the bass emphasis was most desired compared to the high degree of precision and frequency spectrum balance of the Iconoclast cables. As I built systems through the weeks with different speakers, these results were consistent, which is in keeping with my observation that cables have intrinsic sound characteristics regardless of the equipment used.

12 Responses to Iconoclast by Belden Speaker and Interconnect Cables and BAV Power Cords Review

  1. Fred Crowder says:

    I just wanted to comment that I have heard these cables in a friend’s system with first the interconnects added and later the speaker wire. In each case the substitution was dramatic in its positive effect on the sound. They certainly are comparable to cables selling for a multiple of their price. Whether they are the “best” that can be had at any price remains unclear, but they are a wonderful value. With respect to break in, I will only say that my experience is different from that of Doug. This is particularly true of cables that use Teflon as insulator or which have very complex wire geometries.

  2. Fred,
    God’s Peace,

    Nice to have your contribution to the thread! Thanks!


  3. Geoffrey de Brito says:

    Well, I went to their website and $1200 -$1900. for an 8ft pair of speaker wires is far too much not just for me but I suspect for most audiophiles. The simple reason why most audiophiles look for giant killer components is because we can’t afford a truly high end system. Salk’s $10k speakers fall into that category as well. Based on the author’s commentary, I guess this is a rich folks hobby, as no one else need apply? Sad…

  4. Geoffrey,
    God’s Peace,

    Read to the end of the article, please. There are other models of the cables, and some less expensive from the Blue Jeans Cable brand, with similar design that are much cheaper.

    A story to encourage you; when I was in college I thought I never would own fine audio equipment, as I had school debt and did not anticipate having high income. I worked at it, did not overspend on eating out, trips, clothes, alcohol, did not gamble, etc. I also budgeted, and in the budgeting included some for audio. Decades later, I have achieved far more than I dreamed, due to God’s blessing, smart investing and budgeting (and living by the budget). If you do similar, you may find yourself with a stunning HiFi someday. Today? No. Someday? Sure! Working toward, and achieving longer term goals in HiFi is greatly rewarding!

    Douglas Schroeder

    • Geoffrey de Brito says:

      Thanks for the encouraging words. To my embarrassment, I did not read the entire article. Ill check out the more affordable offerings you cite.

  5. Harvey K. Rosenbaum says:

    Dear Doug,
    Thank you for your detailed review. Did you compare the versions of Iconoclast interconnects built with other “grades” of copper?
    Kind regards,

  6. Harvey,
    God’s Peace,

    I appreciate your reply. No, I did not compare the other conductors in use by Iconoclast. The review was sweeping, prolific, and frankly, I spend my time with upper end products now mostly. I prefer to compare the best between companies, not mid-level products. So, I cannot speak specifically to the comparative sound of the lower line products.

    However, I believe they would be impressively capable compared to other comparably priced cables, given that they are using the same geometry and AWG. Iconoclast discusses the expected difference in performance between them and the top models. I would trust them on that discussion, given my findings in regard to performance. Were I to need some more affordable cables, I would be looking at Iconoclast first.

    Douglas Schroeder

  7. Hi Doug,
    A little off-topic, but I am curious if you have listened to any of the higher-end Pangea cables? The design and manufacturing philosophy appears similar to these Iconoclast by Belden, and as with the Beldens and Blue Jeans they are sold through one retail outlet (AA). I have a few of the Pangea interconnects and power cables and have been impressed by the performance/price ratio.

  8. Bob,
    God’s Peace,

    No, I have not compared any Pangea Cables, so I will not speculate. I tried an inexpensive Pangea USB Cable which was serviceable, but not exciting.

    Douglas Schroeder

  9. Dan C. says:

    Most audiophiles and videophiles considering the power cables would likely plug them into standard wall outlets, rather than ultra-expensive audiophile aftermarket wall outlets. Did you test the power cable plug snugness/fit in a standard wall outlet, or even a hospital-grade wall outlet?

  10. Roy Foliente says:

    I just purchased a 10AWG BAV power cord from Iconoclast per Doug’s high opinion. Frankly, these sound horrible. Compared against my 6AWG Sablon Prince, it’s a step down in dynamics which is not a surprise but what was disappointing is how slow and smeared the BAV power cord sounds. Good thing it comes with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee because this thing is going back.

  11. Douglas Schroeder says:

    God’s Peace,

    Cables are only properly assessed in terms of performance when compared in whole sets, i.e. full complement of power cords, interconnects and speaker cables. It takes more work, time and money than most are willing to put into it. Insertion of a power cable into an optimized system yields unpredictable results. Similarly, poor results, perhaps too much stridency or high end energy, might occur by placing a Sablon power cable into any given system. If I recall correctly, I wrote in the article that as I migrated from a different brand of interconnects and speaker cables to the Iconoclast brand, the BAV Power Cords performed better.

    Given that the BAV Power Cord is supposed to be used with Iconoclast Cables, the 5′ Sablon power cord you compared is 17 times more expensive ($2,900 vs. $170), and you seem not to have bothered to get enough of them to get a good sense of what they do, I consider your evaluation to have little value.

    Finally, if someone is not going to assess a power cable properly in an entire manufacturer’s set, they may at least try the power cord in several locations in the system. There is typically a spot where it will perform unexpectedly well. If I am forced to use a mix of power cords, I try them in all locations and there are usually surprises as to which PC performs best in any given location.

    Last week I was visiting an audiophile who bought a BAV PC and had tried it on his subwoofer. He didn’t like the result; he said it was muddy sounding. As we listened to his amp, I suggested he try the BAV PC on it. He was reluctant, as though he knew how it sounded. On my third suggestion of it, he swapped the Audioquest power cord for the BAV, and we both felt the system sounded better. He was shocked because he thought he knew what the BAV PC sounded like. Using a single power cord in one location in a mix of cables tells you not much about the potential of the power cord.

    Douglas Schroeder

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