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

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[This page contains text only for intense reading. -Pub.]

Helping a vintage restoration

In November of 2020, a family that knows I am heavily into audio gave me a vintage set of Ohm Walsh Model F speakers that were in need of some repair. The cabinets, spiders and surrounds were heavily compromised to the point that the family was embarrassed to offer the speakers to me. They were sitting at the edge of the garage, waiting to be loaded into a van to be hauled to the dump, when someone suggested that perhaps I might have an interest. They had previously contacted a nephew, who remarked that he did not have much use for them as there was no direct way to hook them up using a USB connection! That highlighted the Grand Canyon-sized technology gap between the patriarch of the family who procured the Model F’s decades prior and the young relative who failed to appreciate classic HiFi speakers. I cannot say I blame the young man, as when I was younger my father’s Soundcraftsmen speakers, which were like furniture and treated as such with lamps atop, were of little interest to me. They were a part of my father’s era, holdovers from the Heathkit separates that he had built, but as much as they meant to me emotionally, they were not worthy of use at my level of system building, so I let them go. I have far more important mementos from my dad, and I resisted keeping something that I would not use out of a sense of obligation. That is how one’s life gets cluttered with material things that turn a home into a flea market. We are unavoidably products of our technological environment and, conversely, I was happy that Ohm Model F speakers would be offered to me. They are a nostalgia play for me, and will stay as long as they provide fun and decent enough sound.

I proceeded to seek competent repair, and after traveling in excess of 1,300 miles in two 12-hour round trip drives to Midwest Speaker Repair in Roseville, MN, I had refurbished speakers for under $250 repair cost! There are more extensive and expensive repairs possible for these speakers, the two most well-known being Bill Legal at Millersound, and Dale Harder’s HHR Exotic, which offers an entire speaker rebuild that I estimated would have cost, including the potentially precarious act of shipping the drivers, in the ballpark of $7.5K. I was not interested in spending that kind of money on spiffing up a vintage set of speakers, especially since the one cabinet had massive damage to the integrity of the MDF, with two cracks running the entire length underneath the bottom and a split opening up on the front corner. I chose to use a tube of industrial strength glue to inject into the gaps and make them solid again. That left a cosmetic gap in the open seam, which I filled with wood putty. It is a hack repair, one that was motivated by nothing more than getting the speakers operating without high cost. Purists may condemn the maneuver, but I do not care. When one owns multiple superior speakers (not a judgment of current Ohm or similar designs), decisions on allocation of funds and purposes in ownership dictate the decisions of how much to invest into a freebie project. The money that would have been allocated for the refurbishing was put toward the L5 MkII, and in my estimation as someone who seeks high end sound, it was allocated properly.

One of the more interesting aspects of this rebuild was that initially I was convinced that the speaker would only have marginal performance capabilities due to its older design. I was right; there was a huge performance problem that manifested itself, the fact that the bass cabinets were stuffed to the gills with dense foam, thus suffocating the free air flow of the driver into the bass bin. I fixed it by simply removing half the material, and the speaker was energized, yea, revitalized! Through the years I had reached a conclusion that vintage speakers had inherent problems such that they did not have the capacity to sound on a quality level with my other reference speakers. The recovery of this speaker through the jettisoning of the cabinet’s dense packed material brought these speakers closer to, yet not on a par with, contemporary performance expectations.

The Iconoclast Cables were instrumental in setting up the best system with the Model F. The uncluttered sound quality of these cables was helpful in comparing three DACs being used to find an optimized sound. The three DACs were the COS DAC1+ Preamplifier, the most erudite but also the softest in terms of relation of treble to midrange and bass; the Eastern Electric Minimax Tube DAC Supreme, which was the stiffest, and yet had more treble presence to assist the soft top end of the Model F; and the Exogal Comet with Plus Power Supply, which was overall superior in both retrieving fine detail and providing a strong enough treble, while not whitewashing the mid/bass. The Comet with the Legacy Audio i.V4 Ultra Amplifier (Class D) was the perfect combo to present high power and supreme cleanness to these vintage drivers. This combination of integrated DAC and amplifier has been superlative with many speakers. In all of this, the Iconoclast Cables were honest, not editorializing, and most suitable to hear clearly the changes to systems when rearranging components.


How to blow up an amp

Do not let the metal casing of the Iconoclast interconnects’ plugs rest against the metal of the banana speaker cables when connected to an amp! Result? Amplifier damage! I had inadvertently allowed the Iconoclast RCA interconnects of one channel to rest against the red banana (positive) speaker cables’ metal housing, and when I turned on the Pass Labs XA200.8 Monos, one channel was humming rather loudly. I was stymied at first, given that these are dead quiet amps. One might think the fuse would be tripped, but it wasn’t. It was a short, but the amp kept on going despite the fact that I began to smell a faint odor of burning. Immediately I killed the power and with assessment found the problem. Rectifying it, I reset the amp. It worked! Pass Labs amps are incredibly well built and tough! There was a faint hum toward the rear of the amp; obviously some damage was done, but not enough to wreck the amp’s operation. The hum came through the speaker, but was not high level, faint enough that it was almost inaudible at the listening chair, and undetectable with the music playing. As one of the foremost amplifier manufacturers in the world, Pass Labs was gracious and offered immediately to have the amp returned for repair.

There is an associated observation in regard to these two sets of cables and the hum emanating from the amp. The observation is in line with results I have obtained over the years from other cables and noises in the system. When a person handles enough gear, on the order of dozens of DACs, amps, preamps, etc., they will encounter noise, either from the component itself or from ground loop hums. Years ago, I had the frustration of a pronounced ground loop hum in my system due to the light dimmers of the wall sconces, even though they were on a different circuit of my home’s power. With certain combinations of gear, I had to listen with the lights turned completely off, which would be a disaster if one only had sconces, but I also have a set of can lights in the room, also dimmable, and these are less susceptible to hum.

Even in my extremely overbuilt room that has a very low ambient noise level (think along the lines of a bank vault’s quietness), the noise inside the aforementioned damaged XA200.8 was so minimal that I had to draw closer to the unit in order to hear it — that is, when using the Iconoclast cables. However, when I swapped out the entire set of the ill-fated Inakustik Cables, I was taken aback by the leap in level of the noise! It now became problematic; the damaged amp’s respective speaker’s noise increased unacceptably. While the hum internal to the amp was still not bothersome at the seat, the speaker hum was quite pronounced both when music was not playing and during quiet passages.

How can a set of cables so radically alter the level of noise of a component? I do not know; I’m certain Galen knows. I do know, however, that this has been a phenomenon I have noted previously, and the character of the noise is an indicator of the cables’ tonal palate! That may sound strange, but cables that present as having a significant amount of bass presence show less irritating noise through the speakers, while cables that have less bass presence and higher treble presence present more irritating noise through the speakers. The efficiency of the speaker vastly influences the outcome. Whenever a system sends noise through one of the dynamic speakers, like the Vapor Joule White or the Legacy Audio Whisper DSW Clarity Edition, both about 93dB sensitivity, if I switch to the Kingsound King III electrostatic speakers at 83dB sensitivity, the noise is much less prominent. That sea change in noise with different speakers is expected, as well as differing degrees of perceived nuance and dynamics. What is not often expected is the evident change in the amount of relative noise due to changing cables!

Based on such experiences, I have reached a conclusion that cables that have a superior — that is, extended — frequency response present as tonally richer, fuller, covering much more of the tonal spectrum. Typically, this is most noticeable in terms of the balance between the low end and high end of the frequency spectrum. If the midrange were a fulcrum, cables that weight the upper end of the frequency spectrum in situations where an upstream noise source is present show a lot more noise through speakers, while cables that are in my estimation more balanced top to bottom, or even weighting the bottom end slightly, show less noise through speakers. The Iconoclast cables simply did not transmit as much noise as the Inakustik set.

The balance of the frequency spectrum makes all the difference in terms of how holistically pleasing cables are; I care less for any cables that emphasize the top end while being light on the bottom. The perception is that they are superior in information retrieval, but careful listening shows that is not the case. They seem superior in that respect because the bass is relatively weaker. Similar to a bookshelf speaker, all of the upper end detail stands out because there is less happening beneath to draw attention away from it.


How to blow up traditional amp performance

It used to be that you blew up traditional amp performance by getting a better traditional amp. What do I mean by “traditional”? I mean Class A or A/B solid state, or any given tube amp. Now, to blow up — that is, greatly surpass — traditional amp performance you need to turn to Class D!

Oh, no, not another “Class D is getting close to A or A/B, or tube amps” comment! No, this is not such a comment; it’s a declaration that Class D has become better than those other operating classes. The community will receive a gut punch in the review of the Legacy Audio i.V4 Ultra Amplifier review, and it’s about time! The negligible, “nice try” class of amplification is now the undisputed class to beat. The tables have turned and, comparatively, the others are failing – failing to give the sound quality that is now expected of uppermost systems.

I blew up all previous system performance results when I hooked up the Iconoclast cables to the i.V4 Ultra. This amp with these cables — this combo is beyond exciting, it is intoxicating! It’s like being strung out on audio drugs. I wouldn’t know what use of recreational drugs is like, as I have never used them. But the euphoria that sets in when eminently pleased at the sound of a system is like a hit for the pleasure center of the brain.

Before the Salk SS 9.5 speakers arrived, I had concluded I was perhaps done with box speakers. The review for the SS 9.5 was already planned, and the speakers being built, so I was not going to dump the review. I thought I would honor my commitment to the article and send them back, no problem. I’m really struggling with that decision now. Not the decision to take delivery of the speakers and do the review, but the decision to send them back! I do not need a set of dynamic speakers; I recently sold the Vapor Joule Whites and bought the Lagrange L5 MkII, converting that review into one of my rare owner’s reviews. But, the sound of the SS 9.5 with the i.V4 Ultra is soooooooooo good! I placed them in a nearer field setup and they gotthe job done in a premium fashion! I had used them in several iterations with the Pass Labs XA200.8 Monos, but they didn’t reach the level of quality of the i.V4 Ultra.

Further, the Roon upgrade has come out, and the speakers and amp are loving it. The Iconoclast cables keep channeling more and more beauty to me from the components. The more resolving the system becomes, the more refined it sounds; the more blossom on the petals, the more beautiful the bouquet. For many years I have been saying that it is a mistake to seek less detail in a system. If you feel there is too much definition, then you have a problem elsewhere in the rig, likely in terms of tonal balance. The Iconoclast cables are giving me ever increasing resolution of the system with no etch, no scratch, no jab, no pinch —a smoothness with refinement in beautiful, tonally balanced playback is an art form. This cable line is a work of art, as much as the i.V4 Ultra Amp is.


The unappreciated aspect of cable reviews

At some point the inevitable happens, and in regard to cable systems the inevitable is that a particular combination of components will benefit from a slight blending of brands of cables. Yes, I am about to say that I did find a way to improve system performance with insertion of a small amount of Clarity Cable product into the system, in this case, one power cord carefully placed. A bit of explanation is in order.

I admonish “cable mixers” as I have taken to calling them (I used to be one) to give it up. Mixing cables without a plan is not seriously pursuing HiFi, it’s playing at it. For many, that is all they want to do. They have heard the declarations that variances in component operations ensure that cables do not have a characteristic sound. I suspect the vast majority of these individuals have not used sets of cables for comparison, for if they had, they would learn it is incorrect. It is eminently clear when actually comparing sets of cables with all varieties of components that the cables carry intrinsic sound qualities to whatever gear they are associated. The set of cables used as per manufacturer’s recommendation is the starting point for working with cables, and there is no other proper starting point with cables. If at some point Iconoclast pursues other reviews for their products, Galen will be horrified to learn that most reviewers have no clue what they are doing with cables, mixing and reviewing them without regard to consistency of sets for assessment.

One might think, then, that I have an absolute aversion to any mixing of cables. Not at all! I often mix cables, but I always begin with a homogenous set to find a baseline. No baseline, no assured progress. We have some very intelligent people in the audio community whom this simple principle evades. Frankly, it is due more to misinformation, ignorance of the enormity of the performance spectrum, laziness and cheapness all obstructing serious exploration. Once a baseline has been established with a preferred set— the Clarity Cables products were my go-to cables, but with this review the Iconoclast/Belden set is preferred — only then may consideration be given to slight adjustment of the set by minor mixing of cables.

What do I mean by “minor mixing”? Replacement of perhaps one or two cables, and often I begin with power cords for such adjustments, as it has been my experience that if the sound is overall pleasing, then there is less potential for negative effects so long as the low-level signal cables are left intact. That has generally, though not always, been true. The benefit of a power cable change is what I would term tangential, with enough impact to be heard but not enough to skew the system enormously away from the baseline. Importantly to my conclusions, in all but one instance of the review systems I found complete pleasure through combining components and using a homogenous set of the Iconoclast/Belden products. Occasionally I “upgraded” the cables from RCA to XLR, and always enjoyed the Schroeder Method of IC Placement over single interconnect pairs. I tried the slight blending method several times with various systems, but typically returned to the homogenous Iconoclast/BAV set.

Among the many systems I built was a combination of speakers and components that simply sounded better with a slight tweak of cables versus the full Iconoclast/BAV set. That combination of speakers and components was with the Legacy Whisper speakers. Note that I do not point to the speaker, but rather the unique pairing of a particular set of components with the speaker, which could happen with any speaker system. The COS D1 DAC + Pre-Amplifier had been outstanding with several speakers, but as I continued to listen to it, I thought that the Exogal Comet might bring even more vibrancy to the system. I was right; the Comet added more resolution, but the tonality was off. Some would say the speakers were a mismatch with the electronics, or that there was no “synergy,” and they would leave it at that. I do not care to accept defeat so easily when setting up initial systems, so I will make changes rapidly, sometimes several in a day, to attain superior results.

In this case, the midrange was weak, the tonality lacking. I know the Whisper is capable of much better, and being familiar with the character of Clarity Cable products, I thought that the insertion of a Vortex Power Cord might bring better warmth and fullness. I first exchanged a BAV Power Cord on the Comet DAC for a Clarity Cable Vortex Power Cord, and while this brought the expected warmth and bass presence, it also unacceptably lowered the resolution. I chided myself, because my very first impression was to put the Vortex PC on the Legacy Audio i.V4 Ultra Amplifier, so I reversed course, then followed through with that exchange. In this way there was still only one Clarity Cable Vortex PC in the system.

The system was enhanced by the replacement of the BAV power cord on the amp by the Clarity Vortex Power Cord. The improvement of detail and generosity of depth of soundstage was impressive. Here was a result that could not happen with either full set! Only in a slight mixing was this particular “flavor” obtained. That is how it has gone for years; particular groupings of gear and speakers are benefitted more not by a perfectly homogenous set of cables, but a nearly homogenous set! The most I have had to alter complete sets is by one pair of interconnects or one or two power cords, leaving the preferred loom of cables largely intact. This is one reason that I always have on hand no less than two or three brands/models of interconnects and power cords from different manufacturers. Over the years, Clarity Cable has been preferred overall. Now, Iconoclast is my preference, but even now I would not wish to be without some Clarity Cables to offer me the option of tuning with a slight mixture of cables.

Cable makers have loved my advice to work with complete sets, but have disliked my conclusions about minor mixing of cables. They all hate it because it might be misconstrued by some as a qualified endorsement of their product. That is not true; I qualify sets of cables, but no mixing of cables can be qualified in an absolute sense. I simply find that with particular systems, a minor mixing helps. That in no way contradicts my findings in regard to sets of cables and their efficacy.


An ending with a twist

My conclusion to this article comes with a couple of twists, like the beautiful blue twisted appearance of the jacket of the SPTPC Speaker Cables. The first is that I had intended to include in this article an extended discussion of the Iconoclast/Belden products in conjunction with the Legacy Audio Whisper speakers. I simply have so much to get done in terms of system building and writing that it must be treated in the Legacy Audio i.V4 Ultra Amplifier review. I intend to beg the use of the Iconoclast cables to finish up that review, as I was given three sets of interconnects and speaker cables for that purpose. The i.V4 Ultra article will discuss use of this Class D amp with the Whisper in both passive and active modes. To give you some sense of how busy my reviewing schedule is, while I have been working on the i.V4 Ultra Amp, the Iconoclast Cables, and the Salk SS 9.5 reviews, another huge speaker has arrived and is being staged for review. I do not have a lot of down time in this hobby, and I’m always building systems with fine equipment to advance my system and explore products. My reviews are summaries of the exploration process and discovery of the particulars of superior system building in conjunction with various products. Along the way, I become intimately familiar with the products, and this aids potential customers, a win-win situation.

I presume this development, the exclusion of the active/passive use of the Whisper speaker with the Iconoclast/BAV cables, is disappointing, but I have given extensive treatment to these cables, and the anticipated result would differ in extent, not in kind. My intent to continue to use them for the Legacy i.V4 Ultra Amplifier review can be taken as endorsement of their suitability for such an important review. I plan on a comparison of the Legacy Whisper DSW Clarity Edition Speaker in two modes, active crossover and passive crossover, both of which the speaker accommodates. In conjunction with the stunning Legacy i.V4 Ultra (I have two units in my possession), I have no desire to use any other cable set for critical reviewing, much less the glorious casual listening sessions. I would be dispirited if I could not use the Iconoclast cables for that review. They are becoming a powerful reviewing tool for me.

As a teaser, the combo of the Exogal Comet DAC with its XLR output split to four channels, a pair of Legacy i.V4 Ultra Amps used as “multi-channel mono blocks” (yes, an oxymoron; only two channels of amplification used in each unit horizontally passively bi-amped) whilst bi-wiring the midrange and treble with two sets of spade-terminated Iconoclast SPTPC speaker cables, and a channel dedicated to the bass with a set of banana-terminated speaker cables and the Whisper in passive crossover mode made for a memorable introduction of the cables with this speaker.

The Iconoclast cables with the i.V4 Ultra Amp were unassailable with any speakers I used. No matter what I threw at this combination of gear, it was a premium listening experience. I enjoyed hearing Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen” with exceptionally noiseless, fatigue-free high power (600wpc), elevated listening level playback as rendered by 120” of total bass driver cone surface and 56” of mid/bass cone surface.Try to imagine how richly, effortlessly and warmly this old recording was presented!

Then I purposely ruined the mood by hearing at the same elevated level James Blake’s atrocity, “Limit To Your Love.” It was fun hearing the oscillating LF working the woofers with precision, but I had reached my limit and was not feeling the love. I soothed my soul with Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” which sounded like a vinyl pressing without the noise. With this level of cleanness, I suspect stylus noise for many will become a serious problem, a true irritant. My apologies, but discussion of the actively crossed system will have to wait for the amplifier review.

To assuage any disappointment, I include a final episode that may prove fascinating both to Iconoclast and to readers. Dagogo recently published my follow up to an article of mine published nearly a decade ago, entitled “Audiophile Law: Thou Shalt Not Overemphasize Burn In.” I compared several popular methods and tweaks, but found them to fail my Law of Efficacy, as they were ineffectual in actually changing the sound of equipment. In the follow up article, entitled “Audiophile Law: Burn In Test Redux,” I grouped seven popular tweaks and compared them to an identical setup without the tweaks. There will be no spoiler here; I encourage you to read the new article.

This particular set of Iconoclast cables played a prominent role in the comparisons, along with the svelte and quite linear Salk Audio SS 9.5. In a “tweak” that I feel actually does confer significant benefit, I employed the second unit of the Legacy i.V4 Ultra Amp, treating these four channel amps as though mono blocks, and the result was splendid! The improvement was akin to supercharging and refining the Class D amp, and it was so powerfully productive that while I have them, I will continue to use two units as monoblocks, even if using only one channel each. I hereby call upon Legacy Audio to begin work on a mono block version of the i.V Ultra series!

Curiously, the addition of a second set of Iconoclast speaker cables in the parallel configuration mentioned above did not result in superior overall sound quality! In divergence from most instances where this method was preferred, in this instance it hardened the sound, emphasizing the treble and bass to the point of masking the midrange. When I pulled the additional set of speaker cables out, better overall tonal balance resulted, and with little loss in resolution. This tells me that the design of the SPTCP speaker cable is indeed close to ideal, as adding conductor material seems problematic to the result. Galen has designed an optimized speaker cable that does not need additional help to reach elevated performance.

The precision and deftness of the Iconoclast by Belden and BAV Power Cord cable set was unsurpassed in terms of rendering a premium sound. I do not see an upside limit for recommendation of these cables. I strongly recommend them for all systems, regardless of system cost. The Iconoclast cables in my experience have eclipsed much more pricey cables, and in my estimation have won the war insofar as it pertains to cable sets I have used. In conjunction with more than half a dozen speaker systems, advancing steadily through dynamic, hybrid dynamic, omnidirectional, quasi-line source, horn hybrid, and electrostatic, they have not choked, not held back any nuances of system development and, critically, have improved richness and tonal color of every speaker system. I have not handled any cable that is at the same time so ruthlessly revealing but also ravishingly relaxing, an exceptionally difficult balancing act. They are as close to the perfect wire as I have used, their suitability for ultra-refined systems unmatched in my experience, and thus I consider their cost a relative bargain for those bent on abnormally high-end performance.

Make no mistake about it, Iconoclast is at war. Galen intends to use his prowess in design to combat the ridiculously priced —and he would say ridiculously designed — cables in the market. He told me personally that he wishes to give the serious enthusiast a chance to own cables designed and made to perfection by Blue Jeans Cable, to replace top tier products. For this, and for unassailable performance holistically, Iconoclast’s top line in conjunction with the BAV Power Cords receive my admiration, and as might be expected, the strongest recommendation I have ever given in regard to cables. Persons who are not playing games at audiophilia, especially those who have extravagantly priced cables, are encouraged to try the Iconoclast and BAV combo. Then, I hope that others haven’t beaten you to placing an ad for the overhyped cables Iconoclast slaughtered.

Now, for many, the most important paragraph of the review. What if you simply cannot afford the top echelon of Iconoclast? I have vetted the top models, but the mid and entry levels of Iconoclast products are designed and built with the same methods as the top models! From the website, “There are three options available for the conductor composition. Note that the difference between these is NOT a difference in design —nothing about the electromagnetic properties of the design is affected by the choice of conductor. Regardless of the material choice, the internal structure is the same, the manufacturing process is the same, and the termination methods and hardware are the same, with the full benefits of Galen Gareis’ design work in each.” Consider this to be among the best deals a great designer has given to audiophiles. While I have focused on the top models, Iconoclast and BAV is not only about cables to benefit the few, but to benefit the majority. I predict Galen’s take-no-prisoners approach will win out in your system, too!



Source: Small Green Computer sonicTransporter AP I7 4T and SONORE Signature Rendu SE and systemOptique; Salk Audio StreamPlayer Generation III with Roon interface

Streaming Music Service: Tidal premium

DAC:  COS D1 DAC + Pre; Exogal Comet DAC and Plus upgrade power supply; Eastern Electric Minimax DSD DAC Supreme with Burson, Sonic Imagery and Sparkos Labs Discrete Opamps

Preamp: TEO Audio Liquid Preamplifier; Tri-Art Audio Series B Preamplifier with Tube Linear Power Supply; Cambridge Audio 840E

Amps:  Pass Labs XA200.8 Mono Blocks; Exogal Ion (PowerDAC, used exclusively with Exogal Comet DAC); ; Tri-Art Audio Series B 60W Class D with Tube Linear Power Supply

Integrated: Redgum Audio Articulata; Kinki Studio EX-M1+

Speakers:  Kings Audio Kingsound King III; Legacy Audio DSW Clarity Edition; Tri-Art Audio Series B 5 Open; PureAudioProject Trio15 Horn 1; Kings Audio King Tower omnidirectional

Subwoofers: Legacy Audio XTREME HD (2)

IC’s: Schroeder Method (self-assembled) Clarity Cable RCA with Audio Sensibility Y Cables; Schroeder Method Audio Sensibility RCA; Schroeder Method Clarity Cable XLR with Audio Sensibility Y Cables; TEO Liquid Splash-Rs and Splash-Rc; TEO Liquid Standard MkII; Clarity Cable Organic RCA/XLR; Snake River Audio Signature Series Interconnects;

Speaker Cables: TEO Cable Standard Speaker; Clarity Cable Organic Speaker; Snake River Audio Signature Series Speaker Cables;

Digital Cables: Clarity Cable Organic Digital; Snake River Audio Boomslang; Silent Source “The Music Reference”

USB: Clarity Cable Supernatural 1m

Power Cables: Clarity Cable Vortex; MIT Oracle ZIII; Snake River Audio Signature Series; Anticables Level 3 Reference Series

Power Conditioning: Wireworld Matrix Power Cord Extender; Tice Audio Solo


Copy editor: Dan Rubin


Comment by Galen Gareis of Iconoclast by Belden:

All Iconoclast designs are supported with peer review analysis of the what, why and how they work. The attached paper is just one of many papers we’ve provided to make some technical senses of the process I used to make my measured and calculated versions of better analog cables. What the papers also show, is that analog frequencies aren’t ever going to be linear across time.  Some adjustments can be made, but there is no perfect audio cable. Iconoclast tries to improve the trade-offs of cost and performance for the audio market.

Cable is not so bad when we achieve good performance at a rock bottom price (zip cord 1313A). It can be made cheaply and does test remarkable well. But it isn’t nearly as good as it can actually be if the design is what you’re after. Iconoclast simply pursues that last push for best in class electrical balance.  The physics say what to do, the actual design to reach what the math and physics suggest isn’t sitting there for you. That part you have to figure out, and those designs are difficult, and expensive, to make.

Iconoclast was made only to measure and act like a proper analog signal cable with the limits of a passive design. Those limitations are well documented in reaching the electrical we now test on every assembly. You can’t hide from mother nature. And no, you can’t hide from the manufacturing plant that charges you the time it takes to make complex cable. So it is true that the push to improve electrical is expensive to do.

The in-use application determines if that extra level of measured performance difference is best for you. Reviews such as what we have here today [by Doug Schroeder] can help. Iconoclast does try to make prices affordable and offers even TPC copper as modern TPC copper is really good stuff, and when supported with a capable designs sounds good and affordable. Some suggest this isn’t “good enough” so long grain OFE is offered in the speaker cable and even UP OCC and OFE, both, in IC cable. Customers can compare and contrast the copper’s contributions…or not.

In the end we have a value equation. We try to avoid unsupported materials and complexity for calculated and measured attributes, always. As long as we stay centered on the accepted physics, cable can continue to get better and even cheaper as more is scaled and made. Iconoclast can’t jump over the economy scale as it is a specialty product. We can make sure prices are as low as possible for the current scale we have to price against.

Thank you for being part of the Iconoclast equation which has many parts. Users, reviewers, even prognosticators. It is all necessary in the pursuit of, “better is better,” and sound design creates sound performance.


Comment by Bob Howard of Blue Jeans Cable:

Thank You Constantine! We are most grateful to Doug and to you for the opportunity to be included for review. These are indeed special cables, patented, backed with math and science and 100% percent designed, manufactured, assembled and tested domestically through a joint effort between Belden and Blue Jeans Cable. Inexpensive? No, but in the world of high-end audio cabling, a tremendous value and within reach of most audiophiles and enthusiast wanting to replace what is so many times the weakest link in their system. Lastly, a no-risk opportunity for anyone curious about Iconoclast cable assemblies, with a “no questions asked” return policy.


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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