Iconoclast Introduction and Cable Comparison
Iconoclast Introduction and WireWorld Cable Comparison
Hello SFAS members,
As a lot of you have heard, since spring and Covid shutdown times, I’ve been changing my system around quite a bit. It has been turning out for the better. One of the first tests of change I implemented involved speaker cables and interconnects. I ran across the PS Audio Forum https://forum.psaudio.com/t/belden-iconoclast-interconnects-and-speaker-cabling/2038 where there was a long-running discussion of some new cables. This was the Iconoclast Cables discussion thread that dates back to March of 2015. What I enjoyed reading was how the cable designers Galen Gareis and Bob Howard at Blue Jeans Cables, very consistently were responding to every question directed their way and on the engineering side referenced principles and design criteria as they were discussed in white papers https://www.iconoclastcable.com/story/index.htm and were courteously replied to with extra info when questions were posed.
As is advertised on the Iconoclast web site, they offer a 30day trial/return policy. I figured it was worth a try. After talking with Bob at BJC he sent a set of speaker cables in both SPTPC (Silver Plated Tough-Pitch Copper) and OFE (Oxygen-Free Electrolytic Copper) and a set of balanced XLR cables in UPOCC (Ultra Pure Ohno Continuous Cast Copper). When the cables arrived I was running my Carver Amazing Loud Speakers(ALS) Platinum Mk. IV edition. These speakers are sooo much fun to listen with. The line source 60” ribbon midrange/tweeter and 4-12” woofers on an open baffle give a stage and presentation that feels absolutely natural in playback. There’s the ambiance of the recording venue and what seems like always enough space to reproduce whatever and all instruments playing at once.
Presented in the white papers it is described how Galen went through a design, testing, and manufacturing process to achieve the most effective balance of R(resistance), L(inductance), and C(capacitance) and geometry in the particular use of the speaker, XLR balanced, and RCA cables. In reading the papers, and the discussion board, it is explained that’s there is quite a different set of requirements when one considers the purpose of a cable. An amplifier/speaker cable/crossover/driver circuit is a very dynamic and complicated one when listening with a passive crossover speaker. An aside: I was required to take EE90 – Circuits while in the Civil Engineering curriculum at college, but I really did not study enough as I was racing bicycles and Human Powered Vehicles for the Engineering school. Luckily, the professor gave some favor as I accomplished more success in the latter than the former. Galen, however, is a gifted and studied scientist/designer/engineer in his field. I admire that what he and his team are doing is laid out for review, comment, and offered with a no-risk listening trial in your own home and system.
I spoke with Galen about my room, setup, and speakers. He suggested putting all the cables into use at once. NOT what a reviewer would do, but what a listener should. I followed his advice and can recall as I was taking notes while listening. “There’s a breath and realness, I think related to timing. This gives clarity, dynamics, and precision placement of stage and instrument on a 3-D canvas.” I just kept on listening and enjoying the music from there. The experience so moved me that I decided to invest in fixing what I believed had been a bottleneck in my system. That had been the long run, 33ft, XLR interconnects from source rack preamp to mono-block power amps for each speaker. This is a very important connection, so I chose the top of the line UPOCC XLR. As I plugged these beauties in, there was another step up in realness, stage, and space. I was hooked!
A majority of cable manufacturers act as though their special mix of (whatever?) leads to their superior design and sound. They leave it as a secret. Or worse, a kind of Voodoo. With Iconoclast, I feel that I don’t have to wonder what they’ve done to make it work. The results are in the sound! The materials, design, and implementation are open for review and listening and I don’t have to wonder about that part of the equation anymore.
I was excited enough, and happy with the listening results, to make a recommendation to the SFAS board members that we get Galen on as a manufacturer for one of our bi-weekly Saturday Zoom meetings. Happily, that date is just a few weeks away, Saturday, January 23, 2021. As a primer to the Zoom presentation, and to give a more expanded review of the results I hear in my system, I ran a comparison between my previous cables, WireWorld, and the new Iconoclasts. Here follows my method, then the results of what I heard:
I first picked four songs to listen to. These are all great songs, from wonderful albums. I wanted to listen to a variety of music styles, but also ones that are familiar and favorites.
Stravinsky – Apollon Musagete Ballet – First Scene – Tapiola Sinfonietta, Masaaki Suzuki.
Gil Evans Orchestra – Out Of The Cool – La Nevada
Steely Dan – Gaucho – Time Out Of Mind
Diana Krall – When I Look In Your Eyes – Popsicle Toes
I first listened with the WireWorld speaker cables and interconnects in place, then changed to the Iconoclast speakers cables. Lastly, I put the Iconoclast interconnects in place. I’ve used the WW cables since 2014. These are dual Silver Eclipse7, 8’ length speaker cables, and Eclipse7 XLR. The Iconoclast is a dual SPTPC speaker cable and 4×4 Gen2 UPOCC XLR. Comparison of specifications, at least in silver plated and 10Ga speaker wire, and OCC copper in the long run XLR’s, might lead one to think there would be little to discern in differences. But the geometry, construction, and quality of the conductor lead to very significant and noticeable sound differences.
Iconoclast speaker and interconnect construction.
The associated electronics and speakers I have set up in my home:
Luxman C900u preamp
Luxman M900u monoblocks
PS Audio DS DAC with BridgeII
UpTone Audio EtherREGEN
Von Schweikert Audio ULTRA 55 Passive speakers