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Belden, Cardas, Eichmann...the DIY dilemma.


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#1 of 16 Drew_W

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Posted June 01 2004 - 12:25 PM

So I figure I can cheaply cure my upgraditis by doing some DIY cable projects. I found a *GREAT* step by step instruction on doing 89259 Jon Risch interconnect pair with Cardas SLVR plugs. Let me break down my thinking into categories.

CABLE
I've heard 89259 is good, but Secrets said it was a disappointment. I've also heard it's not so good with Rotel electronics, but as I myself constantly advocate, you don't know yourself until you audition. BUT, with the recent Belden price hike, 89259 has gone from $1.99/ft to $2.85/ft (at takefiveaudio...and all prices here listed will be in Canadian$). I've also recently found a source for Cardas Crosslink II for $4.80/ft (they sell it at $3.50US/ft but are located in Canada...if the dollar gets stronger, I'll get my stuff cheaper...yay!). I've only heard good things about Cardas, and the differential is $2/ft. I've heard the Cardas is quite flexible as well, whereas the 89259 isn't so much...other pros/cons? Is there something else I should consider?

PLUGS
This is more of a mess. I've been looking at higher quality plugs, and have found Cardas AGMO and SLVR available for ~$9ea, and Cardas GRMO or Eichmann Bullet Plugs available for ~$10 each. People seem to like the Eichmann bullets, but I'm leaning towards Cardas...the Bullet plugs seem to have a stress relief problem. It then becomes an issue of *choosing* a Cardas plug...or are the Eichmanns superior, and can their flaw be corrected? Comments/suggestions?

As a matter of comparison, and for kicks, I compared what 89259 would cost versus Monster, at accomodation pricing (comparing 1m pairs, 89259 techflexed and all that jazz):

89259+Neutrik (basic) plugs = M350i = ~$28
89259+Vampire 557 plugs = M550i = ~$36
89259+Cardas SLVR plugs = M850i = ~$56

and Cardas Crosslink + Cardas SLVR = =M950i = ~$86

Prices in Canadian$.

And the final question: based on that, is it worth it? I wouldn't pay full price for Monster, but for those prices, they're quite solid cables.

P.S. I've omitted Canare somewhat intentionally...none of the cable places I've looked at in Canada carry it, and I've vowed never to buy from the US again. Canada Customs is raping me.
I gave up on tracking my collection and actually started watching what I have.

#2 of 16 Brian OK

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Posted June 01 2004 - 01:51 PM

If you want to forego DIY, then buy the Monster which you seems to be talking yourself into based upon your closing comments.
Eichmann is mostly what I use. I do not DIY them because you need to know what you are doing here. I leave it to the pros in the case of Eichmann (Bolder & Chris Venhaus).

If you are proficient with the iron then just pick your preference. Cardas stuff is all quality material. Eichmann is as well, but DIY'ing them is having a very good handle with the iron.
Also look at CV Audio for the Furutech Rhodium spades which I use for my surrounds and appreciate very much.

I also use the Belden 89259 and like this stiff cable very much. I would disregard the Rotel/89259 comment about "incompatibility". Sounds like nonsense. The fellow should look into a better pre or amp, IMHO. And the Secrets comments about the 89259 just carries no weight for me. It is always YMMV.
Have fun if you DIY.

BOK
BOK

#3 of 16 Drew_W

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Posted June 01 2004 - 02:04 PM

I have 550is in my system now, and have since last year. I only used Monster as something to compare pricing to...I'm really not endeared to them, and could easily sell them to a Monsterphile.

The biggest thing I'm on the fence about is the 89259 versus Cardas Crosslink dilemma. The fact that I can't audition is bugging me since I've made this something of a routine before I buy anything.

Does someone in Toronto have either of those? Posted Image
I gave up on tracking my collection and actually started watching what I have.

#4 of 16 Brian OK

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Posted June 01 2004 - 03:29 PM

OK, I get the drift now ;*)
I actually owned the 550i's years ago, so I have some benchmark. Granted my gear is all different now, but I remember the 550i's as not being too bad at all. A "wee" bit overpriced, but not shabby and the fellow I sold them to was tickled to pick them up for my bargain price.

The Cardas brand I have used was the Truthlinks. Nice, but the Bolder M-80 interconnects with Eichmanns were more refined, airy, and with much better and tighter bass, imo. Across the board I preferred the Bolder and Eichmann. I still have the Bolder's today. I also bought a pair of VH Audio Pulsar IC's with Eichmann's and I recommend these highly. I will probably move into the Pulsars altogether some day. I have the 89259 as well with Cardas RCA's and they carry the water as well. Very good with bass... a killer for the raw DIY spool price. Heartland sells 89259 with Eichmann, FYI.
I just prefer the Eichmann RCA's for connections.

Anyway, hope you get some more feedback.

BOK
BOK

#5 of 16 Drew_W

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Posted June 01 2004 - 05:13 PM

I'm fixed on building my own...what's at the core of the Bolder cables?

Do you have a picture of the Eichmann's in action?
I gave up on tracking my collection and actually started watching what I have.

#6 of 16 Leo Kerr

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Posted June 02 2004 - 03:51 AM

A few words.. a lot of people I know swear by Beldin 1695A "Digital Brilliance" cable. It's an RG-6 type cable; foil and braid shield and a heavy copper core (don't have a guage handy; looks to be about 16ga solid. It's probably thinner, but it's huge.)

My personal preference for ease of dealing with it is any of the Beldin RG-59 cables.

As for ends, my experience is largely with BNC ends. People say Canare is the best - but they charge a rediculous amount for it. Extron makes a real neat compression-fit end - BNC or RCA that people say are really good.

Leo

#7 of 16 BobMcN

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Posted June 02 2004 - 06:50 AM

The Belden 89359 is an easy cable to make. The Eichman's are the connector of choice, but you do have to watch your soldiering since they're made of plastic and can melt. Use some heatshrink for strain relief. This is OK if you don't play with your cables. If you plan on swapping cables then go with a Cardas SLVR or even a Parts Express WBT clone.

Now, for much improved performance you should consider the Belden 89259/89248 twisted pair. These are harder to make, especially if you need to put a shield around them in your neighborhood. However they are far superior to the stock 89259 coax. If you're not heavily into DIY then buy them at Boldercables.com.

Also look at their digital cables made w/ Belden 1695A and a double shield - you really can't beat these for the $$$.

ENjoy,
Bob

#8 of 16 Drew_W

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Posted June 02 2004 - 06:57 AM

I was looking at the twisted pair Belden idea, but two issues arise:

1) I need explicit instructions with pictures. Words alone are usless. Twisted pair for dummies works.

2) I'm bringing the Cardas back into the picture since the cost of the twisted pair would exceed that of the Crosslink.

I though though that I'm just going to give in and build one pair of each and see which I like best, then go from there. Not as cost effective as I'd hoped, but if I need 11 cables just for pre/pro and DVDA/SACD, then might as well.

Now just to decide whether I should go Eichmann or Cardas for plugs. *goes to do some more reading*
I gave up on tracking my collection and actually started watching what I have.

#9 of 16 BobMcN

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Posted June 02 2004 - 08:17 AM

Here's another idea which worked surprisingly well for me. I tried this as an experiment and couldn't believe the quality of the interconnect.

Find a flat computer cable - I used one with 5 wires/runs on it. This was not the tiny round wires, but the flat wires with a white plasticky kind of coating on it. Now hook it up to an RCA as follows:

- - + + -

You may have to burn off the coating to get to the wire, then scrape it some before soldiering. It's also a bit of a pain to secure it to a round RCA. However, I was totally shocked at the quality of the sound out of this thing. It definitely rivalled the plain 89259 coax in sound - however it was much more fragile.

Enjoy,
Bob

#10 of 16 Drew_W

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Posted June 15 2004 - 06:52 PM

So here's what I've decided to build:

Belden 89259 with Eichmann Bullet Plugs
Cardas Crosslink with Eichmann Bullet Plugs
Belden 89259 with Cardas GRMO plugs

Plus some digital coax using 1695A Belden with Eichmann Bullet Plugs (because I don't want to buy the Canare stuff...yet at least).

Unfortunately, my digital camera died. I'll post results though, and pictures if I can find a working digital camera.

Parts due in tomorrow. Stay tuned.
I gave up on tracking my collection and actually started watching what I have.

#11 of 16 Drew_W

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Posted June 15 2004 - 06:52 PM

So here's what I've decided to build:

Belden 89259 with Eichmann Bullet Plugs
Cardas Crosslink with Eichmann Bullet Plugs
Belden 89259 with Cardas GRMO plugs

Plus some digital coax using 1695A Belden with Eichmann Bullet Plugs (because I don't want to buy the Canare stuff...yet at least).

Unfortunately, my digital camera died. I'll post results though, and pictures if I can find a working digital camera.

Parts due in tomorrow. Stay tuned.
I gave up on tracking my collection and actually started watching what I have.

#12 of 16 Owen Bartley

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Posted June 17 2004 - 03:49 AM

Drew, keep us posted, I'm looking for a nice DIY project and I think cables could be a good one for me to tackle.


P.S. let me know how much they kill you on shipping/duty. I hate having to order from the US when its such a pain. I just had a watch sit in customs for over a week. Posted Image

#13 of 16 Drew_W

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Posted June 17 2004 - 04:00 AM

Well there's no killing on shipping or duty.

I submitted my order for the connectors and the Cardas Crosslink cable from www.partsconnexion.com (Oakville) at around 2PM. It was sitting on my doorstep the next day. Similarly with the techflex, solder, heatshrink, and the Belden cable from www.takefiveaudio.com (somewhere in Ontario) I ordered, and within 48 hours had my package. The shipping cost for each package was around $5CND. Of course, you have to pay tax and all that, but I'm extremely happy with the service those two companies provide.

I'll post more detailed resulsts pertaining to my cables later on. I need some time to listen to them some more. Posted Image
I gave up on tracking my collection and actually started watching what I have.

#14 of 16 Owen Bartley

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Posted June 18 2004 - 03:57 AM

Score!! Drew, thanks for the links to some Canadian retaillers, they're a little tougher to find than the main US ones that show up a lot.

Let us know which ones you like the best! (and pics are always nice Posted Image )

#15 of 16 Drew_W

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Posted July 02 2004 - 11:06 AM

Some impressions from auditioning:

My friend has a Marantz CD63SE direct coupled to a Bryston 4B powering Magnepan 2.7QRs (I think). His cables are Straightwire Maestros (Level 3 I think). We also did some direct A/B using his Pioneer Elite DV-09 and a Yamaha DSP-A1 thrown into the middle of things.

I'll save all the story telling and get to the results. Belden and Cardas GRMO connectors was the overall winner. There is still an audible difference between them and the Straightwire (for at least 5 times the price), but none really between the Belden/Cardas and Belden/Eichmann combo. My friend claims he heard a small difference in favour of the Cardas plugs.

Now for the Cardas Crosslink. The interesting thing here was the bass...it was sloppy. Not nearly as tight as with the Belden cable. I expected it to be superior, not inferior to the Belden. Wrong was I. Direct A/B with the Belden confirmed it was a better cable. Surprise surprise. The cable even created an artificial echo in the sound of the reference track which wasn't present with any of the other cables

In my system here, I run bookshelf mains, so this difference in bass quality isn't extremely evident. The cables all sound close to each other, and to the M550is I have here.

My friend seems though to prefer a very open soundstage which to me seems very recessed. We were comparing his Maestros to some Monster M950is a few weeks ago, and I liked the Monster...can a cable be too laid back? The Monster had more meat in the midrange, which for some reason I like, and just couldn't accept the fact that the Straightwire sound was "correct" in a reference like sense.

Same thing happened when we compared my digital coax (1695A Belden with Eichmanns) to his digital coax (half of a Monster THX Standard stereo audio pair). Huge difference in sound, again, my cable had a more accentuated midrange, while the Monster sounded completely different.

I forgot my Monster 550is at home, but that comparison versus my DIY cables is coming...and I'll try to post in a more timely fashion, or take notes, so I don't forget the specifics of what I heard, and what he heard.

Stay tuned.
I gave up on tracking my collection and actually started watching what I have.

#16 of 16 Cameron Wright

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Posted July 20 2004 - 09:50 AM

I will be doing my home theater this year hopefully and decided to buy spools of component and speaker cable and run them through the walls my self.. About places in Canada that sell belden and canare cable (There is a few places like the company in oakville.. but its basically a store so they mark up prices a Lot) I found a place in burlington about 10minutes away from me that sells cable...

I phone and got a couple prices for cable:

(Component cable) Belden 1694A sdi/hdtv rg6 bnc Cable 500ft $170!

(12x2 speaker wire) Belden 5000ue 12 awg $142 500ft that is cheaper then places online in the US and for 1000ft just double the price he said.

I will be picking up some cable from them for sure, The place is called White Radio ltd..

905-632-6894
940 Gateway Street,
Burlington, ON
L7L 5K7

now hopefully I can find all the Canare tools in canada...
Buy the best, Cry once




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