Adding improvements and refinements to the original Performance Audio 40 cables, Paul Rigby wonders if the 40i cable’s ‘performance’ has also risen
An upgrade to the original Performance Audio 40 interconnects, the new 40i model has undergone, “…a complete overhaul on its predecessor…” said the company.
This includes an apparent first for QED, the introduction of Solid Core Complementary Conductors. A reaction to the company’s own Genssis Report which, if you need a bit of reading matter with your next coffee break, you can read here: QED’s Genesis Report.
The idea behind Solid Complementary Conductor is to reduce capacitance by a quarter compared to the original model.
Another addition is the introduction of one Oxygen Free Copper Conductor and one Silver-Plated Oxygen Free Copper Conductor to carry the same audio signal.
According to the company, the idea behind this switch is to allow, “…an alternative route for high and low frequencies, reducing the ‘smearing’ and disruption of the audio signal which would otherwise occur in a single, one material conductor configuration.”
Ferrite insulation technology has been retained from the Performance Audio 40. You’ll find QED’s Anamate RCA plugs on the ends.
I played both Nat ‘King’ Cole’s Autumn Leaves from Best Of…Vol.2 and Early Morning from Barclay James Harvest’s Early Morning Onwards.
When you look at low cost interconnects, one of the facets of even capably-designed cables is that the soundstage can be incredibly, how can I describe this, flat. Flat would be the correct term, I guess. Imagine a blank canvas. Low cost interconnects can sound like you’re just poured music onto a blank canvas.
Hence, music tends to have a distinct 2D approach. I could hear this while playing the Cole track. Music sat at the very front of the soundstage and shifted left and right, like a troupe of Tiller girls on stage. This gave music a cardboard, Hollywood film set feel. All front and no substance.
The 40i cables, fortunately, offered more. A sense of depth around the soundstage, especially in and around the stereo image. What this effect did was two-fold. Firstly, it provided a real sense of depth, which added more complex information to all frequencies. It also added subtlety to the music, gave instruments facets, edges and gave a sophistication to the presentation.
More than that, if cables are giving you a 2D image then that image floats all over the place, with no fixed abode, as it where. Like looking at a water colour with fuzzy, bleeding edges. Add depth and your ears are better able to fix voices, instruments and their after effects, like reverb.
Tonal realism is another advantage. Brass sounds more like a fully-formed trumpet or trombone while bass projects power to the ear. Vocals emote and deliver a sense of passion. A 2D canvas is, well, devoid of all of that.
More than all of this, listening to Barclay James Harvest, I was happy to hear the low noise, airy midrange encourage a delicate response from cymbals. There was a successful fragility here and a welcome sweetness. Guitars were both clear yet strong, bass had a forceful punch while analogue synths and organ wavered with a tonally fascinating delicacy. As if the organ sequences were constructed from tissue paper. The fact that I even imagined such imagery tells you something about the relative complexity of the musical information that I was hearing.
A great pair of cables in this price bracket, the QED Performance Audio 40i interconnects add a sense of complexity and maturity that you’d expect to hear in more expensive designs. Well made and flexible, you never feel that the 40i cables are holding music back. These cables are rooting for you hi-fi, every step of the way. No brainer purchases, the QED Performance Audio 40i interconnects are little gems.
QED PERFORMANCE AUDIO 40i INTERCONNECTS
0.6M – £39.95
1M – £49.95
2M – £69.95
3M – £79.95
Tel: 01279 501111
GOOD: 3D soundstage, treble delicacy, massy bass, airy mids
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QED Performance Audio 40 cables