Cable Review

Performance Audio 40i Interconnects From QED

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. 

Performance Audio 40i Interconnects From QED

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.

SOUND QUALITY

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.

Performance Audio 40i Interconnects From QED

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. 

Performance Audio 40i Interconnects From QED

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. 

CONCLUSION

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 

Prices:

0.6M  – £39.95

1M – £49.95

2M – £69.95

3M – £79.95 

Tel: 01279 501111 

Website:  www.qed.co.uk


GOOD: 3D soundstage, treble delicacy, massy bass, airy mids

BAD: nothing

RATING: 9

If you plan to purchase the above, please consider buying through me – this link allows me to skim a bit off the price to help maintain this site. Thank you:

[Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]


REFERENCE

Pro-Ject RPM3 Carbon turntable

Trichord Dino phono amplifier

Audiolab 6000A amplifier

Spendor S3/5R speakers

Chord C-Line cables

QED Performance Audio 40 cables

Blue Horizon Professional Rack System

Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components

All vinyl was cleaned using an Audio Desk’s Ultrasonic Pro Vinyl Cleaner 

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    Nuno Baptista
    15th January 2020 at 11:43 pm

    Paul,
    The Qed referente 40 is much better, or no?

  • Reply
    Michael
    18th March 2020 at 10:22 pm

    Hi paul what is the difference between the PERFORMANCE AUDIO 40 and PERFORMANCE AUDIO 40I I= improved?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      19th March 2020 at 11:39 am

      The review lists the differences, Michael.

  • Reply
    Michael
    19th March 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Is it worth buying for a cambridge audio azur dacmagic (i do have a performance graphite cable but use a shorter clicktronic 60 or 75cm)

  • Reply
    Michael
    20th March 2020 at 9:17 am

    got the cable and it sounds good

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      20th March 2020 at 9:18 am

      Nice one, Michael – glad you like it.

  • Reply
    Nuno
    24th April 2020 at 12:23 am

    Paul,
    I have the Qed Performance Audio 2, I wonder if the 40i would be a upgrade.I know the Reference 40 is the better cable, but as I am in a budget, the 40i seems a perfect choice, obviously only if is an improvement considering the Audio 2.I would like to get more resolution, the Audio 2 is ok but lacks a bit of resolution and refinement.Would I get it with the 40i?
    Regards

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      24th April 2020 at 11:37 am

      Hi Nuno – if you’re restricted in budget terms then the 40i cables would be a useful upgrade, yes.

    • Reply
      Michael Larsen
      24th April 2020 at 11:47 am

      Qed Performance 40i is much better

  • Reply
    Jean-Christophe
    8th June 2020 at 6:37 pm

    Hello Paul,
    How did you compare these new comer to the “old” (2017, so launched 3 years ago) Reference 40 ?
    On the brochure, electric characteristics (capacitance…etc.) are better with the Performance 40i than with the Reference 40. On the paper, Performance 40i wins over Reference 40… but… what’s your opinion.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      9th June 2020 at 9:34 am

      I prefer the newer 40i cables, Jean-Christophe. But then the Reference 40i speaker cables are a bit special. I’m waiting for those to appear in interconnect form 🙂

      • Reply
        Jean-Christophe
        9th June 2020 at 9:55 am

        Reference 40i speaker cables ? You speak about XT40i (you reviewed already I think) or other model ?
        I own XT40i between Naim amplifier & Harbeth Monitor and found that it is a very good speaker cable, very neutral, lively but not too colored and it as greatly enhance the soundstage (in all 3 dimensions) in my system.
        I got Reference 40 interconnects between a phono pre-amp & the Naim and not very satisfied with them. Its are too “polite”, often clinical and sometimes like with a kind of “timidity” in the restitution… so I am thinking to try those Performance 40i following your sensations & review.

        Nevertheless, I am very satisfied by the digital Reference 40 I own too. A real winner this one.

  • Reply
    Nuno Baptista
    30th August 2020 at 3:56 pm

    Paul,
    Are you saying that you prefer the new performance 40i to the previous Reference 40 more expensive?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      31st August 2020 at 8:48 am

      In terms of price/performance, I’d lean towards the updated 40i although the older Reference design remains excellent and highly recommended. You won’t be disappointed with either choice, to be honest.

  • Reply
    Nuno Eduardo Belo da Silveira Baptista
    3rd September 2020 at 11:23 pm

    The Qed performance Audio 2 suffers from a lean bass. I guess the 40i doesn´t have this issue?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      4th September 2020 at 9:52 am

      I think I offered my thoughts on bass within the review, Nuno.

  • Reply
    Nuno Baptista
    4th September 2020 at 1:46 pm

    Here the Qed dealer argues the Reference 40 is in another league!I think he is misleading, because the Performance 40i is a much newer design, like you suggest, Paul.

  • Reply
    Nuno Baptista
    7th September 2020 at 1:09 pm

    The Qed support adviced me to buy the Performance 40i, due to COVID 19 they couldn’t replace the old Reference. So you were right, Paul.The Reference is an old design, they say.

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      7th September 2020 at 2:18 pm

      Hi Nuno – interesting to hear, thanks for the info.

  • Reply
    Jean
    7th September 2020 at 2:40 pm

    Hello. I tested the 2 (Performance 40i and the “old” Reference 40) a few weeks ago on my Naim system to interconnect the phono preamp (Rega Aura Reference MC) and the Naim preamp (Nac N-272).
    They sounds globally similar but the Reference 40 go further in trebble extension & lisibility, bass are a little tighter and I found voice more analitics without the sibilance that can sometimes occurs with the Performance 40i (listening to vinyl medias, sibilance is a very sensitive point).
    I found that RCA connectors better on the Reference 40 too (lockables).
    Nevertheless, considering price, the new Performance 40i got a better price to performance ratio but, for my ears, the Reference 40 is the best performer.
    Hope this helps.

  • Reply
    Michael Larsen
    23rd September 2020 at 12:48 pm

    I changed my cordia cfu 0.3 cc (30cm) to the qed performance 40i between my Nad c316bee and nad D1050 (dac), i noticed a big difference a much more clearer and open sound, the midrange sounds bigger and somwhat fuller, bass is now less full bodied, i also notice somewhat brightness i din’t have before that could be a little to much only because of a different cable, any suggestion to tame it a little beside using tone controls ?

    • Reply
      Paul Rigby
      23rd September 2020 at 2:43 pm

      Hi Michael – thanks for the feedback. The cables might just be highlighting an issue elsewhere. Good cables get out of the way and place the attention back on the hifi chain. I would look at the hi-fi itself for a solution.

      • Reply
        Michael Larsen
        23rd September 2020 at 3:58 pm

        There was some older songs that had the problems, than i looked at the comment above

        They sounds globally similar but the Reference 40 go further in trebble extension & lisibility, bass are a little tighter and I found voice more analitics without the sibilance that can sometimes occurs with the Performance 40i (listening to vinyl medias, sibilance is a very sensitive point).
        I found that RCA connectors better on the Reference 40 too (lockables).

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