Speaker cables are a hot topic among audiophiles, and after 24 years of listening to dozens of different brands, I’m ready to just grab something from my toy trunk (which my 16-year-old son felt he was too old for) in the basement. office and be done with it.
Synergy is real, and I’ve certainly had a few experiences over the years where $3,000 cables sounded terrible with dedicated speakers or amps. It sounds ridiculous, but replacing a $100 pair of speaker cables with a more expensive one actually worked better.
That doesn’t make $3,000 cables a bad product, but it certainly made me think twice about doing cable reviews over the years. Since 1998, there have been fewer than 5. I still own the Analysis Plus cables I reviewed over 20 years ago and it was a big mistake to sell the Nirvana Audio (no longer in business) SL cable loom that worked so well with my MartinLogan queries. and Spendor SP2/3 Speakers.
When you’re getting older and facing the reality of college and private school tuition (currently paying for three kids in that scenario), a mortgage, multiple car payments, and the exorbitant cost of living in New Jersey, buying expensive cables doesn’t make sense. something. It feels dumb. Perhaps because it is.
QED seems to understand this. When they sent us the initial press release of the QED Golden Anniversary XT Speaker Cables, I asked for a set before their team was sent to High End Munich 2023.
I already have sets of QED XT25, Reference XT40i and Signature Revelation speaker cables; all of which are very affordable, well made, and very good options for someone who needs to review many different speakers and amplifiers.
These new QED Golden Anniversary XT cables are even cheaper than the XT25 which was running me $130 for a 6 foot pair.
$40 per meter. You read that right. Not $400 or $4,000. Don’t spend $4,000 per meter on speaker cables. Consider how many CDs or CDs it represents.
QED has been my cable brand of choice for over a decade for the simple reason that it sounds great with almost every brand I’ve tried it with, and it’s very affordable.
We use QED cables for almost every review, and while I still like a few other cables from Kimber and Analysis Plus; they are all very affordable with high quality standards.
- NEW: X Tube Plus technology combines X-Tube aircore to provide even, consistent performance throughout the audio frequency range.
- A blend of ultra-pure Ohno Continuous Cast Copper and 99.99% oxygen-free copper conductor helps improve signal path and signal retention.
- Low Loss Ultra-Uniform Dielectric isolation increases efficiency and reduces signal loss.
- airplane Forte banana plugs use a cold welding system to permanently attach to the cable to improve contact area and reduce resistance.
X-Tube Plus technology
QED’s X-Tube technology places the cable’s conductive material around a central hollow insulating rod, and the result eliminates the “skin effect” that would otherwise force high-frequency analog music signals to the outside of the conductor.
And by combining X-Tube technology with its equally efficient Aircore technology, QED also reduces the “adjacent effect” that can disrupt current distribution in a speaker cable. The result is X-Tube Plus. geometry that ensures the Golden Anniversary XT is a speaker cable that has even, consistent performance throughout the audible frequency range.
Ultra-Pure Ohno Continuous Cast Copper Conductors
The Golden Anniversary XT uses a unique hybrid blend of 99.99% Oxygen-Free Copper (“OFC”) and Ultra-Pure Ohno Continuous Cast Copper (“UP-OCC”), giving the improved signal path and outstanding signal retention of ultra-pure copper. conductors – but at a fraction of the cost.
My set of Golden Anniversary XT cables currently only has about 40 hours of listening time with 3 different amps, but I think I have a handle on their performance.
When I swapped out my Analysis Plus Oval 8 cables for QED cables with Cambridge Audio Edge A and NAD C 316BEE V2 integrated amplifiers, there were a few sonic changes.
Analysis Plus pushes the music forward from the speakers (Q Acoustics 5040 and Bowers & Wilkins 703 S3), and the soundstage is definitely wider. Considering the $600 price difference between the two sets of cables, the QED wasn’t much of a disappointment.
Both cables are warmer than other cables in their respective ranges, the Golden Anniversary XT is as neutral as the XT40i or Signature Revelation.
That added coloration proved to be a good thing with the Q Acoustics 5040, and after a few days of listening, it seemed like the trade-offs between the two cables were more matters of presentation and resolution.
I’m hoping that the $700 (and I bought them 20 years ago) cable would dig into more detail, offer greater clarity, and allow me to listen to higher resolution.
For the most part, that was certainly true.
But did that make the $80 Golden Anniversary XT any less enjoyable? Not really.
The Bowers & Wilkins 703 S3 shows quite a bit of low end and boost in the treble range and can be less than kind if your amp and sources aren’t up to the task. Both the Analysis Plus and QED cables helped alleviate this to some extent, but it’s still an issue with the speaker.
The Reference XT40i works extremely well with my Q Acoustics 3050i; The neutral tonal balance opens up the sound with the NAD amp and especially in the treble range, which sounds quite decent.
The Golden Anniversary XT didn’t fare so well with this combination; The top end seemed to spin faster and there was a reduction in detail. Bass notes have lost some definition compared to the XT40i.
The 5040, which has a livelier and clearer sounding upper midrange and treble, was favored by the Golden Anniversary XT, which added some color to the almost vocal recording.
Horns had plenty of bite, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well the Golden Anniversary XT handled a $6,500 amp and two relatively expensive pairs of speakers.
Listening to Green Day, Metallica, Tool, and Dead Can Dance through the Cambridge/Q Acoustics 5040 combo, I certainly noticed a change in the sub-bass region, which lost its punch and overall impact. Bass was tight, but not as defined as the XT40i or Signature Revelation.
Amy Winehouse’s Valerie on BBC Live had two notable changes with the Golden Anniversary XT cables: the slightly sculpted sonic top end was smoother sounding with less detail, and the presentation moved from 2-3′ in front of the speakers almost directly parallel to them.
The soundstage was a bit narrower in terms of width, but still quite impressive depending on the recording.
The QED Golden Anniversary XT speaker cables are a fantastic deal for their asking price. The build quality, finish and overall sound quality is very hard to fault.
However, that doesn’t make them the “perfect” solution for every scenario.
MSRP:£27 / €35 / $40 per metre QED dealer locator
Related reading: QED audio cables. proof that you don’t have to go crazy