Over the past two decades it has become common knowledge that quality cabling is critically important to getting the most out of any sound system, be it a live recording setup, mastering studio, home theater, or home stereo.
Back in his early years of college in the 80’s, the founder of the rapidly growing D. H. Labs, Darren Hovsepian began to create his own microphone cables by hand. He had recognized when changing the microphone cable when recording college choral groups, jazz ensembles and the college orchestra that the microphone cables where changing the way the recording sounded.
Darren listened to each feed with a different cable but same microphone; there was an immediate difference in the way the music had been recorded. As he was studying Electrical Engineering, he thought to himself that the changes in the sound were apt to be a different in the microphone’s resistance and capacitance. He measured the differences and although the readings were similar between the two test cables, the actual sound was different.
He had determined during the comparison testing that the actual dielectric in the cables had an unmistakable effect on the quality of the sound. This conflicted with a previous notion from his Electrical Engineering studies that the cables dielectric should not have made a major effect on the frequencies of the signal. His ears showed him that the books were wrong. The testing led to the creation of several microphone cables that were amazingly open, clear, and true to real life from the recordings.
Darren continued to make his hand made cables for his own use until several friends and neighbors asked him to make several pairs for their stereo systems. All of his cables back then were entirely made by hand, an extremely tedious process which made selling the cables at a reasonable price near impossible. There had to be a better way. He wanted his designs to offer performance and affordability, the cornerstone of his current success. He researched manufacturing his exact designs for audio and video cables. All his lengthy research did pay off when an American manufacturing facility under contract with NASA offered the ability to put DH Labs Silver Sonic High Performance Audio and Video cables into production.
Many competing cable manufacturers were using oxygen-free copper at the time. Darren had also found that during the testing that North American conductor material made a difference in sound as opposed to material that is sourced from Asia. He began to experiment with ways of combining silver and copper as a conductor. Many people had thought that because silver is a better conductor that it naturally should be better in a cable design. But silver can be easily damaged during the drawing or extrusion process. Silver is softer than copper.
Darren consulted with metallurgists for a method for a way to make a mirror smooth conductor that was excellent at preserving the minute low level acoustic detail which is most important in the recording of music. But pure silver conductors were very expensive. He found a solution to that expense by discovering a way that combined pure silver on the exterior and used a pure copper interior conductor. The mirrored silver would be excellent in preserving the low-level detail in a recording, and the combination of a thin layer of his mirror silver on top of pure copper would allow the detail to be preserved along with the preservation of the pure copper. The perfect mirror surface could be drawn thin enough to his measurements over the pure copper conductor and be done in such a way to prevent the pure copper from ever oxidizing. Silver is immune from the degrading effects of oxidation that had been the plague of copper conductors. Using silver also increases the electrical conductivity of the conductor, and this conductor could be produced at a very reasonable cost for the consumer.
Hovsepian also found that if you can control the quality of materials close to home you can create virtually perfect cables and still maintain a reasonable cost. This is very rare in the cable industry. DH Labs sources virtually all of its materials from North America, while most other cable companies are outsourcing their complete product line from Asia to maximize profit margins.
D. H. Labs has many products today that use proprietary materials developed by Darren with the help of outside engineering and metallurgy companies. Darren invented a proprietary new Air-Teflon™ Matrix dielectric material for his cables that is actually 65% air which is a great improvement over pure Teflon. The higher amount of air in his Matrix approaches that of the dielectric constant of 1.4 which is a perfect vacuum, the ideal dielectric.
Darren worked two years on his High Copper Alloy metal which is utilized on D. H. Labs connectors. Most connectors in the cable industry are using brass or bronze. These are poor conductors since they are only 25% as conductive as copper. With the help of several metallurgists, D. H. Labs developed the HC Alloy which is 99.3% pure copper and .6 % other metals added as hardeners for strength and durability. The conductivity of the HC Alloy is 93% and almost 5 times that of a typical brass connector!
D. H. Labs newest product is the Pro-Studio interconnect cable. It utilizes the proprietary pure silver on oxygen free copper conductors which are especially surface treated, and then drawn to the correct diameter and in a special process and coated perfectly with the Air-Matrix dielectric. This cable is available in bulk lengths. The Air Matrix also is a heavily shielded cable which is only 7mm thick and still extremely flexible. The Air Matrix cable is an extremely low capacitance of 12 pico-farads per foot per cable. The Air Matrix is terminated with their own HC Alloy conductor XLR for balanced applications or the HC Alloy RCA style phono plug. Both of these cables are done in the state-of-the-art assembly facility for both microphone and line level applications.
All of Hovsepian’s D. H. Labs effort in engineering has made his cables a favorite in recording studios widely used around the world. Simply stated, DH Labs is the number one choice of Pro-Audio executives world-wide.
In New York while at the eminent Hit Factory, Tony Gillis the former mastering engineer had wired his mastering suites entirely with D. H. Labs cables. Tony is now at New York’s Classic Sound and has brought all the D. H. Labs cables back into his state of the art mastering suite. He commented, “The effects of changes in EQ and compression are much easier to hear when monitoring through the D. H. Labs cables. The effects of the cables are mind bogging!”
Grammy Award winning recording engineer, Tom Lazarus at Classic Sound shares Tony’s opinion about the cables. His mastering suite is entirely cabled with D. H. Labs. He is widely regarded as one of the top recording engineers on the planet, has recorded and mixed recordings for a broad spectrum of artists ranging from Ray Charles to RenÃ©e Fleming, BjÃ¶rk to Yo-Yo Ma and Ornette Coleman to the Vienna Philharmonic.
The Guys at Classic Sound are from left to right; Joe Yannece, Tom Lazarus and Tony Gillis
Tony Gillis-Studio B at Classic Sound
Tom Lazarus-Suite C at Classic Sound
Mastering Suites at the Hit Factory
QuickTime VR from Harris,Grant New York with DH Labs Air Matrix and BL-1 cables on table.
All variety of D. H. Labs cables are being used at ARF! Digital Mastering Studios, also in New York. When ARF!s Mastering wizard Alan Silverman was asked about D. H. Labs cable he exclaimed, “I love this cable! It’s easy to work with, and the sound is fantastic, and it’s reasonably priced.”
Alan Silverman with the first Legendary Audio Masterpiece in NYC at ARF! Digital.
Common Sense Cable Guidance from Terry Rossen of TRI Audio Marketing:
D. H. Labs started the silver over copper revolution that many manufacturers have started to utilize in their own cabling. The D. H. Labs process is very different from other plating processes, and although many cables come close to achieving the neutral sound, none have surpassed his. The T-14 speaker cables have been a mainstay in many a stereo system and home theater. They are the Sonic Bargain of the Decade. He uses the finest materials such as pure U. S. A. sourced medical grade silver and pure copper. His choice of dielectric covering his conductors is Teflon™. In the process of manufacturing all DH Labs cabling, air does not enter the copper causing early oxidation before being specially plated in his proprietary wire extrusion process. Any oxidation is detrimental to the signal, and affects the end product: the music. Simply stated, his wire in his cables will not oxidize for the life of the cables! All of the cables at DH Labs are impeccably hand terminated. His RCA connectors are machined from a solid billet, and then plated with gold, then silver. The BL-1 Series 2 is this most popular and is his most neutral interconnect and a fantastic audio bargain! To obtain even 2% better “playback”, one must be prepared to spend quite a bit more. Sometimes cables can be more expensive than any other component in a stereo or home theater! And the choice of cabling is totally system dependant. The choice of cable is also a personal choice. There are cables that sound “warm” or “dark”, those might be considered not edgy or bright. Then there are consumers that enjoy hearing every high frequency detail to the point of almost being uncomfortable to the average listener’s ears. Everyone hears differently. Today the choices of cabling are incredibly vast and their quality and choice of materials differ. Many consumers go through many sets of cables trying to find the most appropriate for their ears with their stereo or home theater equipment. Many make mistakes and need to spend more time listening to the music and less time listen to the cables! Once a consumer puts DH Labs cable into their system, they forget all about the cables and get on with what the hobby is all about: the playback and listening to music!
Many cables add a sonic coloration to the music. Some cables soften the sound like listening with a bit of cotton in your ears, or enhance particular regions of the acoustic spectrum, such as the midbass or mid range, and the higher regions: the highest frequencies. On many an occasion, cables have been used as the tuning component in one’s stereo or home theater system. If the speakers are exceptionally bright sounding, and ruthless in the way they send detail back to the ears, a soft sounding cable can be used to cure the ruthless and eventually tiring sound. If one’s stereo or home theater system is sounding soft and not detailed, one could find a cable that can play back the signal and allow those frequencies that were lost before to come through.
The DH Labs T-14 speaker cables are excellent examples of how one can use cables to help their overall system sound. A simple stereo pair of T-14 speaker cable will produce a neutral playback, and sometimes a system will not produce quite enough satisfying bass with such a neutral and clear cable. A simple solution is to increase the size of the conductors that are inside the cable. One way is to add an additional length of cabling, thus increasing the amount of conductors in the cabling. This can add deeper mid bass and bass.
Another solution to system “tuning” where the upper regions of the acoustic spectrum and also at the same time the bass needs to go deeper, the Q-10 speaker cables can be utilized. These cables have thicker conductors in comparison to the T-14.
DH Labs cables are ready to be put into a system and never thought of again. You just get on with the listening the way the composer intended the piece to be heard. DH Labs strives to create the most clear, naturally balanced and neutral “sounding” cables in the industry. As the BL-1 interconnect is neutrally balanced, the Air Matrix can enhance the playback of mid bass lines and mid range signal. Audio engineers in the recording industry buy this cabling for their studios. The most natural, and neutral sounding of the DH Labs cables might be the Revelation which uses 6 strands of pure solid core silver wrapped by hand with a proprietary air-spaced Teflon dielectric. It is as “uncolored” and clear as any in the market at any price.
Cabling has become the foundation in which all individual components are tied together. These cable ties can make or break a system. Even if the components run into the thousands of dollars, there are many installers that can cut “corners” and use lower quality cabling. Lower quality cabling costs the installer less and they can have greater profit.
If the consumer is educated about the quality and acoustic properties of cabling, the decisions for quality cabling can be budgeted. Our suggestions are for a cable that will not oxidize over a lengthy period of time. If you are lucky enough to use in-wall cables, you should utilize cables that protect their conductors from any oxidation. Also the jacket material should be flexible to “snake” through walls, plenums and joists. The overall outside diameter is also a consideration when purchasing “bulk” cable for a home stereo or home theater. Cables that are as thick as an elephant’s trunk may not be as “pretty” as a thinner cable. This is especially important when it runs along a wall, under a carpet or through walls. A cable that will retain its clarity, openness, musicality, and be neutral and true to the music over the life of the owner will be the best option. Components can change as the technology moves ahead, but the signal should not be interfered with the colorization of particular cables. A neutral, natural sounding cable should be as real to live music as possible, or the recorded event. DH Labs feels that the music should be heard as the conductor or composer wanted it to be heard.
Cables can be purchased in bulk form, without termination, and used throughout the entire system. Of course not everyone needs to buy such lengths of cable. Cables are to be had at various lengths, all pre-terminated by the manufacturer. This makes installation a breeze.
Using the best wiring, cabling is very important in one’s stereo or home theater system. Some cables have very inexpensive connectors with inferior soldering. Many cables do not utilize any Teflon™ dielectric which is second best to using air to surround the conductor wire. Quality control and quality of the cable components, will affect the long term musicality in ones system.
The Law of Diminishing Returns is at play here with other cables and interconnects that are stratospherically priced from other manufacturers. DH Labs cables use the best engineering, the best materials obtainable, listened to by savvy audiophiles; they have quickly become the ultimate high end cable choice and the sonic bargain of the 21st Century.
In Conclusion, you could spend 2 to 5 times the cost of a pair of Silver Sonic interconnects or speaker cables and not get any finer a natural playback of the recorded event.
Terry Rossen President TRI Audio Marketing (TRI)
Business Development for D. H. Labs
Office: (301) 540-11156
For more information on DH Labs cables and connectors, please visit their web site at www.silversonic.com.