Douglas Connection Cables
Interconnects $97.88 pr.
Speaker cables $232.00
For those of you unacquainted with our "Stereo for Cheap Bastards", it is our just a bit quirky, snarky name for our features of stereo components that retail for $1,000 or LESS, something sorely lacking in the audio press. It's not meant as an insult and 99% of our readers get that. In fact, some of our reviewers and many of our readers via hundreds of emails have proclaimed themselves proudly to be audio CB's. This is one product that exemplifies what we're talking about.
Variety is the spice of life some say, but in the case of Douglas Connection custom cables can variety be the bane of life's confusion. Let's see if I can't clear this statement up a little. I first became aware of Douglas Connections while on Polk Audio's forum and later met the head honcho, Joseph D. (Douglas) Ashworth at a local get together. At the get together I took delivery of two pair of his interconnects and a pair of his bi-wire speaker cables. On a side note , Doug is a Vet and was a helicopter pilot with Troop C, 1st Squadron 9th Cavalry, First Cavalry Division. Call Sign Cavalier 16.
Besides custom made cables, Doug provides pre-made bulk cables with all the connectors you can shake a stick at. There's even a section for used equipment. How about that for one stop shopping?
It's real simple, you go to the Douglas Connections web site and if want some interconnects you have a base price for the length of cable, $35.44 up to three feet and add $1.50 per additional foot per single cable, simple enough huh? Now it gets a little complicated, you have the choice of five different connectors ranging in additional cost from $13.50 to $95 per cable and two choices of sleeve, black and a gray and black combo at no extra charge. This could present a problem as the consumer does not know how each connector affects the sound in their system and which sounds best to them in their system unless you order a pair with each connector.
Here are specs on the interconnects:
16awg twisted pair configuration
103 strands (per conductor) 99.997% ofhc copper
Double Shielded Construction
95% Tinned Copper Braid Shield (136 Strands of 36AWG = App. 15AWG)
100% Aluminum Polyester Foil Shield
DC Resistance: 4.01 Ohm/1000'
DC Resistance Shield/Conductor: 2.09 Ohm/1000'
Rac @ 1KHz: 8.40mOhm/ft
Rac @ 1KHz: 6.34mOhm/ft (w/ Shield & Negative Conductor)
Capacitance @ 1KHz: 20.86 pF/ft
Capacitance @ 1KHz: 39.56 pF/ft (w/ Shield & Negative Conductor)
Inductance @ 1KHz: 0.201 uH/ft
Inductance @ 1KHz: 0.126 uH/ft (w/ Shield & Negative Conductor)
0.032" (0.810mm) Thick PVC Outer Jacket
0.0275" (0.70mm) Foamed Polyethylene (FPE) Insulation
Nominal Outer Cable Diameter - 0.295” (7.493mm)
The speaker cables have even more choices. The base price is $74 six feet, with $2.33 per each additional foot and -$2.33 for each additional foot less than the base 6 feet. There are 15 choices of connectors ranging from $30 to $58. Now you pick the pigtail length free up to 6” and each additional inch is $0.50. Sleeve choice is free between black and gray/black combo. Add all this up and double it for a stereo pair and you have your speaker cables.
As you can see this can get very confusing, especially for a beginner, and again how do you know how each one affects the sound of your system?
Here are the specs on the speaker cables:
Furez 12AWG 4 Conductor
UL Listed NEC Type CL3 Rating
99.997% OFHC C10100 Copper Construction (High Conductivity Oxygen Free Copper)
7 Bundle Advanced Rope Lay Design
6 Outer Bundles of 99.997% OFC 36AWG Strands x 37
1 Core Bundle of 99.997% OFC 27AWG Strands x 5
Total Strand Count - 227 Per Conductor
Equivalent Gauge Paired to 2 conductors: Slightly larger than 9AWG
DC Resistance: 1.51 Ohm/1000'
DC Resistance: 0.79 Ohm/1000' (Conductors Paired)
Rac @ 1KHz: 3.3mOhm/ft
Rac @ 1KHz: 1.5mOhm/ft (Conductors Paired)
Capacitance @ 1KHz: 13.9pF/ft
Capacitance @ 1KHz: 28.0pF/ft (Conductors Paired)
Inductance @ 1KHz: 0.227uH/ft
Inductance @ 1KHz: 0.114uH/ft (Conductors Paired)
0.055" (1.4mm) Thick PVC Outer Jacket
0.0275" (0.70mm) Foamed Polyethylene (FPE) Insulation
Internally Twisted Conductors with Molded Round Outer Jacket
Now that the technical stuff is out of the way, on to the meat-n-potatoes (taters).
I decided to just replace both pair of interconnects with the Douglas Interconnects instead of one pair at a time; thought it would be a little easier. A couple of things about the interconnects, they are heavy (heavy connectors) and the locking connectors do not lock to my RCA's. Also the cables are a tad stiff. I have run into this with other locking connectors and don't know if it is the fault of my RCA's or the connectors, but they are loose on the preamp and CD player
My system components used for this review are as follows:
Amp – Consonance Cyber 800 tube monos with 6sons audio Thunderbird power cords.
Preamp – Belles 21a with Swisscables reference power cords and Psvane 12au7-t tubes.
Cdp – Virtue Audio Piano M1 cdp with 6sons audio Windigo power cord.
Speakers – Usher Dancer Mini 2 with Be tweeter and dmd diamond cabinets.
Interconnects – Mg Audio Design Planus Cu2
Speaker cables – Mg Audio Design Planus 2
Speaker jumpers – JPS Labs
I have been married for thirty-four years and it was time to bring some more women into my life, so I was on a female vocalist binge. Don't get me wrong, I love my wife to death.
I began my listening session with Kate Walsh's “Tim's House” and must admit I was ready to throw these terrible things in the trash. The sound stage became smaller, images became smaller, harmonics were gone, depth of recording none existent and when Kate started to sing it was like pulling teeth, all I could do was leave the room. I was thinking of ways to tell Doug that I would focus the review on the speaker cables and mention the interconnects briefly but I decided to let them burn in a while longer, with me not in the room. I did this for quite some time, don't ask how many hours since I have tube amps I did not play on a loop and I find it tiresome trying to keep up with how much time it takes for something to burn in. Needless to say they came into their own and I did not have to make that call to Doug. Publisher's note to review providers: NEVER send out gear for review that has not been fully burned-in to your satisfaction. Many if not most reviewers will not take the sometimes hundreds of hours necessary to properly burn-in a product before critical listening. There are even those that beleive burn in is a myth and products sounds as good as they get right out of the box. At Stereomojo, we much prefer to have pieces burned in before we get them. I've had designers tell me their product demands 1,000 hours before they reach optimum. Is it fair to ask reviewers to put that much time in before they even begin the review? That can take months and especially with tube gear, put unnecessary wear on their systems much less more dollars for electric bills. Thanks Marvin for putting in the extra time to get it right.
So now It's time to invite Kate back into my room. The sound stage has grown back to an acceptable size but still not on the level of my reference cables. The images were pinpoint, gone was most of the haze that was around the singer and in it's place was a nice clarity around the instruments and silent background, gone was the stringent qualities in the upper register and replaced with a sweet naturalness of sound.
My next guest was a new CD in my collection, Angel Snow and let me tell you the things I heard were astounding. Angel is a singer/songwriter/guitarist with an alto or low register voice, something a bit unusual these days. Very warm and inviting; a bit folksy but not country or bluegrass. Pretty stuff and the album is mostly acoustic and very well recorded. The bass was tight and extended, the mid range was smooth and detailed, the highs were extended but not fatiguing when not pushed too hard. The overall sound was less three dimensional than my reference cables, but the retail on my reference is quite a bit more expensive.
Quite impressive for a $98 pair of interconnects. Entry level two-channel stereo audiophiles and home theater aficionados look no farther and hold on to your wallets.
Speaker Cable – WARNING !!
IF YOU ORDER THE FUREZ NON-PLATED COPPER BANANA CONNECTORS BE WARNED THAT COPPER IS A SOFT METAL AND WHEN INSERTING THE BANANAS DO NOT BEND THEM, INSERT STRAIGHT IN AND MAKE SURE THEY ARE INSERTED AND SEATED ALL THE WAY INTO THE TERMINAL AS THE WEIGHT OF THE CABLE WILL BEND THE CONNECTORS. SINCE THEY ARE NON-PLATED AND COPPER OXIDISES YOU HAVE TO CLEAN THEM EVERY NOW AND THEN.
Now removing my MG Audio Design Planus 2 speaker cables and inserting the Douglas bi-wire cables made a big change in the sound as the Douglas cable smoothed out the slight edginess of the interconnects and tightened up the bass some more. The cable is well balanced with very good harmonic structure. The speed and pace is of the toe tapping variety. The tonality is spot on and the background is quiet as to let the details come through without the slight muddiness that the interconnects conveyed.
All in all I believe the speaker cables had a more profound effect in my system than the interconnects.
- NEWS FLASH – I just put in some interconnects from Japan ($1450) that will be my next review and the Douglas speaker cables held their own in the setup. The Douglas cables conveyed all the details and spacial cues that the new interconnects were retrieving. No one area of the audio spectrum is highlighted, just an overall balanced presentation.
In the market for an improvement over stock cables and an introduction to upper mid-fi sound? Then look no further than Douglas Cables. Great price with the added bonus that the designer will be more than glad to walk you through the maze to come up with the perfect cable for your needs.
With solid build quality and pleasing appearance these cables will blend into your system both visually and sonically.
I have just been informed that Doug has come up with cables priced in the next upper tier. It would be interesting to see how they compare to some others in the price range.
Believe me, out the box you will not like the sound of the interconnects, they must be burned in. I'm going to say at least 80 hours. Once they are burned in you will be rewarded with a balanced good sounding cable for not a lot of coin that will fit right into an entry level stereo or home theater system.
It will only be when you get into the more revealing systems that you can tell the cable’s short comings.
Now I wonder how much better the different connectors would make them, the point of my confusion.
To me the speaker cable is the biggest winner between the two as it is much smoother and neutral sounding with pace, tonality, balance, bass tightness all being very pleasing.
I do have a problem with all the different choices that one is asked to make as it is hard enough to navigate through the maze of hundreds of cables on the market. Bringing this question to Doug, I was given the answer that when you call to place your order you are asked what type sound you are looking for and your budget, then and only then will Doug make a suggestion as to what configuration best fits your needs. If you are looking for an affordable, well made and great sounding cable look no further than Douglas Connection.
This is how I started out; by purchasing from small manufacturers that produced well made, affordable cables that gave my budget and ears time to grow up and mature and believe me I am still growing.