ZenWave Audio D4 Interconnect

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
3,942
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Greater Boston
#1
Recently I had the fortunate opportunity to hear the ZenWave Audio D4 Interconnect, manufactured by WBF member DaveC, in Madfloyd's highly resolving system. I was struck by how good orchestral massed violins sounded, as well as string quintet. My Monster Sigma 2000 cable -- a design licensed from Bruce Brisson of MIT fame -- also sounded good in the system, but did not fare as well on strings, among other things. I was very satisfied with the sound of my own system, but had always thought that the sound of massed violins was still a relative weak point. So I asked DaveC for a demo cable to try out in my system.

With the Monster Sigma 2000 interconnect I had the corner tube traps in my room on the reflective side (for my system/room, see this thread, with the latest gear and acoustic upgrades on pages 5 and 9, respectively). Yet I have found out that the ZenWave Audio D4 interconnect works best in my room with tube traps turned to the absorptive side because there are more highs. I do think the cable is very neutral (see below), and that in general issues with the tonal balance should be taken care of through adjusting room acoustics. Unfortunately, many audiophiles try to adjust tonal balance with cables. I'd rather choose the truth in audio gear, and adjust the room acoustics if necessary (sometimes even just carpets or the absence thereof can make a big difference).

The highs through the D4 cable, though beautiful, at first sounded a bit disconnected, and drawing attention to themselves in my system/room. Perhaps they also were a bit 'whitish'. Yet now, with tube traps turned with their absorptive side forward, the highs are perfectly integrated, and cleaner and more resolved than ever before -- not by a small margin. The cable gets many things right that the Monster cable simply cannot. For example, in the sixth movement of Stravinsky's Histoire d'un Soldat (Stravinsky cond.) there is a small (high-pitched) triangle that never came through the right way but which in a climax clearly plays on top of the tutti ensemble. Now it does come through, bright and clear -- while at the same time the overall tonal balance is earthy and gutsy (just like with the Monster with tube traps on the reflective side). My jaw dropped when I heard this, because I had known for quite some time that something had to be not right, and now it was. In amazement, I repeated playing this passage a few times! It sounds more like you would expect from the real thing live. This is one of the reasons why I think the cable is very neutral -- and the Monster is warmly colored. While that triangle now shines through, and with the Monster never did, cymbals are not whiter than before; this also holds for recordings that under less ideal circumstances would be on the edge. For example on track 5 of the John McLaughlin jazz rock CD 'To the One' the cymbals can sound a bit splashy, but now they are clean as a whistle and not overbearing. The triangle tremolo at the beginning of Stockhausen's 'Right-Eye Brow Dance' still has a 'golden' timbre but the individual attacks in this fast tremolo are even more distinct than before.

Yesterday I listened to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring (Gergiev conducting, Decca). I had thought the recording had sounded sensational before, but this is even better. The first thing that struck me was how free of distortion the sound was. I never thought that a cable could distort, but here was the evidence that the Monster cable had done so. There is a passage in track 11 at 0'47" where unison muted trumpets play a very sharp and concise figure in fortissimo, and normally this distorted grossly. Now it was remarkably clean (I repeated also that passage a few times because I couldn't believe it). The massed violins in track 4 don't harden up anymore once they start playing fortissimo, but keep a beautifully refined and micro-detailed texture. And in track 10 I had found the violins playing mezzo-forte incredibly beautiful and detailed in texture already before, but I wasn't prepared for how with the D4 cable the micro-detail and textural beauty heard before was topped even much more! It floored me. In track 14 there is a passage with swirling figures for the violin section, played forte, that now sounds marvelous too.

Then I listened to the 5th Symphony of Bruckner (Wand, Cologne Symphony Orchestra, on Sony) where the strings had previously sounded quite beautiful. But now it seemed unreal how resolved the violins were in their micro-texture, resulting in this wonderful silky sheen that you also hear live. Miles ahead of what I had before. I had never thought that my system could reproduce massed violins so realistically.

Strings, especially the violin section, on my beloved set of complete Haydn symphonies with Dorati conducting the Philharmonia Hungarica (Decca) had sounded rather horrific on my system until a few years ago, very harsh, like a hard digital 'brick wall'. Eventually, with upgrades of gear (DAC, external power supplies for amps, speakers) and, importantly, also great improvements of room acoustics, the string sound became, bit by bit, better and better. Yet now, with the D4 interconnect, a number of recordings in the series have exceptional string sound in my system, immensely enjoyable. A highlight of my afternoon today.

When people claim that standard Redbook CD cannot reproduce massed violins well, then it seems to me their system/room, including cables, is simply not up to that particular task. The ZenWave Audio D4 cable is just so incredibly 'fast', able to transmit each micro-detail with enormous resolution and lack of distortion. This is also obvious on fast transients of metallic percussion, as mentioned above.

Yet even though strings can sound very beautiful through the D4 interconnect, I don't think the cable itself sounds beautiful. To my ears, it is simply accurate, reproducing the natural timbre of instruments whatever that may be. For example, brutally hard tutti brass attacks still sound just like that through the cable.

The cable serves all kinds of music well, including rock, which is reproduced through it with articulate bass and excellent rhythm & timing.

All in all, the Zenwave Audio D4 interconnect is exceptional, with an unusually favorable value/price ratio. I have ordered a pair from DaveC.

Website of ZenWave Audio:

http://www.zenwaveaudio.com/
 
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ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
5,204
20
38
Boston, MA
#2
Excellent, I'll come up once you have them in place
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
4,953
38
48
North Shore of Boston
#4
Congratulations, Al. Are you considering more of Dave's cables for the rest of your system? The fact that you can so easily hear the slight rotation of those tube traps in your room is a testament to how well tuned your system and room have become. Good stuff.
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
2,221
13
38
#5
Yet even though strings can sound very beautiful through the D4 interconnect, I don't think the cable itself sounds beautiful. To my ears, it is simply accurate, reproducing the natural timbre of instruments whatever that may be. For example, brutally hard tutti brass attacks still sound just like that through the cable.

The cable serves all kinds of music well, including rock, which is reproduced through it with articulate bass and excellent rhythm & timing.

Thanks for writing your review Al!

The comments quoted, and especially bolded are exactly my intentions with the D4 design and it's always great to hear that from folks who have tried them.

In general your comments are what happens when a system is really dialed-in and just waiting for good cables. It is also why I consider IC cables a critical component for high end systems.
 

Folsom

VIP/Donor
Oct 26, 2015
2,610
6
38
Eastern WA
#6
I appreciate that Dave has managed to apply real engineering principles to make cables that work very well; and he generously prices them, too generously. I too have found the D4 to be a very nice cable set. They aren't for tuning, and let the music happen. Which is not something I can say at all about some other "well engineered" cables like any coaxial RCA cable.
 
May 30, 2010
14,139
83
48
Portugal
#7
Thanks for writing your review Al!

The comments quoted, and especially bolded are exactly my intentions with the D4 design and it's always great to hear that from folks who have tried them.

In general your comments are what happens when a system is really dialed-in and just waiting for good cables. It is also why I consider IC cables a critical component for high end systems.
Can I ask you what is the maximum available length of D4 and the approximate capacitance per meter?
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
2,221
13
38
#8
Can I ask you what is the maximum available length of D4 and the approximate capacitance per meter?
I'm about to build a 15 meter XLR cable, that's about as long as is practical to build. For that long of a cable shielding might be a good idea, this can always be added if required. I do not shield my shorter cables unless they are phono cables, these have a slightly different design to minimize the effect of the shield. The D4 is about 50 pF/meter but this is, imo, an overblown spec as it's trivially easy to make low capacitance ICs and they don't necessarily sound good. A more balanced approach with noise rejecting geometry works better ime.

Thanks Folsom, it's true they aren't a "tuning" cable but many people who think they want a cable to tune the sound hear the D4 and prefer that. Clean and resolving is always better than warm and fat in a good system imo.
 

cdk84

New Member
Dec 19, 2015
13
0
1
#9
Fortunately, I heard Al M's system before and during the IC comparison that led to his choice of the D4 and agree with everything he wrote --as much as was afforded at the end of a long day and a complex, comparative listening session with source material almost completely unknown to me.

I'm not a Stockhausen devotee but have grown to appreciate the quality of both recording and performance on the Stockhausen opera recording that Al uses to evaluate his system; both are exceptional. The listening session we had before comparing cables was, candidly, one of the very best I have ever experienced --in any system, at any time. Specifically, the immediacy and presence of instruments' timbre and transient impact was unrivaled. Rhythm was unimpeachable, and performance nuance was decisive, articulate and convincing. This session was the closest to live music that I have heard in a listening room.

Then he went and fiddled with it. How infuriating! or was it?

We A-B-A'd until we were all confused. Then Al had the idea of adjusting the ASC Tube Traps and the deficiencies we had heard were substantially diminished, if not deleted. I'm still not sure: it was a long night of listening, and the source recordings were familiar to Al, but not to me. That said, I look forward to hearing the Stockhausen again to determine whether the extraordinary listening session we had a couple of weeks ago can be equalled, let alone bettered. I don't doubt the possibility of improvement: I just want to sell tickets if the improvement is there. You will need to make room for the USS Enterprise, because I have already had the 'you are there' experience. If improvement is to be found, we'll have to recreate the holo-deck, for sure. Thank you, Al, for taking the pains to make these nuanced improvements to your system. It's a great place to listen, and to learn music that I would otherwise likely not hear. Kudos!
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
3,942
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Greater Boston
#10
Fortunately, I heard Al M's system before and during the IC comparison that led to his choice of the D4 and agree with everything he wrote --as much as was afforded at the end of a long day and a complex, comparative listening session with source material almost completely unknown to me.

I'm not a Stockhausen devotee but have grown to appreciate the quality of both recording and performance on the Stockhausen opera recording that Al uses to evaluate his system; both are exceptional. The listening session we had before comparing cables was, candidly, one of the very best I have ever experienced --in any system, at any time. Specifically, the immediacy and presence of instruments' timbre and transient impact was unrivaled. Rhythm was unimpeachable, and performance nuance was decisive, articulate and convincing. This session was the closest to live music that I have heard in a listening room.

Then he went and fiddled with it. How infuriating! or was it?

We A-B-A'd until we were all confused. Then Al had the idea of adjusting the ASC Tube Traps and the deficiencies we had heard were substantially diminished, if not deleted. I'm still not sure: it was a long night of listening, and the source recordings were familiar to Al, but not to me. That said, I look forward to hearing the Stockhausen again to determine whether the extraordinary listening session we had a couple of weeks ago can be equalled, let alone bettered. I don't doubt the possibility of improvement: I just want to sell tickets if the improvement is there. You will need to make room for the USS Enterprise, because I have already had the 'you are there' experience. If improvement is to be found, we'll have to recreate the holo-deck, for sure. Thank you, Al, for taking the pains to make these nuanced improvements to your system. It's a great place to listen, and to learn music that I would otherwise likely not hear. Kudos!
Thank you, David, for your interest in evaluating the cables and for your constructive comments and criticism; a thank you to Peter as well for that. Unfortunately, during the listening session we had the tube traps on their reflective side almost throughout, but your and Peter's comments were very helpful to me in subsequently finding the optimum, with the D4 cable and the tube traps on their absorptive side. I am so glad we have such a great group of audiophile friends around Boston, and we can all learn from listening to each others' systems and discussing what we hear. A main reason why I auditioned the D4 cable in my system in the first place was hearing it in Ian's (Madfloyd's) system. Importantly, hearing it in his system on orchestral and solo strings taught me what to listen for.

As for the impact of that Stockhausen piece for brass ensemble, percussion and piano, it is not always reproducible -- sonically it is of course, but the startling effect is the greatest when, just like with us both at that time, we haven't heard the piece in a while. Once you listen more often in a short period of time, subjective impact can diminish, which is a normal psychological effect and nothing to worry about. In any case, I am pleased that you laud the immediacy, presence and transient impact that the music has through my system. I believe that now, with the D4 cable as interconnect and the tube traps in the right configuration, at least the metallic percussion in that piece has even more articulation, transient speed and sonic impact than before. I am always for maximum drama and liveliness, and strive to optimize the system for that.

This is also why I am so picky about the correct reproduction of the hardness of certain tutti brass attacks, which is not diminished through the D4 cable as I mention in my review, even though now I find strings to sound much more beautiful -- each timbre is just more in its natural place. The last thing I want from my system is an unnatural 'softening up' of sound, a sound that is too 'clean' and 'polished'. (Unamplified) live music is not like that, and neither should be reproduction at home. I do not want music to soothe me, I want it to excite me.
 
May 30, 2010
14,139
83
48
Portugal
#11
(...) As for the impact of that Stockhausen piece for brass ensemble, percussion and piano, (...)
Can you give us the details of this recording?
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
3,942
26
48
Greater Boston
#12
Can you give us the details of this recording?
Yes, it is the third part of the 'Greeting' (Overture) to the opera Thursday from Light. It can be ordered from Stockhausen-Verlag,

http://www.stockhausen-verlag.com/

It can also be bought used at Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Donnerstag-Aus-Licht-Stockhausen/dp/B00000E3ZJ

You can listen to the music on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKZSu77Cq6w

I watched the opera twice last year in Basel, Switzerland. One of the greatest musical experiences of my life.
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
3,942
26
48
Greater Boston
#13
Since the D4 demo cable is now back on its way to DaveC (I have put in the order for my own), I re-connected my Monster interconnect. Even with the reflective side of the tube traps forward, the loss of resolution is immediately evident. It is even starker than I had anticipated. String tone is nothing like before, it sounds duller, almost all the micro-texture of massed violins is gone, and there is some hardening of tone. Also, the sound is more 'plasticky', more synthetic. It sounds more like a very good mimickry of string tone by a synthesizer. And the problem is not Redbook digital in general, or my DAC specifically -- it's the interconnect.

I would say that the effect is more or less similar as switching between the two cables in Ian's (Madfloyd's) system, where we heard it on analog source.

Once you have heard the D4 interconnect, you cannot go back.

I am thinking about ordering the corresponding ZenWave Audio SMSG loudspeaker cable as well. Fortunately, for my low-wattage system, I do not need the thickest gauge. It is great that DaveC offers different thicknesses, according to the customer's needs. Other manufacturers could learn from that.

But before I have my ears spoiled by a demo of the cable (I already know where this goes!), I'll first have to take care of other business, among it trying the Shunyata Denali power conditioner. That was planned already earlier. But definitely, the loudspeaker cable will have to be one of my next upgrades.
 
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mttbsh

New Member
Apr 19, 2017
1
0
0
#14
I wanted to add my praise of the Zenwave D4 interconnects, I recently installed 2 pair in my system: one pair between my Yggdrasil DAC and my Tortuga LDR preamp, the other between the preamp and my Job 225 amplifier. I won't reiterate what's been stated above in Dave's review, but I was amazed by the clarity and detail these cables brought to my system.
I wanted to add that I enjoyed at least as big an improvement by adding Dave's PL power cords (with Futuretech FI-50 connectors) to all of the components in my system. These cords provide such clean power that the noise floor basically disappears - allowing me to hear the full potential of each of my components. Music emerges from silence so that every instrument, every bell, every cymbal strike floats in the room instead of coming from the speakers.
Dave's cables are not inexpensive, and might be overkill in some systems, but in a high end setup they are worth every penny, and then some. Why? because they will let you hear the true capability of your equipment. I have spent a lot of money on equipment upgrades in the past that did not bring the kinds of sound improvements these cables bring.
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,213
93
48
Beverly Hills, CA
#15
Al and mttbsh:

How did each of you decide which model of DaveC's interconnect to audition and purchase? I think Dave's website looks great but I found confusing Dave's descriptions of and comparisons of the sound of his different models of interconnects.

What made you select the D4 as opposed to one of the other models?
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
3,942
26
48
Greater Boston
#16
Al and mttbsh:

How did each of you decide which model of DaveC's interconnect to audition and purchase? I think Dave's website looks great but I found confusing Dave's descriptions of and comparisons of the sound of his different models of interconnects.

What made you select the D4 as opposed to one of the other models?
Hi Ron,

initially I was also a little confused, but once I tuned into what Dave was actually saying on his website, I started to appreciate the honesty and apparent accuracy of his descriptions (now that I have heard the D4 cable I am even more inclined to think the comparative descriptions are accurate).

I chose the D4 because of the described greatest resolution, and low coloration. Also the price, while the highest of DaveC's offerings, seemed immensely reasonable compared to other interconnects on the market -- if the cable delivered what it promised. Finally, I had heard the cable in Ian's (Madfloyd's) system before auditioning it in mine, but even before that I had already planned that if I would audition one of DaveC's cables, this would be the one.

Now, I have not compared it with other interconnects in my system, but it does so much right over my old cables, and it makes my dreams come true with orchestral strings, that I am inclined to think that cable is an absolute bargain, a steal for what it delivers for the, in high-end terms, very modest price (I had been prepared to spend significantly more money on other cables). This may be true also given the cable material used, which you just don't find anywhere else at that price point -- or perhaps not at all, if DaveC's description is correct.

While in comparison my old cables are clearly inferior, they did sound great also in Ian's highly transparent and resolving system with great components and Magico M Project speakers, and they are still very resolving on their own terms -- solo violin sounds extremely micro-detailed through them (also in my system, now that I have recently cleaned all my connections with DeOxit). But it sounds even more detailed with the ZenWave Audio D4 interconnect.
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
3,942
26
48
Greater Boston
#17
I wanted to add my praise of the Zenwave D4 interconnects, I recently installed 2 pair in my system: one pair between my Yggdrasil DAC and my Tortuga LDR preamp, the other between the preamp and my Job 225 amplifier. I won't reiterate what's been stated above in Dave's review, but I was amazed by the clarity and detail these cables brought to my system.
I wanted to add that I enjoyed at least as big an improvement by adding Dave's PL power cords (with Futuretech FI-50 connectors) to all of the components in my system. These cords provide such clean power that the noise floor basically disappears - allowing me to hear the full potential of each of my components. Music emerges from silence so that every instrument, every bell, every cymbal strike floats in the room instead of coming from the speakers.
Dave's cables are not inexpensive, and might be overkill in some systems, but in a high end setup they are worth every penny, and then some. Why? because they will let you hear the true capability of your equipment. I have spent a lot of money on equipment upgrades in the past that did not bring the kinds of sound improvements these cables bring.
Welcome to the forum, mttbsh!

Great to hear of a combination of the Yggdrasil DAC with D4 interconnects. I have ordered the DAC, and if I like it, I will also have to have another, short, D4 interconnect! It would run between DAC and my Pass B1 buffer as volume control. Without it, I will probably be able to judge the DAC in comparison to my Berkeley Alpha DAC 2 only in terms of tonality and overall presentation, but not in terms of resolution. The current short interconnect that I have is very, very good, but probably no match for the extreme resolution the D4 cable offers.
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
3,942
26
48
Greater Boston
#18
Yes, it is the third part of the 'Greeting' (Overture) to the opera Thursday from Light. It can be ordered from Stockhausen-Verlag,

http://www.stockhausen-verlag.com/

It can also be bought used at Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Donnerstag-Aus-Licht-Stockhausen/dp/B00000E3ZJ
I now remember that for his own publishing house (German: Verlag) Stockhausen may have remastered the old DGG recordings, including this one. Sonically, the best bet may be going with Stockhausen-Verlag.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
4,953
38
48
North Shore of Boston
#19
Thank you, David, for your interest in evaluating the cables and for your constructive comments and criticism; a thank you to Peter as well for that. Unfortunately, during the listening session we had the tube traps on their reflective side almost throughout, but your and Peter's comments were very helpful to me in subsequently finding the optimum, with the D4 cable and the tube traps on their absorptive side. I am so glad we have such a great group of audiophile friends around Boston, and we can all learn from listening to each others' systems and discussing what we hear. A main reason why I auditioned the D4 cable in my system in the first place was hearing it in Ian's (Madfloyd's) system. Importantly, hearing it in his system on orchestral and solo strings taught me what to listen for.
I agree Al. It has been tremendously beneficial to be a part of such a close and enjoyable listening group. Despite your good descriptions of the differences between the D4 and Monster cables, I remain somewhat confused by the events of the recent audition. You essentially conducted an A/B/X test for me and David. Despite me being completely sure that the X cable was the same as B, I failed that test. That opened my eyes to the realities of such tests. Then, later in the evening, when we did the test again with different music, you switched the test without telling us. It was basically an A/B/C test, because you rotated the Tube Traps when we were outside of the room for the X part, changing it into C. That only confused me more. In the end, I still preferred the Monster cable with the reflective side out into the room to the D4 with the reflective side out because I liked the richer tonality of the Monster cable while the reflective side out caused the D4, with its extreme clarity and excellent high frequency extension to sound tonally flat, whitish, and somewhat bland. The Tube Trap reflection strip detracted from the sound by scattering reflections around the room and making the sound less clean and clear. That was what we heard during most of the testing. But as I mentioned that evening, the sound improved during the course of our listening and at the end, I think I heard the D4 with the Tube Trap reflective side hidden. Here we heard more direct sound from the speakers and the improved clarity of the D4 became apparent. This sounded excellent, and I think it is the combination which you now prefer and that which convinced you to buy the cable. I look forward to returning to your house to listen some more to this combination.

Finally, I'd like to add a few thoughts about the A/B/X testing method. Not knowing what I was hearing made for a very intense listening session. During the A/B part, obviously we knew there were two different cables being heard, and we simply described the differences, if any, between the two. That part was fairly easy. The test changed when we heard the third X part. We did not know if you switched cables again or not. Now we were being asked to remember the sound of the previous two cables while listening to unfamiliar music and identify if the third cable was the same as the first or the second. I found this test to be fundamentally different from the first test. We were not listening for differences, but instead testing our recall ability. I thought I correctly identified it, but was clearly wrong. That knowledge of failing the test then influenced my listening for the rest of the evening and contributed to an overall very confusing listening session. I don't know much about blind testing. The fact that I failed it and that you are clearly certain which cable you prefer means either that this kind of testing is somehow flawed, that I am not a good testing subject and poor listener, or that bias may enter into your decision, or something else entirely. I don't really know.

It was an enjoyable evening with friends nonetheless, but personally, I think I need more listening time without distractions to evaluate a product in a system. This whole experience has me curious to call Dave to see if I can get one of his demo ICs.

Congratulations again on finding another way to improve your already excellent sounding system.
 

DaveC

[Industry Expert]
Nov 16, 2014
2,221
13
38
#20
Al and mttbsh:

How did each of you decide which model of DaveC's interconnect to audition and purchase? I think Dave's website looks great but I found confusing Dave's descriptions of and comparisons of the sound of his different models of interconnects.

What made you select the D4 as opposed to one of the other models?
Hopefully the cable comparison pages make it easier, not sure if you found them...

http://www.zenwaveaudio.com/interconnect-cable-comparison/

Basically, the D4 is the most neutral, clear and resolving cable I offer. As you go down the line you get a warmer cable with decreasing amounts of resolution, although resolution is always a top priority so even my least expensive cable, the D1, does pretty well. Another top priority is avoiding any fatiguing artifacts.

My website needs some updating pretty badly though, and it is coming! There will be a new section on phono and custom cables, and the details of the cables have changed a bit over time, for example the D1's RCA plugs are now rhodium plated and the D2/3 now use FP-108 rhodium plated upocc copper plugs.

mttbsh, thanks for coming over and posting! :)

EDIT: On testing, I think familiar music is very important. With unfamiliar music quicker A/B testing can show differences but it makes recall much more difficult so longer pauses or comparisons with multiple items is harder.
 

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