British cable specialist QED has just introduced the latest version of its Reference Audio 40 interconnect. We called the original Reference Audio 40 with Analoc "an impressive stereo interconnect that ushers through a high-quality sound" and awarded it a coveted five-star review back in 2014, so this is quite the announcement.
This updated mid-range model – QED's Reference range sits above the entry-level Performance Audio 40 and below the flagship Signature series – builds on the success of the first-gen Analoc low-eddy current design by entirely removing all conductive material from the plug bodies in a bid for superior transparency, timing and audio-signal integrity. It's a new development that QED calls Analoc2 and, according to the firm at least, it makes the Reference Audio 40 "the ultimate upgrade from budget interconnects for a cleaner, more detailed and dynamic sonic performance".
To drill down into Analoc2 a little more; it still features low-bulk, high-purity copper connectors alongside low-mass metal barrels, but now it substitutes high-rigidity thermoplastic material for both the inner support structure and the cable strain relief. The goal is to eliminate the detrimental effects of eddy currents which, although already smaller than in traditional bulk brass plugs were still, says QED, able to circulate weakly in the isolated metal body of the previous plug design. Now, with the new material in place, these remnant resonant distortions are apparently "completely prevented from adversely affecting the information contained in the audio signal as it travels through the new plug".
To complete the RCA plug’s Analoc2 upgrade, the hollow gold- (or rhodium-) plated high-purity copper signal-pins are retained, while the slip ring which locks the similarly plated, pure-copper ground-terminal in place (as the barrels are tightened) has also been uprated.
This technology promises to improve both timing and detail, but, unlike conventional analogue interconnects, Reference Audio 40 also uses two Silver-Plated 99.999% Oxygen Free Copper (SPOFC) conductors of different diameters to carry the same audio signal. This, says QED, provides an alternative path for high-frequency audio components which might otherwise become time-smeared in a single audio pathway.
Furthermore, a Zn/Mn Ferrite jacket is used within the cordage to absorb very high-frequency noise components outside of the audible band. The company says that, when measured at very high frequencies, Reference Audio 40 cables exhibit a cleaner signal transmission than standard audio interconnects.
Extra protection for those SPOFC conductors comes in the form of a low-loss, low-density, dielectric foam Polyethylene (LDPE) inner jacket that aims to minimise electrical energy loss in the cable insulation.
The QED Reference Audio 40 interconnect is available now in the UK/Europe and in the US from December, priced £99.95/€125/$139.95 (0.6m length), £119.95/€149/$169.95 (1m length) and £149.95/€189/$209.95 (3m length), meaning prices in Australia should start at around AU$187.
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