QED was founded in 1973. Within a few years, it launched the legendary 79 Strand, arguably the first specialist speaker cable to hit the market. That’s some legacy, and in the years since then, the company has continued to develop its understanding of cable design, even going as far as to publish technical papers on the subject.
The new QED Golden Anniversary XT speaker cable not only marks the brand’s significant birthday but also embodies the culmination of the engineering ideas it has developed over the past five decades.
Build & design
This is a smart and well-made product. It certainly feels expensive. Look under the skin and you will find that QED’s engineers have put at least as much thought into the construction and geometry of the cable as the classy appearance.
Essentially, putting QED’s marketing terms like Aircore and X-Tube aside, each conductor is made up of ten copper strands twisted around a hollow polymer rod. Nine of these strands are made of high-purity oxygen-free copper (OFC) while the tenth uses Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC) Copper. OCC Copper is processed in a way that removes grain boundaries within the material’s structure with the promise of purer sound. The exacting geometry of the cable is designed to minimise distortion and deliver consistent results through the frequency range.
Each conductor is then wrapped with gold mylar tape (which gives the cable its distinctive colour) and then encased in a transparent LDPE (Low-Density Polyethylene) dielectric. There are two such conductors in the Golden Anniversary XT and they are twisted together before being protected by a thick PVC external layer. It is a complicated approach to making a speaker cable and shows the company’s desire to achieve something special.
Our review sample is terminated by QED’s Forte 4mm banana plugs. These are cold-welded to ensure a solid and stable connection over time and are nicely made. We have a small complaint though. The plug body has a trio of coloured rubber rings to help grip and identify the cable as black or red. In use, these rings are easy to dislodge or even break. It would be nice if QED could come up with a more durable solution.
Let’s make one thing clear, a speaker cable can’t make the music signal any better. All it can do is carry the electrical signal from your amplifier to the speakers while minimising losses and distortion. We try the Golden Anniversary XT in multiple systems: our main reference setup of Naim ND555/555PS DR, Burmester 088/911MkIII amplifier and ATC SCM50 speakers and a Cyrus CDi player/PMC Cor integrated amplifier/Epos ES14N speakers combination. We also use it between Arcam’s A5 amplifier and a pair of KEF LS50 Meta speakers with our reference Naim music streamer as the source.
Construction Twisted pair
Conductor material OFC/UP-OCC strands
Plugs Forte 4mm banana plugs
The Golden Anniversary XT turns out to be a fine cable regardless of the partnering system. With it plumbed in, our systems sound impressively clear and crisp. We have the Award-winning Chord Company RumourX (2022) (£20/m, $21/m) on hand for comparison and it doesn’t take long to figure out that the QED delivers more outright clarity and detail precision. The Golden Anniversary XT also has a more even and neutral balance than its rival, while managing to sound more fluid and rounded than previous generations of QED cables we’ve heard.
We listen to a range of music from grand classical pieces like Mahler’s Symphony No.4 to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s The Heist, and the QED cable shows no particular bias towards any specific genre. It is well-balanced, combining attack and refinement nicely. The classical piece shows a fine sense of scale and authority while The Heist track proves that the QED has plenty of agility and can deliver punch with the best of them. Overall, the Golden Anniversary XT is the kind of cable that is multi-talented enough to work well across a wide range of systems and, as such, is easy to recommend.
The rival Chord Company RumourX (2022) still edges it for rhythmic drive and dynamic expression though, and that’s particularly obvious on tracks like Thrift Shop, but the QED remains good enough in these respects to satisfy. The choice between the two cables comes down to whether you place resolution, tonal neutrality and openness above the more visceral aspects of music replay. There is no right answer here and it comes down to your system and taste.
There is no doubt that the QED Golden Anniversary XT is an excellent performer. If your system merits a speaker cable at this level, put this one on your shortlist.
- Sound 5
- Build 5
- Compatibility 5
Also consider the Chord Company Rumour X (2022)