Friday, February 24, 2012

New speaker jumpers from Audience

These jumpers just came in from the good folks at Audience AV. We partnered with them at the 2012 CES, and after we had hooked up our brand new Opera Quintas to the Unison Research amplifier, Richard Colburn and John McDonald of Audience checked out the rear connections and wondered why we used the stock brass bars instead of jumpers. My response, after hemming and hawing, was basically, "'Cuz that's what the speakers came with." Richard and John quickly fetched a pair of jumpers from their magic cable box and used them on the Quintas. While we didn't do any practical A/B comparisons with and without the jumpers, I must say that our CES set-up sounded terrific, and Audience had a lot to do with that.

A few days ago, Richard emailed us and said, "I just made Marc some jumpers and mailed them off. See what you think." Today I received these jumpers, fashioned from their top-of-the-line Au24 speaker cable and terminated with banana plugs, and I hooked them right up. The first thing I noticed was how the spade lugs from my Cardas Clear speaker cable fit the bi-wireable binding posts so much better; those old brass bars could definitely get in the way of a firm connection when dealing with thicker cables. I've never been nuts about the bars--I remember the first time I had to deal with them was on my old Spendor S20s, and they were nothing more than brass rods that were slightly larger than toothpicks. I lost them almost immediately and had to terminate my own jumpers from spare pieces of Kimber 4ATC wire. The bars that come with the Operas are far more substantial, but you usually have to wrestle with them a bit to get everything connected cleanly.

I didn't expect to hear a huge difference once I installed the jumpers; I figured the Au24s needed time to break in. Then I remembered that Richard is a bit of a wizard when it comes to system break-in--his XLO frequency disc saved our butts when it came to burning in our system in time for CES--and I wouldn't be surprised if he cooked the jumpers a little bit before he sent them on. Within a few minutes I heard the difference between the bars and the jumpers: my first observation was that the bass response on the Opera Quintas was more fleshed out, and there was more top-to-bottom coherence throughout the frequencies. (That, of course, is what quality jumpers should do.)

I'll let them burn in a little more before I make any final judgments, but for now I'm very happy with the Audience Au24 jumpers, and I'll see if I can keep them around for a while.

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