There are certain things in life that I find particularly challenging, such as crossing that tall bridge over Green Bay, saying “no” to a pour of Johnnie Walker Blue, properly pronouncing “Worcestershire,” and writing articles about cables. Reviews for cables are inherently different than speakers. Speakers have a sound, a coloration, a certain signature that you’re dialing into and telling the world all about. However, this is absolutely the last thing that you want from a set of cables, whether it’s speaker, interconnect, or digital transmission. In fact, if I put in a cable and hear an alteration to the sound, my reaction is immediately a negative one. So, how to fill pages about products that you’re asking to do nothing at all for you?
It’s because that’s where the magic lies. Can you inject that cable into your system and have it provide neutrality, transparency, balance, and realism without skewing or smearing details? Often, this is easier said than done, especially at budget price points.
Enter the new offerings from Accusound, based in Bridgewater, MA. Founded as labor of love in 2006 by Steve Seropian, Accusound was borne from a project from Seropian’s own recording studio. It was there that he began swapping and experimenting with different brands of cables, noting the marked difference they made in the sound of the recording. His early customers were top producers and engineers, and then microphone manufacturers.
In 2016, Bill Benoit joined the firm, bringing with him not only the experience of a lifetime of recording and engineering, but also tenure at Lexicon and Mark Levinson. His “golden ears” began moving the company into a direction catering to the audiophile as well as the studio.
First, something about the cables themselves. As I unboxed the offerings from Accusound, I was met with a series of braided, heavy, directional cables that already looked and felt above their price points. However, I’ve met pretty faces before that didn’t always do the job. One set at a time, they began to go into my system.
ONES Single Ended Interconnect 1m ($299)
Inserting the ONES RCA interconnects in two crucial spots in my two-channel reference system, they quickly had not only a big job to do, but large shoes to fill. The first pair went between my Hafler 915 preamp and Parasound JC 5 power amplifier, taking main stage. The second went in the spot feeding the output of my Questyle CMA Twelve DAC into the preamp. Both interconnects replaced Transparent Audio Plus cables. I went in with healthy skepticism.
Testing just these cables first, and giving them adequate break-in time, immediately puts my fears about losing detail or imaging or depth to rest. Relief is my first emotion.
Let me take a moment here to address “biased listening.” This is the theory that I hear bantered about that “If you think it’ll sound good, it will.” I will tell you from experience that I have put cables into my system that I was incredibly
excited about, then only to be terribly disappointed with. Some cables have completely removed the soundstage (or narrowed it), reduced imaging, sounded like a blanket went over the speakers, or were just plain icky. Sure, that’s a technical term. Icky. The “biased listening” thing is absolute B.S. Trust your ears.
Back to our regularly scheduled program…
With the ONES interconnects in my system, I slip Starfish by The Church into the PS Audio Lambda CD transport. “Under the Milky Way” has every bit of the separation and definition that I’m anticipating from this track. Guitars are lush, wide and thick. The soundstage is open and quite circular. The class A interaction between my Hafler 915 preamp and Parasound JC 5 amplifier is easily apparent while connected with the Accusound interconnects.
ONES Digital Link S/PDIF 1M ($399)
A few days later, I take this a step further and introduce the Digital Link coaxial cable in-between my transport and DAC. Inserting the Mofi release of Derek and the Dominoes’ Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, I go for “Anyday” as a test track. I hear a lot of talk about digital cables not being important because, well, it’s just ones and zeros. What needs to be kept in mind, is that it’s a lot of ones and zeroes, and in a particular order. A high-qualitydigital cable like this makes an immediate difference, as this Accusound does (it replaced a Blue Jean Cables digital coax I had been previously trying in that spot). What I hear is an increased snap in percussion, an immediacy in the bass drum, and a larger spaciousness to the sonic field.
ONES Speaker Cable, 8’ pair, banana ($299)
Finally, a week after the interconnects and digital cable, I swapped the speaker cables. This is part I have the most trepidation about, as I’m replacing a “higher-end” set of cables that are bi-wire with the single-ended Accusound.
As expected, I’ve lost just a bit of volume, but I haven’t had the drastic change that I thought I could have had. In fact, what I have in my system is a fine set of cables at a ridiculous price point.
Here I am, listening to Elvis Costello’s “45,” taken aback by the punch coming out of my Usher speakers. There is sizzle in the top end. Plenty of it. Enough pop to make your mother get up and dance. Can more be had for less? Have they really done it? I’m convinced.
Bringing it into a different realm, I take some time to sink into MoFi’s release of The Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed. Once more, as a complete system of cables, the ONES work in tandem to deliver the precision streaming from the 24k gold disc. This is a more demanding piece of music, especially from the interludes from the London Festival Orchestra. My system is supplying me all the musicality that I have been accustomed to and need, and I can focus on the pure enjoyment of the music, rather than nitpicking cables. I believe that means… they have disappeared!
A Whole System
With the ONES in my system, and working together, I’m experiencing high-end listening out of “budget” cables. The time that I’ve had with them has not been exile from my more expensive cables, but rather an enjoyable foray into what research and development can generate, by a company that chooses to provide something more to audiophiles on a shoestring budget.
Cables can be manufactured with gold ends, fancy braiding, even shrink-wrapped, and possibly made to look nearly this good at this price point. However, to make them sound this good at this price point is not something that we encounter all that often. You could easily do your whole system in these cables, achieve audiophile results, and still have money left over to buy plenty of music. Because the music is what it’s all about, and the folks at Accusound help us get a little closer to that.