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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 9
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An interview with Jerry Ramsey of Audio Magic
by Dave Clark

 

Why do you make the cables the way you do? That is, what is your approach to designing cables?

We believe in using the best parts possible for the desired price point. I think that basing a design on sound technology, and that utilizing as simple a design approach as possible, is much better than the "more the merrier" approaches found in other cable design. For example, all the gizmos, filters etc. etc. people use on their cables make me crazy, what a crock. All they do is add more to the signal—not less. I have never heard a filter that did not impart some sonic signature into the music. First do no harm.

What are you after in a cable?

Neutrality—a cable should do its job and get the heck out of the way. Period.

Why do cables sound the way they do?

A lot of things go into a way a cable sounds; the conductors, dielectrics, construction, connectors, solder, etc. We go to great lengths to audition different every component we are going to use in a cable before we settle on what to use with what—not an easy task! For instance we have approximately 7 suppliers of the silver we use. If a conductor made with the same parameters is made by all these suppliers and tested, I guarantee all will sound different to one degree or another if we were substitute anything used in the cable. A lot of R&D is put into each and every cable produced—what combination of parts and technology work for one cable usually doesn't work for another.

Why silver?

We have been a silver based company for most of our existence, in fact we are the original all silver line of cables company, and have been given grief for years. Now look at all the silver cable companies popping up, guess we weren't so wrong after all. Why silver? You have to look at the corrosion aspect of silver versus copper. Copper over time will develop a skin of copper oxide on the conductor (even if it is oxygen free copper) and as the oxide increases, it becomes resistive over time getting worse and worse. The end result is the customer gets a cable that degrades from the moment he or she buys it. Silver on the other hand develops a skin of silver oxide, a better conductor than the silver it self, So in theory the silver cable does nothing but get better and better.

Which means the sound is changing over time and never really stabilizes?

Well not quite. The silver oxide does change the sound as well, which led us to the development of our SMT treatment that is done on all our silver conductors. This not only enhances the silver but stabilizes it upon oxidation. But, yes, all of a sudden the Audio Magic cables do get better and better over time. We also cryo-treat all of our cables as well and hand polish each and every conductor.

What sort of measurements do you take on your cables (capacitance, inductance, resistance)? That is, is this really an issue?

Capacitance and inductance will affect the sound of cables and we do take these things into consideration. However, just because a cable measures properly does not mean it is going to sound good. The only true way to know if your cable is doing what it was designed to do is to listen! Which is why we have invested so heavily into our listening system—the Grand Illusion PA-1. This system can be observed on our website… This is my most important measuring device for our cables and conditioners and is really the ultimate test. The PA-1 is in a very sophisticated room with 5 dedicated circuits, all conditioned by the Audio Magic Matrix and Eclipse power conditioners (a $250,000.00 plus investment. I don't know of a cable company that goes to this length).

Do you see cables as tone controls?

People use cables as tone controls all of the time, however I tell people don't expect our cables to help you fix what you are hearing. That is if your system is in need of a little more this and less of that, well we develop our cables for Neutrality. So you are not going to solve any problems—just hear them better! The tone control approach is simply a band-aide. If you have to resort to that, something else in your system is wrong. However on a budget where one has to make accommodations, then we all have to make do and find what works with what.

What causes one cable to sound one way and another to be different, either within a system or from one system to the next?

System compatibility is very important, and no cable is just a cable - it is a component in the system just like an amp, preamp, etc.. Though there are people who would have you believe differently. That is they see cables as a way to simply join an amp to a preamp and as such, has no "role" in making music. Since our cables are neutral, they will allow you to hear what is happening "within" the system. Other cables will cause a greater interaction between components—changing the how they work together. Now that is bad. We avoid this by making cables that really just get out of the way. Even so, it's all about synergy (a very hard thing to find at times) and with all the variables; rooms, components, etc. etc., even on a day to day situation systems can sound different (barometric pressure, humidity, mood swings, power, and on and on). I really like neutral cables. I want to hear what is going on.

Accuracy? Neutrality? Musicality? different or all possible? Can you have all three?

Can you have Accuracy, Musicality, Neutrality at the same time?, I think so, but it will take effort on the part of the listener to find what works best with what to get all three. On the other hand, a system has to be fun (it has to have a huge fun factor as I call it) and all these items are part of that. If you are looking for accuracy only, or neutrality, you are really missing the boat and you probably will never really be happy. Music has got to have the fun factor. Also keep in mind that nothing is perfect. If you can put together a system that reaches right down into your soul and can strum all your feelings and emotions, that's what it is all about, so maybe that is perfection.

Do you have an Audio Magic "family" or what is commonly referred to a s "house" sound?

Do our cables have a family sound? Yes, since all our cables employ flat ribbon conductors with our SMT treatment, and all strive for neutrality, they do tend to have a sound that is continuous from one to the next. It is just that as one goes up the line, things get better and better.

Do you approach speaker cables differently than interconnects?

In some cases yes, but when it comes to AC cables a whole different animal.

What is going on in AC units? The Stealth for example.

When it comes to our Stealth units we also strive for the same things, neutrality. A conditioner should do it's job and get the hell out of the way, and it should never limit current (which so many do). If you come upon a conditioner that softens or colors in any way, look else where.

Do you see your products as being perfect for every application?

No, but neutrality is a good place to start. We will be introducing the new Stealth MKII this January approx retail 1899.00 4 or 5 duplexes, 19" wide metal box, improved purification, a sonic marvel. As always, we strive to be a step ahead of the competition. We will also be releasing the ultimate in power purification, "The Eclipse" with 2 duplexes for digital, 2 duplexes for low level, 2 duplex's for high level components, each totally isolated from each other, and each circuit specifically designed for its application. Two power cords are required (not included) and it will retail for approx. $4500.00 This unit re-defines "QUIET".

 

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