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Moon Audio Black Dragon Cables

05-19-2020 | By Sam Rosen | Issue 109

Finding True Value in the Audiophile world

If you look back at my history as a reviewer for Positive Feedback, you will quickly see that I have reviewed a number of different cables. I have reviewed everything from headphone cables  to interconnects, USB cables, BNC cables, and even power cords. I have a love hate relationship with cables.

For a long time I was under the incorrect belief that cables could not possibly make enough of a difference to justify their costs. I was quickly proven wrong as I received and proceeded to review several cables, at various price points, from various manufacturers. Each cable imparted its own sound signature onto my system, some good, some bad, but each one had a distinct sound.

What was challenging for me was when I would find a good cable, it was still hard for me to recommend. Audiophile interconnects, especially the good ones, are just incredibly expensive. They are expensive to the point that if you did not have a system that retailed for over $10,000 that I would question the use of your funds on a cable. Instead, I would recommend upgrading a component.

I am incredibly happy to say that the Moon Audio Black Dragon cable system is a cable system that I can simply recommend. No qualifiers, no ifs, ands, or buts, what Drew (owner of Moon Audio) and his team have done with the Black Dragon interconnects is astonishing at any price. When you see the retail price, it is hard to say anything other than, "shut up and take my money." If you do not want to read any further, that is fine, go audition these cables. They likely won't leave your system, and your wallet will thank you.

How Did this Start

A while back I reviewed the Moon Audio Silver Dragon V3 headphone cable. Similar to the Black Dragon interconnects, it performed fantastically and cost about a third the price of my reference headphone cable. At the conclusion of that review, Drew offered to send me a full set of Black Dragon interconnects for review. This set included two 1 meter Black Dragon RCA cables, three Black Dragon Power Cords, one Black Dragon USB cable, and two Black Dragon 1 meter BNC cables. With this set I was able to wire up my entire system using the Black Dragon interconnects.

It is important to note that at the same time that I had these in house, I had several RCA, USB, and BNC cables in from various manufacturers. I was using these cables in a variety of systems, and any time I review a cable I spend, at minimum, one month with it in my system before I make any judgments. The other thing that I think is important to call out is that the Black Dragon interconnects were also the most affordable interconnects that I had on hand to review. They also quickly became the reference that all other interconnects were judged by.

Build Quality

Drew has always impressed me when it comes to the build quality of his cables. The Silver Dragon headphone cable was the best built headphone cables that I had the pleasure of using, the attention to detail was simply second to none.

I am happy to say that the Black Dragon interconnects all maintain that strict level of build quality.  Starting with the RCA cables which are terminated with a Cardas GRMO RCA connectors, after having handled several high end RCA connectors, these are easily my favorite. I will let you in on a secret, as a reviewer I despise locking RCA connectors because, I change cables too often. The unfortunate reality is that as you step up the cable ladder, you hit a point where most RCA cables are terminated with locking RCA connectors. Drew's choice here was excellent. The Cardas connector not only looks excellent, but they fit snugly into every RCA jack I had on hand. Most importantly though, while the fit was snug it was also fairly easy to disconnect, and I never felt like the finish on my device's RCA connectors were going to be damaged. I also want to point out that these are the only high end RCA cables that I have had in house that will work with the Hugo 2. I am sure others exist, but this was another bonus of the Black Dragon RCA interconnects.

Moving on from the connectors, the cable itself has a mesh exterior coating which is both great to look at and hold. It bends nicely, but does not kink, which is important for me given my use of these cables with plate amps (my RCA connectors point up at the ceiling, so any cables that plugs into them will have to arch in order to avoid cable strain). Each connector has heat shrink applied around it, which includes the Black Dragon logo, cable type, and signal direction indicator.

The interior of this cable is made of UPOCC copper. While I personally disagree with the notion that all copper cables are smooth and all silver cables are more detailed and bright, the Black Dragon cables are definitely smooth and dynamic. We will talk about the cable's performance later in the review, but do not misread my previous sentence as suggesting that this cable is lush or dark. These are far from that, and easily compete with more expensive pure silver offerings.

Moving onto the BNC cables, these are beautifully built. I love the way they look, and while looks are not the most important thing, when you're buying high end cables, looks do matter. These BNC cables are heavy duty, they are thick, and relatively stiff. They have a solid copper core, and excellent shielding, made up of two layers separated by PVC, with the two layers connected together using a capacitor.

The next cable in the set is the Black Dragon USB cable. If I were to complain about anything, it would be that the Black Dragon USB cable, while extremely well built, especially for its price, is just not up to the finish and quality that Drew has achieved with the rest of the cable line. With that being said this cable is also half the price of the next least expensive cable in this set.  It is well built, and I am unaware of another $110 ($85 base price) audiophile USB cable that is as well built as the Black Dragon. Honestly, the cable feels more sturdy than my reference USB cable which retails for $850.

Finally, we have the Black Dragon Power cords. These are well built, and unlike most audiophile power chords, you can actually bend them, and coil them, and place them in normal positions. They are not what I would call fancy, however they are easily the best audiophile power cord I have seen and used at their retail price of $400.

If it is not clear, I will state it plainly, I really like these cables. Now let's talk about the sound.

Listening to the Black Dragon Cable System

For this review, the vast majority of my listening was done on my primary headphone system:

  • Amp: Ampsandsound Bigger Ben
  • Digital Sources: Chord Dave and M Scaler
  • Pre-amp: Schiit Freya S (In Passive Mode)
  • Streamer: Pro-ject Streambox Ultra S2
  • Power Conditioners: Core Power Deep Core and two custom built balanced power conditioners
  • Headphones: Hifiman Susvara and Focal Stellia
  • Cabling: Moon Audio Black Dragon and Wireworld

After spending about a month with the Black Dragon RCA cables, I sent Drew an email expressing my amazement for how these cables sounded, especially given their retail price, Drew's response really summed up his point of view and Moon Audio's value proposition:

"We sell direct to the consumer. so we don't have a conventional 3 tier markup for distributors and dealers. I need to sleep at night and I would just not feel right about over inflating these like so many companies do. It's more of a passion for me than anything else."

His passion comes through, especially, with the Black Dragon RCA cables. As I was reviewing other cables, I would miss the Black Dragon RCA cables, and happily put them back in my system in between other reviews. What had me hooked on the Black Dragon interconnects was the sense of space they created. For me, the hallmark of a good cable is the ability to create space and separation. Some cables achieve this, but end up thinning out the sound as a byproduct. The Black Dragon RCA cables simply create space, but keep the weight and presence that I like with more intimate presentations. It is one of the only RCA cables that I have in my system able to do this, with the only exception retailing for well over four times the price.

The other thing that really blew me away about this cable was the way it presented bass. I love bass, I want it to be present, and I want to feel the kick, but I don't want it to be overblown or bloated. The Black Dragon RCA cable delivers clean and clear bass that digs deep and makes itself known without muddying the midrange or sacrificing the highs. Human voices sound fantastic on these cables, and like Drew says on his website, these cables are the perfect match for Jazz. Female and male vocals are both fantastic and saxophones have just the right amount of bite without being fatiguing.

Earlier today I found myself listening to the album Miss Colombia by Lido Pimienta. About 5 minutes into the album I had to stop working and just listen. I had listened to this album the previous day with another set of cables, and the Black Dragons simply gripped me in a way that I was not expecting. I connected with the emotion of the music, the space, the intimacy. They helped create a perfect moment.

If you are waiting for a but when it comes to the Black Dragon RCAs, I don't have one. As of now I am planning to re-cable my system with Moon Audio RCA cables, it's not a price related consideration, these are simply some of the best RCA cables I have heard.

Changing gears to the BNC cable. Digital cables are harder to review. Their impacts are generally much more subjective. What I can tell you though is that the Black Dragon BNC cable performed fantastically in my system. My base go-to standard cable is a Wireworld Starlight BNC cable. These are relatively inexpensive, and provide massive bang for the buck. I recently purchased the Platinum Starlight from Wireworld after reviewing them, however I still use the regular Starlight as a benchmark of value for BNC cables. Where am I going with this? It is rare in the digital audio world that cables' performance increase directly correlates with its price increase.

The Black Dragon BNC cable is a little more than twice the cost of the Wireworld Starlight BNC cable and, its performance is at least twice as good. The Black Dragon BNC cable smoothed out the top end of my system. With the wrong cables connected to the  Dave, even with the M Scaler, it can sound peaky. While this was a rare occurrence with the Starlight BNC cable, it never happened with the Black Dragon BNC cables. With the Black Dragon BNC cables, the background became darker, little cues became more defined, and I was left wanting nothing from the Dave. Do cables exist that outperform the Black Dragon BNC cables? Yes, however, the Black Dragon BNC cables represent 95% of the best BNC cables I have heard. When you compare the retail prices of the best BNC cables I have heard and the Black Dragon BNC cable, the value proposition here is enormous. This all comes back to Drew's email that I referenced above. He is all about providing value and performance. If you have a need for digital coax or a BNC cable, make sure you audition these. There are only a few cables that I have experienced in this space that can outperform this BNC cable, and none of them are this affordable.

Moving onto the Black Dragon USB cable. I used it within a variety of systems and with a few different DACs including the Schiit Gumby and Chord Dave. Similar to BNC cables, USB cables are harder to review. In my opinion, you have to have a very revealing system to hear the difference between USB cables. For its price the Black Dragon USB cable is excellent. I have several audiophile USB cables that range from about $60 to $150 and the Black Dragon performed as well or better then all of them.

What the Black Dragon cable provides that the others at this price point do not is a firm foundation. They all get highs and midrange reasonably correct, however bass and background noise has always been something that I have found lacking in cheaper USB cables. This is again where Drew, and the Black Dragon USB cable do not disappoint. This cable produces a nice black background and bass. Similar to the RCA cables above it is well defined, punchy, and does not color the mid-range. Does this cable provide the space and transparency of my reference USB cable? No. Once again though, my reference USB cable retails for well over eight times the price of this cable. I can also tell you that this cable easily outperformed another big name USB cable that was well over eighteen times its price. The next time I am looking for a new USB cable for my mobile setup, the Black Dragon will be my first choice. What would I change? I would gladly pay a little more if this cable could be finished in a similar way to the RCA cables. Again, it is not that the finish of the USB cable is bad. Honestly, if seen on its own I probably would not have this complaint, but when placed next to the other cables from the Black Dragon line, I am left wanting more aesthetically. With that in mind the audio performance of this cable at its price leaves me wanting nothing.

For me, power cord reviews are short and sweet. This has nothing to do with Moon Audio, but just the honest reality that I find it really hard to hear the difference between power cords once you hit a certain level. For me, audiophile power cords are all about power delivery. Can they deliver power when your amps and equipment need it? Can they look good while doing it? Are they flexible enough to not cause chaos on your rack? My default power cord that I use throughout my entire system hits the first two points, but fails on the third point. When I re-cable my rack I spend way too much time figuring out how to lay my existing power cords to avoid it looking messy. I am happy to say that the Moon Audio Black Dragon power cords are easy to work with, look great, especially if you are using them next to the Black Dragon interconnects, and deliver power as well as any power cord I have used in my system.

Power cords will remain an area that I will continue to advise that people invest in with caution. Do they make a difference? Yes, but that difference is slight in my experience. Normally the biggest difference they make is aesthetic. At their retail price the Moon Audio Black Dragon power cords deliver the performance I would expect, with the build quality to match. If I had limited funds and was deciding where to spend them, I would buy the RCA cables first, but if you are looking for a great set of power cords, these are on the top of my recommended list right next to Wireworld's power cord line.

Wrapping Up

I am happy to say that the Black Dragon RCA cable left me speechless. So speechless in fact that I am figuring out what length of RCA cables I need for my main system, and I plan to place an order. I also plan to eventually re-cable my home theater with Black Dragon XLR cables, they are simply that good, and inexpensive enough that I can use them on systems that traditionally would not get the audiophile cable treatment. The value and excitement extends to the rest of the Black Dragon cable line. If you are thinking about re-cabling your system, and you have a $1000 system, a $5000, a $10,000, or yes even a $20,000+ system like mine, you would be doing yourself, your wallet, and your ears a disservice if you do not at least audition interconnects from Moon Audio.

Thank you Drew for allowing me to review your entire Black Dragon cable line, it was a real pleasure.

Black Dragon Digital

Retail: $170

Black Dragon USB

Retail: $85

Black Dragon Interconnect

Retail: $250

Black Dragon Power cord

Retail: $400

Moon Audio