Oh, The Reality Of It All! ~~For those that are not familiar with the newest Reality Interconnects and Speaker cables or indeed, it’s designer Gregg Straley, his older cables have been around for some years now. Many audiophiles may well have seen these speaker cables were cased in red with the interconnects and the speaker cables not much different in their looks. Whereas the writers at The Sound Advocate have had many of the most recent and high-quality audiophile cables here to listen to, I think that Greg Staley’s latest cables are a welcome addition. (The feature image has the newest clear outer sleaving of the Reality Speaker Cable).
I purchased a pair of the older model speaker cables some years back as my main cables and while I have moved on to other speaker cables, I held onto the Reality cables until recently selling them to help finance a much more expensive set of Argento AudioOrganic 2 cables.
As his original cables had been out on the market since 2004, and recently, he has introduced a more expensive Reference line of cables– namely, The Reality Interconnects and speaker cable line. I asked Gregg to tell us a little about his cables and some history of his company:
“I have been manufacturing cables since 2004 under the Reality Cables name. I was making up some cables beforehand for fellow members of the Chicago Audio Society. I was and still use some of their systems (along with my 2 systems) to compare changes that I may make to the cables. Most of the listening is done utilizing A/B/A comparisons with 2 others’ input. All 3 of us need to agree that it is an improvement before any changes are made. The new Reference Line has been out for about 2 years now. No new changes have been made since then.”
“All of my cables are cryo frozen and they have been put on the Audiodharma “Cable Cooker” for the appropriate amount of time. After that, I play music through them for at least 48 hours before shipping them. I do a couple of other “tweaks” to them but I would like to keep those close to the vest.
I received two pairs of interconnects and a pair of speaker cables. The interconnects look almost like the standard cables but are closer to pink in color than red. The speaker cables look different, almost like a blast from the past as they are made of copper in a clear casing, kind of like the original Monster cable. Knowing this, here is what Gregg had to say about the appearance of his cables:
“If I could find a techflex or some other kind of sleeving that did not degrade the sound, I would put it over my cables and sell them for more money. I have tried just about every kind of material to go over my cables. When you remove the sleeving, the cables open up and are more 3 dimensional and dynamic. I’m not willing to sacrifice looks for sound. I guess my customers are ones that want the highest quality of sound for somewhat just above entry-level pricing. They listen with their ears and not their eyes.”
Music used for this review
McCoy Tyner with Stanley Clarke and Al Foster Telarc CD-83488
The Best of Play Bach – Jacques Loussier Trio Telarc SACD-63590
Ultimate Collection – Katie Melua BMG 538433672
Characterizing the sound of my reference cables, they have tight deep bass, highs are a touch subdued with good detail, and a big, open, clean mid-range and full sound stage. There is an overall naturalness and balance to the sound with a tilt towards the midrange, which may be why I am perceiving the highs as a little subdued.
Starting with this base sound I inserted the Reality Reference interconnects. The mid-range was immediately brought more in line with the bass making it a tad smoother sounding but along with this came a mid-high end with more energy. Mind you not bright or edgy but more of a small bit of heightened ‘up front‘ awareness.
Next, I put in the Reality speaker cables with the Analysis Plus interconnects combined and I noticed there was more of what the interconnects brought to the table but the bass was a touch lackluster.
Going with an all Reality Reference setup on the Loussier Trio cd, the piano was very natural but not as weighty sounding in its lower registers as with the Analysis Plus cables. Otherwise, the audible effect was fast and clean and exhibited pinpoint imaging effects within the sound stage. Bass was tight and deep, with no overhang or exhibiting an overly heavy sound but smooth and textured and most importantly, natural.
The cymbals had a special ‘tingling’ overtone sensation to them as the music flowed letting you know the trio was totally in sync from playing together a while. The McCoy Tyner recording showed the same characteristic sound as the Loussier cd with an extremely firm bass response, excellent high-frequency evenness, and a great three-dimensional sound stage. On this recording, however, I believe the grand piano needed a little more weight in its lower registers. Still, all in all, an exceptionally fine musical experience.
You know I had to sample the female side of the vocal spectrum with Katie Melua. Katie’s voice was extended, velvety and quite decadent sounding. Background vocals were like a whisper in the night; really sweet.
The Reality loudspeaker cables offer the type of sound that you can live with and not think about upgrading for a while as you move up the audio chain.
The only small nitpick I found here is with the sound stage expansion being a tad smaller with the introduction of the Reality reference speaker cables into the system. Everything else is correct within the sound stage but just a ‘snippet‘ more contained within the speaker’s enclosures.
Ultimately, I found that the interconnects are the real star here, while the speaker cables are barely just a morsel behind in quality. You may not even notice this at all, depending on the listener and the more you listen. There is no doubt that both cables will happily give you hours upon hours of musical enjoyment. HIGHLY RECOMENDED!
REFERENCE SYSTEM: Amp: Mastersound Compact 845 integrated amp Transport: Jay’s Audio CDT2-mk2 DAC: L.K.S. MH-DA004 Speakers: Rosso Fiorentino Volterra Cables: Analysis Plus Black Mesh Oval 9 Interconnects: Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval Digital cable: Generic HDMI cable
Pricing for the cables is 3 ft. pair of Reference RCA interconnects $400; $25 for each additional foot.
3ft. Pair Reference xlr interconnects $500; $30 for each additional foot.
Reference Reality speaker cables are $700 for an 8ft. Pair and $40 for each additional foot.
REALITY CABLES WEB: www.realitycables.com Gregg Straley ~ (847) 702-2620
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