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EWA LS80 speaker cables

Discussion in 'audio' started by ex brickie, Jan 15, 2021.

  1. ex brickie

    ex brickie pfm Member

    I’ve been a contributor to the EWA LS40 speaker cable thread (as an owner of LS25s) but want to hear more about the higher spec LS80s

    Alan at ABC Audio tells me there are no demo LS80 cables but without any reviews or demos it will be useful to gather the experiences of owners.

    If there are any 80s owners who can share their impressions, what they upgraded from, systems etc - or if they know of any ‘reviews’ on other forums - I for one would be interested to hear
     
    ABCaudio and CJ14 like this.
  2. steveinspain

    steveinspain pfm Member

    ..as would I - I've had the 25's, now have the 40's, and wonder what the 80's add....
     
    ABCaudio and CJ14 like this.
  3. ex brickie

    ex brickie pfm Member

    Alan at ABC tells me there are a couple more LS80 owners on here but quite rightly won't disclose who they are without permission

    @CliffB I only had a short demo of the 40s (early in the queue) and found them slightly bright (probably a feature of all that extra detail coming through!). But I recognise that really my lugs need a longer listen in

    However, I'm wondering whether the LS80s have a bit more refinement to go with the even greater detail :D. Here's hoping........... but that would just add me to the list of naughty boys! :D
     
    ABCaudio and CJ14 like this.
  4. CJ14

    CJ14 Retired

    Well the back to front image is deeper, wider and the bass is like living on a fault line, I use Royds Floor standing speaker and one of my Oberons, and the bass rattles the draws and the floor with LS25, and the detail plus bass drive and image on the LS40 is fantastic. but the LS80 is just amazing you hear more details but not bright, deep down bass controlled with a iron fist.
    I hate piano stuff normally but with this I can enjoy it for the first time, and I have bought more recordings, I never got that with TQ anything Black/Blue/UB or Statement or the strange versions of my design work they do now.
    If I had stayed with TQ this would have been the next generation, but the GM would have hiked the price up even more than they have now, crazy, but that is there type of business (sell less at at lot do less work)
    EWA cable £/M to make is twice the cost of TQ plus a bit more, but we are trying to let people enjoy the jingle of music and not your wallets. :)
     
    NDL, CliffB, ABCaudio and 4 others like this.
  5. Bronzeage

    Bronzeage pfm Member

    Cut this out now! My finances are already struggling, but I had to get the LS-40. All this talk is making me restless for LS-80. Still, something to look forward to when the money gods smile on me again.
     
    ABCaudio likes this.
  6. CliffB

    CliffB pfm Member

    Hi, I found you all on the LS-80 thread! So here goes with my LS-80 story as requested.

    I have not seen any detailed comment or reviews on the LS-80 and what Colin has written above and a brief email from Alan is the most insight I have seen from anywhere other than my own experience.

    My journey with EWA is that I wanted LS-25 around 3 years ago, after it went out of production. I bought LS-20 with an agreement to upgrade if LS-25 became available and "crowd-funded" the procurement of more LS-25. I was delighted to subsequently get the LS-25 cable as promised and absolutely delighted by it in my system, so I should emphasise that I didn't step on this upgrade path due to being dissatisfied, just curious as to any improvements with the new generation of cables. I have also purchased 2 mains cables and 4 interconnects from EWA....I think cable synergy actually makes a difference here.

    Alan built me a set of LS-40 and I tried these at home for a while. I was immediately struck by a notably better soundstage; not so much in width, but very clearly in depth. Each instrument or performer took on an aurally precise shape and the attack and decay on notes was stunning, with tiny details like breath and mic gain easy to discern. Bass became more thunderous and generally impressive, with more texture. The sound seemed a bit less incisive than LS-25 in mids and highs, perhaps due to the deeper lows rising up with more presence and more texture on the attack and decay of sounds. The presentation was more detailed and complex, but less simple and clear cut than LS-25, which took me a while to get used to. I think more of the ambience of the recording and its natural noise floor was laid bare. I was impressed and could have easily been tempted to keep the LS-40.

    So why did I look again?....I had an issue with an LS-40 speaker plug not fitting too well into my amp terminal, but the main thing that made me curious about the LS-80 was a slight issue with bass that I couldn't resolve. There was a looseness in some bass presentation, but not all by any means. I deliberately chose PMC speakers for my system as I love the presentation and they are not too fussy, being front-ported transmission line designs, but even taking them further off-axis didn't resolve things. I ended up wanting the imaging and detail of the 40 blended with the incisiveness and bass control of the 25. 40 was undoubtedly a more sophisticated listen, but that bass nagged me and as I need to invest in 5 metre pairs, there was a serious investment in cable to consider and I didn't want to compromise. I cannot blame the cable, as it is probably a room or system issue and no-one else has stated a similar bass observation with the 40.

    Anyway, I asked Alan if he thought my system was up to LS-80 and I had a good think about it. I was a bit wary of trying the LS-80 as I wondered if it would exaggerate the issue with bass further. I also felt concerned in case I didn't like them after all the cost and work to ABC of building them, but Kudos to Alan for taking a chance on me! He built me my usual 5 metre (gulp) pair with the Furutech plugs and I can report the plugs fitted beautifully at both amp and speaker ends. The cables look like anacondas, but pretty anacondas!

    I was really not prepared for what the LS-80 delivered. I cannot promise everyone will find the same, as this is my system and my room of course. I was expecting a performance increment on LS-40 (it's made of the same stuff after all!) but I was stunned. The scale of the sound was huge, with bigger dynamics, even more defined imaging and a bass that can be utterly seismic when it is there in the recording. It's a bass that you feel or sense as a presence rather than just hear. The really amazing news was that, rather than this enlarged scale adding to my bass issue, the cable cleaned up the bass and took total control. I have never heard bass like it, but it is clean and precise, shapely, defined, textured and complex rather than just a low frequency noise. Some tracks sounded lighter in deep bass than I was used to and others deeper and more controlled, a sure sign that colouration was absent. Noise floor took a clear drop too, which helped further to highlight the stunning clarity of instruments painted in all their detail in the soundstage. The way it delivers kick drum and big transients is thrilling, but it has always been a refined presentation in everything I have tried. You can hear the performance in all its glory and presentation of raucous guitar, for example, is very explicit, but it always stays well short of any nastiness. You can hear the shape, size and ambience of the venue and the way the recording was microphoned. Audio Naute's release of Antiphone Blues (church organ and sax...yes really), Johnny Cash (recent Mofi I Walk The Line) and Analogue productions Bach/Starker Unaccompanied Cello, were particularly awesome in this regard.

    After I installed it, I clearly recall hearing some tracks that took me aback, as the music seemed to have been slowed right down. This hasn't happened again since getting my ear into the cable and I have no idea why it did that; something to do with timing or clarity and how we hear maybe...no idea, but it was real.

    In summary, it is everything that was good in LS-40 but supercharged in scale and with extra refinement, especially in the bass.

    As with all good upgrades, the higher cables are far more revealing, which means they deliver greatness when a recording, mastering or pressing is of high quality. They also tell it like it is, so anything less good still sounds ok or good, but it cannot hide and any limitations are laid bare. Some mainstream CDs do sound really quite ugh, with a compressed and harsh sound, but at the other end of the scale, good CD and especially top quality vinyl (Mofi, Analogue Productions, Blue Note, Impex, Speakers Corner, Pure Pleasure etc) sound jaw-dropping. Crap recordings just seem to use only the middle ground of the dynamic range available to the system, which I guess is true!

    Listening is very compelling and I have almost forgotten about the system, as I am not looking for faults or ways to improve it. I just enjoy it and if I have been unable to listen for a week or so, when I put it on, it is like a revelation again....can it really sound that good?

    I have thrown most things at it; Living voice classical AP reissues, notable Jazz from Coltrane, Getz/Gilberto, Bill Evans, GoGo Penguin, raw rock from The White Stripes, acoustic blues from Son House, electronic and post punk from Joy Division and New Order, many male and female vocals, Metallica, Gerry Garcia, Pink Floyd, Massive Attack....and it has never tripped. My system really has taken a leap further toward the high end and my Nu-Vista amp and PMC 25.26 speakers seem to gel perfectly with LS-80. It's as if they have been released from a bottleneck and are able to freely deliver what is truly there.

    I cannot begin to explain how simply doubling up an identical cable can make such a stupendous, rather than incremental difference. Is this only true with bigger amps and speakers or the same for all systems? Nor can I explain the slowing down perception I had (Colin maybe can advise on these?)

    If it's of interest, I did notice what to me appeared to be a real synergy when using the new IC-25 interconnects with LS-40 or 80. Noise floor and clarity took a step up.

    I am using the LS-80 single wired as my speakers do not support bi-wiring.

    I would be really interested to hear what others think as I seem to be alone in declaring my listening experiences of the LS-80 so far.

    Full marks for a stunning cable ABC and EWA!
     
    Naim that tune, NDL, CJ14 and 3 others like this.
  7. ABCaudio

    ABCaudio Trade: ABCaudio, representing EWA

    Full marks to you Cliff, for a superb essay!

    Thank you for the kind support, and all credit to Mr Wonfor for making cables like this.
     
    CliffB likes this.
  8. steveinspain

    steveinspain pfm Member

    What a fantastic review, and one that makes me very excited.
    I so remember the first 'proper' hifi/stereo I ever heard, and the sense of the music slowing down, there being more space and time for every noise to penetrate my ears. It was one of those never forgotten moments. I too am taking a leap of faith as the LS-80's will cost more than any single item of my current system, and way more than I ever imagined I'd spend on a cable. Alan, over to you, get me my cables as soon as you can please !
     
    psd122 likes this.
  9. ex brickie

    ex brickie pfm Member

    @CliffB . Carry on like that and Alan will have you in his sales team! :D
    Fab review and a huge thanks for taking the time. Several of us have been wanting more info on the LS80s - hence why I started the thread.
    As many of you know I’ve been a bit worried about apparent brightness of the LS40s but the more I read the more convinced I am that some recordings are more likely to be the culprit. The CD that made me squirm was Queen - and it isn’t a great recording. However I too like cello, church organ , female vocal - all of which could be very exciting with the LS80s.
    A challenge for us all is being able to play the majority of our music collections with enjoyment. I will be interested to hear more from Cliff with more types of music.
    I’m pretty certain there are a couple more LS80 owners on Pfm - we need to find them and ask nicely for detailed reviews like Cliff’s
    Keep enjoying Cliff and keep sharing if you don’t mind. I’d be interested to know more about the sound with mainly vocal tracks, more complex orchestral and some more run of the mill 80s CDs

    This could be a very good thread
     
  10. CliffB

    CliffB pfm Member

    Thanks for the kind comments. I am trying to express in words what it sounds like to me, so I hope it's useful.

    As regards your observations/concerns about brightness; I really do think that many recordings are the culprits, especially digital, which tends to have a harder and more forward presentation than vinyl anyway. Some of my CDs really do sound pants and ironically, when I had a lesser system, they sounded less pants as the system just levelled the playing field, being less revealing and more coloured. Lots of rock and music I used to think was well-recorded, I now realise was rather mediocre. It doesn't stop me listening to it or still enjoying it, but it is what it is and I just have to accept its limitations. I think it's important that your system does still allow you to enjoy what you like, even if it isn't the best quality material, as well as sounding awesome on decent material.

    On the up side, having a much more revealing and higher end system over the last 5 years or so has opened up interest in different genres of music I never had before, as I am better able to appreciate the nuances and detail and the masterful work of those who recorded, mastered and pressed it. The recordings from the late 50s and into the mid 60s especially, can be incredible, but it tends to be focused on those genres that tended to be well-recorded, like classical, jazz, some blues and occasional "pop" like Elvis is Back. More recently, there are some sound quality gems like the Dire Straits albums, Supertramp and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Much mainstream stuff now is terrible, but some artists and their engineers still care enough to do proper jobs (Dog McLeod, Tom Petty for example).

    Although LS-80 is rudely revealing, it is also very refined in its entire presentation, so I would be surprised if the cable was the culprit in making a system bright. I so want to hear what others think!
     
    steveinspain likes this.
  11. CliffB

    CliffB pfm Member

    Thanks for your kind words.

    I also talked a couple of people into buying into a certain camera system....I should have gone into sales...a wasted career opportunity! I just tell it like it is....as honest as LS-80!
     
  12. ex brickie

    ex brickie pfm Member

    @CliffB Ive reflected overnight and reminded myself that you have a Nu-Vista amp. The one I heard a few years back (800 model I think) was beautifully detailed but definitely on the sweeter side of neutral to my ears. My Rega is a bit brighter in its presentation which will also make some difference.......
    I can’t change an amp for the sake of cables surely ! :D
     
  13. CliffB

    CliffB pfm Member

    I have a Nu-Vista 600, fully upgraded by JS Audio, which makes a huge difference to the robustness of the power supply and weight of delivery. In fact I would describe its style of delivery exactly as "an iron fist in a velvet glove." It has lots of detail but a sweeter top end than most solid state amps I have heard. In a previous description of LS-80 I used exactly the same term to describe the cable. Detail is explicit but it is sweet and detailed....again an iron fist in a velvet glove. The effect of the cable was similar to the JS upgrade in presentation. You are right about Rega amps...they are voiced a little brighter but are excellent amps with a natural sound and good sense of rhythm. I have heard the range from Io up to Aeos and liked them. To my ears they are far less forward than some others I have heard from Cyrus, Chord etc. My experience was that LS-80 refined the presentation over LS-40. My issue was bass but the whole frequency range is better. I honestly think the cables are neutral and you will hear the true voice of your system, but to a higher level with the 80. If you do like your amp I think you will just like it more.
     
  14. ex brickie

    ex brickie pfm Member

    That's encouraging - especially if the LS80 refines (as well as enhances) the presentation over the 40s.

    I heard a Nu Vista with an MF NV CD player and Yamaha NS-5000s (when they first came out). Stunning.....
     
  15. NDL

    NDL Member

    Well after reading through all of the various posts relating to EWA cable I've taken a bit of a leap of faith and ordered a pair of the LS80s, so looking forward to receiving them. I'll post my impressions for what they're worth once I've had chance to listen, however it wont be anywhere near as eloquent as CliffBs write up! As a bit of background several years ago I upgraded to TelluriumQ Silver cables on my secondary system (Kef LS50s) after a friend lent me some to try and I was really impressed at the improvement over the Chord Odyssey cable (to be expected I guess given the price hike). I never got around to replacing the Odyssey 4 cables on my main system as I needed a far longer run. However after a speaker upgrade which then necessitated an amp upgrade (x2) I knew my cables were now probably a limiting factor. I reached out to TelluriumQ enquiring about the differences between some of the mid to higher range cable as I wanted the most accurate cable I could reasonably afford and received a bit of a snarky response from Geoff ( in hindsight he probably couldn't really, or didn't want to explain the technical differences). So I went in search of anyone who had compared Silver 2, Ultra black 2 , & silver ultra, which is how I came across this thread. I'd never heard of EWA, but after reading up on the history I was even less inclined to put anymore money TQs way! Alan was really helpful and suggested LS40 would be a good fit but I knew Id always have the nagging doubt about LS80 and after previously considering Tellurium it seemed a bargain anyway ;) I also wanted a cable to fit and forget, whatever my future upgrade path re speakers etc ...unless I moved house and needed different lengths. Current amp is Hegel H590 driving Kef R11s but ultimately Id like some Blade 2s if I ever manage to find the finances!
     
  16. CliffB

    CliffB pfm Member

    In order to help where I can in making comment on how the cable performs with different music types, were there any particular pieces, artists or albums you would like me to try or to comment upon? It seems you like vocal?

    I am obviously limited by my collection, but I have some high quality discs. Female vocal; Julie London, Rebecca Pidgeon, Taylor Swift, Angel Olsen, Stevie Nicks, Nina Simone, London Grammar, Janis Ian, Joan Baez, Aretha Franklin, Joan Armatrading, Kate Bush etc. Male vocal; Doug Mc Lead, Albert King, Son House, Lightnin' Hopkins, JL Hooker, Johnny Cash, Elvis, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Harry Belafonte, Nick Cave etc. I am no classical expert but enjoy some popular pieces in the Analogue productions Living Stereo series, Bolero, 1812 overture, Lt Kije, 4 Seasons, Iberia, Scheherazade, Bach/Starker Cello etc and some others on CD. Lots of rock and more mainstream stuff too like Pink Floyd, Rush, Montrose, Led Zep, U2, T Rex, ZZ Top, some Massive Attack, a little reggae like The Congos and B Marley and a bit of most things to be honest.

    The system/cable never seems to get tied or congested by complexity in the music and individual elements are always there to hear in their place in the soundstage.

    I often think male vocal can be more challenging for a system and in this regard it sounds superb. Truly outstanding male recordings in my collection are Elvis is Back, J Cash; I Walk The Line, Son House; The Father of Folk Blues, Harry Belafonte; Carnegie Hall and Lightnin' Hopkins; Goin' Away. The richness and clarity is incredibly real and you can feel the resonance in a voice like Cash's. If the mic is overloaded or a bit close, you do get that slight spit or clip, but it sounds absolutely real and three dimensional like the artist is there in the room. The Son House album is phenomenal, with just the voice and a bottleneck guitar and hand claps. Raw and real. Recordings of this quality shine beautifully with LS-80.
     
  17. ex brickie

    ex brickie pfm Member

    @CliffB there’s a danger of exposing our secret listening pleasures here
    More seriously it is a kind offer of yours. The three tracks that had an initial jarring for me (and let me stress it could be the recording not the cables) are as follows:

    Queen - Love of my life (screechy vocal from the outset and piano was harsh sounding). This is on A Night at the Opera album
    Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire (the catchy trumpet bit - harsh brass sound )
    Rebecca Pidgeon - Spanish Harlem (the detail of the close miking sounded like spitting in the mike - which was probably exposing what was happening!)

    They weren’t harsh with my LS25s. But of course the 40s let out more detail. All were played on CD.

    As to the Queen track above I found Colin’s @CJ14 comment interesting that with the LS80s he has now found piano listenable

    One I have but didn’t try is Kate Bush. I find Wuthering Heights difficult to listen to on a normal day - how does it sound with LS80s?
     
  18. CliffB

    CliffB pfm Member

    Right, here goes; I managed to get some decent listening time this afternoon and deliberately selected the album sides which contained those problem tracks. As you were listening on CD, I can't say I am comparing exactly like with like, as most of those tracks I only have on vinyl and I only played vinyl today. "Ring of Fire" I do have on several CDs of varying quality too, but today I played one version I have on vinyl.

    I used my Roksan Xerxes X (upgraded to 20 plus spec) which runs through a Caspian DX2 box containing the PSU and phono stage. Although the Roksan has a more costly Shiraz cartridge, My Rega P10 probably performs better overall, partly due to the more exotic phono stage, but the Roksan is a fantastic-sounding deck.

    Queen; My version of "A Night At The Opera" is the one from the 2018 Studio albums vinyl box set, though they did do a CD version too. These albums were sourced from the original master tapes and needed some restoration done digitally, but were done with great care and pressed at Optimal. They are the best that Queen has ever sounded in all respects and especially in the bass I think. "Love of My Life" sounded absolutely fine and I noticed no breakup, sibilance or distortion in the highs at all. Out of interest, is yours the remastered album or from an earlier collection, as the masterings and sound may differ?

    Johnny Cash; From a Back to Black compilation called "The Legend Of Johnny Cash" on 180g, which sounds very good actually. "Ring of fire" was excellent, with no breakup or sibilance in the trumpets and Cash's baritone sounding amazing. That track and the 2 sides I played, sounded rich and full, with stonking bass and the uppers never became unpleasant at all.

    Rebecca Pidgeon; "The Raven" album. Mine is a Chesky audiophile vinyl release, pressed at QRP in 2016. The sound in general is excellent, detailed and airy, but it definitely touches on the very edge of sibilance all the way through on "S" sounds. I would not have noticed in normal listening unless I was checking for it and it isn't a problem on most tracks. HOWEVER, the track "Spanish Harlem" really does have some sibilance on all the "S" sounds that strays beyond acceptable. If it seems to be there on all the versions, I can only assume it was a mistake with the mic, recording levels or something else than a more techy person would know. I checked on Discogs and there is a comment from another about this sibilance on the same release, so it isn't just my copy.

    Kate Bush; "The Kick Inside" is an album I love. I remain amazed a lot of it was written by a 15 year old and I can still remember her bursting onto the scene in the mid 70s looking wild and amazing! I have 2 copies of this, a 1988 repress and the 2018 remastered version from the box sets. I listened to the latter version all the way through side one. "Wuthering Heights" sounded spectacular. Yes the vocals are very high, but the bass was full, deep and rich. The balance was superb and the vocals never became harsh or sibilant at all.

    I popped on some Lorde and Al Stewart to end before the TV had to go on!:confused:

    This listening session added weight to what I already think of the LS-80 and impressed in all respects. From the richness in Cash's voice and the thumping double bass, the soaring highs of Kate, the jangling strings of early Al Stewart, and the massive heft and control in the bass from Lorde, all made the sound incredibly involving and enveloping. I found myself trying to sit in judgement, but actually just enjoying and being amazed by the quality of the sound. My components obviously do deliver very good sound quality, but I have to be totally honest and say that the cable has upgraded the sound in a way that I don't think is actually attainable by upgrading components alone. I really believe that. I think I could spend thousands more on components and still not get the performance I am getting now. This cable seems to have completely released any limits on the amplifier.:)

    Ex Brickie; what CD player and Rega amp are you using? Does the combo tend toward a brighter or richer balance? My CD source has a more forward sound balance than my vinyl sources for sure, even though it sounds good on all but the worst handful of terrible CDs. I don't think you should get concerned if a few stress test tracks sit uncomfortably with your ears, as we all probably have a few of those. However the overall balance must work for by far the majority of what you listen to.

    I think that different reissues and masterings of music can be very different and the more revealing your system is, the more it shows. Some CDs sound great but others are real crap and the same is true of vinyl, though it tends to be more bearable if it's poor. I have certainly found myself taking far more interest in the source, mastering engineers and pressing plants than I ever did, as it now makes so much difference to the pleasure gained from the music.
     
    CJ14 and ex brickie like this.
  19. ex brickie

    ex brickie pfm Member

    Great review again Cliff - and a huge thanks for taking the trouble.

    Most of m CDs are fairly standard pressings - inc Night at the Opera (according to Discogs looks like a bog standard UK/EU pressing)
    The Rebecca Pidgeon recording is of high quality so it sounds like the original recording was suspect on that one.

    I just have to try cables again I think. I’m struck that your views of the sound comes from listening to vinyl. My vinyl would definitely sound slightly less pronounced than CD - but I won’t be limiting my collection either to vinyl or only expensive CDs. Nor replacing my CDP

    What we need are some more LS80 owners and reviews!

    A huge thanks again @CliffB . I’m sure many others will also appreciate the thoroughness of your feedback
     
  20. ex brickie

    ex brickie pfm Member

    I have another thought.....
    I should remind myself in daylight the difference between my interconnects for the CD player vs those for the phono stage. Maybe a bit of swapping there might be in order.... :D
    Thinking about it - not so easy as one set are XLRs . :eek:
    Thinking cap back on......
     

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