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AudioQuest Victoria Audio Cable with DBS Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the AudioQuest Victoria Audio interconnect with "dielectric-bias system" (DBS). It is kindly loaned to me by a member and costs US $299.

The configuration I received is unusual in the way it has RCA connector at one end and some kind of 5-pin at the other end:

AudioQuest Victoria Analog-Audio Interconnect Cable DBS Audio Review.jpg


The "DBS" module is a simple battery holder for six (6) 12 volt little cells (type 8LR932). They are in series so produce 72 volts DC. A little LED lets you see if the batteries are still good or not. There is no on off switch so to turn the thing off, I had to unscrew the bottom and take out the batteries.

There is some kind of rubberized paint on the battery holder which has already started to degrade and become sticky. Yuck!

You have heard of anti-copy mechanism in movie content? Well, this device has an "anti-review" and "anti-measurement" feature in that the company claims even after you take out the battery its benefits remain for days until the said "electrostatic charge" and molecular alignment dissipates. This was certainly their argument to Stereophile which tested it and in an unusual twist, declared the DBS to not do much of anything (from what I recall).

The batteries only "energize" the insulation in the cable with an insulated wire that goes through it with the other terminal hooked up to the shield of something.

As to what benefit the DBS provides, this is what is advertised on their page:

AudioQuest Victoria Analog Audio Interconnect Cable DBS Advertising.png


We are told about phase shift but no measurements are provided. Phase shift is trivial to measure. We shall remedy this in our tests here.

How energizing an insulator traps RF works is based on principles above any known physics so don't know how to test that without alien technology. But we will test to see if noise is reduced in audio spectrum which is what we hear.

DBS Cable Test and Measurement
For this testing, I focused on my Audio Precision APx555 for analysis. It generates a signal and analyzes itself. Let's start with using the generic cable I use for all of my testing of audio equipment:

AudioQuest Victoria Analog-Audio Interconnect Cable Generic Cable Audio Measurements.png


APx555 has an internal loopback with even a shorter path. Switching that on made no difference showing that our generic cable is as transparent as it gets.

Now let's test the AudioQuest Victoria cable with DBS off (batteries taken out):

AudioQuest Victoria Analog-Audio Interconnect Cable DBS off Audio Measurements.png


As we see, there is no difference at all. Noise level is the same. Distortion is measured down to whopping -160 dB or 27 bit PCM sample. Everything is as good as the generic cable.

Switching DBS on with insertion of batteries naturally does nothing:

AudioQuest Victoria Analog-Audio Interconnect Cable DBS On Audio Measurements.png


Using a single tone at least, the Victoria DBS cable is not able to provide any improvements because our generic cable was already more than good enough despite the extreme precision of our measurements.

Let's now test the claims regarding phase shift. For this testing, I looped back one channel on APx555 using the same generic cable as above. And the other, using DBS with or without batteries. Here is the outcome:

AudioQuest Victoria Analog-Audio Interconnect Cable DBS Phase Audio Measurements.png


The curve is not flat because there is a tiny phase differential between the two channels of the AP. Fortunately that is a constant in all scenarios and we see that there is absolutely no difference whether we use the generic cable, or Victoria with DBS on or off.

In other words, there was no problem to fix. Even zooming in as much as I did, +- 1 degree, there is no phase error due to the cable much less it being non-linear in nature.

To test for tonality differences, I ran a frequency response test with the generic cable and once again, Victoria with DBS on or off:

AudioQuest Victoria Analog-Audio Interconnect Cable DBS Frequency Response Audio Measurements.png


Perfection! With either cable.

Discussion and Conclusions
Once again we have a tweak vendor imagining there is a problem in audio and proceeding to fix it without first verifying the problem was there to begin with! To a lay person I am sure the concept of cable insulation causing non-linearity makes sense as much as a photon torpedo does in Star Trek TV series. That is science fiction though. The real life has to deal with things that can be proven to exist first before rushing to create an expensive solution for it. Of course there is no evidence that the fix works either.

There is clearly no technical problem that the Victoria cable with and without DBS solves. So how about listener testimonials that using such cables improves sound? Explanation is simple: you put in this cable and then intently try to listen for difference. Your brain switches form lay back enjoyment of music to analysis and now it notices detail in your system which heretofore had ignored. Viola! You now hear more air, more detail, instruments that you had not hear before. The bias is set in now and switching back to your old cable sounds dull, uninteresting, etc.

To above I will just say this: how come you were proud of your system prior to using this cable? If it lacked such detail, air, etc. how was it ever good? Had you spend all that money on your electronics, speakers, etc. only to have dull sound waiting for this cable to rescue it? See where I am going?

Please accept how your physiology works. Understand that your brain is creative, highly adaptive and can do things differently in different conditions. Have a loved one switch cables on you and then see if you hear those extra improvements. If you don't, combined with the above measurements, please follow the only logical conclusion that these cables and their tweaks do nothing for your system.

Needless to say, I can't recommend the AudioQuest Victoria cable with DBS. If you are itching to spend $300, give that money to a charity or a loved one with a real need for money.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Who else begging for your money online publishes two reviews back to back as I just did? Come on... Donate some money my way using : https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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mhardy6647

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#4
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Xulonn

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#5
Once again we have a tweak vendor imagining there is a problem ion...
Ah yes - those pesky problem ions again!
Your brain switches form...
Did you use a CAT scan or MRI to determine this?
If you are itching to spend $300, give that money to a charity or a loved one with a real need for money.
Maybe $50 of that could be used as a donation to support ASR...Amir did request donations at the end of his review.
 
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pozz

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#8
Sorry for off-topic...
Some comments from AudioShark forum:
It is not enough to lift the cables from the floor. They should be very fixed, as fixed as possible. Therefore, these accessories cannot be fully effective.

Well at least it would stop them from vibrating.
With the cable lifters, the cables act just like guitar strings.
And those cable lifters act just like static electricity collectors.
Static electricity loves high resistance insulator standoffs.
 

MZKM

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#9
You have heard of anti-copy mechanism in movie content? Well, this device has an "anti-review" and "anti-measurement" feature in that the company claims even after you take out the battery its benefits remain for days until the said "electrostatic charge" and molecular alignment dissipates. This was certainly their argument to Stereophile which tested it and in an unusual twist, declared the DBS to not do much of anything (from what I recall).
Not sure what article that us from, but from this one, the CEO wrote a small novel as his “comment”, as for testing differences, he states:

The easiest way for anyone with one of the AudioQuest cables that use conductive insulation (pretty funny term, isn't it!) to test whether there is an effect is to simply reverse the red and black connections on both ends of the cable. The comparative loss of three-dimensional space, the introduction of more grain and irritation, will be the difference between the significant benefit of using conductive insulation on the negative connection vs the minor benefit from using this material on the positive.
 

Racheski

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#10
What are the margins on these boutique cables like? They must be ridiculous, like 10x the cost to manufacture?
 

MZKM

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#15
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mhardy6647

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You have heard of anti-copy mechanism in movie content? Well, this device has an "anti-review" and "anti-measurement" feature in that the company claims even after you take out the battery its benefits remain for days until the said "electrostatic charge" and molecular alignment dissipates. This was certainly their argument to Stereophile which tested it and in an unusual twist, declared the DBS to not do much of anything (from what I recall).
Your recollection operates with high fidelity (although, of course, blind testing would be required to confirm this anecdotal observation) :cool:

https://www.stereophile.com/cables/804aq/index.html

The late, great Art Dudley reviewed some AQ cables with DBS in 2004.
Said Mr. Dudley:
... I'm inclined to believe that the Cheetah interconnects and Mont Blanc speaker cables sound good because they're reasonably simple—simpler, even, than other, earlier AudioQuest designs. I think it's also because their connectors are sensibly low in mass, because they're well made, and because they use conductive metals that are evidently very high in quality. My belief is that their "dielectric bias" system, which I wound up removing and leaving in my desk drawer, has no influence on their performance one way or the other. I remain open to suggestions that I'm wrong (footnote 2), but only if those suggestions are offered with such features as CUD (calm, unheated discourse) and ELFC (extremely low fertilizer content).
No sure whether fertilizer works better or worse with DC bias added. ;)
 

Vini darko

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#17
The thing I'm surprised by is it had no negative effect (except for being ripped off) so at least it's not causing damage.
 

Inner Space

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#20
Don’t forget this isn’t even close to their most expensive offerings, their flagship is $15,000 for 3m!
I'm really replying to your earlier post, #9, about the Stereophile Manufacturer's Comment ... the AQ CEO says reverse the red and black ... wouldn't that mean pulling the connectors off and resoldering? That's the easiest way? When he's just previously said his "dealers" (great word in the context) use Y-splitters and instant input switching? That sounds easier to me - and like an invitation to prove it unsighted. But no doubt the dealer says, "Now I'm going to switch to the batteries, and you'll hear how much better it sounds," with an encouraging smile.

Generally I'm pretty patient with all kinds of phoolery, audio or not, but this guy is getting close to the edge. I like BS to be at least internally coherent.
 
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