PS AUDIO: Before the Monster

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Paul McGowan:

Here’s an interesting piece of history for you.

Before the cable companies existed, no one paid any attention to the wires or cables used to connect our systems.

Speakers were connected to power amps through lamp cord purchased at the local electrical store without any fanfare.

We knew heavier sounded better, but that was about it.

My first introduction to high-end cables was in the early 1970′s. My cofounder, Stan Warren, and I drove down to Santa Ana California to try and open our very first dealer: Absolute Audio. The store was a haven for high-end and run by Neil Sinclair (later the president of Theta).

On our arrival we were greeted by their technician, Mike Moffet (who actually started Theta).

We spent a good deal of time demonstrating for Mike how amazing our little $60 phono preamp sounded compared to the store’s thousand dollar plus brands. Mike was in shock as he had never imagined two hicks from Santa Maria could outdo “the big guys.” He smoked a lot of cigarettes to calm his nerves.

Before we packed up to head home, Mike asked if he might demonstrate something even more mind blowing than our phono preamp (it was the 70′s after all).

Mike demanded we sit in front of the Quad electrostats we’d been listening too all afternoon and proceeded to play something from Fleetwood MAC’s Rumors album. Sounded great. He then went behind the Quads, did something and then played the same track again. Our jaws dropped. It sounded remarkably better. In fact, the difference far exceeded the comparison between our preamp and the competition.

What the heck? Mike refused to divulge his secret and continued going back and fourth, delighted at our stunned silence.

Finally, he admitted he was changing the speaker wire. The wire? Say what?

Mike had obtained a pair of exotic speaker cables from Japan called Cobra Cables (later to be sold as Polk Sound Wire). These were Christmas colored fine Litz cables that looked like a bright green and red snake. Mike went between zip cord (lamp cord) and Cobra Cables to connect the amp to the speakers and the difference was stunning. We were stunned.

It wasn’t long after Polk brought these in and sold them under their brand that the industry took notice and, as they say, the rest is history.




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