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QED Golden Anniversary XT & Chord Company ShawlineX Cables: Editor’s Choice 2023

QED and Chord Company proved to us you don’t need to spend exorbitant amounts of money on speaker cables to get great sound.

QED Golden Anniversary XT & Chord Chord Company ShawlineX Speaker Cables

Sitting in one of the ballrooms at CAF 2023, I came to the realization that the cable loom connecting everything together cost more than $40,000.

Think about that for a second.

At the risk of repeating myself, I loathe expensive audiophile cables.

I recognize that most audiophiles have begrudgingly accepted the fact that audio cables are expensive, but manufacturers better get wise to the reality that the next generation of audiophiles are not going to buy into that chicanery.

Brands that continue to push cables that cost more than an entire system are going to find out the hard way.

QED Golden Anniversary XT speaker cable
QED Golden Anniversary XT speaker cable

Fortunately, products like the Chord Company ShawlineX ARAY cable loom and QED Golden Anniversary XT Loudspeaker Cables were introduced in 2023 and not a moment too soon.

For those who are new to the audiophile cult, I offer some simple advice that you should heed.

You don’t need $5,000 power cords. 

Or a single meter of loudspeaker cable that costs as much as a Naim NAIT 50 Integrated Amplifier.

Naim Nait 50 Integrated Amplifier (2023 model)

Ask yourself why any of that makes sense. 

Why would anyone who portends to love listening to music so much spend $5,000 on a single cable versus buying 150 new records? 

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Record Store Day 2021-06-12 at Blackbyrd Myoozik in Calgary

You know that it doesn’t make sense but you have allowed us in the media to con you for decades in regard to the necessity of overpriced cables that do not offer that much of an improvement over the more affordable cables from the same companies.

All cables do not sound the same?

Some cables do make your system sound more transparent, but that’s often at the expense of color in the midrange and some low end weight. 

I’ve inserted cables into my systems that made them sound worse; far too much top end energy and detail at the expense of texture and midrange presence.

Even in the context of a $10,000 system, where it’s probably reasonable to spend $750 to $1,000 on speaker cables, interconnects, and power cords (assuming you have at least 2-3 sources), the benefits of spending any more than that is questionable.

Having taken the plunge over the past decade with QED and Analysis Plus, I feel confident telling you that products like the Chord Company ShawlineX ARAY and QED Golden Anniversary XT will get you 90% of the way there and that you are better off investing in a better pair of loudspeakers or amplifier than mega-priced cables.

Chord Company ShawlineX Aray Speaker Cable
Chord Company ShawlineX Aray Speaker Cable

The ShawlineX are so good at what they do for a reasonable amount of money that they give me a modicum of hope that some manufacturers understand that there needs to be greater emphasis on more affordable products and that consumers who are new to high-end audio will turnaround and explore something else if the industry pushes the “audiophile” cables schtick on them.

You can read my review here of these wonderfully revealing cables that worked rather well with a wide range of amplifiers and loudspeakers.

When it comes to loudspeaker cables, I already own sets of the QED XT25, Reference XT40i, and Signature Revelation loudspeaker cables; which are all very affordable, well made, and very good options for someone who has to review a lot of different loudspeakers and amplifiers.

QED Golden Anniversary XT Speaker Cable Connected to Cambridge Audio
QED Golden Anniversary XT Speaker Cable Connected to Cambridge Audio

The new QED Golden Anniversary XT cables are even less expensive than the XT25 that ran me $130 for a 6-foot pair.

You can read my review of the Golden Anniversary XT here, but the biggest takeaway should be that these loudspeaker cables work better in more neutral or analytical sounding systems that require some additional texture or coloration in the midrange.

Both are very easy recommendations and sensibly priced.

Where to buy: QED | Chord Company

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