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Apr 4, 2005
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I have been seeing people selling interconnects (XLR or RCA) w/36V DBS SYSTEM. What does the 36V DBS SYSTEM do for the cabel?
Audioquest developed the “DBS” (Dielectric-Bias System) pack a few years ago, the DBS system keeps consistent charge on the cable to keep it broken in and ready to use at all times.

DBS Cables: Sky, Cheetah, and Mont Blanc

as reviewed by Sasha Matson

It's time for me to try and explain as clearly and simply as I can, what is going on mechanically and electrically with the Dielectric-Bias System hardware. (But please do read my interview published elsewhere in this issue of PFO with Bill Low, where you can hear it from the horse's mouth.) On the simple side of the equation is the hardware itself: a battery pack is mounted to an audio cable with the positive pole of the battery connected to a dedicated separate internal conductor within the cable. This conductor has no electrical interaction with the audio signal conductors—it is entirely separate. From AQ: "Depending on the model of interconnect… an existing shield or outer spiral of conductors is used as the DBS cathode by connecting it to the negative at the DBS battery pack." In plain junior-high school electric shop language, we've got a circuit that is not complete, ergo, there is no drain on the battery pack and therefore the battery pack will rarely need to be replaced. It is not electrically active as some other current cabling approaches call for.
So what is the DBS hardware doing? That's the 64-dollar question! As Bill states in my interview with him, "Dielectric involvement, which is the problem that DBS is addressing, I am quite comfortable has some fuzzy things around the edge… but I am quite comfortable with the phenomenon of dielectric involvement." This is where the benefits of an empirical approach kick in. We can always "stand up and use your ears like a man!"—which is what Charles Ives is reported to have said at a concert of his own music to a restless crowd.
I hate to put words in the mouth of a guy like Bill Low, but here goes: distortion in audio cables is not simply related to transmission of energy and frequencies; it is related to those things over time, which Bill calls "time delay." This is related to the physical nature of cables; their borders or 'skins', the materials used to construct them, and the state in which the materials repose—which is where the DBS battery packs come in. As AQ states in their literature, "All insulation is a dielectric when in the presence of an electric field." And these 'active' and 'passive' materials interact. How they do so, and to what degree, creates the behaviors that the Dielectric-Bias System addresses. And it is important to recognize that these behaviors have definite effects on the ability of components, in this case audio cables, to transmit and convey musical information.
You can use whatever metaphors you can come up with to describe it—but the end-result of this patent-pending approach, is an improvement in the electrical and mechanical behavior of conductors, i.e. cables, which yields tangible aural and musical benefits. If 'time delay' can be reduced, then one is getting a more coherent sonic picture- more in focus, with less musical fatigue caused by spurious information and erroneous harmonics.
For me, this boils down to something like: 'I may not understand why, but I understand what.' If the shoe fits, wear it. If it sounds good, listen to it. And I am comfortable with that. Who among us can explain the intricacies of digital hardware for example—does this stop audiophiles from happily buying and commenting on such things? Of course it doesn't. But everyone seems to think cables are a no-brainer. I guess that is why there are so many small start-up cable companies, followed by speaker manufacturers. And the reality of course may be different. Who ya gonna call?! I know who I'm comfortable calling, and that's AudioQuest—who have been pursuing sonic excellence through their cable and other hardware designs for 25 years now.