Connecting together all components of Parts 1 thru 3 -- Shigaraki 4715 DAC, 4716 transport, 4717 integrated amplifier, Konus Audio Essence single-driver speakers -- of course required? Cable. 47Lab's unique approach to audio certainly wouldn't be complete without Junji's own wiry take on this -- literally serpentine -- subject. Seeing how my entire review stack was the very same system CES 2003 showgoers had heard a month earlier, the enclosed cables were laboratory prototype versions of the shortly forthcoming 4719 copper-ribbon speaker cable (ca. $300/pr standard length) and an as yet unnumbered but matching interconnect (ca. $600/pr).

What's the rarely acknowledged but well-understood bane of audio signals? The thermal and physical deformation damages and impedance mismatches created by dissimilar materials junction of conductors, solder joints and terminations. Anyone in the know will -- while nobody else listens -- confide how x-spade, z-banana or y-binding post sounded distinctly better in listening tests than what was actually used on the final product. But what generic punter would shell out hard shekels for mujo expensivo cables or amps outfitted with such skimpy, apparently immaterial connectors made from Nylon instead of metal, thin copper or silver rather than fat Rhodium-plated gold? Nobody. The market of pretty packaging jobs demands substance and glitz after all. By the brass balls of Baal, give the people something to idolize. Thick, heavy and glitzy? That's exactly what consumers were gonna get from you while a silent prayer for redemption lazily drifts up into the ethers of

By extension, you can already predict that Kimura-San leaves such audio pornography to others and himself watches a movie of an entirely different caliber. His interconnects use two completely discrete copper ribbons for hot and return. The hot ends are subtly spring-loaded bananas fashioned directly from the raw folded-over conductor. These 'nanas fit neatly into the center of any coaxial RCA jack while the return ends are bent over plastic rings that slip over the RCA barrel to make contact in only one spot the width of the actual ribbon. Simple, elegant, uncomplicated - one solo cable to perform digital duties, one pair to connect transport to amp, neither specially marked as though to suggest that the digital cable were any different from its analog cousin; except being shorter.

The equivalent 4719 speaker cable is nearly 3 times wider (12mm x 0.1mm thick) and of the AlphaCore-Goertz type where two piggybacked flat conductors are separated by a non-conductive spacer sheet. The raw ends are folded over once, then notched into a spade right out of the conductor that -- according to Yoshi Segoshi of Sakura Systems -- undergoes extensive hand polishing before it is jacketed in fine fishnet stockings. All subsequent comments on the Shigaraki system relate to using these 47Lab wires exclusively.

When lifestyle & deep musicality coexist harmoniously

Lifestyle and High-End audio? Much of the US press seems to find these terms mutually exclusive. Or shall we say, at least highly circumspect while nonetheless surrounded by die-hard hope eternal? Perhaps not unlike the rumored alligators in the sewers of New York City that someone will actually get to see eye-to-eye one of these days? Well now, staring at the far more benign Shigaraki system -- occupying, in toto, a single shelf on my Grand Prix Audio Monaco, with plenty of space left for a few Ikebana arrangements -- the less-is-more morale of Kimura-San rang home like a close-miked bell in my belfry. I would finally lend an ear to his synergistically coupled Shigaraki concept, source to speakers. It would present itself in unadulterated fashion, without competing products inserted which, perchance, might upset a careful balance previously dialed in just so in a faraway lab in a Tokyo suburb.

First up would be "Alma de Bohemia" from Juan-Jose Mosalini's One Man's Tango CD [Shanachie, 64097, 1998[. Unless I'm mistaken, this is the famous music that accompanied Schwarzenegger's muscle-bound dance floor debut in True Lies - except here in a different, less muscle-bound orchestration compliments of Mosalini's Grand Orchestra De Tango - three bandoneons, Grand Piano, five violin/violas, one cello and contrabass each.

So? Gutsy, that's what. Because of the 4715's relative lack of high-magnification micro detail and the amp's -- very Teutonic -- preference for slightly warmer rather than cooler climates (can you say tourist season in the south of France and Tuscany?), this system portrayed timbres with a lot of midrange richness, a slight Mocchachino color that was dense and thick yet not slow or syrupy. Rather, there were a lot of "playing the tune" angular head gyrations going on (bopping is for Jazz, this was Tango!) that, in combination with especially the amp's wetness, created a deliciously fun, involving, communicative, festive experience.

This particular tune is dynamically super-charged. Accordingly, the relative dynamic restrictions inherent in the speakers -- not in the amp which is a dynamic Popeye with a recent dose of organic spinach -- narrowed the overall dynamic envelope a bit. But the growling, sawing bass accents had a wonderfully dark buzz going, the solo violin sounded appealingly voluptuous rather than lithe, the cello vibrated between a woman's thighs (true, the photo says so as well) and the transitions between ensemble segments were fluid, dovetailing like invisible zippers rather than being strung together as separate parts.

Slightly warm, slightly dark, very expressive of context, less focused on ambient space hence a shortening of decays, strongly fixated on the beat and keeping time - as I said in my review of the speakers, this kind of presentation really goes after the before-audio-became-important core that doesn't listen for sounds and effects but rather plays in concert with the musicians.