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Marja & Henk
Financial Interests: click here
Source: PS Audio PWT/PWD, Feickert Blackbird/Zu-DL103, Thorens TD160,
Pre Amp: Tron Seven Phono [in for review]
Phono pre: Tri TRV EQ3SE
Integrated amplifiers: Audio Note Meishu, Devialet D-Premier
Power amp :Tron Discovery [in for review]
Loudspeakers: Avantgarde Duo Omega, Arcadian Audio Pnoe, Vaessen Aquarius, Musical Affairs Grand Crescendo [in for review]
Cables: Crystal Cable, ASI
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of ASI resonators and noise filters
Room size: Downstairs 5m x 7m W x D with 3.5m ceilings connected via an open staircase to a 7.5 x 14m room upstairs
Review Component Retail: GS#79 nano3 Limited ¥8000/m (around €70), SP#79 MK-4 ¥3800/m (around €34) excluding tax and shipping

Reviewing cables ain’t easy. Sure, once a cable is connected to the system, the only thing you really have to do is cue up a track on a source of your choice, hit play or lower the cartridge and experience the music. Voilà, sound. The cable works. Fini. The point is, a cable should be neutral. It should not add, subtract or otherwise alter recorded dynamics, timbre, balance, timing or any other musical parameters. But—and here’s the big issue—we don’t know how the source signal ought to sound. We never heard what the producer heard before giving approval to release the recording. We always only hear a recording when our playback chain has already altered it. Each component in an audio system of the sort we all have at home impacts the end result. A component adds or filters something. There is no component on earth that’s 100% neutral to not leave some fingerprints.

A further complicating factor is that all audio designers have reference systems composed of—here we go again—more sound altering devices. Like us these designers do not have an absolutely 100% neutral backdrop against which to judge their brain spawn. Here we can only conclude that audio reproduction is not an exact science. Two audio components that measure alike do not sound alike. If that were otherwise, the high-end audio industry would long since have died. So we must face the fact that playback in the home is a matter of taste. Taste is individual, nonlinear, easily influenced and carries with it a large physiological component. Taste itself comes in a variety of flavors. There’s visual taste, tactile taste, palate taste, intellectual taste and auditory taste. No doubt we forgot categories. On the matter of palate taste, this link of the Cornell University Department of Nutritional Sciences gives some useful baseline insight.

One particular quality of taste is vulnerability to influence. A derivative of this is so-called acquired taste. One overcomes initial resistance before warming to a subject. Often if not always the process of overcoming reluctance is third-party induced. Back in the days when smoking was a socially accepted habit, the first cigarette one smoked was awful. You turned green, wanted to throw up and experienced related physical rejection symptoms. For some reason the next cigarette followed because the social environment was a role model which whispered that smoking was cool and you wanted to be cool too! Along this line there are gazillion examples for how social conditions influence taste. Regarding sound, influences arise from fellow audiophiles and reviewers. If you can’t hear this or that detail, you’re not cool. You ain’t part of the inner circle, dog. Ouch.

On still the same issue cultural environments decree taste and bias. Take a look at foods and specific cuisines. Some cuisines favor spices like Asian or Mexican. Others are mushy plates that lack distinct gusto like our Dutch national stews. Raw fish, seaweed and fermented soya are yet another very outspoken cultural niche. Sound too is exposed to cultural bias. If one is raised amongst high-pitched and pitch-sensitive languages like many Asian tongues accompanied by regional high-pitched music; or in a much more low-frequency biased society like the US where deep voices and gruff rumbles are considered masculine and tough; one’s hifi life kicks off with a very distinct and nearly hardwired outlook.