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The appearance of the cable in its blue/white Nylon sheath is okay and flexibility is sufficient. Connector quality too is solid. The cables arrived with an alert that sufficient run-in time was required. That these weren't empty words was proven upon first hookup. The sound was tinny and harsh at first. We handled break-in between a Devialet D-Premier's pre-out and a Behringer subwoofer power amp. The Devialet has a brown-noise output option which we engaged to put the DREi cable through a good workout. It in fact took 600 hours before we got any decent sound from it. That's something Neutral ought to take to heart lest customers return these cables prematurely. Once cooked properly we kicked off our review by inserting the cable between our Trafomatic Audio Reference Once preamp and matching Kaivalya EL84 monos. Without the Neutral switch-mode power supply their cable is in fact dead or shorted out which makes comparison between active and passive mode impossible. The latter doesn't exist.

Whilst their approach to noise reduction is unique, we found it hard to tolerate the associated generic SMPS. We try hard to avoid such noisy bricks wherever possible. Whenever something arrives with one, we attempt to replace it with a transformer-based linear supply or even better, a battery. With our high-efficiency speakers we picked up on the presence of DREi's SMPS and its added RFI. After our first serious session we thus eliminated it in favor of a less efficient but properly silent supply.

Now we must admit that the effects of the DREi cable are audible. As they had with the standalone X-DREi, individual instruments and voices detached from each other and the background to become more articulate and discrete. This increased overall openness and clarity. Unlike the X-DREi, the cable comes without adjustment dials to alter the listener's subjective perspective to the stage. The component version can shift between front-row and more farfield perspectives with mild equalization which the inline cable processors lacks to in this sense be the more neutral.

Not surprising to us, we again spotted the same dependence on source material whereby older material from the 1960s and '70s was less affected by the DREi processor than more recent productions. In particular Pro Tools DAW productions benefited the most. Though not a completely valid A/B, we managed to set up a system such that we could switch between normal and DREi mode via a Manley Labs Skipjack. The ideal scenario of course would have been another Spanish bi-metal cable without DREi module. Nonetheless sonic differences between the Neutral and other interconnects in our collection were obvious.

Again the biggest advantage came with heavily processed contemporary productions like ambient and Pop/Rock. Take Stromae's Racine Carrée. It's a catchy Francophone melange of HipHop, Rap and Dance Hall with lovely world-music influences and lyrics which transcend the mindless gangster drivel typical for this style. With the DREi cable this music exited the speakers with more punch and impact. Trying to remain still in the sweet spot was nearly impossible. Time to get up and dance. Even so the DREi cable is no cure all. In systems where the speakers and particularly their crossovers are less excellent, the benefits of the signal processing are more evident. When heavily processed basically DAW-based music is played, the benefits compound and become appreciable in any type of system. In short, if 1990's to today's music is your focus and your system is of good but not super high-end quality, we can recommend the DREi cable for its effects.

James Screeton of Neutral comments: As a house rule and as you already know, we won't comment on any technical aspects of our DREi technology. And again you have struck the nail on the head with your review. Yes the model we sent you is on the more affordable side of our range and recommended for basic to medium-quality systems. For systems like yours we have our amazing X-Cable and deintermodulators. Perhaps you would like to review the X-cable model as well? It retails for €3'900.

Condition of component received: Excellent.
Reusability of packing: No problem.
Website comments: In English and Spanish. The explanations on the circuitry remain vague and the English could stand some editing.
Pricing: Because the technology is unique, there’s no competition so value is difficult to establish.
Human interactions: Kind.
Remarks: We would recommend that a non-switching supply become standard. Because we see the DREi cable used in simpler systems, any potential RFI problems are to be avoided.

Neutral Audio website