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To answer the last question we need to elaborate on cables in general, especially about the direction the cable industry is headed and how it fails to explain the basic truth about cables in hifi. I still remember the dark ages when even talking about cables would make one appear an uneducated fool who needed to be corrected and reminded that cables are just cables and that there is no way anyone sane can hear differences between conductors or cable thickness. During my first few years in the hifi biz I decided not to mention or start discussions about cables as most of the people I associated with were from similar electronic backgrounds who thus believed in the all cables sound alike credo. Unfortunately due to powerful advertising and many false statements all this changed over the last five years. Cables finally did get recognition but rather in a peculiar way of exaggerated statements claiming they could do more than they actually can.

Amazingly you could read daring ads like "our cables will finally clean your ears" and review conclusions like "if you want your 10K system to sound like a 20K system I strongly suggest to use brand X cables - that's how they sounded in my reference system.” To do that the cable would have to add magical details surprising even the recording artists and sound engineers.

So here is what we’ve been trying to say to audiophiles for years. Cable will not add extra detail or make your (inexpensive) system sound like a million dollars. It will do just the opposite. Because we are hearing the music from the speakers’ woofers and tweeters—and not a CD player, preamplifier or amplifier directly—we need to boost the signal using such components, then connect them with cables.

The information we retrieve from the CD player (let’s call it ‘original’) is sent on to the next component. No matter what cables we use for that, we now lose some information. We will lose more each time another cable gets involved - or in case of a passive preamp even its internal wire. That’s bad news for someone who was told that a particular cable would transform a 15K system into a 50K system.

The name of the game is to lose as little as possible. The better cable will simply minimize loss. So why are we paying so much to only lose less? Is there a better way to transfer signal and lose nothing? Our answer is no. There presently is no other way. We still regard high conductivity cables as the best connectors between hifi components.

Every bit of resistance inside the cable simply results in greater losses and connecting different parts during the assembly of a single cable (connectors and solder) adds resistive junctures. This is the moment we need to conclude logically and simply that avoidance of these points implies a single monolith conductor. The sonic achievement we hoped for with that was not any magical sound but simply getting closest to passing the original musical information stored in component A with the least amount of loss. The highest purity silver was the only choice due to its lowest internal resistance. As producers of more than 100 different types of cable and internal wires we have a pretty good idea on how sound is controlled and equalized by different conductors. With the Monolith the aim was purity.

The sound of purity
Reviewing cables is no easy gig. Differences between well-designed cables—and especially those using similar topologies and materials—can be subtle so an ultra-revealing system (which can take away from personal listening pleasure) is an absolute must. In addition cable impedance, resistance and capacitance create interactions with equivalent component properties to produce unique values that might make a given cable review mostly relevant only for the reviewer’s particular system.