This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: APL HiFi NWO 3.0-GO
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright DM-36.5; Esoteric C-03
Amp: First Watt F5; Yamamoto A-09s
Speakers: ASI Tango R
Cables: ASI Liveline interconnects, speaker cables and one power cord; Crystal Cable Ultra loom; Crystal Cable Reference cords
Stand: 2 x Ikea Molger, Ikea butcher block platforms with metal footers
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S
Sundry accessories: Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; Nanotech Nespa Pro; extreme use of Acoustic System resonators and sugar cubes
Room size: Sound platform 3 x 4.5m with 2-story slanted ceiling; four steps below continues into 8m long open kitchen, dining room and office which widen to 5.2m with 2.8m ceiling; sound platform space is open to 2nd story landing and 3rd-floor studio; concrete floor, concrete and brick walls, converted barn with no parallel walls nor perfect right angles; short-wall setup with speaker backs facing the 8-meter expanse
Review Component Retail: Starting at $2,398 for a 1m/pr

The three men of Teo Audio -- Ken Hotte, Taras Kowalczyszyn and Brian Kurtz -- believe theirs is the first commercial audio cable in the world where electromagnetic propagation steers its own pathway through a fluid conductor which responds to the applied current in real time. That fluid is a room-temperature molecular slurry of Gallium, Indium and Tin, a mix* that is related to the alloy inside child-proof thermometers where it replaces toxic Mercury. But because free Gallium interacts with aluminum somewhat akin to Ridley Scott's movie alien and its acid saliva -- exposed Gallium eats into aluminum and aircraft hulls are made from aluminum -- it is considered hazmat. A hazardous material requires certified 'dangerous goods' transportation inside "properly classified Zip-Lock bags inside an absorbent layer of shredded paper envelope inside a Pelican 1080 case". Teo Audio's global distributor Brian Kurtz, proprietor of Austin's SoundMindAudio boutique for a decade and previously national sales manager for Tara Labs and regional rep, has become a certified DG shipper: "I take the cables directly to FedEx's DG department for quick inspection and ship-through. Because we pack in the right materials as required by law and these materials are fully reusable, dealers and end users alike may put the cables back into these materials (or easily purchase new materials) for later shipping, with only a visit to a shipper's DG division. Present the open box to demonstrate proper packaging, then seal it up and off it goes."

* from the Wikipedia: Galinstan - a registered trademark of Geratherm Medical, is a eutectic alloy of gallium, indium and tin which is liquid at room temperature, typically freezing at −19 °C (−2.2 °F). Due to the low toxicity of its component metals, it finds use as a non-toxic replacement for many applications that previously employed liquid mercury or sodium-potassium alloy (NaK). Composition: 68.5% Ga, 21.5% In, 10% Sn. Its name is a portmanteau of gallium, indium and stannum (Latin for "tin").

Next google for Magneto Hydro Dynamics as a primer on the modern science branch that would help explain electrical conduction inside a fluid; why that might be preferable to old-fashioned solid metals; and how what you learned in Physics class in your youth may not fully account for the workings of this cable. We have seen amorphous metal conductors, non-metallic Carbon fiber conductors and fluid-filled damper or shielding jackets. A liquid conductor however is novel. As such, its audible performance is unpredictable to anyone who has never heard one before. Which is pretty much all of us.

Speculation alone could conjure up an endless supply of liabilities and assets without any listening. How about temperature, material oscillation and settling-in variables for fluid cables? Would they sound different at 20º C and 40º C? Would they sound different after 30 minutes of magneto-hydrodynamic action? Would they sound - um, liquid? This is new terrain. Best to hold all preconceptions. Judge this invention purely on its own merit as a high-performance audio cable. Termination for the single-ended interconnect is by Eichmann copper bullet. There's an XLR version and a speaker cable.

Having met Brian Kurtz while still in audio retail myself, I followed his career to brick & mortar audio salon proprietor from afar, always questioning his sanity but never his passion. I thus played devil's advocate by e-mail from the moment I got wind of this story. To no avail. While Brian readily confessed to all the obvious factors -- an economic downturn; a wildly overcrowded market segment with an audience that's essentially immune to outlandish claims and material excess in the cable sector where differences seem often solely pursued for the sake of being different; the DG inconvenience -- he was firm. The production version of the Liquid Cable had dethroned his vacuum-sealed $15,000 Tara Labs The Zero. This Liquid Cable had also won over his most finicky customers, all of whom he claims are amateur musicians with daily exposure to real instruments. "But not professional musicians. Mine could actually afford the cable". So Brian signed on to become Teo Audio's gateway to the world at large. And I seem to be one of the few reviewers Brian knows personally.

What our prior acquaintance bought him now was access to my pen. You see, I've developed quite an allergy to cable solicitations. In Franck Tchang's Liveline cables, I've found something reasonably priced that to these ears beats 'em all. But, I am a sucker for a good story. Here Kurtz definitely had me at a disadvantage. He knew it too and pressed on. He was warned that I'd compare his directly to the very best in my arsenal. He was unfazed. "That's why we came to you. You've heard a lot, you tell it as you hear it. That's what we want." I finally relented and asked him to send me a pair. I was fully prepared to have him sorely unhappy with whatever my findings might be. But Brian's a big boy. And on this matter, he was a very confident big boy.

The liquid angle of course is the perfect setup for a major marketing spin. In the hands of a well-paid ad copy writer, all manner of squirrely claims could be made, snazzy buzz words coined, a new science invented. Here team Teo plays it nearly coy. They're smart enough to admit that despite enjoying an intuitive grasp on some of the science involved, they too are on virgin ground. They have just as many questions as answers. With feedback from Brian and his beta testers, the cable has undergone various iterations and tweaks until conviction became deafening that they really had something. As a store keeper, Brian's research method was simple. Test it on each of his systems. Then test it on each of his customers. "Here, sit down and give this a listen." Then, "take it home and tell me whether it does the same things." That's exactly how I was approached, too. No preposterous claims, no gooblygook save for the term Electro Kineti Dynamics. And that was offered only to suggest a particular subset of the broader field which was originally defined by James Clerk Maxwell and Oliver Heaviside. It's where the physical laws governing electromagnetic conduction in fluids as exploited here would be found.

Ken Hotte provided this brief glimpse into his perspective: "As the drive current levels (amperage-current/electron mass) change in different audio systems, the response of this cable will change as the fluid is a free-floating molecular slurry and the individual molecules have the opportunity to directly react to the change in current mass. i.e. the current mass steers the fluid into specific alignments. Dynamically, in real time." About production capabilities versus anticipated demand, Brian reported that "formal production has commenced, with people trained and ready to expand this to literally 100s of cables per week if needed."

Still, my general cable allergy nearly had me off the hook when Brian reported that he could not ship his cable into Cyprus - hazmat, red tape and whatever other chicanery Cyprus customs threw up in response to having gone EU. 'twas our relocation to Switzerland which turned the tables. This delay in delivery also meant that the speaker cable which was still in prototype form during Brian's first approach had gone production and I'd now be outfitted with two interconnects -- 1 x 1m RCA, 1 x 3m RCA -- and one pair of 5' speaker leads. Now to the bad news; the state of the economy. Take a deep breath and Teo is your uncle. A 1-meter Liquid Cable interconnect pair is $2,398 or four times what ASI's Liveline commands. By the time you need 3 meters as I do now from preamp to amp, the bell tolls at $6,714. Which, last time I checked, only got you a 1-meter Stealth Indra. The balanced version starts at $3,500/pr and a 3-meter run would be $9,800. Digital is $1,299 for a 1-meter, $3,639 for a 3-meter RCA, $1,850/$5,181 for XLR respectively. Now comes the accelerated section. A 2.5-meter speaker pair (close to the ubiquitous 8-footer run) is $14,990. A 4-meter pair goes for $23,990, the price of a very fine used car and a quite respectable brand new one. "Speaker
cables longer than 4m are not available at this time. When they become available, be aware in advance that due to the electromagnetic properties of the alloy, we must double the amount of conductors to achieve the same sonic characteristics of shorter lengths. This means doubling the price, too, as well as adding similar incremental increases based on additional lengths beyond 5 meters." Cough. No further comments on the coin portion of this equation. It's all Brian's fault in the first place...