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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic 1.94g in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Audirvana 1.5.10 in direct/integer mode 1, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, AURALiC Vega, Apple iPod Classic 160 AIFF-loaded, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pure i20, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, RWA-modifed Astell&Kern AK100
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Bent, Audio Tap-X, Esoteric C-03
Power & integrated amplifiers: FirstWatt S1 monos, SIT2.
, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-02, Bakoon AMP-12R, Goldmund/Job 225, Gato DIA-250, Clones 25i [on loan], Aura Note V2, AURALiC Merak [on loan]
Loudspeakers: soundkaos Wave 40, Boenicke Audio W5
se, German Physiks HRS-120, AudioSolutions Rhapsody 200, Zu Audio Submission
Cables: Complete Zu Event loom; KingRex uArt, Zu Event and Light Harmonic LightSpeed split USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; Van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fiber Toslink; Arkana Research loom [on review]
Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF-2 + Vibex Two 1R on amps, Vibex Three 11R on front-end components
Equipment rack:
Artesania Exoteryc double-wide three tier with optional glass shelf, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size:
Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 9.5m open floor plan combines the living/listening room, kitchen and office. Added to this space the speakers see the air volume of the entry hall and a long corridor plus the 2nd-storey 6 x 9.5m loft. Wood-panel ceiling slopes up to the loft. Parquet flooring. Lots of non-parallel surfaces ('vertical gable' windows, twin-angle ceiling, spiral staircase enclosure, fireplace enclosure). For a pictorial tour, see here.
Review component retail:
IN-TIM 1m XLR €1'680/pr; 4m RCA €2'025/pr; 3m/pr speaker cable €5'215; 1m power cord €1'240

I'm a cable reluctnik.
Of course them's not exact words to live by. No cable no sound. I meant reluctance over reviewing them. In the absence of hifi impedance standards, our cable interfaces are very poorly defined and load behaviour is broadly variable. Add the often amateurish cable sector where solder slingers experiment until something 'sounds right' to them; price gauging; voodoo descriptions; component-sized spiked network boxes; silly girths and el stiffos which defy sensible cable dressing and risk capsizing lighter kit; bias power supplies, active shields, tuning bullets... and reviewing cables is a snake pit many of us prefer to stay out of.

Hence I'd not played the Appalachian serpent preacher in quite a while. Then Arkana Research solicited me for a review. Their pure rare-earth metal cables—no copper, silver, gold or Palladium conductors—read different enough to create plausible cause for lifting my self-imposed reluctnik embargo. Having contentedly listened to an all Zu Event loom for years, the time had come to check whether my very high impedance against investigating this sector left performance under the table. With the rare-earth wires priced well above my Zu Events ($6'290/1.5m/pr XLR interconnect, $7'140/4m/pr RCA interconnect, $5'700/3m/pr speaker cable, $2'939 and $1'120 for two flavours of 1.8m power cords), I needed something to triangulate with and keep Arkana and myself honest. I needed a 3rd cable loom. But who by?

Absolue Créations, Auris Audio & Boenicke Audio at Munich HighEnd 2014

One of my favourite rooms of this year's Munich show had run on Absolue Créations cables from France. It's also what my soundkaos Wave 40 speakers are wired with. And Jefferson Torno's Gran Cru Audio Horizon speakers I had in for review. Ditto for the Grand Castine, AudioNec, L'Enceinte Bleue, Strad and ppfff speakers and rooms with TAD, Atoll and Trinnov gear. Marja & Henk's best room of the Munich show two years ago had been wired with Absolue. And so forth. In my little black book of casual cable notices, the French men Alain and Christophe had made quite a bit of noise. And because Alain had run a hifi shop for 20 years to suffer the same allergy to stiff cables as I do, the Absolue cables also drape like slinkies. Time to tap these men on the shoulder and take their cable design measure in our crib.

Boenicke Audio W5se with Absolue Créations cable in our space

I asked for the usual background. "Our cables are developed, designed and manufactured by hand in France and with the same ambition and care as others who develop efficient electronics or very musical speakers. All our cables are flexible and measurements emphasize an absence of distortion whilst listening shows heightened expressivity and a wider more coherent soundstage without interfering with speaker filter values or other load calculations. We even work with classical music labels like Fondamenta to provide specific cables where measurements across the bandwidth focus on a very clear differentiation of harmonic levels. For the general public we offer six different ranges which share our research into optimized signal transmission speeds. All our cables are available in various lengths and terminations including S/PDIF, AES/EBU, RCA, XLR, spades and bananas."

Absolue Créations loom on Metrum Hex (AES/EBU by van den Hul)