Cable wrangler. To document his artisanal approach, I asked Chris for some photos. "These are of a special commission I’m doing for a very serious audiophile who has been a long-time customer and wanted something quite special. I have some materials that I keep in reserve for customers like him. In this particular case, he wanted a very highly accomplished balanced cable. I pulled from my 'private reserve' some very delicate stuff, a micro braid of InterPole™ conductors around a special core jacketed in-house. The braider I use to braid this very fine wire had to be specially modified to prevent breaking the very soft pure copper and abrading the enamel from the individual strands. I’ve chosen to document this design because it is similar to the Triode cable in the redlevel series; and also similar to the Matrix that will be coming between late this year and mid next year. Triode and Matrix both use InterPole micro-braid arrangements of this same pure fully-annealed fine copper wire. For this customer I made a triad of these micro-braided cores in a broad spiral twist. Each of the cores in the triad has 16 individual very fine pure-copper wires braided around the core; 4 colors x 4 conductors each."

"I have to separate out the conductors from each individual core separately. These pictures give you an idea on how fine these conductors are. My aging eyes require me to use 3-diopter magnifying lenses and it’s very slow work. I’m usually listening to music or to lectures while I’m working. This helps me stay focused on my work; especially the lectures, oddly enough."

"Here is a picture after I have separated all the colors in a single core and twisted them together. It's a bit easier to discern the separate colors now. For each of the four ends of the cable, I do this for three cores and then join all colors together at each end. This represents all four polarities—positive, inverted, ground and shel—that will get terminated to the XLR. The finished product shows the customer’s favorite XLRs, gorgeous stuff from Furutech."

"Here you see me working at my cork-covered workbench. Funnily enough, I had to import the cork. I couldn’t find the kind I wanted here. Finally, the product ready to ship." Click here for a brief winding video.

Delivery of the cables, in individual custom cartons inside a generic bigger outer box, showed how the majority of small cartons had crushed in transit. Apparently the glue which morphed them from flat-packed into 3D items was insufficiently strong. It came apart under weight. I informed Chris so he could avoid poor first impressions with paying customers. The cables themselves pay tribute to soft annealed. They are masters of slink, hence the opposite of stiff. Only the unusually long RCA barrels and short continuation of tough shrink makes for necessarily stiff ends. The same barrels show up again as splitter concealers on the speaker cords. Whilst here cosmetically slightly odd, multi-tasking his metallic bits certainly makes good business sense for Chris. On one end of his Lupo leashes, he inserts a printed model identifier beneath translucent shrink wrap. That covers black or red channel identifier wrap. This and the double-teamed splitters convey upon these wires slightly less than fully... well, corporate optics. Which is perfectly fitting giving their artisanal origins. About which, I recently chatted with a manufacturer about cable pricing. Commit to ten kilometres—nothing less will do—and big Chinese suppliers will sell you one-hundred 100-metre rolls at $1/metre in fully customized geometry with silver and/or copper conductors, silver-plated shields, spacers, formal branding, the works. The same seller also told me that once terminated with luxo WBT or Furutech plugs, he would turn their $10'000 upfront bulk cable investment into five-thousand 1-metre pairs of $3'000 interconnects just like their competitors. That obviously is not how Black Cat Cables operate.