Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: 27" iMac with 5K Retina display, 4GHz quad-core engine with 4.4GHz turbo boost, 3TB Fusion Drive, 16GB SDRAM, OSX Yosemite, PureMusic 3.01, Tidal & Qobuz lossless streaming, COS Engineering D1, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Scala MkII, Fore Audio DAISy 1, Apple iPod Classic 160GB (AIFF), Astell& Kern AK100 modified by Red Wine Audio, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, Pure i20, Questyle QP1R
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Esoteric C-03, Vinnie Rossi LIO with DHT module, COS Engineering D1
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1, F5, F6, F7; S.A.Lab Blackbird SE; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2; Goldmund Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; AURALiC Merak [on loan], S.A.Lab White Knight
Loudspeakers: Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1 w. Sopranino super tweeters; Sounddeco Sigma 2; soundkaos Wave 40; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Event; KingRex uArt, Zu and LightHarmonic LightSpeed double-header USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fibre Toslink; Arkana Research XLR/RCA and speaker cables [on loan]; Sablon Audio Petit Corona power cords [on loan], Black Cat Cable Lupo
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all components, 5m cords to amp/s + sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands [on loan]
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, Verictum RF/EMI blockers
Room: Rectangular 5.5 x 15 metres with gabled 2-storey ceiling and stone-over-concrete floor
Review component retail prices: €1'890/1'980 for 1.2m/pr RCA/XLR; €2'360 for 3m/pr speaker; €780 for 1.5m power; €780 for 75Ω S/PDIF; €820 for 110Ω AES/EBU

Clearly you can't live without 'em. Yet. Even all-in-one WiFi speakers still need at least wall power. Just so, most audiophiles can't really live with the super dear wires either. Here one pair might buy a premium new car or double down on a starter home. Whilst admitting that cables matter; and that one-brand looms are saner than piecemeal Russian roulette; most agnostic users end up as practicing Buddhists: with something in the middle. Their ears might know that a little more is achievable but wallets whine and cerebellums cramp. NordOst Odin II anyone? That's £43'399 for a 4m/pr of speaker leashes. Really. When Richard Cessari of French cable firm Esprit asked what I wanted to review, I unplugged him. What did he want written up? I did warn him. At least one power cord would be long, one interconnect even longer. He asked for the Eterna loom in the heartland of his range; not the highest peaks in the north, not the flat lands at the southern border.

My complete review loom would consist of
• a 1-metre USB iMac/PureMusic --> DAC digital cable
• 2-metre XLR DAC --> preamp interconnect
• 6-metre XLR preamp --> amp interconnect, and
• 3-metre speaker cables terminated in bananas on either end.

Sundry US-terminated power cords from 1 to 5 metres long, including one for between the wall and Vibex Granada/Alhambra double-DC/AC filter, would deliver 230V/50Hz AC to the various components. With that, my system's entire blood supply would be French. Kissed? By sourcing one coherent loom from exclusively the same range of the same make, conductor choice/purity, geometry, dielectric, shielding, connector quality, resonance control and resistance/inductance values would all speak as one. Minimum confusion for the electrons? Certainly one unified sonic ideal and material recipe.

Having Richard in standby, I asked his opinion. What matters most of our listed cable parts and parameters, and in what sequence? What of it changes as one migrates up his catalogue; and how do these changes advance sonics? Between Google Translator and Reverso, I learnt that Richard considers all parameters of equal import and too interconnected to separate out by function and effect. His listening gear consists of Spectral DMC20/DMA180, Belles VT01/SA100, 1965 vintage Quad2, Jadis JP30mc/Defy7, NAD M22, Rega Brio, Cambridge A300, Goldmund Mimesis10, Audiomat Maestro3, Quad EST 63, Wilson Audio Watt/Puppy, Harbeth P3SR, Bergmann Magne, Mac Mini with linear supply, a DC filter and finally an isolation transformer. "For conductor material and purity, I listened to everything I could including copper and silver of different quality, copper with varying amounts of silver plating/cladding and a mix of materials. Once I had chosen pure long-grained copper, I tested diametres from 0.01-2mm. After I had determined optimum diameter, I tested for the amounts of strands and how to best bundle them. I experimented with coax, twisted and hybrid geometries at different ratios. I ended up with a symmetrical geometry of asymmetrical insulation. This best controls load and resonances. That fixed, I tested dielectrics including Teflon, various PVC compounds, Kynar, Viton, silicone, fibreglass, cotton and various fibre mixes. As my primary dielectric, I selected an asymmetrical structure of high-temperature silicone and PVC which preserve long-term quietness and a natural sound.

"Effective shielding without creating sonically deleterious side effects is extremely complex. After thousands of testing hours, I came up with a progressive shield that avoids the sonic hardening of traditional solutions yet still perfectly protects the signal from outside interference unlike the unshielded variants. We add ferrites against ultrasonic influences to preserve fluidity and silence; and dielectric polarization to improve the shield's function. For connectors, I tried to learn what does what, just as I did for all other design choices. I worked my way through all the usual suspects including a few unknown suppliers with a few surprises. I managed to make a pure copper-plated plug clad in thick pure silver. Where the vast majority of commercial plugs plate between 0.5 to 3 microns, I determined that 40-micron silver plating was the most quiet and natural and did not incur an HF rise or loss of energy. Our soldering process includes mechanical pressurization for the best long-term results. Our copper assemblies exhibit very low characteristic impedance and we go after low capacitance for maximum silence and bandwidth. To anyone wondering whether our cables will add a little bass or treble to their speakers, the answer would be a categorical 'No!'"

As do AudioQuest and Synergistic for just two cable firms, Avantgarde Acoustic and Gryphon Audio for crossovers, the application of a standing voltage on the dielectric, usually by batteries, no longer raises eyebrows. It explains the little black boxes attached to the send ends of the Eterna cables. A switch in the boxes activates them. Obviously sound happens even with a dead battery. It's not a do-or-die thing, just a polarizing scenario; somewhat of a class A bias on cables.