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As is true for most our readers I expect, I'm just a music lover and audiophile. I'm not a math wizard, scientist or lab rat. I'm also the publisher of 6moons. In that function, I get solicited for cable reviews many times each month. Common to those solicitations is that they're—mostly—from companies I've never heard of; make promises of "best you've ever heard but you must try to believe"; and if using proprietary solutions, aren't forthcoming about details to protect their intellectual properties. One chap recently did promise a technical presentation of his invention over the weekend. Then he took a month to finally explain that "after studying your site in depth, I concluded that you wouldn't understand my explanations." Okay.

The most recent exchange began typical enough: "We are a manufacturer of hifi and hi-end cables and accessories based in Moscow, Russian Federation. Please see our website for details. Our cables are based on a unique patented technology of compensation for 'loss current' in electric conductors (some time ago explored and described by Prof. Malcolm Hawksford of the Essex University). This technology minimizes signal distortions in electric conductors themselves and makes a really profound audible difference in clarity and sonic naturalness of sound that is impossible to achieve with contemporary cables."

After perusing the website which gives a good condensation of Hawksford's paper, I explained to Leonid Kokurin the general dilemma above. Then I asked for specifics. His reply was encouragingly candid. "I too have grown a thick skin over the cable topic, believe me. I realize just how sick you must have become. That's because anyone can easily 'tune' cables to their own taste and declare it best of the best. It's easy and profitable. Just play with wires and dielectrics. That's what they all do while trying to explain empirical results with 'generally understandable' Physics. Nobody tries to really understand the physical phenomena involved and how to properly deal with them."

Personally I'd not go that far. There are cable companies which practice real science. Based on what I've seen over the last eight years, that's at best 1 in 20. Or should that be 200? Even so, they do exist.

"Not to take much of your time but I'm an MS in Physics and electronics from the Moscow Nuclear College and have a good telecom business to not worry about making a living from cables. Still, I've long wondered why cables sound different. The root of the problem was described in Prof. Hawksford's article here. I was simply a little lucky to chance upon a solution. It happened to be very simple and is now patented so you don't have to sign any non-disclosure agreement to learn more. My solution is indirectly proven also by related experiments where circuits with this technology do not heat up in certain frequency bands (up to hundreds of MHz if properly constructed in fact). The Moscow Lebedev Physics Institute of Academy of Sciences is very interested in this. It could potentially help solve the speed problem of modern computers which are presently limited mainly by their PCB connections."

For an indication of pricing, Leonid had a few examples: "Our Overture RCA interconnect is €180/1m, the Cadence equivalent is €680, the Belcanto €2.020. The difference between our three product lines is the precision of execution and purity of materials. Those factors directly influence the resultant distortion compensation circuits. My US patent lawyer called this technique 'a major invention'. He's a physicist too." When asked whether a 5-meter interconnect was possible, Leonid explained that "our interconnects come in any length from 0.6 to 2.5m. We never made a 5m interconnect yet. Though it is technically possible, we would have to perform certain calculations and experiments due to our compensation circuits. Our cables aren't simply 'cut & solder'."

As such solicitations register on me—I'm no lab rat, remember—this one had real promise. There was a granted rather than indefinitely pending patent. There was a masters of science in Physics and electronics behind it who in another email had explained his solution quite succinctly. There was a solid basis in math. The pricing particularly for the two lower ranges wasn't excessive. My personal interest in globalized audio coverage took further note of MusicWire's Russian origins. For a country as vast as the Russian Federation, its impact on the international hifi scene thus far has been disproportionately negligible. Could this solicitation be a first step to remedy that?

The question audio magazine publishers and reviewers face who are sensitive to the rabid (rabbity?) proliferation of cable companies is simply this: by which yard stick should one accept and reject cable review solicitations? Applying gut instinct alone can only be based on general presentations and an individual's conduct over successive emails. That is fraught with potential for error. Not every slick web presentation is anchored in facts or fronts credible product. Not every serious engineer knows how to best market or explain his products. Relying on patent or other open explanations is limited by our layman's limitations of fully grasping all the technical implications. One could toss a coin or apply some arbitrary "today I feel like it, tomorrow I won't" process of course. But surely serious reviewers and publisher would prefer a one-size-fits-all regimen by which any hifi cable can be reliably deemed fit or unfit for review before one wastes time on going further?

In truth I don't have such a magic formula. I'm not sure cable makers will—really—appreciate just how major a contributor this becomes to wanting to rather sidestep the issue altogether. Growing deaf to all such solicitations clearly is no long-term viable solution. Not only does it disenfranchise cable makers from participating in the review process, it's also bound to overlook real breakthroughs. Despite entrenched cynicism, inflated profit margins and the rest of the general cable baggage, honest advances ought to occur at least occasionally.

If these were the Ask Our Shrink pages, I'd sign reluctantly hopeful in Switzerland. As is, well-intentioned but thoroughly exhausted will have to do.

PS: I just had a dastardly thought. How about I reply with a link to this article next time I get a cable review solicitation? The good guy in me simply cringes a bit at the thought. Most of the cable people who contact us do seem genuinely convinced that they have something meaningful to contribute to the furtherance of musical playback enjoyment. From their perspective, I simply can't lump them with all the others unless I first sample their wares. What they don't know is just how many of them approach me with the same sincerity of "your readers really deserve to learn about this" - as though by not being receptive, we withheld something very important from the community at large.

Of course I also have an inner bad guy. Right now he seems on a winning streak. And I really don't blame him. Is that schizophrenic or what? Cable crisis indeed.