Country of Origin
Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, Fore Audio DAISy1, COS Engineering D1, Denafrips Terminator, Soundaware D300Ref, AURALiC Vega
Preamplifier: Nagra Classic, Wyred4Sound STP-SE Stage II, Vinnie Rossi LIO (AVT module)
Power & integrated amplifiers: Pass Labs XA30.8; FirstWatt SIT1 monos, F5, F6, F7; Goldmund/Job 225; Aura Note Premier; Wyred4Sound mINT; Nord Acoustics NC500 monos; LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos
Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Albedo Audio Aptica; EnigmAcoustics Mythology 1; Boenicke Audio W5se; Zu Audio Druid V & VI & Submission; German Physiks HRS-120; Eversound Essence
Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL3000 and 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; Black Cat Cable redlevel Lupo; Ocellia OCC Silver
Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps/sub
Equipment rack: Artesania Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands
Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators
Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room, hence no wall behind the listening chairs
Review component retail: $2'000/1.8m + $300/additional meter for power cord, $3'800/3m/pr plus $300/additional 0.5m for speaker cable
Seconds. They're not just measures of time. Following a good experience, it's one of man's most hardwired instincts to come back for seconds. It also goes for manufacturers and reviewers. If both sides had a satisfying experience, it naturally tends to lead to future assignments. Given my enthusiastic encounter with Allnic's ZL3000 cable loom leading to an award—very rare for cables!—and my subsequent acquisition of the lot for my new reference loom—even rarer—a follow-on report on their ZL5000 flagships was predestined. Isn't 5000 rather more than 3000? If numerology held any sway, more concentrated goodness was bound to be on the next Korean shipment. Kang Su Park, Allnic's designer of mostly valve gear but also of these cables, clearly needed more wired not thermionic exposure. My inner hifi geek was curious. How much better could it get? With audio that's already quite advanced, one might find little to no fault. Nonlinearities in the bass caused by the room are recognized as such and lived with. If thrilled with the rest, it's possible to imagine different flavours but not necessarily improvements over one's own. What aspects could possibly be further tweaked up? By what precise means? Why even bother when happiness is already the case? Ha! That last question could curl up in smoke when one finally does chance upon improvements. Now it's "aha" followed by "Gewalt" as the wallet spasms and the audiophile virus once more sinks its fangs into our veins. If you were immune, you'd not be reading this, now or ever.
When Allnic confirmed imminent dispatch, I hadn't the faintest on what, materially, separates 5000 from 3000 models. Higher conductor mass? More extreme shielding? Superior connectors? Other? When I published the ZL3000 review, Allnic's global distributor for the cables himself had no hard data on the difference yet. But accepting today's assignment wasn't contingent on any of it. I was just back for seconds. In tech terms, I did know that it'd mean connections hot-welded at 3'000A/1000°C to avoid solder. That creates a molecular merger of the connection into a single substance which makes for superior signal transfer. For better contact pressure, Kang Su champions heat-treated Beryllium copper sleeves, double-bladed spades and pins with six pressure slits. For metalurgy, he runs quality copper, for analog/digital interconnects which carry low-level signal, mu-metal shields. He's all on about maximal conductivity for minimal loss. On marketing blather, our Korean hero is the anti-climactic super zero. There's no talk of unobtainium or otherwise outré conductors, no excessive 6 nines purity, no proprietary geometry, no impedance-correction network, no inline filtration, no magnetic acceleration, no quantum tunneling, no reordered electrons… none of the gobbedlygook which can surround audiophile cables in search of magickal believers.
From perfectly thrilled ZL3000 ownership, I simply knew to expect physically super-robust builds, first-rate connectors and no-fuss usage. Pricing obviously would exceed our 3000 equivalents which are as far away from Black Cat Coppertone's entry level as they are from NordOst's Odin 2 extrema. But even there I knew nothing specific going in. The entire setup of happy seconds was predicated upon zero concern over any of that mundane stuff. Do shoot the messenger if you must but sometimes it's really just about performance. As a reviewer who tends to be much concerned with competitive value, that felt terrifically liberating. Call it my holiday on the wild side. I was checking into the Bite Me spa.