Here's the test system: iMac with local files, Audirvana, Soundaware D300Ref USB reclocker clock-sync'd to Denafrips Terminator Plus, Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature linestage with Elrog ER50, LinnenberG Liszt monaural power amps, Aurai Audio M1 2-way speakers. With our red ZL-5000 now paralleling the ZL-8000S on the Furutech elevators, A/Bs were a cinch. And for once experience and resultant expectations were spot on. Without any noticeable shift in tonal balance, textures with the pure copper leashes were indeed more fluid and sweet. The silver version played them drier/stiffer, more damped and from that in somewhat sharper contrast. Reduced to their subjective gist, it was flow versus articulation.
As such, the 8000S's low end really was no lighter nor its treble any brighter. If Kang-Su's design brief had been to train silver to behave like copper for bandwidth and tonal balance, he clearly succeeded. He comes from classic valve gear, specifically multi-stage direct-heated triodes. Those tend to work with slightly softer transients and bloomier decays. I instantly saw why he might want this slightly cooler crisper drier sonic profile in a counter-steering cable. In our home, 1MHz direct-coupled class AB transistors show exceptional speed, clarity and no phase shift. Here Kang-Su's lesser red leashes with pure copper conductors retained my vote. The reason was identical to the earlier referenced Grimm Audio cable review where I'd slightly favored their copper wires to our far pricier silver/gold Crystal Cable equivalents. So forget about the artificial bass/mid/treble trilogy. It's really one unity and certainly was so here.
To catch today's red vs. black action, you'd focus your ears on textures as though tones were tennis or golf balls. The tennis bits have very fine surface fuzz and are softer and matte. The surface of the golfing bobs is perfectly smooth, shiny and hard. It's in that domain where you'd notice small shifts. Once tuned into, you'd also notice how this domain influences your subjective perception of the music's progression over time. It's subtle but real. The ZL-5000 will be a tad more relaxed or laid-back, the ZL-8000S a tick more energetic or forward-reaching. To my ears, that was the story. Time to move upstairs for its B side against Chris Sommovigo's Black Cat Cable Lupo.
Have amplifier, want bigger? This was one of those times. Swapping the thin reds from Atlanta for the far fatter blacks from Seoul virtually upgraded our 60wpc Crayon CFA-1.2 motor from a V4 to a turbo-charged V6. Everything got bigger and more massive. Bass descended by a seemingly extra half octave. It certainly was heavier and more authoritative. Dynamic swings made bigger waves. The corporeality of the sonic landscape—a lovely compound phrase that distinguishes physicality from spiritual and emotional—was higher. A futuristic transporter beam had processed its re-molecularized travelers by some extra clicks; or the American cables had stopped short by a few to materialize them, just not 100%. Of course Black Cat Cable have their own far more upscale models. This comparison was hardly fair. But, you roll (with) what you got. Here Goliath pounded David into the dirt to leave the li'l guy flattened out and compressed.
Once again the ZL-8000S didn't play zippy cord as though silver were always predestined to act bright, stark and lean. As perhaps suggested by its girth and scale weight, this silver cable was big, beefy, powerful and rich. Where in the main system it had gone up against a stablemate already bedded ideally into our ancillaries, here it contrasted with a clearly lesser far more cost-effective effort from a different designer thus alternate ears. Now things didn't tease out into subtle shifts. This was a wholesale tear that went far deeper into substance, robustness and chunkiness. These terms don't correlate with typical silver beliefs. That makes them ideal to paraphrase the ZL-8000S. It's about audible weightiness. It's a quasi bottom-up perspective. It triggers some hulk transformation without the green or the spleen. If feeling dynamically gifted and workout-enhanced is something your upscale system needs more of and you're ready to shop this elevated price class, Allnic's latest and costliest certainly belongs. I'll give a special shout-out to valve fanciers, particularly of less powerful SET. That's because Kang-Su Park's ZL-8000S strikes me as ideally balanced to get the very most from such electronics; which patently would be anything but coincidental.
Sometimes confirming the obvious is simply the right thing to do. Sometimes 'S' isn't for silver but super. In this case it's for both…
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