December
2019

Country of Origin

USA

Cable looms

Reviewer: Glen Wagenknecht
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: Wyred4Sound music server/streamer and Auralic Altair music server/streamer
DACs: Wyred4Sound DAC-2,  Ideon Ayazi, Auralic Altair
Preamplifier: Tortuga Audio LDR6 Passive, Auralic Altair
Amplifier: Audio Zone D-2
Main speakers: Mark & Daniel Maximus Mini Monitor, Mark & Daniel Maximus Monitor Mk2, SVS SB3000 subwoofer
Rack: Codia Acoustic Design Stage 3000 BAB
Stands: Charisma Audio Function, Target 
AV speakers: JohnBlue M3 
Desktop audio speakers: Swans M200 Mk3
Desktop DAC/Pre headphone amp: DA&T U-2
Cables: Arkana Physical Research Loom, Audio Art SE and Classic cable looms, JPS Labs Ultraconductor 2 speaker cables, Madison Audio Lab E3 Extreme 1 Interconnects/Extreme 2 speaker cables, Signal Cable Silver Reference interconnects, optical and coax digital cables, Audio Sensibility Impact SE balanced interconnects, Statement S/PDIF and Impact USB digital cables, SwanSong USB cable, DH Lab Power Plus AC cable.
Resonance rontrol: KAT Audio Terminator 1 Feet, Solid Tech Feet, EquaRack Footers, Weizhi Precision Gold Glory footers, Boston Audio TuneBlock2 footers, Audio Exklusiv Silent Plugs, Audio Exklusiv d.C.d. Footers, CA Electronics Standard Cones, Feet, Cable Clamps, Isoacoustics L8R130, Aperta and L8R200 SUB speaker stands
Powerline conditioning: Exact Power EP15A, GutWire Ultimate Ground cable
USB conditioners: Ideon 3R Renaissance
Listening room 1: 12' x 17'
Listening room 2: 10.5' x 16.5'
Review component retail: TBA

Founded in 2005, San Diego-based Audio Art Cable launched an internet-direct series of high-performance budget-conscious cables which quickly garnered critical awards and popular acclaim. Those core staples blossomed into an assortment of lines and tiered products to satisfy wider needs and loftier demands. These remained true to the company's high-value vision, with prices reflecting legitimate costs of manufacture, not boutique cachet. Awards and acclaim ensued once again. That was then. This is now. On to the current chapter of this wiry saga.

As I was completing work on my new listening room 2, Robert Fritz of Audio Art Cable contacted me about reviewing some his latest offerings. It's been 10 years since my first review of his products which have remained on my roster to provide comparative references. The power cables have seen continuous service in some capacity ever since, the speaker cables and interconnects less in the last few years as ongoing parades of new review cables demanded attention. It seemed timely and fitting to precede this review with an anniversary regrouping of the original Classic SE ensemble to create context for the new efforts and serve as performance refresher in a new room and system. As fast as you can say "Audio Art Cable Avengers assemble", the classic warriors dusted off their proverbial spandex and stood ready to flex musical muscle. The setup stripped down to lean with an Auralic Altair and Audio Zone D-2 serving source and amplification paired with Mark & Daniel Maximus Monitor Mk2 speakers. The SVS subwoofer departed. My full Classic SE loom meant balanced interconnect and double-run speaker cables plus a Power 1 SE cord on the amp. Would fond memories of the past diminish in the cold light of ten years of accumulated experiences and expectations?

It was immediately apparent that there was no need for nostalgia to color aural memory. Despite new room and hardware, the performance of the system wired by decade-old cables was shockingly good. The exceptional dynamic responsiveness prevalent in the original setup was still present. Steep transients and wide contrasts were very quick with infectious liveliness. Bass power and weight hit deep and tight with blunt force that, to paraphrase Rocky Balboa, could rattle your ancestors. On these two parameters the Classic SE combo could still rival costlier fare. Were there shortcomings compared to the nosebleed competitors? The complicated and surprising answer was yes but…

The Classic SE's failings amounted to minor losses in refinement, a tonal balance leaning a hair towards the transparent, a slight emphasis on the frequency extremes and a touch of softness in image focus. Subtle failings and here comes the but. Pricier fare often achieves gains in nuance at the expense of the dynamic zeal which the Audio Art cables deliver in spades. Talk about an unfair trade deal. My respect for the Classic loom emerged rekindled. On December 24th, the new cable package arrived and ended up under the tree. What did Santa Fritz bring me?

… to be continued…