Santa was indeed good to me. Inside were three pairs of interconnects, two different series of balanced, one RCA, a pair of speaker cables and two power cables. Fit and finish were premium and the upscale Eichmann Technology connectors on the new interconnects and speaker cables fit snugly and were solidly built. I spent a month shifting cables to ascertain their individual and accumulative characters. I threw them into likely and unlikely combinations with other makes. Mr. Fritz had been kind enough to pre-condition his cables so the tedium of listening while waiting was alleviated. The new Audio Art Cables were quick to show their virtues, donning fresh strong suits to replace minor weaknesses in the prior generation with commonality of character across the entire loom that was consistent from day one. They performed well as a combined Audio Art family and singly with other cables to ensure predicable results. Since it's ultimately all about how they served the music, here's a quick snapshot of some eclectic material of the listening sessions. To keep life interesting and accessible, no reference regulars and rarities are listed though were played and all are from the Tidal catalog. For guitars I chose a pair of winners. Friday Night in San Francisco by Al Dimeola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucia on Sony Music Entertainment is a fiery jazz recording from 1980 that captures a lightning-paced live jam at San Francisco's Warfield Theatre between three musician at the top of their game.

Flamenco anyone? I chose the tangos "En La Oracion" by Manolo Sanlúcar from his 2011 El Flamenco es Manolo Sanlúcar album on Universal which is passionate, intense and beautifully recorded. For large orchestral, something fun and not too stodgy is the opener from Tidal's MQA version of Shazam! by composer Benjamin Wallfisch. It's a joyous, old-fashioned heroic exploit full of bass slam, bold brass, silky violins and choir. It's a romantically voiced recording that's been tastefully engineered rather than being reference minded but is delightful medicine for melancholia. It supplies a superb underpinning for the Captain whose Marvelous exploits cannot be named due to conflict with a certain female MCU pretender.

In a serious modern vein was Pentaptych by film composer Ryan Lott. Commissioned by the Philbrook Museum of Modern Art, this experimental ballet explores instrumental textures. It's an ephemeral piece that dances on the senses like a Monet painting whereby dazzling dots of piercing musical light punctuate a colorful vibrant whole. Female vocals went to "These Days" and "Undertow" from Ane Brun's 2011 album It All Starts With One. This Swedish vocalist with the delicate haunting style throws emotional delivery against stark accompaniment in stylized but spacious acoustic spaces to be marked by great performances and expressive engineering. For male vocals I turned to "No Sanctuary Here" by country artist Chris Jones from Roadhouses & Automobiles, an audio-fest staple that delivers powerful bass lines, great lead and back-up vocals and poignant socially relevant lyrics.