For music to make your head bob and bother the neighbors, "Seeya" from Deamu5 While is infectious bouncy House music with a solidly driving bass beat, synths and excellent vocal work from pop songstress Colleen D'Agostino. There are plenty of playful nods to influences from Moroder to Queen. Now let's look at the individual players of the new Audio Art dynasty.
The IC-3SE2 with Eichmann's rhodium-plated tellurium copper Brio XLR is a direct descendant of the older Xhadhow-terminated SE. Utilizing Audio Art's trusty silver-plated OFC copper with Cardas quad eutectic solder encased in a mesh Techflex sleeve, this connector change brought performance improvements to a classic. Where the predecessor played the frequency extremes and impact card to impress, the descendant embodied new virtues. Its tonal balance better honored the mids with greater warmth and solidity. The dynamic spectrum gained gradated finesse on microdynamics by adding layers of complexity to acoustic instruments and massed vocals. Backgrounds were darker. Information emerged with greater detail at lower levels, suggesting a drop in noise floor. Precision of placement and definition of space were handled with next-gen status. The Cinerama soundstage became more immersive, extending into the room and closer to the listener with more focused and palpable images. The overall sophistication of the SE2 Brio was quite remarkable and in some setups uncanny. On dense orchestral material, it populated the soundstage with multitudes of individual instruments, each localized with their own unique dynamic structure running concurrently. This would be noteworthy at any price so especially here, considering that the SE2 Brio represented the least expensive balanced interconnect Audio Art Cable had sent my way.
How did it stack up against my alternatives? Having already established that it superseded its predecessor, I chose for comparison from outside the San Diego stable the Audio Sensibility Impact SE, another superb cost-conscious overachiever with cryo-treated 7N OCC copper with Mundorf silver/gold solder and gold-plated Neutrik connectors. The Impact demonstrated similar tonal balance and dynamics but had somewhat more diffuse spatial placement precision. Although it proved a feisty lower-cost competitor, the superior refinements of the Brio won out. Onto the next offering.
For his next hot-rod trick came the IC-3 e2 Cryo. Mr. Fritz waved a wand over his stock silver-plated OFC copper to push it into full cryo mode terminated with silver-plated ETI Kryo XLR. For those unfamiliar, deep cryo is a process that applies temperatures below -300°F to change the mechanical and electrical properties of metals on a molecular level. In audio, this customarily reaps gains otherwise associated with more exotic metal formulations. The e2 Cryo adds further conductive surface enhancement of Kontak from the upper Statement line to attempt close-to-top performance. These were compelling technical upgrades but with the improved SE2 already setting a new benchmark, could the tricked-out e2 Cryo earn its upper-tier stripes?