September
2021

Country of Origin

Japan

Lineflux NCF

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Denafrips Terminator+ clock-synced to Gaia reclocker, Avatar CD transport, Soundaware D100Pro SD card transport; Preamp: icOn 4Pro SE; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Aurai Audio Lieutenant, Audio Physic Codex Cube Audio Nenuphar Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D300Ref SD transport; DAC: Denafrips Terminator; Preamp/filter: icOn 4Pro + 4th-order/80Hz hi-low pass;
Amplifier: Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Dynaudio S18 subwoofer; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NCF Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win7/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headamp: COS Engineering H1; Headphones: Final D-8000; Powered speakers: Fram Audio Midi 150
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: Soundaware A280 SD transport; Integrated amplifiers: Schiit Jotunheim R, Bakoon AMP-13R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a; Loudspeakers: Acelec Model 1, Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Simon Audio; Loudspeakers: German Physiks HRS-120, Zu Submission subwoofer; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: €2'130/1.2m/pr

Alphabet soup translator needed. NCF RCA. The first three letters are short for Nano Crystal Formula. It's what in its 2nd gen Furutech employ in select products like their upscale power plugs and distributors. Its primary function is that of noise trap. Here other companies like Akiko, Shunyata and Verictum have their own formulae so the principle is well understood and accepted. NCF's secondary function is as "generator of negative ions to eliminate static". Not leaving good enough alone, Furutech's recipe then adds nano-sized ceramic particles and carbon powder for their damping properties in the piezoelectric realm.

Translating RCA has more options. It can be London's Royal College of Art. Until 1969, it also was the Radio Corporation of America. It's since become shorthand for a hifi plug said RCA invented in the 1930s. So yeah, it's a very old piece of legacy tech which inexplicably is still with us. But now we've hit pay dirt with our alphabet soup. Furutech gave the ancient connector a rethink and just introduced their first-ever RCA plug with NCF, the CF-102 NCF. It's said to offer "a dramatic reduction in noise, improved imaging, focus and soundstaging." This $210/pr plug features OCC construction with rhodium-plated single-piece pin whose core is injected with NCF. The plug body uses more copper alloy plated with rhodium and a silver-plated carbon-fiber housing with NCF. Conductor wiring is fixed by set screw.

Having reviewed numerous NCF power cables, distributors, cable lifts and plug-in noise traps which I now use in two systems, I've been a firm N-liever and long wondered when this clearly effective material would find itself applied to low-level signal distribution. Now that day is here. With Furutech's vast parts catalogue available to DIY, there's something for everyone. For the turnkey drivers among us, Furutech's first interconnect with their latest statement plugs is the Lineflux NCF cable launched 8 years after the original Lineflux sans NCF premiered. It features their signature solid-core cryo-treated then demagnetized OCC conductor, double-layer shielding with Teflon and aluminium, polyethylene dielectric and hybrid PVC sleeve with more NCF for resonance damping. Just so, cable diameter remains 13mm. Standard length is 1.2m. In Furutech's own words, "NCF delivers improvements in soundstage depth and  focus, harmonic retrieval and tonal balance." In my own words, NCF's inclusion lowers the noise floor so planktonic data otherwise caught up in it rise up to the surface of audibility. At least that's the promise I read. With my prior NCF exposure, I didn't think it was empty. To be sure either way, I signed up. Was that betting on a plankton-filtering whale or a small-time tinhorn?

In the upscale sector, the bling of massive plugs, heavyweight dampers and overkill cable girth is a common recipe to play to the bigger-is-better mentality. Whilst Furutech's first NCF RCA plug is finished to a 't' to risk being lumped into the bling drawer, it's got real engineering and material science in its corner. Likewise for Furutech's first NCF interconnect. It's modestly dressed, of standard not abnormal girth and doesn't sling exotic geometries or rare metals, just quality solid-core copper and uncompromised mechanics. To my mind, this cable shows a conservative most detail-obsessed Japanese mentality that's not into excess but still turns out product which will hide behind components to pride-of-ownership standards. In my book, that makes it properly upscale just not silly stuff. Should your sentiments set that dividing line different, DIY your dream interconnect with a set of these plugs? Common sense says that we should want components/speakers of high resolution to drill down into the micro realm of noise reduction we can realistically expect from these NanoCrystal² Formula applications. But then common sense also says that cables make no difference. So perhaps common sense won't be quite enough to tackle this latest Furutech cable?

… to be continued…