Luxurious gleam. Once taken out of their modest shipping box—why pay for a designer presentation box you'll never use again?—real glam kicked in with shiny connectors and barrels whose arrows for XLR were obviously silly but apparently inherit from the RCA version where marked directionality is sensible. The cables were slightly stiffer than earlier super-slinky LessLoss specimens had been but nothing to fret over during use. Color-coded channel markers integrate solidly with the plug ends to be easily seen whilst rummaging 'round behind a rack. They also can't come off like the rubber rings of certain competitors do. Install. Put on hours. Open ears. Notice things. Write up. I had my marching orders.

Pink Faun's 2.16 ultra server still on hand from its review made for an ideal über source running into the equally excellent Sonnet Pasithea DAC via I²S/RJ45. It made more perfect sense to let the recipient be HifiMan's elite Susvara headphones off Kinki Studio's head amp running lateral Exicon Mosfets in a class A/B high-bandwidth circuit. I'd work this 24/7 without noise pollution or keeping a main system busy that was needed for other reviews. It also didn't involve extra analog cables which might dilute Furutech's. Below is the setup. My usual music iMac was just browser portal for Pink Faun's Stylus player on the OS licensed from Euphony. I'd dropped a few hundred albums to their SSD. During playback Euphony caches music onto one RAM partition whilst the other hosts the OS to act as root drive. It's as purist a digital server front end as they come. I had a very simple yet best-case data scenario to dig deep into potential details of advanced cable affairs. When the 2.16 ultra was recalled, a Denafrips Aether replaced it as external masterclock for our Soundaware D300Ref USB bridge.

Hardware sorted, let's sort our wetware. What do we correlate with ever higher resolution? Detail tied to imaging? That's about more precise separation and layering. It also includes key clacks, pumping pedals, breath work, 'seeing' lips, tongue and teeth, artist movements relative to a microphone and other performance mechanics. But once a saxophone's key or reed actions are laid bare, its precise location fixed in high focus, that score is settled. There's no more such detail to be found. Yet S/NR specs of electronics continue to improve. So do speaker drive units; and cables. What audible realms do they harvest? For one, I'd suggest ever subtler upper harmonics whose relative distribution creates an artist's signature timbre. Occurring many octaves above the fundamentals at successively more homeopathic doses, overtone audibility is directly proportionate to a system's overall noise floor. That's about the complexity of tone. Contributors are varying air speed, bow pressure, nails or finger tips, a drum stick's plastic or felt tip, skin tension and more. It's how artists modulate their core tone as a means of expression other than phrasing, tempo, timing, dynamics and vibrato. The overtone content of individual timbres isn't static. It's fluid. Voices might go bright, raspy, hoarse or hooded. A Jazz flautist might invoke partial overblowing, a dirty fiddler flageolet, a French horn player hand damping in the bell. All of it plays off shifted harmonics. So higher resolution can't just isolate down to ever less relevant detail—the proverbial squeaking chair in the viola section comes to mind or the rustle of a score being turned—but must include more timbre data.

It's not just dynamics which express themselves across a broader or narrower range. Timbre differentiation/modulation has its very own. One result of true higher resolution is a broadening of that range. It means a wider palette of colors for more hues. It expands the difference delta not only between multiple instruments and voices. It applies to how an artist manipulates the timbre of his/her own voice or instrument. Speaking in monotone is only for beginners; or lazy performers without imagination. That general realm of greater tonal expression is where I heard the Lineflux NCF's core difference. Before you think tube-emulator effects, applying a pleasing patina or texture doesn't expand the range of tone modulation and timbre differentiation. It just adds a filter similar to how the anti-glare coating of my desktop specs removes the irritating blue light of my big computer screen. While it's true that tube aficionados routinely turn away from transistors to fatten up tone, that won't make tone modulations more specific. It simply overlays a tint, often the exaggerated 2nd harmonic. That's octave doubling applied equally to all recordings. Rather than sound more different from one another, now our albums sound more alike. They've all been smudged by the same fingerprints. That's not broader color range and more movement associated with it. It's a narrower scale and more static; so not what the Furutech did.