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While I knew that the LAN-1.0 PA as digital interconnect bettered the Accuphase cable, I didn’t know whether everybody would appreciate the changes. That type of dilemma should occur more often now that Ethernet cables are being used more regularly as digital interconnects. Let me single out MSB Technology and their MSB Network protocol which I visited during my Audio review of their Platinum Data CD IV and matching DAC IV. Sadly the LAN-1.0 PA hadn’t been available yet. Ayon too just introduced a CD transport where like Zanden I²S transmits via LAN to their Skylla II DAC.

LAN-1.0 PA + router. Since my experience with the Accuphase player had been clearly positive and the changes introduced by the LAN cable identified, I went on to test this cable in the role it was really created for – as a digital cable which connects a network player or hard disc to a router. In this configuration the changes seemed subtle at first. I started the session with the album opener to Eye In The Sky by The Alan Parsons Project, a 24/192 copy from DVD-A. I immediately heard that something had changed but neither was sure what it was nor whether it was for the better or worse. It took me a few more cuts to identify the what. In order of importance, the changes were to timbre, resolution and cleanness. I would like to describe them in that order.

The change in timbre was quite significant and probably what threw me off with Parsons. I could not identify the areas of change because that audition had been made mostly with the very nice but very cheap Music Hall DAC 15.2, which smoothens the treble, withdraws it slightly and boosts the midrange to impose this character on each recording. With subsequent pieces, mostly the title track from Sonny Rollins’ Tenor Madness [24/96] and then with CD rips of Nosowska, David Sylvian or Audiofeels, the true character of the AR cable emerged. The lower bass was slightly lighter and the upper midrange much smoother to work better with a sweeter treble. Also the range around 800Hz - 1kHz was much clearer.

I would like to repeat that after some time you no longer need to focus to hear those changes. Once identified and remembered, they are automatically noted and evaluated. It’s simply not the case that we immediately buy into everything because it fits every system. Instead each change for the better reveals, as in this case, problems in another area, here mostly in the network player I used. The slight thinning of the lower bass worked a treat with almost all recordings. With the ordinary LAN cable the tonal balance seemed shifted down at least in the bass but higher in the midrange and upper midrange. This resulted in a hole between the two ‘peaks’. For a while it might have seemed that the stronger bass of the ordinary cable had the advantage of adding sonic weight for more fleshiness. But then I listened to Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert [24/96] before returning to the earlier recordings with a quite different perspective.

Now the lower frequencies with the ordinary cable seemed too fat and thick. I confirmed this later with the Accuphase DC-901 DAC. This bloat might have been temporarily likeable because it was so ‘in yer face’ but then it became boring, especially once I heard how it could sound better with a different cable. I can only repeat what I already mentioned – the midrange of the AR by comparison was smoother and more refined as was the treble. But this was not the most important aspect of the change. More important were the resolution-related changes. With the LAN-1.0 PA I heard much more information.

Though I got that too, this wasn’t detail per se but a new sound that was far more open and natural. This was brilliantly audible on Jarrett’s piano but shocked me with CD rips because all the tracks I used contain incredible energy. If that doesn't translate the result is audibly worse. With the LAN-1.0 PA timbre and resolution were ideal at least compared to the ordinary cable. Sylvian’s voice was strong and saturated where with the standard cable it got thinner and the tonal balance moved up to ruin the sound. All this translated into a much cleaner sound for the Acoustic Revive and its superior timbre and resolution resulted in a more credible playback that was better to listen to. With the ordinary cable it seemed dirtier and internally blurred. Although at first these effects were merely negligible and the shift in timbre could favor the ordinary cable in certain systems, longer exposure clarified that the Acoustic Revive was like a nobleman amidst a mob or perhaps a well-dressed man in good tailored clothing amongst ordinary people. At first sight the difference is not so clear but once we have a closer look and appreciate what bespoke shoes or tailored pants look like, we will spot such a person in seconds. With the LAN-1.0 PA it was exactly the same.