This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

Records used during this review - Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio, Autumn in Seattle, FIM XRCD 043, CD; Peter Gabriel, So, Toshiba-EMI 28VB-1088, LP; Kate Bush, Hounds of love, Capitol, B000002U9E, CD; Tchaikovsky, 1812, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra with Erich Kunzel, TELARCDG-10041, LP; Tatsuya Takahashi, Secret Love, AEOLUS ALP-1, LP; Daniel Gaede, The Tube Only Violin, TACET L117, LP; Jan Garbarek, Legend of the seven dreams, ECM 837 344-1, LP; Midnight Blue, Inner City Blues, Wildchild, 09352, CD; Patricia Barber, Companion, Blue Note/Premonition; 7243 5 22963 2 3, CD.

To be frank, I don't really like reviewing cables. Unlike amplifiers, CD players and speakers, their influence is usually quite subtle. So-called high-end cables should be the finishing touch to a very good system. First they should do no harm and in some cases simply polish the sound up a bit. In the end they’re just wires that should pass the signal from one audio device to another and not spoil it in the process. Many audiophiles feel that the best cables are those which have no audible effect to be perfectly transparent rather than improving the bass, midrange or soundstage effects. When trying new cables, what really is the case if you can easily hear a difference? Did the cables introduce this difference; or are they more transparent than the previous ones to let you hear more of your system’s potential? I wouldn’t know and doubt anybody else really does. On the other hand it doesn't matter. What counts is the final result. That's why I didn’t try to guess why there was a difference when I couldn't deny that it was clearly audible.

Our reality here in Poland is that we are lucky to have a review loaner for two weeks. Franck fortunately didn't know this so I could enjoy listening to his cables for two months. This gave me opportunity to use them not only in my regular system but also with certain review systems during this period. Still, most my findings are based on what I heard with my own reference system—a 300B SET from Art Audio, horns with widebanders recently extended with Fostex horn tweeters and Velodyne subwoofer—which offers an involving somewhat sweet and slightly warmed up sound with lots of details, air, wonderful timbres and spatial effects.

During my tests when my turntable was source, the LiveLine interconnect went between phonostage and integrated amp and the power cord was used on the phonostage. Later the power cord supplied the ARC CD5 which connected via Franck's cable to the amp. Yes I was bit lazy when I referenced the entire LiveLine set rather than checking out each cable individually. While I did have quite some time for these tests, I preferred listening to the music instead of playing the cable swap game with every other album.

At the very beginning I wasn't too impressed with the LiveLines. I noted no significant changes I would  have recognized at once – neither good nor bad. It was only after the third or fourth record that I realized how once a record had ended, I immediately reached for the next and that all of these were favorites and that I acted automatically as though my subconscious had taken control. When I finally broke the spell, I tried to analyse what had changed in the music to become so compelling. It quickly became obvious that I’m no reviewer with 30 years of experience to help me identify those reasons quickly. Sometimes the easiest solutions work best. Since I couldn't define what exactly had changed for the better, I could use my own cables again to see what would change for the worse. The entire cable swap took a few minutes but once completed presented me with the solution almost immediately.

The sound became dull and gray as though the lights had been dimmed and I could only see fewer colors whilst the entire picture was less realistic. Until that moment I'd thought that the treble with my new Fostex horn tweeters had been fabulous, perhaps even a bit too bright at times but with plenty of detail and air, top-quality spatial effects and such. But the LiveLine loom proved me wrong. There was even more going on in the top frequencies than I had been aware of. I also had thought that the soundstage had been quite exemplary, built starting from the fronts of my speakers and extending deeply into the next room. It had seemed so realistic. Using the ASI cables felt like switching from a regular movie to a 3D version. Everything seemed more right – more layers, more precise imaging and so on. Comparing it again to the movies, returning from 3D to regular flicks looks very flat and unreal. That's what the LiveLine cables did. It was about even more palpable presence of the musicians in my room.