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Cables broken in, time to choose some music.

"Fill My Heart" and "To Glory " from Invincible: Two Steps from Hell (Thomas J. Bergersen & Nick Phoenix) [TSFHCD01] are two random cuts from an interesting compilation of unsung heroes. Have you ever watched a movie or game trailer and been utterly stirred by the intensity and heart of the music only to discover that it doesn’t actually occur in the finished material? Chances are that these are people you’ve been admiring. Their work is extensive and their music spans film, gaming, television as well as prestigious events like the UEFA Euro 2012 and the 2012 Olympic Games. The cuts have synths, full symphony and choir to demonstrate the chameleon styles of the composers, spanning from the heroic through the romantic but also showing the technical limitations of dynamic compression dictated by the intended medium ranging from subtle to severe. If the technical quality varies, the level of talent and ambition stays high.

"Nella Fantasia" from the Katherine Jenkins:The Ultimate Collection [Decca/Universal 533 974-4 K2HDCD No759] had engineer Hakamata Takesh remaster a collection of strong popular material from talented diva Katherine Jenkins in the 24-bit 100kHz K2HD process. Articulate and warm, this is a satisfying version of Ennio Morricone’s timeless material that shows the advantages of delicate performances given a loving hand at the K2 production stage.

"The Cowboys: John Williams" from Center Stage [Wilson Audio WCD-8824] harkens back to the days of 1988 when a prestigious speaker manufacturer like Wilson Audio went the extra mile to produce prestige demonstration material to compliment their high-end product. Here the National Symphonic Winds under Lowell Graham play to delicacy and power captured with the dynamics and warmth afforded by Mr. Wilson’s analog recording prowess.

"Baby, Please Don’t Leave Me" from Sweet Tea: Buddy Guy [Silvertone Records 01241-41751-2] falls under the Blues category but this cut is pounding, relentless and raw, with distorted guitar and intense vocals that hit convincingly into the territory of solid rock. Thoroughly enjoyable when you want your system to play hard and wail into your soul.

"Dickie’s Dream" from Swing is Here: Dick Hyman [Reference Recordings RR-72CD] is the toe tapping and infectious sequel to From the Age of Swing. This rewarding effort features a very a strong roster of talented musicians. Peter Appleyard, Jay Leonhart, Frank Wess, Randy Sandke, Ken Peplowski, Bucky Pizzarelli and Butch Miles among others provide the musical might and Reference Recording’s Professor Johnson captured the intensity, dynamic vibrancy and acoustical air that abound in this work.

"La Campanella" from FIM Super Sounds III [FIMXR24 073] is powerful fast-moving piano material with complex keyboard attack, detail and ambience complimented by solidity and dynamic power. This is a superb Winston Ma remastering of the already legendary Keith Johnson Reference Recording Nojima Plays Liszt. Minoru Nojima gives an energetic reading of this challenging material. An excellent cut from a richly varied compilation CD.


Music at the ready, CD player on, server warmed up. Time to put my skepticism to work and do some observation. Would the Audio Art Cable Rhodium FI-11-N1-R and FI-11-N1 G Gold Classic power cords amount to a "good better best" categorization or would they actually add some unique spice? As the volume control went up, the system went from the sounds of silence to…

... the sounds of Rhodium and Gold. Both new cables upheld the Audio Art Cable tradition of powerful articulate bass and wide dynamics. The Rhodium-based Classic exhibited extended smooth highs but also threw a little extra energy and intense liquidity into the mid through upper mids to spotlight instruments within this range. This cable emphasized attack and rapid transient changes, giving brass a lively and luminous quality that could reveal all the breathtaking precision a crack band could unleash. It also favored solidity and transparency in the upper octaves over a blanket of air, keeping things visceral and real. This presentation was mildly forward but soundstage dimensions remained wide and deep. Here was transparency with a little added dimensional push in its range of preference.

The Furutech gold-plate plug was a very different animal. The Gold played favorites in the midrange and lower midrange emphasizing air and nuance on instruments like the grand piano or larger string instruments, proportionately balancing attack against the volume and air of the instrumental cavity. It also captured the texture of synthesizer material, revealing the differences between real acoustic instruments and their artificial counterparts. This texture proved to be a double-edged sword. Played perfectly it enhanced detail. Out of balance it emphasized grain.