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Reviewer: Edgar Kramer
Financial Interests: click here
Source: Metronome T-1i CD player with DAISy HE Remote Control
Preamp/Integrated: Supratek Sauvignon with NOS RCA and Bendix tubes; NuForce P9
Amplifier: NuForce Reference 9 V2 Special Edition monoblocks
Speakers: Wilson Audio Specialties WATT/Puppy System 6
Cables: digital - Cerious Technologies; Harmonic Technology Magic; analog IC - Cerious Technologies; CRL Gold [in for review]; Harmonic Technology Magic and Truthlink Silver; DanA Digital Reference Silver; Eichmann eXpress 6 Series 2; Bocchino Audio Morning Glory; PSC Audio Pristine R30 Ribbon [on loan]; speaker cable: -Cerious Technologies and Harmonic Technology PRO-9+ loudspeaker cables; power cables - Cerious Technologies AC; Harmonic Technology Fantasy; Shunyata Research Diamondback, Eichmann eXpress AC power cables; PSC Gold Power MKII AC cable
Stands: Finite Elemente Pagode Signature equipment racks
Powerline conditioning: PS Audio P-300 Power Plant (digital equipment only)
Acoustic treatment: Fonic Designer acoustic panels and StudioCel corner bass traps
Sundry accessories: Burson Audio Buffer, Bright Star Audio IsoRock Reference 3, Bright Star Audio IsoRock 4 isolation platforms and BSA IsoNode feet; Bocchino Audio Mecado isolation diodes; Black Diamond Racing cones; Stillpoints ERS paper in strategic positions around DAC, Shakti On Lines; Densen CD demagnetizer; Auric Illuminator CD Treatment; ASC Tube Traps
Room: 17' w x 35' d x 12' h in short wall setup, opens to adjoining kitchen on furthest wall. Extremely solid and reinforced suspended wooden floor, with two brick walls and two brick/veneer walls. After acoustic treatment was put in place, the room was measured and found to be acceptably flat.
Review component retail: from US$2600 per metre/pair RCA or XLR

There's cables. And there's cables. At one end of the gamut resides hair-strand litheness that can be twisted and knotted onto itself whilst being threaded as shoe laces. At the opposite end, we find anaconda-girth leads that resist being forced through the widest of inter-component gaps. And as shown above, I'm only talking interconnects here. At the less - um, emaciated end of the spectrum then we find the fire hose Cable Research Laboratory (CRL) Gold Series interconnects. These leads are thick, man. And heavy. All that enormity carries through the connectors too. The CRL Gold Series cables are immaculately terminated by the largest and most overbuilt connectors on the planet: the Bocchino Audio connectors from Australia (see review of Bocchino Morning Glory cable here).

This is no minimalist design. On the other hand, the CRL Gold's bulk is a product of a design philosophy that holds sound quality, longevity and solid engineering at its passionate core. Oh, and the fact that its construction is made up of multiple copper (not gold) solid-core OFC conductors of various gauges. No wonder! What's more, each conductor is individually insulated with propylene and Teflon and expertly hand terminated in your Bocchino connector of choice; the BAXLR XLR or Brenda B3 RCA. Conductors are said to be large gauge and low-loss. The cable itself is then further insulated and damped in PVC outer tubing and lastly, dressed in a high quality and attractive black mesh. The overall construction, termination and finish are first class.

The connectors bear further mention. The Bocchino solid copper, silver-plated connectors are a very fine example of the art of precision machining. These massive connectors clamp the socket like nothing else, and are further fortified by the equally enormous locking collar in the case of the RCA and the locking tab with the XLR. They require no solder for termination and instead operate on a compression principal. On a construction and sonic quality level, I have nothing but the highest praise for these state-of-the-art interfaces. On a practical level, I have concerns regarding the sheer weight of the connectors and the cable's overall construction which bears considerable strain on socketry. Having said that, based on their price point, these cables will be used with components of corresponding quality which will most likely be robustly built. If however your component's chassis is flimsy or input/output sockets are of low quality, you'll need some form of cable support.

Further, the following from CRL's website regarding the suitability of the Gold cable to connecting components: "Due to the substantive nature of their solid core construction, the Gold Series are large in diameter. The center to center measurement for the chassis mount RCA is the critical distance in determining whether the Bocchino Audio connector will fit (22mm or .87 inches)."

Shed the old skin
Cable Research Laboratory is an evolution of Winston Ma's original and highly respected First Impression Music (FIM) Cables. A most enthusiastic and passionate user of the cable himself, Chip Winston liked the products so much, he bought the company. I quote the following partly from Chip's address on the CRL website and partly from his cordial and prompt email correspondence: "Having used the Gold and Silver Series cables for several years with some of the finest tube electronics in the world, I never found their equal for pure neutral sound transmission. As a businessman, the company's history was also intriguing. CRL's high energy conductivity cables were originally developed in the late 1990s by First Impression Music, Inc. and their cables became recognized internationally for their 'tube-like' sound. In 2002, FIM's business and cable designs were purchased by Musical Surroundings, Inc. which then became Cable Research Lab, Inc. I purchased CRL in 2006 and today CRL offers a new generation of cables. Purchasing the company and enhancing the product has been a labor of love.