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Marja & Henk
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: PS Audio PWT; Dr. Feickert Blackbird/DFA 1o5/Zu DL-103; Phasure XX-PC and NOS1 DAC
Streaming sources: XXHighEnd; iTunes; Devialet AIR; La Rosita Beta
Preamp/integrated/power: Audio Note Meishu with WE 300B (or AVVT, JJ, KR Audio 300B output tubes); dual Devialet D-Premier; Hypex Ncore 1200 based monoblocks; Trafomatic Kaivalya; Trafomatic Reference One; Trafomatic Reference Phono One; Music First Passive Magnetic; Mola Mola Makua & Kaluga [in for review]
Speakers: Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Omega; Arcadian Audio Pnoe; Podium Sound One; Pancin Art Technology VZ1 [in for review]
Cables: Complete loom of ASI LiveLine cables; full loom of Crystal Cable cables; full loom of Nanotec Golden Strada; Audiomica Pearl Consequence ic; Element47 Black Master [in for review]
Power line conditioning: PS Audio Powerplant Premier; PS Audio Humbuster III; IsoTek Evo 3 Syncro
Equipment racks: ASI amplifier and TT shelf
Sundry accessories: Furutech DeMag; ClearAudio Double Matrix; Nanotec Nespa #1; Franc Audio Ceramic Disc Classic; Shakti Stones; Manley Skipjack, Akiko Audio sticks
Online Music purveyors:,,
Room treatment: Acoustic System International resonators, sugar cubes, diffusers
Room size: ca. 14.50 x 7.50m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls, wooden flooring upstairs, ca 7 x 5m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls and concrete floor downstairs
Price of review items: €2'600 for 1m RCA Prelude interconnect, €4'600 for equivalent Black Master, €3'850 for 2.5m Prelude loudspeaker cable, €14'063 for Black Master equivalent

Without a doubt cables are the most controversial element of any normal home-audio chain. Here two opposing views are embroiled in an endless debate where unlike politicians the opposing camps rely on either science or feeling. With such mutually exclusive positions, the twain shall never meet. In this arena any discussion is useless and a waste of your listening time. The scientific camp posits that in case of a loudspeaker cable the transmitted signal is of only low frequency. Besides such limited bandwidth from say 15Hz to 25kHz the transmission is simple AC voltage (to our shame we know what happens with added DC) which occurs between 0 and about 40 volts.

Clearly the signal between amplifier and speakers is nothing special. It is limited in bandwidth, its voltage nothing to write home about. These then are definite strong points for the science-minded camp. Now on to the cable itself. Cables have measurable values like inductance and capacitance. Resonance, dielectric absorption, shielding, geometry and conductor and connector purity make for additional variables. Science tells us that inductance is only of influence when a cable's length reaches the equivalence of ¼ its transmitted wave length. For a signal of 25kHz the quarter wavelength is no less than 3'000 meter. That figure is most unlikely to occur at cable lengths in any home hifi.

Inductance and capacitance relate to a cable’s geometry. Closely spaced conductors increase inductive coupling but that only has a measurable influence at frequencies above 30kHz. Usual capacitance value are on the order of 100-250pF which is electrically negligible again. Other characteristics or influences are equally low to become significant only well outside our bandwidth and voltage range - never mind that the crossover at the speaker end of the cable introduces so much influence with its coils, capacitors and hook-up wiring that the cable's own behavioral values are far overshadowed. These are all valid points and endless oscilloscope shots confirm them neatly. How then is it that decent to very good (highly trained or experienced) listeners hear definite differences between speaker cables?

There can only be one answer. Humans have perceptional means which outperform current measurement systems. Our hearing is able to detect air pressure variations of less than 1'000'000.000th of the atmospheric pressure. We can detect air vibrations as tiny as 1/10th the diameter of an atom. Our hearing only reaches the pain threshold once the sound pressure eclipses a level 10'000'000'000'000 higher than mute. And there's more. For some reason—the survival of our species seems the most plausible—we can not only detect and process an incredible dynamic range, we perceive sound over a full 10 octaves. A few cycles below this range remain detectable albeit through our bone structure not ears and it seems that certain ultra-sonic frequencies above the limit of our ears may be perceived via the skin. And as though these capabilities weren't enough, nature has equipped us with another astounding feature. We process sound in a non-linear fashion. Only recently researchers of Rockefeller University of New York confirmed this whilst working on the Fourier decomposition of audio signals. Here’s the introduction to their February 2013 paper: