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

Did I say final test? As the review was finishing up, I asked the distributor how much of a difference there was between the cables under review and those further up the line. Shortly afterwards there was a knock on the door and Mr. Li of Charisma Audio handed me a set of E3 Extreme 1 interconnects and speaker cables to answer that question. So while not formally under evaluation, they became a different tier or reference point.

One factor that should be noted is the requirement of break in. The Madison Audio Lab cables under review achieved close to full potential straight out of the box, making only small gains in resolution and extension over a short period with no drastic changes in basic character. The exception was the premiere E3 interconnects which took a day to hit stride, probably due to the outboard box requiring some settling in. Upon initial insertion, the E3 ICs were dark and dense but quickly blossomed out full range. No multiple hundred hours of teeth gritting were endured with any of these. Madison Audio Lab gave relatively instant gratification. As always I flew through my assortment of music to see how the cables would fare with the gamut from consumer grade through audiophile recordings. A few snippets are below.

"Dooji Wooji" from the HRx edition From the Age of Swing [Reference Recordings HR-59] is an enjoyable 24/176.4 version of Dick Hyman and jazz ensemble that has the requisite added detail and dynamic range to further showcase Keith O. Johnson’s mastery of the medium. Horns and reeds ebb and flow against the piano with the shimmer of the percussion to be Involving and subtle with dynamic rewards at both ends of the spectrum.

"Epilogue/End Credits" from Original motion Picture Soundtrack Big City:Erwann Kermorvant [Moviescore Media MMS-10005] is a lovely little showpiece from French composer Erwann Kermorvant that lets him indulge in a broad homage of the American Western. Alfred Newman and Bruce Broughton get their airtime here along with a bit of Danny Elfman thrown in to keep the mixture eclectic. A fun little soundtrack from a rare French Western captures detailed instrumental texture and decent dynamic sway and perspective produced by Mikael Carlsson.

"The Kick of Love" from North of a Miracle: Nick Heyward [BMG]74321 895812 is from when Nick Heyward parted ways with Haircut 100. This solo effort was exceptionally ambitious, fusing pop and jazz influences as well as material as diverse as the Beatles. This material has quick transients, dense lush arrangements and soft vocals. The CD diverges from the fluidity of the vinyl version, making it a challenge to reproduce with an equivalent combination of detail and warmth.

"Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" from Defiled is My Middle Name: I Furiosi Baroque Ensemble [IF001] is a great recording that features huge reflective church acoustics with female vocal and baroque ensemble. Here a military drum startles to open the event in a vast hall, building into a cynical tune of the aftermath of war and a tale of manhood lost. The minimalist recording features performers derived from the highly regarded Tafelmusik Orchestra.

"An Irish Blessing" from the 24/96 download Grex Vocalis 2011 Sessions [2L-081-HRFD] is a lovely choir piece performed by the award-winning Norwegian group Grex Vocalis conducted by Carl Hogset for warm vocals in a church setting recorded in DXD 24/352.8.

"Galicia Flamenca" from Flamenco Passion: Gino DAuri [FIM XRCD 023] is a Winston Ma remaster of excellent material by guitarist Gino D’Auri from 1991 through 1996 with accompaniment by vocalist Palmas, David Darling on the cello and caja by Patrick Herzinger and Antonio de Jerez for incisive finger work, detail and emotional intensity preserved under the careful hand of Mr. Ma.

"Baby, Please Don’t Leave Me" from Sweet Tea: Buddy Guy [Silvertone Records 01241-41751-2] is a raw piece that hits into rock as well as blues. Pounding back beats and riveting dirty guitar with wailing highs make for an emotionally intense cut from this highly regarded recording and sheer relentless waves of sound.

The three cables under review had common characteristics especially with regard to tonal balance. They concentrated attention into the frequency range between midrange and upper bass where the majority of acoustic instruments have their voice. This gave the playback of information a very organic quality with a sense of real weight and mass. String instruments like cellos had body and cavity information. Violins had sweetness with an emphasis on the complexity of string resonance. Reed instruments had more texture and mass. This predominant ‘house sound’ influenced all other parameters and more importantly, how those other parameters were perceived.