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Frederic Beudot
Financial Interests: click here
Digital Source: MacMini, Burson HA-160D, Audioquest Carbon USB cable.
Analog source: Acoustic Solid Classic Wood, AS WTB211, Dynavector DV20X-2, Esoteric E03
Preamplifier: Burson HA-160D
Amplifiers: FirstWatt F5, Yamamoto A08s
Speakers: Zu Essence, Rethm Trishna [in for review]
Headfi: Burson HA160D, AKG K701
Cables: Zu Varial, Genesis Absolute Fidelity (speaker), ASI Liveline
Power Cords: Zu Mother, Genesis Absolute Fidelity, ASI Liveline
Powerline conditioning: Isotek Nova
Sundry accessories: Isolpads, ASI Heartsong racks
Room size: 12.5' x 18' x 8'
Review component retail: Interconnects $1170/1m pair), Power $1105/1m), Digital coaxial ($1027/1m), speaker ($1820/3m pair)

Except for a few email exchanges over the summer, I had never met Samuel Furon of Ocellia before I headed over to the Toronto Audio Show back in September. Yet he and I hit it off right off. Not just because we have a lot of musical tastes in common - although that helps. Nor because the sound of the Zu/Ocellia system he presented was amongst my favorites [below]. Above all it was because he is an uncompromising and passionate designer. He believes in doing things one way and keep getting better at it relentlessly. There’s complete disregard over what the peanut gallery is saying. In that and only that way Samuel Furon is not unlike Franck Tchang. As we will see Mr. Furon favors an approach that is more scientifically grounded although at that not completely explained or understood at this point either.

Samuel makes no secret of it. Moving from Southwest France to Montreal, Canada as motivated by family matters brought him more commercial success, financial stability and with it peace of mind. One of the side benefits is being able to spend more time on refining his products and concepts. This has warranted a completely new generation of cables compared to those Srajan reviewed a few years ago. This article initially focuses on the new Reference interconnects, power cords and digital coaxial cable but similar new designs are in the works for  USB, phono and speakers cable that I’ll follow up on as they become available.

It is not possible to talk about Samuel Furon and Ocellia without revisiting the theory that stands behind all their products. Everything Mr. Furon does derives from and is inspired by Pierre Johannet's work on Interface Micro Discharges (MDI in French) and the associated electromagnetic waves and distortions. It's an honest attempt to provide a scientific explanation for differences in sound audiophiles know all too well but scientists can't begin to measure. It leaves many either frustrated if they trust their ears or in disbelief when they don't.

Conceptually the MDI theory is easy to grasp. Micro electrical discharges happen at the interface between conductor and insulation material whenever an electric signal is present. From that point onward things get very complicated fast and I am no electric engineer to discuss the merits of the theory. Simply reading through various papers related to the topic, I gathered a few nuggets that I think readers might find of interest.

First off, Pierre Johannet is no fly-by-night snake oil merchant. At the time he worked as a research engineer at the French National Electric company (EDF). Although now retired from EDF he still sells nothing. He was just another baffled audiophile who happened to have the theoretical knowledge to propose an alternate theory that encompasses many unexplained observations. As a result of his scientific background, he spent quite a bit of time challenging his own theory. His first challenge was around the fact that the associated micro voltage alone could not explain the differences in audible character of cables and power cords. He therefore speculated on the existence of an associated electromagnetic wave that would be modulated by the signal and audibly alter that signal.

Although MDIs have not been measured directly, the theorized associated wave has been. That's especially the case with power cords where its manifestation is stronger to provide the first experimental element in support of the theory (but by no means proof). And that's probably where anybody wanting to challenge the MDI theory would jump in. There is no proof, only a range of converging observations. What to my mind makes the theory interesting is its surprising predictive power, which is one of the characteristics you look for in any theoretical model.