Reviewer: Paul Candy
Financial interests: click here
Digital Source: CEC TL51X transport,Asus laptop, Win 8, J. River Media Center 20, JPlay 5.2,John Kenny JKSPDIF Mk3 USB-SPDIF interface, Audiomat Tempo 2.6 DAC.
Analog Source: Well-Tempered Lab Amadeus with DPS power supply, Pro-Ject Tube Box SE phono stage, Ortofon Rondo Blue MC cartridge
Amps: Audiomat Opéra Référence integrated
Speakers: Jean-Marie Reynaud Evolution 3, 2 x REL Q108 Mk II subwoofers
Cables: MIT Magnum M1.3, Sablon Audio Panatela,Light Harmonic LightSpeed USB cable
AC cords: MIT Magnum AC1, Sablon Audio Quantum Gran Corona & Gran Corona, Wireworld Aurora & Silver Electra
Stands: IKEA, Grand Prix Audio APEX footers w/ silicon nitride bearings, Skylan damping boards, IKEA bamboo cutting boards, Gingko Cloud 10
Powerline conditioning: BPT Pure Power Center with Wattgate, Bybee Quantum Purifier and ERS cloth options, Blue Circle FX2 6 X0e, Blue Circle BC86 MK5
Sundry accessories: Acoustic Revive RR-77, Audio Magic/Quantum Physics Noise Disruptors, Caig Pro Gold, Echo Busters acoustic room treatments, Isoclean fuses, HiFi Tuning Disc Demagnetizer, Nitty Gritty record cleaning machine, Soundcare Superspikes (on speakers), dedicated AC line with CruzeFIRST Audio Maestro outlets.
Room size: 11x18x8’, long wall setup, suspended hardwood floors with large area sisal rug, walls are standard drywall over Fiberglas insulation.
Review component retail: LAN $400/1m, Petite Corona $750/5’

Today we have yet another installment of my ongoing analysis of Sablon Audio’s growing range of wiry goods. I have followed Sablon Audio’s creations since the first Robusto power cord. I note a steady progression in performance as Mark Coles continues to fine-tune and optimize his products. Mark certainly has a sharp ear for zeroing in on key design factors that determine a good-sounding copasetic line of cables both signal and power. For this assignment, Mark sent me an updated Petite Corona power cord which sports Oyaide’s excellent C/P-004 palladium over platinum over beryllium copper connectors and updated grounding scheme plus his new Panatela LAN Ethernet cable. Since a number of current and ex moonies have offered similar takes on Sablon Audio, 6moons boss Srajan decided to chime in on the Petite Corona power cable on the previous pages whilst passing on the LAN.

In his system, he doesn’t notice any meaningful difference between the generic stuff and the aftermarket variety. Conversely, I hear differences. Why is that? We both can’t be right? But as he notes, system cabling is a tuning exercise and a highly personal and variable one which will vary from system to system. I realize many hobbyists have difficulty accepting that an Ethernet cable can have any effects on sound quality. I admit to struggling with that myself but I clearly heard differences with several generic Ethernet cables I tried over the last few months, including CAT5e, CAT6 and CAT7. While CAT5e sounds different from CAT7, we’re talking pretty small differences here. Still, what could allow for any audible differences? A Google search revealed that the key difference between CAT5 and CAT7 is superior noise rejection and shielding for the latter. My listening experiences indicated a clear preference for CAT7. I can only speculate that whilst such cables may maintain identical performance in data integrity, perhaps low-level electronic noise which is certainly prevalent in any computer/digital component somehow hitches a ride with the data stream and eventually ends up further down the playback chain. CAT7 simply does a better job of rejecting this spurious noise. It’s probably why I note quieter backgrounds and better retrieval of nuance.

However, as stated, the degrees of observable differences in sound quality are highly dependent on one’s system. With file-based playback, there’s millions of possible configurations. The phrase ‘your mileage may vary’ applies more here than anywhere else in audiophilia. In my neck of the woods, I store all my music files on a Synology NAS which is connected to a D-Link Gigabit network switch and ultimately to my Asus laptop. If I had an audiophile-quality streamer/network server, perhaps I would not notice any difference with Ethernet cables? Or maybe more? If I was at least semi-sane, I could avoid Ethernet-induced OCD by forgoing the whole network thing and either store music via onboard hard drives or stick with vinyl and compact discs. However, I’m well on my way to saying good riddance to physical media. Plus, I love the flexibility of network streaming so going back just ain’t happening.

I asked Mark for the lowdown on his LAN cable*: "I took a different approach to my usual materials-driven analogue designs since the level of technical precision required for high-frequency digital data transmission is far beyond what can be achieved by hand. To this end, a variety of industrial options measuring well beyond domestic CAT cables were compared to a market-leading $1’000 audiophile design until a better sounding cable source was identified. This has then been further enhanced with cryogenic treatment and additional shielding. Careful termination with the sonically superior Telegaertner RJ45 plugs helps extend conductor shielding to minimise cross talk between channels when entering the internal wire handler."

* This speaks to a finding published on the Blue Jeans Cable website, about many CAT5/6-type cables which are sold with audiophile pretensions yet aren't in conformity with the standard's basic specs - Ed.