Stage III Concepts Ckahron Ultimate Statement XLR interconnects $16,500 Review

March 22, 2023 § Leave a comment

The triple dual-helix wiring is then encapsulated in three layers of dielectric chambers to become the final product. The innermost dielectric chamber is a commercial-grade vacuum at 675HG. The next layer is made of the company’s proprietary alloy, named HDA. Stage III claims this layer provides the bundled AeroStrandUltra conductor a 100% shielding from EMI. The third, outermost dielectric is a weave of plated copper and conductive carbonized nylon strands named, ASPIS, for its resemblance to the skin of the African venomous viper.

The XLR connectors named, Hyperion, are made of silver alloy and are also similarly, cryogenically treated as the AeroStrandUltra conductors. The company claims that the assembly of the connectors to the cables is done individually using proprietary elements not seen in other products


Stage III Concepts Ckahron Ultimate Statement XLR interconnects Review

March 8, 2023 Comments Off on Stage III Concepts Ckahron Ultimate Statement XLR interconnects Review

With the first pair of Ckahorn XLR staying put and adding the second, longer pair of the Ckahron XLR between the Xs Preamp and the XA200.8 monoblocks, alternating with the Bricasti Design M28 monoblocks, there’s a substantial sense of purity in quietness of noise in the Ckahron’s demeanor. In the rarefied space, music takes on the most palpable presence with the signal path laid out by the cable itself from either the Bricasti Design DAC or the Xs Phono to the Xs Preamp, and onwards to the monoblocks.

Playing the Proprius Cantate Domino LP, the Stage III redefined the experience. In speed, the Stage III was expedient and utterly composed. In dynamics, the contrasts between the choir, the brass and the pipe organ were at its most startling and engaging. In tone, it showed the Stage III XLR was every bit as supremely vivid and uncensored as the A.R.T. RCA. I could at once relax and entrust the Stage III in bringing some of the finest music into my life. It was the first time two pairs of balanced cable in my system were showing me how vast the record was in context and emotions. Though featuring a lone trumpet and a pipe organ, the two pairs of Stage III XLR together conveyed unprecedented effectiveness and persuasiveness of palettes of tonal richness, at same time rendering the performance as tonally harmonious and supremely easy on the ear.

AudioQuest ThunderBird £3,400 Review

February 1, 2023 Comments Off on AudioQuest ThunderBird £3,400 Review

AudioQuest ThunderBird

In fact, my biggest dislike in ThunderBird is that I hear the Thunderbirds theme tune as an earworm every time I discuss the cable (because Gerry Anderson wrote at least part of the soundtrack to my childhood). Note that nothing about this has any actual bearing on the performance of the cable and is more to do with life as a reviewer being one long fever dream.

I wasn’t expecting a sea-change in cable performance to come at this sort of price point. Normally, the big changes happen when the really big tickets come out. But ThunderBird really does make a big change to the performance of a system, even one that is in the attainable rather than ‘stratospheric’ price and quality level. I can’t wait to hear what the full loom can do and what the likes of FireBird and Dragon will do. These might be Mythical Creatures, but what they do to sound is more than just fantasy.

Van Gogh Loudspeaker Cable from Crystal Cable $29,200/2m Review

January 1, 2023 Comments Off on Van Gogh Loudspeaker Cable from Crystal Cable $29,200/2m Review

As implemented in the Van Gogh Speaker Cable, don’t expect a seismic quake that realigns the sonic firmament. You’ll find the lay of the land largely intact from where you started out (provided you began from a fairly neutral base). The differences show up on a finer scale, including: an expansion of dynamic range at both extremes, from the near silences to the ability to reach f and keep going to fff with conviction; the excavation of fine details that smooth and refine musical flow; and an increase in instrumental body.

But what really sold me was how the Van Gogh closely mimicked the way instruments speak and move on the stage, how they change shape and reform harmonics as they move around the scale. All of this excitingly nudges the home experience closer to what I hear in the concert hall. While I’ve heard other wires do this on rare occasion, it’s only attained from premium-priced cables and it was never to this degree. The Van Gogh is one of the select few that signify the end of the quest, one that I’d be happy to take to the desert island.

Kimber Carbon 18XL Factory-terminated loudspeaker cables £4526 Review

December 25, 2022 Comments Off on Kimber Carbon 18XL Factory-terminated loudspeaker cables £4526 Review

Combining all its topologies into one cable might not necessarily have been a recipe for success, but Kimber has pulled it off with Carbon 18XL. This heavyweight but not inflexible cable is about power and warmth rather than citrus top-end freshness, although its moderate capacitance will no doubt bring a little extra ‘zing’ to upper mid and treble with some amplifiers. It’s a great addition to the pantheon of high-end cables – less ‘me too’, more ‘can do’.

Shunyata Research Venom-X Speaker Cable $1999 Review

December 9, 2022 Comments Off on Shunyata Research Venom-X Speaker Cable $1999 Review

Venom-X speaker cables aren’t cheap, but as Shunyata claims, they provided performance beyond what I would expect from the fairly modest price (by high-end standards); they compared quite favorably with my more expensive reference cables. So if you have made a significant investment in a high-end audio system, the Venom-X could be just what you are looking for in a speaker cable, and at a price that is lower than what you might expect to pay for its level of performance.

Chord Company RumourX (2022) $21/m review

November 11, 2022 Comments Off on Chord Company RumourX (2022) $21/m review

We have a sample of the previous generation RumourX to hand, but it doesn’t take long to hear the improvements. Listening through either of our systems, it’s clear that the basic character of the cable hasn’t changed. This is still a detailed and dynamically expressive performer that’s unusually surefooted when communicating rhythmic drive. Yet, as we listen to the likes of Olafur Arnald’s Found Songs and Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar OST, it is clear that the latest version of the cable is more balanced with a tauter, more controlled bass performance. There is a greater sense of openness about the sound and a little more subtlety in the way it renders dynamic nuances. At the top end, our system sounds just that touch more refined whereas the last generation cable adds a small degree of previously easily-ignored hardness in this region. 

We switch to Carnage by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis and enjoy the 2022 edition’s extra clarity and improved transparency. It feels like the inclusion of ChorAlloy has just increased the RumourX’s ability to pass the signal without messing with it too much. Anything that allows us to enjoy Cave’s heartfelt music even more is just fine with us.

Wireworld Eclipse and Aurora Cables $1920 2M Review

November 1, 2022 Comments Off on Wireworld Eclipse and Aurora Cables $1920 2M Review

Wireworld is one of my favorite cable brands. They simply deliver great build quality, excellent customer service, and a good sounding, well reasoned product. There are those out there who will claim cables cannot and do not make a difference. I understand why they think that because I also used to think that. Wireworld was the company that proved me wrong. Every product I have used of theirs has made an improvement or a change that makes sense. The value in high end cabling is very much in the eye of the beholder. As someone with a mid five-figure 2-channel system, buying cables like this can make sense. However, as I said above, do not buy high end cabling (Wireworld’s entry-level lines are fantastic) for entry level systems. Do not buy flagship cabling for mid-level systems. There are better places to spend your money, but if you buy cabling that makes sense for the system you have, you will likely hear a difference, and you spend will be in line with the system you have. For those who are privileged enough to have a system like mine, Wireworld cabling is exceptional and has my highest recommendation. Audition it, touch it, try it, and I doubt you will return it.

AudioQuest Dragon Interconnect $9500 Review

October 29, 2022 Comments Off on AudioQuest Dragon Interconnect $9500 Review

Last, and certainly not least, Dragon’s treble was simply stunning in its combination of openness and resolution on one hand, and smoothness and refinement on the other. One of my “go-to” evaluation tracks is “Ain’t Misbehavin’” performed by Bob James on the trio album Espresso (one of the best-sounding piano trio recordings I know of). On the intricate and subtle ride-cymbal work at the beginning of the bass solo, I heard a newfound delicacy, richness of detail, and treble purity. The treble was exquisitely detailed and finely filigreed, with no hint of hardness. The combination of high resolution and textural smoothness was extremely compelling, and greatly contributed to the musical involvement and overall ease of the presentation. If you audition Dragon, listen to how sibilance is less intrusive on an album like Diana Krall’s Turn Up the Quiet. The sibilance is still there, but it doesn’t have objectionable “ssss” component. This very fine resolution of treble detail was also apparent on “Beckus the Dandipratt” from The Arnold Overtures (Reference Recordings 176/24), particularly during a passage in which an unaccompanied snare drum is played at a barely perceptible volume. After installing Dragon, I could more clearly hear the inner detail and texture of the drum despite the vanishingly low signal level.

Shunyata Research Sigma V2 Cables $4000/1m Review

October 23, 2022 Comments Off on Shunyata Research Sigma V2 Cables $4000/1m Review

Shunyata has really improved its signal cables with the new v2. The performance advances in both the Sigma v2 interconnect and speaker cable over the already-very-good v1 are substantial, especially in areas such as overall resolution, dynamic agility, and soundstaging and imaging. The sonic improvements wrought by the Sigma v2 cables in my system are closer to what one would expect from a major electronics upgrade, rather than from new cables alone. 

Building upon the original Sigma’s technologies and construction, Caelin Gabriel and his team at Shunyata have brought to market some truly fine signal cables that, while fairly expensive, are not priced anywhere near the upper end of the market. I highly recommend Sigma v2 cables, even if you can afford the more expensive stuff.

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