WireWorld Pulse 2 interconnects – Preview

Wanna make that $1,400 Astell & Kern player sound a lot better?  Grab the new WireWorld Pulse 2.  In a world of mega expensive cable, that everyone loves to complain about, a mere $40 will take the sound of your portable player to a new level, whether you are using it in a high performance automotive system or just plugging into your home system. The same can be said for the $116 headphone cable, which we are using with excellent result on our OPPO PM-1 headphones.

WireWorld takes their designs seriously, using the best materials and assembly.  They produce some of the world’s finest cables, yet the Pulse 2 combines their capabilities in a cable that is accessible and affordable.  We’ve yet to hear such a modestly priced cable make such a big difference. Now, let’s go out on our favorite internet forum and argue about it!

WireWorld Pulse 2 interconnects

$40, $116


Wireworld Mini Eclipse 7 Speaker Cables

One sure way to start a war is to mention cable on any audiophile discussion forum.  Yes, there are many who are convinced that cables are all crapola, conjured by sorcerers who want to separate you from your hard-earned money, offering nothing in return.  At the same time, others live and die by their cable, often plugging in wire products costing multiple times their components’ due in search of a certain sound.

However, like most things, a little moderation goes a long way, and a perfect example is the Mini Eclipse 7 speaker cables from Wireworld to do just that.  At $500 a pair, they will not break the bank, and to let the cat out of the bag, they will allow more music to pass on even a modest system.

Reviewer bias revealed, I’ve always had a fondness for Wireworld products and even back when I was working for The Absolute Sound, I had great results with their speaker cables.  Owner David Salz doesn’t wear a fez or a gold lamé jacket; he’s an engineer with a methodical approach to everything he does, and his goal has always been to produce cable “that doesn’t damage the sound.” The new Mini Eclipse 7 not only succeeds brilliantly, it does so at a reasonable cost.

The Minis come nicely packaged in a black textured case and are available in standard lengths, either terminated with banana plugs or silver-plated spades, in the case of our review sample.  These cables are extremely easy to use, nowhere near as stiff as my old Equinox IIIs, and not as monstrous in diameter as many of today’s premium cables, so those not wanting garden hoses on the floor should be able to work with them.

Blinding me with science

The Minis use a series of flat 14-gauge OCC copper strands in a quad conductor DNA Helix design to minimize the electromagnetic loss present in a signal cable.  Combined with Wireworld’s Composilex dielectric material is indeed a very high-performance speaker cable.  Like a number of other manufacturers, Wireworld pays close attention to the grain structure and signal directionality in their bare cable, orienting it for the best sound.

Non-believers in the crowd, take note: I have heard this effect demonstrated successfully more than once, and when at another cable manufacturer’s facility, was able to identify the difference correctly 10 out of 10 times, so this is real.  It’s not major, but it is there, and paying attention to the fine details is what makes your system sound its best.

Just to be sure, the Minis were given 100 hours of break in time, via our vintage system consisting of a Sansui 771 receiver and a pair of JBL L26 speakers.  Even at this level, fresh out of the box, the Minis were a major improvement over the standard Radio Shack wire that was in place in this very inexpensive system. Instantly, the bass response tightened up, especially in the upper mid-bass region, and the overall graininess of this old gear was substantially diminished.

Systems large and small

After logging a few hours on the Minis, they spent a fair amount of time in a modest system consisting of a Rega Brio-R integrated amplifier and a pair of Vandersteen model 1Ci speakers (reviewed last issue) with digital music streamed from a Meridian MS200.  This particular system happens to use Home Depot 12-gauge extension cords as speaker cables, to good effect for a budget system.

Again, the sonic signature – or in this case, lack of one – is immediately apparent.  The violins at the beginning of Anja Garbarek’s “Her Room” from the Smiling and Waving album have a natural tone, and the soundstage, filled with natural and artificial sound effects, is definitely more open.  Regardless of recording, the overall soundstage presented by this system is bigger, allowing the speakers to easily give the illusion of disappearing.

I moved the cable into my house system, where they work in concert with the Devialet 110 and a pair of MartinLogan Aerius i speakers, music again supplied by a Meridian Control 15.  Components with more resolution make it even easier to discern the difference the cables make.  The driving, funky bass line in Betty Davis’s “If I’m in Luck I Might Get Picked Up” now has more punch than before, and the Minis replace a set of more expensive speaker cables. I notice the same thing with Glenn Hughes’s rapid-fire bass playing on the self-titled Black Country Communion album.  Some cable, especially at this price point, tends to slow down the sound and introduce pace and timing issues – this is never the case with the Wireworld cable.

The vintage MartinLogan speakers are still very transparent (thanks to new panels from ML a few years ago) and easily reveal grain, yet the Minis help the system to reveal only the music, neither adding nor subtracting from the presentation.  Going back to an old audiophile classic, Michael Hedges’s Aerial Boundaries is chock full of plucky, acoustic guitar playing that can be easily muddled, yet never is through the Minis.  I notice the difference these cables make even more when I switch back to what I was using before.

Convinces the cable skeptic

These days $500 for a pair of premium speaker cables is a reasonable, but not major, investment; however the Wireworld Mini Eclipse 7 speaker cables proved a valid upgrade, even in a system only worth about $1,000.

As with any system, to reap the maximum benefit from any cable, make sure to optimize speaker placement and component setup before investing in anyone’s wire, so that you can more easily hear the difference.  And no, a $500 pair of speaker cables won’t make your $600 integrated amp sound like a pair of Pass Labs Class A monoblocks – that’s not being fair.

However, if you would like to take your current system to the next level, I highly suggest auditioning a pair of these at your local Wireworld dealer.   You’ll be impressed.  I’m impressed enough to buy the review pair for my Devialet system and to give these one of our Exceptional Value Awards for 2014.


Crystal Cable Micro Diamond Cables

The biggest issue audiophiles likely face concerns what to do with all the huge and unsightly cables connecting components together. Of course, a faction of audiophilia considers big, beefy cable muy grande macho. However, not everyone wants a massive cable loom lurking in a listening room, which often doubles as a living room.

Attending lectures from various cable manufacturers isn’t much help. Most firms tend to justify their approach. Companies producing large cables try to convince you that a small diameter cable can’t possibly work. Whatever. Physics aside, after spending a lot of time with the Micro Diamond interconnects and speaker cables plugged into a wide range of components and speakers, they not only work brilliantly, they are beautifully executed.

And yes, these actually are cables you’d want your friends to see. Packaged like fine jewelry, they arrive in velvet pouches and inside black boxes—elegantly understated and nicely done without costing a fortune. A one-meter pair of interconnects (RCA or XLR) retails for $850, and is also available as a turntable cable with appropriate termination for $1,000. A 2.5-meter speaker cable set costs $2,950 in bananas or spades.

Crystal Cable director Gaby van der Kley works with the man behind Siltech cables and spent years touring the world as a concert pianist. She’s definitely a designer that knows what instruments sound like.

Going Against The Grain

Most audio cables on today’s market utilize copper or silver conductors, and some are primarily one material with a coating of the other on top. Crystal Cable takes a disparate path, using gold along with a silver primary conductor. Yet the gold isn’t for coating.  Rather, it’s almost impregnated in the silver to fill in molecular gaps in the 1.7mm conductor.

If I had a $20 bill for every talk I’ve heard on cable size, geometry, and the like, I could probably retire. Those subscribing to the “bigger is better” school of thought claim a svelte cable can’t deliver powerful bass response. But Micro Diamond cables are not bass deficient.

Beyond terrific audio performance, Micro Diamond speaker cables offer an interesting feature: scalability. Crystal Cable calls the ends “splitters,” and they can be purchased with a number of different termination options: standard spades or bananas, Furutech carbon spades, or bananas and bi-wired. You can also add another length of cable should you need to reroute your system down the road. Considering the low prices fetched by used cable, this strategy is an excellent way to future-proof your cable purchase and retain your investment.

Listening Sessions

The toughest part of any cable evaluation is trying to determine the sound of the cable. In a perfect world, a cable would add no sonic signature to the signal passing through it. Predictably, some industry folk would have you think all wire sounds the same. However, we believe cable makes a difference in the overall sound of a system and should do no harm to the signal.

While many listeners use cable as the last step in fine-tuning a system—employing cables as tone controls—we view high-quality cable as the way to transfer as much of your system’s performance from one component to another, and finally, to your loudspeakers. More than gross tonal changes, the main difference heard between second- and first-rate cable deals with reducing grain and increasing low-level detail retrieval, not unlike the qualities provided by an excellent power conditioner.

Auditioning Micro Diamond cables in three different systems—small, medium and super-size—achieved good results. The compact setup comprised a vintage CJ amp and preamp, Schiit Bifrost DAC, and pair of MartinLogan Aerius i speakers cabled with various odds and ends. The medium system consisted of a Simaudio 600i integrated amplifier, Wadia 121 DAC, and pair of Harbeth Compact 7-IIIES speakers. The final stereo array (publisher Jeff Dorgay’s standard reference system) involved Audio Research REF components, a dCS Paganini stack, and GamuT S9 speakers cabled with a mixture of Shunyata Aurora, Cardas Clear, and AudioQuest Sky cables.

A majority of acoustic recordings— selections heavy on piano, drums, and acoustic guitars—were played to quickly establish the cable’s proprietary sonics. The latter are highly revealing, with an upfront presentation akin to listening to studio monitors in a near-field configuration. Given Ms. van der Kley’s background, it comes as no surprise that piano reproduction via her cables feels sublime. Whether listening to Herbie Hancock or Beethoven, the instrument’s complex attack and subtle overtones are always maintained and never become harsh or blurred.

If any of your components possess a tonal balance anywhere between neutral and warm/romantic/euphonic, you will be amazed at the additional detail the Micro Diamonds bring to your system’s overall appeal. When utilized with the B&W 802 Diamonds, already a highly resolving speaker with the diamond tweeter and most solid state amplifiers is a presentation that is too forward for some. Still, TONEAudio counts a detail fanatic in its ranks that can never get enough resolution. He loved this combination.

The Micro Diamonds make the biggest improvement in an all-tube system, especially one that leans more towards warm tonality. With the Conrad Johnson PV-12 (recently rebuilt by CJ with CJD Teflon capacitors) and either the MV-50 (same treatment) or PrimaLuna Dialogue monoblocks, the Diamonds’ ability to transfer every bit of information adds a spectacular level of inner detail to this system without compromising musicality in any way.

A similar result can be achieved via speakers ever so slightly on the warm side of neutral. Vide, Harbeth Compact 7s really come alive with Crystal Cables. The sound in our test speakers from Focal, Verity, GamuT, and Peak Consult (all fairly neutral) now boast a different disposition. There’s more resolution, and it’s musically satisfying. What more can one ask?

The Crystal Cable Micro Diamond Cables

MSRP: Interconnect, 1m – $850, Speaker, 2.5m – $2,950


www.audioplusservices.com  (US/Canada Importer)

Skogrand SC Markarian 421 Cables

The secrets of the technology behind Skogrand cables seems to be as mystic as Norwegian mythological world and beings.

Mr. Skogrand doesn’t reveal much about the technology implemented. While this might seem a bit arrogant at first, the performance of Skogrand Cables speaks volumes. Over the last year you may have noticed Skogrand cables in many highly respected systems and within the homes of audiophiles and music lovers where you don’t ask about the price… So why do they choose Skogrand’s?…

Read the full review here at Mono & Stereo:

(Copy and photo, courtesy of Mono & Stereo)