April… yes, it’s April… a lapalissian reality, yet… how mysterious when I browsed for a disk, yesterday evening in the dimmed light of my music room, and… Susanne Abbuehl’s “April” on ECM dropped in my hands. This disk truly is a gem of seldom heard quality… more later.
I got a new task, folks, of making interconnects out of vintage, silk-covered Litz ultra-thin wire 50cm long audio cables, using three different RCAs plugs… the new KLEI (Keith Louis Eichmann Innovations) premium Harmony RCAs, Tellurium Copper Bullet RCAs, and El Cheapo (no-name) RCAs which are very light and conventional RCAs which have proved to sound surprisingly good, as used in The Peak 12 inches arm.
I planned, having the very same length of Litz wire, carefully hand-twisted, using very same soldering etc, to test and taste the three different connectors in my system. Scientific or not, I listened to them with some reference recordings which I know very well, intimately I’d say, and other new, randomly chosen disks.
I planned to use this short cable run in some sensitive part of my system, mumble-mumble, as very same cable is used in The Peak arm from cartridge to the MC-iron. As I told you, I wished to use the same cable, as described above, from MC transformer, beloved Peerless 4685, to Mayer’s LCR/EQ-600/WE 437A phono-stage AND between Meridian 563 24-bit DAC and Mayer’s Cunningham CX-310 line-stage. Alternatively, as a ring-around-the-rosie or a twirl.
The yellow Litz hand-made cables twirling revealed to yours truly… shivers and a very exotic pleasure for about three hours. The choice of using Litz/Litz combo in Phono didn’t prove to be the best one; loose sound authority and overall correctness and there wasn’t that quality of sounding right/balanced. Detailing improved, but exaggerating the coldness, which was a by-product of hyper-detailing. Sound wasn’t true to life and not ideal… period.
All three Litz cables with the different RCAs had this sonic footprint, while my XLO Phono-Reference immediately re-balanced the relaxed, smooth, airy beauty of Garrardzilla with The Peak arm and Lumiere DST cartridge.
So, I focused my attention to the digital realm: I began with El Cheapo/Litz and IMMEDIATELY, not suddenly but with soft-violence (sic…), I got shivers on my backbone.
The above mentioned April disk by Susanne Abbuehl on ECM which I know soooo well sounded just incredible!
Susanne’s voice sounded, with my previous reference of a 20cm run of Cardas wire with Rhodium Furutech’s RCAs, like a body-less mouth in space, not a living/breathing female singer with beautiful harmonics, sibilants, and gutturalities, etc. The body behind the beautiful voice, simply, wasn’t felt but only the voice remained.
All sounds were very clean, BUT to my surprise, after the so-so trial on Phono, all the smoothness was here, with a greatly improved detailing, ambiance and sense of size of all musicians involved, which almost magically reappeared after being hidden!
The Susanne Abbuehl’s disk is a gem, pals… her superb voice is serving E.E. Cummings’ poems and Carla Bley’s music (YES!) shines brightly, zest-like.
The piano, percussion, melodica, clarinet, and harmonium are dynamic, almost limitlessly exploding in my room, from a whisper to a roaring thunder in nano-seconds…
… aehm, I was listening with a (maybe) 5 euros-worth (talking about material, not the time-consuming, annoying hand-twisting of the delicate, fragile, fussy Litz-wire) of 50cm ICs. So, I tried my premium Audio Consulting ICs of Switzerland, box-wood/Bullet RCAs, using cryo-treated solid-core silver 120cm long cables, quite exotic and expensive strings and… ZUT! … the sound was really, REALLY nice but the previous described body-restitution SIMPLY didn’t happen!
Had to stop for a while… quite frustrated. After half-an-hour, took away the AC’s and put again the El Cheapo/Litz. Same disk and tracks and… voilà! Susanne was here again: voice, mouth, face, right-sized body and all!
Braveheart or lunatic, I repeated the swapping… put in use the yellow Litz with Tellurium Copper Bullet Plugs and… you won’t believe! No, I didn’t hear Susanne’s hairs and her scent, while in front of the mike, in the studio. No, but the sensation of a flesh & bones body in my room having the real, proper size was repeated with as a plus, more sense of air among the musicians, sure recorded in the studio with no over-dubbings.
More breathing, both nose and mouth, resulted more apparent and also if the gain resulted (apparently) slightly reduced. I realized the sense of zestness was improved, and a Mayer’s TVC +1 db-step also improved the listening experience.
I took a deeeep breathe and installed the last yellow Litz, the one using the all Black, Aussie-made (Keith Louis Eichmann Innovations) KLEI Copper®Harmony Phono/RCA plugs. KL is The Man, omen nomen, the designer and mind behind the revolutionary design of this fantastic, strange plug design… I wasn’t prepared to such a shock!
The ECM’s disk was the same, everything was THE VERY same, my ears as well, volume settings, everything was THE same, I swear!
Again, I felt the musicians between the Gotorama and at the outer sides of the speakers, the studio ambient retrieval was amazingly even better and the “THAT” was the parameter which more impressed me. The music flowed weightless and amazingly heavy, at same time: real, beefy, as I began to call this very feature after beginning my sonic adventure with the mighty “The Peak” arm.
Beefy means “with body”, a physical and enjoyable sound. Not that annoying 2-D, unnaturally light sonic footprint some planar-speakers give… 3-D and correct size… that’s beefy sound.
The KLEI Copper®Harmony Phono/RCA plugs greatly improved the Litz performance: sure the short run helped. Yet, the performance improved and improved, further and further, from El Cheapo to Copper Bullet to KLEI Copper®Harmony… while being THE Very Best between Hiraga Class As and Mayer’s crossover.
Forgot to say or wasn’t it clear enough from my above, in-awe chronicle?… the best, THE best of the crop proved to be the KLEI Copper®Harmony Phono/RCA plugs/Litz ICs… sure un-scientific and un-measurable like the best audio is, but that’s what my two ears heard. Ahhh, forgotten, also THE best cable using the KLEI’s was worth some euros, sure not a billion-costing tycoon cable… but OMG, what a result.
BTW, please buy “April”, on ECM, by Susanne Abbuehl … and definitely NOT April’s Fool with the KLEI Copper®Harmony RCA plugs/Litz ICs.