Covering two varying price points, Paul Rigby reviews the Black Rhodium Adagio and Largo digital cables
More and more digital cabling is being produced as the digital market continues to mature. Because of this, the competition is hotting up and cable companies are having to work harder to get noticed. Black Rhodium is certainly doing that.
What we have here are two digital coaxial cables of vastly different price points. I wanted to see what, if any aural differences I could detect but also if there were any similarities in terms of their sonic approach. Sometimes cables from the same company can produce a sort of family sound, if you see what I mean.
The first cable is the budget offering from Black Rhodium. This 75 Ohm Digital cable. Apparently effective for use as a sub-woofer cable and for use with active loudspeakers, the Adagio can be supplied in long lengths as required.
Hand-terminated at the Black Rhodium factory in Derby, it features a low loss PTFE insulation, Silver-plated conductors, a braided screen to minimise RFI noise on the signal conductor and Gold-plated RCA and BNC connectors.
The Largo is a 75 Ohm cable, hand built at the Black Rhodium factory in Derby. Actually known as the Largo 75 Ohm DCT++CS (it’s full name), it includes Silver-plated conductors and a multiple braided screen to minimise RFI noise on the signal conductor. Deep Rhodium-plated RCA connectors feature a “Straight Line Contact” while Deep Cryogenic Treatment of cable and conductors and a VS-1 Vibration Stabiliser helps to reduce noise and distortion.
The Silver-plated wires in are insulated in PTFE because, “…its low dielectric loss ensures extremely low distortion,” said the company. “This is due to dielectric absorption effects in which sound energy is absorbed in the insulation and released at a later interval of time to create highly audible time-smearing distortion.”
Terminations are via the Graham Nalty Legacy Range GN-4 RCA connectors.
I began with the Black Rhodium Adagio, playing Depeche Mode and the track from the Violator (2006) album, World in My Eyes. The Adagio is probably the thinnest digital cable I’ve ever tested and, for the price, one of the best. In general terms, I was impressed with how the music was arranged over the soundstage. The instrumental separation was even and created space between organic instruments and the electronic effects. In addition, around the stereo image, I noticed that this section was pushed back a tad, to enhance the 3D effect of the music.
Detail was excellent, lead singer David Gahan can present the lyric with a slightly nasal tone at times and this effect was certainly obvious as he compressed the odd word here and there. The digital cable was also able to track breathy moments during the song, giving a naturalistic element to his vocal.
On that subject, the low noise aspect of the cable design meant that the music flowed easily with an organic, easy presentation. There was no hard, edgy aspect to this musical presentation, music was naturalistic and pleasing. I could easily imagine listening to music through this cable for many hours.
I then turned to Ryuichi Sakamoto, the 1987 album Neo Geo and the track Before Long. The principle instrument in this piece is the piano, a rather chaotic object, it can produce a bright feedback and undisciplined resonances, given half the chance. The Adagio handled this piano ambience well, keeping a lid on any nasties while allowing the course of the music to proceed without any unruly frequencies leaping up to cause sonic problems. The entire track even had slight sweetness to it, a rosy glow that only served to enhance the melodic nature of the track.
I then swopped the Adagio for the rather more expensive Largo and returned to Depeche Mode. There’s a reason that I wanted to review both of these cables together and it’s because of the underlying personality of both. The Largo retains the essential elements of the Adagio but…more so. The easy flow of music is here again with the Largo, the organic nature of the midrange and the naturalistic sense from the lower frequencies. Again, they’re all present and correct. What you get with the Largo is a more intense experience. The detail is greater, it’s richer and more complex.
This largely synth-based track displays a tremendous rhythm and melodic response. What I mean is that the music is allowed to move without any barriers getting in the way. There’s no intrusive elements that act as a sort of speed bump, nothing to make to wince or frown. Nothing that sounds out of place. Music becomes easy. That is, is moves easily across the hi-fi chain and it sits easily on the ears.
Hence, the midrange offers a simple clarity with a rosy tint that you might expect to find from a vinyl source. I’m not going to say that this cable sounded analogue – that assertion is almost a sad cliche in hi-fi reviews. What I am going to say though is that the bass was organic in its response and the mids offered a neutral and balanced presentation.
Similarly, for the Ryuichi Sakamoto track, the piano produced an impressive degree of space and air that allowed the piano to provide an impressive tonal realism and a balance that was almost sumptuous in its presentation. It almost floated across the soundstage with the sense of instrumental separation allowed the ear to pick up more the of subtle synth backing that sat, rather shy across the rear of the soundstage.
Both of these cables provide a firm family resemblance, the only difference is down to the amount of ‘good stuff’ that you hear from each. Both cables provide a balanced and neutral soundstage which allowed the music to ease itself to the ear. The Adagio does this with a real sense of value for money. That is, it works extra hard for its price point. The Largo provides luxury and a sense of sonic style. Both are superb
Tel: 01332 342233
BLACK RHODIUM ADAGIO 75 OHM DIGITAL
Price: £50 for 1m
GOOD: value for money, organic bass, design, low noise, midrange flow
BLACK RHODIUM LARGO 75 OHM DIGITAL DCT+ +CS
Price: £720 for 1m
GOOD: midrange detail, low noise, airy soundstage, tonal realism
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