New on the market and featuring an ex-member of Tellurium Q, Paul Rigby reviews a selection of new cable releases from Elsdon-Wonfor
These new cables feature the result of research into noise cancelling/rejection. The company stated that it wanted the cable to remove as much common-mode noise as possible from the signal and ensure that the cable itself does not generate any RFI while making the cable as immune as possible to external noise. Has it done so?
Testing the lower-end LS-V speaker cables first, I began with Gary Numan’s Me! I Disconnect From You from Replicas (Vinyl180). I remember reviewing the Abbey Road-produced Beatles on Stereo vinyl box set a few years back and being impressed in the detail that was on show but noticed a tiny amount of compression that had been added to the upper mids to push the detail towards the ear. That’s what I get from these cables. There’s plenty of detail on offer here and it feels like the upper mids and treble have just been enhanced a touch to emphasise the detail, to increase the gain in the vocals, to lift the subtle background instruments towards the ear and add a sense of impact to the bass.
What I’m describing here is not a ‘bad’ thing and I wouldn’t describe the effect as bright or, for that matter, clinical. There is no adverse affect in terms of the sonics although the more meticulous ears out there who are looking for a strictly neutral feedback might be a slightly perturbed.
So who will benefit from the LS-V cables? Those who like their detail with lots of insight, who enjoy the mix being thoroughly searched and exposed but, in more practical terms, those with hi-fi chains that are possibly slightly dull and restrained. Where the mids are a little bit recessed, perhaps? These cables will provide a nudge in the right direction.
Turning to CD now and Gene Clark’s The Way I Am from the new Lost Studio Sessions 1964-1982, confirmed the presentation where the single voice and acoustic guitar was enhanced in terms of midrange presentation The guitar strings added a metallic emphasis while the crescendos on the Clark delivery were a touch forward on this digital source.
In many respects the high-end LS-XXV speaker cables do the same job and in the same way as the entry LS-V level cables, approaching sound in a similar fashion and addressing each frequency utilising similar strategies. The difference is that there appears to be far more sonic capacity available in the LS-XXV cables, far more room to cater for the varying frequencies and a greater ability to handle the variances within each one, producing a more naturalistic presentation.
Hence, instead of offering a touch of compression-like upper mids, the higher frequencies are never constricted with the XXV cables. There is a higher potential in terms of dynamic reach. The cables have greater inherent resources to handle wayward and potentially chaotic frequencies.
There is more, though. The XXVs provided a tremendous degree of focus that enabled the ear to access a swathe of extra detail. That meant precision but without any sense of brightness and that meant transparency but without any hint of wooly bass or smearing mids. The space in and around the soundstage gave a wonderful instrumental separation that revealed new sound highlights. Expect to hear new sounds via these cables, subtle extras that will raise eyebrows and provide a new insight into familiar records.
The reduction in noise was evident in the Gene Clark CD where previously dubious upper mid barking was not only tamed but provided a smooth insight into Clark’s emotional delivery while his acoustic guitar was more realistically set a little further back into the mix while retaining all of the expected detail.
Moving to the MC-V power cable and testing the cable on my Icon Audio PS3 phono amplifier with Gene Clark’s The Way I Am, I was happy to report remarkably low noise that positioned Clark in a spacious arena. In fact, Clark appeared to be sitting in a room that, apart from his own performance, was quiet and peaceful. You could get a sense of this during slight pauses in the performance, such was the sense of clarity that this cable was able to present. It also allowed more information to spring forth, giving the guitar a pleasingly resonant edge that allowed the string reverbs to travel further while tiny and previously unheard string bends, pulls and squeaks were now easily accessible to the ear.
Turning to CD and Kreidler’s European Song, a new electronica album on Bureau B, the low noise aspect of the cable was present once more but so too was the tremendous bass output. The low noise enabling the lower frequencies to add extra focus and weight, giving the bass real heft and a sense of power and weight. Such was the admirable focus, though, that the bass never masked the more delicate synth runs living in the midrange and treble. The bass never bloomed, either, remaining precise and characterful.
Offering a performance that troubles much higher priced competitors, this low noise design offers focus, transparency and clarity that affords music a natural flow.
The LS-V, entry level speaker cables may just be the ticket for low cost hi-fi system that needs a slight upper frequency lift, enhancing detail for those dull systems.
The higher-end LS-XXV speaker cables are the true implementation of the same technology but are allowed to really stretch, allowing the music to fly in a dynamic fashion, giving the music a supreme focus in the meantime.
Lastly, the MC-V power cables combine a low noise with a sense of clarity that encourages subtle noises to emerge while adding tonal realism to the more obvious instruments.
ELSDON-WONFOR AUDIO CABLES
LS-V Speaker Cable
Price: £306 for 3m
Good: focus, precision, midrange insight, detail
Bad: slight midrange lift
LS-XXV Speaker Cable
Price: £576 for 3m
Good: focus, precision, open midrange, instrumental separation
MC-V POWER CABLE
Price: £315 for 1.5m
Good: low noise, clarity, bass response, neutral mids
Origin Live Sovereign turntable
Origin Live Enterprise 12″ arm
Transfiguration Proteus cartridge
Icon PS3 phono amplifier
Leema Elements CD Player
Aesthetix Calypso pre-amp
Icon Audio MB845 Mk.II monoblock amplifiers
Quad ESL-57 speakers with One Thing upgrade
Vertex AQ & Atlas cables