CABLE DUO FROM TCI: ANALOGUE & DIGITAL
29th October 2021
Ranging from analogue to digital, Paul Rigby reviews the Adder 2 SE digital coax cable and the Moccasin analogue RCA interconnects from the UK outfit, TCI
In an effort to catch up with the company’s regular output of cables, I’ve squeezed two examples into this review, balancing the analogue with the digital.
The description of both can and will be pretty straightforward and to the point. They’re not fussy in design terms and neither are they difficult to install, being svelte and flexible in use.
First up, the Moccasin interconnects – a decidedly comfortable sounding name that has me automatically yawning and reaching for my cocoa – offers a twisted quad design with silver-plated PC-OFC alloy conductors and insulation. The terminations are the rather nice True-Plug gold locking RCA connectors.
The Adder Digital II SE cable features a 75 Ohm PC-OFC solid core copper conductor. Around that is LDPE insulation and a double high density braided PC-OFC shield to reduce jitter. Again, True-Plug gold locking RCA connectors are featured, this being a coax-based digital cable.
Both cables are designed, hand made and finished in the UK. So, how do they sound?
I began with the Adder 2 SE digital cable and played a spot of CD jazz through it. Stompin’ at the Savoy from piano man, Geoff Keezer to be exact. He being accompanied by both upright bass and sax.
The beginning of this track, Keezer uses the core theme of this song while reducing or even distilling the same to a mere four notes. This is the rhythm section that is used throughout the song in punctuated bursts. The same four notes, over and over but what I noted was this. When the piano used the four notes, the sax then fell into a solo that wafted all over the sound stage.
So what was the upright bass doing all of this time? Keeping pace with the piano, that’s what. So again, those same four notes where examined by the bass. They kept in time with the piano.
DOES IT ADDER UP?
This dual piano/bass thing was a perfect recipe for veiling detail by one to another, at some point in the music. What delighted me about the Adder was that no apparent veiling took place. The cable was able to separate and maintain two individual instruments, doing their thang, under their own power and offer a full suite of detail during that time.
At no time did the bass mask the delicate resonance of the piano and at no time did the chaotic thumping of the piano ever intrude into the bass regions. Hence, the discipline from the Adder was noted and welcomed.
Another thing that grabbed me was more subtle but it was there and received a thumbs up from me. That belonged to the sax solo. The sax, via the TCI Adder…relaxed. That’s the best way I can describe it. There’s plenty of other cables out there that produce a good quality sound reproduction, describe the sax correctly and put every element in its rightful place. Only thing is, many of them sound a bit over eager. A bit tense. The Adder had a relaxing presentation which gave the sax a humanistic feel. An organic effect that sounded like the sax player was really enjoying his work here. It enhanced the track as a whole.
Similarly, listening to The Cure’s Holy Hour from the album Faith (Fiction) the big bass sound offered an ‘at ease’ feel that allowed the track to lollop along with a relaxed gait that said, “This music is on the way but it’ll take it’s time to get there.” Again, any possible tension, any strain or rigidity was removed which helped to block listening fatigue.
SLIPPING ON MY MOCCASINS
Moving to the analogue interconnect cables, the Moccasins, I began by connecting them up to my reference phono amplifier and running a vinyl version of Bruce Hornsby and the Range’s The Way It Is (RCA) and played the title track, dominated by a resonant piano but there’s percussion there, synth lines, electric guitar and more.
Again, I’ve often heard a price-point personality for cables of this ilk. Decent designs too, that infuse the soundstage with plenty of air and space. Doing so serves the midrange detail and treble response and gives the detail a chance to move to the ear but in a comparatively neutral way, free of claustrophobic bass (a regular issue for cables of this price). Infusing that air is a great way to also encourage a relative dynamic reach. The down side of this tactic is that there can be some lack of cohesion and control. So the mids and treble can sound as if they’re floating around the soundstage like kites in a high wind.
The Mocassin has that same ‘infusion’ thing going on so mids retain that sense of mobility and lightness, treble is suitably fragile via cymbal hits and bass has enough gumption to really matter, retaining a foundational fix to keep music grounded and maintain a forward motion.
The thing that the TCI Mocassin cables add though is an extra focus, an enhanced precision. There’s a slight trade off so you do lose a touch of space around the soundstage but there’s plenty to go around and the newly found focus is a welcome addition, I have to say.
Laying the minimal synth song, Game & Performance from the French duo, Deux, reinforced the effect. This track covers a range of synth sounds and electronic bass beats plus treated vocals. To work properly, this track needs an element of focus otherwise it become muddy and rather wayward. Adding that touch of precision from the Moccasin cables retained the essential synth stabs and bass impact that kept the track lean and stripped and devastatingly melodic.
I was surprised by the Adder 2 SE which did an efficient job but also contributed that certain something. That relaxed, at ease element that increased my enjoyment of the music. The Adder 2 SE stopped trying, in effect. It did the job but didn’t do the stress.
I was similarly surprised by the Moccasin interconnects. Again, for the price these cables added an extra element, over and above what was required, a sense of extra focus and precision that kept the frequencies under control and honed the detail to enable the cables to more easily locate and access it.
It seems that TCI has improved its design process since I last encountered them. I hope that continues. Both cables are recommeded.
TCI ADDER 2 SE DIGITAL CABLE
Price: 1m is £125 while 1.5m costs £150
GOOD: disciplined frequency spectrum, relaxed mids, focused bass
TCI MOCCASIN ANALOGUE INTERCONNECTS
Price: 0.6m is £140 while 1.0m is priced at £175
GOOD: focused mids, treble precision, spacious soundstage
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