DIGITAL CABLE SHOOT-OUT
by Mark Katz and Art Shapiro
GREATER SOUTH BAY AUDIOPHILE SOCIETY
This is an article written for the current issue of The Earful, the official publication of the Greater South Bay Audiophile Society (GSBAS) based in Long Beach, CA. Mark Katz is a delightfully neurotic psychiatrist who has almost alarmingly cogent aural faculties.
Auditioning was primarily in Art Shapiro’s system, whose relevant parts consist of a Wadia WT3200 transport into an EAD 7000 Series 3 DAC, a CAT SL1 Signature preamp, and a Bel 1001 series II amplifier, which powers Legacy Signature III speakers. A Cal Audio Alpha tubed DAC was brought in for some of the testing, which did not skew the results.
We tried to do a thorough job in auditioning these cables, and this evaluation stretched over several weeks. When the judges tabulated the final results, what did we find?
THE WINNER, A CHOICE THAT WAS ALMOST IMMEDIATELY OBVIOUS AS OUR AUDITIONING STARTED:
THE MARIGO APPARITION REFERENCE DIGITAL CABLE.
The spectral balance is wonderfully clear and detailed, while at the same time being neither harsh nor edgy.
The music bloomed and the audio gods sang when the Marigo Apparition Reference digital Cable was in the system.
The loser is rather clear cut, and it is: the Luminous. Strings are edgy and thin. Female voice is both thin and excessively sibilant. The soundstage is flattened. Male voice often sounds more like shouting than singing.
In next to last place is the new Illuminati. If one could summarize it in a word, it would be “Yawn.” Female voice is edgy and not alive. The entire sonic presentation is flattish. All in all, it does not present a very convincing portrayal of music.
In fourth place is the Wire World Gold Starlight. The cable has a noticeable upward tilt on the higher frequencies. This manifests itself as increased vocal sibilance. There is less subtlety to the flute passages in the Bach Cantata, with diminished air and a slightly flat sound. The highest soprano range seems on the thin side.
We decided to award third place to the Yamamura. The bass seems to be slightly emphasized. We found that the soprano is slightly less well articulated than the higher-rated cables, with slight blurring of words. These flaws are not severe, and the Yamamura is unquestionably a superior digital cable.
The runner-up spot was earned by the old Illuminati. It can be discerned as slightly closed-in with less detail. There really isn’t too much one can say negatively about this product. It is not made anymore.