Audiogon has been the source of information about products, which, at a later date, become the subjects of a review. Well, history repeats itself.
Element Cable is a small Texas-based company, selling direct, which initially offered an inexpensive line of audio cables, such as a copper interconnect-1 meter at $59, a 6 foot line cord priced at $74 and a 6 foot speaker cable priced at $119. Recently, a more expensive line of cable, the signature series became available.
The review sample consisted of the following cables: 1 meter Titan Cu interconnect cable $459.00, 6 feet Matador speaker cable $489.00, 6 feet Gargoyle line cord $455.00, 6 feet Terminator line cord $679.00, 6 feet Terminator line cord $679.00, for a total of $2771.00.
Wire Material: 6n Cardas litz strand-size progression copper conductors, TeflonT dielectric; Gauge: 17 (interconnect), 10 (speaker cable and line cord); Dielectric: DAS polyethylene; Connectors: WBT (interconnect), Vampire Spades (speaker cable), Marinco and Wattgate (line cord); Geometry: 16 conductor braid (speaker cable), 17 conductor braid (line cord), quad helix (interconnect).
Design Goals: To create a balance in resolution and musicality, very slight reduction of the harsh frequecies for a more organic sound, less digitized. A overall neutral presentation (interconnect). To create a balance of resolution and musicality, rolled off highs to avoid brightness-overall, a very neutral presentation (speaker cable). To achieve a warm and musical sound with rolled off highs (line cord). All cables were cryogenically treated.
I used two preamps during the audition period, namely a Bent TVC preamp and the Nobis Proteus. Unless otherwise stated, the Bent preamp was in my stereo system. I will also comment upon the changes I noticed after I introduced the Nobis Proteus.
The sound of Miles Davis' trumpet, KIND OF BLUE, “So What”, Columbia CK 64935, did not sear my ears. There was a roundness, yet a brassy quality as well, typical of the timbre one expects from this instrument. John Coltrane's tenor sax exhibited a balance between the upper and lower registers. There was no excess of treble energy.
The third movement of Shostakovitch's 8th symphony is a challenge for any stereo system. I own 3 versions of this composition. My reference is Haitink's interpretation, London 411616. The sound of the strings was smoother than I have experienced in the context of my own and other stereo systems. A slight reduction in dynamic contrasts was noted. Trumpets were heard without a bite, with a natural timbre but with a slight attenuation in the upper frequencies. Overall, there seemed to be a slight loss of focus and articulation.
Female voice is considered a reference among audiophiles as a source when evaluating stereo systems. My benchmark is Holly Cole, DON'T SMOKE IN BED, Alert Z281020, track 1.A close-miked voice often produces sibilance. In this case, the sibilance was less pronounced than I have heard when auditioning this CD on other stereo systems. The acoustic bass can sound timbrally incorrect when the balance favors the articulation of the strings and understates the presence of the wood body. Since there was sufficient upper bass and lower midrange energy, the aforementioned did not occur. In fact, there was a greater emphasis upon the body of the instrument than on the strings.
Wassenaer's Concerti Armonici, Naxos 8.555384, track 5, featuring the Aradia Ensemble conducted by Kevin Mallon, is a composition for strings and harpsichord. The sound of the string ensemble was never strident, while the harpsichord in the background was somewhat obscured and slightly veiled. The sharpness of the strings associated with period instruments was slightly reduced, creating a rounded and romantic presentation, rather than the typical characteristics of a baroque composition.
I enjoy jazz versions of symphonic works. Duke Ellington's THE THREE SUITES, Columbia CK 46825, includes arrangements of the music of Tchaikovsky and Grieg. Track 1, “Overture”, is a section in jazz form of the Nutcracker Suite. The sound of the cymbal was very life-like. Trumpets and the clarinet were very textured and robust-overall, a very rounded and “non-digital” presentation.
After I introduced the Nobis Proteus preamp, the changes in frequency response were immediately evident. There was greater high frequency extension, and distortions or noise in recordings, which were barely audible, were revealed. Whereas, as previously mentioned, a harpsichord was masked, now the spacing between strings and harpsichord was noticeable as well as the articulation of the keyboard. Greater depth and openness was achieved and sibilance was more pronounced, but not exaggerated. Clearly, the additional focus that occurred when the preamp was replaced was a result of the capability of the cable to allow differences between two preamps to be heard.
Although some of the coloration alluded
to above was subtractive, I would not suggest that the cables are warm
sounding. As I understand, warm denotes a slight peak in the upper bass/lower
midrange associated with a slight dip in the upper midrange/lower treble.
When the Nobis Proteus replaced the Bent preamp, there was a shift in
the spectral balance but the sonic signature implied by the definition
of warmth was not present. While I believe that the Audio Note/Bent preamp
combination tends to produce a warm spectral balance, there was not enough
evidence to attribute this condition to the cable. Based upon what I heard
during my audition period, the perspective of the cables seemed to be
closer to neutral than warm.
I would like to thank Audiophilia and Roy Harris for a carefully, and well written review of our Element Signature cables. We appreciate Mr. Harris for taking the time to audition our cables and report his experiences, I understand that cables aren't the easiest to review. One thing I'd like point out is that all of the cables I sent in were not designed to be warm sounding, some were designed to be neutral, which means the whole combination of cables would not necessarily result in warmth. I am pleased that Mr. Harris did noticed the increased body and roundness our cables brought to his system. He shared with me that our cables were indeed the closest to his definition of "warmth" compared to other cables he has auditioned.
Unlike other reviews I've read over the years, I was unable to determine if the reviewer liked the product and if it deserves a recommendation. I asked Mr. Harris to best describe his review style. This is his response."I consider myself a detached reporter of my perceptions. I deliberately try to report rather than influence, so that a reader can make up his/her own mind without influence from me. Ideally, a reader should not be able to discern my attitude(s) regarding the product reviewed.I consider myself a detached reporter of my perceptions." Going back and reading some of Mr. Harris's earlier reviews, I concur that he reports rather than attempts to influence. He never over-hypes, or over-praises a product. I applaud Mr. Harris for his unique review style. For Mr. Harris to purchased the reviewed cables and use it in his reference system is certainly a compliment to the Element Signature line of product.
All cables manufactured by Element Cable
637 Duke Saxony Dr., Lewisville, TX 75056 USA