Normally, when reviewing cable, I always include a complete set, i.e., interconnect, speaker, power, and if available, digital. Thus selecting only a digital cable in absence of the others merits an explanation.
I was attending a meeting of the Audio Syndrome, a local audio club. The president was expounding on the virtues of an inexpensive digital cable manufactured by a small company located in Illinois, Nagys Audio. He was impressed with its performance, suggesting it preserved musical detail, without any objectionable frequency response imbalances.
Of course, placing 10 audiophiles in a room and soliciting an evaluation of a stereo system, will yield 11 opinions. Yet, having heard the president’s system many times, and have a high regard for his aural acumen, I elected to review the digital cable by itself.
The digital cable is a coaxial design. The center conductor is constructed of steel, copper and silver. The steel is used to provide strength. The steel is covered with extremely pure copper and then silver plated.. It is a silver-copper weld. The silver plating is laser polished, to remove surface imperfections. The center conductor is made up of 7 strands — 38 awg per strand. The dielectric and outer jacket are composed of Teflon. The shield is braided, with silver plated high purity copper. The cable is not directional. The connectors are manufactured by Vampire Wire, machined from a brass-copper alloy. The cable is 75 + or - 3 ohms. Including a 75 ohm resistor would be required to ensure a true 75 ohm cable. According to the designer, as a consequence of the transmission line effect, a length of 1.5 meters or more may reduce jitter. Thus, the designer has selected 1.5 meters as the standard length. Finally, the inner conductor is terminated to the connector using Kester’s Eutectic 63/37 solder, while the shield is compression fit within the barrel of the connector. This coaxial cable is a high quality mil spec’d designed for defense/aerospace applications and operates in the gigahertz region.
I frequently begin my evaluation with the CD by Holly Cole, Don’t Smoke In Bed, track 1, Alert ZZ 81020. I observed a full frequency response. The Acoustic bass appeared extended in frequency and balanced with respect to the presence of its wood body. I did notice a slight sizzle, or thinness associated with the word “see”, a bit of “extra” sibilance. Perhaps some elevation in the upper mids or an analytical quality in the same region. I also noticed some additional depth as manifested by a greater distance between listener and musicians.
Another CD which has value in highlighting differences in components is a recording of a solo harpsichord. Sophie Yates performance of a Scarlatti Sonata, track 1, from the disc FANDANGO–SCARLATTI IN IBERIA, Chandos 0635, was selected for this purpose.
Relative to my reference cable, there was a greater emphasis upon the plucking of the strings and a loss of presence of the wood body of the instrument, perhaps indicative of a small dip in the lower midrange region. As all components are imperfect one could observe the contrast between enhanced clarity with some absence of fullness.
Steely Dan AJA, track 3, MCAD 37214 DIDX 55, is another apt recording to possibly elicit the stereotypical “sound” of silver. Voice, cymbal and the tenor sax are the salient instruments to consider on this disc.
I again observed the above mentioned staging phenomenon, namely, a somewhat distant perspective, as compared to my reference copper cable. There was no overtly noticeable imbalance in frequency response. In fact, the sound of the cymbals was softer than usual. The tenor sax seemed natural in timbre both in the lower and upper register, although this mastering has a reputation of a poorly recorded saxophone. Thus the realism of the instrument must be considered in the context of its sound, relative to other components, rather than in an absolute sense. There are more natural representations of a tenor sax on the digital medium.
My last selection featuring a single instrument–actually two of them, is a guitar duet with John Williams and Julian Bream–track 1 from the disc TOGETHER, RCA 09026-61450-2. The wood body of both guitars is slightly obscured. In its place, articulation of notes, fingering and clarity were most noticeable. Lateral separation of instruments was extended and again, greater depth and distance from the listener to the instrument was noticed. Again, Greater resolution was attained with less fullness.
The last instrument I called upon for testing the silver content of the digital cable was the violin. I selected an ensemble work, “Concerti Armonici“, composed by Wessanaer, track5, from which the Aradia Ensemble was led by Kevin Mahon. The performance was taken from a Naxos disc, 8.555384. Once again, soundstage depth was lengthened a bit in comparison to previous auditions of this disc. The cues necessary to identify period instruments were present without the exaggeration in the lower treble, which I have noticed in the past. I believe the perception that instruments were further away from the listener masked the presence of the harpsichord. Overall instruments seemed to exhibit a reduction in the presence of the wood body–a lack of fullness. Perhaps there may be a slight dip in the lower mids and a recessed lower treble as well.
I believe the manifestation of silver were illustrated by the dip in those frequencies responsible for exhibiting the sound (resonance) of the wood body of various instruments. To be fair, it is not possible to know the sound of a recording. Thus there may be a number of interactions of other components (variables) which may be responsible for my observations. however, my hypothesis that the silver content is the cause is based upon my experiences listening to silver cables both in my own system and those of others.
In addition to the possible dip in the lower mids, there was an increase in resolution, which was source dependent. Yet, cymbals were “well behaved”, without calling attention to themselves.
I would not consider any possible criticism as indicative of leanness, and the additional depth, although creating a subtractive effect in one instance, may be considered as desirable by some listeners.
Any trepidations that I may have had prior to the review were eliminated after auditioning the cable, as the occasional deviations from neutrality did not interfere with musical enjoyment.
DAC: PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC
Transport: PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport
Preamp: Bent TVC passive
Amp: VTL Deluxe 120
Interconnects: Soundstring Audio and Cryoset copper
Speaker Cable: Ear to Ear
Power Cords Ear to Ear, Western Electric copper
Speakers: Quad ESL and Magnepan 1.6
Accessories: Room Tunes, Egg Crate Mattresses, Sound Fusion Sound Boosters
Chang ISO 64, PS Audio Juice Bar, PS Audio Ultimate Outlet
Nirvana Audio Isolation Transformer
The Nagy Audio Digital Cable Link
Manufactured by Nagys Audio, Inc.
2207 W Grove Ave.
Waukegan, IL 60085
Price: 0.5 meter $70 — 1 meter $80 — Additional length per 0.5 meter $10
Source: Manufacturer Loan