Antipodes Audio Reference Interconnects

by Audiophilia on March 25, 2012 · 3 comments

in Cables, Stars

by Martin Appel

After reviewing the excellent Kokiri Digital Cable and reading our own Andy Fawcett’s rave reviews of their superb Komako line of analogue interconnects and speaker cables, I was inspired to review Antipodes’ top of the line Reference Interconnect.

I received a pair of Reference Interconnects and installed them in my system running from the DEQX processor to the Marantz preamplifier. It would have been wonderful to have sets of the Antipodes throughout the system. Not possible! So, I reasoned that replacing only one pair of interconnects in a crucial place in the system would allow me to perceive the performance and their character.

All Antipodes products require a prolonged burn-in period so I didn’t start serious listening ’till around the 200 hour mark. I believe that at this point I could fully appreciate the product’s sonic characteristics. Presently, my system is replete with Antipodes cabling.

First impressions are usually correct and in this case I really had to smile. As good as things sounded with the Komakos in place, the References brought more to the table. It took all the performance parameters and raised the bar in areas I thought already excellent. There was a noticeable increase of musical information. Textures were more clearly perceived - an awareness of inner detail of instruments and voices in a most natural sounding way. A proverbial veil was lifted and clarity, sweet clarity arrived in abundance. No edginess or hardness just more resolution without being clinical. A very admirable characteristic.

The vaunted Antipodes soundstage was opened up even further and this was accompanied even more three dimensionality. Images were rounder and more palpable which gave a greater sense of the live performers in a venue. Clearly, a higher level of musical communication and intimacy was achieved.

What about the sonic character of the Reference Interconnects? They share the family traits of being ever so slightly on the warmer side of neutral, silky smooth and grain free, with even greater resolution than the Komakos.

These cables take a long time for the bass to fully develop, but when it does, it does so magnificently, with full impact and instrumental timbres that are musically correct and with all the inner detail that truly defines the instrument. Whether it’s an upright bass in the hands of Ray Brown or Stanley Clark’s electric bass, there’s no mistaking one for the other. Each is so well defined.

Finally, is the extra money for the Reference Cable worth it? The References, at three times the cost of the Komakos, are not three times better but they offer such improvement that once heard, a purchase is probably inevitable, especially for passionate audiophiles who believe cables are an important ‘component’ of the system. With that in mind, I can offer a hearty ‘yes’ to the price/performance ratio question and give it my highest recommendation. As such, the cable is staying in my system.

Designer Mark Jenkins has produced something truly special. His series of outstanding and consistent cables places him in the upper ecehlon of cable designers. Buy the Reference and any of his other fantastic cables with confidence.

[It is with great pleasure that we award The Audiophilia Star Component Award to the Antipodes Audio Reference Interconnect. Congratulations! - Ed]

Associated Equipment

Amplifiers: 4-Hephaestus HMA-1000 Monoblocks
Speakers: Levy Acoustics
Preamplifier: Marantz SC-7S2
Phono Preamplifier: AVID PULSARE.
CD source: Marantz SA-7S1
Analogue source: Avid Volvere/SME IV arm/ Cartridge: Shelter 7000
Speaker cables: Acoustic Zen’s Absolute, Wasatch’s Ultama
Power Cords: Kaplan GS Mk II and Acoustic Zen Absolute
Interconnects: Antipodes Audio KOKIRI, KOMAKO and REFERENCE, Acoustic Zen’s Absolute,
Accessories: Herbie’s Audio Lab Tenderfeet, Soundcare products, Acme Audio Labs wall outlets
Power Conditioning: Kaplan Alchemist
Processor: DEQX HDP-3

Musical Choices

Reference Recordings RR-96CD Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances Oue/Minnesota Orchestra
Pablo OJCCD-744-2 Clark Terry/Freddie Hubbard/Dizzy Gillespie/Oscar Peterson: The Alternate Blues Telarc CD-83373 Ray Brown: Some of My Best Friends…The Piano Players
Capitol 72434 94756 2 5 Frank Sinatra: Sinatra Sing for Only the Lonely
Telarc SACD-60042 Moussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition-Maazel/The Cleveland Orchestra
Telarc SACD-60575 ORFF: Carmina Burana-Runnicles/Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus
Nuforce LIVE BLUPORT JAZZ SAMPLER Blueport

The Antipodes Audio Reference Cable

website
email

Price: $1550 for 1 meter terminated with RCAs or XLRs
Source: manufacturer loan

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy Fawcett 04.08.12 at 3:26 am

Marty,
pleased (and relieved!) to hear that the cables worked so well for you - “truly special” neatly summarises my experiences too. Given that I am still in thrall to the Komako interconnects, my pending encounter with the Reference cables is even more hotly anticipated now!

Incidentally, I’m guessing that readers would have welcomed a comparison to your AZ Absolute cables, as a known (and even more expensive) high end benchmark.

Bala 06.06.12 at 9:26 am

Three times improvement of sound over a cable change ? Sorry I beg to differ on this one. I have been connecting audio systems for a while and XLR cables as such bring difference in sound compared to the standard RCA which again can’t be said as improvement of sound but only a volume gain due to the internal circuitry.
Its impossible to ‘hear’ a difference in sound when you swap a decent cable with a high end one. I can prove this any day over a double blind test.

MARTIN APPEL 09.08.12 at 9:54 am

Hi Bala, I agree with you that a three times increase in price does not get you three times increase in performance. Hi-end audio doesn’t work that way. As you get your performance level to let’s say 90% of what’s possible, you are dealing with an attainable price range. To get to 95% you have to spend usually 2-3 times as much for that 5% gain and to get that last 2-3%, the sky is the limit. Of course, there is no reaching that 100%. Only live music lives there. It’s the law of diminishing returns or graphing performance vs price asymptotically. The two lines get closer and closer but never meet.

Ultimately, we get as close to live as we can afford but this doesn’t in any way diminish the efforts of designers to wring out the last vestige of improved performance and this requires a great investment in time and money. As far as rca vs xlr, the sonic effects are usually subtle at best except for an increase in volume via xlr. I do however disagree with you on the ability to perceive differences from one cable and another. I’ve been doing this for a long time and have listened to many cables and done many comparisons and there definitely are differences. It’s up to you to determine what your choice is.

Thanks for the email and keep

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