Starting another reportage from a Krakow Sonic Society meeting I feel a growing discontent about what turns out of it. And usually it is fantastic, splendid, superb and plain brilliant. Reading those reportages you can reach a conclusion, that every “thing” offered as a system upgrade, every “toy” makes sense and is worth buying. Each. Because the things I write about offer improvements of sound, or at least changes it to the extent, that it is worth to be interested in it, right? Wrong. Absolutely wrong. This is a perfect example how the so called “logic”, based on a sparse set of facts, can lead to nowhere. In reality it is so, that many items appearing on the market, accessories, etc, is not even worth spitting at, or does not attribute to our knowledge by a smallest bit, thus is completely uninteresting.
But KSS meetings are a final round of something, that could have been called “blazing a trail”, a result of personal discoveries and revelations, being submitted to judgment in a crowd of disputers. It was established, that no one did not want to waste time talking about something not worth that time. And I understand that; this is the reason that in “High Fidelity” there are not many devices, loudspeakers, cables, accessories, etc, and this will not change – there is no need to waste time. I treat this magazine personally in a way, that I want to keep myself busy with things that are worth something, I want a job that inspires me to further search, brings joy, relaxes me. Please believe me – testing a weak or senseless device is the worst thing that could happen to a reviewer. I do not like to bash something, I do not need that for me, or the magazine. I don’t care about that. This is even deeper with KSS – it is mostly not me, who chooses the topics, but the members of KSS do, then still a meeting takes place only, when that person convinces the others, that translates his enthusiasm into interesting others with the topic. This makes it look like a self fulfilling prophecy – we meet because something is good and interesting, and it turns out to live up to our expectations. And this is how it goes.
THE ACROLINK CASE
This time the effects of the listening session surprised all the participants of the meeting, and led to the instantaneous purchase of the interconnect tested, the Acrolink 7N-DA6300, by the host of the evening, and left a few others stunned. The case will have further implications, because two others (including myself) are willing to debt our accounts and take on the (sure as hell) divorce with dignity, just to possess this piece of wire. In daily life I try to behave without exaltation, especially, when it is about audio, and everybody profits from that. But it is different in this case – for the first time I heard elements of the sound, I never heard before – well, maybe listening to a live event, in a concert or recording studio. The top Acrolink interconnect changes the perspective we look at other cables. Things described below, are clearly visible, we look at those from a distance, and can name them. Characteristics, that were extracted from the ‘6300’ are a big achievement, because it is usually so, that – and this is true for hi-end as well as for budget devices – the differences between the best elements for big money are perceived as differences, but not necessarily as assets. This was the case with my favorite interconnect Tara Labs ISM The 0.8, which, when compared to cables like XLO Limited, Wireworld Gold Eclipse 52, or other Acrolink interconnects, was preferred, albeit with restrictions. Plugging the ‘6300’ into the system was a complete change. There was no doubt, that this is a much better interconnect than all we heard before (because all agreed with this statement). This was no difference in the way, that we could have been able to point to the things that are different in it, and yet the sound was doubtlessly better – better in all aspects. It will be best, if the discussion will be started by Janusz, who is now the owner of the tested cable.
“In the beginning I will confess, that an attempt to describe the listening impressions from the session with the Acrolink 7N-DA6300 was as exciting as difficult. This duality comes from the lack of any information about this product, as well as the need to make the comparisons with cables from a significantly lower price category, what – probably correctly – can lead to the conclusion, that the comparison was not really qualified. And this can influence the final verdict. Unfortunately, I had no access to similarly priced interconnects, and my memories from an one hour listening session to the Tara Zero, two years ago, and repeating this during the last Audio Show, I will leave with no comments. Hence the worry, but also the liability, if the description will reflect truly the character of the cable.
The listening session of the DA6300 was preceded with a thorough listening into my system interconnect – the Tara Labs 0.8, the more, as I wanted to compare it with the most expensive cable I ever hosted in my system. The conviction that some aspects of the sound must change (the tested cable is twice as expensive as mine!) seemed to be well founded. The question was not – ‘if’, but ‘how’. Can it be done better – and to what extent?
In contrast to customary listing of the cable’s assets, because listening to it did not call for such a need. I will rather focus on what is there, that other cables do not have. Starting with the first few sounds, it is clear, where the problem lies with cheaper cables. This is not the point, where additional details, feeling of further saturation, bass control, creamy treble, or whatever else, would make the class of the conductor. It is hard to expect, that there will be another multiplication of the same elements of the musical emission, when it is a finite set of sounds, reverbs and extra-musical happenings. Even more, most of the interconnects from a higher shelf fulfill the criteria of musical completeness – meaning detail, space, timbre, musicality, etc. So the problem lies elsewhere. Real hi-end, or better said state-of-the –art, starts, where hi-end makes place for the credibility of transmission, in the sphere of emotions related to music, as well as the reproduction of differentiation and coherence of the whole transmission.
I learned that none of the interconnects listened to earlier fulfilled the criteria of state-of-the-art when I listened to the DA6300. It transmits, like no other, incredibly balanced sound in the whole sound spectrum. Only then you can see the beefed-up midrange of the XLO Limited, the noisy details of the Wireworld, plastic sound of the Tara, “anorexity” of the Valhalla, etc. Direct comparison can give us a response to the question: Why do some like the one and the others a different brand of cables, while those transmit the same musical information? There is only one response – lack of balance. They all present untrue sound, in the sense, that some parts of the acoustical spectrum are emphasized, that are responsible for a characteristic kind of sound, the so called signature, falling into, or not, our experiences in listening to reproduced music. Somebody likes sparkling treble, another one bass foundation, another one sensual midrange of female voices, etc. But this is not all. Balance, beautiful reproduction of sonic assets accompanies phenomenal differentiation of instrument timbres. Such a beautiful trombone, like on the Curtis Fuller disc The Opener can’t be heard even in reality. I cannot tell how “true” it is, but I can say one thing without a trace of doubt: it is beautiful, vibrating, its timbre is saturated, incredibly readable, with big dynamics scale and expression, full with engagement and artistic invention of the trombone player.
Something completely surprising is the dynamic of the timbres, yes, dynamic (I cannot find a better description), which is an incredible thing. It becomes visible in a very precise, and at the same time very vivid, differentiation of the individual characteristic between the same instruments. Two tenor saxophones do not sound like clones, but have different timbres within the same instrument category. It is easy to discern two different mouthpieces of makes of the instrument.
So how is this interconnect? It’s just as it should be. Is it worth the money? I do not know and this question will go unanswered. For some people yes, for other no. But one thing is sure. Now we do not talk about music. We live it through, in its fullest harmony.
It is hard to wonder, why Janusz has an emotional link to the interconnect. For the first time something like a revolution happened in his system. With the subsequent versions of his player, Ancient Audio Lektor Grand, and the Ancient Audio Silver amplifiers, there were things appearing in the sound, that were not there earlier, the balance of the sound, and its resolution improved. This was same when we listened to other devices in his system, and we tested most of the top CD and SACD sources there (examples in Polish HERE), and amplifiers (examples in Polish HERE). But all those changes were for most part “only” changes, and not necessarily a step forward. Maybe a small step here and there, sometimes to the side, sometimes back, but in general their influence concentrated on improvement. This “improvement” is for me a delicate progression in the direction I deem right. It is a difference in quantitative categories, and not qualitative. The Acrolink brought for the first time, and this is a reference system in many aspects – at least for me – a qualitative change.
Listening to this cable was a learning experience. We learn as long as we live, but only when we are confronted with something, that surpasses our knowledge by so much, that it urges a change. This is experience, that places a man in another place than before. New horizons are opened, and only then we can actually assess things, that seemed superb to us. Because we learn by comparison. And if we can only compare with things “lesser”, then we can hardly talk about comparisons. Acrolink finally allowed to flawlessly and comfortably assess the character of cables like XLO Limited, Wireworld Gold Eclipse52, Tara Labs The 0.8 (and also the Zero, known by some of us) and also other cables, that were tested in this system. Really comfortably, because the difference between them and the ‘6300’ is huge. There is talk about diminishing returns in audio, going up on the price scale, meaning the more things cost, the lower is the perceptual increase in quality. Bullshit. Or putting it in a different way – this is true, but only when we look at those better devices from “below”, just like we looked at the best interconnects we knew. Then it might seem, that a small increase in resolution, some detail heard after changing a device, cable or speaker, is only a minor step. Please do not get angry at me, I do not want to make it sound inflated, I am far from that, but I must tell this: this is the way changes are assessed by those people, who did not experience top hi-end for longer time, preferably at their homes. This is just the case of experience. In top hi-end the smallest changes are in fact key changes, colossal in terms of “naturalness” and “satisfaction”. This is why even if we improve the sound by only 5%, for the hi-end man this can mean the difference between ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ It is as if we would be “almost” sure and sure.
The sound of the Acrolink changed Janusz’s system completely. Maybe I will repeat what he said, but I will just refer what other people said. This is a “balanced in the whole spectrum”, “saturated”, “incredibly resolving” cable. Its bass is “outstanding in its coherence”, “incredibly palpable”. For me the most important thing was, that for the first time I heard the limitations of the system. A few times earlier I pointed out, that it seems to me a bit thin and not enough saturated. This is not the case now, at least until I’ll hear something better. But still I could pinpoint the thing that annoyed me and disturbed listening to orchestral music: this system clips too early. When we deal with jazz, small ensembles – its perfect. But with an orchestra it can be heard, that dynamics diminishes and distortion kicks in. This could have been heard earlier, but was masked with brightness, some nervousness, etc. Those were the symptoms. Now the cause of that could be heard, and this very clear. This is maybe not much, but it shows, how coherent and resolving the Acrolink cable is. It shows a very high and big stage, actually without borders. The borders are where the sound were recorded. There is no drawn rectangle, ellipse, half circle or triangle, like with many systems. Here we have a sound stage and the instruments on it.
I will repeat after Janusz: “Is the ‘6300’ worth its money?” For me the response is clear: no cable costing over 2000zl is worth it. The cables are too expensive in general. Like art, watches, yachts, old books or stamps. They are not worth the money to pay for them. But when we want to have THAT, we have to pay the requested amount. The Acrolink interconnect is the best cable I know. It seems, that to show its full potential we need to power the devices with power cables from the same manufacturer - 7N-PC7100, or better 7N-PC9100. Because I own two of the first, I’ll buy also the second. And the ‘6300’. I cannot get loose of that sound, of how Clifford’s trumpet sounded, Danielsson’s piano. This was a “threshold” experience, it changes a person forever.
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