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Analog Interconnect



Manufacturer: AcroJapan Corporation
Price: 8,390 PLN/1 m

21-9 Ichigayadaimachi Shinjuku-Ku Tokyo
Postal Code 162-0066 | Japonia
tel.: 81-3-5369-2474


Product provided courtesy of: Eter Audio

here is something that, regretfully, slipped my mind when I was writing last May editorial. 2014 is not only the year that marks the 10th anniversary of "High Fidelity" and one in which Poland celebrates (I do) the 10th anniversary of accession to the European Union. It is also a proud 10th anniversary for Japanese Acrolink, a company that has earned our great respect and to which we have grown attached for years. We came to know its products somewhere around 2009, when the first cables with its logo arrived in Poland. We immediately fell in love with them and started using them in our audio systems, both myself and other members of the Krakow Sonic Society, including our regular host, Janusz. We especially liked Acrolink power cords, starting with the 7N-PC9100 Mexcel, followed by the 7N-PC9300 Mexcel and the latest 7N-PC9500 Mexcel. For a long time our CD players – Janusz’s and mine – had been connected via the flagship 7N-DA6300 Mexcel interconnect, which after years of faithful service was eventually replaced by the much more expensive Siltech Royal Signature Series Double Crown Empress. My preamplifier and power amplifier are still linked with one of the few cables in the world that is made of 8N purity copper, the Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo. Let me also add here that the "High Fidelity" reference audio system has been recently equipped with the 7N-DA6100 Mexcel digital RCA interconnect. In short, we do know and appreciate Acrolink.

The cable under review today is an analog interconnect that belongs to the newest generation in the manufacturer’s lineup, which includes analog RCA and XLR interconnects and digital AES/EBU interconnect. Bear in mind that the first Acrolink cables were based on digital connectors that had been designed to operate in extreme conditions, such as Japanese combat aircraft, U.S. space shuttles and medical equipment. They were manufactured by the giant Mitsubishi Corporation and it was the company engineers, in their spare time audiophiles and music lovers, who were the first to use them in their audio systems. The results of this experiment proved so promising that Mitsubishi created a dedicated subdivision focused on commercializing these, originally industrial, cables.
As I said, all of them were designed to transmit digital signals. Hence, Acrolink analog interconnects are at the same time digital cables (and vice versa). Different models have either a concentric design, characterized by a 75-ohm impedance (for RCA and BNC S/PDIF connectors), or a balanced design with an impedance of 110 ohm (for AES/EBU). The former are used in analog and digital RCA interconnects while the latter in analog XLR interconnects and digital AES/EBU interconnects.

The 7N-DA2090 Speciale is available in two versions, as a balanced XLR and single ended RCA. This is possible due to its design with two conductive cores in a shield. In the XLR version one of the cores carries the positive signal and the other core the negative, while the shield acts as a grounding. The RCA version uses a semi-balanced design, with one core carrying the positive signal, the other one used as the grounding conductor and the shield connected to the ground on the transmitter side. Both versions are directional and use Acrolink’ proprietary high quality connectors. The center (positive) pin in the RCA connector plug is made of beryllium copper (50) with phosphorous copper used for the outer (negative) contact. Both are polished and plated with silver and rhodium. The outer body is made of aluminum alloy, carbon fiber and duralumin.
During this review, the interconnect was used in two places: to connect the CD player and phono stage and line preamplifier, replacing the Siltech Double Crown, and to connect the preamplifier and power amplifier, replacing the Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo.
And one more thing – as a matching set with the Speciale, the manufacturer has an almost production-ready 7N-S8000 Anniversario speaker cable, not yet available at the time of this review. I wonder whether Acrolink also thought about an "anniversary" power cord…

Acrolink products in High Fidelity
  • KRAKOW SONIC SOCIETY: Acrolink 7N-PC9500 MEXCEL - Meeting No. 90, see HERE
  • REVIEW: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo – RCA interconnect, see HERE
  • REVIEW: Acrolink 7N-DA5100 MEXCEL | 7N-DA2100 MEXCEL - RCA interconnects, see HERE
  • KRAKOW SONIC SOCIETY: Acrolink 7N-DA6300 MEXCEL – Meeting No. 63, see HERE
  • KRAKOW SONIC SOCIETY: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100 vs. Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300 - Meeting No. 72, see HERE
  • KRAKOW SONIC SOCIETY: Acrolink 7N-PC9300 MEXCEL – Meeting No. 72, see HERE
  • KRAKOW SONIC SOCIETY: Acrolink 7N-PC9100 MEXCEL – Meeting No. 60, see HERE
  • REVIEW: Acrolink 7N-PC7100 – power cord, see HERE
  • Nagrania użyte w te¶cie (wybór)

    • Music For A While. Improvisations on Purcell, Christina Pluhar, L’Arpeggiata, Erato 4636203, CD + DVD (2014).
    • Karl Bartos, Off The Record, Bureau CD 974282 BB079, CD (2013).
    • Martyna Jakubowicz, Burzliwy błękit Joanny, Universal Music Polska 376 131 8, CD (2013);
    • Miles Davis, The Complete Birth of the Cool, Capitol Jazz/EMI 4945502, CD ([1957] 1998).
    • Miles Davis, The Original Mono Recordings, Columbia Records/Sony Music Japan SICP 30521-9, Blu Spec CD2 x 9 (1957-1964/2013)
    • Sohn, Tremors, 4AD/Hostess CAD3403CDJ, CD (2014).
    • The Modern Jazz Quartet, Pyramid, Atlantic Records/Warner Music Japan WPCR-25125, “Atlantic 60th”, CD (1960/2006).
    • Wes Montgomery & Wynton Kelly Trio, Smokin’ At The Half Note, Verve 2103476, "Verve Master Edition", CD (1965/2005).
    • Anita Lipnicka, Vena Amoris, Mystic Production MYSTCD 244, CD (2013).

    For me, equally interesting to a possible rounding off of a complete cable system with the addition of an anniversary power cord is the company’s choice of the price level for these products. In a similar vein to KEF with the LS50 speaker to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Acrolink now hasn’t launched top "statement" kind of products, choosing instead a pretty high price level yet located well below the middle of its price list, somewhere around a high-end symbolic starting point. In well-organized companies, and Acrolink is run very efficiently, nothing is left to chance or whim but is subordinated to a main idea and current trends in the industry. Hence, the new offer in the form of the 7N-DA2090 Speciale is a product that brings no surprises, from its design through its looks and ending with its price.

    Plugging in a new cable, regardless of its quality and price, to an audio system that we know well is a sort of trauma for the listener. In any case, it is for me. So far it has only happened a few times that I heard something better, something more appealing than my own interconnect being at that time part of my reference system (as that is our focus). It was true with the Acrolink 7N-AD6100, replaced by the 7N-AD6300 and then the Siltech Double Crown. The latter has yet to be beaten, not only in my system but also in several others owned by my friends and acquaintances who bought it. Of course, anything is possible, especially since there have recently appeared two new flagship series, more expensive than the current top ones, from the manufacturers that I respect on par with Acrolink: the Triple Crown from Siltech and Grand Evolution from Tara Labs.
    Transition to something better can shatter our peace of mind, because sooner or later it results in a purchase. Stepping down, in turn, presents us with a different kind of problem and instead of frowning at it we need to be as objective as possible about what and how much has changed, and what it means. The analysis, however, is usually carried out under the pressure of our desire to come back to our own cables.
    The anniversary Acrolink is something different still. It is not as good as the Siltech or – just to be clear – the Acrolink 7N-AD6300. Yet, on the one hand, it is enough different from the more expensive Acrolink and, on the other, similar in spirit to the Siltech that swapping the latter did not result in any discomfort and instead provoked me to further comparisons.

    I think that the most similar sonic aspect of the Speciale and the Double Crown is their tonality. It is not identical, and I’ll come back to the differences, but varies within a narrow range, so narrow in fact that it can be called the same "family." It also includes the Zero from Tara Labs. The Siltech and Acrolink, however, demonstrate a superior differentiation. The Tara is charming as hell and it's hard not to appreciate it, yet, at the same time, it brings everything to the same common denominator, showing beautiful, smooth and warm world for all.
    The new Acrolink interconnect could be classified as sitting right next to the Siltech while glancing in the Tara’s direction. Its tonal center is set fairly low, even lower than in the Dutch cable, a complete departure from the direction taken by Acrolink in its flagship 7N-DA6100 and 6300. To pick a closest match from the entire Acrolink product lineup, it would be probably the 8N-A2080III Evo. The Speciale offers beautifully saturated or even super-saturated colors and large, dense phantom images. Regardless of the album and the type of recording. For example, the vocals on the wonderful Tremors by Sohn (electronica and processed vocals) had a physically tangible "weight" that manifested in energizing the air in the room, in a large volume and in occupying a considerable space between the speakers. Something that is highly sought after both by music lovers putting their hope in vinyl and those into tube equipment.

    It would be a mistake, however, to define the sound as "tube" or "analog" in the sense of "vinyl-like". Its resolution and time coherence are well above average, and only a longer comparison against the Siltech shows what could be possibly improved. All other cables seem to sound slightly flat. You don’t actually need records produced with a particular care for midrange (vocals), although on Tremors mentioned above, Off The Record from Karl Bartos, Anita Lipnicka’s Vena Amoris and other albums the impression was truly electrifying. This deepening of the sound was clearly audible even on the recordings that hardly show a particular emphasize on anything, such as Miles Davis’s The Complete Birth Of The Cool, remastered by Mark Levinson. Bill Barber’s tuba finally sounded tight and deep where it usually tends to get lost, despite being an important part of the Davis’s band back then. The treble was thicker and warmer than with the Siltech but at the same time there was more of it. As a result, the sound was more open yet darker. Kind of a paradox.

    What’s worth paying extra to get the sound on the Double Crown level is primarily a better differentiation, soundstage and dynamics. The Acrolink brings the soundstage closer, pulling up distant layers and condensing the foreground and everything that’s directly in front of us. My reference interconnect easily reveals any differences in the soundstage setting, including mono recordings, showing not only the changes in the volume of a given instrument, but also in its size. The further the distance of the instrument from the microphone and the further it’s set in the mix, the quieter it sounds and the smaller its volume. I haven’t heard this kind of intuition in any other cable apart from the Siltech. The same applies to dynamics. The Acrolink looks at the world kind of through rose-colored glasses – perhaps an exaggeration, but still. It's a beautiful picture that manages to retain a lot of truth passed through a filter of sorts. Almost always, that involves rounded attack, decreased dynamics and reduced resolution, not to mention selectivity. The Siltech is superior to the Acrolink in all these aspects and that’s the way it should be. These are, however, not overwhelming or crushing differences. I would even venture to say that they are no more than moderately important and only so if we strive for the absolute, at any cost. Other cables that try to improve reality, in a similar vein to the Speciale, almost always fail in terms of the sonic aspects referred to above. But not so the Acrolink. This is where I see the reasons for the AcroJapan engineers’ decision to launch their anniversary cable at this price level. The Speciale in many respects sounds better than the flagship 6300, with the latter trumping it in terms of resolution and selectivity. But nothing more than that, and sacrificing body that is just insanely good in the anniversary interconnect.


    For some time now I have been looking for a cable that could worthily replace the interconnect linking my Ayon Audio Polaris III [Custom Version] preamp and Soulution 710 power amp. The easiest solution would be to buy another Siltech Double Crown.

    The simplest, but too much of a stretch financially. Even my first Siltech that I use to connect a CD player or phono stage to the preamplifier ruined my budget for a long time. So far, I have very happily used the Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo interconnect. It brings to the system warmth, fullness and density. At 1.5 m it is long enough to be of use during my reviews of other preamplifiers and power amplifiers. However, the 7N-DA2090 Speciale is – I had to say it eventually – really special. Retaining everything that is characteristic of the cable made of 8N copper, it adds to that a better differentiation and openness. Selectivity is comparable in both Acrolinks, but the anniversary cable is more energetic and has a better extension. Hence, the Speciale now becomes part of my reference system, until I find something that’s clearly better and that won’t ruin me. It may take some time, though. For now, I am completely satisfied.

    Miles Davis
    Columbia Records/Sony Music Japan SICP 30521-9
    Blu Spec CD2 x 9

    Upon reading about the pioneering years of audio and the people involved from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century up to the 1940s, it turns out that the vast majority of them were hobbyists with academic background and that they worked in large research centers, such as Bell Labs and General Electric. In the introduction to his book Illustrated History of High End Audio. Volume One - Loudspeakers, Jonathan Valin says that most of them should have won the Nobel Prize in their time. How very true. It was them that laid the groundwork for what today is primarily the domain of hobbyists and only then of engineers. It seems that we simply refine and hone what THEY invented.
    One of the most important inventions of those pioneering days was what became known as "stereophonic" sound reproduction, "producing a desired degree of auditory perspective or stereophonic effect in a listening area", as we read in a patent. The founding father of stereophonic sound was Alan Blumlein who at the age of 27 built his first stereo system, patented it in 1931, in 1933 cut the first stereo disc and in 1934 made the first stereo orchestra recording. A true visionary, with 128 patents to his credit.
    The most dynamic research center was Bell Labs that, based on its research and experience, developed a method of recording stereo sound, which was applied after the war. For Bells Labs stereophony meant something different than it does today. It was assumed that proper spatial recognition requires three speakers: left, right and center. Most of the U.S. recordings from the golden age of jazz were recorded in a three-channel stereophonic system. That also includes Miles Davis recordings for Columbia, starting with the 1959 album Kind of Blue.

    So where do the mono versions come from? Initially, recording studios were equipped with one- track recording equipment, so all the records were mono. Starting from 1955, more and more studios were equipped with stereo tape recorders. But even then, the material was simultaneously recorded on a three-channel tape and on mono tape, as a back-up. The three tracks were then downmixed to two channels for stereo LPs. From the beginning, two-channel stereo discs were a compromise between the three-channel stereo system requirements and commercial capabilities. In comparison, mono recording was the simplest possible - a microphone, a separate mixing console and one track that was being mixed "on the fly". Perhaps that is why many music lovers believe that the best versions of the recordings, including Davis’, are the mono versions.

    Especially for them, Sony Music Japan prepared a nine-disc box set, starting from ’Round About Midnight from 1957 and ending with Miles & Monk at Newport from 1964. This is the latest 2013 remaster, also available in the form of hi-res PCM 24/192 files, prepared by Mark Wilder at Battery Studios. The CDs were pressed in Japan using the Blu Spec CD2 technology, i.e. manufactured by a proprietary process which employs a Blu-ray Disc cutting machine.
    In addition to the nine CDs in cardboard jackets, we get an interesting booklet with Wilder remarks about any necessary adjustments on each album. It turns out that they were minimal and mostly concerned a slight frequency response correction, and only one case involved slight compression. All that processing was performed on tube equipment.
    Now for the cons. Cardboard jackets do not have the same size as mini LPs, and measure only 123mm x 123mm. They have no OBI. Their cover print quality is average, significantly inferior to the standard the Japanese accustomed us to. The CDs are kept in plastic inner sleeves by which they can easily slide out of the cardboard. What saves it somewhat is a nicely prepared box with large collective OBI and a really good booklet. Regardless of what we think about the sound of the new versions, it's hard not to have this release, especially if Davis is important to us or we simply collect CDs with music from that period of time.

    I compared its sound to the stereo versions released by Mobile Fidelity (as SACDs and, in the case of older as CDs), mono editions, regular Sony Music releases and Sony Master Sound series versions. The first disc in the set is ’Round About Midnight. I compared it against the stereo Sony Music version, released in Europe to mark the trumpeter’s 75th birthday anniversary, and the mono Mobile Fidelity SACD/CD version from 2012. I must say that the regular Sony Music version is pretty good. This is a stereo release, so the comparison was not entirely fair, but it is definitely worth keeping. The mono version from Mobile Fidelity is brighter and more "forward" than the BSCD2. I preferred the Japanese release, mostly due to its better vividness and phenomenal depth. The MoFi sounded clearer, with stronger cymbals, but against the BSCD2 it sounded slightly overexposed. I had the same exact feelings about Milestones. The new mono release sounds better differentiated, darker and deeper. This is the kind of sound I like. In comparison, the stereo versions released by Sony in the Master Sound series were quite reasonable, but not enough resolving, as if slightly clouded. The new version beat them with presence and density.

    The BSCD2 versions are excellent. Dense, deep, dark and soft. The new MoFi releases sound slightly too bright and have lower resolution. Interestingly, the older edition dating back to the previous "life" of Mobile Fidelity, pressed on aluminum by Sanyo, turned out very interesting (MFCD 828). The mono version from Sony is thicker and much more resolving, but the old MoFi has kept the spirit, color and dynamics similar to what we hear from the box set version. It is a recommended buy need and brings lots of fun in a small box.

    The cable conductors are made of 7N purity D.U.C.C. stress-free braided copper. Each core conductor consists of 19 separate 0.26 mm strands. Both cores are enclosed in a macromolecule polyolefin insulator and protected in an inner sheath, which is a hybrid material to reduce noise and vibration, consisting of polyolefin resin with tungsten and amorphous mixture. The inner sheath also includes silk threads and EMI absorbing non-magnetic thread for better mechanical stabilization of the conductors. The shielding consists of four layers. The first one is a copper clad Mylar tape. The second one is a 7N copper braid wire, the third one a special "Noise BEAT" tape, and the fourth one is UEW braid wire (copper with polyurethane coating). From the outside, the cable is protected by UV resistant polyurethane sleeve. The NOISE Beat tape is made of magnetic alloy. This technology has been developed by NTT AT Corporation (Nippon Telegraph Telephone Corporation Advanced Technology) for advanced signal transmission systems.

    Technical Specification (according to the manufacturer)

    Outer diameter: 11 mm
    Conductors: 7N Cu D.U.C.C. stress-free; wire diameter 0.26 mm x 19 strands
    Insulation: polymer polyolefin resin
    Filling: hybrid polymer polyolefin resin (tungsten + amorphous mix)
    Shield: copper foil + 7 N copper braid + Beat NOISE tape + UEW braid
    External coating: UV resistant polyurethane
    Resistance: 18 mΩ/m
    Electrostatic Capacitance: 56 pF/m
    Impedance: 110 Ω (XLR, AES / EBU)


    - Turntable: AVID HIFI Acutus SP [Custom Version]
    - Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE | Miyajima Laboratory ZERO (mono) | Denon DL-103SA, review HERE
    - Phono stage: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE
    - Compact Disc Player: Ancient Audio AIR V-edition, review HERE
    - Multiformat Player: Cambridge Audio Azur 752BD
    - Line Preamplifier: Polaris III [Custom Version] + AC Regenerator, regular version review (in Polish) HERE
    - Power amplifier: Soulution 710
    - Integrated Amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
    - Stand mount Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
    - Stands for Harbeths: Acoustic Revive Custom Series Loudspeaker Stands
    - Real-Sound Processor: SPEC RSP-101/GL
    - Integrated Amplifier/Headphone amplifier: Leben CS300XS Custom Version, review HERE
    - Headphones: HIFIMAN HE-6, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE | HIFIMAN HE-300, review HERE | Sennheiser HD800 | AKG K701, review (in Polish) HERE | Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, version 600 - reviews (in Polish): HERE, HERE, HERE
    - Headphone Stands: Klutz Design CanCans (x 3), review (in Polish) HERE
    - Headphone Cables: Entreq Konstantin 2010/Sennheiser HD800/HIFIMAN HE-500, review HERE
    System I
    - Interconnects: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, review HERE | preamplifier-power amplifier: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
    - Loudspeaker Cables: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review (in Polish) HERE
    System II
    - Interconnects: Acoustic Revive RCA-1.0PA | XLR-1.0PA II
    - Loudspeaker Cables: Acoustic Revive SPC-PA
    System I
    - Power Cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300, all system, review HERE
    - Power Distributor: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu Ultimate, review HERE
    - Power Line: fuse – power cable Oyaide Tunami Nigo (6m) – wall sockets 3 x Furutech FT-SWS (R)
    System II
    - Power Cables: Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version, review (in Polish) HERE | Oyaide GPX-R (x 4 ), review HERE
    - Power Distributor: Oyaide MTS-4e, review HERE
    - Portable Player: HIFIMAN HM-801
    - USB Cables: Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP (1 m) | Acoustic Revive USB-5.0PL (5 m), review HERE
    - LAN Cables: Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA (kable ) | RLI-1 (filtry), review HERE
    - Router: Liksys WAG320N
    - NAS: Synology DS410j/8 TB
    - Stolik: SolidBase IV Custom, read HERE/all system
    - Anti-vibration Platforms: Acoustic Revive RAF-48H, review HERE/digital sources | Pro Audio Bono [Custom Version]/headphone amplifier/integrated amplifier, review HERE | Acoustic Revive RST-38H/loudspeakers under review/stands for loudspeakers under review
    - Anti-vibration Feets: Franc Audio Accessories Ceramic Disc/ CD Player/Ayon Polaris II Power Supply /products under review, review HERE | Finite Elemente CeraPuc/ products under review, review HERE | Audio Replas OPT-30HG-SC/PL HR Quartz, review HERE
    - Anti-vibration accsories: Audio Replas CNS-7000SZ/power cable, review HERE
    - Quartz Isolators: Acoustic Revive RIQ-5010/CP-4
    - FM Radio: Tivoli Audio Model One