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Meeting #122:
Acrolink 8N-PC8100

A cable for „High Fidelity's” 15th Anniversary

21-9 Ichigayadaimachi Shinjuku-Ku Tokyo
Postal Code 162-0066 | JAPAN


Place: POLAND/Kraków

pecial editions of audio products are nothing new. Though it may seem like they should be the exception, they are part of hi-fi world. "Special Edition", "Limited Edition", "Signature Edition", "Anniversary Edition" etc. are simply a way to get attention. Such actions have their own logic. We - when I say 'we', I think 'we audiophiles' – like gadgets. We can convince ourselves that we are guided by the logic of the system development in terms of increasing sound quality, we can claim ourselves to be sort of islands of rationality in a sea of thoughtlessness, and yet our hearts start to beat faster at the sight of a special release of favorite album, a device with a unique badge, a certified product signed by someone from the renown company.

So instead of fighting it, it's better to give up and enjoy the products that only we and a dozen or so other people in the world have. On the one hand, having such a product is justified by the quality of the sound, because they are usually interesting products in the best possible version, and on the other, it builds a sense of uniqueness in our system. And this is also what it's all about - music, sound and product. So we like gadgets, whether we like it or not – so do I.

| Acrolink 8N-PC8100 PERFORMANTE

So my heart started to beat twice as fast when Elia Hontai, our friend from Japan, representing the Muson Project company, representative of Acrolink outside Japan, sent me an e-mail with a short information: "Dear Wojtek, Acrolink sent you the first unit of the cable prepared for the 15th birthday of the "High Fidelity". Although short, it was an information summarizing almost a year of preparation and countless emails sent from Poland to Japan and back.

The idea came, if I remember correctly, from both sides - Acrolink and me. When people from this company learned from Elia and his father Yoshi (the head of the Muson Project) about our anniversary, they asked if they could participate in it in any way. There could have been but one answer. All that we had to do was to come up with some concrete idea. It was clear it would be a cable. But which one? In what form? How would it differ from other cables from this manufacturer?

After brainstorming in the company, the Acrolink crew offered something that even I did not expect - making fifteen units of the 8N copper power cable in a special version: 8N-PC8100 Nero Edizione. Aha! - so a "Limited Edition"! As it turned out, it is also the "Signature Edition" and "Anniversary Edition" in one. The cable we are talking about in its basic version is a limited cable, and the "15 Anni" version is its limited edition - what can be even more unique?

The basis for our "anniversary" cable is the AC 8N-PC8100 Performante power cable. Acrolink uses 7N copper on a daily basis, but from time to time they reach for wires with a purity of 8N. It is very expensive, there is very little of it, therefore all these cables are made in very short series - 99 pieces have been planned for the 8N-PC8100 Performante.

The 8xxx series is below the top 9xxx in brand's lineup, although the conductor material is better. This is because the cables in the former series feature a slightly simpler design than the 7N-PC9500 models, which I have been using for years, as well as the latest 7N-PC9700. The differences relate to the type of shielding, but above all the cross-section of the conductors - the 9xxx models are made of Mexcel wires, i.e. with rectangular cross-section, and the conductors in 8N-PC8100 are round (50 x ø 0.37 mm). In both cases, the wire is pulled out so that the internal stress is as low as possible. Acrolink calls this type of copper "Stressfree".

The dielectric is polyolefin, and the filler is anamorphic powder, a mixture of tungsten and other unrevealed materials. Also the shielding is different - it is copper foil and silvered copper braid, while in 7N-PC9700 there is a carbon tape and braid of enamelled copper wires. However, this is still an 8N cable, so completely different one from 7N cables. This is not the first time Acrolink offers this type of product and they are usually considered not "inferior" to more expensive 7N cables, but "different", the cable situated "next to it" in the lineup.

| Acrolink 8N-PC8100 NERO EDIZIONE

Acrolink is not a big company, but it belongs to a powerful group - Mitsubishi - that's why its activities are planned for a long time ahead and each of them must be thoroughly documented. Each change is therefore expensive. Even more so if it concerns only a dozen or so units. Technical changes in such short series are impossible. So we agreed with Acrolink that the cable for the 15th anniversary of "High Fidelity" will be made on the basis of an existing cable. It was named 8N-PC8100 Nero Edizione.

Its electrical design is identical to that of Perfomante cable. However, the cable costs a lot more. Why? It is simple - fourteen lucky customers will buy not only the cable itself, but also an ultra-unique product ("High fidelity" is in no way related to Acrolink financially).

The change concerns the color of the plugs - they are black. The aluminum element, which is silver in all cables from this manufacturer, has been anodized by one of the Japanese craftsmen. What's more, the carbon braid has the "High Fidelity" anniversary logo on it, and a special certificate is added to the set with the signature of the person responsible for assembling this particular cable - each piece is numbered.


It was hard for me to stay calm and while opening the package from Japan I couldn't hide my emotions - something like this doesn't happen often. The cable looks fantastic and the black plugs are simply unique. And the logo on them :) Having it already in my hands, long before the fourteen remaining units came to Poland, I could not help myself and I organized a meeting of the Krakow Sonic Society. The group has extensive experience with Acrolink, because for years we have been testing all power cables from the 7xxx and 9xxx series, as well as many interconnects and speaker cables; Janusz, the host of meetings, Tomek and I have been using them for years.

Therefore, we listened to a not fully broken-in cable, after. It worked in my system prior to the meeting for no more than fifteen hours. We could clearly hear that. But we could also hear everything that makes it a unique product. However, to dispel any doubts, after the meeting I plugged it into my system for a week and compared it in my system. I will present the conclusions from this listening session at the end.

The comparison was to be ruthless and extreme, so the Acrolink cable was first compared to our reference, the Siltech Triple Crown |1|, which in the 1,5 m version costs 12,900 euros, and in the 2 m version, i.e. the one we listened to - as much as 15,900 euros. In the second part of the meeting, we listened to Acrolink cables, comparing the Nero Edizione 8N-PC8100 with the Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |2|, costing PLN 15,900 for one and a half meters (its successor, model 9700 costs PLN 17,900 for 1.5 m). The cables fed the Ayon Audio CD-35 HF Edition player. The third part of the text is a description of my own Acrolink listening in the reference system |3|.

High Fidelity • 15th Anniversary Edition

Another Japanese company that joined the celebration of the 15th anniversary of our magazine is Japanese SPEC. Since I was the first person from outside of Japan to test their first model of the "sound processor", as the company calls it, model RSP-101, president of the company, Mr. Shirokazu Yazaki, prepared a special version of the top model RSP-AZ9EX, which I tested in the prototype version in February 2018 (HF | № 166).

I showed it in photos from the Munich High End Show 2019 - it is a version finished with Urushi varnish with a traditional Japanese motif added using gold paint. One of the masters who worked in a traditional way took up the painting. And this means covering the box with subsequent layers of paint and varnish - it lasts up to three months.

The photo shows a version prepared especially for me, with the "High Fidelity" anniversary logo and the signature of Mr. Shirokazu-san. The basic version does not feature these elements, but I'm sure that you could get this unique version upon special order. However, you have to be patient because it takes extra time. You also need to prepare for extra cost :) For details, it's best to ask the Polish distributor, GALERIA AUDIO.

And just shortly let me mention a gift from Accuphase - this is the fourth part of the SACD sampler with the company's logo. It is special, because it was released in a very limited number (several hundred copies) plus the company's CEO, Mr. Jim S. Saito, and its chief engineer, Mr. Mark M. Suzuki autographed its cover. I have several pieces of this CD for "High Fidelity" readers and I would like to give them away during my workshops at the Audio Video Show 2019 – feel invited!


║ VANGELIS, Blade Runner

  • Atlantic Records/Audio Fidelity AFZ 154, „Limited Edition | No. 2398, SACD/CD (1998/2013)
  • Atlantic Records/Audio Fidelity AFZ 154, „Limited Edition | No. 1698, SACD/CD (1998/2013)

Before we sat down for comparison, we listened to several recordings to get used to the sound of the Janusz system, our host, with the Siltech cable. It's one of the best systems I know and one of the best sounds I've ever heard. It is extremely resolving and incredibly spacious - here the music simply flows without restrictions, as if these small Sonus Faber speakers were full-range floor-standing speakers. So every tiny detail can be heard on it, just everything.

Partly for fun, and partly out of curiosity, we started the listening session by comparing the same album, the soundtrack from the Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, the SACD version, prepared by the Audio Fidelity label. It's an analog mastering done from master tape, prepared by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Studios. The disc of this label were limited editions - usually 3000-5000 pieces of a given title were pressed.

After listening to the first track, we sat for a moment not believing that what had happened happened - these two discs, after all almost the same, differing only in the moment they were pressed, sounded significantly different. After a while, when we talked about it, it was easier to acknowledge. It is no accident that XRCDs are pressed in quantities limited to 2000 pieces (more HERE); First Impression Music followed the same path.

As early as 1995, engineers at the JVC pressing plant knew that the metal matrix wears and the longer it is used, the less precisely made are the disc made using it. Even though it should not matter - after all, the changes are relatively small, and digital players have error correction systems - differences can be heard.

The differences primarily in the deeper sound from the lower number discs, greater dynamics and better space. There was simply more information. And although the album with a higher number - it so happens it was mine - sounds phenomenal, the comparison showed that it could be even better. So prepared, we sat down to the first of the comparisons, listening to the music with the Siltech Triple Crown cable first, and then with the Acrolink 8N-PC8100 Nero Edizione.

| Recordings used for the test

  • VANGELIS, Blade Runner, Atlantic Records/Audio Fidelity AFZ 154, „Limited Edition” | No. 1698, SACD/CD (1998/2013)
  • SANTANA, Caravanserai, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UDSACD 2079, SACD/CD (1972/2011)
  • ROGER WATERS, Amused To Death, Columbia/Legacy/Analogue Productions 88765478842, SACD (1992/2015)
  • TERUMASA HINO, Terumasa Hino Concert, Takt/Nippon Columbia COCY-80505, Swing Journal Jazz Workshop 1, „CD On Demand”, CD-R (1969/1997)


Janusz • KTS | In this spot where I sit, without any doubts, I can say that Acrolink Nero Edizione has an emphasized upper midrange. All parts of the band are present, but it is brighter in reception than Siltech. At least, that's how I perceive it. It was very clear during the last recording, where there was this dynamic trumpet. At one point I was struck by the fact that it was aggressive, which I did not hear with Siltech. However, we should remember about a fourfold price difference between them!

Marcin • KTS | I have to partially agree with Janusz, because I think this cable is brighter. But for me it is an advantage. I liked it because the sound seemed lighter, airier and faster. It added the effect of "lightness" to the sound. But we know Siltech and we know that it is richer. I rate it very positively.

Rysiek S. • KTS | I agree with Janusz because he pointed out the most important differences between these cables. With one remark - the Waters album sounded much better with Acrolink. I was under an impression that with Siltech there was something not quite right with the sound, and after changing to Nero Edizione everything sounded nice, good, even excellent. It was very attractive performance with more energy, more resolution.

Rysiek B. • KTS | If it wasn't for this comparison, I could listen to both cables with equal interest. The system sounds fantastic and with both cables it presents a really great sound. But if we compare them, I have to say that Siltech presents a dense, full-fledged music with a wide band and a wide spectrum of colors. It's a sound that I can compare with a live performance.

Acrolink, on the other hand, is more "focused". He emphasizes instruments more strongly, which I associate with a studio performance, where the microphones are placed close to instruments, which results in losing concert richness and gaining a spectacular lower bass, more focused instruments. But this is less similar to what I associate with a live performance. However, let me add, I was delighted with both presentations and I would like to have both of these cables in my system.

Wiciu • KTS | For me both these cables sound the same. I would have to switch them forth and back multiple times to pinpoint differences between them.

Wojciech Pacuła • HF/KTS | You are simply our voice of reason :)

Tomek • KTS | I would like to say that I like both cables very much. The differences I noticed boil down to the fact that the Acrolink's soundstage was narrower and shallower. I have not heard some details with it, especially on the first two track, that is, with Vangelis and Santana.

However, already from the third track, that is from Waters, interesting things started to happen because I agree that with Acrolink the Amused to Death sounded better. The lady who tells her story (No. 12) was more audible, more understandable. In the last song, on the other hand, the Terumasa Hino's trumpet, which with Siltech at some frequencies throbbed in my ears mercilessly, with Acrolink was softened and could be listened to. It was gentler, a little smoother. Siltech is still a better cable, but in some songs Acrolink does something with music that makes listening more pleasant.

Rysiek S.: It's interesting because here, on the left side, my impressions very quite opposite.
Janusz: Exactly, it was Acrolink that sounded brighter.
Rysiek B.: I have to agree with Tomek, even though I also sat on the left side…

Bartosz • HF/KTS/RMF FM | For me, Siltech is a much better cable, I liked it better. The question is how fair is such comparison considering huge price difference. I smile when Tomek was talking about the trumpet, because Acrolink upset me the most :) The exception was Waters. The first half of the song, when this lady talked about her life I liked less, it sounded dull. On the other hand, when Waters's vocals come in, Acrolink sounded great, much better than Siltech. I don't know where it comes from, maybe specifics of the recording or the music itself, but it sounded much better.

Jarek Waszczyszyn • KTS/FRAM | I have a completely different opinion from you – the sound with Acrolink got me more excited. It's a cable that offered better dynamic contrasts, some the performance had more slam. It was clear above all on Santana, when the rhythm section entered, when the guitars entered. Vangelis saxophone - with Siltech it pissed me off, and less so with Acrolink. Maybe the fact that I heard more timbre than in the first version was what actually mattered. But, just like Janusz, I am sitting on the edge of the listening field, so my impressions can be distorted.

Rysiek B.: I believe Acrolink presents more focused instruments, which makes them more clear, while Siltech blurs it all a bit.
Janusz: No, no, that's not true. Let me tell you what it is all about - you are talking about more focus, and this is nonsense. For me, Acrolink, at the first glance, offers less information. And now - if something delivers more information, it blurs it more, spreads it in space.
Rysiek B.: That's what I am talking about – Acrolink presents more focused instruments, focuses attention on their bodies, and not on what's gong on around them!
Janusz: What are you talking about – it focuses on nothing, we focus on information with it, because they are more explicit!
Marcin: For me, if I didn't know which cable was which, the sound with Acrolink was more interesting. There was always something happening there, there was some life in the music.
Jarek: OK, whatever, Janusz is right – Siltech is better, but these four albums sounded better with Acrolink – is that OK with you?
Wiciu: Yes, here Acrolink sounded better, but most likely other four billions albums will sound better with Siltech…
Rysiek S.: Agreed Jarek, with Acrolink there is more life in music, but what do you think about tonality?
Jarek: Let me put it this way – in terms of tonality Siltech might be better, might present more, but in terms of dynamics Acrolink is better. So the choice depends on an individual preference.

Wojciech Pacuła | I must say that I was very surprised when the "left side" said that Acrolink sounded bright. Here I could hear the opposite - when we played Vangelis I thought to myself: "damn, what a warm cable!" It seemed milder to me. I think it has less top and bottom. This is not a flaw, because it lets midrange to come out, but also sets the sound in a specific way. I agree, it was most obvious on Waters, because thanks to that this recording was more "firmer" and lively. But when the reverb came in, there was less of it with Acrolink – but it seemed that there was too much with Siltech.

Siltech is more precise. But the Acrolink, because it shows less information about what is behind the instruments, the instruments and elements from the foreground are more tangible, stronger. Siltech throws them on "plankton", which makes them no longer so expressive and unambiguous.

Jarek: Exactly, because Acrolink offers better bass control. So there was no problem with this part of the band.
Wiciu: Gentlemen - we would have to listen to it several times, switch, change to say something for sure. I do not trust the first impression, it failed me more than once. I have to listen to each component without and pressure many times - then I can form an opinion.
Janusz: What are you talking about - the most important thing is the first impression, when the music reaches you without filters, expectations, when you meet it unprepared. Later it's just tiredness and rationalization ...
Wojtek: But we can all agree on one thing - it's a completely different sound school, right?
Chorus of voices: Yes, that's true.


Janusz | The Acrolink 9500 cable presents a bit of the same style as Siltech. Keeping the proportions, I must say that its tone, presentation, etc. really resembles the Dutch reference. In contrast, the Acrolink 8100 definitely stands out with different presentation - it seems to me, from where I am sitting, that is it a bright cable. I can hear that the 8100 shows the details more clearly, shows the instruments in a more powerful way. But it is the 9500 that offers truly organic sound.

Rysiek S. | The "north" side of the room seems to agree. I prefer 9500, there is more of everything, the sound is wider, more intense. But ... on Vangelis, I was surprised that the saxophone with the 9500 sounded unnaturally. With the 8100 it was smooth, fluid, and blended nicely with other instruments. With 9500 I felt that everything was sticking together, but in a bad way.

Rysiek B. | I seems to me that the '9500' is louder, as if someone turned up the volume. When you listen louder, everything seems better. The cables differ - the '8100' model is more musical, it creates a more holographic and spatial soundstage. On the other hand, it is not as dynamic and not as transparent and does not show as many colors as the '9500'. So it seems that you have to choose these cables based on careful listening in your own system. I have one complaint about the '9500' - it arranges the soundstage flat. It presents the back layers of the stage in a powerful way, thus pretending to play in a rich way.

Wiciu | I agree with Janusz regarding the description of the differences between the two cables. I like its warm tone more and its presentation was more interesting.

Marcin | I also agree with Janusz. If we chose two points and connected them with a line, then the '9500' would be somewhere between Siltech and the '8100'. It was a compromise, a good compromise. I liked the sound, it was more enjoyable to me.

Tomek | I am delighted with what I heard with the '9500', I am surprised how good it sounded. I really liked the colors, dynamic arrangement of the sound. The trumpet didn't annoy me, it was somewhere between Siltech and the "8100". However, I would like to note that we are talking about a cable ("8100"), which is not broken-in, so we are not doing it any favors.

Bartosz | Ii also seems to me that the "8100" is not fully broken-in. The '9500' was better because it was smoother, warmer. But, on the other hand, the "8100" look is fantastic and these black plugs rule :)

Jarek | I liked the ‘8100’ more. There was more music with it, it was more lively. With the ‘9500’ everything was coll, but flat, that's not what I like.

Wojciech Pacuła | I don't know how to say it, but for me the "8100" sounds a lot warmer. I don't hear any problems with the treble range at all ...

Wojciech Pacuła | We probably hear it the same way, but we pay attention to different features and we call the same ones differently, I can't explain such differences between us in any other way. The 8100's sound is nicer, more pleasant. The bandwidth is not so wide, but due to the focusing on the midrange, everything sounds nicer. In this listening session I liked the '9500' least. Siltech is still the top cable, I also like the "9500". But the '8100' offers simply a “cultural”, smooth and lively sound. The '9500' sounds more calmed, which makes it less interesting.

║|3| ACROLINK two weeks later

Two weeks later I listened to the "anniversary" Acrolink cable once again, this time in the "High Fidelity" reference system. I compared it to the same reference cables as in Janusz's system and listened to it with the same SACD player. However, this time Acrolink had two week of constant operation behind it so it was broken-in. The differences that resulted from it being broken-in very quite significant on the one hand and on the other did not affect its assessment. And this is because the features for which some KSS participants had loved it for and the other s didn't deepened without changing the structure of this sound, its unique signature.

Now I know for sure that it is a cable that combines two features that almost never occur together: warmth and openness. It was confirmed that this is an incredibly smooth sounding cable, with a dense, "polished" midrange. It was extremely pleasant. The vocals are so big and full with it, they are not much inferior to what I know from Siltech and are better than with the '9500'.

On the other hand, the top of the band is stronger than with both reference cables. The cymbals shine, are strong, clear and open. And now - with vocals there was no emphasis on sibilants, even with such difficult material as from the George Michael's Faith, and yet with good cymbals, like from the Pat Metheny Group's Offramp in the SACD version, I got a great sound, because a lot was happening, it was a dense, powerful presentation.

The '8100' plays a disciplined, well-controlled bass. Something that I mentioned at Janusz's was confirmed - it is a cable in which the bass does not go as low as with Siltech and is not as dense as with the '9500'. But it was the '8100' that presented everything better than the '9500', because it put all elements together in a more convincing, more coherent way. The '9500' extend sustain of the bass longer, just to make it more enjoyable. The "8100" presents it in a more believable way.

All recordings in which space mattered sounded remarkably well with the '8100'. It is a cable that brings a lot of life to the system, also in spatial relations - the stage is wide and deep. The "tissue" between the instruments is much better with Siltech, but remembering the price difference, I can say with peace of mind that the new Acrolink is unique in this respect, because a lot is happening there. A really beautiful cable, which in its price category offers features that you will not get with any other product.

| SUMMARY, or what comes from it

ROGER WATERS, Amused To Death

  • Columbia/Legacy/Analogue Productions 88765478842, SACD (1992/2015)
  • Columbia/Legacy/Sony Music Labels (Japan) SICP 10115, SACD (1992/2016)

We finished the same way we started – with a comparison of two editions of the same album, a remix of the Roger Waters' Amused To Death, prepared by James Guthrie in 2015. Let me remind you that a whole KSS Meeting #98 was once devoted to the this album. Among the compared versions there was no Japanese release, which was introduced to the market only four months later - the Analogue Productions version was released in the USA on July 24th 2015, and Sony did not release it in Japan until February 3rd 2016; the American version was pressed at Sony DADC in Austria, and the Japanese version in Japan.

The only difference between theses discs was the place where they were pressed. And yet they sound different, so different that several participants of this meeting insisted that they were different mixes. This is because in the Japanese version everything shifted towards the center, towards the listening axis. The edges of the stage were a bit more curled, and the whole presentation was simply clearer. After listening tog the Analogue Productions version Janusz claimed that it was “muffled”. Now I could hear that the Japanese version is too bright, even irritating with sibilants, and the American version is actually smooth, fluid, nice.

The buyer should decide which version is better. Although most people won't really have a chance to make the choice, because hardly any of them will buy two versions in order to choose the one that suits them more. When it comes to the Acrolink 8N-PC8100 Nero Edizione the situation is different - everyone can compare it with both the Siltech Triple Crown and the Acrolink 7N-PC9500 and '9700' - both brands are distributed by the same company (Nautilus Dystrybucja). So you can verify what you have just read yourself.

It is worth noting, however, that this will be a comparison with reference products, and not just with some cables in this price range. And so the '8100' will show present something that many music lovers and audiophiles will loose some sleep over compiling data in Excel tables to find money to buy it. I strongly encourage you to do it - it's an absolutely unique cable with a "character" that you will never want to get rid of...