Since the 2007-2008 alchemic music season and consequentially live FM season was over (the event I marked with my “End of the live Phonostage”) I have been spinning a lot of vinyl lately. So, I spent some time with different phono cables with my different arms. I have 15 or so cables including 2 my custom made cables, different prices, materials, different made – you name it. They are all very different, in fact I was much more different then I remember – last time I went over the same 8-9 years ago. Here is what I end up, I will name up the winner and the second candidate.
1) Dirty Dally Arm: SME M2-12/Grado Platinum Reference - the winner is VdH D-501 Hybrid cable, second place is Harmonic Technologies Cupper Phono. For this arm I use Grado Platinum MM cartridge that is very dead needle. It is very midrangy, with very stale transients, compressed and not particularly good performer. However, with all it’s limitations it very nice balanced and generally if have not a lot of strictly sonic demands then it is somehow musical. It does well for my “Dirty Play”. For this arm I was looking for a “brutal” cables with a lot of own artificial spice. The Van den Hul’s D-501 (cupper hybrid) turned out to be surprisingly in place. The D-501 has extremely well-extend bass and very punchy cable everywhere else. It is hard to use this cable with my better arms as the D-501 tear music apart, making sounds literally disconnected. In context of the Dirty Dally Arm and Grado MM needle it is well masked out by the Grado own transient blindness. The runner HT Cupper has the similar effect and the VdH won juts because it is more mechanically more flexible and much better from the noise perspective.
2) Romantic Stereo Arm: SME 3009/Otophone SPU Classic - the winner is 2M of Purist Proteus B, second place is my custom-made cable made with combining wires from Cardas Golden Reference and gold strings. I do have high demands for Sound of this arm, so I was not kidding and was looking for better sound. Purist Proteus B got the winning ticket. Purist Proteus B in some cases sound remarkably similar to Purist Dominus. Dominus was not usable due to intrinsic, idiosyncratic SPU’s upperbass colorations. Dominus is too reach for SPU so I went for slightly more lean Purist Proteus B. Purist has new cable – Proteus Provectus that is very new design. I did not try it. I heard a number of very exuberant and superbly enthusiastic comments from specific group of Purist’s owners, primary blabbing about Purist at Audiogon. Those very positive comments are the only thing that prevents me to try Proteus Provectus. Those people are idiots: 7 years ago they all switched from Proteus/Dominus to Ferox, blubbing that it was much better. They are all are either deaf of juts simply part of Purist’s propaganda the famos audio voluntary whore-brigade (I know personally that two of them are). So, I have no pint of reference about the new Proteus Provectus cable. My custom-made running up cable is not bad but Purist Proteus is softer and has more lucrative HF. So, with all my ego collapsed I accept defeat from Proteus.
3) Reference Mono Arm: Micro 282AU/Otophone SPU Mono - the winner is Micro-Seiki “Fat” cable, there was no runners up as I do not know any better cable. Micro-Seiki made two cables: less expensive with plastic molded terminators and more expensive, large and fat cable with very small steal-made terminators. This second “Fat” cable is absolutely phenomenal – the cable does everything just perfect. The cable is long-gone unfortunately and it never pops up even at eBay. All that I did to it was changing the rusty terminators to the new one and it was it.
4) References Stereo Arm: SME 3012+23g / Shelter 901 - well here it is almost predictable - the Purist Dominus Rev “B”. Sine this is my best arm with best needle I was looking for something special from the phono cable. The old (can I say vintage?) Dominus is as special as it could be. It is hard to imagine how much I hate to use this cable for phonostage: the terminators got broken off, the cable is very large, heavy and stiff, the shielding is very not optimum, sometime the cable is noisy there are many other issuers and it is nightmare to use the cable. Do not forget that this cable weights more then some flimsy turntables! However, if to endue all usability misesry7 of this cable then the cable reimburses with sonic performance of unmatchable scale. Ok, let to deep a little in my world: one of the very important characteristic for me is a playback treats a performing movement as an atomic but CONTINUES event. The sonic proceedings with a movement or within an aria should be connected even if orchestra or singers are silent. The length and the depth of the musical poses are superbly meaningful and should be filled with purpose and artistes intend. I hate the George Solti type of pointless slicing music with phraseological booleans. I would like to see an orchestra that starts with opening of movement and run line an engine to the very last note of the movement. Sure, the orchestra might decay to absolute silence and do not play at all even for minutes but the silence should be saturated with artistic message. Here where I take Barbirolli over Solti and here were I take vintage Dominus over any other cable. Dominus has own ghosts that live within it and the way in which vintage Dominus connects the events is nothing short of extraordinary. This and many other qualities made me to forgive vintage Dominus some lightness in lover bass and a few other sonic minor and seconday limitations