Tim F

Couple of high end interconnects... shoot out

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So move on if you don't believe in cables... no point commenting, this isn't a fighting thread! This is my first attempt at a review so be nice :)

I've been running Black Star RCA interconnects and some Missing Link Cryo Reference RCA. 

So RRP's on these are pretty heavy the Black Star was £2400, which is frankly crazy. The Missing Link in the length I have, would be around £700. 

Technology wise

  • The Black Star appears to be using some sort of hollow tube, you can see the make up only in their demo video on youtube where it more closely resembles a television aerial cable with a core wire, if I have to explain. This is very different from any cable I've seen made by the usual suspects in Japan. It has RCA connectors that look like nobody else's too. I believe this is a very custom cable, which may partly explain the extremely high initial price. 
  • The Missing Link uses Eichman Silver Bullet  RCA connectors and a pure silver solid core conductor. Claims of how this is different to any high end silver cable you can get appear to be silver purity (not a given on all cables), cryogenic freezing, some proprietary metal heating system and a custom damping system. For reference, you can pick up this type of cable minus the claimed "special" damping and cryogenic freezing and heating for around £400. It is highly likely the silver is sourced from one of the main Japanese companies but I can't confirm. 

Both are treated with Stabilant 22 to make sure there are no poor contacts.  

History

The Black Star has been in the system for 2 months or so, and I know its presentation, so putting something new in becomes easier to detect. I have a very high resolution system. If you don't, frankly I wouldn't bother with interconnects at this price. They are a subtle last change rather than presenting ground breaking differences. Also, the speaker cables I changed had a much bigger impact.  

Sound impressions

Here are my simple initial impressions. There are two clear differences between these cables that are possible to hear without needing to quick switch A/B demo. I have had a lot of different cables through that I can't tell the difference with, but am confident that these are sufficiently different to do so.

Black Star

At a simple level the treble on the Black Star seems slightly brighter with a little more reverb, the imaging is larger. It is not bright but it does (for me at least) sound better. This is an initial impression.

Cryo Ref

The main difference here is the bass line, this is not due to less treble, it is more distinct. The bass lines stand out, and the midrange has more punch. Quite odd really. When you listen you can hear the bass lines clearly, even when they are very subtle and the notes are close. The Black Star's bass line is there but it drifts below the music with the treble and air standing out as it's main focus.

Back to the treble, some have described the Missing Link as having more "black space", and in a way you could say that from what I'm hearing. Whether you prefer that is up to you. 

So I'm not a pro at reviewing and those are initial impressions. I'll run the Missing Link for a good while and see if the treble grows on me and if I miss the bass when I switch back. The cable is not brand new but many claim cables need to bed in, I'm not convinced but why not do it?

I have Oyaide Tunami Terzo RR 1 on the way so will add to the review of that one when it arrives too.

 

image.png

Edited by Tim F
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Super Wammer

Tim, it would interesting if you could complete your system details, as then we’d understand the context.  Thanks for your review!

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Without going into lots of detail, used in this test:

  • ARC Ref 3 Preamp - with upgraded valves including NOS rectifier
  • Auralic Aries Femto Streamer
  • ARC V140 monoblock power amps 
  • Lampizator Amber Plus Dac with NOS valves
  • Focal Scala Utopia III speakers

Interconnects used between the Dac and Preamp. 

Edited by Tim F

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As part of your tests have you tried said interconnects between pre and power? 

The one not in use (when using the other between dac and pre) could be used to connect pre and power and vice versa .. 

In my time of playing with cables I noticed that the analogue connection between cd player and preamp had noticeable differences between cables but similarly so did connections from pre to power.

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I have heard Tim's system and it is not only high resolution but very musical and organic. Must be even better with the V140s. I would give it a bit more time to get a broader view of how the cables respond and for any settling of the cables (if such a thing exists). Silver cables with less treble that will surprise a few but it happens with high quality silver. Hollow cables have been used before and some originate from microwave cables. As I have only heard a DAC microwave cable can't really comment.

Of course, the worst outcome will be a preference for the treble of the Black star and the bass of the Cryo Ref. The Oyaide may be a bridge between the two.

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The Studio Connections cables (Black Star) are very good but system dependent as with all stuff at this price level. Personally I’m a fan of Atlas Asimi cables but also silly money but just happens to do good things between my CD player and headphone energiser. The good things meaning a great sense of space within the soundstage in my case.

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19 hours ago, Tim F said:

S

Technology wise

  • The Black Star appears to be using some sort of hollow tube, you can see the make up only in their demo video on youtube where it more closely resembles a television aerial cable with a core wire, if I have to explain. This is very different from any cable I've seen made by the usual suspects in Japan. It has RCA connectors that look like nobody else's too. I believe this is a very custom cable, which may partly explain the extremely high initial price. 
  •  

image.png

He 3D prints the Reference Plus RCA plug casings, so I am guessing these will be made the same way.

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Hi Tim,

Good review, I am using a Black star between my cd and dac and have to say it's the best I've tried so far.

I'm in the middle of my own cable journey, and am surprised that between the Nordost Frey and Draco that I recently auditioned, on one particular album, that bass alternated between sounding like an electric and an upright. Go figure.

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1 hour ago, Speedskater said:

Tell us about how you kept all your listening tests, ears only.

He only used his ears to listen, I think. Not sure there is any other way to listen. Through the nose???

Edited by George 47

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5 minutes ago, joolz said:

Hi Tim,

Good review, I am using a Black star between my cd and dac and have to say it's the best I've tried so far.

I'm in the middle of my own cable journey, and am surprised that between the Nordost Frey and Draco that I recently auditioned, on one particular album, that bass alternated between sounding like an electric and an upright. Go figure.

How does the bass sound for you? 

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Good - both cables sound 'right' - as if the artists were on a stage in front of you.The Frey is slightly more forward and detailed on the treble, the Draco makes the bass sound like an upright. Strangely on balance I prefer the Nordost, I would have thought I would prefer the Draco......

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