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Reviewer: Glen Wagenknecht
Financial Interests: click here
Source: Luxman Bird modified by Audio Upgrades to be a now tube-less, zero oversampling machine with integral volume control
Amplifier: Bel Canto 200.4
Speakers: Apogee Duetta Signature, Paradigm Servo 15 subwoofer
Cables: Signal Cable Silver Reference interconnects and speaker cables
Resonance Control: Solid Tech, EquaRack, Superspikes and Black Diamond
Powerline conditioning: Noise Destroyer power filtration
Room size: 12' x 17.
Review Component Retail: $225 or $365 for 0.5m/pr in RCA or XLR starting for the interconnect; $399 or $430 for 6’/pr in spade or banana termination starting for the speaker cable; $325/1m starting for the power cable (at the time of this review, the manufacturer offered discounted pricing – check website for current offers).

Does the hot-rodder break the law of diminishing returns? Or, what’s the verdict on the AudioArt Special Edition cables? Picture this enviable dilemma. The original AudioArt line of cables gained an excellent reputation and several awards based on the concept of high quality for budget prices. Mr. Fritz adopted the direct sales model and enlisted the help of Mr. Darren Hovsepian of DH Labs fame to design his product. That direct sales model coupled with offshore manufacture to his specification has allowed him to offer a highly competitive line at inexpensive pricing. Good sound. True high value. Good reviews. Awards. What to do for an encore?

Thus the SE Special Edition line was born and the original AudioArt cables became the Classic line. Rather than design an entirely different set of cables from the ground up, Mr. Fritz chose to put his faith in the basic integrity of his original cable design and hot rod those models by adding premium connectors and making cosmetic upgrades. While the cost of the new SE version is somewhat higher, it is a direct reflection of the cost of the high caliber parts chosen. To put it bluntly, the price is cheap for the hardware. Here are a few excerpts of Mr. Fritz’s description of how that process came about.

… "Signature Edition” series. The IC-3SE interconnect, SC-5SE speaker cable and power 1 SE AC cable are all upgraded (or hot-rodded if you will) versions of my entry level or Classic Series models as they will be called now. All SEs use the same cable as the Classics but have upgraded plugs, connectors, solder and other features. As the legend goes, amplifier designer and manufacturer Ric Schultz of Electronic Visionary Systems purchased an IC-3 from me a few years back and liked the cable so much, he was inspired to experiment with upgrading the plugs. At the time, he tried only Eichmann Bullets per my recollection. He called me to share the story and his results and the idea to create an IC-3SE was born.

"I took things a step further and developed prototypes using …along with the Sound Connections Xhadows (the latter on recommendation from a good friend who used to rep for a high end cable manufacturer who shall remain nameless). At the risk of navigating to the precipice of the infamous lunatic fringe, I also tried different high-end solder types after hearing from various sources that they all sounded different. Listening to different combinations and getting feedback from trusted beta testers, I decided that the Sound Connections Xhadow with Cardas Quad-Eutectic solder yielded the most favorable overall results with the IC-3 cable... Fast forward a couple of years and I felt it was time to do the same thing with the SC-5 and Power 1. I had also received many requests from customers along the way to do this. The power 1SE is technically a step up involving upper-end Furutech plugs, the Rhodium-plated FI-28(R) plus the jacketing and branded shrink."

With some level of confidence, AudioArt is now offering the Special Edition line as a challenge to the cost-no-object designs on the market. Do the SE Hot Rod products live up to their objective?