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This photo shows a run of Black Cat NeoMorpheus in Atlanta/Georgia having its secondary pure copper shield applied over an Aeron™ nylon insulator. "The interior of this cable is a pure OFHC copper tube with 0.008" thick walls inside a pure Teflon continuous filament Aeron dielectric and pure copper shield." This settled that Chris is a white cat when it comes to rebranding Asian-sourced volume spools. He rolls his own and does so with home-grown US of A labor. Enter Aeron, a process applied to both multi-filament nylon and equivalent pure unbleached Teflon insulators. Resultant internodal air gaps lower their dielectric constants to drive down capacitance and increase propagation velocity. In principle this air injection mirrors what DuPont call foamed Teflon.

Their website has this: "Today DuPont pioneer innovations by foaming fluoroplastic resins to support advanced TIA/EIA Category 6- and 10-gigabit comm, coaxial and other cables with high data-transmission ratios. Foamed fluoroplastic resin insulators show lower dielectric constants to provide opportunities for miniaturization and weight savings with lower dielectric wall thickness. Because this reduces dissipation factor, such insulated wires have lower capacitance and less signal attenuation. Foamed insulation also increases the relative velocity of data transmission over insulated wire."

Having brought his own procedure in-house to process raw materials at will enables more cost-effective manufacture for Chris. For Aeron he even cites mechanical damping benefits to counter physical resonances traveling down a wire. If you ever grabbed a speaker cable tight and felt bass pulses in your hands, you know how this isn't an imaginary phenomenon though one expects its magnitude to be significantly lower with low-voltage digital transmissions.

Turning our attention briefly to the Silverstar 75 S/PDIF namesake, we already get ±1Ω constant impedance (in this case 75Ω), "tens of GHz of bandwidth limited only by the connectors and connected gear, broadband 75Ω BNCs with >6GHz bandwidth and extensive shielding using both flat-wound metal foil and silver-plated copper woven shields." What is the native impedance for USB? I sent Chris the above for comments. His lengthy very candid reply provides us with a perhaps unexpected but invaluable insight into the risks of hifi entrepreneurship:

December 2004 is when I bought the Cosecant. This ostensibly was January 2005 when I introduced the Caliburn turntable at CES for my Signal Collection company. For context permit me a small rewind to ~2002. Initially my Stereovox business partner was resistant to affordable cables despite the fact that our first pricey offerings weren't selling all that well thanks largely to the recent economic bubble burst and the broad hunkering down of the market. He thought we should be doing only exotic luxury cables. Affordable cables would sully the luxury shimmer. I managed to convince him that we had no choice. I'd lead our Studio Series with a nice digital/video cable. With that he was okay because I already had a reputation in that arena and we didn’t yet have a digital cable in the catalog, just the SEI-600 interconnect with my signature square RCA connectors and the LSP-600 with my monocoque spades hewn from silver-plated pure copper rod stock.

This is how in 2003 the Studio series was born with the HDXV digital cable. In 2005 it led to the introduction of the HDLS loudspeaker cable and HDSE single-ended interconnect. These two were based on my use of a OFHC pure copper micro tube, an iteration of which my NeoMorpheus cable still uses today. It’s a killer conductor but far more expensive than solid or stranded copper even of the OCC sort. Gauge foot for gauge foot it's about half as much as five-nines pure silver. It was pretty much pulling teeth just to get him to agree to the Studio Series since it was sort of detestably downmarket for his high-minded ideas about our brand. To a degree he did have a point. If we wanted to look at ourselves as Ferrari for instance, we should avoid putting a Mondial to market. But I wasn’t buying into the Ferrari paradigm. Thanks to a lack of revenues, a Ferrari wasn’t going to be in my future. At the time a crunchy old red 4-cylinder Nissan pickup purchased from my cousin Nick for $500 was my present and my future.

As an aside I met my wife in June of 2003. For a first date we had one of those safe afternoon coffees with my crunchy old pickup truck parked right out front. In an effort to somehow explain what I do (to the uninitiated 'cable designer' sounds like 'spatula designer': who knew they needed designing?), I went to the truck and retrieved an HDXV in its silvery ESD zipper bag. Despite the strangeness of my career and POS crunchy-red pickup she managed somehow to see something worthwhile and agreed to a second date. We were engaged 9 months later, married 12 months after that and my son was born 17 months after that. Thank you HDXV!

The HDXV changed our fortunes enough to help finance redesigns of the Reference cables and connectors. It made them somewhat more affordable without breaking through to the lower entry-level ranks. This too was quite helpful in the long run. Oddly this distillation of reference material was another point of contention. At least philosophically my partner saw it as a defeat. But I had bills to pay and needed to adapt as a businessman, not as a hobbyist with a chip on his shoulder and a trust fund in his back. The redesign of the Reference line and my later designs of the Xhadow loudspeaker, banana, RCA and XLR connectors—still made and sold by Vampire Wire—happened essentially from our success with the HDXV. It's where we were when Gordon’s Cosecant USB DAC hit. When I bought that first Cosecant I was really blown away by what Gordon had achieved. It was such intensely out-of-the-box thinking all around and my iMac/Cosecant served as my reference digital front end for quite a while.

2009 Cosecant V3
  At this point (2004/2005) and with more than a few models in the catalog and quite a lot of effort and money invested in making all of it happen, a USB cable just wasn’t going to be added. We both looked at market viability. It was basically just Wavelength and however many USB DACs Gordon might sell. So we didn’t even give it a second thought. Far and away the market was S/PDIF and we already made one of the best S/PDIF cables in the world. We stuck to what we did and knew. At that point the market for USB DACs was almost invisibly small. Not jumping in was the safe position.

I suspect the first thing which actually made the USB DAC much more attractive to audiophiles at large was the advent of high-resolution downloads. That's relatively recent. HD Tracks didn’t even start delivering relatively high-res material until late 2008 and didn’t gain steam for another 1-2 years. That puts us into 2009-2010.

The next thing which made the USB DAC attractive for hifi was the rising popularity of the high-end desktop headphone rig. and made young computer-savvy headphonistas interacting on forums into an influential market force. That influence is probably two to three years old. Yes there were some earlier specialized USB cables but the establishment of a general market for them is only about 2 years old. I think that the first USB cable reviews were emerging ~2009. The overall market wasn’t really seeing much USB action until 2010. From that perspective I’m lagging behind by about 2-3 years. But that doesn’t mean I was inactive.