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In summary, recorded sound is based on assumptions about how it originally sounded and how it ought to sound. The first is an unknown factor. The second is the result of cultural bias and acquired taste. And don’t we all known what these assumptions gave birth to?

Against this background we received a review solicitation for some new cables from Nanotec Systems of Japan. Previously we reviewed some of their cables and liked them. This reaction arose from the fact that their cables blended very well with the rest of our audio system at the time. We know what we like and want in our system and most of the time also how to achieve it by playing off components and the room. When looking at a collection of interconnected audio components as a system, each individual component could be allotted a symbolic + or -. Srajan used this approach in a much earlier review. In theory an audio system should be neutral at the end of the line. This is not absolute neutrality but the subjectively desirable sound we want in our room. A chain of power filter, power cable, source, interconnect, power cable, preamp, interconnect, power cable, power amp, loudspeaker cable and loudspeakers activates a room. For simplicity we here consider the room as an entity even though it holds many adjustable parameters for room tuning. Using the +/- notion the chain could be described as: + / - / + / + / - / + / - / + / + / - / -  = 0

When the speaker cable is changed, the outcome of zero will change to either plus 1 or minus 1. Now it is up to the listener to judge if the difference is beneficial or not. If it is to the listener’s liking, the revised chain gets a new 0 setting which no longer corresponds to the previous one. Clearly 0 is far from absolute and changes each time something is altered. If the listener is dissatisfied with her system, the theoretical 0 could be sub zero and the quest for a component —any component—to redress the balance should commence. Of course working like this is valid only when the listener knows what he wants. Maybe the zero should be an exclamation point for satisfaction reached and a question mark when that state hasn’t been attained yet.

In our experience loudspeaker cables above zip cord only make subtle differences. Otherwise a serious mismatch must be at hand. So review acceptance is based on something other than hoping for drastic changes. Over the years we learnt a few lessons especially on cables which changed our focus. For us to accept a cable review solicitation now requires first of all value for money on paper. This means no (more) hundreds of euro per meter. It also requires user friendliness. Extremely stiff or heavy cables are out. While the idea behind a cable insulated with ball bearings or magnets might be brilliant, in practice it can be a pain. Glitz packaging costing more than a good dinner turns us off too. What remains are innovative designs. Those will trigger our curiosity to accept an assignment.

In audio each years brings only a few true innovations. With a myriad of makes and brands, most of them offer more of the same. Only occasionally something exciting emerges. When the price tag is not too far out of sync or has a healthy rationale, a newcomer captures our attention. We have already welcomed Kapton and Peek dielectrics and carbon conductors, even amorphous cables which made an interesting proposition albeit never large-scale production due to prohibitive raw material costs.

Another cable we accepted for a closer look championed an oil-infused nano silver/gold particle application developed by Nanotec Systems of Tokyo, Japan. As we reported here, this cable is built of high purity copper treated with a colloidal solution of gold and silver particles suspended in fish oil with pure cotton and rice paper insulation inside a PVC sleeve. The cable was easy to dress, had enough weight to resist resonances and sounded pleasing. On top of that the pricing was and remains realistic. By using the fish-oil coating, the copper wire is unlikely to oxidize in our lifetime. The nano particles of gold and silver are a budget-friendly alternative to equivalent expensive metallurgic processes as used by Mundorf, Crystal Cable, Siltech and others.