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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Source: Accustic Arts Drive-1; Audio Aero Prima SE [on loan]
Preamp/Integrated: Bel Canto PRe2; Audiopax Model 5
Amp: AUDIOPAX Model 88; JJAZ IP110KW monos & IP205KW stereo [on review]; Onix SP3; Eastern Electric M520 [on review]; H2O Audio M250 Signature [on review]
Speakers: Avantgarde Duo; Gallo Acoustics Reference 3
Cables: Stealth Audio Varidig S/PDIF, Stealth Audio Indra (x2), Crystal Cable Reference interconnects, speaker cable and power cords; ZCable Hurricane power cords on both conditioners
Stands: 2 x Grand Prix Audio Monaco four-tier
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S
Sundry accessories: GPA Formula Carbon/Kevlar shelf for transport; GPA Apex footers underneath stand and speakers; Walker Audio SST on all connections; Walker Audio Vivid CD cleaner; Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; WorldPower cryo'd Hubbell wall sockets; Musse Audio resonance dampers on DUO subs
Room size: 30' w x 18' d x 10' h [sloping ceiling] in long-wall setup in one half, with open adjoining living room for a total of ca.1000 squ.ft floor plan
Review Component Retail: $400/0.35m | $575/0.7m | $650/1m

"Hey Srajan. I know you've been boinking that skinny Crystal chick for a while. But, there's this new skinny girl in town. And she's only wearing the sheerest of silk kimonos. I can arrange a date. She's all hot and so ready for you..." Steve Eddy
Pimping for better sound. Now there was a novel concept I just had to explore - for the sake of our readers, naturally. Regular participants at the Asylum -- hell, even posters on the long-gone The Audiophile Network that netted Stereophile some of its popular writers -- will recognize Steve Eddy as a well-informed, humorous and sharp-shooting audiophile. What not all may know is that he's been working for the Coda-Continuum Group of Sacramento in various functions for years, an employment that just recently ended for a change of pace. It continues on as freelance contract work on CAD and circuit boards for various firms. What even fewer will know is that Steve's been pursuing his own products under the Q umbrella of James Bond's secret mission to her Majesty's Audiophile Service. Not quite. But he does call his solo outfit Q - a Continuum Group Company. His first Q product was a ground loop terminator called The Interface. His latest commercial Q venture is an interconnect called Tao, the mysteriously alluring geisha of his original e-mail. And what a skinny, black-haired lady she really is.

As usual, the receipt of the little Priority Mail box caught me red-handed in the midst of another review assignment. But the all-natural innards -- "made on planet earth" as Q's slogan goes which includes handmade Nepalese paper for the instructional insert -- were so different that I decided to tell you about them right away while the listening impressions will have to wait a little. The Tao of Q is a hand-woven quad-braid affair terminated in African Ebony hand-turned cylinders housing low-mass, nickel-plated brass plugs. The dielectric is one single wrap of finest filament silk and the signal-carrying arteries below are "aged, solid-core binary alloy conductors in a self-shielding quad geometry with the four conductors cut from a contiguous length of wire. The conductor pairs for signal and ground are paired using wires of opposing directions."

The aggregate diameter of this analog cable is roughly similar to Crystal Cable's newest Piccolo which is spec'd as 1.5mm. Because Steve Eddy's cable is braided, the intermediate nodes are actually slimmer even than the Teflon-jacketed solid Piccolo. We're indeed talking way thin, with the individual solid-core conductors being 30 gauge. This of course means that the cable should be handled with reasonable care. It's not nearly as fragile however as the infamous Omega Mikro ribbon and its plugs slip on so easily as to require zero handling force to put them on or take them off. In other words, nothing prohibitive or squirrely. Plain common sense is all that's required to work with the Tao. In fact, Steve chronicled his own destruction research to test the cable's resilience to abuse. He spun each end of the test cable around his fingers six times in one direction, then six times in the opposite direction, fast enough to hear a whistling sound and stress both wire and covering. He then repeated this entire process 100 times before he managed to break one connector (but not its silk sleeve 2/1000th of an inch thick).

So let's take stock. Micro diameters. Simple construction. Complete absence of hi-tech insulators and the usual plastics and foams. Ditto for multiple layers and spacers. Likewise for he-man connectors with shiny metals. All of these attributes are reminiscent of Japanese and French underground experiments that have systematically questioned the common wisdom of - well, pretty much everything the average American audiophile holds dear: Inefficient multi-way speakers. High-power amplifiers. High-mass connectors. Metal for enclosures. Active powerline filtering. Oversampling. Complexity. Glitz. Unnecessary weight. Unnecessary size. Spikes. Overkill. More is better. According to that Tao, not!

That's Steve Eddy's headspace as well. He's been experimenting with monolithic and hybrid ceramic chip amps long before the GainCard ever hit the scene. He designed the Alpha Logic Unity Gain Interface while passive preamps were all the rage. He's presently working on low-power battery-powered electronics for his own enjoyment, attempting to eliminate all active gain devices. The next limited production model for Q will be a matching speaker cable to the Tao interconnect. The binary alloy designation of the Tao refers to its two rather than three or more metals that make up the metallurgical mix. Filament silk refers to not spun but the very long threads of raw silk prior to spinning. A French company applies them for Steve Eddy to his conductors which he then hand-braids and terminates in his Sacramento studio.
Q The Interface

Though I pried with all the tactical Germanic tenacity at my disposal, Steve would not reveal the makeup of the conductor alloy except to confirm that it's free of silver. Unless you're a geisha in a transparent silk kimono yourself, I doubt you'd find out anything more than I did.