After I told Serguei that I would be glad to write about my impressions of an Indra Beta cable, I had the idea of using wine terms for an audio review. There’s a fair degree of overlap between the terminology of oenophiles (people who appreciate and enjoy wine) and audiophiles. A wine can taste “murky,” for example, which means lacking in brightness and aliveness – like a lot of audio gear. A wine can taste “flinty” (hard, austere) – like poor quality solid state gear. A wine can be “thin” (lacking in “body”) or “assertive” (upfront, forward), and so on.
Terms like these are often used to describe the way a careful choice of cables can help bring an audio system into better “balance,” another wine term that means bringing different qualities together so well that “nothing sticks out.” The right cables, for example, can help tame an overly assertive system or make a system that sounds too “bright” sound more “mellow” or “sweet.”
The cable Serguei provided had come back into his possession after several months of use, so it was already broken in. Nevertheless, Serguei said it still shouldn’t be evaluated until it had settled in to my own system for two or three weeks. The mechanical disturbance caused by handling a cable affects its performance until it “rests” a while. It struck me again that there is a parallel to wine. Wine distributors will sometimes advise dealers not to have
tasting of a recently shipped wine until it “rests” a while from the disturbance of being shipped.
When I started to listen seriously to my system with the Indra IC between the CD player and the preamp, I was both delighted and frustrated – delighted at the sound but frustrated at how useless most wine terms are for describing that sound. The difficulty is that the Indra seems to have little impact on the tone of the system, so the kinds of terms I’ve been illustrating that work in describing both tones and flavors simply don’t apply.
If there’s any wine term that does apply to the Indra, it’s “clarity.” In wines, that refers to the absence of cloudiness or sediment in the wine. With the Indra, it means the absence of any kind of electronic glaze, haze or distortion.
I assume no cable can really correct fundamental limitations or problems in the sound of other components. A cable can help mask or counter a problem, but can’t eliminate it. So the huge improvement in sound quality that the Indra provides must come from overcoming the fundamental limitations and problems that other cables introduce into a system. The sound of the Indra is the sound of one hand clapping… the sound of NOTHING… or rather the sound that your components produce unaltered by the electronic artifacts that even high quality cables typically introduce.
What the Indra does isn’t subtle, it’s spectacular, but it’s hard to describe. The tone of a double bass stays just the same, but with the Indra it sounds more natural and I have to carefully close a closet door to keep it from vibrating because more bass power comes through at the same volume level. The tone of a drummer tapping on cymbals is the same, but more of the complex harmonics come through. A choral group singing Madrigals in a large church literally bursts through all my walls and it seems like my ceiling is a hundred feet high, yet every voice is in a distinct place. There’s a life and immediacy to every CD I put on that I never knew was in those little disks. The Indra is ultra-transparent and highly revealing, but without any of the edginess or tension that those qualities can sometimes bring. In fact, the music has a relaxed quality, as if pouring forth unhindered from a conduit as large as the front of my room instead of spewing in a high pressure stream from small speaker openings.
I’ve tried a lot of cables over the 30 years or so that I’ve been involved in this hobby, but until hearing the Indra I had no idea just how much difference cables can make in a system. I want a second one to go between preamp and amp. Then I’ll pour a glass of wine, go listen some more, and write another evaluation.
Bob Olson, Arlington, Virginia
- YBA 1 CD player
- VPI Mk IV turntable with SOMA, SME5 arm and Koetsu Rosewood Signature cartridge
- YBA 1 High Current Amplifier
- YBA 1 Preamp with separate power supply
- JM Labs Deva Utopia Be speakers
- PS Audio Power Plant
- Stealth Indra interconnect
- VeraStarr Silver Reference Statement speaker cable