initial thoughts on the phono cable and the Indra
(based on the initial listening session):
Tom Evans Groove Plus Phono Stage
Tom Evans Vibe Preamplifier with Pulse Power Supply
M21 Silver interconnects
Mercury Ag monoblocks
CR speaker cables
well treated room
The system is
very fast and open with good tonal balance. I had been using a Tom
Evans interconnect between the turntable and the phono stage, as
this was the best I had been able to find previously, and by a
fairly wide margin. I
had previously used Harmonic Technology Silver Phono cable, which
also had an 'outboard' configurable grounding system, which seemed
to make no difference whatsoever no matter how I configured it, so I
just left it all disconnected. I then moved up to Nirvana SX LTD
which was supposedly designed as a phono cable. It was a step up
from the HT, with more warmth, extension and harmonic development.
It was also very quiet, more so than the HT.
I then moved up to a pair of Ensemble cables which I would
characterize as an improved version of the Nirvana. It was also very
quiet, with exactly the same tonal characteristics as the Nirvana,
but with greater detail retrieval, greater extension and better
resolution. Then I had moved to a pair of Transparent Reference XL
phono cables, which was more of a lateral move. It was perhaps
better than the Ensemble in some ways and inferior in others. A
little punchier, but it had a very obvious mid bass emphasis.
Had some good qualities, but was probably the most obviously
colored of anything used up until that time. Then moved to a pair of
Tom Evans cables, which we have been using exclusively as a phono
cable for the last year and a half.
Unassuming looking cable which was a
huge step above anything else used up until that time.
Made the Transparent seem slow as molasses and about the same
sonic color. Completely neutral with great speed, openness,
extension, dynamics and very realistic bass and treble response.
Also just as quiet as anything else used previously. It's the cable
he develops the electronics with, and it's something he has made up
for that purpose. It wasn't actually marketed by the electronics
company, but by the prior distributor.
The electronics company itself was ambivalent about marketing
cable. I liked it
better than anything else I had tried ( and I had tried both the M21
Silver and the PGS3D as a phono cable)--but only when used as a
phono cable. Elsewhere
in the system I had better results with the Stealth.
the Stealth 50/50 phono cable for the Tom Evans cable: Serguei, thank
you. I hate evaluating
cable, as a general rule. It usually
takes me weeks of going back and forth, and constant worrying about
whether or not the cable is broken in yet, or whether or not I have
let it settle in long enough without moving it, that the dielectric
is or is not disturbed. Or
whether or not I have it off the carpet far enough or too much
static electricity is built up on the jacket (this is a very low
humidity area). I really like the Tom Evans cable in this
application, because it is so fast, just like the electronics, and,
to date it has been the only cable which didn't seem to be holding
the electronics back. It was obvious instantly that your phono cable,
right out of the box, was equal to or better than the Tom Evans in
every way, though to be fair, it is considerably more expensive than
the Tom Evans. The Tom Evans was hugely better than the Transparent, and
there may be as large a margin between yours and the Tom Evans as
there was between the Tom Evans and everything else
going to have to spend weeks trying to be sure I have made a complete
and accurate assessment. The first thing I noticed was that either
your grounding scheme, or the shielding works. This is the quietest
phono cable I have used, by a significant margin, and I
really didn't feel I had any problem in that area. In fact most
visitors usually had remarked how quiet the phono section was (The
Tom Evans phono stage is pretty much dead quiet anyway) Now it's
obviously quieter, something which I was struck by immediately, even
though I wasn't expecting it, or looking for it. I should also
probably mention that I haven't always found your regular
interconnects to be quieter than the things they replaced. The
Ensemble and the Nirvana are both quieter than the M21 or PGS3D, but
the Stealth were better in every other way. If total quiet was the
most important thing I wanted out of life, I would go sit in the
library. Very nice to have it in a phono cable though. Sonically, I'm
not going to go into a full review, because I lack reviewing skills,
but it seemed to be an improvement in every way over the cable I was
using. It was just as fast as the Tom Evans, but with greater
resolution (which I would not have thought possible) and more 'body'
by which I guess I mean greater harmonic development.
A clearer window, over what was already a very clear window.
Again, I would not have guessed that this much improvement was
possible. All in all, the phono cable was probably the biggest jump
forward of any wire substitution I have ever made.
Lovely to listen to- a very engaging, neutral, fast yet full
bodied piece of work. Bravo!
And thanks. When I put the Indra into the system, between the
phono preamp and the preamplifier it was more of the same. I'll not
go into a lot of description at this time, because my experience
pretty much mirrors things which have been written elsewhere.
Everything just got better. Again, better in ways and amounts
I may not have been expecting, because things improved in areas
where I didn't think I had that much room for improvement.
As others have said, it's just a clearer window that lets
more in. Maybe it's not a clearer window, maybe it's an open window.
The predominant thing I found was that the music just sounded
'bigger' and more realistic, more fully developed. It's hard to
describe. I hesitate to say it had more "presence" because
I already had plenty of that, plus that tends to convey the idea
that something is slightly 'tipped up' which wasn't the case.
Completely neutral, wonderful dynamics, wonderful and
realistic body to voices and instruments. The best way I could
describe it to myself will make no sense to anyone else, I'm sure,
because it's not an accepted audiophile concept. The notes just
sounded like they were 'wider'. There was just more of the note
there, and I'm not talking about duration. Again,
I'm not going to have to take weeks debating with myself
about the merits of the Indra, as I have in the past, even with
really top notch cables. It has made a large difference. So, again,
Bravo. And thanks. Having said that, from a purely evaluative
standpoint, the phono cable actually made more of a difference in
this system than the Indra did, for what that's worth. This may be
totally system dependent, or it may be due to the fact that I put
the phono cable in first, or it may be due to the fact that I lack
reviewing skills, though that hasn't stopped a lot of the people who
write for Stereophile. Anyway, great stuff, all around.
As a side
note, when Terry Cain was here this weekend, he said that
our listening room was one of the best he had ever heard,
acoustically, perhaps the best. He may have just been being kind,
but it made us feel pretty good nonetheless. The only reason I
mention this is that the room definitely isn't muddy sounding and
it's pretty good for evaluating equipment.