Skogrand SC Markarian 421 cables review

Knut Skogrand is for sure man of charisma and extended views on how the world in general and especially the audio world can be bettered. Being a working musician gives him a certain feeling about the world of audio and he combines it with life experience.

The secrets of the technology behind Skogrand cables seems to be as mystic as Norwegian mythological world and beings. Knut doesn't reveal much about the technology implemented and this might seems a bit arrogant at first, but the result and performance of Skogrand Cables speaks for them self. Over the last year you may have noticed Skogrand cables in some of the most respected systems and within the home of audiophiles and music lovers where you don't ask about the price of their audio chain as even a brief look tells you that its over-mighty. Yes, why would they choose Skogrand's?...

You can read my positive review of first Skogrand cables here. Skogrand SC Markarian 421 speaker cables and SCI Markarian 421 RCA interconnects are the elaborate take on Skogrand first cable products release. Many things happen down the path of the Norwegian high-end audio man. Goverment granted support shows that Knut is on the path of something special and more importantly something right! I'm always rejoiced to see a company advancing with each new product and not just reusing the "same ol' same ol'." How often do we see just a repacking of the same technology (if any technology at all) with the new clothes and a heftier price tag? These days too often! This is where high-end audio becomes a playground for snake oiling. Be assured, Knut Skogrand is the "honest" man when it comes to his cable products. 

In the past few years I would say that Skogrand, LessLoss and High Fidelity Cables made a more than worthy contribution regarding the performance of their products, performance that goes way beyond their price range. They are all great, but all excels with some defining attributes. All of them have something in common;  tested and researched technology, working beyond the ordinary in the high-end audio domain.

A few words from Mr. Skogrand to elaborate on his backround and his philosophy:

"I was born and raised in the Norwegian countryside. The tranquility and calm of the surroundings growing up in the edge of a forest gave a biding backdrop of silence that quite possibly was a determining factor in my choices later in life. Music and sound are vital parts of my being, parts of my very essence so to speak.

My father helped me to listen to music, to comprehend what I was listening to and to “watch” the music unfold in colors and images in the mind. My mother was even more of a music lover and she gave me her full support when I later decided to delve into the music scene.  I started writing my own Adventure Music when I was 3 or 4. After that I started taking piano lessons. In my teens I started writing more pop/rock/jazz oriented music. I then started numerous bands to perform my tunes.  I stayed active writing and performing in Norway and internationally until I settled down up in these mountain hills. I’ve built a very capable studio to hone my skills.

At one point I was looking to buy some decent speaker cables for my studio. I scanned the net for half a year until I found a pair that suited my needs.  When I received them in the mail my first thoughts were: “What’s this? Has he made these himself?”. I did some further research and found out that the cables actually retailed for a fraction of what I had paid for them used. I convinced the seller to refund my costs and then I started looking at what speaker cables actually are. Myth and fact – fiction and truth. And as anyone more experienced than I was might know there truly is a lot of humbug in the cable market. Prices are not connected to either production costs or necessarily to performance value. So I decided to research the area thoroughly and connected with skilled researchers and master craftsmen globally and went on to create cables that would surpass any other speaker cable on the market. The construction goal was as it still is to develop and manufacture the absolute best performing audio cables in the world. Curiosity and hunger for optimal performance drove me to this. My many years in the silence of the Norwegian countryside has made me constantly aware of the nature of sound, the essentiality of having a perfectly silent backdrop to let the sounds (and music) stand out with their true splendor.
Our cables are manufactured in a small workshop in the mountain hills of Norway. We stand firmly within a thousand year history of cautious and sincere laboring towards our goals, in unison with the Norwegian tradition of highly skilled craftsmen taking pride in delivering their utmost when thinking through and constructing our products. This tradition of sincere consciousness is clearly seen in everything from the Norwegian  wooden stave churches to our world leading oil production technology.

Heddal wooden stave church in Norway

The “Gjøa” deep sea oil drilling platform in the North Sea.
Our cables have proven their unmatched performance both in-house through testing and with reviewers and clients worldwide. Their ability to deliver is enjoyed in a great variety of setups including tubes, solid-state, speakers of all designs and sizes, in digital PC driven environments as well as fully analog dedicated vinyl settings. Our latest installments are with the Kipnis Studio Standard and the Epiphany Recording Studio in New York owned by Tonmeister Jeremy Robinson Kipnis.

Photography by Robert Wright / Copyright Kipnis Studios © 2013

We have distilled the knowledge of cable manufacturing and signal transfer theory and developed this to another level of performance completely. Our products signature trait is to let the system perform with its full potential without interfering in any way. That is reflected in our outspoken design ideal which is to liberate the true sound of every system connected with Skogrand Cables -  standing aside to let through. If you are looking for cables to add color or flavor to your system’s signature sound then our cables is not your best bet. If you on the other hand desire a reference cable to last you a lifetime of component upgrades, that will enable you to focus on the true ability of your setup, then Skogrand cables are the only real alternative in today’s market."
Adding my 0.2 about Mr. Skogrand:

"You might think that the northern you go in Europe, the colder everything gets. Wrong! Especially this time. Knut Skogrand is full of warm and positive energy, that might melt all the north ice :). You'll read often in my reviews, that any audio product carry the spirit of the designer. It's like with cooking food. You'll instantly feel the good energy and love when enjoying the meal prepared with joy, love and attention. In the same analogy, high-end audio designer most likely incorporate their passion, philosophy and feeling about music into their products. There is no mystic energy transfer.. It is simple the matter of the tools of trade and technology used. We have vast technical knowledge on our hands at present time, but often we'll see especially in the high-end audio, that measurements are only the part of well build product."

Dynamic simplicity

While transparency is a leit motif of all cables mentioned above Skogrand cables add some signifficant aspects that makes them unique and stand out on their own. I would call it dynamic simplicity at its best. Often, we reviewers are having a hard time describing some important aspect of the product under review. This especially addresses high-end audio cables where things can go south quickly. There are still people out there (both audiophiles and non) calling every cable product a hoax or overpriced mumbo jumbo. For those I strongly recommend a few minutes with their favorite uncle Google that will reveal the complex cable tech used in many other fields of science and living. You can go even as far as freezeing the cables at some - 200 degrees C for what is in respected scientific circles called an perfect transmission cable principle. Perhaps Knut Skogrand is utilizing the low temperature up there in Norwegian mountains :). But seriously: Technology has everything to do also in the field of high-end audio cables. Like it or not. Or buy OEM cheap cabling, stop ranting and have a happy time with your music.

Up with the Demigods and Musical DNA

I think I already done great deal of praising about Robert Koda Takumi K-10 preamplifier. It's simply one of the best, if not the best ultra high-end audio preamplifier on the planet. Takumi K-10 is without a doubt a transparent ultra medium and as stated by Miguel Alvarez of Tripont Audio it can also be an actual tool for designing and judging the performance of any high-end and ultra high-end product.

So what better to connect Skogrand SCI Markarian 421 RCA interconnects to the Robert Koda Takumi K-10 preamplifier? In joined performance this was musical transparency redefined. No perception of anything holding back or any loss. Musical lyricism - this is serious high-end.

Skogrand SCI Markarian 421 RCA interconnects just prolonged Robert Koda Takumi K-10 ultra transparent behavior - if I can even call it behavior at all. Everything that makes in my not so humble critical opinion a must to be deemed a true stand out performance was there in the right dosage. Musical impact, sense of energy flow, pace and with the whole palette of audiophile jargon; namely bass, soundstage etc. As stated many times, I don't like the use of "common" language when it comes to reviewing the products I can connect to. I don't experience music in terms of soundstage, pin-point positioning etc. I'm trying to reconnect with the musical event. Skogrand Cables are no exception in this regard when it comes to describing their workings. They are musical transducers. We don't know how, when and in what way, but Knut implement his musical DNA impact. So Skogrand... I "love" the story, the man, design and most important "the performance." All dots connected. To put it simply energy of motion is there and it's kicking some serious high-end "butts."

Now going further down the signal line and with both Skogrand SC Markarian 421 speaker cables and SCI Markarian 421 RCA interconnects in the system the synergy and lack of character was just a continuum. Often I hear how certain high-end product works well within a dedicated systems and how it's meant to be there. Great! Let me stop for a bit and hold that thought. I still believe in system integration and matching approach, but there is something more intriguing and important that I learned in my past few years listening to some of the "out" of this world products. I'm repeatedly reassured with each great new product coming along the Mono & Stereo Headquarters about this. So what the h... Elaboration?

If I'm talking about "right" design in terms of universal performance being the key to a perfect song I should sing when describing it. As you'll read in my upcoming Robert Koda Takumi K-10 review I finally managed to objectively materialize an uncertain subjectivity. What in heaven name I'm talking about again!?

It doesn't happen often, but with certain true artisan products there is an inherent so called audio archaic DNA that works in the projection of music without constraints. Additionally as via medium it can be used in any system regardless of price and it will add their ad hoc boost of performance without adding to the flavor. Somehow tricky analogy; the dichotomy between theory and practice? No! Simple excursion of audio potency.

Skogrand SC Markarian 421 speaker cables and SCI Markarian 421 RCA interconnects carries a large portion of this unique audio genome. Here perhaps Carl G. Jung might come in handy. Collective audio unconscious of some sort that true artisans somehow get connected to. Mr. Skogrand is no exception here. 

The year 2013 Nominee

Skogrand SC Markarian 421 and SCI Markarian 421 RCA interconnects. Another stand out performer and one of the upcoming 2013 award nominee for the Mono & Stereo product of the year.

There are three cables companies that stand out with performance, price and something to hold on regarding philosophy and approach; namely High Fidelity cables, LessLoss and Skogrand Cables. They all excel, but in different ways.

Skogrand Cables march with their pace along the best cabling in business. While there might still be some aspects that can be argued with some of the ultra high-end audio cables concerning reasonable pricing there is nothing to hold against Skogrand Cables when it comes to their performance and pricing.

Knut told me that they are about to go public on something special in the upcoming year that will push the performance of the Skogrand cables even further. I'm looking forward to exploring this future of cable technology when it comes along. So far there are nothing holding me back to include the Skogrand SC Markarian 421 speaker cables and SCI Markarian 421 RCA interconnects into the Mono & Stereo product of the year hall of fame.

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