Black Cat Cable Lupo III Silverwolf interconnects review


Chris Sommovigo the proprietor of Black Cat Cable is surely among the most interesting people in our beloved industry. There is something very intriguing about the way that he conducts his venture. I guess some of this is intimately connected with his prolonged stay in Japan. We share some similarities when it comes to the audio, world and 

In traditional Japanese culture, for many of the small yet one of the kind craftsman the path of making the product was as sacred as the end result. Sometimes even more important and such dedication sort of ensures the upper plane execution. 


THE MAN WITH HISTORY!


In 1992 Chris Sommovigo introduced to the world the first truly precision-made 75 Ohm digital coaxial cable under the brand name “ILLUMINATI,” and has since designed more than a dozen other digital cables for the market – either for the Illuminati brand, for Stereovox, or for other brands (such as Kimber Kable and i2Digital). His digital cable designs remain among the most sought after and popular designs in the world, and reasonably so: he has proven himself as an effective designer producing positive results.

In 2000, he introduced a new brand: STEREOVOX. Under this marque he examined new concepts in analog signal transfer for high-end audio systems, very purposefully exploring the brute-force aspects of mitigating Skin Effect to extremes. The result of that expedition was a catalog of cables that met with 10 years of critical acclaim for their extraordinary performance. His original SEI-600 and LSP-600 were considered among the very best in the world at the time.

During this time Chris introduced a novel concept in conductor technology: the thin-walled, pure copper microtube: CuTube™ for short. At a scant 0.035″ in outer diameter with mere 0.008″ thick walls, annealed dead soft using the purest copper available for tubing, CuTube proved to be the closest thing to a “magic bullet” in Chris’ design portfolio at the time, and it would go on to inform many products throughout the history of Stereovox.

His Xhadow RCA and XLR connector designs were also considered some of the world’s finest, and have even inspired a few copycats!

2008 saw the introduction of a new brand from Chris: STEREOLAB™

Drawing from his ongoing development of specialty conductors (including improvements to CuTube™), and introducing newer technology conductors, the AERON™ dielectric and insulation system, InterPole™ micro-woven conductors, and QuieTex™ noise reduction/absorption technology), the new marque from Chris is his most exciting yet, as it is the umbrella for BLACK CAT CABLE


Like his other brands that came before, BLACK CAT CABLE remains a small company with a limited output of specialty cables that always radiate from the same core, artisanal ethos. Each cable is personally built by Chris Sommovigo to ensure that Black Cat standards are maintained.


Black Cat does not produce many thousands of cables per month, nor do we provide our products to hundreds of dealers and distributors … we aren’t able to meet that kind of demand due to the highly specialized nature of our in-house manufacturing processes.


That translates to extremely high-quality audio cables manufactured to high standards using select raw-materials, unique processes, custom tooling and machinery, and the unmistakable touch of the inventor's hand.

THE BLACK CAT!?


"This has a few layers, actually. Primarily, I love the old Steinlen poster of the black cat for Le Chat Noir - very famous image: link.

Not only for the aesthetic of it but because it recalls a time in history when European culture was at a strange crossroads, about to enter the 20th century. Paris, it seems, was especially interesting with its cabarets, artists, strange spiritual experimentation, absinthine influences, and a culture infused with music.

The cat on the Steinlen poster also recalls my old cat, Oreo, who - toward the end of his life - looked just as disheveled. He was infected with a fungal disease called Cryptococcus, entrenched in his nasal cavity and growing up through his sinuses. I spent two years trying to heal him of the growth with the help of Georgia State University’s veterinary program. Ultimately it wasn’t the fungus that killed him, but the anti-fungal medications that shut down his liver and kidneys. Sad story, but through those two years he and I became incredibly close, and so I look on the Steinlen poster also as a reminder of my good friend, Oreo."

MEET THE LUPO III / SILVERWOLF


For a long time customers and dealers were asking Chris for a Lupo design that would also be available for balanced/XLR operation. Lupo III / Silverwolf is the answer to those requests. This is a dual-shield design where two shields are coaxial to each other and separated by an insulating layer. At the center of the interconnect is a thin-walled Teflon tube with air inside. Two conductors, a 21 wag 99.999% pure silver solid core conductor and an enameled 21awg pure copper conductor, are Nami-processed and then run by hand into the Teflon/air tube.


THE NAMI PROCESS


Nami is the Japanese word for “wave” - and when Chris Nami-process the conductors it means that they are being shaped or formed into a wave-pattern (like a sinusoidal shape) so that only the peaks of the wave pattern in the conductor touch the tube walls. The rest of the conductor is suspended in air, so the Lupo III achieves fairly low capacitance and keeps a high velocity.


The conductors in this RCA cable are terminated to Black Cat Cable's Lovecraft Reference RCA, which has a direct-gold plated pure copper signal pin. The pin is hollow and also has a set-screw, so when the cable is terminated the conductors are cinched down against the inside of the signal pin by the set-screw, and then solder is flowed into that joint area. This absolutely ensures that the signal wires have intimate -almost crimped- contact with the pin before solder is flowed into the joint.

The resistance soldering tweezers are used to make the joint so that the pin is superheated quickly and the solder flows freely and quickly into all crevices, ensuring a perfect bond.

LUPO III/SILVERWOLF STRUCTURE


Thin-walled Teflon tube, bare copper shield (@ low picks per inch), nylon yarn braided interstitial insulator, 2nd bare copper shield (@ low picks per inch), overall nylon yarn braided yarn jacket. Conductors: 1 x 99.999% pure silver @ 21awg (fully-annealed) + 1x enameled pure copper @ 21awg (fully annealed). Both are sinusoidally shaped by a custom tool made for Chris by Christopher Hildebrand (Fern & Roby), and then carefully placed into the Teflon tube by hand. The shape of the wire allows it to be substantially suspended in the air of the Teflon tube, thereby helping to keep capacitance toward the low side and velocity high.


SKIN EFFECT IMPORTANCE


Chris has always tended to manage Skin Effect along with other coincident aspects of signal wire (self-inductance, as it is the cause of skin effect) to ensure the full saturation of the signal conductors at many times the required bandwidth for audio signals. This is Chris' preference, as is the management of proximity effect (especially in speaker cables) - which is due to the electromagnetic (inductive) interaction of wires that are very close to one another, each producing eddy currents in the others wire(s).

THE AIRWAVE TECHNIQUE


Cat Cable “Airwave” technique (shaping conductors into sinusoids) is a modification of a technique used by Alan Dower Blumlein to increase the bandwidth of coaxial cables in order to make the dependable electrical transmission of television signals possible. Although I’m not so interested in broadcasting television signals, I am quite interested in the high-velocity/low capacitance aspects of this approach as I apply it to my work.


I've asked Chris to explain why his cables sound so (positively) different? 

"I think that their characteristic performance is due largely to the unique approaches that I take to the design and implementation, some of which are described above. A lot of care goes into both the design and the execution. I’ve worked on these designs in various iterations for many years, have had special machines and tools custom-made for me so that I can do things that aren’t so easily accomplished with common industrial processes, and the peculiarities of these designs depend upon a lot of handwork, as well. This is an unusual approach to cable design manufacture, made even more unusual by the fact that I personally do all of the work. Every cable that leaves my workshop is a piece of my art, made by my hands, especially for each customer. This may or may not mean much to audiophiles at large, but it means quite a bit to me. It’s a very contemplative work.


Clearly, this is not a scalable approach, which is why there is usually a 2-3 week lead time for most of my cables once ordered. There can be a much much longer lead time for the more complicated cables (Stargate and Indigo), which also require special materials and a tremendous amount of handwork to make correctly. As a result, I can’t support a lot of dealers or distributors … this is a high-craft business, and I’m not certain that I’ll be taking on any apprentices (this is such a strange niche that I feel I’d be distracting them from a more lucrative and rewarding career in the real world!). I think the best way to understand Black Cat cables is simply that they are artful objects made with sincerely good intentions to my specific internal standards, as a personal posture against the soullessness of industrially-subcontracted “stuff”. This is a craft to me, something quite personal, and I’m quite happy being able to make each one of these cables personally."

THE MUSIC


Tomasz Stańko's Domino From The Green Hill is on the warmer side of ECM sonic imprint. The very start of the opening track is enchantingly painted with the brass galore. However simple the task of rendering an intro properly might seem, the sobering reality quickly strikes with a much-needed level of density in the sense of a higher degree information magnitude.

The juxtaposition of warmness and timbre correctness calls for the cable with a mightier ability allowing a contrast propagation of multiplex music's facets. So how many tins of the warmness is needed to paint the Domino sonic canvas effectively? Many! And, this is very the Lupo III Silverwolf exhibited one of the many virtues. Domino's brass intro is followed by the introduction of more instruments. When cables operate farther from the needed momentum the proper timbre portraying is easily deconstructed, as well as the sense of the space and atmosphere, what to talk about the believable three-dimensional scope of the instruments. Lupo III Silverwolf interconnects let the signal passes unaltered. Many cables, even some of the rocket high priced ones act as an equalizer, rather than via medium. On contrary Black Cat Cable interconnects helped with the vivid formation of the profound sonic illusion. One of the "tricks" of the true upper echelon high-end audio cables is the ability to bypass the ardent sense sensors. There is a whole intriguing universe of subtle quark or nano like inner mechanics in play, that we still grasp to understand beyond the technical specifications and measurements. Our left brain hemisphere willingly accepts the attributes of impedance matching, conductivity, resistance, capacitance, etc. 


In our audio universe, there is a needed balance between the left and right brain operational centers and one of the favorite unusual reference tracks comes from Ken Ishii's Jelly Tones. The Extra is a cult track and anyone familiar with the Japanese Manga (アキラ) Akira will know the reference. The Extra is a universe of its own. A sonic hologram of the sound of the future, that still holds it's pace even today. Black Cat Cable Lupo III Silverwolf acted as an actuator ready to explore a central node of Ken's music narrative. Music might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I just love it. The critical point of this track is dynamic laying, spectral shading and unique three-dimensional scope that should literally create one of the kind, almost surround sonic atmosphere. 

Lupo III Silverwolf surprisingly extended the aural virtual reality of Extra without any restorations. At this price point, I didn't expect such a potent and even distributive of music's energy and subtle portraying of details. This has only proven how Lupo III Silverwolf interconnect could easily convey the larger (impressive) amount of acoustics cues and anchor points. 

Janos Starker, Antal Doráti, London Symphony Orchestra - Schumann: Cello Concerto; Lalo: Cello Concerto; Saint-Saëns: Cello Concerto No.1 wonderfully project a cello and orchestra symbiotic interplay when the system and cabling allow the proper music enroll. The "romantic" side of Starker's playing is swiftly followed by the orchestra movement. Technical perfection of both cello and orchestra demands the upper-level system balancing act and interconnect cables as the very veins of need to handle lighting speed fluctuating. Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33: 3. Un peu moins vite easily reveals any wrongdoings in the system's signal flow. Again Black Cat Cable Lupo III Silverwolf interconnects more than convincingly performed their task of  Nothing was lost in translation. The core dynamic and timbral correctness was of upper plane origin; something that I really didn't expect; especially at the Lupo III Silverwolf's given price tag!

The Black Cat Cable interconnects further confirmed their potent chameleon-like nature with the portraying of piano's notes harmonic overlay. This is easily challenged with Byron Janis - Byron Janis Plays Moussorgsky: Pictures At An Exhibition. Pictures at an Exhibition (Kartinki s vïstavski), for piano: Promenade captives the listener with a fantastic rendition of the piano. There is a particular lightness in Byron Janis that needs truly a translucent signal conductor that holds nothing back or adds a particular flavor. Lupo III Silverwolf managed to pull off something very distinctive. Without entering in the domain of changing the timbre, tone a color it also didn't decrease the resolution. This is a rare feat that even some of the most acclaimed top tier high-end cables struggle or fail to achieve. Reason alone for a serious thumbs-up and recognition. 

CONCLUSION 


There is something about the Black Cat Cable Lupo III Silverwolf interconnects that transcend the usual sonic impact. 

Perhaps an inherited organic nature would be the most appropriate word to sum it up. Yet it’s not exactly so simple to embrace all the Black Cat Cable Lupo III Silverwolf qualities under one label. 


The word organic can be interpreted in many ways and Chris’s interconnects organic qualities expands on many levels. It’s never easy to keep the micro and macro details untouched while trying to achieve (and keep) the sparkling nature and energy of the live music and instruments. The subtle essence of timbre, tone, and color can be easily altered if the right design decisions are not made. And what are those? Well, this is where cable makers are exhibiting their understanding of the music and how it should be conveyed. This is what differentiate upper-level cables and distinguishes them compared to mediocre ones. 


Some cable manufacturers are highly secretive about their way of doing things and the implementation of different technologies. As you could read in the review, Chris is not having any problems with explaining his particular ways. In the present era, audiophiles and music lovers are demanding more and not fewer information. For many of them, the understanding of what’s behind the products is crucial in making the final decision. Yes, the performance part is important, but without the proper explaining of the product and implemented technology by each year a lesser amount of people are willing to make their purchase by the leap of faith. 


Black Cat Cable Lupo III Silverwolf cables are the result of careful and well thought out principles. The result is a cable that is not only transparent but instantly engaging with its ability to act as via medium and a potent carrier of the audio signal passing through its veins. 

Every instrument has its own timbre that is quite fragile in nature once you start digging deeper. Black Cat Cable Lupo III Silverwolf interconnects never stepped, even remotely close to the affecting the sound transmission in any way. At the end of a day what more one can really expect from the high-end audio cable!?

Black Cat Cable Lupo III Silverwolf interconnects are certainly a serious contender for any demanding music lover.

Matej Isak

PRICE


- 1.0m/pr $999.95 RRP

CONTACT


Black Cat Cable
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