The best cable is no cable at all – that`s what Paul Speltz believes in and…I couldn`t agree more. Speaker cables are a necessary evil, so to speak and if they could be avoided, we would be a lot happier and music would be purer. But there`s hardly a way to avoid them; even if we use monoblock amplifiers for each speaker and place them very close together, chances are we will still need perhaps just a very short run of speaker wires and there you have it: they`re unavoidable. Active speakers use cabling inside speaker enclosures so, perhaps we might just surrender in our attempt to avoid them…
“Reclaim the music lost in your existing cables” is the AntiCable Audio companies` tagline and it seems…kind of gutsy. All cables are lossy to a greater or lesser degree, aren`t they? In addition to being more or less lossy, some even add their own bits and pieces or shall I say editorialize on what`s passing through them but, hey, that`s inevitable. Every cable fights the dreaded combination of L, C, and R and in the end, only compromises are possible and these three parameters are only the tip of the ice berg. To fight the LCR important factors of cable construction like the choice of insulator (the jacketing), the choice of the conducting material, the wire geometry, etc have to be considered and all these factors play a BIG ROLE in the final objective and most importantly, subjective performance.
Paul Speltz makes some good points in regard to his loudspeaker cabling philosophy and also offers some excellent explanation:
“Why are these products called the Anti-Cables?
Since these simple “naked” looking red coated wire products don’t look like, sound like, or cost as much as sexy looking thick plastic jacketed cables, and since the usual sonic signatures, hyperbole, and high prices of typical speaker cables have been eliminated, they are called “The Anti-Cables”. Their sonic neutrality and transparency will allow you to hear how great your components actually sound.
Isn’t this just common Magnet Winding Wire?
No, this is simply not the case. Even though the Anti-Cable wire has a thin enough coating that it can be used as winding wire (such as our ZERO-Autoformers), that is not what these products are made from. Common magnet winding wire is made of Electrolytic-Tough-Pitch (ETP) Copper which is relatively inexpensive by comparison, and is also what is use in common Romex house wiring. The Anti-Cable wire is long drawn highly annealed continuously cast oxygen free copper with impurities reduced down to only 5 parts per million. It is much better sounding then common ETP copper wire; which can have up to 1000 parts per million of impurities (200 times more then Anti-Cable Copper).
Why Solid Core Wire?
Most cables are made out of stranded wire. Stranded wire’s only advantage is that it physically handles more like a thick rope. The problem with stranded wire is the magnetic and conductive interaction between the individual strands of wire in the bundle. Each individual wire strand’s magnetic field cuts into all the other wire strands’ magnetic fields physically modulating all the strands in the bundle. The more power that runs thru the cable (turning the volume up), the greater the magnetic interaction, the more the wire strands physically modulate. As the strands modulate their micro connections to each other along the entire length of the cable, they are dynamically changing making slightly more and less contact with each other. In the bundle of stranded wires the music signal’s electrical current can move from one strand to the other, more and less, as the bundle physically modulates. These micro connections that are constantly changing with the strands physically modulating, cause audible noise which is most quickly recognized as a “tissy” sound added to the music.
Litz stranded wire bundles (which has each individual strand of wire separately insulated from each other) is sometimes used to address this problem, but it introduced a lot of Dielectric Effect Distortion (see below) that time smears the music signal.
Solution: All Anti-Cable products use Solid Core wire which side steps the above sonic problems of Stranded and Litz Stranded cables. Solid core wire also has the advantage of not physically acting like a rope. Solid core wire is highly malleable, meaning it is easy to bend it into whatever shape you want it to be, and it will stay that way until you re-shape it again.
What is Dielectric Effect Distortion?
When current flows through a wire, it creates a magnet field around the wire. With music traveling through a wire, this magnetic field will expand and contract around the wire just as a woofer moves in and out when playing music. This magnetic field is constantly cutting through whatever material is surrounding the wire.
All cables are made of a conductor (the wire) surrounded by an insulator (the jacketing). Another name for the insulating material is “dielectric material”. If you google “dielectric coefficient table” you will find tables with hundreds of materials and their associated Dielectric Coefficient number. The number represents how much dielectric effect that material has. For example: Cotton is 1.3 -1.4, Polypropylene is 1.5, Teflon is 2.0, and PVC Plastic is 3.5 – 4.5. The higher the number the greater the dielectric effect. All values are nominalized to “Air” which has a dielectric coefficient number “1” because it has virtually no dielectric effect.
When the music signal flows through a cable, the dielectric material (insulation) around the wire absorbs some if this magnetic energy, but then re-releases it back into the wire slightly later in time. This time smearing of the music signal is called dielectric effect distortion. This type of distortion collapses the sound stage, makes the music sound hard and closed in, and reduces dynamics making the music sound lifeless and un-involving.
Obviously, using insulating materials with a higher dielectric coefficient number causes more of this distortion. Also, since this is an accumulative effect, the thicker the insulating material and the longer the cable, the more dielectric effect distortion, the worse it sounds.
Solution: The Anti-Cable products use a very thin yet durable red coating to insulate the copper wire. This red coating is only 0.001 inches (0.025mm) thick. Beyond this extremely thin red coating, there is nothing left but air, and air is a near ideal insulation dielectric material because it causes virtually no dielectric effect distortion.
What is “Break-in”?
Dielectric effect distortion (as explained above) is particularly bad when the dielectric material is unconditioned, meaning it has not been exposed to electrical signals. With use, the dielectric material becomes conditioned, the dielectric effect distortion becomes less, and the cable or component gets better sounding.
Because the Anti-Cable wire has very little dielectric material surrounding it, there is less to “break-in.” Most people think the Anti-Cable products sound great right out of the box, yet others report they get better with time. Once you get about 100 hours on the Anti-Cable Speaker Wires, you can consider them quite broken-in
As an electronic engineer I struggled with this topic for quite a while because it did not fit into any of the electrical models I have learned. It simply does not make sense that an alternating music signal should favor a direction in a wire. One of the great things about the audio hobby is that we seem to be able to hear things well before we can explain them; and just because we can’t explain something, does not mean it does not exist.
While wire directionality is not fully understood, it is clear that the molecular structure of drawn metal wire is not symmetrical and it is this physical difference which is consistent with which direction the wire sounds better. When the directionality is “backwards” there is a loss of resolution, cymbals sound like a spray-can and are truncated, voices are grainy and lack presences, and bass is less defined. When the wire directionality is “correct” the music is more relaxed, pleasant and believable. Once you hear the difference, you will never want to have to listen to wire backwards ever again.”
It`s hard to argue with all these arguments because everything makes sense. However: will all this translate into superb sonic performance? Let`s wait…
Visually, there isn`t much to report about: the Anti-Cable Level 3 Reference Series speaker wires are almost naked but they are marked on one side for directionality. The four #12 gauge wires are woven together. Simplicity at its best…and I liked it.
The sound of an Anti-Cable
Considering their price, these cables sound phenomenal. Yes, they can compete with expensive “heavy wires” but that is not to say the Anti-Cable Level 3 Reference Series speaker wires will render all other speaker cabling redundant but the fact remains: for the price there is simply nothing to complain about but regardless of cost, some things were observed.
For the start, the Anti-Cable Level 3 Reference Series speaker wires sound nicely open, say, slightly more than the Vermöuth Black Pearls but…their harmonic structure is not as rich; the Anti-Cables sound slightly less colorful and mind you, I`m not talking about coloration. Also in comparison to the Black Pearls, the low bass doesn`t seem so strong and firm. Sure, the price difference is big but I`m just saying. In regard to the high frequency extension and overall transparency levels, they are excellent, still, to make it clear and if I`m allowed to make a comparison to some extraordinary (expensive) cabling, they don`t come close to what for instance the Tellurium Q Black Diamonds are capable of – let alone the Skogrand Beethovens. Especially when it comes to “authority” or “subjective weight” the Anti-Cable Level 3 Reference Series speaker wires sound much thinner than Beethovens. Yes, stupid comparisons in regard to price, I know, but my point is: ultimate cable solutions will still be around for a while. Does the ultimate cabling sound 10 or 20k better? No, but the difference is still very noticeable and important.
Moving on, the Anti-Cable Level 3 Reference Series speaker wires offer excellent insight into more complex music material like orchestrations and massed choral work. The separation of the individual instruments is very good and the virtual soundstage width, height and depth are likewise on the same level. The front to back layering is above average and instruments and voices are sharply defined in their size and location.
Speaking of tone/timbre, it is good overall but in absolute terms more power/weight in the lower midrange wouldn`t hurt; still, nothing to complain for the asked price.
In general, the resolution across the whole spectrum is excellent and there are no discontinuities or noticeable peaks in any frequency region. The music reproduction on the whole seems coherent and involving.
They say Eska Mtungwazi is the most talked about, revered singer you’ve never heard of. Born in Zimbabwe and raised in Lewisham, United Kingdom, Eska is as an inventive and original singer able to move effortlessly through a variety of musical styles, combining folk, soul, psychedelia and electronica. Among others, she has collaborated with Grace Jones, Cinematic Orchestra, Zero 7 and Bobby McFerrin together with performances in some of the world’s most famous venues and festivals and this year finally released her first, self-titled debut album ESKA. Echoing the past while sounding stunningly original at the same time, this album is highly recommended to all music fans. Two of my favorite tracks are “Shades of Blue” and “To Be Remembered”, her soulful enchanting voice is backed by some strong rhythmic work (bass and drums) and very unusual melodic/harmonic twists:
The Anti-Cable Level 3 Reference Series speaker wires served the music content very well, proving to be adept at transferring the emotional content with no problem. Check also the “Boundaries” track, it features some highly interesting percussion work and her soaring vocals that send as shiver up my spine each time I hear it. The percussion sounded very direct and immediate, through the Anti-Cable Level 3 Reference Series speaker wires, giving an impression of being in the same room with the performers.
Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band – “Act Your Age” (2008) is one of my favorite big band albums. Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, or simply The Big Phat Band, is an 18-piece jazz ensemble based in California and led by Gordon Goodwin. Goodwin composes most, and arranges all, of the group’s performance pieces, as well as playing piano and occasionally tenor saxophone. While using a similar instrumentation to the traditional big bands of the 1930s and ’40s, the Big Phat Band has a highly contemporary sound, highlighted by driving rhythms, fast, almost frantic tempos, less emphasis on the melodic line, and extreme virtuosity.
Act Your Age is the fourth album recorded by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band. It received a 2008 GRAMMY nomination in the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album category. The album features many guest artists including Chick Corea on his own composition “Señor Mouse”. The track “Yesterdays” received a 2008 GRAMMY nomination for Best Instrumental Arrangement and for a good reason: it`s a stunning piece.
This music is highly energetic and anything but easy to reproduce; most systems fail miserably when attempting to reproduce it decently. All components of the system must work hand in hand in order to produce a meaningful result and since I know this album very well, I can say that the Anti-Cable Level 3 Reference Series speaker wires did a commendable job with this very difficult music material. The busy mixes were handled exceedingly well and the characteristic tonal color of the brass instruments was preserved very good.
Here the funky intro track, “Hit The Ground Running”: here
Neil Leslie Diamond (born January 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter with a career that began in the 1960s. Diamond has sold over 125 million records worldwide, making him one of the world’s best-selling music artists of all time. The “12 Songs” is his twenty-sixth studio album, released in 2005 and is impeccably recorded. The arrangements are simple but effective and the music itself is very passionate and heartfelt.
The Anti-Cable Level 3 Reference Series speaker wires provided a very intimate sonic picture that was a joy to listen to. It gave a smooth, open and inviting sound that ensured lengthy, stress-less listening sessions.
The Anti-Cable Level 3 Reference Series speaker wires may seem an entry-level speaker cabling solution but that`s far from the truth. Since they don`t cost much,
I can`t imagine finding a better solution for any system, be it entry level or a even a truly exceptional one. They can be easily paired with top quality electronics and speakers and might give its owner just enough satisfaction to provide years of musical enjoyment and let him forget the cabling madness.
They surpass many speaker cables costing much more and in my view will hardly disappoint anyone seeking great performing speaker cables which don`t cost an arm and a leg. For the price they are truly EXCEPTIONAL performers worthy of the Mono & Stereo Best Buy award.
AntiCable Audio Company Inc.
11200 Stillwater Blvd. N.
Lake Elmo, MN 55042