'Sonic Art' High Definition Audio Cable

 

 

 

"Extra Transparency Right Through My Audio System, Actual Tonal Textures of Different Vocals and Acoustic Musical Instruments Have Greater Accuracy in their Tonality"

 

A personal assessment by Alphonso Soosay

Audio Recording Engineer, / Musician

Perth, Australia.

Preamble:

Serious Hi-Fi and Home Theatre is not just about listening and watching movies. Itís about experiencing todayís digital picture and sound. Achieving the best possible picture and sound means using the most advanced highest definition cable. Good cables actually tells the story of your high quality playback source, and I am sure anyone will want to hear that real and full story of what they have paid for. "The value of their audio and playback source".

First Impressions:

First impressions are very favourable. Sonic Art cables are beautifully built and quality finished, the companyís attention to detail is obvious from a quick inspection of the interconnect and speaker cables.

I have always been searching for that missing ingredient to improve my system and I have tried quite a number of different speaker cables and interconnect cables over the years ECT. Monster / Ultra Sonic / QED / Neoteric / TMC / MIT and Nordost. My previous investment was last year when I purchased the "Straightwire" flat, a copper cable. Now, after using this new Sonic-Art cable, I find itís superior to everything so far I have tried and it truly makes a difference to my audio system.

Note: This was completely noticed after the 8th day of burning-in and test. There was more transparency from my audio system; actual tonal textures of different acoustic musical instruments had greater accuracy in its tonality.

As an audio recording engineer, I believe this is because, the arrival point of time at various high frequencies, mid and low frequencies were as even as possible. "Sonic Art" has now become part of my high performance Hi-Fi System.

This review is written not to compare which is a better cable but to highlight its performance and express its feelings at the time of listening, and at different times of daily review stage of the six weeks.

Some of you must have read reviews of Sonic Art cables in i-Audio magazine Singapore, Star-Audiophile Malaysia, Audiophile Thailand, "Sonic Arts" web-page Australia and others, re: how its cables are made. I will write this review with a different approach.

Technical Investigation:

Cables look like a very simple thing, actually it is the important cord to a successful audio system. To create a really good audio cable a manufacturer has to go through all the necessary characteristics to begin with. Including the Geometry, choice of conductors (silver / copper combination), choice of dielectrics, the wire and shielding configuration and many more, obviously all this reflects at a higher cost.

I have spent six weeks almost every evening, listening, writing, re-listening, reflecting and re-writing this review. While doing this and listening on pure direct mode, I became increasingly aware of the returning images, with this CD 'A touch of Sonic Madness', they were almost holographically accurate.

The Difficult Chore:

Reviewing cables is not as much fun as reviewing Hi-Fi speaker system, Stereo amplifiers or Multi-channel amplifiers. Cables simply donít have that meat and bone factor as a system component, itís a chore, and only a straightforward simple connection between outputs to input of components. Thatís why testing cables is one of the most difficult chores and the least liked.

I enjoyed it because it was a challenge for me, although it took lots of my time but I have gained more knowledge and understanding of audio information through cables.

This Sonic Art cable analysis started off with a wide-range burning-in session producing some satisfying results within 8 days.

The Burning-in Process Set-up:

What was used as I kicked off the Burn-in Process and Test:

  1. Generated Pink and White noise at 70 dB and 80dB levels.
  2. The Art of God (U4.01) Audio Test CD. It included: Dynamic test, Sustain & Decay test, Staccato & Delay test, Timbre variation, Tonal balance, Explosive full range, 20kHz Chimes & wind instruments, Acoustic Drums vs Bass, Depth contrast.
  3. The Art of God (U4.02) Acoustic Instruments Burn-in CD.
  4. The Art of God (U4.03) Acoustic Burn-in & Test DVD.
  5. Sonic Spectacular Test CD "A Touch of Sonic Madness".
  6. 96/24 Super Audio Test CD. / DVD Professional Test.
  7. Real Time Spectrum Analyser "RTA-One" (with line input).

Burning-in audio cable is one of the most important tasks reviewers undertake, as only when the cable is burnt-in, can reviewers render a valid evaluation. Of course, the same applies to other users, customers and retailers. This burning-in procedure is known to most people who work in the electronic business as running in period for the dielectrics to stabilise.

When it comes to audio cables, the burning-in period varies between 50 hours to about 100 hours of daily use. Quality cables seem to burn-in quicker. With this new set of Sonic Art cables it took about 50 hours to burn-in, about 8 days at 7 hours per day of use. On the 8th day, both of this new Sonic Art cable had completed the burning-in process. CD playback result was instantly heard with my acoustic instruments test disc. What fascinated me first was the incredible proximity of the sound, It was instantaneous and full of life, and literally made me gasp. I also realised that the tonality was consistently balanced across the frequency spectrum. Overall, it created lower noise, less distortion, higher and wider bandwidth and faster transmission speed. Real Time Spectrum Analyser was also used to monitor every stage of the test. At this stage, Sonic Art cables reached its full cable performance and in total, it did required 50 hours of burning-in time with my method. I noted that Sonic Art cables has to run in the direction of the current flow as indicated on the cable.

Review Process:

Listening to CDís, had that little extra silkiness to an extend that the highs, mid & low frequencies appeared to have a uniform speed and arrival time, what this means is that, it was producing a much more stable performance over the entire bandwidth, particularly listening to well recorded recordings. Listening to "Steely Dan" and "Eagles" the Bass was punchy and surprisingly weighty, acoustic Snare and kick-Drum thumped with a gusty clean realism. Acoustic guitars had improved transparent mid-range. Acoustic Piano had timbre accuracy and vocals were expressive and well projected.

The most excellent burnt-in audio cable actually acts as a reliable means of access for sonic signals to travel, with razor sharp speed, from one audio source to another.

On the 10th day, I noticed the extra silence from the speakers, this was done with my ears up against my Marble NOrh speakers (Scanspeak Components) with no music playback. With previous cables used I did notice very low hissing sound, now with this Sonic Art cables its like the audio system was not switched on at all. This is great news.

So I decided to listen to classical music, the instrumental definition and separation came as a greeting offer. The Sonic Art cables created a sound fairness to classical music.

Last night, 3rd week I played back some acoustic Piano pieces from "Cheskyís" SACD. It was a sensational change as I could hear that richness of acoustic musical instrument. I sat on my sofa (sweet spot) and I could visualise the Piano in front of me as I could hear that placement of the Piano notes within the soundstage. For example, the higher notes were just to the right, the mid-range notes more to the centre and just to the left, the lower octave notes to the left as they were placed on the Piano. The Piano sounded smooth, very realistic and natural, especially the lower mid-range down to the lowest Bass notes. Every note from the lowest octave, to the highest octave were smooth and in perfect balance.

The following day I was listening to this new talent from Canada. Michael Buble a Ballad Singer who was introduced to me by a music journalist friend, Kannan. This is a night-club singing style that has been enjoyed in the 60ís and 70ís, itís a style which oozes sophistication. This close-miked quality recording on CD was one of the most accurate musical and vocal recordings I have heard recently. It simply fills the space in front of you, with plenty of air and atmosphere. His Vocals were impressively articulate and it demonstrated the Sonic Arts ability to resolve the inner vocal details. I could hear that "Neuman" studio-recording microphone picking up those details of the singerís throatiness and breathing.

With Sony SACD player used, I could hear the difference from CDís and SACDís, it was significantly more obvious, what transpired from Sonic Art cable was the purest full frequency output. Vocals were extremely expressive and well projected. It also improved the sense of openness. Bass guitar was effective and surprisingly deep. Acoustic Piano had timbrel accuracy. The dynamic range had that extra clarity. In whole it allowed ultra sonic frequencies of new digital formats to be delivered with accuracy.

With Jazz music, the mid-range was more balanced as there was a better bite to acoustic guitar and acoustic drums. The result is a vastly improved listening experience that allowed me to hear my audio equipment as it was meant to perform.

At the time of this test a friend was with me, he could not help but be surprised how the switching of a cable brought new life to my system. This evening, I am looking forward to listen for more accurate acoustic sounds of music with my audio system at home.

Sonic Art Cable Hook-Up:

Interconnect cables were connected between my Sony DVD /SACD, and an integrated Denon amplifier AVC-A1 SR, then Sony CD player with Denon Pre-amp with mono block power amplifiers.

Speaker cables were connected between power amplifiers and speakers. Three different types of power amplifier were used for the test. "Denon" 170 watts (RMS) power amplifier / "Le Amp" mono block 100 watts (RMS) power amplifier / and a borrowed "Audio Lab" 8000A 200 watts (RMS) power amplifier with "N0rh" Marble 9.0 speakers, I also tried the middle size "N0rh" Ceramic 4.0 speakers for the test. Both the speakers seem to tell the story.

Smart Combinations:

The cable making industry is full of smart first impression designs that look better than they should sound, and for a moment I wondered whether this Sonic Art cable was just another 'look good' Gimmick. I must say that the results of Sonic Art cables were surprising. In terms of Technology and Engineering, it is the state of the art cable. Generally, audio recording engineers, are given a chance to audition new cables, and while high-quality cable housings do matter, one has to consider other important key factors. Factors such as the combination of copper/silver and its formation, the design, quality of dielectric used, type of engineered conductor that keeps the eddy current to a minimum, balance of resistance and capacitance, Plating process and others.

The Plan:

6 weeks ago I personally received Interconnects, & Speaker cables from the owner of Sonic Art for me to test with my audio system. They looked great, impressive, so the following day I replaced my "Flat-line" with Sonic Art Silver Line Interconnects & EBONY speaker cables. To my surprise I found the cables to be a little unkind, I could hear distortion at high levels, within the 10kHz area. I knew where the problem was, so I started with my burning-in sessions straightaway.

Within 8 days (50 hours) after the burning-in session was completed. What a surprise, I noticed no more noticeable distortion at high frequencies, Bass was warmer and full bodied, smoother higher bandwidth, and faster transmission.

It was so transparent that sometimes I begin to hear the limitations of some of the components in my system. In other words it actually hides nothing. Even when playing various normal CDís I could hear the difference so clearly. I am thrilled with the improvements over what was a much more expensive cable. In actual fact it was a great deal clearer and cleaner. It improved the sense of forwardness and without any loss of the crucial mid-range frequencies.

Looks like Sonic Art is the kind of cable component that other cable manufacturers will dread and 'Hi-Fi' men will have need of.

Quality Engineering:

After running it through several tests, (after burn-in periods) I concluded that Sonic Art must be using the latest technology in cable engineering, this is because it delivers a superior, balanced frequency sound reproduction quality. It has the capability to create all of the tonal quantity of the final mix. In other words, this cable closely reproduces original waveforms, producing a clearer, more natural sound that captures the musical tones and emotional impact of the source material with outstanding realism. It portrayed such a neutral, yet detailed sound balanced presentation that I just sat back and enjoyed the music and all that special dynamic effects on CDís, SACDís and DVDís.

Music Experience:

While listening to SACD music and DVD live music concerts, I must declare that it was a musical experience. It was smooth and sweet sounding which any audiophile will love. While sitting in my Home Theatre / Music Room I could feel as though I was in the front row of a Live Concert performance, or sitting in the Multi-Channel Recording studio control room listening to the final mix. I could feel the lowest low frequencies and hear the highest high frequencies of various musical instruments, also, backing singers and lead vocals of female and male sounded very clean and detailed as if they were right in front of me. Check out "Steely Dan", "Eagles", "Diana Krall" and "Bee Gees" on DVD. Aaron Neville, Michael Buble, and many more on CD.

Just for your information. I must say that, Hi-Fi, Home Theatre, Multi-Channel Recording Studio, TV Studios and Live Reinforcement music industry have been waiting for this kind of significantly upgraded cable technology. Technology which not only provides finer and more faithful sound reproduction at home, but also helps with a more accurate monitoring situation in Multi-channel Recording studios, & TV studioís all over the world.

Home Theatre Experience:

With live music concerts similar to "Eagles", "Steely Dan", "Bee Gees" and watching action "DVD Movies". The centre speaker managed to fill the centre sound space almost flawlessly. It exhilarated with better details of vocals, dialogue and musical instruments. I could hear that lifelike sparkle with every shattering glass, It appeared to have that uniformed full-range frequency, speed of arrival time, It means that, it produces a much more stable performance over the entire bandwidth and is very clean. The top end was bright and open with imaging comparable with expensive imported cables at twice the price.

While watching action-packed DVD movies, this Sonic Art cable exhibited better audio clarity without that sense of harshness or brittleness. As the movie progressed I came to appreciate just how smooth and clean this set of cables were. It was like being in the Cinema. This thrilled me with excitement of home theatre experience. It was simply amazing to hear when something as simple as a cable can limit or change how well a good system can perform. A good contrast between these Sonic Art cables and others anywhere near their price range is an eye opener for the music industry.

Approach:

Experienced reviewers approach all new products with skepticism until tested. Thatís because there is too many brands on the market that claim that their latest cables are the best.

Experienced readers are aware that products donít always perform as well as the marketing agencyís advertising-writers would have us believe.

Less experienced individuals may accept advertising-writers review, this is because they are less experience, and have no idea what to look for. But thatís the chance they take. Do they have a choice? Yes, they can check out reviews with Hi-Fi & Home Theatre magazineís also they could review and see for themselves the cables at their local Hi-Fi and Home Theatre suppliers.

 

Analyse Sonic Art:

From day one, I used my Real Time Spectrum Analyser to conduct various frequency analyses through filters of single octave and level checks in dB. This was helpful.

I also made use of my two God given responsive device, which are everlastingly attached to the sides of my head, to see if this new Sonic Art cable lives up to my expectations. This process is called observation and it is the cornerstone of science. Information gathered by assessment is known as practical evidence.

The opinions expressed about sound quality are mine alone and may be useful as a listening guide, but you should listen for yourself and make up your own minds about the accuracy of this new design cables and its quality of this type in the audio market.

Test:

I linked the Sonic Art Silver analogue interconnect cable through my audio system, this was between my "Sony" DVD / SACD player / Sony CD player and "Denon" AVC-A1 SR. The following day I only used the pre-amp of the "Denon" AVC-A1 SR and then, all the way through my "Le Amp" mono-block power amplifier, using the "Sonic Art" Ebony 8 core speaker cables connected to my "N0rh" marble 9.0 speakers. (Scanspeak Components)

On the 4th week of everyday meting out my audio system using different formats (CD, SACD, DVD, DAT, VHS and Cassette) as playback sources, I noticed that the imaging was outstanding, which suggest excellent phase response. The images were life-size and not volume dependent. These Sonic Art cables have a very good focus and great depth of field. The speed, bass impact and dynamics exceeded what I thought my system was capable of.

There are other ways to hear what the Sonic Art cables did. Firstly I chose a full range male voice of John Farnham and Michael Buble and listened while switching the two interconnects in and out. With Sonic Art the voices were always firmer, better defined harmonically and spatially, and easier to distinguish musically. Secondly to appreciate the Sonic Art cable was to listen to music of great size and complexity, such as Richard Strauss "Don Quixote" OP 35. Much improved details were heard, hearing more of what was going on within the orchestra. I was stirred by this listening session; I also noticed that the audible improvements were proportional in receiving frequencies.

Switching to the Sonic Art cables was like switching from a decent 100watt amp to a 200watt noticeably brighter with a punch. In terms of dynamics and presentation, everything just opened up and came alive.

On the 6th week, my predictable analysis says, Sonic Art cables created performance better than some of the more expensive cables in which I have tested in previous years.

Music Listening Session:

It took time to set-up a cable comparison system, with all that shifting, fiddle, connecting, shifting and reconnecting, to me it was really worth all that time taken. The results of my lengthy cable auditions were, cleaner and more forward presentation, sounded like levels were about 2 dB higher, crisper highs, Bass was tight and fast and also a more close proximity wider mid-range. I was taken back as I played back track after track, trying to pinpoint my preference with various popular Singers and Jazz Artists. On the other hand, playing recordings that were on the warm side of neutral gave a more listeners experience. Then the following day, playing back the "Beatles" recordings really captured the early 60ís sound quality of recordings. The CDís had a serious vocal presence when played through the Marble N0rh Speakers, but the "Sonic Art" cables lifted the entire experience to a more enjoyable level. Early singers like Cliff Richard, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley Basseyís, Tom Jones, and even John Farnhamís voice had that much more breath. This was definitely a point for "Sonic Art" cables, playing through the Sony DVD/CD/ SACD player.

I also tested the borrowed Pioneer DVD SACD at the equivalence, the idea was to see if there was any difference in sound qualities, and to my surprise the Pioneer sounded comparable to the Sony when playing back CDís & SACDís. The explanation of this is, the Pioneer DVD player uses the same Sony chip set to decode DSD material.

This Sonic Art cable was indeed very obvious in my listening tests. High, Mid and Bass control was remarkable as the cable took complete command of the speakers.

Listening to Christopher Rouse, "Percussion Ensemble" a feast of drums, each of the musical instruments possessing its own unique signature, the speed with which they present their attack and just as important the way the sounds decay back to silence. Purely stunning to listen to.

On my listening review, I used the direct-mode, Stereo and Multi-channel music recordings to evaluate the sound of the cables. I also listened to, and watched a variety of Movies and Live Concerts with this Sonic Art cable as the supply link from DVD player to my Denon AVC-A1 SR amplifier and then to my marble N0rh speakers (Scanspeak drivers). It performed brilliantly in every situation.

There was a sense of clarity and ease to the natural sounds that other cables could not quite match. The sound was smooth and musical up to the very highest levels whether listening to music CD, watching action Movies or Live Concerts with DVD.

On my 30th day of listening, Sonic Art cables created the truth of timbre with Acoustic Drums. The world's best drummer will sound dreadful, if your audio system is not up to a standard, which enables you to hear each strike on the drum skins. Being an ex-drummer, I could hear the way the sound of different drums decay within the drum-shell, and also having the sense of hearing the poles apart timbres of the various drums. There was a great deal of dynamic power contained within this wide bandwidth. It allowed ultra sonic frequencies of new Digital format such as SACD and DVD-A to be delivered with precision.

Value:

When using other popular cables in this price range it fashioned good quality sound for the money. But Sonic Art provided that little more of everything for a little less money spent. The overall music difference was, improved sense of openness, I could hear certain low-level of musical instruments in the mix (more detail) that was missing on previous cable tests. I also noticed it allowed my Denon audio system, to breathe life into my N0rh marble speakers better.

Good cables make a great difference, donít let anyone fool you. The trick is finding a cable that fits your system without costing twice your front end. I listen frequently to Jazz, Pop, Country Rock, Acoustic Fusion, some Acid Jazz, Rock and Classical at times, so acoustic presentation, truth of timbre, and clarity is vital. Vocals were also surprisingly accurate. I get to hear all of this with the help of using Sonic Art. Interconnect and speaker cables, it has really helped me to show off my high quality audio system.

One thing is for sure, anyone who claims that cables are just cables should seriously listen to Sonic Art. The differences can be quite startling. These cables produced a clean, strong deep Bass with nice airy highs. These are reasonably priced, and the type of cables I would use, Sonic Art is highly recommended to anyone who loves their CD music, DVD live concerts and DVD movies. This cable was amazing, the low-end frequency was sure deeper, richer with tighter tonal clarity. The mid-range was outstanding. I could hear more detail, never heard before on my audio system. The high-end frequencies extended more than ever before and what pure, nice airy highs. My main speakers have never sounded so superb before. Certainly my audio system is a modest one by most audio standards, but the performance was improved further by using high quality interconnect and audio speaker cables.

Centre Channel:

The centre channel speaker is to provide good imaging and accurate sound localisation. It is also the most important loudspeaker in anyoneís home theatre system. It must reproduce vocals, dialogue and other complex music information accurately. The Sonic Art cables presented it superbly with improved presence, dialogue strides through smoother and accurately locked to my big screen. It also improved the sense of openness. The other thing that impressed me most was the dynamics. Transients came across with speed and punch whenever the music demanded.

The centre channel speaker should be of a higher sonic quality or at least as good as your front speakers. Sonic Art delivered that cinematic sound in a creditable way, even on certain mixes when it got complex, the Sonic Art managed to stay composed and in control. My centre speaker managed to fill the centre sound space almost flawlessly. Details like the sound of air-bubbles from the sinking vessel "Titanic" were expertly resolves with warmness and plenty of punch.

Dialogue was projected in such a way that individual words were clearer in their direction and that the right emphasis was placed on dialogue where voices on DVD were modulated. Again it did a superb job of locking the dialogue to the act on my big screen.

With music, "Blues Company" had some terrific harmonies, interesting to hear the way my system resolves that massed voices. I could actually distinguish from one voice to another.

You donít have to look at expensive imported cables for that right answer. There is no shortage of Australian made cables of world class.

Sonic Art seem to sound great with Classical music, proving itís capability of presenting complicated works by massed orchestras, with presence and clean dynamics. I personally feel it is really important to sense that realistic musicality.

Verdict:

Improvement in the sound field was noticed with the 'switching of cables' test. Sonic Art had that great overall feel of a logical sound field.

For most individuals, buying their initial Sonic Art cables can be a life changing experience. As they will get pleasure from knowing that their complete audio system has been engineered to achieve best possible performance, free from compatibility problems.

Looking at Sonic Artís web-page you will also discover pleasure from knowing that Sonic Art is a company of individuals who care about both the design and construction of their products, while sharing their love of music with the world. It looks like the history of Sonic Art is of technical achievement in the field of audio cable reproduction, it has transmitted benefits of many years of knowledge and experience in professional audio and industrial products, to the business of making the most accurate interconnect and speaker audio cables. Give them a try and you wonít regret it.

After the burning-in process, I have no criticism to this Sonic Art audible performance. It is relatively simple to set up and use, and once configured (in the direction of current flow), the silver-line inter-connects should be left permanently in any pre-amp and power-amp link, also the Ebony speaker cables locked to the speakers in use.

It was interesting to hear the change in sounds week after week's review. Now, its time to end this review, as I believe that this Sonic Art cable has reached its entire performance.

My Analysis for Sonic Art Cable designer:

After all that burn-in, test and listening sessions for the past six weeks, I must say that your cables were just smoother, and more wide-ranging in the overall frequencies while at the same time having more punch, (deepness and solidness) in the low-mids and Bass. Also, it was easier to listen to your cables at very high volumes (90 to 95 dB) and for longer periods without feeling fatigue. This was when listening to Dave Matthews band "Crash". As the sixth week came, I noticed that my audio system was even warmer, relaxed when needed with DVD live concerts and clean, forcefulness when needed with DVD ĎDTSí action pack movies. I was also able to playback all kinds of CD music from Jazz, Pop, Acid Jazz Rock, Country & Western, Classicalís and even Heavy-metal Rock. One thing was very noticeable. It made whichever component it was connected to sound more accurate, lively, involving and more positive of itself. In actual fact, now Sonic Art sounds to me like a Hybrid cable design that gives all the benefits of silver (dynamic high frequencies) and all of the benefits of copper (deep, tight Bass response). Your audio cables seem to allow SACD music through with deep, sparkling dynamics; I am also impressed with the accurate Bass frequency reproduction.

The dynamic range and extra clarity generated by Sonic-Art Silver-analogue interconnect and Ebony 8-core speaker cables was a remarkable achievement. Itís a state-of-the-art cable for any person who wants the best in audio, they will experience a level that not a lot of cables can offer and made in Australia too. It has every price benefit over the expensive imports I have tested over the years. It is reasonably priced and very much worth that 5/5 rating.

 Set-up:

Audio cables tested in this review were:

1) Sonic Art Silver Analogue Interconnect.

2) Sonic Art Ebony 8-core speaker cables.

For enquires go online, www.sonicartaudio.com

Associated audio equipment used:

1) "Denon" AVC-A1 SR, 170 watts (RMS) per channel.

2) "Le Amp" Mono block 100 watts (RMS) power amp.

3) "Audio Lab" 8000A, 200 watts (RMS) per channel power amp.

4) "Sony" DVD/SACD player.

5) "Pioneer" DVD/SACD player.

6) "Sony" CD player.

7) "Sony" DAT player.

8) "Sony" Cassette player.

9) "Panasonic" Hi-Fi, S-Vhs recorder.

10) "N0rh" Marble 9.0 speakers. (Scanspeak Components).

11) "N0rh" Ceramic 4.0 speakers (Vifa Components).

 

Alphonso Soosay

Audio Recording Engineer / Musician.

Perth. "Western Australia".