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Acapella Reference LaMusika Speaker Cable Review

Constantine Soo recounts The High-End Audio Reality of $16,000 speaker cables

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Acapella La Musica speaker cables

Many consider the prospect of paying thousands of dollars on cables as among the most abominable aspect of our hobby. The most prevalent rationale against investing in high-dollar cable products, is the belief that with all the money we’ve spent to get the supposedly best-sounding CD player, amplification and loudspeaker at our respective levels, our system should sound considerably better even with the cables we’ve been using, regardless of their caliber and vintage. Parallel to this line of thought is the ever dismissive mentality of many audiophiles on the role of cables, one that is exemplified by the assumption that even the most advanced technologies put forth in cable engineering and manufacturing will amount to improvements of the minutely incremental sort; that true improvements can only be obtained via major equipment upgrade.

Many liken buying $10k of a pair of loudspeaker cables for a $10k system to fitting a little Chevrolet with high-end tires: Unnecessary. If you asked me, I would tell you such analogy is misplaced. To me, getting that $10,000 of the cables for your system would be the audio equivalent of having better blood flow in your body: Why wouldn’t you want to do it first chance you get?

When we pour significant energy and resources into building a system that produces the kind of sound we want, we are involved in the process of building system synergy. Regardless of how superlative a caliber that the equipment you have is capable of, cable products present the last link in producing the system synergy. Remember, your system can only sound as good as your weakest link.

With that said, I have been using my $8k Audio Note AN-SPx silver speaker cable for some years, and it has exploited the potentials of amplifiers and speakers to the benefit of my review projects. Retrospectively, just like you, I am my worst enemy and I have resisted upgrading the cables. Dagogo’s readers are safe, because they don’t get temptations from a certain importer who makes it impossible for me to not try one of his most expensive speaker cables. Contemplate with me the difficulty of rejecting a review of a 3-meter pair of $23,200 solid-silver speaker cable encapsulated in ceramic tubing, especially when the importer of such cable flew to my home and set it up for me. His motive was undoubtedly an ulterior one, but would you turn down such an offer even if you were painfully aware of the predicament you would be in when the time would come for it to leave?

The Acapella Reference LaMusika single-wired speaker cable retails for $16,000 per a standard 2-meter pair, with every additional half meter costing another $3,600. The review pair was of an extra length, at 3 meters. On the U.S. Importer Aaudio Import’s website, the cable is described as made of pure solid silver with ceramic insulation, in a mechanically damped construction. Consistent with Acapella president Herman Winters’ policy, detailed technical information on the company’s products remains in utmost secrecy, so as to stem the proliferation of imitations. Every Reference LaMusika comes in the WBT 0680 AG spade termination.

In a primary system consisted of the 47 Lab PiTracer CD transport, the Audio Note DAC5 Special and the Pass Labs X0.2 preamplifier system, the Acapella Reference LaMusika was auditioned whether the amplification was the Pass Labs XA100.5 pure class-A solid-state monoblocks, or the Red Rock Audio Renaissance SET monoblocks, or the latest, $90,000 pair of the Ypsilon SET 100 MKII hybrid monoblock amplifiers. Loudspeakers rotated were the $77,000 pair of the Feastrex Makoto and the $35,000 Rockport Mira Grand II loudspeaker system. Both speakers featured single-wiring terminals. Interconnects used were the Wireworld Platinum Eclipse between the Audio Note DAC5 Special and the Pass Labs X0.2 preamplification system, while the Gold Eclipse fed the speakers with juices from either of the 3 pairs of monoblock amplifiers.

Break-in time for the Reference LaMusika had stretched past the first 60 days until they became considerably more contrasting in tonal shadings, as well as more spacious. At which point I had already neglected my reference AN-SPx for an extended period, and reinserting it into the system confirmed the Reference LaMusika as superior across the board, in dimensionality focus, tonality development, top- and bottom-end control and textural refinement.

The Rockport Mira Grand II was the most affordable loudspeaker in my home for use as reference in its specialty of laying bare all the sonic subtleties put forth by changes in system. The Acapella speaker cable, thus, in the role of a conduit between the Ypsilon SET 100 MKII and the Rockport, at once conjured through the Rockport more potent performance envelope from audiophile discs, such as the 2009 Grammy-nominated FIM K2 HD Red Cliff Capriccio produced at Skywalker Sound, in which the impossibly dynamic and reverberating guzheng, a zither-like Chinese 21-string instrument, resonated with such scale and transient as to challenge anything prior to the Rockport. Via the Acapella Reference LaMusika cable, the Rockport cast revelatory contrasts on the majesty of the guzheng’s lone, sweeping volume and the whispery nuances of the recording venue on the FIM K2 HD disc. If you think the canon shots of the Telarc 1812 were spectacular, you have yet to ready yourself for the most nerve-numbing and spirit-reenergizing sonic experience. It can almost qualify as an insult to play Red Cliff Capriccio in any system other than the most neutral and truthful.

Driving the Red Rock/Feastrex system, the Audio Note AN-SPx excelled at energizing speakers to produce spectacular imaging, amidst a consistently rich and sophisticated palette of tones. However, I have never heard the likes of the Acapella ceramics-encapsulated solid silver, which permeated the presentations of the single-driver speaker system with tonal density of shocking proportions. The resultant tonal sophistication and manifestation was such that I obtained no lesser finesse when I put the Pass Labs solid-state monoblocks in place to drive the Feastrex.

This system arrangement would have been an abomination if it were any other amplifiers, but it was the Nelson Pass design; and no silver speaker cable that I experienced could take the performance to a higher level than the Audio Note, but the Acapella debuted at the top, over the AN. For any serious audiophile acquiring the Feastrex as his own reference, unrealized potential of the system will surely ensue if he had not investigated the likes of the Acapella. If you can afford the $77k Feastrex, spend the extra $23k and make it the $100k system, and I’ll guarantee you will never let the Acapella out of your sight.

For even a mini-monitor, such as the $2,100 Onkyo D-TK10 Takamine Guitar Speaker, progressed to forbidden territories that belied its physique when the Acapella was in place. Never mind the midget’s 80dB/4Ω inefficiency, nor the 1.25-inch Ring Drive tweeter and the 4-inch monocoque diaphragm woofer, with the Acapella Reference LaMusika and the Pass Labs XA100.5 monoblocks, the diminutive Takamine devoured all the bookshelf speakers I’ve ever heard. It was clearly a case where the Reference LaMusika was passing so much more information from the amplifier to the mini-monitor, that the system was summarily transformed.

Is $23,000 too much to spend on a pair of single-wired speaker cables? Is there a golden rule on the amount of money to spend on speaker cables per $10,000 worth of system?

Many of us would apply a formula to answering that question; and I don’t think any one of us would be comfortable with any predetermined amount. The one thing I have learned in this review is that regardless of how good a system you have put together, it will always lay besieged by the quality of cabling used.

A more meticulously assembled system can certainly bring about the more impressive listening experience in its ability to render notes more distinctly, transients more fully and scales more realistically. Let not the culprit to a more fulfilling and satisfying musical experience be the cabling. Get the best cable you can afford, such as the Acapella Reference LaMusika, and you are guaranteed the best performance from your speakers, as well as the entire system upstream.

We are stubborn in our thinking that the emphasis on the system is always on the hardware. Well, the Acapella Reference LaMusika speaker cable showed me that the emphasis on a system may as well be on the cables, for to this day, their kind has been the last consideration in system building with the least amount of funding allocated towards their acquisition. It is time for the cables to be the stronger link in a system.

At the end, as awe-struck as I was by what the Acapella Reference LaMusika was capable of, I remained convinced that the ultimate caliber of the Acapella had yet to be realized in a system consisting of two pairs of the Ypsilon SET 100 MKIIs driving Acapella’s own Triolon Excalibur. That, my friends, is another story…

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