According to the importer’s website, Auditorium 23 was not “founded”, in the common sense of the word. Rather, it just sort of came into being through their enjoyment of music in the early 80s.
They started with a journey into the past where they learned much about what they were looking for in reproducing music. It became evident to them just how much had been sacrificed on the altar of cost-efficient production, of analytical measuring, and of blind trust in the alleged advantages of modern materials.
The problem was, to say so was considered heresy in the technical-minded Germany and most of the western world. Consequently, in Auditorium 23’s early days, the road for them in Germany was very difficult. They were among the first in Germany to use 300B amplifiers with very efficient and not-so-modern loudspeaker designs, and a mass record player with magnetic bearing: the Laboratoire Verdier. Then they discovered Ken Shindo’s tube amplifiers and brought them to Europe. According to their website, all of these things came too soon for the German market as the company began in the early 80s.
At that time, it was very difficult to find a truly musical high-efficiency loudspeaker, so Auditorium 23 begin to build their own. Even to this day, Auditorium 23 only makes a few products, but they are as varied as you can begin to imagine. Currently, they are making the wonderful-sounding and hard-to-obtain Solovox loudspeakers. Last time I checked, the waiting list was over eight months. The reason for the long wait is the complexity of the cabinet.
One of their most famous products is the step-up transformers they make for different moving-coil cartridges. They believe that both transformers and cable work better with specific equipment. When they begin to design a speaker wire, they were looking for the best wire for their speakers as driven by Shindo amps. They weren’t trying to come up with a commercial, universal speaker wire; but the speaker wire became so popular that they have been selling them for over 15 years. Still, the speaker cable are designed to sound best with tube amps and high-efficiency speakers.
Again, according to the importer’s website, Keith Aschenbrenner began experiments in the early 90’s to find a suitable speaker cable to work with his then-new line of electronics from Shindo Labs. Mr. Aschenbrenner spent months with dozens of raw sample cables. After many, many late nights of twisting together various cables, trying many different configurations, cable contents, gauges etc. he came across an inherently musical configuration, and the Auditorium 23 cable was born.
The configuration is still the most musically, harmonically and texturally rich cable they have been able to make at any price. The Auditorium 23 cables are hand-made, constructed with four conductors, in which two of the conductors are twisted to form the positive leg, and the other two for the negative. Each twisted pair is wrapped in dark green cotton sheathing. Auditorium 23 chooses not to divulge the metals used, while each of the cables is terminated with thin & light beryllium-copper banana connectors. These connectors come about as close as you can reasonably get to no connector at all.
Before I get to their sound, let me praise the Auditorium 23 cables for a few things that are important to me in cables. First, they are thin enough and flexible enough to never cause any problems. Second, the wonderful little lightweight banana plugs, or even those used with the spade converters, are a joy and an ease to use.
It’s unbelievable how well these cables with their funny-looking green cotton covers get the sound so right. In comparison to speaker cables I have had that cost five times, two and a half times, and about the same, they are just incredibly alive and musical. They ended up edging out my beloved Audience au24 speaker cables. I had used the Audience au24s for nearly four years as my choice both with the Audio Note AN/Es and the WGA Ikonoklast Model 3s. I do want to say that both the au24 cables and the Auditorium 23 cable are cut from the same sonic cloth, but the Auditorium 23 cables do it just a little bit better. I still use the au24 interconnects as my reference. I used the Auditorium 23 cable between the above speakers and my Wavac MD 300B, and the deHavilland Aries 845Gs. In every case, they just let more music come into my listening room.
With these components, they seemed to impart very little sound of their own on the music. Yet, they allowed the tonal color of the music to come shining through. Again, this is what the Audience cable also do so well, but the Auditorium 23 cables do it just slightly better. They were very special compared to all the other cables at letting nuances of instruments and subtle timing of the musicians be heard. They also were very special at letting the music unravel right in front of you so that you could hear all the layers and textures of the entire sonic event. In no way did they restrict the dynamics or microdynamics of the music. All of this combined to make musical magic when it was on the recording.
As I sit here writing this review, I’m listening to Miles “My Funny Valentine”; it’s not so much that it’s easy to pick out each individual contribution from Miles on trumpet, Herbie on piano, Coleman on tenor, Carter on bass, and Williams on drums. No; what you notice is how great they play together and individually. I know this has more to do with the rest of the system than it does the speaker wire. Still, it is truer with the Auditorium 23 than any of the other wires I’ve tried. The Shindo Monbrison preamp and Wavac amps seem especially adapt at letting all the music unravel in front of you. The Auditorium 23 wire seems to just let you hear this even better.
The Auditorium 23 wire also seems to let you hear a more expansive acoustical space than other wires; especially the space around each instrument and vocal. It also excels at letting the pace, rhythm, and timing of the music come through.
Drums come through so life-like it can be startling. You can hear the stick hit the drum with power and attack. You can hear the initial hit of the stick against the drum, but that’s not all – you also can hear the movement of air above and below the drum. I realize, again, that the wire itself can’t do any of this but only allow you to hear what is the system is doing; but it does this so well.
Likewise cymbals are very musically convincing. You can hear both the tap of the sticks or brushes and then the shimmer. Let me talk about the bass for a minute. The Auditorium 23 speaker cables give bass fullness without sounding fat. This helps you overcome the problem of one-note bass that is so prevalent in the digital world.
I can’t say the Auditorium 23 speaker cables transformed my system or anything so dramatic, but I can say they let my system sound more like music than any of the others as good as they are.
In my April 2007 review of the Audience au24, I compared them to the Nirvana Valhalla speaker cables. The Valhalla’s won every time in a quick A/B test. Long-term listening, though, reveals that while the Valhalla’s were more extended in the treble and bass, and a little more detailed overall, they didn’t let you hear the harmonics and layers of music that the Audience wire did. I am sure the same would be even truer now with the Auditorium 23 wire, as it does everything the au24 does, only better.
The Auditorium wires are more musical. Yes, there are cables that are more spectacular, but in the end I think you will find the Auditorium 23 cables are more correct tonally and musically then these spectacular-sounding cables. Trumpets, saxophones, and strings all sound more like themselves, even if not as impressive.
I think the Audience au24 and the Auditorium 23 speaker cable are the two best speaker cables I have heard regardless of price. If you think you need a little more sparkle in the top-end, but with a sound that gets you 90% of the Auditorium 23s sound, then I suggest the Audience AU24 speaker wire. In the end, I chose the Auditorium speaker wires with the AU24 interconnect. It is about as good as money can buy. Compared to other cables considered the best, the Auditorium 23 leaves you a lot of money over to spend on other things in your system, maybe records.
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