For over a decade, digital cables were indispensable in the makeup of a high performance audio system with separate transports and D/A converters; and despite the conveniences and promises of today’s multi-format players, a digital cable continues to define the performance level of a system utilizing external DAC for Redbook CD playback.
To audiophiles who continue to enjoy music via their transport and DAC, Boelen Electronics intends to make a very fine point on what their digital cable can do.
Founded in 2001, Boelen Electronics provided augmentation and repair services to Enlightened Audio Designs’ audiophile DSP and home theater products, such as the DSP-9000, TheaterMaster Encore and DVDMaster players.
In founding his company, Frank Boelen was joined by two brothers, Greg and Robert Palma.
Greg was EAD’s former Director of Manufacturing, instrumental in the development and production of EAD products. Greg’s EAD R&D activities involved PCB and mechanical designs via CAD, as well as bread boarding, prototyping and firmware testing. Greg also acted as EAD’s QC Manager and trained all assembly personnel, test and repair technicians.
Robert was a rocket scientist involved in the development of electronics, instrumentation and communication systems for 17 Earth orbiting satellites, 3 upper stages, two primary boosters and Shuttle-attached payload. As Frank Boelen’s Chief Engineer, Robert designed Boelen Electronics’ first cable product: the Digital-Precise.
The Boelen Cable
Dubbed “a true balanced system”, the Digital-Precise claims absolute EMI and RFI immunity from its interference-canceling balanced circuit design and precision raftsmanship. The claimed, resultant jitter-free performance is further assured with an epoxy resin encapsulation that, supposedly, renders the cable’s innards exempt from variables, such as variance in humidity and temperature, as well as ultra-violet radiation and free oxygen.
The Digital-Precise is said to provide “superior electrical signal quality and spectral purity”. There is an encased transmitter at one end and a receiver at the other, with an “A/B’ toggle switch on the receiver for lifting the chassis ground at the “A” setting. In BE’s words,
“Depending on the noise and interference in your system, this switch setting should be
determined by listening. For small systems, try the “B” setting first. For more complex
systems, the “A” setting (chassis ground isolation) could be the better setting. In either
case, try both settings”.
The weight of the cable as imposed by the encased circuitries was substantial, and Boelen’s solution to the accompanying stress was incorporation of WBT’s 0144, a Teflon™ insulated, multi-layer plated RCA plug with patented locking mechanism.
Supporting the 47 Lab PiTracer and the Audio Note DAC 5 Special, the Digital-Precise took the place of the comparably priced $1,400, meter-long Audio Note Sogon™ silver digital cable. In a good number of aspects, the Boelen Digital-Precise possessed attributes of the Sogon as well.
Quite orthodox in configuration, my system comprising the aforementioned digital front-end, plus the AN M5, Harmonix Reimyo PAT-777, AN AN-E Signature and AN Sogon high-strand silver interconnect and speaker cable system exhibited excellent mid to top-end clarity with the Digital-Precise at its “B” setting, with no chassis ground lifted.
For the silver-laden AN-E SEC Silver, the Digital-Precise’s “A” setting offered a more energetic upper midrange in EMI’s solo piano recordings by Evgeny Kissin than I was used to with the Sogon, although it nevertheless exhibited a predominant similarity to the Sogon in endowing ordinary recordings with nuances and subtleties without loss in dynamics. Thus, the “B” setting became the default where the AN speaker was concerned.
This phenomenon is doubly illuminated with the engagement of Tannoy’s ST200 SuperTweeter, through the company of which the Digital-Precise’s top-end behavior at the “B” setting proved to be extraordinarily well composed and rounded, competent in conveying delicacies at high frequencies and outputs with no superfluous indulgence.
The Digital-Precise also traversed alongside the Sogon on instrument texturing and soundstage delineation, repeatedly demonstrating a comparable sensibility and sophistication that was indicative of an authoritative origin. And perhaps due to an even more regulated disposition by design, the Boelen’s exacting and expressive renditions of piano and violin alike from DG and EMI never inferred beyond civility.
When the “A” setting of ground chassis isolation was selected, the Digital-Precise retained the same degree of pristine resolution in the company of the $10k M5, $9k Linn Klimax Twin and the $8,000 Tannoy TD10 system, churning out graceful sonorities and just fabulous sound. The Dual-Concentric™ speaker’s level of resolution did not challenge that of the $20k AN speaker; but the Digital-Precise imparted distinctly lustrous intonation throughout the Tannoy’s mid to top-range, a synergy so complimentary and intoxicating as it was never experienced before.
At the end, the Sogon’s microscopic detailing and effortless dynamic capacity via the AN-E SEC Silver drew the dividing line between it and the Digital-Precise.
To put into perspective, the Audio Note AN-E SEC Silver’s soft-dome tweeter has the most colossal and refined performance I’ve heard among speakers, save for the ELAC CL330JET’s folded membrane tweeter, which is the most expansive in its coverage of frequencies. When presented with recordings complete with a full suite of sonic flamboyancy, the AN loudspeakers gave more pronounced yield in spontaneity and unpredictability via the Sogon cable’s 47 strands of 99.99% silver, which worked to fulfill the promises of all recordings to a larger degree.
The Boelen Digital-Precise was superior to all digital cable I’ve used in resolution retrieval, except for the Audio Note Sogon. Accompanied by the Sogon interconnect and speaker cable, the Digital-Precise projected breathtaking dynamics amidst expansive soundscapes, capable of fully resolving the dynamic transients as churned out by the DAC 5 Special.
The Digital-Precise also benefited from the detailing of Audio Note’s 99.99% silver, Sogon interconnect and speaker cable downstream. Considering the degree that silver is implemented in my system, the copper Boelen’s ability to rise with the silvers amidst repeated system experimentations on my part spoke volume of its rich and vigorous nature.
Imaginably, in a copper-based system, the chassis-ground lifted Boelen would be less difficult in effectuating a most wholesome spectral presentation than cables made with more exotic materials.
Digital Front End
47 Laboratory 4704 PiTracer CD transport
47 Laboratory 4705-G Gemini Progression DAC
Audio Note DAC One 1.1x Signature
Audio Note DAC 5 Special
GW Labs DSP
47 Laboratory 4706 dual mono Gaincard S with DACT24 & Cardas posts
Audion Silver Night PSE 300B monoblocks
GamuT Audio D3 preamplifier
GamuT Audio D200 Mk III
Harmonix Reimyo PAT-777 300B stereo amplifier
Linn Klimax Twin
Loth X JI300 integrated amplifier
Reference Line Preeminence Two passive preamplifier
Reference Line Preeminence One Signature power amplifier
47 Laboraotory 4722 Lens minimonitors
47 Laboratory Essence
Apogee Duetta Signature
Audio Note AN-E SEC Signature
Audio Note AN-E SEC Silver
Murata ES103a/ES105 spherical super tweeter
Tannoy Churchill Wideband
Tannoy Dimension TD10
Tannoy ST-200 SuperTweeter
Audio Note Sogon digital cable (1m, RCA)
Audio Note Sogon interconnect (2m pair, RCA)
Audio Note AN-Vx interconnect (1.5m, RCA)
Audio Note Sogon LX speaker cable (5 feet, spade/banana, bi-wired)
Audio Note AN-V silver interconnect (RCA 1m, 2 pairs)
Audio Note AN-SPx speaker cable (2m, bananas, bi-wired)
Audio Note AN-La copper speaker cable (8 feet, bi-wired)
Audio Note Sogon speaker cable (5 feet, bi-wired)
Canare L-5CFB 75-ohm digital cable (RCA, 1.5m)
Canare D206 110 ohm digital cable (AES/EBU, 1.5m)
Cardas Quadlink 5C (8 feet)
Granite Audio #470 silver cables (RCA 1m, 2 pairs)
Granite Audio #560 AC Mains (2)
Harmonix Reimyo Studio Master AC cord (2)
Illuminations D-60 75 Ohm digital cable (1.5m, RCA)
Van den Hul MCD-352 (8 feet)
Harmonix Reimyo ALS-777 line conditioner
Salamander Synergy 20 (2), Twin 30 and Amp Stand, ASC Tube Traps and Flat Traps
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