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Aural Symphonics Optimism Lotus ST optical cable Review

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Nick Drake, SACD, “A Treasury”, B0003518-36, tracks 3 & 4.

EMM: Track 3 is very warm.  Strings are really easy and warm, spreading out past the speakers on the left.  Guitar is pretty clear.  The voice spreads a little and is not quite pinpoint.  I think I hear some distortion in the bass occasionally.  Voice sounds mostly great, but there is a not huge among of air. Track 4 is spread out across stage past the speakers, especially the guitar and congas.  Voice is better placed than on the previous track.  Guitar sounds somewhat pushed and compressed.  As with the last track, I think I hear some occasional distortion in the bass area.  Cello placement is excellent.  As before, there is not much depth.

Optimism: Improved, cleaner, up to a point, but still somewhat limited, although consistent with the recording practices of the early 70’s.  Placement of acoustic guitar is very clear.  Strings are excellent.  Drake’s voice has more of its characteristic warmth and softness as we’ve heard on the LPs.  I still hear something that sounds like distortion in the bass occasionally on Track 3.  Track 4 now sounds more effectively recorded.  The voice is more centered.  The conga on the right is very effective, and played by a top-notch player, exceptionally skilled at syncopated accompaniment.  Drake’s voice is exactly right – soft, intimate, effortless.

U2, “All That You Cannot Leave Behind”, Interscope 3145246532. CD

EMM: Voice is centered and detailed, but overall a little edgy.  There is an incredible variety of instrumentation and tracks of sounds.  It is too loud for me.  Toward the end of the track deep bass comes in really well.

Optimism: This simply makes more sense.  It is cleaner, less digital sounding, I think because there is a cleaner delineation between instrument tracks that have been substantially processed and others, although few seem utterly untouched. I fear that this is an example of a recording that is somewhat less satisfying on revisiting 20 years later than one would hope.  But the cable definitely helped.  On track 2 the treatment of drums is unpleasantly compressed and fake sounding. Overall, this is not a very pleasant listening experience.  There is simply too much treatment of sounds, and edgy sound.

“Blue Rose”, Rosemary Clooney and Duke Ellington, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, MFCD 850, track 4.

EMM: On tracks 3 and 4, the band is somewhat congested, but Clooney sounds great.  The top is soft, missing detail in the band.  In comparison to the LP, the arrangement is kind of hard to follow. On “Passion Flower” the same problems exist.  The band is vague, but Hodges sounds great.  Placement is very good.  There are conflicts between Hodges and other saxes at times.

Optimism: While this is much improved, the band is dimmer than it should be.  Clooney and Hodges sound great.  There is less conflict between Hodges and the other saxes.  Music makes more sense.  As far as I know this is only a mono recording, but in track 4 brasses were to the left enough to make me wonder what was going on.

Alexander Scriabin, “Symphony No. 4, Petrenko, Oslo Philharmonic, SACD LWC1088.

EMM: The orchestra is mostly between the speakers with good detail on solo instruments, excellent real-life attacks, not too hard.  Overall the sound of the strings and winds is sweet but somewhat muddy.  Instrument placement is not outstanding, but there is some depth but somehow lacking a strong center.

Optimism: The cable change substantially opened up the entire presentation. Increased detail adds substantially to sensuousness of the music.  It is very clear what is happening.  The forward motion of the music makes more sense.

Ravel, “L’oeuvre Pour Orchtre”, Andre Cluytens, EMI TOGE-12093, SACD. Japanese

EMM: The soundstage is very wide.  The sound is soft edged, missing a little air I think, but the a/c just came on.  Tonally, it is about as good as digital gets.  Specific instrument placement is not entirely clear.  Overall the sound is somewhat muddy, but easy to listen to it.

Optimism: Again, the cable changes substantially opened up entire presentation. Increased details add substantially to the sensuousness of the music.  It is again very clear what is happening.  The forward motion of the music makes more sense.

Tord Gustafson Trio, “The Other Side”, ECM 2608.

EMM: The sound is damn good.  We have it a little loud, but the presence and center are great.  The bass drum is very authoritative.  Cymbals have substantial personality…clear differences.  Placement is excellent, but there is not the halo effect of space around the instruments that you can get from great analog.  Although everything is there, the middle could be fairly described as muddy because of the space issue (the bass and the piano mostly).

Optimism: Immediately apparent that there is more space, more detail in the bass when he does a pull-off.  Drum heads sound cleaner and you can tell which are flatter/deader and which are rounder.  This is really nice, very additive. Piano is more consistent tonally up and down the range.  Articulation during the bass solo is notably improved. Attacks on piano may be somewhat harder at times. That is the only negative I might notice.



One of the many lessons I’ve learned during my time in audio is that everything can be improved. The Optimism Lotus was a significant improvement over the stock EMM cable. Most obvious was the gain in low-level detail. Resolution, which was already extremely good, became absolutely stunning, but did not come at the expense of naturalness. Music attained a liquidity and warmth–particularly on vocals–that was not present with the stock cable. Dynamics and bass were also greatly improved, not only more clearly resolved, but they also hit and decayed with startling power and quickness.

In short, the Aural Symphonics Optimism Lotus is a substantial upgrade over the stock cable, superior in almost every respect. It is undoubtedly expensive, but if you’re an EMM owner and can afford the price of admission, it’s a no-brainer.  It has significantly decreased the gulf between analog and digital and allowed me to hear how exceptional the DA2 really is.


Copy editor: Dan Rubin


Manufacturer’s Comment:

Thank you, Fred; thank you, Constantine.

Aural Symphonics Optimism Lotus is not an easy product to release for sale.

A production sequence is manufactured. Measurements are taken and documented. Other visual inspections are performed. Extensive audible evaluation is conducted and it is a timely process on each unit that passes to this level in production. Not all manufactured units of Optimism Lotus pass into the A+ audible quality evaluation into final sign off, becoming available for sale. Over the years of designing, manufacturing products, I have found even with 100 units of metal based, electrically conductive, high end power cable or analog interconnect there is always a few that audible quality will perform better than the others in the lot. An Optimism Lotus released for sale is the best of the manufactured, tested production lot.

Today, Aural Symphonics is a 34 plus year old high-end, boutique audio company. Aural Symphonics was launched from my San Jose Cali two-car garage.  I started developing high performance interconnect, speaker cables, power cables, digital cables including glass fiber multi-mode products. Digital cables of glass fiber optic topology began in the early 1990s for my factory reference audio system using Theta Digital electronics DAC to Transport. Once released to the industry,  quickly the Aural Symphonics Optimism glass fiber cables with my Synthetic Aperture Technology (the module) were  being implemented in hifi systems the world over, including Theta Digital, WADIA, Enlightened Audio Designs and then later on to EMM Labs. Audiophiles with higher end systems, found Aural Symphonics Optimism via ST/ST optical outperformed any metal conductive,  digital audio cable via SPDIF, AES-EBU.

I am a 1980’s graduate of DeVry Technical Institute of Woodbridge New Jersey. In my early twenties, I worked in aerospace for Singer Flight Simulation Systems Sunnyvale CA, and at NASA at the Ames Research Center Mountain View CA. I’ve been into listening to hifi, the magic of visiting hifi electronics shops, and have been playing and purchasing vinyl since the third grade. I bought my sister a Monkeys record for Christmas. Over the years I have seen and heard hundreds of live music performers. Today I have several very nice reference systems for product development. I still enjoy the high end audio industry, its passionate audiophile enthusiast and its industry professionals both of press and manufacturers.

Tommy Dzurak, Aural Symphonics

2 Responses to Aural Symphonics Optimism Lotus ST optical cable Review

  1. Bill says:

    Very interesting to create A+ batches. Also good to know the 2 meter length is ideal for audio systems. I was told the length does not matter, but we can see experimentation is necessary for best sound quality.
    I plan to try one of these on a bel canto set up.

  2. Fred Crowder says:

    I appreciate your comments. This is an exceptional product but must be used correctly with the proper amount of the supplied optical gel. Too little or too much degrades the performance. Likewise directionality is important. Just follow the instructions.

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