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Enklein Zephyr Interconnect, Taurus Speaker Cables, and Titan Power Cable Review

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A couple of weekends later, I once again inserted the Enklein Zephyr balanced interconnect, warmed up the system and had a listen to the same pieces of music from a couple of weeks ago.  Unfortunately, very little had changed. At that point I had started to question my own method and returned to the “start” position by removing the Taurus power cords and inserted the Aural Symphonics back to the Pass Labs X350.5. The results were interesting, but raised more questions. The midrange presence that I had noted diminished quite a bit. In fact, top-to-bottom consistency was quite good. However, in its place was a smearing of images. The once crystalline imaging had somehow been adversely affected by this latest cable swap. Also, image height was not seemingly adversely affected. Images seemed to end abruptly at the top of the speakers. This indeed was a puzzle and I was stumped. So, at this point I decided to reach out to the designers and search for probable answers or solutions.

It is very important to point out that at this point in the review, there were already some extraordinarily good characteristics that had surfaced as result of the Zephyr and Taurus. Setting aside the imaging and perspective issues, the introduction of the power cord and balanced interconnect had yielded a wonderful rhythmic bounce to my system. Live recordings of stringed instruments in particular had a nice round and rich quality that you rarely hear from a pure silver cable. High frequencies also had a richness in tonal color and liveliness that was a pure delight. Listening to a couple of my favorite prog records also revealed that the Zephyr and Taurus developed a rhythmic groove on the Eficion F300 that I had yet to hear previously. So there was clearly much at stake in resolving the issues that had emerged. In an effort to eliminate any questions of strange equipment interactions I may be having, over the course of the next several weeks, I had the opportunity to swap in my previous reference, the MartinLogan CLS IIz. This turned out to be an interesting diversion because the issue of smear was not nearly as pronounced as with the Eficion F300. However, the issue was still present. The issue of image height I had with the Eficion’s had translated to shrunken images on the electrostatics.

Swapping the Digital Amplifier Company Cherry Ultra power amplifier I had in for review was more revealing in terms of that particular amplifier’s strengths, than actually being of any assistance as to the issue at hand with respect to the Enklein cable system. It’s important to note that with each change in equipment, such as the MartinLogan’s, the Sunfire Signature amplifier, and the DAC Cherry Ultra amplifier, I always went back to a full set of the TRS Pure Note cables after hearing the Enklein in order to confirm that there were no additional factors that needed to be considered. The results remained remarkably consistent.

After consulting with Dave Kleinbeck of Enklein and going into great detail as the issues at hand, the design team at Enklein and I came to the conclusion that the only reasonable approach would be to eliminate the possibility of incompatibility due to the vastly different electrical properties of the alloyed silver-gold TRS Pure Note cables versus the Enklein pure silver solid core Zephyr.  Having already received a single-ended Zephyr interconnect for the source, I decided to swap this in right away.  In the meantime, Dave Kleinbeck from Enklein was shipping me a set of the Enklein Titan speaker cables.

My listening session with the Enklein Zephyr interconnects in place at the CD player, and between amplifier and line stage demonstrated yet another fairly significant change in my overall system’s sonic signature.  The sound was fatiguing and uncharacteristically forward. In fact at one point, I would say that the normally neutral and even-handed Eficion F300’s were actually shouting the midrange.  Clearly, the sound was changing and not for the better. In an effort to continue the diagnostic process in the hopes of finding a solution, I removed the last of the alloyed silver-gold TRS Pure Note Designer’s edition cables altogether and inserted the copper-based Aural Symphonics Purple v3 speaker cables in their place. I quickly realized that this was the swap I should have done right from the beginning! The shouting midrange stepped back into the soundstage where it belonged, the bass firmed up, imaging improved and the smearing had all but vanished. Go figure.

Encouraged that I had finally found the root cause of the problem I had encountered, I then tried to make sense of why it was happening. Looking back at the many times throughout the past several years when I had performed a few cable reviews and certainly had done quite a bit of swapping, what made this particular swap such a challenge in compatibility with my system? What appears to be the logical answer came to me in the form of several email exchanges with Dave Kleinbeck. He had conferred with his design team, as well as the folks who had performed beta testing on the cables, and the answer seems to be that I was encountering a phenomenon referred to as “Group Delay.” This is said to happen when alloys or different media are used in the signal path.  Basically, one block of frequencies may travel slower than another. In other words, my gold-silver alloyed TRS Pure Note Designer’s Edition speaker cables were most probably not at all compatible with the copper Aural Symphonics cables or the silver Enklein cables I was mating them with. A quick look back at all of the swaps I had made in the past confirmed that indeed, I had never mixed non-like cables while at the same time using the TRS Pure Note Designer’s Edition speaker cables. Convinced that the problem was solved, I looked forward to inserting the pair of Enklein Titan speaker cables that had just arrived.

Enklein Titan Speaker Cable

A reboot – the Enklein “Titan” speaker cables

The Enklein Titan speaker cables are designed specifically around the concept of optimized response and transmission characteristics of copper and silver. The construct, composed of 98 individual components is divided by frequency. Each individual frequency group is independently shielded by phase.

The midrange and treble conductors are solid silver isolated in air tubes. The Bass conductors are isolated within an independent parallel architecture utilizing copper and silver conductors of differing diameters to optimize low end and mid bass response. The design intention is to isolate each frequency transmission band from the others. Each of the negative and positive polarities are also individually isolated and share a common, purely passive shield that is not within the signal path.

Each speaker cable actually has a shield wire at the source end that is supposed to be attached to ground for maximum quieting. It is clear that the Titan’s design was focused on noise reduction and maximized preservation of the signal.

My first listening session with a true end-to-end connection of Enklein cables occurred while I was in the final stages of reviewing the Cherry Ultra stereo power amplifier from the Digital Amplifier Company. In order to remain consistent, I had conducted the entire evaluation process of this amplifier with the TRS cables. Having seemingly resolved the issues of compatibility, I decided to wrap things up with a final listen using the cables from Enklein. To get my bearings, I decided to repeat at least a couple of records from the most recent listening session. First up was my Japanese pressing of Synchronicity by the Police. This is one of the best commercial rock recordings of all time. The contrast was astounding. The entire system came to life. The Eficion F300 had speed, tone, power, and depth in the upper bass as well as in the bottom octaves that was notably improved over what I had experienced thus far with these speakers. In fact, the improvements were so pronounced particularly in the bottom-end speed and power, that it felt like I was hearing an entirely different power amplifier-speaker combination. The remainder of the listening session that day evolved to a focus and re-evaluation of the key positive elements of the DAC Cherry Ultra power amplifier that had emerged as a result of the cable swap.

Confident that the compatibility issues were now a thing of the past, I reconfigured my reference system using the Enklein Taurus power cords at the Pass Labs X350.5 power amplifier and at the Zesto Audio Andros PS1  phono stage, Enklein Zephyr single-ended interconnect from Zesto Audio Andros PS1 to Pass Labs XP-20 linestage,  Enklein Zephyr balanced interconnect from Pass Labs XP-20 line stage to Pass Labs X350.5 power amplifier, and the Enklein Titan speaker cables from Pass Labs X350.5 amplifier to Eficion F-300 speakers.

What difference compatibility and some attention to detail makes! The addition of the Titan speaker cables and the re-introduction of the rest of the Zephyr and Taurus cables confirmed what I had caught a glimpse of with the brief listen to the DAC Cherry Ultra amplifier. Indeed, something truly magical had come to pass and emerged in this new system configuration.

My note-taking started out fast and furious on the entire first Sunday’s listening session, but that need and desire completely melted away in little time because the system had become so alive and engaging.

My previously noted example of the speed and tone that defined the Eficion F300 and DAC Cherry power amplifier in the previous week was handily equaled and surpassed with the re-introduction of the Pass Labs X350.5. The image height, width, and depth were only to be outdone by the layering of sounds and acoustical “treatments” that were portrayed on this album.  Moving to Janis Ian’s Breaking Silence LP, those same qualities were present and outdone by the tonal richness of the skins of the drums and Janis’ acoustic guitar without her voice ever sounding forward or edgy in any way. The superbly recorded Peter Gabriel’s live-in-the-studio effort New Blood exuded a feeling of grandness of space and image of the orchestra through the emergence of the recorded eigenton of the hall. The delicate, quirky vibrato of Ana Brun’s voice on the track “Don’t Give Up” had that kind of tone and clarity within the recorded space that handily allowed me to close my eyes and immerse myself in the lifelike and believable performance.  This occurred throughout the LP. That is, until moments such as the sheer explosive depth and hammer strikes of the tympani and orchestral crescendo in the song” Rhythm of the Heat” reached out and demanded full-on wide-eyed attention. As a whole, time and time again, record after record, it was clear that my system was demonstrating a groove and PRAT that was not present to this extent with the previous set of cables.

Summary

This document can go on indefinitely as I re-introduce and re-discover my system’s performance envelope as it now stands due to the addition of the Enklein cables described in this review. This was indeed a long road and just a short three months ago, I would never have guessed that this would have been the outcome; so pronounced were the obstacles and issues of compatibility that emerged during the course of this review. That said, I have to give a standing ovation to the guys at Enklein. Dave and Tom Kleinbeck and their design team approached the issues I was having with vigor, conviction, and unwavering commitment to resolving what I was hearing through diagnosis, engineering and testing that can only be outdone by their passion and confidence in the product that they have produced. The Enklein cables described in this review, Taurus Reference power cord, Titan speaker cable, and Zephyr interconnect working in unison have the ability of handily meeting the design goals of  preserving the integrity of the signal while eliminating interference and noise in the process. In plain English, they can take an already great sounding system and elevate it to a new level performance.

Kudos, gents.

Manufacturer’s comment:

Tom and I read the review several times. What Ray finally heard is our goal. It’s very difficult to put in words, our objective and goals. At least for us. It’s easier to demonstrate by just listening. Ray nailed it!

The objective is so clearly stated, which is to capture and convey the artists’ emotion.  Many artists and musicians are at the mercy of the engineers and their choice of arsenals. The engineers’ tools are so expensive and vast, and current training doesn’t cover cable compression and matching with mic’s.  EnKlein chooses an artist every year and custom builds cables for their use.

The method of the review is strikingly similar to what we experienced during years of design and redesigned, subtly alterations, so we can reproduce music as faithfully as possible. Of course it is condensed into 3 months not a decade.

Damage from recordings is not reversible, however, and EnKlein cables reduce noise from the typical transmission system and carefully protect the signal. The end goal is to enjoy your music collection, not injected artifacts and noise.

We very much appreciate Dagogo and your passion for music and patience with us.

Sincerely,

Dave Kleinbeck
EnKlein

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