FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 12
eXpress6 Series 2 interconnects and Series 2 Power Enhancing AC cables
as reviewed by Fown-Ming Tien and Robert H. Levi
Rob Woodland introduced some of the Eichmann Technologies products at the February 2004 meeting of the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society, held at Classic Records in Hollywood. When members questioned him about the sonic signature of the products, he replied that they had none, and that his cables should be like open windows. This statement captured my attention, since all of the many cables I have tried have had their own sonic signatures. Some have a brighter, more detailed and etched sound, while others are more recessed. I prefer cables that are neutral or on the warm side, as my system is very smooth, revealing, and detailed without being fatiguing, grainy, or sibilant. Brighter cables generally over-accentuate high frequencies, causing my system to sound overly detailed and tizzy, while neutral or warm cables give my system the best balance, along with wonderful musicality. Woodland stated that the best way to understand the Eichmann cables is to experience them in your own system, so I decided to take his advice. He set me up with a one-meter pair of the eXpress6 Series 2 RCA interconnects, a two-meter run of the Series 2 Power AC Enhancing cable, and two sets of a resonance-controlling device called The Topper™.
The $196 eXpress6 interconnects incorporate the Eichmann Ratio™ formula and an extended EMF control system which uses passive buffers. With their bright blue, almost translucent covering, they look like toys rather than serious audio cables—they reminded me of blue licorice sticks! I removed the pair of $640 Argent Jaden Signature interconnects between my DAC and preamp, inserted the eXpress6 interconnects, and powered up my system to play Andrea Bocelli’s Cieli di Toscana. Because of the difference in price, I was expecting the sound to take a giant step backward when I pushed the play button, but that did not happen. Instead, my jaw dropped, as I had never heard under-$200 interconnects sound as transparent, detailed, airy, and neutral as the eXpress6es. On Josh Groban’s first album, lesser cables impart some upper-midrange harshness and grain into his voice, but the eXpress6es added absolutely nothing. They were able to fully convey all the passion and emotion in his voice, with supreme smoothness.
I then spun Diana Krall’s Live in Paris disc, and the music flowed with unrestrained naturalness, lacking any trace of the midrange grain and treble sibilance that normally afflicts cables in this price range. Notes flowed from one to the other, rather than sounding like choppy key strikes, as I have found with other cables. Brushes and rim shots did not sound tinny and overly crisp, as they do with many other cables. The treble regions had airiness and transparency, rather than a veiled, compressed, and closed-in feel. Bass, while leaner than with the Argent interconnects, was articulate and tight. The soundstage was deep and wide, and the background was very black, thouh focus and clarity was a touch off the Argents’ mark. For approximately 31% of the price of the Argents, which are the best interconnects I have tried in my system (compared to the likes of the Acoustic Zen Silver Reference MkIIs, the Ridge Street Audio Midnight Silver Edition MkIIs, the Onix Grand Masters, the AudioQuest Jaguar DBSes, as well as many others), the eXpress6s offered about 85% of their performance. Rob Woodland was right! The Eichmann interconnects provide a wide-open window. I highly recommend that you give these interconnects a try. For the price, they will be very difficult to beat!
I also tried the eXpress™ Series 2 Power AC Enhancing cable, which sells for $300. This power cord incorporates newly-discovered fractal resonance control technology that provides a cleaner AC load to the power supplies of components. The cord incorporates a bulbous attachment that contains an aluminum body covered in plastic. It looks strange, but how does it sound? In one word—INCREDIBLE! Plugging this cable into my CD transport caused a haze or film to be removed from the sound. As good as the Eichmann interconnects were, the AC cable was even better! The difference the eXpress power cable made was amazing, especially since it replaced a top-of-the-line Onix Statement power cord costing over two times as much. The Eichmann AC cord doesn’t restrain or restrict the sound, as do some of the heavily-shielded power cords that I have tried. Vocals were full and natural. Rim shots, high hats, and triangles had a natural shimmer, with unbelievable sense of air, transparency, focus, and detail. Bass had great weight and authority, with superior clarity and definition. John Mayer’s Room For Squares had me tapping my toes from start to finish, as the dynamics were better than I had ever heard in my system. The Eichmann Series 2 AC cord did a better job of engaging me in the music than any power cable I have tried to date. Unfortunately, I only had one! I imagine that similar improvements in my system could be realized by running another to the preamp and two more to my monoblock amplifiers. I highly recommend this product.
The final product I tried was the Eichmann Topper™, a passive device used to reduce resonance and improve the performance of audio and video components and loudspeakers. It reminds me of the scales on Godzilla’s back! According to the Eichmann website, the Topper™ provides cleaner, more focused sound, reduces upper-bass haze and overhang, increases low-level detail, and improves soundstage. I tried them on my loudspeakers and my subwoofer, and discovered that they delivered the first three of those four things. I noticed cleaner, more focused sound, a reduction in upper-bass haze, and tighter bass tones. I was able to hear increased inner detail and improved clarity. The improvements were not as dramatic as the ones I noticed with the Eichmann interconnects and power cord, but they were worthwhile. I am looking forward to trying the Eichmann eXpress6 speaker cables in the near future! Fown-Ming Tien
Once upon a time there was a man from Australia named Mathew Bond, who set the audio world on its ear by introducing Tara Lab cables. Made of high-quality copper, with simple, rectangular, solid-core construction, these interconnects outperformed many more expensive designs. Tara Lab cables now sell for ten to twenty times as much, and they too have joined the lexicon of high-end audiophile cables. But wait, here is a newbie from down under, discovered and brought to America by Michael Hobson of Classic Records and themusic.com fame—Eichmann Technologies International from Brisbane, Australia. These cables widen our resources for high definition and high value interconnects.
Unlike early Tara cables, the Eichmann eXpress6 Series 2 interconnects are chock full of high technology. The "bullet" plug they employ is a possible breakthrough in connectivity. Based on the less-is-more theory, its contacts, which consist of gold over tellurium copper, reduce eddy currents and sonic splash, focusing and refining the sound. The cables contain passive buffers, ultra pure copper runs, and air dielectric, and feature a very special ratio of mass invented by Keith Eichmann. Not only do they reduce time domain distortions, they also reduce EMF and other scurrilous problems that damage accuracy, texture, and musicality. The plug has only a tiny wire that grounds the RCA connector, the rest of the shield being plastic. It worked just fine in all the applications I tried. The balanced connectors are high quality Neutriks, and are also gold plated. Go to the Eichmann website for more technical details. So here we have new think, exotically constructed, technologically advanced interconnects from Australia, but now for the rest of the story—they are only $200 per meter! Have I got your interest yet? Please read on.
First let’s examine the single-ended design. I compared them to the top-rated $150 Kimber Heros and the $300 Soundstring interconnects. I also checked them against the $450 Kimber KCAG Silver interconnects and the top-of-the-heap Kimber Selects. For evaluation, I used my Marantz ST17 FM tuner as well as the following CDs:
Diana Krall, Love Scenes (Impulse 233)
XLO Reference Recordings (RX 1000)
Telarc SuperBass2 (SACD 63483)
Sonatas for Violin and Piano (Wilson Audiophile WCD8722)
These cables are very stiff. I suggest that you buy a half-meter more than you need to navigate around your gear. You will also need to break them in for at least 100 hours. The instructions say a few hours, and the manufacturer suggested fifty. No way. At about 100-125 hours, these cables bloom harmonically and stretch out in the highest and lowest frequencies. They always remain neutral to slightly sweet. They sounded like a fine combination of the Hero and KCAG—sweet, smooth, detailed, and extended, plus very fast and tight at all frequencies. They demonstrated none of the stridency or midrange overemphasis of many cables in this price range.
The bass is first rate—super deep and detailed without blur or smear, up there with cables costing twice as much. You also get powerful dynamics and fast transients. It’s hard to believe that there is no silver in these cables. Their linearity and lack of lumpiness is outstanding. The mids are truthful and textured. They are also fast and smooth. These cables are in the accurate camp, with just a touch of warmth and sufficient vividness to enhance pacing. Voices are superbly detailed and "in the room." The eXpress6s had more texture and detail than the all-silver KCAGs, though less richness than the Heros. They were also less rich and somewhat less detailed than the mellifluous Soundstrings, which are double the cost. I hesitate to say that the eXpress6 mids are nearly ideal at only $200 per meter, but I can unhesitatingly say that they were excellent at conveying the soul of the music. They have ultra low coloration—a big plus—and add almost nothing to the sonic picture. Also, unlike the Heros, there is no lumpiness or splash. At the price, the eXpress6s are killer!
The highs may be the single-ended eXpress6s’ best feature. They are extended and super airy like the KCAGs, but slightly sweet and very smooth like the Heros and the Soundstrings. They are also low in distortion and open sounding. They were just a notch below the Kimber KCTG shotgun silver formulation (at $900 per meter), with a touch more warmth. I loved the highs on violin and voice, and the lack, again, of any notable coloration. They were less detailed than my Kimber Selects, but cost one-fifth as much. There is a lot of value here. If you crave open, smooth, fast, and very realistic musical sound and are shopping in the $200-300 budget range, these are your new cables. I preferred them to the Kimber Heros, which roll the highs a bit and reduce air, particularly with dynamic speakers—the kind used by most audiophiles shopping in this price range. With fast drivers like horns, electrostats, or ceramic/metal drivers, I’d make sure the eXpress6s aren’t too vivid for your taste. At $200, they are competitive with designs that were the ultimate just six or seven years ago.
For my audition of the balanced eXpress6s, I used my Magnum Dynalab MD 108 Reference FM tuner in balanced mode and the following sources:
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon (Mobile Fidelity Ultradisk USCD 517)
Simon and Garfunkel, Parsley,Sage,Rosemary,and Thyme (CX85852)
Alan Hovhaness, Symphony No.22 (Naxos 8.559158)
XLO Reference Recordings (RX 1000)
Diana Krall, When I Look in Your Eyes (Verve SACD 440065374-2)
Eric Kunzel, Cincinnati Pops, Epics (Telarc SACD 60600)
The balanced eXpress6s were an unequivocal success with rock music. They were powerhouses. With Pink Floyd, I was astounded by the definition and spacial cues, and the dynamics were just a plain WOW! On my somewhat lean and very detailed Avalons, the eXpress6s were faster than a speeding bullet. They also had ultra-low distortion and a black background. Hiss was predictably emphasized when present.
Bass was strong and tight. It rocked the room and pressurized the walls. The 6s clearly bested the Kimber Selects in this region, on all types of music. I wish my Avalons were bi-wireable, but they aren’t. I don’t have any cable in my arsenal with this kind of bass—powerful and tight, very smooth, and moderately textured. I heard more bass texture and warmth with the Kimber, which is why I’m recommending the balanced eXpress6s for rock and, maybe, jazz enthusiasts. Classical listeners should try them, to see if they press your buttons.
The mids were accurate, smooth, somewhat vivid, and ultra detailed. The sound was very exciting and surprisingly life-like. I can’t say that they were the best choice with my $20,000 Avalons, but they could be just the ticket for those with under-$5000 dynamic speakers. They reminded me of the Nordost Blue Heavens, but with more definition and dynamics. They sounded less like their single-ended eXpress6 cousins, but no telling why. The single-ended 6s are more laid back, but still exciting in their own way. The balanced 6s are powerful, with amazing drive and openness.
The highs were somewhat forward and very dynamic. However, the sound was grain free, low in distortion, and very source/disc dependent. I was again amazed that these cables contained no silver wire. This kind of speed, without thickening of any type, is a true achievement for an all-copper design. I think that you have to try these in your system, and decide if the eXpress6 sound is your solution. The price is a strong inducement.
Are the eXpress6s a breakthrough design, with lower distortion than ever before? I think the answer lies in the midrange, and I preferred the midrange of the single-ended design in both of my systems. The balanced design is very, very good. It performs beyond its price point, and will astonish lots of audiophiles who crave definition and slam. They weren’t the best solution for Avalons, but I would try them on Thiels and Paradigms in a flash.
The eXpress6 interconnects take their place alongside many great, overachieving budget cables (and some expensive cables) in providing clear, detailed, smooth musical sound with ultra low distortion. There is lots of technology here, not just wire in a jacket. I liked the single-ended version a lot, and am buying a pair for my SET system. The balanced version seems best for rock and jazz or to wake up laidback speakers that need extra pace and slam. Both are bargains and tons of fun. At this price, the single-ended Express 6s are a chip shot and highly recommended. I’d audition the balanced version in your system before buying, and would not be surprised if you kept them.
It isn’t often that a reviewer gets to report on a breakthrough component, but the Eichmann eXpress AC Enhancing Cable is my second. The E.A.R. 890 power amplifier was my first. The 890 is $5000. The eXpress is $300. You like?
Hobson called these cables "high value." High value as in comparing a Saturn rocket to a bottle rocket? High value as in comparing Pamela Anderson to who cares? The performance of the eXpress AC cables is within spitting distance of that of the state of the art (whatever that is), and they may be state of the art in many systems. Price and performance—now that’s a deal!
The Eichmann cables are very pure OFC copper, more oxygen free than cables labeled as such, about 10 gauge, with large, serious plugs on each end. About a third of the way from the wall plug is a large cylindrical bulge made of finely extruded aluminum, which is said to reduce EMI, RFI, and other resonances. In tests conducted independently, overall distortion was reduced about 20%. The enclosure does not contain any circuitry. It works like a charm.
The eXpress reduces noise dramatically. The space between instruments becomes startlingly blacker. Quiet passages and the spaces between selections are much quieter. It removes noise from your system wherever you plug it in. Your amp is a must, as the other components benefit the most from this application. Adding more eXpresss was beneficial, but the returns diminished. The biggest improvement was either at the amplifier or the power line conditioner. If you are using a power conditioner with a removable AC connector, connect it with the eXpress to the wall. eXpress also makes a power strip that looks like a good deal.
How did the eXpress compare to my references? The eXpress was quieter and tighter than the Tara Decade, RSC Air 1, and Soundstring. It was also quieter than the Kimber Palladian! It made instruments sound significantly clearer. The effects were not subtle. The eXpress also sounded slightly more neutral and "tighter" than the aforementioned cables. If your system is lean, this may be a problem, though it wasn’t with my somewhat lean-sounding Eidolons. There was no sacrifice in smoothness or definition with the eXpress—in fact there was more!
I swapped the Eichmann Express and the Kimber Palladian on my amp and power conditioner until I was exhausted. I ended up using both in the circuit, with the Palladian on the conditioner and the Eichman on the amp. It could have been reversed, but in my system, the Eichmann MUST be in one of these spots, When it is, the improvement is addictive and marvelously musical, particularly if you are a definition lover. I even heard less noise with the system at normal volume and the source paused. If I didn’t own the Palladian, I’d be hard pressed to buy it at $1080 with the Eichmann around.
I tried an eXpress on the 300B amp in my second, SET-based system, with excellent results. Compared to the Kimber 10 Gold I normally use, the improvements in definition and clarity were superb. The sound was less muddy and more controlled and alive. The soundstage became both bigger and clearer, and everything sounded smoother and less colored. It sounded more like I had changed tubes or the amplifier than AC cables. I also noticed that my vintage Scott tuner improved with the eXpress on the amplifier, as did all other sources.
The Eichmann eXpress is a remarkable, groundbreaking, price-busting AC cable. It has clarity galore, and honest to God, it lowers the noise floor. It does not add coloration or take away any of the things you like best in your system. It is just amazing, and makes one wonder what this new company could do for double the money. Who cares? I’m buying these and never admitting they cost this little. Robert H. Levi