You are reading the older HTML site
Positive Feedback ISSUE
eXpress6 Speaker Cables
as reviewed by Fown-Ming Tien
After being floored by the performance of the Eichmann Series 2 eXpress6 power cord, and impressed by the price/performance ratio of the eXpress6 RCA interconnects (see Eichmann for the full review), I had to give the eXpress6 speaker cable and digital cable a try. I have found that a good experience with one of a company's products does not guarantee similar success with another. Would these cables deliver the same kind of high performance and high value? Rob Woodland of Eichmann told me that his products work best when used throughout a system, from wall socket to speakers, and I was about to find out.
The eXpress6 speaker cable uses the same technology as the eXpress6 interconnect, except for the thicker conductors that the high-level signals generated by amplifiers require. The interconnects use proprietary Eichmann Bullet Plug® connectors, while the speaker cables come with Eichmann's proprietary version of the banana plug called the Bayonet Plug™. This connector is purported to improve signal transfer from the plug to the speaker's binding post. Most banana plugs use the conductive element as the locking system, and conductive performance is often neglected. The Bayonet Plug™ provides a faster, cleaner signal by using a conductive pin of ideal thickness and mass, with minimal skin effect problems. These plugs lock via a non-conductive frictional pressure insert rather than via the conductive pin itself.
Let's get to the important stuff—how do these speaker cables sound? I am going to get this out of the way immediately. I love these cable! I have been using them for the past four months, and every time I try any others, I find myself missing the eXpress6' lack of restriction and complete neutrality across the spectrum. The best thing about these cables is that they simply disappear in every system in which I have tried them, enabling me to hear the sonic characteristics of the gear.
When I replaced the Onix Statement speaker cables with the Eichmanns in my solid-state rig, I noticed a reduction in upper midrange warmth but an increase in transparency, air, and detail. This is what I expected, as the Onix cable has a lush presentation. Unlike some other cables that claim to be neutral, the Eichmanns are supremely smooth, exhibiting no grain or glare. Some cables give a false sense of detail by adding a halo around images. With the Eichmanns, images are extremely well defined, with no halo effect. Backgrounds are pitch black. Vanessa Mae's electric violin (from The Violin Player) exhibited no harsh artifacts, even in the upper registers, yet there was no loss of detail.
On Diana Krall's "Peel Me a Grape," her voice was so palpable, textured, and transparent that I felt I could literally reach out and touch her. I had never heard this track sound so realistic. The standup bass notes were very well articulated, with excellent attack, sustain, and decay. The Eichmann eXpress6 speaker cables are the absolute best I have had a chance to try in my solid state system. When I tried them with my new Onix H34 integrated tube amp, the smooth, sultry, warmth of the amplifier gushed out unimpeded. When I tried the Eichmanns with the Sophia Electric KT88 tube integrated, they revealed less bloom but allowed that amplifier's ballsy sound to come forward. Some cables do highs well but fall short in the bass. Others do bass well but deliver restricted highs. Some do midrange capably but restrict the highs and choke off the bass. These are the first speaker cables I have encountered that do everything just right.
Regardless of what equipment I used, the eXpress6 speaker cables had better clarity, definition, and detail. Soundstages were deeper, backgrounds blacker, and dynamics explosive. Images snapped precisely into focus. Attack and decay were right on. These are, without doubt, the best speaker cables I have tried, because they sound like they're not there. At $350 for a 2.5-meter pair, they are also a genuine steal, just like the overachieving Eichmann power cord! I have tried some far more expensive cables that delivered perhaps 75% of the performance.
I also tried the Eichmann 75-ohm digital coax interconnect between my transport and DAC. Like the analog interconnects, the digital cable uses the Eichmann Bullet Plugs®. The digital cable, which sells for a paltry $80 for one meter, is the best budget digital coax cable I have tried, It is fully capable of duking it out with far more pricey offerings like my reference digital cable, the $450 Argent Jaden Signature. Like the other Eichmann products, its performance belies its price. I have tried the $100 Stereovox HDXV, the Ridge Street Audio MSE Gen II, the Onix Grand Master, and numerous other highly regarded digital cables, and the Eichmann easily holds its own. The Eichmann is far smoother than the Stereovox, with no harshness in the upper registers. The Eichmann's midrange and midbass are more natural than that of the $250 Ridge Street MSE, with none of the leanness and graininess that the more expensive cable exhibits. Compared to the Onix Grand Master, the Eichmann has superior detail, transparency, and air.
Many cables fall short in their ability to reproduce the piano naturally. They often sound icy and hard. A great test of this is Narada's Grand Piano disc, a test the Eichmann passed with flying colors. Pitted against my $450 reference cable, the Eichmann did lose some ground. It could not match the level of clarity and across-the-board articulation that the Argent cable delivers. Its images were hazier, though not by much. The soundstage was not as wide. Triangles did not have the same airiness and shimmer. Bass was not quite as hard hitting and tight. These differences were subtle but noticeable, but I was impressed that an $80 cable was able to go up against a cable costing $450 and not get blown out of the water.
Every Eichmann cable that I have tried has left me impressed with its performance and astounded with its value. Equipping a full system with world class cabling has never been more affordable. If you are looking for cables that will act as windows to your source, and will not color the sound of your system, you should give the Eichmann eXpress Series 2s a try. Fown Ming-Tien