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Positive Feedback ISSUE47
Cauda Equina speaker cables
as reviewed by Michael Wechsberg
I've had these cables in my home for several weeks now and for the life of me I can't remember their name let alone pronounce it. According to the YACCo web site:
Isaac Dahan, the cable designer, is studying for his medical degree explaining his familiarity with anatomical features, but how many of you out there have ever examined a human spinal cord? Since YACCo currently only has one model of speaker cable, in my head I think of these as the "YACCo speaker cables" and that is how I will refer to them in this review. My parting thought on branding for YACCo is that if Apple Computer had called the "iPod" the "iCaudaEquina" then their stock would be worth well south of the $200 it sits at today.
Now that I've got that off my chest I can say that the name is about the only thing I don't like about these cables. I've been doing a lot of cable swapping lately looking for a good interconnect to use with my turntable/cartridge, plus I spent quite some time listening to and reviewing for PFO the XLO Signature 3 cable line (Issue 45). I find cable reviewing a little frustrating since what I hear in my system is not necessarily what anyone else with different equipment will hear. The audio industry has done a poor job of standardizing interfaces between components. What does a cable designer design for when the inputs and outputs to and from his component are so loosely defined (really not standardized at all)? Low resistance and reactance are probably a good idea but how low is low? Then there is the question about how long the speaker cables or interconnects will be. Various experiments over the years have shown that cable length does make a difference in the sound sometimes, but other times it does not. The truth depends on the specific gear used for the experiment. So, here is a caveat I'm throwing out to PFO readers, these cables made for beautiful sounds with my equipment and I'm hopeful the same will be true if you purchase the YACCo cables, but you should take up the company's offer of a 30 day money back trial.
The YACCo speaker cables use a combination of silver and copper solid core cable. Here is a description of the design from the web site:
YACCo's aim was to gain the benefits of both silver and copper wire in their design. Namely a very extended and transparent high end plus pure midrange associated with silver cables, and the firm bass and smoothness of copper cables. However, the company's raison d'Ítre is to produce affordable cables. Mr. Dahan originally got into the cable business because he was outraged at the exorbitant prices charged for so many cables out there. After several years of experimentation he came up with a design that offered great sound and that he could offer to the public for a very reasonable price. He does not claim the YACCo cables are the best available, but he does claim they offer excellent value. I would have to say he has more than succeeded as the YACCo speaker cables start at only $270 for a 6-ft pair!
My Marten speakers require bi-wiring so I requested two pairs of cable for a "shotgun" configuration. So, instead of an effective 9-gauge stock cable my shotgun pair resulted in a 6-gauge cable. Given how good this sounded and how inexpensive the YACCos are, you may want to order two pairs as well (you can always send one pair back within 30 days if you don't find them necessary). I first thing I predict you will hear with the YACCos is that they have a "flat" frequency balance. To me this is a big deal as most other cables I've heard recently are far from flat. Instead, they are either tipped up or tipped down so they have to be judiciously matched to the equipment or with other cables. My sense is the YACCos design is more than typically forgiving and will be quite compatible with a large range of equipment.
Let me start with the high end. It's just beautiful! Extended and clean with none of the harshness of other silver cables. Female voices and musical instruments with high fundamentals and harmonics come across with great realism. I enjoyed the high end on everything I played through these cables. The only shortcoming I can point to is a small lack in transparency and detail compared to more expensive cables I have on hand. But the difference was really small and considering the low price of the YACCos their performance was great.
I also have limited complaints about the all-important midrange. I thought the midrange tonal balance was spot on and that both voices and instruments sounded very real. Detail was great and instruments had air around them as in real life. The YACCos sounded a bit better on popular or jazz music than on classical as they were lacking just a bit in richness of some of the best cables I know of. Again the cables have a uniform frequency response so there is no exaggerated warmth.
The fine performance of the YACCOs extended into the lows. I think Mr. Dahan has achieved his goal of merging the good features of both silver and copper cables. The YACCOs went as low as my system allowed with great definition and dynamic range. In orchestral music I felt they provided the needed foundation for the music. I have had other cables that sounded more impressive in the lows than the YACCos, but I'm not sure this wasn't due to an exaggeration caused by cable interactions. I think the YACCos get the lows right, at least in my system, but they won't blow you away
In a one-to-one comparison to cables costing 5 - 10 times more, the YACCos do shorten depth perspective a little and the soundstage is not quite as broad or filled out at the edges. However, I have to tell you on a few recordings the opposite was true and the YACCos provided a more detailed soundstage. Some kind of room or equipment interaction I assume. The YACCos do impose a slight veil over some portions of the frequency spectrum compared to much higher priced cables, but again the effect is very small.
Not bad for a company that has only been around for 2 - 3 years. YACCo cables are virtually handmade in upstate New York by Mr. Dahan's brother, but I'm told they are transitioning to automated assembly. The company started selling interconnects over the internet with some success and has only recently introduced this speaker cable. They use high quality, carefully selected components keeping value in mind. Mr. Dahan wrote me about the spade lugs used on the speaker cables. These are pure copper plated in gold, but not polished to a high sheen like some others. Mr. Dahan believes a slightly rougher surface provides for a better contact when tightened properly. I had some trouble using the spades as they are a little small compared to the size of the binding posts in both my amplifier and speakers.
In summary I was very pleased with these cables and Mr. Dahan should be praised for his commitment to value. I believe his sentiments are genuine and I strongly encourage audiophiles looking for new speaker cables to give these awkwardly named but beautifully executed wires a try. YACCos are currently only available over the internet. Michael Wechsberg
Cauda Equina Speaker Cables