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Positive Feedback ISSUE 53
Elation! S/PDIF Digital Cable
as reviewed by Marshall Nack
On the heels of my Kubala-Sosna Elation! review, the missing link in the lineup has arrived: an Elation! 75 ohm, S/PDIF digital cable. (Although there is still no Elation! level XLR terminated digital cable.)
Physically, the K-S modified Neutrik RCA plug and the silver-grey woven jacket are the same as used elsewhere in the Elation! line, but there's a red inner tube running under the jacket. And it is a lot thinner than an Elation! interconnect. (Coaxial cable as opposed to the patented geometry of the analog IC.)
Sonically, I find it closest to the Kharma Enigma XLR digital in terms of timbre and tonal balance, which means it competes with the best available. It has all the Elation! hallmarks: the enviable top-to-bottom integration, powerful dynamics, full body, and the extremely low noise floor.
I immediately noticed new information present on Snapshot, with the Joey DeFrancesco Hammond B-3 organ trio (HighNote HCD 7199). Subjectively, the Elation! S/PDIF cable cuts through the haze of noise around the signal and does something that brings the main events into focus. I found myself mumbling, "Hey, those low-level pedal notes weren't there before. That's spooky." It was odd, because I already had plenty of resolution.
We were following the Beethoven Symphony #5, with Bernard Haitink and the LSO (LSO 0598 SACD), with the first oboe part open on Lynn's lap. With the Kharma Enigma digital cable, if you listened carefully, the printed notation was evident in what we were hearing. With the Elation!, however, you didn't need to listen carefully—it was right in front of your ears.
What a smashing performance! As the LSO nailed it, the E! brought the score to life. (That is, most of the time, when the orchestra was on. You could also hear when it wasn't on, when there were slight intonation or ensemble issues.) The score is explicit: Old Ludwig wanted a sforzando to be followed by a double forte. And he wanted the full orchestral jump from pp to ff that happens several times in the second movement to jolt your nervous system. Trouble is, you don't often hear these articulation and dynamic distinctions in playback. The Elation! outfitted system makes it clear.
While the information is there with the Kharma Enigma, it's blurry and requires a bit of a mental effort to bring it forth.
With the addition of the 75 ohm, S/PDIF digital cable there is now an Kubala-Sosna Elation! cable for every purpose. The new cable is truly Elation! level in every way.
I'm fortunate enough to have several world-class digital cables on hand. This is the one I prefer to listen to. Marshall Nack
Elation! S/PDIF Digital cable
Kubala-Sosna Research, LLC