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Positive Feedback ISSUE 56
july/august 2011


The Locus Design Cynosure v2 Audiophile Quality USB Cable: A Classic is Reborn
by Andy Schaub


Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality

–Queen, "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Over the past couple of years, my DMS (Digital Music Server) has gone through numerous iterations and configuration; but one of the things that has remained constant—mostly—is the use of Locus Design cables, including the Cynosure USB, Core S/PDIF and Parable analog interconnects not to mention the Keynote power cable that I use in a "loom" configuration, meaning that I use all the same power cables, all going into a 20 amp Equi=Tech balanced transformer. As mentioned in my last epilog, the system is in transition, again, and while my Rega DAC is out for an upgrade (soon to be replaced by the Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC), I've been using the ultimate sleeper component, the Orb Jade 2 24/192 DAC and headphone amp which retails for well under $1800, astoundingly, with the KingRex UC192 USB to S/PDIF converter with the optional external PSU for now, which really does make it much better sounding than the generic "wall-wart" that comes with it by default.


In all truth, I've been using this setup to audition Pure Music, a cost-effective alternative to my ever-loved Amarra; but that's a topic for another review. What happened is that Lee Weiland, the owner and designer at Locus Design said, "Hey Andy, want to try the new version of my Cynosure, the v2?" To which I replied, "Why, yes, of course." Now for one thing I'm paraphrasing and for another I already had the original Cynosure and was very happy with it, but once I installed the Cynosure v2 in the system, Parables and all, I knew I was making more than a marginal improvement to the DMS; Lee really should call this cable the "Cyno-for-sure" because it will improve the sound of any digital music server based on a USB connection I confidently prognosticate "for sure". What, you ask, are the improvements? To that I reply, "Everything" ...but let me get more specific. Listening to the 24/96 download of Paul Simon's So Beautiful or So What, the background chatter that accompanies him on the first track moves just far enough forward in the fore/aft soundstage to make sense musically and a solidity accompanies everything that makes me think, "This is true, studio-quality sound." It's as if there were all these little pieces of the music that are stacked on each other like a complex layer cake, and with the original Cynosure, they were all there, but they weren't quite in sync with each other. With the Cynosure v2—and particularly when you throw in the Parables—suddenly everything snaps together just like Legos (only with rounded edges) and the music just flows.

Everything sounds more forward, clearer, sharper, more focused and just damn better; it's the equivalent of a component upgrade. You can hear how much fun Paul Simon had making this record; and to address other forms of music, let me return to the ever popular "John Ward: Consort music for five and six viols" by Phantasm, a 24/192 download from Linn. The strings has an analog like warmth to them and everything became genuinely harmonious, like I would expect from a good phonograph cartridge; in fact, I was so moved by the sound of the Cynosure v2 that I played the 24/96 download of The Köln Concert by Keith Jarrett through my Woo 22 headphone amp and Whiplash Audio TWag v2 balanced Beyerdynamic Tesla T1's (the hour was getting late) and could hear the harmonics and overtones of the piano reaching for the sky while still maintaining a quality of musical integrity and catching each note that Jarrett played with a Koetsu-like clarity (and I mean the original Koetsu). It's about as close to the thrill of driving a Porsche 944 down highway 101 as I've ever gotten while listening to modern jazz on a home stereo system.

Kindest regards,