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Positive Feedback ISSUE 59
as reviewed by Robert H. Levi
My never-ending search for the best S/PDIF digital cable has now taken me to Sweden to examine the Jorma Design digital cable, a fine high-end cable manufacturer whom I rely on as one of my interconnect/speaker cable references. As a reviewer and early adopter, I think I can say that I know more about these folks than any other reviewer in America. Jorma Design, Kubala-Sosna, and Kimber Kable are my go-to cable brands for maximum performance and well-engineered products. All three manufacturers' analog offerings are quite different, but end up nearly in the same place: neutral and ultra-highly defined.
Digital cables, however, are a horse of a different color, and manufacturing prowess, philosophy, materials, and luck all play an important and unpredictable role in their performance. Maybe Jorma got lucky, or just happened on the secret formula of the audio gods, but their digital cable sounds more like real music generated by a Dynavector XV1s or Koetsu Rosewood Siggie than all others around. Plus, hold on to your DACS, the cost is a rather (and relatively) friendly $1150 per meter!
The secret formula for Jorma construction includes three unique processes. Jorma uses copper so pure that all non-copper elements are eliminated. The wire is then sparked with 6000 volts and is soaked in a secret chemical bath. WBT connectors are used and are solderless. This is what I know. There is more that I don't. It comes terminated in RCA or BNC or both. The review piece was terminated in RCAs. This was the digital wire that made the rounds to my friends' homes and my two reference systems.
I tried it in my Alesis Masterlink, with disks of 24/96 masters of live performances, feeding an E.A.R. Acute 3. Pure analog, great perspective, and maximum definition were always the results. I even tried it with my Pioneer Laserdisc Player. More LDs were now superb, and the less-than-good ones were improved! Between the E.A.R. DAC and Esoteric Transport, I heard authentic music with analog drive and pacing. Between the PS Audio DAC and Solos, I heard truly improved performance and better musicality. There was not one application where the Jorma went wrong. It corrected, modified, and improved at every turn.
One of the first things I've notice about digital cables, no matter how expensive, is that the soundstaging seems to move forward, and one hears a flatter, more 2D performance from your system, particularly if you're used to listening to great LP sound. Some brands' digital offerings are a bit crisper, as well as offering less depth retrieval. Few cable brands give you analog LP perspective and fleshed-out instruments and vocals. The Jorma does! Plus, the Jorma does it for half the price of many cost-no-object designs that underperform this superb Swedish offering.
Did I mention that the Jorma digital cable is super flexible? This is a nice feature. Be aware of the fact that the Jorma is only available in limited high-end shops around the country, so you must seek it out. The Jorma Digital and the Kubala-Sosna Elation Digital Cable are now my two references against which all others are compared. I have to admit it: when I think how far S/PDIF cables have come in the past 20 years, I am amazed. Have you played a D-60 recently?
While other brands at fantastic prices shift the musical spectrum in ways that I do not always prefer, the Jorma resuscitates and smoothes out the rough edges of older CDs. I was amazed at how glorious older Telarcs, some 25 years old, performed in my system. I was delighted at how older EMIs and Columbia's just became suddenly more musical and alive, with less obvious digital nastiness with the Jorma. Makes one wonder how much of the digital sound, the homogenized quality we live with, is caused by the wire link between the boxes on multi-component digital systems?
Jorma Design of Sweden has produced a superb digital offering at an attractive price. I have never heard a superior digital S/PDIF cable sound more musical and alive, with proper depth and soundstage perspective. I certainly don't know of any digital cable that trumps the Jorma cable. I have never heard a digital cable overall superior to the Jorma at ANY price, double or triple its cost! It revives older digital media, smoothing and refining the sound. It preserves and amplifies the analog feel and performance of all digital disks. It is a grand slam home run for systems relying on an outboard DAC with server to generate truly superb music from your collection. The Jorma Design Digital S/PDIF Cable is the best yet to my ears for providing reliable and mellifluous state-of-the-art sound from your state-of-the-art gear.
Jorma will have to come to America and take the review sample away from me personally if he wants it back! A winner and then some! Robert H. Levi