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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE
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twisted-pair designs

as reviewed by Sherman Hong, Larry Cox, Francisco Duran, and Roger McNichols, Jr.

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SHERMAN HONG'S SYSTEM:

LOUDSPEAKERS
ProAc Response 3.5.

ELECTRONICS
Accuphase DP-55 CD player direct to an Accuphase DP-550 amplifier.

CABLES
Acrotec 6N-2030 and 6N-2050 interconnects, 8N-1080 speaker cables, LAT power cords.

 

one.jpg (6551 bytes)Before I begin my review of the Twisted Pair cables, I must update readers on some changes in my system. Since my last review, my audio room has been somewhat remodeled, and different amplification is being used. In my current, "temporary" setup, the source is still the venerable Accuphase DP-75 CD player, and Acrotec 6N-2050 interconnects and 8N-1080 speaker cables (single wired), ProAc Response 3.5 speakers, and LAT power cords are still in place, but the amp is the new Electrocompaniet ECI-2 integrated (50W). Each component rests upon a Black Diamond "Shelf" and MK.3 and MK.4 cones, and is plugged into an Audio Power Power Wedge 116 MK.I or 112 MK.I. It took several weeks before I became accustomed to the ECI-2. After I felt confident of the new setup, I began auditioning the Twisted Pairs.

First I replaced the Acrotec 6N-2050s with the TP interconnects. Wow! The surroundings became thoroughly silent. Increases in focus and definition became noticeable. The entire tonal balance altered, becoming much more neutral, as the warmth of the Acrotecs departed. The vast soundstage receded several feet further back from the speakers. Clapton's voice was in laser-sharp focus on the Unplugged album. The background vocals were more brilliant, as the piano rode through the stage effortlessly. The drums became tenaciously focused, with an accent in the midbass. However, compared to the Acrotecs, the TPs’ imaging was diminutive, and less palpable around Clapton's voice and guitar. The participants were sectionalized, rather than sounding like a group. The guitars lacked the ultimate metallic sheen and extension. The fundamental bass notes were less discernible. The CD sounded more like a studio recording than the "live" jam session it truly is.

On the Mozart Selections by Accuphase CD, track four, "Sonata for Piano and Violin in B flat major," the violin and piano floated across the stage as if in an arty black and white photograph. The bow's thrashing of the strings was distinct, while the piano notes flowed with just the right pace. The symbiosis between the two instruments was presented with such seduction and gusto that it was a mesmerizing experience. The micro-dynamics of the music were delicately presented, neither fast nor slow. The hall presentation was glorious during Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man (Telarc CD-80078). The left, center, and right sections of the orchestra were precisely seated within the plane of the speakers, unlike any previous cables. The horn section extended beyond the outer edges of the speakers. Dynamics were rendered with ease, as the music cycled through its intimate and climactic passages.

When I replaced the Acrotec 8N-1080s with the TP speaker cables, the result was an enhancement of the sonic signature of the TP interconnects. The cables painted a laid-back perspective. The background became utterly noiseless, to the point of resembling a black hole. Nevertheless, this characteristic did not enhance micro-details. With the TP combo in place, small intricacies within recordings were not perceptible, as if someone vacuumed the stage and left only the instruments. This disposition of the TP made some horribly-recorded popular CDs more tolerable. I was able to listen to Scritti Politti for the first time without racing to the adjoining room to enjoy the music. Clapton's voice became more dense and damp. Absent were the piano's naturalness as the notes abruptly disappeared. The recording sounded like it was made in a studio with an excessively damp acoustic. With the Accuphase and Copland CDs, similar results were attained.

The Twisted Pair cables had admirable attributes in my system. They were coherent from treble to bass, had a neutral, expansive soundstage, pinpoint imaging, with a mid- to back-hall presentation. However, they’re not my cup of tea. The TPs did not provide superior fulfillment. They are a refined and accurate sounding cable, but from the standpoint of price, they are vying against the apex of cordage. A system-matching audition would be mandatory with the TPs, as with any cable.
Sherman Hong

 

 

 

LARRY COX'S SYSTEM:

LOUDSPEAKERS
ATC 20.

ELECTRONICS
E.A.R 802 preamplifier. Classe CA100 amplifier.

SOURCES
CAL Icon MkII CD player. Oracle Delphi MkII turntable, AudioQuest PT7 tone arm, Koetsu Rosewood cartridge.

CABLES
Silver Audio Silver Bullet 4.0s interconnect and Beldon 1219A speaker cables.

ACCESSORIES
API Power Pack and ACPEAM line conditioners.

 

two.jpg (6646 bytes)I have had different incarnations of AudioQuest wiring for about nine years now. I really like their rendition of timbre and their overall tonal balance, which for me sounds realistic, with vocals as well as acoustic instruments. There are more extended cables out there, ones that image better, and (at much higher cost) cables that do vocals better than my AudioTruth Emerald—it was AudioQuest when I bought it—and AQ Midnight. AQ's compromises have been more than acceptable to me, and I have not been looking for new or "better" cables. I do feel, however, that there should be a support group for AudioQuest users. We suffer so much. AQ products are so stiff that I really need to crank down the cheap plastic connectors on the back of my amplifier to keep the speaker cables connected. I like their sound, but I don't like wrestling with them.

The Twisted Pair wires are much easier to work with. The speaker cables, despite being relatively thick, are pretty flexible. Moreover, because they aren't tightly woven, they don't stand upright like a bump on a roller coaster. The spade lugs are aesthetically appealing. The cables are well made, though not inexpensive at over $600 for an 8-foot pair. The Twisted Pair cost nearly twice as much as my AQ Midnight, so my hopes for the them were high.

The interconnects are also well made, and a relative joy to work with. I say relative because, well, they’re just cables, and connecting audio gear isn't the same as listening to it. The interconnects have locking WBT connectors, which sure beat the hell out of the non-locking variety. Not only do they improve the quality of the physical connection, but they make connecting easier. How do you beat that? The jacks on the back of my CAL Icon are starting to get loose, and I have to use pliers to remove any interconnects that put the Mongolian Death Grip on them. The Twisted Pair interconnects were, obviously, welcome.

This review will be relatively short, as I purchased ATC SCM 20 speakers and an E.A.R. 802 preamp at about the same time the Twisted Pair wires arrived. I'm not certain about the character of the system with the new components, so don't want to go on at length about wires. In short, the Twisted Pair wires have a "house sound."

My reference AQ Midnight speaker cable, though substantially more extended in the bass region than, say, XLO, is a bit more lightweight and less extended than the Twisted Pair. The bass performance of the TP speaker cables was much fuller. Although not fast or "sharp" sounding, they were not obviously soft. Images remained solid and clear if I moved my head or listening position. With the AQ Midnight, it’s not so much that the images wander, just that they aren’t as solid. The TP cables have a more refined, fine-grained sound than the AQ Midnight. (By fine-grained, I don't mean that the sound is grainy. As with film, the grain in an image doesn't show up till you start to blow it up to poster size, but with close attention grain is present.) The top end was reasonably, although not exceptionally extended. I did not find myself wishing for more extension; in fact, the top end presentation was spot on for me. I enjoyed the Twisted Pair speaker cables. Their fuller sound was a noticeable and worthwhile improvement over my reference cables.

My AQ Emerald and the Twisted Pair interconnects were a closer match, both sonically and cost-wise. They are both pretty refined-sounding cables, with the AQ having a slightly warmer, more golden tone. The Twisted Pair interconnects have a bit more bottom end, as well as slightly more edge. The two cables give a very similar sonic impression.

"Twisted Pair" is a name you may not have heard. Their wires are worth hearing. They are good values at their price points. The speaker cable may be more advisable for people with speakers with soft, or less extended bottom ends. The interconnects are quite nice, and are especially recommended for anyone that plugs and unplugs their cables a lot.
Larry Cox

 

 

 

FRANCISCO DURAN'S SYSTEM:

LOUDSPEAKERS
ProAc Response 2s.

ELECTRONICS
Classe CP60 preamplifier. Classe CA200 amplifier.

SOURCE
EAD DSP 1000 III DAC. Pioneer DP 54 as a transport.

CABLES
Kimber Hero interconnects, Acrotec 1050 speaker cables, and LAT digital cable.

ACCESSORIES
Panamax PLC and BDR cones.

 

three.jpg (8484 bytes)For a guy who uses an outboard D to A converter, the trend of one-box CD players is kind of disheartening. To me there's something special about those black boxes. The cables coming from my transport make me think I'm getting more performance out of my digital rig than if I just plopped down a CD player and started playing CDs. No, that would be too easy. I have to fiddle. I have to tweak. Green pens and CD polish for the discs. Cones and pucks? Now we're getting somewhere. How about digital cables? Now, there we have it. I can really tailor the sound of my DAC by changing cables. Forget the Toslink cable, it reminds me of my phone jack. Let's stick to coax. This review is about the three digital cables I've had the pleasure of using in my system for a while now.

The first has a pretty substantial build and price. The Acrotec D5010, with its clear-coated, salmon-colored jacket, its gold-plated 6N copper wire, and its gold-plated WBT knock-off connectors, is quite remarkable looking. It is built very well, and is very user-friendly. The cost, about two hundred simoleons. I originally bought it for my old Aragon/Magnavox combo after the Audioquest I was using fell apart. It smoothed out the sound of this combo and believe me, it needed some smoothing. The Acrotec proved a good match for that system, but with the purchase of my EAD/Classe gear, it was something of a mismatch. The Acrotec is very smooth from top to bottom. It has a relaxed, effortless, even somewhat liquid sound. Its slightly dark character makes it come across just a tad slow sounding. I prefer this cable when listening to orchestral music than when I'm spinning pop or jazz CDs, which is usually the case.

The second cable is from L.A.T. International. L.A.T. feels that there are only so many materials with which to make wire, and only so many ways to assemble them, and since all are available to any manufacturer, properly-designed cable should be easy to produce. They feel that their offerings are equal to or better than other companies' more costly cables. I won't argue with that—once I heard their digital cable in my system, I bought it. The D1-20-D has silver and Teflon in its design, and offers high-quality, machined, locking RCAs. The price really helps here, just $69 a meter. But let's forget about prices for a minute and concentrate on sound.

After switching these three cables in and out of my system, I came to the conclusion that the L.A.T. cable is very close, and in some ways better in performance than the more expensive cables in this survey. In my system, the bass and mid bass is not as thick or rich as with the Acrotec cable, but is just as extended. It is certainly more extended in the bass than the Twisted Pair. Its sound is a little faster, lighter, and less dark in the upper mids and top registers than the Acrotec, more in line with the Twisted Pair. Its tonal balance is very good, if just slightly on the lighter side of neutral. Its soundstaging abilities reflect the recording quite well. Resolution is fine, no masking of details. A great all-rounder for a great price, and a good match for my system.

Now for the last cable. Twisted Pair is its name, and lightness and speed is its game. It has a silver-braided jacket that looks tough enough to slam a car door on, plus black strain reliefs and gold-plated RCAs. The cable is simple, rugged, and clean looking. It is also quite a performer. What a difference in sonic character from the other two cables! It is slightly lighter in the upper frequencies and fast as a bullet. The Twisted Pair cable brings out details with a speed and clarity that delights the ears, but without adding any undue emphasis. Talk about clean sound. This cable is also a soundstage champ. Images are full, solid, and intact. Its mid-bass is very solid and fast, and as extended as you could ask for. Its lower bass, on the other hand, is not as full, rich, or extended as the L.A.T.’s or the Acrotec’s. Playing CDs with a lot of mid-bass info, such as most pop and jazz, proved quite satisfying with this cable, but when I threw on some CDs with real low bass, like the Lost World soundtrack, the extension just wasn't there. The other two cables gave my ProAcs a much harder workout in the lowermost reaches.

Aside from that, I felt the Twisted Pair digital cable had the best resolution, best soundstage, and best overall sound quality of the three cables. Since my speakers don't plumb the depths of bottomless bass anyway, this cable proved to be primo in my system. As you can see, system matching is a must. But if I were you, I'd definitely check out the Twisted Pair. Francisco Duran

 

 

 

ROGER MCNICHOLS, JR.'S SYSTEM:

LOUDSPEAKERS
Sonus Faber Electa Amators. Acoustic Energy speaker stands. NHT SA-3 mono power amp & SW-P subwoofer.

ELECTRONICS
Rowland Design Group Concentra integrated amplifier.

SOURCES
Rotel RCD-975 16x20 bit CD player. Fanfare FT-1 FM tuner & Terk FM antenna.

CABLES
Transparent Audio MusicLink interconnects. MIT 750 Biwire loudspeaker cables.

 

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four.jpg (6893 bytes)I think it was J. Gordon Holt who said, "If your midrange isn’t bulging then you’re not eating enough." No, no, wait, that must have been Dom DeLuise. J. Gordon Holt actually said, "If the midrange isn’t ‘right’ nothing else matters." After spending extended listening time with Twisted Pair Designs loudspeaker cables and interconnects, I heard a lot of midrange "rightness." In fact, these cables’ (and their sonic sibling interconnects’) greatest strength was their midrange, but their weaknesses were their highs and lows.

I first replaced my 12’ MIT 750 bi-wired loudspeaker cables with two 8’ Twisted Pair loudspeaker runs, then installed my Sonus Faber straps between the speaker posts and auditioned just one 8’ run. There were virtually no discernible differences between the two setups. On Donizetti’s Elixir of Love, both the orchestra and Pavarotti’s singing lost a little dynamic range and depth of soundstage. The reverb and life of Pavarotti’s vocals lost some of the openness and extension that the MITs conveyed. On Golden String Audiophile Repertory’s Cello Crossover CD, each track offers amazing sonic joys and surprises that are very demanding on audio components. The CD features combinations with jazz/classical crossover cellist Terry Perez, The All Star Percussion Ensemble, and the John Whitney Trio. Track 2, "Hungarian-Latin Double Dance," features solo cello, a glockenspiel, chimes, xylophone, vibes, marimba, timpani, timbales, maracas, cowbell, snare drum, bongos, triangle, two conga drums, afuci, slap stick, bass drum with foot pedal, gourd, claves, and metal pipe... whew! Again, the Twisted Pair loudspeaker cables did a lot right, but a bit of the boogie and dance didn’t come through. With the MIT cables I felt the drum stick blows hit my chest, but with the Twisted Pair I seemed to move back from the stage. These cables offer good sound, but not "the best I’ve ever heard" sound.

I also listened to the Twisted Pair interconnects, which replaced my Transparent Audio Music Link interconnects. I noticed that some of the dynamic bass slam and top end air was missing. The bass seemed a bit light, but it wasn’t a dramatic loss. Very similar to the speaker cables.

As with every other link in the audio chain, each new piece is dependent on the components before and after it. I am accustomed to my own cables and interconnects, and we all run the risk of playing favorites, but others who listened with me commented that my system seemed to have more "presence" after returning to the MIT cables and Transparent Audio interconnects. I’m smart enough to remain skeptical about "my" cables, and I’m not willing to say that the Twisted Pair were not "as good," but I have to say that they are not "right" for my particular system. Now, speaking of midrange bulge, it’s time to get on the treadmill! Roger McNichols, Jr.

Twisted-Pair Designs cables
Retail Interconnect 1 meter pair/WBT $375, Speaker cable 8 ft. pair/spades $650

Twisted Pair Designs
518 - 828 - 2060
www.twisted-pair-design.com

 

 

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