David Robson takes a listen to the relatively budget “The Element Superior” interconnect from Scottish brand Atlas Cables costing £72.50 for a 1 metre pair.

 

It’s been a little while since I’ve had some Atlas cables in for review, and I was pleased when Andy from Atlas made contact and asked if I would take on a pair of the new Element Superior RCA’s by Atlas Cables Ltd originating and operating from Kilmarnock in Scotland since 2001, and making some of my favorite no-nonsense cables.

When new cables are developed or a new line introduced, there is always something in their make-up that is a little different from their predecessors or peers. This cable has some new technology incorporated within that is sure to boost the performance, without taking it out of it perceived value for money foothold within the marketplace.

CONSTRUCTION

The new technology incorporated here is in their joining of the conductor to the RCA plugs. There are several ways to do this, soldering, crimping and compression screws. There are pros and cons to all styles of connection, the ultimate aim for whatever connection used, it’s to have as little effect of the signal path and purity as possible, adding or taking nothing away from the music being replayed. Atlas have researched and invested in some new equipment to address this issue and have found “Cold Weld Crimping” has won out over soldering on listening tests. This, incorporated with the 100% calibrated compression fittings for both the signal and return conductors has they say, very little or no effect on the characteristics of the cable. The internal copper cable has been increased by 20% to aid in giving a natural character to the sound. This sits wrapped in a stabilised foamed and polyethylene dialectric and polyethylene outer. The cables have their own brand non-conductive “Integra” RCA plugs as terminations. These I have found to be very good on the other Atlas cables I have tried in my little man-cave.

SOUND

Out the box these  cables are silver gray in appearance and quite flexible. The Integra RCA plugs look very nice and quite classy. There is no directionality printed on the cable so I hook them up in the direction of the printed writing on the cable sheathing. I hook The Element Superior up to my Dac, they slip on effortlessly and feel secure and in no way easily dislodged. Left for a good 72-100 hrs to settle them in, I pop Derrin Nauendorf’s “Natural” album into the CD Transport. The Atlas cables are attached to the pre-amp via a digital coax and DAC then the Atlas superior to the Pre Amp.

Normally when I have a cable change there is an immediate change to my usual sound, there was very little change from my reference. The sound came across smooth and sleek, no obvious peaks or troughs. Mr Nauendorf’s song “ Too Much Wine” where the track is guitar and drum led with a smattering of percussion came crashing crisp from my set up, the leading edge to his guitar was sharp without being ice hard. The transients had finesse and lasting realistic decay. “I Won’t Turn My Back” sees a single acoustic guitar and vocal come stirring out from an inky blackness. The weight of the strings comes across as clean as you would like, the Atlas Element Superior delivering just the right amount of detail to put it up there in the big league. Again, vocal bass weight is delivered with a great realism and has Mr N’s words hanging out in smack in the centre of the performance.

Swapping to an old classic, Dire Straits “Telegraph Road” The title track is atmospheric, the delicate nuances of the intro carry out of the speakers with deft lightness, the accompanying low bass rumble is tight and clean the rumble of thunder some way off in fantasy land, no fuzziness to the tonal delivery. Once into the vocals the Element Superior has great separation, music and voice in an open space, with individual instruments easily followed. During music with quiet passages you can hear a slight background noise with some lesser cables, the Element superior doesn’t suffer this fate I’m glad to say! This effect would spoil the delivery of “Private Investigations” again a atmospheric and haunting track, the Atlas brings this all together in a coherent musical story. The sound effects of breaking glass and shoe fall on paving stones is portrayed with texture and realism, not a crunch and scrape. For the cost of this cable it can easily play with some other higher priced alternatives. Together with the detail the verve this cable puts out keeps rhythm and fun factor going and keeps you focused on the passages of music and song, it carries enough bass weight and bounce so not to sound lifeless or sterile. “Industrial Disease” is a track that has this effect plenty going on to get your teeth into. The sound effect of air escaping throughout the track can become irritating as it seems out of time with the beat at times but it’s not harsh or piercing and becomes part of the entertainment. A very enjoyable experience.

CONCLUSION

This is yet another great cable from Atlas. It’s well constructed and falls well into where it’s aimed at in the market. Seems to have the balance just right. If you’re looking to take a safe step into the “better” cable market this is an excellent starting point. If you’re already moving up that Hifi ladder this cable won’t unbalance your sound, will in many ways enhance it.

AT A GLANCE

Build Quality: Excellent, and surpasses its price point.

Sound Quality: Easy going, detailed and neutral sound. No elements that would make me worry about adding it to any system.

Value For Money: Another great cable from Atlas. Putting those on the road with a view to their first foray into cable upgrading onto the right path for very little outlay.

Pros: Great, even and balanced sound. Clean and neutral and doesn’t try to impress in any one area.

Cons: Nothing of note. Does everything it should and nothing it shouldn’t at this price.

Price: £72.50

David Robson

 

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