In line with their philosophy of providing straight forward products at pricepoints within reach of many music lovers, Audio4Soul offers one and only one speaker cable – the OCC IT! Xtreme speaker cables, with a very reasonable price, by audiophile standards, of 300 Euro for a 2.5m pair, worldwide shipping costs included. Custom lengths are available.
Stuart (Mr Hifi Pig himself) has already reviewed Audio4Soul’s Xtreme16 amplifier/DAC and gave it a Recommended Award.
As you might be able to deduce from the name, the cable’s conductors are high purity copper made with the Ohno Continuously Casting (OCC) methodology. With most copper casting methods the metal forms into a multitude of grains, each having a distinct boundary which the signal has to traverse. The OCC method results in cable lengths of up to 125m made of a single copper ‘grain’, so avoiding the grain boundary signal distortions – sonic benefits, of course, suppose that such distortions exist and are audible! Carefully sidestepping the rather controversial issue just raised, a very high purity of copper is used in these cables – somewhere around 99.9999% (so called “six nines”).
The cables appear robust and well made, the banana plugs are lightweight and fit fairly snugly into equipment sockets although a tighter fit might be beneficial. They aren’t the easiest of cables to handle and lay, as they have a pronounced “sproingy” characteristic. By which I mean that they are quite stiff and are impossible to lay in curves of radius less than about 8 inches (20cm) without actually nailing them down!
I guess the labelling / identification scheme will be a matter of taste, with the “Audio4Soul” identification being made with a large doublesided Velcro-backed rectangle of stiff material that wraps around the cable and sticks out rather like clumsy wings. I must admit I was rather taken aback by this – consider me to not be an admirer of this scheme. On the other hand, these labels are easy to take off!
My initial impressions of the cable were very positive as the first notes of music issued forth with a distinctly lucid and open quality to them. I was impressed!
Resolution is very good, with rapid lute finger runs, for example, being distinct and well separated. Many a cable will tend to slur the individual notes together. Vocals are tangible with excellent presence and immediacy, where appropriate.
Tonal neutrality is very good, although a slight lightening in the lower bass does tend to produce a sound that is just a little bit forward on full range music.
Bass is taut with very good texture and definition. Some folks might prefer a bit more ‘bloom’ or fullness, but that’s a matter of taste. Slam is good, and transient edges are well captured throughout the frequency range, but the overall feel of the deep bass is that it is a bit lightweight compared to my more expensive reference cables.
Complex music is deftly handled and remains nicely coherent and lucid as the going gets going, it doesn’t get smeared or confused. But the sheer scale of really ‘big’ music isn’t fully conveyed, lacking a bit in dynamic scale and heft in absolute terms. In my experience, sadly, the sheer scale of music is only to be had with more expensive cables … perhaps a double run of the cable would achieve this? That would be an interesting thing to try.
Imaging is nicely focused and tangible, and the overall impression is one of being close to and involved with the music. The feeling of the overall acoustic space of the recording is a little diminished compared to some cables, the musical focus is more on the musicians themselves than the environment they are in.
Tellurium TQ Black is a highly regarded speaker cable at around the same price point as the Audio4Soul and provides a similar overall standard of musical reproduction, although the two cables do offer a rather different presentation.
With the TQ Black the sound is a little more laid back, a bit smoothed off at the high frequency end, rather more relaxed and easy-going. Image focus is vaguer and less well-defined, the resolution of detail subtly but noticeably reduced. But soundstaging is more open and spacious. Overall you are placed a bit further away from the music with the TQ Black than you are with the Audio4Soul cables. My own preference is for the latter cable’s approach, others may prefer a more relaxed and immersive presentation.
If deciding between these two fine cables, I think it comes down to personal taste and system synergy – if your system seems a little too laid back and you’d like to pep it up a bit, go for the Audio4Soul cable as it does provide a more explicit sound, a more open window to the signal. If you prefer a more relaxed and less forward sound then go for the Tellurium TQ Black.
My own reference cables do show, though, that there are further sonic gains to be had if you are prepared to spend significantly more money. My XLO Pro600 and, even better, XLO Type 5 cables do offer a worthwhile improvement in transparency, resolution and sheer scale and dynamic heft. But the XLO cables are substantially more expensive.
I enjoyed the Audio4Soul speaker cables a lot. So they are definitely Recommended! at their price point for their fine resolution, focus, clarity and sheer musical involvement.
Author – Jerry Jacobs
Speakers: MBL 116F
Power Amps: Chameleon Ruby, Atoll AM-80
Pre-amp: Restek Consens
Integrated Amps: NAD S300, Technics SU-MA100, Audio Innovations Alto Mk1
Source: Jolida FX3 DAC / Pioneer DV-717 transport, Technics SL-P1200 CD Player.
Interconnect cables: RFC Pluto Mk2 & Oscar’s Audio Dark Angel
Speaker cables: XLO Type 5 & Pro600, Tellurium Q Black speaker cables.
Mains cables: Nordost Magus, MusicWorks