Black Rhodium is a long-established UK cable company, headed up by industry veteran, Graham Nalty. A wide range of prices allow an equally diverse choice of cable construction technology as well as component materials and quality. The upper echelons of the Black Rhodium cable range feature “deep cryogenically treated” (DCT) conductors and unusual conductor materials including silver (OK, that’s not so unusual) and palladium (which is not often encountered). Rhodium plating on the connectors is also used in the higher price bracket.
This is the second appearance of Black Rhodium cables on Hifi Pig. First time round fellow Hifi Piglet, Jake, and I had rather different opinions of the goods on offer – Jake recommended the Twist speaker cables as being a good value in their lower price band, I was a bit more equivocal about the balance of virtues and vices on offer.
This time, 4 types of Black Rhodium interconnect cables have been submitted for review, although 5 pairs of cables are actually covered. This is because 2 versions of the Symphony cable have been supplied – one with chrome-plated RCA plugs and one with Bullet plugs. Wow, fascinating! – I’ve not had the opportunity before to hear identical cables differently terminated.
I couldn’t resist this and started out with auditioning of the 2 pairs of Symphony cables. As a matter of principal I usually do very little research about the items I review in advance of auditioning as I don’t want to be prejudicial about the technology or materials used, or even the price band of the item. In this case, my interest in the cable termination differences resulted in my starting at the more expensive end of the cables under review and working my way down the price hierarchy.
All prices quoted in this review are for 1m pairs – although, helpfully, Black Rhodium say that they are happy to quote for custom lengths.
Symphony (£205) and Symphony Chrome interconnects (£160)
Symphony (Pictured) is a twin core silver plated high purity copper cable using PTFE inner insulation and close braided silver plated screening. The standard Symphony cable uses Eichmann Bullet plugs, whereas the Symphony Chrome uses Black Rhodium’s own Chrome RCA plugs. XLR terminations can also be fitted, although they were not included in this review.
I liked both versions of the cable a lot, but the different RCA plugs used most definitely gave a differently balanced presentation. I started the auditioning with Symphony Chrome playing a solo lute recording. The Symphony Chrome presented a quite distinctive sound; very precisely focussed and a little 2-dimensional in terms of image depth, this almost sounded like a mono recording. Some of the ambient cues of the Canadian church where the recording took place were subdued and the feeling of space correspondingly attenuated. The other side of this coin is that the Symphony Chrome sounded dynamic and exciting with quite an upfront sound that captured my attention. A generous amount of musical detail was to be had, as well. Tonal resolution was very good, and vocalists and different instruments within a wind band, for example, were easily differentiated. Bass was very good with excellent weight and good slam. More »