The Skogrand Cables workshop is situated all the way up a mountainside at the end of a steeply climbing dust road in the rural parts of Eastern Norway not too far from the Olypic village of Lillehammer. It is a place of peace and the quiet and serene surroundings offer a harmonic backdrop to the humble building housing the Skogrand team.
As a child owner Knut Skogrand was brought up listening to classical music on vinyl with his Father and it was his Father that taught him how to feel the moods, colours, patterns, dynamics, overall structure and intent of the creator of the music.
“I am originally – and at the core of my being – a musician. Working as a musician for decades I have performed within many settings live, in studios and at rehearsals, always feeling a kind of urgent lack of silence. Growing up in the peaceful countryside and living in the serene mountain hills of Norway I have grown accustomed to filtering sound through a mesh of tranquility and sonorous peace – having sounds around me standing out as meticulously shaped entities from a perfectly silent background. This is something I have strived to reconstruct in my musical thinking and performance”
Skogrand Cables is supported by two branches of the Norwegian government for their global research and findings in the field of effective and unpolluted energy transfer.
SC Centaurus A (Speaker Cables)
The Speaker Cables are very large in diameter, they are thick, heavy and need a little careful management when routing. Their construction utilises 12awg copper with a complex array of air and Teflon structured dielectrics leaving one part of the cables two twisted cores thicker to the touch than the other.
Replacing the Audioquest K2 speaker cables with the Centaurus A into my system was quite simple considering the dominating size of them. The small spacers at the each end of the cable act like bending notches allowing the user to gently bend the cable to aid routing at set increments for ease of connection which was great for my amp as my rack is fairly close to the wall.
Routing of the rest of the cable isn’t as easy but there is a good amount of flexibility but there is no chance of hitting right angles with the main bulk of the cable.
Once sited and the system switched on keeping Oriton’s interconnects and power cables in place to single out the Skogrands feeding my Ayons from the Emille, I began to play a few tracks from the SSD fed, modified Squeezebox Touch into the Totaldac d1 tube.
Initial impressions are one of a clean and delicate highly resolving sound, a little ‘over airy’ with a very slightly forward top end and a taught and light bass compared with the K2’s. The Centaurus A also seemed to excel with speed and rhythm.
Over a period of about 200 hours I felt comfortable that the cables were burned in and ready for some serious listening. After this time I fount the cables were retaining all the qualities of my initial listening experiences with the plus point of the top end thickening up to give a more solid higher frequency sparkle and cleaner, tighter edge.
I will say that although the cable seemed a little more relaxed and even more resolving and more harmonically developed, I wouldn’t go as far to say I felt that there were dramatic changes, especially in the tonal balance of the cable which was still clean, tight and fast.
The cables strengths lie in detail retrieval, delicacy and the ability to express through to the listener harmonically accurate nuances and transparency with ease and an unmistakable finesse.
Listening to Keisha White ‘The Weakness In Me’ her vocal was so refined and sensual, piano notes were accurate in tempo and had good leading edges, although I felt they lacked a little fullness in undertones which is a difficult task for most setups to recreate absolutely correctly. Bass showed a slight lightness to me, yes it was textured and extended but it didn’t have the overall presence and richness of tone which I am used to hearing in my room.
A raspy almost scalping of the strings could be heard on the acoustic version of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Big Love’ which in my reference cabling setup doesn’t quite have that edge as cleanly defined as it has a somewhat richer tone. Each pluck of a string had a twang which could only be described as having more in the room appeal. The speed of the cables really came through on this track through the guitar solo as it did with the intense solo on ‘Keith Don’t Go’ by Nils Lofgren a track which I always play for speed and accuracy tests. I found the bottom, most fleshed out notes were slightly sacrificed for the crispness of the strings leading edge accuracy and the pin point imaging of the guitar. Vocals on both tracks fell into the same scenario, pronunciation of each word and phrase was clean, completely non sibilant and expressive, but the tonal characteristic lent to a more clean nature whereas my system is tuned to lean more to the warmer side of neutral which is more to my personal taste.
Swapping the Ayon loudspeakers out for the Frugel3 speakers, which are around a 10th of the cost but with a very different tonal character, was pleasantly received. The more textural presentation of instruments came through wonderfully with the Centaurus A speaker cables in the system. The expression of notes and vocals with the 1/4 wave enclosure were conveyed more naturally and the cleanliness and brighter side of neutral tone favoured the Frugels better than the already clean sounding Ayons.
Imaging and layering of sounds was superbly accurate with both speakers and harmonically both have a huge spread of micro detail,s but now using the single drivers there seemed to be a more fleshed out tonality to the sound and the speed of the cables ‘hurried up’ the bass response of the cabinets wonderfully giving more attack to a speaker design which is renowned for having a slower and less taught bass than a conventional design.
The Frugels don’t do Electronica or rock very well and in my system I didn’t feel that the Skogrands did either, but for vocal and instrument reproduction a single driver design hooked up with these cables was an absolute match made in Heaven!
I could imagine very large multi driver speakers to have a wonderful touch with the Skogrands with there natural spls and horns would also be an absolute joy to listen to as well as single driver speakers.
I don’t think my ceramics were the best match for the Centaurus A speaker cable but there are so many attributes such as the airy detailed and delicate top end, the beautiful midrange and soundstaging which absolutely shone, there was just the shift of the tonal balance the wrong side of neutral that didn’t suit them.
SCI Centaurus A (Interconnects)
The complimentary Centaurus A interconnects are constructed from 22awg solid copper conductors in Teflon tubing with a suspended shield of tinned copper lightly twisted up the length and with gold plated plugs.
The overall size of the interconnects is bewildering compared to their tiny conductors and this is due to the dielectrics and shielding used. They are fairly stiff and need a good 6 inches plus of space behind the connected equipment before they will bend around safely to another piece of kit. So beware as smaller Dacs and headphone amps will need to telephone the tower to be given clearance for take off!
Once again singling the cables out by removing the speaker cables and adding my Audioquest K2 back into the system (after around 150 or so hours of burn in time) the cables displayed a very well balanced and solid sound, if not a little touch of bass lightness much as the speaker cables did. Never sacrificing the taut and extended performance of the lower notes the interconnects have a great ability to inform the listener of soundstage placement in busier brassier passages as if the room had been further damped to rid any wobble and of bloom.
Exploring the midrange with some stronger vocals I expected to hear the slightly leaner character and the tipping of the scales towards the brighter aide of neutral as I did with the matching speaker cables – either this or a warmer tone which would compliment the aforementioned speaker cables.
In fact I didn’t hear either of these expected characteristics! Instead I was presented with an almost dead on neutral and clean presentation, again with an informative amount of layering and spread. Vocals were a little larger than pin point which allowed for more perceived depth and height without losing focus and were conveyed naturally.
I like a little bit of warmth in the lower mids to tickle my own tastes and I didn’t find this in either of the cables. However the clean, controlled and strongly edged flavour of the sound (which can stop and start on knife edge and has a certain quality of silkiness rather than the warmer feeling I like) never sacrificed texture in the music.
Again I’m feeling that the cleanliness of the Ayons is not best suited to the slightly cleaner Skogrand interconnects as they do like a little bit more body to sound completely cohesive to me and I would imagine some good paper cones would be more of a suitable match.
Using the Frugels was a better balance and the slight lack bass of their cabinets really tightened up wonderfully and created a far more detailed and developed presentation to their character.
Using both cables together into the Frugels (while we’re on the subject) was nothing short of beautiful. The textured and expressive nature in the midrange was a joy, especially allowing for previously mentioned guitar solos and vocals to take on a silkiness to the sound that I’ve never heard in such a clean manner before. For me it seems to be a key characteristic and standout attribute of the Skogrands. I can’t say I’ve heard a cable combination that can achieve this combination as well before without sounding bright at the same time.
The top end mirrors the midrange perfectly in its attributes and nature. It’s open, transparent and airy, fast and clean with a silky leading edge and a very ‘clear’ and ‘articulate’ way of decaying notes without distracting the listener from the main body of the music.
I found the bass in both cables to be identical in isolation and when paired together – obviously a purpose made choice of characteristic by Skogrand.
I would conclude that using the Skogrand speaker cables and interconnects together does give a little more of a balanced presentation from midband upwards. The combination fleshing out the vocals slightly, gaining more of a pronounced and precise timing to instruments and I much preferred the cueing and decay of instruments which for me with just the speaker cables was a little aerated and softer in precision and tonal representation.
The absolute balance of the sound for me as a whole was more palatable and enjoyable, although bass notes were refined and had fantastic finesse for my own tastes in my own system and I would have enjoyed a little more emphasis on drive rather than flow.
The Skogrand Centaurus A are like a good single malt… delicate on the palette, able to convey each detail of the ingredients and flowing across the palette like silk. They are excellent in absolute finesse and display details in one of the most non-offensive and yet highly resolving nature that I have heard from a cable at this price point.
For my own personal tastes I would have enjoyed a little more of a fleshed out lower midband and upper bass and the whole presentation was just a little too beautiful and graceful for me with the Ayons. Using the single drivers the synergy was more palatable and a warmer more robust speaker suits their character better for me.
Encapsulating the music and the listener is their trick, they are very seductive and alluring, displaying a wide, deep and high image that doesn’t leave any voids or blank spots in the listening room. They have a way of energising the listening space with absolute grace and precision.
If you can accommodate their very generously proportioned size and pride your systems attributes on vocal representation, clear and clean imaging, precision and realism, the Centaurus A’s will enthrall you.
Build Quality – 8.5/10
Sound Quality – 8.5/10
Value for money – 8/10
Overall – 8.3/10
Speaker Cables – $4,750 – 3m Pair
Interconnects – $3,250 – 1m pair
Recommended for its beautiful finesse, ultra quiet background and encapsulating characteristics.
Author – Danny Worth