Wasatch Cable Works
|Speaker Cables and Interconnects|
|11 January 2001|
Products under review:
RCA Interconnect model RCA-102U. Price: $100 per meter
Balanced Interconnect model XLR-205U. Price $450 per meter
Speaker Cable models LC-510. Price $130 per Eight foot pair and the
Model LC-580 Ebony. Price $1500 per eight-foot pair.
Utah seems to be the cradle for research in audio design. It's home to loudspeaker designer extraordinaire Tierry Budge of Talon Audio, and it's also the domicile of audio icons David Wilson of Wilson Audio and Ray Kimber of Kimber Kable. Must be something about the clean mountain air or water. Wasatch Cable Works, a newcomer to the cable business, also based in Utah, has launched a full-tilt assault with an attractive new cable line that sounds….well read on.
The cable designs incorporate what the Wasatch folks describe as UpCete (tm) and OGP technologies. They hew to the electrodynamic approach: solid, scientific procedures and precise engineering over exotic components. The Wasatch line came about by a combination of in-house engineering and academic study. As the website mission statement says, "…While tests, measures and correlations are an important part of our research, postulates, subsets and systems are ultimately accepted or rejected based on sonic evaluation." In addition to its solid engineering and development, all Wasatch cables are manufactured in-house, by means of proprietary machinery and strict measures for economic and performance reasons. Ultimately, however, it’s the audiophile who benefits from Wasatch's low cost-high performance standard. It ought to be like this everywhere!
My reference cabling has consisted of the new and enchanting Analysis Plus line which remains one of the best I’ve come across. It's quite a chore for a new kid on the block to usurp Analysis Silver Oval. The Wasatch line, interestingly enough, held some most pleasant surprises, especially when one considers the competition.
Since I wrote about the wonderfully musical Power Chord A/C cable, things have been uneventful upstairs, aside, that is, from my having installed the Sistrum rack upon my return from Singapore. What better time to look around for new components to audition? – Perpetual Technologies P3A D to A, and P1A 24/96 upsampler, Nova Applause loudspeakers, Harmon Kardon’s dual CD recorder, JVC’s DVD-Audio/progressive scan/DVD Player, and these Wasatch cables. I thought, let’s try the cables first. Disregarding for the moment the hated and loathsome burn-in period, compared with speakers and other hefty items, wires are a whole lot easier to haul upstairs to the inner sanctum.
After installing their top-of-the-line and handsomely designed XLR2005U balanced interconnects (decorated with wooden blocks à la Kimber) and LC-580 speaker cables to the Talon Khoruses and Bel Canto Evo 2002 amplifiers, I pulled out Jim Aud’s old reliable Purist Burn-in CD, slapped that baby into the Sony SCD-1, set it to repeat mode, and left the room.
Upon my return (about three days later), I pulled out Patricia Barber’s Café Blue (prem-732-2), track 9, "Too Rich for my Blood," a monster recording I almost forgot about, what with all the recently acquired additions to the library. Well, it wasn’t as if the system suffered. To the contrary, I was surprised and delighted by the top-end shimmer, openness and clarity — not hard, forward or obtrusive in the way I found my former reference Harmonic Technology cables whenever I put them back in the rig for comparison's sake.
The Wasatch cables possess a kind of presence factor, or rather a coherence thing that I find alluring as well as musically engaging. The impression remained with everything I threw at them. The sound of the cables isn’t too crisp for the Talon’s, and neither do they sound rolled off. Another nice feature Wasatch cables bring to my audio palette is resolution and speed. Light-footed is the term of choice. Attack and finesse took a turn for the better, creating a harmonic rightness that’s damned impressive, especially when the top end opens up to this degree without sounding overdone. (The Evo and Talon already provide top tier performance in these areas.)
Another pleasant blast from the past is Seal’s "Prayer for the Dying" (Warner Bros.945415-2). I recall how "processed" this disc sounded but was quite pleased to note that the hardness ameliorated to a large degree. Chalk one up for the improvements in the front end, amplifiers and loudspeakers. That said, the Wasatch stayed out of the way in this regard too, never indicating that their light-footedness and openness was a cause of concern even on this overly-processed recording. Chalk up another plus up for Wasatch.
Installing the LC-510 Speaker Cables and RCA 102U Interconnects
I swapped Wasatch's LC-580 Ebony speaker cables for the lighter and less expensive LC-510, and the difference in sound was immediately apparent. Call me spoiled, but their LC-510’s just did not provide the same effervescence to the top end, nor did the bass extend as subterranean. Should a nearly 10-times-the-price-difference comparison have produced other results? I don’t think so. My goal was not to see how vast the differences were, but rather how similar sounding. They certainly sound as if they’re drawn from the same silk thread.
Don’t get me wrong. The bass as well as the top end extension of the LC-510’s and 102U’s are good by any audiophile measure. They're just not as taut and ultra-defined as the paired performance of their top-of-the-line balanced 2005U interconnect and LC-580 speaker cables. It would much harder to account for the price disparity if these differences were less obvious. Wasatch's top interconnects, along with their Ebony speaker cables, produce a sound more than worth the tariff. I am delighted to report that Wasatch Cable Works' LC-510 and 102U’s are serious competition for the best in that category of cable that performs beyond its price point. Excuse me for waxing repetitious, but the more expensive LC-580 speaker cable and 2005U balanced interconnects more than make up for sticker difference. They outperform my reference Analysis Plus particularly with regard to top-end tonal balance and reality quotient.
This, for me, is what reviewing's about — providing the scoop on products that bring budget-minded audiophiles closer to audio nirvana, while taking those already near the top even further on their way without having to remortgage. If you've been waiting for the right moment, product and price to upgrade, that moment is now.
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