Dynamic Design Gold Standard Series – Titania AC Cords and Speaker Cables
A little over three years ago, I finally had an opportunity to secure one of the cable products from Dynamic Design AV for formal review. My reaction to this particular product was quite positive and I said so in my review. Also, since that time and during various high-end audio shows, a number of different exhibitors have used various cables from this company and also with very positive results. As such – my interest in pursuing other products from this company continued. So with high level of enthusiasm and determination to make something happen – I reached out to the company’s founder/President and chief technical designer/guru Olu Sonuga, for discussions that I hoped would generate a positive response. As things would have it – this connection was very timely and provided me with the assurance that one day, and relatively soon, a very interesting review project would very likely come my way. Needless to say, that was good news and enough for me to wait patiently for additional information around this project.
In terms of my relationship with Dynamic Design AV, it actually started many, many years ago and specifically during earlier days when the annual CES event was a thriving venue where high-end audio manufacturers, reviewers, audiophiles, hobbyists, friends and interested persons would convene. Since those early days, I’ve had occasions to be in the same place with Sonuga particularly annual Axpona Audio Expo North America event hosted in the Chicagoland metro area. Over time – I’ve tried to stay abreast of the company’s ongoing research and development efforts for advancing their cable product line. The exciting news that I mentioned above was about the company’s plans for introducing a newer series of cables. Sonuga’s intent for this new series, known as the Gold Standard series, was to create a product that would provide important performance advantages by leveraging key aspects of the technology embedded in their higher level Heritage series. Along with this, Sonuga further stated that along with the trickle down approach of the technology from his more expensive cable products, the pricing for this new series would be reduced and more approachable. In fact – the new Gold Standard series would be positioned between the company’s entry-level Lotus and the higher level Heritage series.
Of note, during one of my various telephone conversations with Sonuga, I learned that the introduction of this newer series was actually aligned with the timing of an upcoming anniversary of the company’s existence. Effectively the newer Gold Standard series represents the company approaching its twenty-year anniversary. As I mentioned, a key aspect of the company’s ongoing evolution has been its migration of technological advances from its higher series cables into its lower series. Ironically, in the case of developing the newer Gold Standard Titania series – the outcome of this work actually caused an upgrade to the higher level Heritage series (i.e., trickle up, if you will).
Throughout the company’s ongoing research and product development cycle, according to Sonuga, the number one priority for Dynamic Design has always been the preservation of data integrity. Additionally, the primary engineering approach has been on maximizing the fundamentals of cable design, including the use of higher quality materials vs. focusing strictly on promoting exotic materials as the key to sonic excellence. In this regard, important sonic aspects of noise reduction, including shielding from external sources, as well as including environmental noise and also addressing artifacts from AC pollution, have continuously been top of mind. In fact, product differentiation for this company focuses around key factors including, but not limited to, conductor size, type of dielectric and shielding. These are considered critical for effective noise rejection. Additionally, key matters such as wide bandwidth, timing and reflections are important aspects of the company’s ongoing design and development process. Again as stated by Sonuga – his philosophy is for his cables to simply get out of the way of the music signal passing through them, as much as possible, and to provide as clear a path for reproduction of unfiltered recorded music.
Products Arrived – Initial Impressions
OK, several weeks after the 2018 Axpona event where these cables had been in use, they finally arrived at my door via UPS. Upon their receipt – I was prepared to take immediate action for installing them into my system. Even though I am very much aware of how manufacturers typically voice their products to work together for ultimate synergy, rather than installing these particular cables all at the same time, I decided to take a more deliberate approach and install them one at a time. As such, I was hopeful of being able to at least get a glimpse as to the incremental differences from my reference cables. Perhaps not quite the ultimate controlled scientific approach but that was my decision. For this process, the order of installation started with the digital power cord followed shortly by the analog power cords and finally the speaker cables. I decided to give it approximately 36 to 48 hours of continuous run time to recondition and settle-in. A quick check-in was definitely encouraging and was one of those times when you replace something in your system and the change simply sounds fundamentally correct. Especially given that my reference digital power cord is quite good in its own right, I was totally impressed with my initial impression and the overall performance of this particular digital power cord (i.e., ARIEL AE15 Titania series). At this point, my juices were flowing and I was anxious to move to the next step. For a full detailed review of this cable, see my report here.
Next up was for me to replace my reference analog power cords on my mono block amplifiers. With the very positive results experienced from switching the Ariel GS digital power cord, I was curious to hear what impact the newly developed Dynamic Design Titania GS analog power cords would have in my system. For reconditioning purposes, I similarly allowed somewhere between 36 to 48 hours of continuous music signal running through them. Interestingly, in direct comparison to my reference analog power cords – the Dynamic Design Titania GS power cords gave a very positive and solid impression by upping the sound of my system to a higher level of performance overall. Immediately noticeable was a more dynamic and unrestricted flow to the music with a greater sense of body and organic texture. Also, by comparison – images seemed more dimensional and complete.
Although this statement is somewhat difficult to quantify, with these power cords connected to my electronics, it was like the sound had evolved to a level of the proverbial “more there, there.”
Importantly and specifically – the sound was also more open, clearer and at the same time the level of quiet was noticeably improved as well. I should also note that the Dynamic Design power cords benefit from their active shielding design. To activate the shield, each cable has a small module attached with a power on/off switch. For the power source, unlike my reference cables that utilized wall warts connected to AC from the wall, the Dynamic Design cables use two AA batteries inside of each module. Full activation of the shield takes approximately thirty minutes. Depending on the frequency of listening, the shields can be left running continuously or if listening is intermittent and you wish to conserve the batteries, you simply turn them off until when you wish to listen next. When asked about the use of batteries vs. the little wall warts similar to the ones on my reference power cords, Sonuga stated that his focus was to provide the cleanest source of power for activating the shield and batteries are preferred vs. standard AC.
Another aspect of the sound that impressed me so much with the full complement of Dynamic Design power cords in place was how music emerged from a deep black, quiet background. This allowed me to listen deeper into the sound stage and easily observe intricate nuances within the main body of the musical sounds. As the saying sometimes goes…….”notes is notes” but when you’re able to more clearly hear beyond just the notes and observe subtle nuances embedded within the musical performance, reproduced music becomes more realistically portrayed and that much more enjoyable. At this point, I was most impressed and quite pleased with heightened anticipation as to what degree the speaker cables would possibly contribute.
Replacing my reference speaker cables turned into perhaps an even larger surprise. Again – I put the Dynamic Design cables into my system and provided some time with continuous music signal running through them for initial conditioning. However, my patience wasn’t quite the same as with the other cables. So after a quick listen to make sure things were functioning properly, I simply let music signal flow through them overnight. The next day and with their shields activated – much to my delight, I heard a sound that was clearly advanced and noticeably beyond what I had experienced with my reference speaker cables.
I should mention at this point that the sound of my system prior to installing the Dynamic Design cables was already highly refined and very musically engaging. In fact, numerous visitors to my home, including audiophiles who have become familiar with the sound at my place, as those who are simply avid music-lovers, have often provided very favorable feedback and highly complementary comments regarding the sound of my system. I say this only to help make the point that where I started prior to this review was from a very good place indeed. However, I always try to remain open to the possibility that things can be improved and with the Dynamic Design cables in place – this is exactly what I was experiencing.
Deeper Listening – Greater Appreciation
Often in the process of reviewing high-end audio products, there is a tendency to focus on the function (i.e., role) of a given product with attempts at describing the product’s various sonic attributes and more so in audiophile terms rather than purely musically-oriented references. The challenge is to capture the essence of what the music is conveying through the products, not the actual product itself. In this regard, an extension of the philosophy around ongoing research and development at Dynamic Design is for their cables to enhance the sound of reproduced music by providing music that is more open, clear, transparent and revealing of instrumental timbres and nuances embedded within the recording. Additionally, the company focuses on their cable products replicating the natural wide bandwidth of recorded music in an unrestricted, dynamic flow that captures both the natural power and subtle swings that are inherent within music.
For an opportunity to hear first-hand the capabilities of these particular Dynamic Design cables under review, I found myself all over the musical landscape however my primary focus was within the jazz and R&B genres as my music of choice. These recordings provided a broad range of artistic styles including natural acoustic instrumentation and vocals, as well as more contemporary electronic infused music. Also, whenever possible – I attempted to find recordings of these artists where I have had the opportunity to actually hear/see them in a live concert setting as well. Granted the variables between the acoustics, as well as the emotion, between a live setting vs. studio recorded music is quite significant – it’s more the essence of the artist’s character, expression and overall performance that I tend to focus on.
One of my favorite female jazz artists is singer Barbara Morrison. Barbara’s voice possesses lots of classic rich tonality and comes forth with lots of warm, enticing expression. In my way of thinking, she readily falls into the category of “song stylist” vs. someone who simply sings words on a page. Bottom-line Morrison puts both meaning and feeling into her performances – both live and otherwise. On her CD titled “I Know How to Do It,” Morrison sings the classic standard titled The Very Thought of You. The recording has an enchanting quality along with superbly clear vocals, piano and acoustic bass. With the Dynamic Design Titania GS cables in place – the sound had a wonderfully warm acoustic with such naturalness and color that the song just seemed to linger and bathe in its recorded acoustic space. Dimensionality was superb and allowed the performers to project their image in their rightful place within the soundstage that added to the overall realism. Articulation is another very strong suit of these cables and with this particular recording, they provide a platform for sounds to flow and emerge with an authentic musical flavor that closely matches each individual performer.
Another classic example of how these cables bring forth the best of a performer is with the exalted jazz singer/pianist Shirley Horn. On her wonderful recording titled “Here’s To Life,” selections such as Summer Estate and Come A Little Closer/Wild Is The Wind, are rendered with such style, emotion and grace that being able to listen clearly into the sound and fully absorb Horn’s enchanting quiet and seductive style makes for a very enjoyable listening experience. Throughout both of these selections, Horn is backed up by a full orchestral accompaniment that simply takes things to an even higher level. There is also a blend of this full open sound including a seductive electronic bass line producing rich, warm, throbbing sounds that adds to the color of the music. Lots and lots of nuance is embedded within this recording and being able to clearly hear (and feel) it enhances the listening experience immensely. The good news is that the Dynamic Design Titania GS cables performed their task as intended and were there simply to carry the music signal along and with minimal intrusion to the integrity of the music.
Moving to a different genre/style of music but just as musically engaging, switching over to Gregory Porter’s wonderful CD titled “Take Me to the Alley,” here we find Porter doing his thing vocally and with a solid complement by his band. For the most part, Porter’s voice is the main attraction throughout but when you get to the remix of the selection titled Holding On, the R&B artist Kem joins in for the purpose of juicing things up a bit. In particular – the opening of this selection provides some superb deep electronic bass along with solid vocals as well. In the mix, the music contains lots of intricate sounds including some interesting layering of voices that had previously gone somewhat unnoticed.
With the Dynamic Design Titania GS cables in the system – much more of the musical content became readily noticeable and further enhanced the listening. My wife loves Gregory Porter’s singing but when she joined me one evening for an extended listening session (i.e., regular occurrence these days), she was shocked and continually commented on how wonderful the music sounded. Also, in her own non-audiophile way, she was able to discern and clearly describe what she felt was the artist’s intent for how they were conveying the music. At times, she also picked up subtle things that were definitely different with these cables in place and was curious as to what else I had changed. Which was nothing – it was just the cables.
Several other recordings helped to reveal the overall capabilities of these cables including the longtime jazz saxophonist Houston Person. On his beautiful recording titled “Person-ified,” classic selections titled Detour Ahead and Gentle Rain provide ample space for his chops and big-throated sax to be on full display. This is another artist that I’ve had the opportunity to see live on numerous occasions and his music never misses a beat. Big, bold and beautiful. Again, listening to this recording was quite a treat and thanks to the Dynamic Design cables – the beauty of his tone comes through unerringly. Switching to something a bit more adventurous and contemporary in style, R&B artist Maxwell on his debut recording titled “Urban Hang Suite” contains lots of variety along with very solid upbeat/rhythmic music, ballads and other. In particular, the final cut on this recording titled The Suite Theme brings forth a potpourri of electronic instrumentation and unique sounds – much of which can easily be buried into the sound. Living up to their overall design, the Dynamic Design cables clearly made apparent new aspects of these sounds, both bold and intricate, and allowed them to flow through in a most natural manner. All through the various listening sessions, at no time did the cables seem to add anything that would suggest any sort of emphasis across the music spectrum. No tipped up highs, hyped up lows, bigger than life mids – just a very natural tonal balance that favored nothing and simply served the music in the best possible manner.
Summing up my overall observations and assessment of the cables under review, I would simply say that the Dynamic Design Titania GS power cords and speaker cables enhanced the overall performance of my system and allowed reproduced music to come forth in a truthful and authentic manner. Tonal balance with these cables was spot on and as neutral as I’ve experienced in my system. Additionally, the sound through these cables was extended, clean, clear, open, articulate, highly detailed and quite smooth. Also, as I mentioned earlier in this review, there was no apparent emphasis in any given part of the frequency spectrum with a seamless transition of musical sounds from the very deepest frequencies to the very highest. Bass impact was powerful, dynamic, full, organic, and robust with solid control and excellent detail. The midrange was wide open, clear, relaxed and without any restriction. Tonal colors came through quite naturally. Higher frequencies similarly were open, clear, expressive and fully extended, airy and smooth. Beyond this – there was an ease to the entire sound that at the same time clearly captured the ebb and flow of music along with solid rhythmic pace. Transient snap and speed was quick and handled very naturally without edginess or splash.
With all of these wonderful sonic characteristics going on – similarly the sound staging of my system was likewise enhanced. In fact, with these cables in place, the sound was superbly open and in all dimensions. Depth of field was noticeably superior to my reference cables and by quite a margin. Additionally, the width and height dimensions were improved with the sound unrestricted by the boundaries of my walls. This was clearly evident especially whenever I played larger scale orchestral style music where the sound just seemed to swell and in all dimensions.
TECHNICAL DESCRIPTION & COSMETICS
As cables go, the overall appearance of the Dynamic Design Titania GS series cables was visually pleasing particularly with the speaker cables. These cables featured an attractive shiny silver metallic outer jacket, are reasonable in terms of their size (i.e., thickness/girth) and rather than one combined speaker cable with leads at each end for left and right, these particular speaker cables come as separate runs for each of the positive and negative legs. Also as mentioned previously, each comes equipped with the proprietary battery pack used for shielding each of the cables. Each cable was equipped with silver spade lugs terminations. Fortunately these cables are reasonably flexible so there were no issues regarding effectively dressing them in my system. In fact – they fit quite nicely atop the cable lifters that I use to keep cable appropriately off the carpeted flooring.
In terms of the power cords – the analog cables were similarly attractive and featured the same type of outer jacketing as the speaker cables. Along with this, the ends are terminated with the very attractive and highly effective Furtech AC adapters at both the male and female end of the cable. The digital power cord actually has a light colored braided outer jacket – similar in color but with a slight off-white, light gold effect. In terms of size, the power cables are considerably (and appropriately) thicker than their companion speaker cables. Also, due to their thickness (and weight), in order to dress them properly, care should be taken to provide support so their weight doesn’t pull the connector down from the socket. I had no issues finding appropriate ways to dress them and it somewhat depends on how you have your components stacked as well as the proximity of your components. As we all know, shorter thicker cables are a bit more challenging when they need to be shaped for connecting to something very close.
Other import design features and technological aspects of these cables are clearly described on the company’s website http://dynamicdesignav.com/titania-ae15-series/ so rather than elaborate here, I suggest you check out the detailed info at the link provided here.
At this point, I’ve tried to provide as much information as possible regarding my time and experience with these wonderful cables. In my opinion, the Gold Standard series Titania cables by Dynamic Design, totally captured my attention. In fact, my listening enjoyment was elevated significantly as I was able to more fully appreciate not only the music, but also the artistic expression of the performers within whatever recordings I played. Clearly, these cables fulfill the company’s design philosophy and promise to preserve the integrity of the musical signal. Bottom-line, these cables speak volumes and are very highly recommended.
Name: Dynamic Design A/V
President: Olu Sonuga
Web Site: www.dynamicdesignav.com
Stereo Times Masthead
Frank Alles, Mike Girardi, Key Kim, Russell Lichter, Terry London, Moreno Mitchell, Paul Szabady, Bill Wells, Mike Wright, Stephen Yan, and Rob Dockery
David Abramson, Tim Barrall, Dave Allison, Ron Cook, Lewis Dardick, Dan Secula, Don Shaulis, Greg Simmons, Eric Teh, Greg Voth, Richard Willie, Ed Van Winkle, and Rob Dockery
Carlos Sanchez, John Jonczyk, John Sprung and Russell Lichter
Site Management Clement Perry
Ad Designer: Martin Perry