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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 24
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dynamic design

THB Nebula interconnects

as reviewed by Robert H. Levi

 

 

 

 

ROBERT H. LEVI'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Avalon Eidolon and REL Stadium III subwoofer.

ELECTRONICS
E.A.R. 324 phono, Pass X1 preamplifier, and an E.A.R. 834L tube line stage. E.A.R. 890 and  NuForce 9.02 amplifiers.

SOURCES
VPI Scout/JMW 9 tonearm, VPI SDS Controller, ZYX R100H phono cartridge. ModWright Sony 999 SACD/CD Player with Signature Truth, Mod/Bybee Filters and Revelation Cryo Silver Umbilical. Pioneer DVL 919 LD/DVD Player, and the E.A.R. Acute CD player. Magnum Dynalab MD-108 Reference Tuner, Marantz 10B tuner, and Scott 350B FM tuner, AQ 7500 FM Antenna, Stax 7t Electrostatic headphones, Grado Reference 1 headphones, and a Grado headphone amplifier.

CABLES
Harmonic Technology CyberLight interconnects, Kubala-Sosna Emotion interconnects and Dual-Connect Gold interconnects, Soundstring interconnects and speaker cables, or Kimber Select balanced, Kimber TAK phono AG, Kimber Hero balanced and single ended interconnects, Eichmann Express 6 Series 2 interconnects, and Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II balanced interconnects. Kimber D-60 Digital Interconnects. Kimber Select 3038 Silver speaker cables, Harmonic Technology Magic Reference Silver speaker cables.

ACCESSORIES
Monster Reference 350 Mark II v2 Power Conditioner and World Power Power Wing, Kimber Palladian power cables, Tara RSC and Decade power cables, Tiff power cables, Tice power cables, Tice Clock, and Audio Prism Quiet Line IIs. Cable Cooker 2.5, Winds Stylus Pressure Gage, Bedini Ultra Clarifier, VPI Record Cleaning Machine 16.5, Soundstring Pro Power Cables, and Kimber Pro 10 Gold Power Cables.

 

If I told you there was a $4000 pair of interconnects available for $2500, would you dash out and buy it? We are dealing with the stratosphere of top cable designs and performance here. If you are willing to spend serious money on interconnects, you should consider Dynamic Design's new top-of-the-heap model, the THB Nebula (www.dynamicdesignav.com) . Though expensive at $2500 for a one-meter pair, my oh my do they sound open, airy, clean, and alive. They are unsurpassed in their lack of smear or grain by any other cables I know of at this price.

Part of the secret of the Nebulas is their bi-metal construction, the composition of which is not revealed in Dynamic Design's white paper. Their dielectric is mostly air. Shielding is multi-layered. The cables have ultra-low capacitance and they are very stiff. This helps maintain phase integrity and a constant dielectric at all frequencies. The RCAs are beefy, top-grade, solid silver connectors with massive strain relief. The size of these connectors eliminates their use on mass-market gear, which is likely to have closely-spaced RCA jacks. The Nebulas require 80 hours of break-in.

I have recently been amazed by the exotic materials used in interconnects. These new combinations often produce good results, but the Nebulas do not sound like my gold, silver, palladium, copper, or light-fiber references. They sound open like gold, powerful like copper, fabulously detailed like palladium, and uncolored like fiber. They are not quite as fast as silver, but they sound significantly less dry and more natural. Their imaging is almost as solid as that of my best cables, not that it matters. Their ultra clarity and amazing beauty of tone transported me to a place I knew was right as rain.

The clarity starts in the deep bass and goes all the way to the top octaves. I can only think of two other cables that sound as clear over this much of the frequency range, but both are significantly more expensive. They may be a bit less rich than top copper interconnects, but they are perfectly appropriate for use with the finest gear around. Dynamic Design claims a 7dB reduction in noise over conventional cables, and I believe it! If you are an audiophile, you crave as much transparency and “quietude” as you can get. The Nebulas deliver.

I listened intently to the Nebulas during two long review sessions totaling at least four months, trying to identify any additions (particularly edginess or emphasis) or subtractions. I tried the Nebulas in three different systems, featuring solid-state, SET, and push/pull tube amps. My entire cable inventory was thrown against the Nebulas, as were those of several audiophile friends. Nothing costing under $3300 truly bested them. Nothing exposed significant or important flaws. Nothing made me want to pull them from the system.

If I have a quibble, it's minor—the Nebulas lack a bit of warmth. I may be so used to the sound of copper cables, with their added traction and lusher tonality, that I miss it in the sound of exotic interconnects like the Nebulas. A touch more textural warmth would make the Nebulas almost perfect, and we could not have that happen—I'd be out of a job. Now that I think about it, I'd also like a bit more depth retrieval. Quite a wish list. Maybe over another year or so I'll hear other small flaws. Maybe not.

I love jazz through the Nebulas, and vocals of all kinds. Their fantastic clarity lets the textures of the human voice pop into the room. Bells, xylophones, chimes, and so on are downright ethereal. Snares and cymbals are focused to perfection. I hesitate to say that these cables are best with jazz or pop. It's just that their ability to remain unflustered and uncongested regardless of the intensity of the performance complemented Miles more than Mozart. Large-scale choral music was also rendered magnificently and realistically. No other cables at the price beat the Nebulas at resolving massed voices. This is not your father's richly warm sound. This is X-ray definition, black backgrounds, and music as recorded and played back on your gear. The Nebulas, unlike many other top brands, make lousy tone controls. They reveal. They don't fix.

I want to emphasize that the Nebulas' clarity of definition and tone occur at ALL audible frequencies. Their 3-D effect is instantly recognizable. The system speaks with one voice. If you listen to a live acoustic recording, you will hear the venues and performers. This is about as realistic as it gets in two-channel. The Nebulas bring the performance into the room without becoming relentless or adding glare. The experience is unquestionably front-hall. There is no rounding of leading transients or leveling of dynamics. Also, the Nebulas have a vanishingly low grain structure. I have no clue what metals are being used. I hesitate to call this secret formula a breakthrough, but it certainly adds life to the listening experience.

I understand from Bill Artope, Dynamic Design's west coast partner (and a member of the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society), that the THB Nebulas will be eclipsed by a no-holds-barred assault on the state of the art from Dynamic Design called the TBK Nebula, but that the THB Nebulas will remain in the line. If the TBKs deliver more definition and musicality than the THBs, I'll need smelling salts. Meanwhile, the Dynamic Design THB Nebulas join the ranks of ne plus ultra interconnect designs available to deep-pocketed audiophiles searching for musical perfection.  Robert H. Levi

Recordings used in the evaluation of these cables included:

  • Tchaikovsky, Trio for Piano, Violin, and Violoncello in A minor (Mirrored Nature SACD MNR 5001)

  • The Carl Saunders Sextet (BluePort CD BP-J011)

  • Gene Harris, The Best of the Concord Years (Concord Records CD 4930-2)

  • Hovhaness, Symphony 22/Cello Concerto (Naxos CD 8.559158)

  • Jacintha, Here's to Ben (Groove Note SACD 1001-3)

  • Chopin, Concertos 1 and 2, Rubinstein (RCA/BMG SACD 82876-67902-2)

  • Dvorak, Cello Concerto, Piatigorsky (RCA/BMG SACD 82876-66375-2)

  • Suppe, Overtures (Mercury SACD 470-638-2)

  • Hovhaness, Mysterious Mountain (Telarc SACD 60604)

  • Turtle Island String Quartet (Telarc SACD 60630)

  • The Absolute Sound SACD Sampler (Telarc SACD 60011)

  • Howard Hanson, Symphony 2 etc. (Telarc SACD 60649)

  • SuperBass2 (Telarc SACD 63483)

  • Orff, Carmina Burana (Telarc SACD 60575)

  • Diana Krall, Love Scenes (Impulse SACD 2841-35)

  • A Song for You (FIM SACD 036)

  • Duke Ellington, Blues in Orbit (Mobile Fidelity SACD 757/Classic Quiex 200-gram LP, Columbia CS8241)

  • Miles Davis, Kind of Blue (Columbia SACD 64935)

  • Isomike Sampler (Kimber SACD 2005A)

  • Chick Corea, Rendezvous in NY (Stretch Records SACD 9041-2)

  • Glenn Gould, Goldberg Variations (Columbia SACD 37779)

  • E. Power Biggs, Four Antiphonal Organs (Columbia SACD 87983)

  • Saint-Saens, Piano Concertos Vol. 1 (Audite SACD 92.509)

  • Schumann, Lalo, Saint-Saens Cello Concertos, Starker (Mercury SACD 4756621)

  • Berlioz, Symphony Fantastique, Paray, Detroit Symphony (Mercury SACD 4756622)

  • Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker, Dorati, London Symphony (Mercury SACD 4756623)

  • Linda Ronstadt and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, What's New (Asylum 9 LP 60260)

  • Harry James and his Orchestra, The King James Version (Sheffield LP Lab-3)

  • Brahms/Bruch Violin Concertos, Grumiaux, Haitink (Phillips LP 835234)

  • Elgar, Enigma Variations, Monteux (Classic Records Quiex 200-gram LP, RCA LSC 2418)

  • Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington Recording Together for the First Time (Classic Records Quiex 200-gram LP, Roulette SR 52074)

THB Nebula interconnects
Retail: $2500 a meter

Dynamic Design
web address: www.dynamicdesignav.com
email address: bill@dynamicdesignav.com

 

 

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