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cable research labs

Copper Phono Cable

as reviewed by Robert H. Levi

 

 

 

 

ROBERT H. LEVI'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Marten Bird Loudspeakers and REL Stadium III subwoofer

ELECTRONICS
E.A.R. 324 phono preamplifier, E.A.R. 890 amplifiers (ran as monos), E.A.R. 534 stereo amplifier, NuForce Reference 9 SE V2 amplifiers, E.A.R. 912 preamplifier, and an E.A.R. 834L Tube Line Stage.

SOURCES
E.A.R. Disk Master Turntable with two Helius Omega Tonearms, E.A.R. Acute CD player, ModWright Sony 9100 Player with tube power supply, ModWright Sony 9100ES with Signature Truth Modifications, Mod/Bybee Filters and Revelation Cryo Silver Umbilical. Alesis Masterlink 24/96 Recorder/Playback Deck, and the Benchmark DAC 1 revised. Koetsu Rosewood Signature Phono Cartridge. Pioneer DVL 919 LD/DVD Player, and a Marantz DV8400 DVD/SACD/CD player. Magnum Dynalab MD-108 Reference Tuner, Marantz 10B FM Tuner, Day Sequerra Reference FM1 Tuner, and Scott 350B FM Stereo Tuner, AQ 7500 FM Antenna, Stax 7t Electrostatic headphones, Grado Reference 1 headphones, and a Grado headphone amplifier.

CABLES
Kubala-Sosna Elation Interconnects, Speaker Cables, and Power Cords. Kubala-Sosna Emotion, Harmonic Technology CyberLight, Harmonic Technology Magic 2, Dual-Connect interconnects, Dynamic Design THB Nebula, Soundstring, Kimber Select balanced, Kimber TAK phono AG, Kimber Hero balanced and single ended interconnects, and Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II balanced interconnects. Kimber D-60 Digital Interconnects. Kimber Select 3038 Silver, Kubala-Sosna Emotion, and Harmonic Technology Magic Reference Silver speaker cables. Kimber Palladian, Tara RSC and Decade, Tice, Soundstring, and Kubala-Sosna Emotion AC power cords.

ACCESSORIES
Monster Reference 350 Mark II v2 Power Conditioner, World Power Power Wing, 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. Audio Magic's Quantum Physics Noise Disrupters.

 

New to the phono cable scene is a brand new offering from CRL in Florida. Based on the research from their excellent Copper Series of interconnects, CRL now makes phono cables which out-distance the competition and are nicely affordable in every termination. Made of solid core 5N copper twisted pairs with full silver plated copper shielding, they are terminated with unique Bochino connectors or Cardas din connectors as needed. I will give you a brief description of their sonic performance: deliciously lively and thoroughly natural from top to bottom.

Tested with the Dynavector XV-1S mono and stereo, ZYX Airy 3 XSB, and Koetsu Rosewood Signature cartridges in the Helious Omega Tonearm, the CRL really sings. Where other cartridges at this price [$895 with RCAs] are muddy or over-articulated, the CRL appears designed for long, long, term listening. Missing maybe a small amount of detail when compared to my $3000 references, they are surprisingly just as musical and entertaining. All three cartridges just bloomed with definition and harmonious music. You will fall in love with phono all over again with the CRLs on board!

The Highs

Very, very nice and extended. There's lots of air and lovely depth to the soundstage. There's big width, too. If there's anything to note, hiss was a bit darker and ambience was just a bit less extended than you'd hear on my reference. I noted that percussion was just right and alive sounding with silvery sparkle and snap.

The Mids

The CRLs shine here and get your attention. You'll hear lots of power and solidity in the images. These cables are smooth and sophisticated throughout and will pull you into the performance. They are truly organic and fleshy with tons of snap, but no edginess at all. These are very quiet cables as well with a super black background. Amazing for the price I think!

The Bass

Deep and natural, the bass provides wonderful fundamentals to the imaging of drums and basses. Wow! Nothing really sticks out as being lost or over stated in the bass. If solid core has any flaws, it's not in this range for sure. Excellent definition is obvious and mid range blend is near perfect.

I keep coming back to the listenability of the CRL Copper Phono with all three cartridges. Each cartridge maintained its singular identity and I heard more than this price point should have provided. Even mono reproduction bloomed magnificently. I found myself just entertained and wanting little more. All this for $895 and you can have up to 2 meters at no extra cost! Here's a clear case of very high value from a smaller company that puts their best product forward because they have to compete with the giant cable guys.

By the way, the CRLs need plenty of run-in, about 100 hours. They are very flexible so don't let the solid core wire thing bother you at all. I used a one meter length and it was just right for an excellent connection.

CRL has produced its first and only phono cable: The Copper Phono Cable and it's a winner. I don't know of a better deal in great phono reproduction under $1500 from any of the majors that can trump these beauties. Excellent with all cartridges tested, it lacked so little from my expensive references and was so listenable, I could live with these quite nicely. You could spend a bunch more, but you could easily pick up some sonic nasties

along with higher definition in the bargain. Phono cables are like that due to the very low voltages involved. My advice: go with the CRL Copper Phono cables and don't look back. Highly recommended. Robert H. Levi

Copper Phono Cable
Retail: $895

Cable Research Labs
web address: www.cableresearchlab.com

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