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Positive Feedback ISSUE46
PCOCC speaker wire
as reviewed by John Hoffman
The manufacturing process of wire starts with molten copper being formed into long rods or bars. These bars are then drawn through a small orifice that is sized to produce the required gauge of wire. Conventional high purity copper wire has 1500 grains per foot of wire. The grain count is significant because these juncture points compromise the transmission of audio signal down the wire. Oxygen Free High Conductivity (OFHC) wires has an improved formation, with a count of 400 grains per foot. In 1986, Professor Ohno from the Chiba Institute of Technology developed a continuous casting process for wire (OCC), which resulted in revolutionary improvement in the structural formation. The Ohno method uses heated molds, which controls the length of time that the molten copper cools down in. The rapid cooling time of the conventional casting process is responsible for the fractured grain structure; which results in an inferior end product. Wire drawn from OCC ingots will contain a single copper grain, which can be over seven hundred feet in length. A single grain wire has all the desirable properties for signal transmission, and is remarkably durable.
At one point, TDK began the process of entering the high performance cable arena, but later decided to refocus on the media side of their business. CC Poon of Monarchy Audio took advantage of an opportunity to purchase several spools of TDK branded OCC speaker wire. Given the pedigree of this wire, I was curious to experiment with it since Monarchy prices their speaker cable at $69 for a 10- foot pair. This is unheard of pricing for OCC speaker wire, and it even includes banana plug terminations.
The speaker cable is composed of two 14-gauge wires for each leg of the cable, resulting in a 12-gauge aggregate size. A synthetic thread is woven through the center of the cable, and acts as a damper to absorb any mechanical vibrations that are created by the passage of current. The wire is terminated with a set of compression fit banana plugs. These are solid terminations, and perform their task quite adequately.
My current system uses Audio Magic silver ribbon speaker wire and interconnects. These were removed, and the Monarchy wire was installed in conjunction with a set of Analysis Plus Oval One interconnects. The Oval One interconnects sold for $98 a pair, and are indicative of the level of cable that a hobbyist would likely use with the Monarchy speaker wire. Actually these interconnects are a fine example of what an entry level cable is capable of, and maintain the proper balance between tonality, detail, and harmonic structure.
Out of the box the Monarchy wire was easy on the ears. The sound was big full and robust; clearly this cable was living life to the fullest. As time progressed the speaker cable underwent a gradual change, becoming refined and genteel as the hours slipped on by. After a hundred hours the tonal balance evened out, the treble opened up significantly, and the lower registers gained weight and definition. Throughout the break in process the Monarchy wire was always pleasant to listen to, and the end result was definitely worth the wait.
Recreating the human voice, or the piano is a difficult task for inexpensive cables. Often budget wire is tripped up by these demands, and reveals their nature by allowing the music to become gritty and harsh. This type of behavior never afflicted the Monarchy cable, even when asked to reproduce these two characteristics simultaneously. The opening piano passage to Mary Chapin Carpenters "Why Walk When You Can Fly" [Stones In The Road; Columbia CK 84327] has remarkable warmth, body, and clarity. The final piano notes fade away, and Carpenters' vocals are painted on a black canvas of silence. Her voice is dark and melodic, with a smoothness that does not obscure the emotion behind the music. The Monarchy speaker wire gets to the essence of this song, and unobtrusively holds its own in a high performance audio system.
When given the task of reproducing a complex recording, the Monarchy wire will still get the job done. Typically, big band jazz music has a wide array of instruments, huge dynamic swings, and an upbeat tempo that places significant demands on all components within an audio system. An arrangement of "Airegin" by the GRP All-Star Big Band [GRP All Star Big Band; GRP Records GRD-9672] is a difficult piece of music for an inexpensive wire to the entire spectrum correct, but the Monarchy wire did basically just that. Horns had sharpness and dynamics, yet still contained the warmth that is consistent with brass instruments. The drum section had snap and impact, yet maintained the inherent transparency to a well recorded drum kit. The bass line had authority, and was instilled with tone and texture. The Monarchy wire does not know it is supposed be flawed, it is a rare instance when an inexpensive cable gets the entire music spectrum correct. This cable does rise above its class, and aspires to reach a level of performance that sub $100 products are not expected to achieve.
Ohno Continuous Cast copper wire is considered to be some of the finest wire in the world; so the excellent performance of the Monarchy speaker cable is not surprising. What is unusual is the affordable price that CC Poon is selling this cable for. There are only a few spools of the bulk wire left at Monarchy, so this is a product that will only be around for a limited time. This speaker wire has become my personal yardstick for what inexpensive wire should hope to achieve. The Monarchy cable performs all the mandatory audiophile tasks exceedingly well. More importantly, this speaker wire presents the emotional side of music, allowing the listener to experience the proper blend of tonal balance and harmonic texture. I find this cable to be easy on the ears, and am in no hurry to pull it out of my system. For the audio hobbyist who is being frugal with their money, I would have to say this is one of the better choices you can make with your audio dollars. John Hoffman
 This is a topic that does not get a lot of discussion. However, I do remember the late Bob Crump making heroic efforts to eliminate vibration within his TG Audio speaker cable.
 The wire currently being used with An Elekit TU-879S and Audio Nirvana Super 12 speakers. The end result is quite spectacular.