An importer/distributor I know has taken to calling me "the stalwart reviewer." At first we both laughed, although I wasn't sure what he meant. On reflection, I decided I should be flattered.
One of the benefits of longevity is you get the long view, the evolutionary perspective, which can be especially satisfying when a brand's product voicing moves in ways that parallel your own evolution.
The Voice of Dynamic Design
I've had the opportunity to observe cable manufacturer Dynamic Design Corp since 2012 when I spent time with their Nebula cables and then again in 2015 with the Challenger Power Cord. There was an overt commonality among these products, which I came to think of as the "Voice of Dynamic Design."
As I noted in the reviews, noise reduction is a hot button for DD. Extra effort and special techniques are employed to that end, resulting in cables that are quieter than most. I like to say they hone right in on the notes. A lot of extraneous "stuff" is purged and they get right to the point.
Typically clean and focused, they are distinguished by fleshy images with so much body it precludes labeling them transparent or "see through." (I consider this a good thing—more body is more better.) Other than a slightly midrange-centric tonal balance, the footprint is basically neutral. They are honest to the source.
While they could perhaps tilt toward the analytic side, with all the hi-res, high focus, and high purity, this was always offset by dense tone, full body, and a warm tonal balance.
The latest product, the Neutron SW16 Digital Power Cord, evidences evolving sophistication of the house sound and a further move away from analytic. Everything that I liked in Dynamic Design's previous top-of-the-line Challenger power cable is enhanced in this latest model, especially those aspects I classify as musical.
Comparing the Neutron with the Challenger, the adjective that comes to mind is bright. WAIT—HOLD ON, don't run away! Describing anything in audio as bright might seem an unlikely compliment—bright has come to be a big pejorative in our audio lexicon, with connotations of a tonal balance that is shifted upwards, i.e. unbalanced, with an under-represented low-end.
Strictly speaking, that is not the correct definition.
From Stereophiles' Audio Glossary: bright, brilliant
The most often misused terms in audio, these describe the degree to which reproduced sound has a hard, crisp edge to it. Brightness relates to the energy content in the 4 kHz-8 kHz band. It is not related to output in the extreme-high-frequency range. All live sound has brightness; it is a problem only when it is excessive.
The Fuzzy Stuff
Let's listen to Tzigane, Ravel's rhapsody for violin and orchestra (TACET S 2-7, SACD). The violin plays solo for the first 3 minutes and it is very closely miked, a big and dynamic image. The horsehair on the bow is prominent; the significant hall reflections are distinctly emanating from stage right, quite apart from the direct sound of the instrument. The sound is vivid, somewhat forward, without any soft edges, and not timid. I'm thinking, "Is it too intense?"
When the orchestra enters in a semi-circle behind the soloist, the perspective shifts: the hot violin cools, moves back, and blends more with the orchestra. These descriptive notes are meant to demonstrate the Neutron's exceptional resolving powers.
Or listen to violinist Rosanne Philippens on MYTH (Channel Classics CCS SA 36715). Again, the instrument is closely miked and rather forceful dynamically.
I chose these SACDs featuring the solo violin because of the significant challenges it presents in reproduction. All live sound has brightness. For a lifelike reproduction, it must have that bright quality or else you'll get dullness. With the Neutron on my CH Precision D1 transport, the violin grabs my attention and has me engaged. Repeatedly, I was taken with the "fool ya" aspect of the sound and how lifelike it was.
Digging deeper into this point, the Neutron possesses a midrange-centric tonal balance and well-represented bottom end, qualities which it shares with all DD cables. The difference is in the treble: it is more free-range. This accounts for the life-like quality and brings additional transparency. It ain't the case of an uptilted, unbalanced frequency spread.
The second evolutionary trend not present in the company's previous offerings is a newfound beauty in the sound. The Neutron really pulls ahead in the area of timbre: it is gorgeous, with additional complexity and nuances coming through.
The Neutron has the same fancy copper-based with carbon fiber bodies AC and IEC receptacles on either end as the Challenger. The outer covering is a soft, woven, black mesh. But the diameter is larger than the Challenger and is pretty stiff. Consider that in your length estimates when ordering.
Installation and Technology
Dynamic Design uses many trademarked noise abatement processes in their cables.
The most obvious is Dynamic Shielding™, visible as a pigtail coming off the AC plug, which connects to a detachable battery pack (two AA batteries inside). When you power up the system and turn on the battery pack, a diode inside the IEC plug will light up to indicate the shielding is active. At the end of the session turn off the battery packs to conserve them. The designer recommends 30 minutes of charge time before critical listening to fully saturate the shields. He believes all cables ideally would have an active shield.
You can listen with the battery pack off, but I don't see why you would want to. The treble is a little rough and it's not as smooth. Turn the battery on and the sound becomes sweeter.
From a manufacturer's email:
The Neutron SW16 concept is a culmination of 17 years of design and evolutionary progress.
Dielectrics: Cable dielectrics should be terrible conductors of electrical signals; the worse they are the better the cable performance. Storing and the subsequent releasing of the signal create distortions that adversely affect the performance of a cable. The air impregnated, multi-layer insulation system in the Neutron SW16… results in a velocity of propagation of 95% the speed of light, reducing signal smearing to a minimum with superb phase linearity!
Shielding: The pervasiveness of noise around today's audio systems demand a full commitment to protecting the audio signal by designing efficient and effective shields. Mere twisting of conductors regardless of geometries is not adequate to protect from the myriad and complex types of noise bombarding our systems. The Neutron SW16 features a special twisting geometry and multiple shield types that are layered in a proprietary sequence. This results in 100% shield coverage and over -95dB shielding effectiveness!
Usage: Use the Neutron SW16™ Digital power cords on all your low current components, either directly or through a power line conditioner. They typically require about a 100 hours break-in time.
Longevity brings perspective. I've had the opportunity to observe cable manufacturer Dynamic Design Corp since 2012, when their Nebula cables arrived and then in 2015 with the Challenger Power Cord. There was an overt commonality among these products I came to think of as the "Voice of Dynamic Design."
The Challenger AE15 Digital Power Cord made quite an impression on me. Power cords seem to be their forte. There is a new top-of-the-line model for digital components, the Neutron SW16 Digital Power Cord. I think it's their best yet.
The Neutron does things that conjure the magic of live music, mostly due to a "free-range" treble response. The top end is allowed roam unrestricted. You don't hear that too often; most cables put some restraint on it, tamp it down to some degree.
The second evolutionary change is the more elaborate overtone structure. New layers and complexity are apparent and there is newfound beauty.
The Neutron SW16 is staying put on my CH Precision C1 DAC.
Neutron SW16 Digital Power Cord
$7500 1.5 meter
Dynamic Design Corp