The Black Rhodium Blog

Competition Winner Reviews His Prize - Minuet

 - By Graham Nalty, founder and owner of Black Rhodium

Our first Competition winner, A. H. has given us feedback of his experiences of using the Minuet stereo interconnect cable he won in our competition.

We are happy to show you his feedback and to add Graham Nalty's response to his questions at the end of his feedback.

A. H. writes:

'Hi there. I promised to let you have some feedback on the Minuet cable you kindly sent me from your end of year competition. It's now had a
fair while to settle in.

I'm fortunate enough to have a few systems and components into which an RCA interconnect can be utilised but my main system is fitted with both RCA and DIN sockets favoured by Naim (a CD5XS CD player with Flatcap power supply into a Supernait 2 and 250DR power amp with HiCap power supply, bi-amping a pair of B&W805D3s.

Thus I connected the Minuet between the CD player and integrated amp alongside my usual DIN interconnect.

A press of two buttons on the remote control then allows me to compare the two cables in a matter of seconds without any need for
physical disconnection.

The best compliment I can pay the Minuet is that is doesn't sound poor in comparison with the DIN cable which is quite a complement given the DIN cable is Kimber KCAG with a retail price of around £1100.

The main differences in what I hear come in presentation rather than any fall in quality, with the KCAG offering a slightly smoother and extended treble whereas the Minuet offers and richer and slightly fuller bass in my particular system.

This is perhaps unsurprising given the KCAG is 100% pure silver, hence it's cost. But the bottom line is that the Minuet has remained in my system and I find myself switching between the two according to taste and curiosity.

I do have one question. In the hobby that is hi-fi, its not usual to find completely opposing approaches to addressing the same issue. For me
the biggest comes with isolation devices where components range from everything from rubber, through wood to metal spikes and everything inbetween - all with the same aim of minimising vibration.

If I'm right, the 'ring' around the Minuet is a ferrite disc with the aim of addressing any negative effects of magnetism on a cable. By contrast,
Russ Andrews (who sells the Kimber DIN I use but also ferrites) strongly advocates not using ferrites on hi-fi system cables due to (they claim) their adverse effects, something I've also heard on a Paul McGowan PS Audio video.

There seems to be different approaches here and in hi-fi there always seems to be many way of 'skinning a cat', but out of interest I'd welcome your thoughts.

In the meantime, thanks again for sending me the Minuet. Much appreciated.

Regards, A. H.' 

Graham Nalty replies:

'Hi A. H, 

Thank you very much for your email.

Before I respond to the question in your email, may I have your permission to reproduce your feedback and my reply as a blog on our website.

Also can I reproduce your comments on the Minuet page of the website and use it as a testimonial in emails to invite consumers to take part in our future draws.

My reply to your questions are:

Thank you very much for your feedback on Minuet and I am delighted that you are enjoying Minuet in your music system.

I think it is very good that people can share different opinions on the behaviour of audio equipment. A healthy diversity of opinion encourages experimentation and research that ultimately bring great benefits to music lovers via their equipment.

On the question of isolation devices for records, I have found that the best supports for records on a turntable are either 'minimalist' or 'maximalist'.

The clearest sounds I have heard have been either suspending the record on 3 x 6 BA nuts in which any vibration dies away quickly or tightly clamped to the platter in which the vibration is fully damped. Most things in between give the vibration some damping, but induce a time delay distortion as absorbed energy is released back into the record a short interval of time later.

I used to think many years ago that screened cables added distortion and reduced clarity compared to non-screened cables. When I started making audio cables many years ago, I looked for cables that used the best materials. Looking in wholesaler's catalogues I noticed a silver plated copper cable insulated in PTFE, known for its low dielectric loss. This was a thin cable in a pink PTFE jacket (all PTFE cables at that time were pink on the outside). I fitted RCA plugs to it and called it Silver Pink.

In a review in Hi-Fi Choice of 10 interconnects, this was deemed to deliver the best sound even though its was the cheapest (£35) in a bunch that went up to £70. That sold very well for many years and was gradually upgraded to a thicker outer jacket (similar size to Minuet and more convenient with RCA plugs) and larger conductor size (which gave a more balanced bass) and called Rhythm.

Fast forward a decade and I sold a Rhythm cable to a musician friend of a member of staff. Feedback came back that the customer heard a big bang though his speakers on stage when he trod on the cable. Not good, so I contacted my cable supplier and the end result was a new cable Prelude which included a conductive layer between the insulation and screen to reduce microphony. When tested Prelude seemed to give a wider dynamic range to the music than Rhythm as discussed in the paper I have attached. Please read it.

A noteworthy point is that those people who criticise screened cables are very serious designers who insist on using PTFE insulation in their cables as it have very low loss, but PTFE is by far the worst insulation for creating microphony.

At Black Rhodium we have used both ferrites and screens in our cable. We have used small ferrites inside our plugs and large ones on the outside. When testing the design of Twist Classic, we compared two versions - one with a large ferrite to cover both conductors and the other with smaller ferrites over the individual cores. The cable with a single large ferrite sounded clearer and that is what we use.

We do find that we get a really impressive dynamic range to music when we use both ferrites and screens to their best advantage. We have sold dozens and dozens of PROTO cables which we have built to test many different approaches to each cable. If you are looking for a really good speaker cable, RCA interconnect or power cable, we may well have a PROTO that will give you far better sound than you would expect at a very reasonable price.

As a result of our extensive testing, we tend to use ferrites on our lower priced cables as a ferrite is most effective on an non-screened cable, and screens in our more expensive cables. In our best loudspeaker cable, we use both a large ferrite over each conductor and screening, and the dynamic range in the music with Charleston is very hard to exceed.

I hope this will answer your questions.

Best regards

Graham Nalty

Black Rhodium'