Cable Reviews

August 2010 Alan Sircom, HIFI Plus issue 82 (UK)

AVID, as everyone knows is a turntable company, based in a disused atomic bomb shelter somewhere secret in the UK. Except it isnít. It moved out into a perfectly sane industrial park in Huntingdon recently and makes a whole range of products alongside its turntables, such as phono stages, equipment supports, some useful accessories and Ė of course Ė cables. And, as befits a company that used to work out of an A-Bomb shelter, the speaker cables have the advantage of being quite, quite madÖ in all the good ways. A bit like someone who spent their Wartime years working at Bletchley Park; full of lateral thinking, much of it eminently insanely sensible.

You see, where most cable companies talk about radiated fields and their potential to futz up the sound of a speaker cable, very few do anything active about it. Yes, thereís the active shielding systems used by AudioQuest and Synergistic Research, but thatís a very expensive add on to an already expensive speaker cable prospect. AVIDís method is more down to earthÖ literally. The cables have a small box at the amplifier end, which attaches to a wire, which itself attaches to an isolated yellow plug that goes in the wall and allows and independent earth screen to discharge effectively. Many speaker cable designs, especially Litz wire cables such as the kind made by AVID end up with floating or quasi-floating screens; this is the first of its kind (as far as I know) to address the issue. You can also experiment with the earth in place and out of circuit, but the tidier, less grainy midrange and treble and the deeper sounding bass will make the experimentation process relatively short-lived.

How this sounds really depends on what system you use it with. I played around with a number of different amplifiers from the Sugden A21se right up to the c-j ET5 and Edge G6 and the Devialet D-Premier. In the Sugden, the cables highlighted the grace and flow of the sound, in the pre/power it was adept at digging out the dynamic shading and soundstaging and in the D-Premier it was all about power and detail. At each time, the natural sounding extended treble, the grain-free midrange and the full bass shone through. Of the three systems listed, the c-j/Edge system faired the least well, because the big, bold bass coupled with the big, bold bass of the cables tended to make the bass slightly too brightly lit. But the cable is always sounding fast and direct and on the money.

Normally weíd explore interconnects and loudspeaker cables as one. Here, thereís no real need to. The two entities are different, even though they speak the same language. The interconnect is single core and superconductive (apparently not using either silver or copper but likes to keep us guessing) to the loudspeaker cableís gold-plated copper multistranded outlook. Once again the screen is significant, with a full metal jacket giving almost total RFI rejection. IN fact, AVID has gone into extraordinary close-type detail on the design and construction of these cables and how every aspect came under scrutiny. Even in prťcis, this would stretch longer than the review itself. Letís just leave it at Ďexpensive cable, expensively builtí and hand the rest of the back story over to the AVID website.

Iíve got to say, Iím something of a convert to the AVID cause. Like the speaker cables, the bass sets itself up as the first key player in the game. But as you go deeper into the mix, you start to find yourself hearing things you would struggle to hear so well on many other cables. Itís not extra air or detail or soundstaging or any other of the usual aspects of why a cable might sound good. Instead, it has a lot to do with the space around the notes, the silences and the way music rises out from them.

The curious part of this is itís also chimerical in nature. There are consistent elements (the grain-free performance, the precision to the bass) that apply whatever the system used, but the overall nature is, well it seems like the overall nature of whatís hiding in your electronics. The interconnect is less system dependent than its loudspeaker cable brother, but itís still a hard one to pin down, as it holds up a mirror to the best of what your equipment can do.

There are some cables that bring out the best in a system by imposing their own character. Thereís others that do the same by trying to minimise the amount of character in the cable. There are only a few that do this by being exactly what the doctor ordered for the electronics in many respects. AVID seems to have that nailed. Delightfully eccentric, but for a very good reason.

July 2010 David Price, HIFI World (UK)

The AVID SCT is a spectaular sounding cable, if you can say such a thing. It doesn't have much of a character itself, it just seems to let things get from one place to another completely intact.

Tonally its dark - inasmuch as it's not chrome plated across the midband, or slightly grainy or diffuse. You just get the sence of acoustic instruments having a very realistic timbre. It's dizzingly fast, the cable not hindering transients or sitting on dynamics, and this - allied to that stark, contrasty tone - makes for a grippingly vivid and engaging performance. Bass is taut and massively animated, but not in the least coloured, whilst treble has a silky smoothness but is remarkably spacious all the same.

Overall it's a truly memorable cable, but then again its price is such that it would have to be!

April 2010 Paul Rigby, Record Collector (UK)

Your hi-fi system probably sounds a lot better than you think. Hereís why. I want you to remember a loud noise. A very loud noise. A noise that either forced you to place your hands over your ears or, at the very least, made you wince a little. Now, there are two reasons for that wince. The first is, yes, the sound was loud. However, probably the principle reason for that reaction was down to distortion.

Sound distortion has a lot to answer for and itís not generally recognised as a big problem when listening to hi-fi. However, when distortion is removed, your 1K hi-fi can suddenly sound like a 5K super system.

You probably think that distortion sounds a little like screeching, static interference, crackles and the like. Thatís just one variant. Worse, for music fans, is the less obtrusive, more insidious type that sneakily hangs around your hi-fi, generally unnoticed. This form of distortion masks information, hiding detail and reducing clarity. The problem can be so disruptive that the hi-fi you already have has probably yet to show you its full capabilities.

Ok then, so thatís the build up Ė whatís the answer? Cables. More specifcally, AVID cables. They cost a lot, but theyíre worth every penny.

AVID, known for its turntables, has a range of interconnects and speaker cables that can transform your system. I know, because itís done it to mine. Previously, I was a very happy user of Chordís Anthem 2 interconnects and Epic Twin speaker cables. They are excellent and do the job very well. The sonic improvements from the Chords to the AVIDís, however, are incredible. And I thought that more expensive hi-fi was all about diminishing returns. Not here.

The clue is in the design. AVID realised that distortion tends to hang around the earth of any electrical circuit. Hence, the answer seemed to be, to get rid of sound distortion, you just had to drain the earth: like water down a sink. This is why AVID speaker cables have a separate lead running into a plug that slots into a mains socket. Thatís right, the speaker cable has its own mains plug and distortion drains away from your system down it. It takes several hours to take effect but the upshot is absolutely dramatic.

With the AVID SCT interconnects and ASC speaker cables as a combination, clarity is simply astonishing and music sounds like it has just emerged from a lifting fog. Upper and lower bass tones become incredibly tight and devastatingly coherent, while mid-range frequencies are so open and airy, so fresh and spacious that I had to put my coat on to keep warm. Frankly, I had to look twice to make sure that someone hadnít swapped my hi-fi for a new one.

The next time you consider upgrading your hi-fi, before buying a new multi-thousand pound turntable, CD player, amp or speakers, Iíd advise you to audition a suite of AVIDís cables first Ė but make sure that theyíve been part of the demo system for a few days first.

You may find out that the best hi-fi for you is already sitting in your living room.

August 2004 Richard Black, Hi-Fi Choice- Editor's Choice Award (UK)

"The interconnects are clearly superbly detailed and give a fantastically 'black' background out of which the music can grow. Or perhaps one might better say that it's a 'midnight blue' background because there seems to be a subtle emphasis of the bass, somewhere around the register of a low male voice, compared to available 'reference' cables. It doesnít seem to be quite as simple as a total aberration but there's a sense that the frequencies in that region have been slightly enhanced in some way. More detail? Euphonic coloration? After a lot of cable swapping, it seemed to be the former - which is clearly an excellent result. The rest of the range is also highly detailed and notably mellow without being in the least rolled off, just free of grain and grunge."

"The speaker cables are certainly detailed..."

"Where they excel, though, is with lively rhythmic music, where they really seem to keep things in tempo. They repeated this trick in a couple of other systems, proving that it's no fluke, and it's a fine quality."

Cables at this price are not something to buy unheard, and we'd strongly recommend some careful auditioning.

Nevertheless, there are definitely qualities in both these cables, which are unusual, and worth seeking out. If you're listening to expensive wires, hear these.

Manufacturers comment: "Good review, however strange that everyone who has purchased our speaker cables have a diffrent view, so listen for yourself!"