“A level of sonic reproduction I never thought I could achieve.”
Dr. Fineberg is a composer of contemporary classical music and Professor of Music at Harvard
Dear Mr Markel,
I’m sorry not to have written you sooner, but the demands of the semester combined with a busier than expected schedule of concerts and the added travel and life complications we have all felt this Fall have conspired to keep me very busy. What I absolutely did not want to do was shortchange the effort I put into this note, because I have been so unexpectedly impressed with your speaker cables (I use the word unexpected because, while I was sure your cables would be excellent, I did not believe that speaker cables could make the degree of change that I have experienced). Your willingness to help me acquire these cables has made possible a level of sonic reproduction I never thought I could achieve achieve. However, I’m perhaps getting a bit ahead of myself.
I am a composer of contemporary classical music and a teacher of both composition and music theory at Harvard University. But prior to accepting this teaching position, most of my secondary work was in recordings as an artistic director. In this role, I have spent time in some of the best recording studios and concert halls in the world. These studios and their no-holds barred efforts to reproduce live music formed my frame of reference for what a recording should sound like. [I must insert the caveat that I have little experience with the Rock and Pop instrumentarium, though I have been involved in many contemporary music recordings which mixed electronic sounds with acoustic instruments.] When making these sorts of CDs we do not use a high degree of compression or spend much of the mix on small low-quality speakers; although this is common in pop music where they worry about how things will sound on a boom box. We really use the sound in the concert hall as our reference (albeit not a fully obtainable one).
While these studios and their engineers tend to insist on good quality cables and excellent connectors, they certainly do not go in for the esoteric materials and huge sums of money seen in the hifi world. This attitude had rubbed of on me and made me very skeptical about most high budget cables. A couple of years ago, had you asked, I would have been very pessimistic about how far one could go without fine-tuning the listening room in a way that is completely impractical in a home, bi or tri amping the speakers with an excellent active crossover and using a fully balanced configuration from start to finish in the signal chain. But then something happened. Last Winter I finished mixing several of the pieces for my first commercial CD of my own music. And while for others, I had always been content to go into a studio for detailed listening, I was extremely frustrated not to be able to properly hear at home my own CD that I had poured so much love and effort into. Since I already had quite good speakers (Magnepan 1.5QRs) I began the slow and familiar series of upgrades by changing my CD player (to an ARCAM Alpha 7se), then a bit later the pre-amp (to a Musical Fidelity A3cr) and quickly afterwards the amp (also an A3cr). Along the way, I had been persuaded that cables were important and I replaced my interconnects with TMCs (white and yellow). Each of these changes and some later ones (a power conditioner, after-market power cords and finally a Bel Canto DAC 1.1) brought real progress, but I never had exactly what I was looking for. This angst seems common to many of the postings I see on Audio sites like Audiogon. I had not given much thought to my speaker cables, since I had relatively decent ones (upscale monster cables) and had tried Kimber and DH-Lab cables without feeling the difference was fully satisfying (they each did some things better and others worse).
But at a loss for what to do I wrote to you, having seen the many excellent reviews of your products. Al though relatively reasonable the long bi-wire run of your cables I needed was far out of my reach (even at Harvard, composers make a very modest living), but you found a demo pair with Oval 9s and Oval 12s in a bi-wire and made Herculean efforts to make them feasible. When I connected them I was shocked. Everything finally came together. All the other changes finally assumed their full value. Even before the break-in was over, I knew I was done. You see I have been in the hall and the mixing for everyone of my test recordings so I KNOW what they really sound like and for the first time in my life, I could hear them again at home. It’s very difficult to quantify what changed: the transients were probably a little tighter. there is a really silent background, a beautiful tonal balance, and a total lack of the high frequency hash that creeps in on crescendos in so many systems. However, in truth the change is both more subtle, in that I don’t have precise words to describe it, and far more glaring. The instruments re-acquired the palpable presence they have in a hall and the physicality of the hall in which they were recorded could now inhabit my room. I realize that it is the sum of all the upgrades that led me here, but I can’t shake the conviction that your cables are the catalyst that released the potential of everything else. On some of the audio web sites people speak of golden eared listeners and I’m never sure what they mean, but I can tell you that record companies and ensembles pay me to listen to their recordings and tell them how to make things sound better. And without hesitation, I can say that these cables made my system sound absolutely wonderful. I am so happy with how these wires make my system sound that I sometimes take things home from the studio to check how they will sound here. Bravo.
With Sincere Thanks,