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September 2021

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World Premiere Review!
Audio Sensibility Signature Ethernet And DC Power Cables Review
Moderately-priced high-quality cabling that will keep you musically satisfied.
Review By Rick Becker And Tom Lathrop

 

Audio Sensibility Signature Ethernet And DC Power Cables Review

 

  If you've clicked on this review you already know that cables make a difference. I'll spare you that lecture. You may also already know about Steven Huang and his Audio Sensibility cable company out of Toronto, Canada. I've been commenting on his presence at the Montreal and Toronto audio shows since 2010. His cables featured prominently in my $5000 Entry Level System project in 2014, allowing me to reach a sound quality level in a streamlined rig that came surprisingly close to my reference rig. That's what Ohno Continuous Cast silver and copper, cryogenic treatment, stainless steel shielding at the ends, and soundly engineered cable design can do for you.

Being a small, personal company has allowed Steven to remain nimble and creative. He can respond with innovation to changing trends and fill niche markets that would be unprofitable for larger corporations. While he started with modestly priced cables, he has moved upstream as his knowledge and marketing experience has grown. Not surprisingly, his Statement and Signature series are now his top sellers because of their exceptional value, relative to competition also using OCC silver wire. Yet he has continued offering very high value while improving even his entry-level Impact series. His Testament power cord (next series up from the Impact) has been hard-wired into my Sony ES FM tuner for almost a decade and continues to amaze me as I tweak and upgrade other parts of my rig.

Steven is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, which is known as the MIT of Canada and is located within Canada's technology triangle. He holds a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering and a Master's in Mechanical Engineering in robotics, but he seems to have audio, and cables in particular, in his genetic makeup. His father went to school with Dr. Atsumi Ohno (of Ohno Continuous Cast fame) in the early 1960s at the University of Toronto where they established what was to become a life-long friendship, partly due to Steven's father being fluent in Japanese. Dr. Ohno received his PhD in Metallurgical Engineering and Steven's father received his PhD in Chemical Engineering, eventually becoming a full professor at the University of Waterloo. Steven knew Dr. Ohno as well and as the saying goes, the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree.

Audio Sensibility's business model includes selling direct, via the internet, across the table at audio shows, as well as a 30-day money-back guarantee on most items. His entire cable selection is comprised of OCC wire and features cryogenic treatment right at their own facility. Watching Steven mentor his customers at shows illustrates why he has been so successful at developing a loyal following. His customers are his primary advertising arm with most new customers coming from word-of-mouth referrals. An excellent interview with Steven Huang in 2014 can be found here.

 

Computer Audio & Streaming
As the High End has continued to evolve it has opened up several niche markets that Steven has been quick to fill. He now offers USB, Ethernet, and DC power cables of his own manufacture and he is a reseller for Neotech HDMI and TosLink optical cables as well as the popular SOtM network streaming components. Naturally, he also offers a variety of digital cables with RCA, BNC, and XLR connections. A bit off-topic, he offers two levels of ground wires for the growing market of grounding systems that are imperative for achieving the deepest black level in the highest quality systems.

My initial inquiry this time around was about his DC power cords, but I subsequently discovered the flimsy power cord on the external power supply of my Calyx DAC was captive. Our conversation turned to computer audio and his new Ethernet cable. Being rather Old School myself, I brought my good audio buddy, Tom Lathrop, into the conversation. While Tom is Old School also, being an electrical engineer by training, he is also New School and into computer audio and streaming. What transpired was Steven sent us his new Signature Ethernet cable ($399 CAD) and both his Statement SE SOtM (copper at $139 CAD) and Signature Silver SOtM ($289 CAD) DC cables for Tom's rig.

 

 

Audio Sensibility Statement SE SOtM DC Cables
First off, all of Steven's DC cables are center positive +. Your cable orientation is usually marked on the component itself. If not, check with the manufacturer. In Tom's rig we used the DC cables to connect the SOtM sPS-500 power supply with the sMS-200ultra network renderer. The Statement SE uses Switchcraft 2.1mm DC connectors, and since the SOtM sPS-500 has enough current to power both the SMS-200ultra and the tx-USB ultra, the cable is also available with a Y output. Other DC cables are offered for gear that has separate power supplies. If you have a custom DC cable configuration talk directly with Steven. He will likely be able to whip something up for you. The 16 AWG OCC (Ohno Continuous Cast) 7N copper used in the solid core Audio Sensibility cable has 4X as much copper (offering much less resistance) as the OCC 7N stranded center core of the SOtM premium cable. When comparing prices, keep in mind the Audio Sensibility cables are priced in $CAD, not $USD. You can read a more complete comparison on their website.

Obviously, there is a special SOtM connector for the power supply end and a Switchcraft 2.1mm DC connector for the component being powered. And as with all Audio Sensibility cables, the wire and connectors are cryogenically treated and solder connections these days are made with Mundorf Silver-Gold Supreme Solder.

 

Audio Sensibility Signature Silver SOtM DC Cable
The story for the Signature Silver is pretty much the same except it uses Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC) silver and the component end of the cable is a premium Oyaide DC-2.1G gold-plated Japanese phosphor bronze 2.1mm DC connector (or 2.5mm if needed). These DC cables are priced for 0.3m length because the two SOtM components typically nest on top of each other. See the pricing configurator on their website for other lengths.

 

Audio Sensibility Signature Ethernet Cable
Here again we find 99.99998% (7N) Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC) silver twisted pair conductors, this time with triple shield (Al-Mylar, spiral copper, Al-Mylar) and an ultra-thin Teflon insulation. The connectors are gold-plated Telegärtner RJ45 connectors, the industry standard, and Audio Sensibility cryogenically treats the Telegärtner electrical contacts as well as the cable itself.

 

 

The Protocol
To reacquaint myself with Tom's rig, we listened through several ultra-familiar music segments on the compilation disc I've been using since about 2003 with a Wireworld Starlight 7 Ethernet cable (now superseded by the Starlight 8 at $210 1-meter) and the SOtM standard DC cable ($70 for 0.3-meter). Then, since we had only one Ethernet cable to substitute, we started there first. BTW, Tom had already burned in these cables for weeks before we got together to listen. The improvement wrought by the Signature Ethernet was not only immediately recognizable, but it was also very impressive. Resolution, transparency, dynamics — an instant decision (though we played through the entire repertoire we had previously heard.) Granted, it was not the current Starlight 8 version of the Wireworld Ethernet offerings, or their top of the line Platinum Starlight 8 ($850 for 1-meter), but it was very impressive in a "must-have" kind of way — especially when the Canadian dollars are converted to US Dollars.

 

On To The DC Cables
But first, a comment on Tom's Marten Miles III floor standing speakers. When he first received them as their second owner, I felt they were too bright, almost shrill at the top end. Over time, he improved them by upgrading other aspects of his rig, including virtually re-building the listening room which takes up about 2/5 of his basement. The last time I heard them (pre-pandemic, 2019) I thought the room was sounding close to my own and the top end was sounding very good. The Audio Sensibility Signature Ethernet increased the transparency and brought the overall sound toward the bright side in the treble, but still a very positive overall improvement. If that was all we were going to change, I might have suggested draping a handkerchief over the tweeter to cut it back just a tad. But we still had two more cards to play with the DC cables connecting the SOtM power supply with the SOtM streamer.

 

 

First we went with the Silver Signature DC power cord. With an increase in transparency, focus, and dynamics, the music took on an even more prominent "you are there" presentation. As exciting as it was, it seemed to be too much for long-term listening. (We didn't actually do the long-term listening, but we are both experienced enough to see where this combo was headed.) We probably should have tried just the Silver Signature with the Wireworld Starlight 7, but we didn't. The Ethernet is the cable that carries the signal, and we didn't want to lose the clarity that the Audio Sensibility Signature Ethernet brought to the party. Besides, we still had the Statement SE DC to try. Remember, the Statement SE is a copper cable, not silver.

Sure enough, the old cliché about silver cable sounding brighter than copper held true once again. The Statement SE DC power cable, in combo with Signature Ethernet proved to be the magic combo for Tom's vintage Marten speaker. There was excellent resolution in the treble, but without the irritation we had been experiencing. There was also plenty of dynamics — remember the Audio Sensibility DC cable is 4x as thick as the standard SOtM. The ease of listening was just right and we had no doubt that we could go for very long listening sessions. Personally, I rarely go for more than a couple of hours at a time, but I could tell I could easily surpass that if I wanted.

 

 

Come On Baby, Let's Do The Twist!
I've been writing this as if Tom and I had been sharing our opinions and concurring as we went along, but here's the twist. We didn't. I asked him not to share throughout the entire listening session and only email his evaluation to me after I left. I emailed him my preference first. Here's what he sent (with some insertions I've made for clarity.)

 

I think that the biggest problem that my Martens have is a tendency toward sibilance and thinness, which you heard with the Audio Sensibility silver Ethernet cable and the [Audio Sensibility] silver DC cable. That's why I have evolved my system the way I have over the past 7 or 8 years. At first I was enamored with Nordost cables, which have great spatial resolution and a lot of detail, but they also emphasized the sibilance and thinned out the sound. Synergistic Research cables also have good spatial resolution, with less sibilance and more solidity to the midrange.

I know that silver cables have a reputation for enhancing the high end, but in some systems they may overdo it. I like the extra "air" that the Audio Sensibility silver Ethernet cable gives me on well-recorded acoustic music, especially jazz piano with percussion. If that means that I get a bit more sibilance on some vocal recordings, well, I'm OK with that. But I think that you're right that the combination of the silver DC cable and the silver Ethernet cable may be a bit too much in my system.

 

The sibilance he referred to was on Paul Simon's "Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes" on my compilation CD, which can be very revealing of a ragged tweeter. And there are lots of cuts on that CD with cymbals. So yes, we both came to the same conclusions for his system with the vintage Marten speakers. But that might not be the right combination for your rig. Had we taken his digital front end over to my house and tried it with my Kharma speakers, I might have preferred the Silver Signature DC cord. The Scan-Speak Revelator tweeters would likely benefit from the higher, smoother resolution and slightly brighter presentation. My room is not quite as bright as Tom's room, either. But we weren't about to rip out his gear. In any case, if you've made a wrong choice, Steven offers a 30-day money-back guarantee... or you can swap for the other DC cable — silver or copper, with a price adjustment, of course.

High-end folklore tells us that separate power supplies are desirable for removing electronic nasties from the chassis containing the signal circuitry. You see this frequently in phono stages, preamps, and DACs at the high end of a manufacturer's product chain. But external power supplies are increasingly showing up in moderately priced components. My Calyx DAC, for example, comes with a wall wart switching power supply, but a linear power supply is offered as an upgrade. Another company, Sbooster, which Audio Sensibility also sells, has an entire line of linear power supplies to use with components from other manufacturers. My experience with the DC cables for the SOtM gear in this review highlights the importance of quality DC power cords. They are as important as the main power cord coming from your wall or power conditioner. You don't want to leave half the quality you've paid for sitting inside the external power supply. As I've seen here, a proper high-quality DC power cord gets the job done.

 

 

Value
In Tom's case, the $538 (CAD) total for the Audio Sensibility Signature Ethernet cable plus the Statement SE cable converts at present to about $426 (USD), plus some money for shipping. That's not a lot of money in this sport to bring your digital front end up to such a premium level, particularly if streaming is your main source. How would this compare with laying out $850 for a Wireworld Platinum Ethernet cable? I can't say. But you would still need to upgrade the DC power cord one way or another. Knowing how pricing works, you will not be getting twice the sound quality (however you might measure that) by spending twice the money. The closer to the state-of-the-art you get, the greater the diminishing of return.

The Statement SE DC cable is only half the price of the Signature Silver DC cable, but if your system really benefits more from the Signature Silver, don't sell your entire system short for $140 CAD. Likewise, if your system would benefit more from the less expensive copper cable, it would be foolish to spend more for the silver cable.

One of the things I've learned over the years is that your power delivery and front-end source(s) are incredibly important. You can't fix a lousy signal by buying better speakers, no matter how impressive they would look in your listening room. I've owned my Kharma speakers since 2003 and I am still amazed at how much greater they sound when I upgrade or tweak something else in my system. Maybe I should have spent more money faster?

 

 

Summary
Ethernet cables are to digital streaming what coax digital cables were to CDs back in the 1990s. They've become a thing. And if you look around you can spend some significant currency on them. If you're looking to spend wisely, the Audio Sensibility Signature Ethernet is a high-quality choice at a moderate price that will leave you glad you spent that much without wishing you had spent more. If you want a qualitative comparison with generic Ethernet cable, there really is none. I highly recommend the Audio Sensibility Signature Ethernet cable.

Power cables have long been recognized as a very significant contributor to sound quality. But only recently has the need for small, high-quality DC power cords become a focal point. It is still a niche market, so if you've got a need, Steven Huang is the man you need to check out. Audio Sensibility has been delivering quality cables based on solid science and engineering principles since they began back in 2008, always at reasonable prices. Their DC cables are offered in both silver and copper versions, offering a chance for you to tweak the overall sound of your system at yet another point. Both are highly recommended with the caveat that you choose the one that best suits your goals for sound quality. They are both far above the stock SOtM standard DC cable.

I was so impressed that I popped the cover off the power supply of my DAC to examine how difficult it might be to hardwire one of Steven's DC cables. I will be giving him a call. As for the review samples, Tom had no hesitation about buying them for his rig. And finally, a hearty thanks to Tom Lathrop for hosting and contributing to this review. Outside of a few major metropolitan areas, good audio buddies can be hard to come by.

 

 

 

Signature Ethernet Cable

Tonality

Sub-bass (10Hz - 60Hz)

Mid-bass (80Hz - 200Hz)

Midrange (200Hz - 3,000Hz)

High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)

Attack

Decay

Inner Resolution

Soundscape Width Front

Soundscape Width Rear
Soundscape Depth Behind Speakers

Soundscape Extension Into Room

Imaging

Fit And Finish

Self Noise

Value For The Money

 

 

Statement SE SOtM DC Cable

Tonality

Sub-bass (10Hz - 60Hz)

Mid-bass (80Hz - 200Hz)

Midrange (200Hz - 3,000Hz)

High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)

Attack

Decay

Inner Resolution

Soundscape Width Front

Soundscape Width Rear
Soundscape Depth Behind Speakers

Soundscape Extension Into Room

Imaging

Fit And Finish

Self Noise

Value For The Money

 

 

Signature Silver SOtM DC Cable

Tonality

Sub-bass (10Hz - 60Hz)

Mid-bass (80Hz - 200Hz)

Midrange (200Hz - 3,000Hz)

High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)

Attack

Decay

Inner Resolution

Soundscape Width Front

Soundscape Width Rear
Soundscape Depth Behind Speakers

Soundscape Extension Into Room

Imaging

Fit And Finish

Self Noise

Value For The Money

 

 

 

Specifications
Type: High-end audio cables
Audio Sensibility Signature Ethernet Cable
Cryogenically Treated
Ethernet cable uses 99.99998% (7N) Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC) silver twisted pair conductors.
Cable Geometry: Each twisted pair is triple shield (Al-Mylar, spiral copper, Al-Mylar) with an ultra-thin Teflon insulation.
Connectors: Gold-plated Telegärtner RJ45 connectors
Covering: Techflex expandable sleeving.
$399 CAD for 0.3-meter (other sizes available)

 

 

Audio Sensibility Statement SE SOtM DC Power Cable
Cryogenically Treated
These cables are available to power one component (Single Output) or two components (Y Output) from an SOtM sPS-500 DC power supply (PSU). 
Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC) copper with a purity of 99.99998% (7N).
Cable Geometry: Twisted pair 16AWG Teflon insulated solid core OCC copper wire.
Connectors: SOtM-style DC connector for sPS-500 and Switchcraft 2.1mm DC connector for component to be powered.
Covering: Techflex expandable sleeving.
Mundorf Silver-Gold Supreme Solder is used for all solder connections.
Price: $139 CAD for 0.3-meter
Available with other connectors for $149 CAD for 0.3-meter

 

 

Audio Sensibility Signature Silver SOtM DC Cable
Special DC cables for Lumen
Cryogenically Treated
Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC) silver with a purity of 99.99998% (7N). 
Cable Geometry: Twisted pair 16AWG Teflon insulated solid core OCC silver wire.
Connectors: SOtM-style DC connector for sPS-500 and premium Oyaide DC-2.1G gold-plated Japanese phosphor bronze 2.1mm DC connector.
Covering: Techflex expandable sleeving.
Mundorf Silver-Gold Supreme Solder is used for all solder connections.
Price: $289 CAD for 0.3-meter (other lengths and connectors available)

 

 

 

Company Information
Audio Sensibility
3 Mylesview Place
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M2N 2M7

Voice: 416-953-8898
E-mail: sales@audiosensibility.com
Website: AudioSensibility.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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