The Neoteric Listener
Cables have it rough. Last in thought, least in budget, forever to be put to work quickly, and then quickly overshadowed by flashier audio gear. When gushing about an audio system, who starts with the cables? Nobody ever, that's who. Such neglect is a crying shame. Cables bear the precious audio signal like a yeoman's cart dispatched by his ladyship. They're the pack mules in the trip down the Grand Canyon; the Pontoon boat floating down the Mekon river. Without cables, your audio system deluxe is just odd-looking furniture. Cables deserve accolades, no matter how much contrary nonsense is spouted off by cynics. I deny the cable deniers!
The past six months only reinforces my conviction about the impact of cables on a system. To be sure, my review system consisting of the Audio Research VSi75 integrated, Nola Boxer S3 loudspeakers, and AURALiC VEGA G1 DAC / Streamer, demonstrated the virtues of each component in their own right. Together, this system was capable of memorable listening moments. The true potential of the system, however, was not fully realized until the addition of the Furutech DSS-4.1 speaker cables and Furutech DPS-4.1 power cable.
Furutech is a widely-recognized and well-respected name in high end audio. Their products are used in countless dealer showrooms and in numerous audio show presentations. The brand is known for producing components, cables, and parts that deliver exceptional performance and reliability. The fact that their products attract the eye by being seriously burly and well-constructed only adds to Furutech's popularity. The DSS-4.1 speaker cables and DPS-4.1 power cable absolutely live up to the company standard. Over one inch in diameter, the construction of these cables reflects Furutech's exacting attention to detail. Insulation of the speaker cable starts with an inner material of Audio Grade Fluoropolymer twisted together with Audio Grade Polyethylene. The inner sheath is constructed of a Nano-Ceramic/Carbon particle compound, while the outer sheath is made of flexible audio grade PVC. The outer sleeve is made of stranded and braided Nylon yarn, which makes handling of the cables a pleasant tactile experience.
Product design and sourcing the best materials is something of an obsession for Furutech, as evidenced by their search for conductors proven to produce demonstrably beneficial sonic results. Mitsubishi Materials supplies Furutech's DUCC Ultra Crystallized High Purity Copper. This oxygen-free copper is designed to crystallize in a manner that is most efficacious for conducting signal which flows in optimal directionality. The purpose of these materials is to allow music to flow in its entirety, without impediment or audible distortion. I can hear the engineering team's exasperated sigh of, "Mister, there's so much more to it than that..." but the rest is best left to those with the power to explain it better. Those inclined with a technical bent are encouraged to visit the Furutech website for plenty of additional details.
Anyway, months ago, the Furutech DSS-4.1 speaker cables and DPS-4.1 power cable had the unfortunate timing to arrive at the same time as a host of other review products, all of them new and needing break in. It was simply impossible to determine the true sound of anything. So I played music... and then some more music... and then... well, you get the idea. After about 100 hours, the speakers started to open up. 100 hours more, the integrated amp came into line. Yet, even after 200 hours, the Furutech cables continued to improve, so I caught up on recordings I had been saving and let everything simmer as I surmised that Furutech cables like break in time, and not just a little. The Furutech cables were getting more focused and more natural as the days passed, but it took more than 250 hours in before I really thought that the cables were truly singing.
Singing, indeed, is the operative word when describing the sound of the Furutech DSS-4.1 speaker cables. Needing to finish up a review, I substituted the Furutech cables for my reference cables (click on my name above for system details). When I brought the Furutech cables back in to the review system, I was struck by how much more alive the system sounded. The change was so significant, I worried that something might be amiss tonally, but I quickly determined that what I was really hearing was more information being conveyed. There's no doubt about it, the Furutech cables brought to the fore all of the elements that I appreciated in the system. Resolution, imaging, soundstage, tonal accuracy — all markedly improved. Moreover, I tried the DPS-4.1 power cable with both the AR VSi75 integrated and the AURALiC VEGA G1 DAC/Streamer. The result of inserting the power cable was also an immediate improvement. Music had more dimension, more solidity. In other words, I heard a greater sense of actual voices or instruments being conveyed, as opposed to a representation of both. This effect was especially pronounced when using the DPS-4.1 power cable with the AURALiC VEGA G1 DAC.
To be honest, the improvements made by using the Furutech cables were so impressive that I put aside my reference cables and used the Furutechs for all subsequent reviews during this five month period. As noted, after about 250 hours (the VSi75's tube life indicator was a godsend), I was ready for critical listening and, hopefully, informative writing. At this point, the Furutech cables were ready to help me really dial in the sound of each product on review. In my previous reviews for the VSi75 and AURALiC VEGA G1, a wide variety of music genres demonstrated the Furutech's ability to display micro and macrodynamics in full realism, so check out these columns for additional illustrative music examples.
The review system, unfortunately, had to be parted with, and so I returned to my usual gear. Recently listening to "I Love You" from Billy Ellish's new album, I noticed that, even with my relatively modest system (Glow Amp Two integrated, Triangle Antal Anniversary loudspeakers, and Schitt Bifrost DAC) the Furutech cables articulated the delicate balance of guitar fingerpicking, background recording effects, and Ellish's hauntingly delicate vocal delivery. It's a song of carefully layered musical cues that give resonance to the song's darkly worded recounting of despair and splintered love. The details are everything, and premium cables like these from Furutech help to convey the artist's work. A similar example is found when City and Colour's frontman Dallas Green explores the diminishing returns of trying to have it all at breakneck speed. In "The Hurry and the Harm," the opening track of their seminal album by the same name, the rumble of overdriven guitar and bass leads into a gentle wash of synth, guitar, bass, and drums. This instrumentation is meant to wake up the listener in preparation of the angst to follow. Fortunately for us, it also lets the high end audio owner revel in a room filling churn of electronic growl that the Furutech cables convey with aplomb. It's not like I'm shouting out, "Hey, listen to those details!" but I'm keeping tabs on them all the same. The "City and Colour" track employs a host steel guitar accents, doubled harmonies on key lyrical phrases, and a growling refrain of the overdriven guitar (occasionally joined by a burly synth blast) to punctuate the theme of human frailty. Stunning!
Leaving behind the Island of Forgotten and Disillusioned Rock Stars for a moment, I played the live track from Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, "You Worry Me (Live in Dublin)." A rollicking live performance from a great rock band, my little system benefited from the Furutech's ability to render space and dynamics well, as the wide ranging exchange of horns, guitars, and percussion all had place to breathe in this vocal-centered mix, recorded in a noisy venue. Needing something more challenging, I played Philip Glass's "Etude No. 18" featuring Maki Namekawa on piano. A truly lovely piece. The additional information presented by the Furutech helped remind me of the many things that make listening to a master pianist so mesmerizing. The clarity of single notes during fast runs, the artfully chosen compression of chords in rhythm, the delicacy of accent notes in transition — these are the elements that demand correct illumination, and the Furutechs never faltered.
Really, the improvement in audio performance was so pronounced that I occasionally replaced the Furutech speaker cables and power cord just for the pleasure of hearing how much better the system sounded when playing music. Having sent one speaker tower crashing into my listening room wall last year, changing anything is a fool's errand for a lumbering sloth like me, but the sonic gains were worth my physical exertions. The Furutechs proved to be remarkably incisive, and the AR / Nola / AURALiC combo took full advantage of this transparency. This system was already very lively and informative in ways that most of us appreciate in a high end system. I didn't need anything to detract or "tame" what I was hearing. The Furutech speaker and power cables added more definition to an already good thing. I appreciated the ability of the Furutech cables to provide a window without glare.
If you like cables that express your system's characteristics, then you'll love the Furutech DSS-4.1 speaker cable and DPS-4.1 power cable. Expressiveness is their strong point, and this is done on a grander scale than most cables I've heard. At $450 per meter for the DPS-4.1 power cord (price for the cable only, the Furutech NCF connectors are an additional cost) and $359 per meter for each DSS-4.1 speaker cable (terminations vary by price and preference), the Furutech cables offer truly exceptional performance at a very competitive price. Those who think that cables are a waste of money, well, tough toenails for you, you're missing out on a good thing. To be honest, this review took forever to finally finish. Could it be that I slow played it because I enjoyed these cables so much? Perhaps it was merely coincidental that Furutech speaker and power cable combo are now in the running for a 2020 Writer's Choice Award? Hmmmn, quite a mystery. At any event, it's a great way to start the New Year by sharing the news about products that are very highly recommended.
Special Note for readers of the Neoteric Listener column: Almost all of the songs from every Neoteric Listener column can be found in the new "Positive Feedback's The Neoteric Listener Playlist" on Spotify. While most of the titles used in reviews come from other formats (typically high res digital files, CDs, and vinyl), this playlist gives readers a chance to listen at home on their own system. For the few titles not included in Spotify, I found alternate versions just for fun. Enjoy!
DPS-4.1 power cable