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April 2024

Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine

 

RSX Benchmark Series Cables Review
You owe it to yourself to try these out.
Review By Brett Rudolph

 

RSX Benchmark Series Cables Review

 

  It's always an experience when you get the opportunity to review cables. They take a while to break in, and if they do their job correctly, they should disappear, leaving you with the ultimate playback system, where everything is perfect. In reality, of course, no playback system can be perfect — the components and speakers you use always impact the quality of the sound you hear. However, what people fail to realize is that, although sometimes subtly, the cables you use can and usually do impact the sound, as well.

It seems like yesterday, but in reality, it was a few months ago when I first spoke to Roger Skoff, the designer and owner of RSX cables. Roger was involved in cable design for quite several years. The first brand of cables he launched was XLO, the brand whose most famous ad was a two-page spread showing just a loop of cable (no connectors) and, in small type, just the words: Looks like no other, sounds like no other, sounds like nothing at all. XLO, the Best in the World.

 

 

 

The idea that cables should sound like nothing is the ultimate quest, and Roger has gone to great lengths to achieve it with his new brand, RSX. Initially, these cables were all handmade and assembled — meaning that they took quite a lot of time to build. The new entry-level wires, though, known as the Benchmark series, are a moderately priced, full range of cables that embodies many of the same sonic characteristics as his other cables but are machine-made, except for the terminations, which are all hand-done. The Benchmark cables, therefore, are ultimately less expensive, given they are not entirely handmade.

These features include the conductive materials, which are ultra-pure copper (no silver), and the insulating materials (the "dielectrics"), which are all chosen for a low "kappa factor" (dielectric constant) and the highest possible "dump rate" (the rate of discharge of energy stored in the dielectric, as related to capacitive discharge effect). The cables are all designed following Skoff's balanced-field technology. All are fitted with designed high-contact area/low-mass connectors to minimize self-inductance. (an idea that Skoff has been pushing for more than 30 years that is only now being adopted by other manufacturers.)

 

 

Once the cables arrived, it took minimal effort to connect them to my reference system. Minimal effort is essential to note, as it's not always the case. The connections were tight, and the connectors were not overly large or heavy. Additionally, the cables were easily flexible, as Mr. Skoff had told me to expect. Both of these characteristics should be considered significant, as sometimes even the best cable can't be used because it either won't fit or, in some cases, will damage your equipment if not placed with exceptional care. Luckily, they connected perfectly and, once connected, were left to burn in. The process does take some time to complete.

Although I like to give the cables adequate time to break in, I admit to being curious. After approximately 48 hours, the first of many auditions was done. The wires were a performance achievement, even while not yet totally broken in. The sound was awe-inspiring. They could carry all the material from my music streamer to the speakers without seeming to color it in any way — a reasonably tricky task, especially for a cable that was not even broken in yet. However, once my curiosity was diminished, the system was once again left alone until it reached the 200-hour mark, at which point the accurate evaluation began, and what followed were the results.

 

 

The Start
After the cables had been broken in, the real work began. My first test was to use Pink Floyd's "Us and Them" [Dark Side of the Moon, Capital Records CDP72435]. This selection is always one of my favorites because it has quite a bit of material, and often, some of it gets lost or colored. However, the Benchmark cables did an outstanding job of keeping the material intact. There was no coloration or any perceptible change in the sound. The sound was so clear that I could hear some of the distortions from the Oppo player that I used. This is unusual because there is usually enough distortion in the cable itself that it's impossible to pick that out without seriously listening to it.

The second selection used for review was Jennifer Higdon's "City Scape River Sings A Song" [Jennifer Higdon, Telarc CD80620]. This has a great depth and can often lose its character if not rendered correctly. Once again, the cables showed no sign of imparting a sonic signature onto the music or degrading it in any other way. They did nothing to the music. One would expect this from a cable, but this is not always true.

 

 

The third recording I used was James Taylor's "Rainy Day Man" [FLAG, Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD 2071]. This selection again gives a reasonably good indication of where music sounds correct and where it does not. It is easy to compress, and while it will still sound good, it won't reach its fullest potential. Luckily, the Benchmark cables did an outstanding job of bringing the music through without any noticeable change. Although not entirely up to some of the price-no-object cables I've reviewed in the past, they certainly compare with cables far more costly. The music was so clear that there was one place where James |Taylor's voice seemed entirely lifelike — startingly so!

After several other selections on the CD player, I did a few on the turntable, as well. Although I won't mention them all here, I once again played Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. As before, the sound was impressive, but however good the CD version had been, the analog version stood out even more. The Benchmark phono cable did a fantastic job bringing all the material through without change. I find this even more impressive, as the signal is not nearly as strong, and the chance of loss or degradation is much higher. However, if anything, this cable performed as well, or even better, than the others in the line.

 

 

Once I was done trying out the analog and phono cables individually. I went for the digital cable next, using it to connect my music streamer to my preamplifier. Over several weeks, I listened to quite a bit of music in nearly every conceivable genre. No matter what type of music the RSX Benchmark Digital cable encountered, the result was always the same: It performed with the same level of detail and clarity. There seemed to be slight to no loss in signal, which would have ultimately equated to lower-quality playback. Again, it has better performance than I would expect from an entry-level cable.

 

 

The cables that Roger sent also included a pair of balanced stereo interconnects (XLR), which I used between the preamplifier amplifier and speaker cables. As part of the review, at one point, I substituted these for another pair I had to see how they would do as compared to wires already known. Their performance was exceptional. In fact, after only a few selections, I replaced the other cables with the Benchmark ones and continued to use them for the rest of the review.

The speaker cables, I should also note, were outstanding, too. Although I did not do much with them independently, my little testing showed they could undoubtedly handle themselves admirably. They, once again, are detailed, able to keep a precise soundstage, and do not add any noise or artifacts that could take away from the enjoyment of the music. r. Once again, they can stand against other cables that are far more expensive without any problem.

 

 

Ultimately, the Benchmark series of cables from RSX Technologies stands out as another real achievement from Roger Skoff. He has captured the essence of playback in a moderately priced cable. They do everything anyone would want from a cable and nothing they would not. They are, as Skoff set out to achieve, neutral in that they don't add or subtract anything from the sound. With that in mind, if what you're looking for is a cable to correct something inherently wrong in your system, the Benchmark cables aren't the ones for you. If, on the other hand, you are looking for cables that you don't hear, or at least hear as little as possible, then you owe it to yourself to try these out. You won't be disappointed. RSX's slogan is "Hear the music, not the cables," which might be true!

 

 

 

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

Soundscape Extension Into Room

Imaging

Fit And Finish

Self Noise
Emotionally Engaging

Value For The Money

 

 

 

Specifications
Type: High-performance audio cables
High purity oxygen-free copper
Full coverage bi-metallic shielding
Ultra low-mass gold-plated connectors

Pricing:
Phono Cable RCA to RCA 1m $249
Interconnect RCA to RCA 1m $295
Interconnect Balanced 1m $345
Interconnect Digital RCA 1m 149
Speaker Cable banana plugs 6 feet $325

 

 

 

Company Information
RSX Technologies
10132 Northbridge Drive
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91737

Voice: (909) 870-9292
Website: RSXtech.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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