JPS Labs Superconductor V Interconnects,
Speaker Cables And USB Cables Review
There has been quite a bit of discussion, lately, in this publication and other forums, about the current direction of the music industry. One of the hot topics is how popular music is recorded and produced. Many argue that the use of software, like ProTools, to snap everything to a grid and correct any "flaws" is robbing the music of its soul. Many times the result is music that, while initially appealing, quickly loses the interest of the listener. It is soulless music.
The question is, what is this soul and how do we recognize it? I think most of the time, this occurs at a subconscious level. Why do we want to go see an artist in concert when we've already heard all of their songs multiple times in studio perfection? Because we want to connect to the soul of the music, warts and all. Now, I'm not saying some audio processing tricks aren't going on at these concerts, but there is only so much that can be done live. In the end, it's about the artists connecting with the audience.
Of course that's what being an audiophile is also about. We are trying to connect better to the soul of the music. Every time we put a new component in our system and pull out a record we bought before we could drive, we are trying to experience the soul of the music. Some components accomplish this task and end up a cherished part of our system, others don't. Those are returned or later replaced. This is part of the yin and yang of audiophile life. From the first listen, I knew the JPS Labs Superconductor V Interconnects and Speaker Cables were allowing me to experience more of the soul of the music. My job as a reviewer was to understand why.
JPS Labs is a company that is very familiar to Enjoy the Music.com readers. Not only have we done several reviews of their cabling over the years, but we also reviewed their Abyss headphones, which incorporate their proprietary cabling. The Superconductor V is the mid-level cabling produced by JPS Labs. Like all of their cabling, it utilizes their proprietary Alumiloy conductor. To quote Joe Skubinski, "Superconductor V uses stranded Alumiloy conductors and minimized dielectrics, hence its flexibility/ease of use, nice clarity and spatial cues."
As I said, I noticed the improvement in the sound of my system as soon as I installed the Superconductor V cables. This is unusual, since it usually takes some time for cables to break in and show their character. The pathway I used for the interconnects for this review was a CD player to preamp to the amplifier. So after hooking everything up, I put in the readily available CD of Stravinsky Symphonies by the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle just to make sure I didn't screw anything up. The first track is the opening of Stravinsky's "Symphony in 3 Movements".
As soon as the orchestra made its dramatic entrance, I heard it with more intensity than ever before. I wasn't prepared to sit down and purposefully listen then. (I just put the cables in!) As I did some other jobs in the living room, I would stop and listen when I walked in front of the speakers. That sense of added drama remained. After my anointed tasks, I sat down and sent Joe an email asking if they had broken in the cables before they had sent them to me. He said that they hadn't, and would take about two weeks. Already blown away, I was curious as to how much they would continue to improve, and counted the days.
As More Time Passed...
The Berlin Philharmonic is a top-notch symphony orchestra and their playing on this disc is beautiful. The last piece on this album is Stravinsky's "Symphony in C". The finale opens with a bassoon chanting quietly against an augmented fourth from the brass playing a combination of the C and G chords. The artistry of this passage is sublime with it's contrasting rich tonal textures. Then, at the very end of this movement, the piece fades to there same two clashing chords, generating resultant tones of airy radiance. I've experienced this phenomenon several times before live, but only a couple of times with home-audio systems. This was the first time I was able to hear it at home.
Intrigued, I moved on to Pat Metheny's What's It All About. This solo album consists of acoustic solo covers, recorded with a simple two-mic setup. Being Pat Metheny, he mostly eschewed regular acoustic guitars for more exotic instruments. The first track, "The Sound of Silence'', was played using a custom-made 42-string Pikasso Guitar. As you can imagine, the tonality of such an instrument is quite different from a regular guitar. Depending on which group of strings he played, it sounded like a combination dulcimer, auto-harp, guzheng, Celtic harp, and a piquant-sounding six-string.
Listening to this piece through the Superconductor V interconnects and speaker cables, was a delicious blend of varied timbres, as Metheny weaved his way through a complex, totally-original version of a well-known song. Most of the other covers on this album were performed on another custom instrument, a baritone acoustic guitar. This unique instrument is extremely difficult to play, but the reward is a big, powerful sound. Listening to "Cherish", I was blown away by the weight and majesty of Metheny's playing. On Metheny's leisurely rendition of "Garota de Ipanema", I was struck by how he allowed certain notes to completely decay while highlighting other strings to bring richness to this classic. Finally, on "Betcha by Golly, Wow", he changed chords at a dizzying pace, while floating the melody above the fray. With all of the rapid chord changes, Metheny's sliding fingers were never screechy or distracting.
The Many Aspects Of Reviewing
So, what are the Superconductor V interconnects and speaker cables doing that initially grabbed my attention and continued to draw me into the music? They do many things well, but where they do an amazing job is reproducing the tone of musical instruments or the human voice. To accomplish this, the Superconductor V cabling does an excellent job of passing along all of the micro-details of the music without blurring or obscuring them. With the Superconductor V interconnects and speaker cables in my system, everything I played sounded richer and more relaxed. This focused my attention on the artistry of the musician. The soul of the music. Isn't that our goal?
JPS Labs Superconductor V Speaker Cable
JPS Labs Superconductor V Ultra High Performance USB Cable