Sunday, October 1, 2017

Dark Energy Cables: Redefining The Sweet Spot on the Value Curve

"In more specific audio 'tone' terms, I would say that with tinned-copper cables the timbre of instruments sounds much more accurate and 'real' to me, with lots of meaningful natural nuance resolved.
Tinned-copper cables also offer a rather remarkable resolution of tone color (those chordal variations resulting from adding additional pitches to three tone triads that give different styles of music their 'sound' and emotional feel), which I think jazz enthusiasts (like myself) should take particular note of, as jazz employs the extensive use of complex and exotic tone colors."- Jeff Day, PFO

The Value Curve

The expense of our hobby, like many others,  spans the pricing spectrum. You have the extremes, and then you have what I call the "Sweet Spot". This is where, in my opinion, you get near the highest performance but aren't paying the extreme prices. You are well outside the entry level of the hobby, but still are far away from the cost-no-object ultra performance products. 
My very non-scientific representation of the price to performance value curve for audio cables.

The Quest

The process of choosing the wire for our cables necessitated a long-term project. Wire, both raw wire and pre-jacketed off the spool wire were sampled over the course of 5 or more years. Our mission was to come to market with something that would engage the listener, and continue to provide an enjoyable musical experience over the long term. For this, a combination of musicality, dynamic realism, and resolution were the criterea. Too much of one variable over the other and the cable would always fail the long term listening tests.
The Dark Energy 14 power cable

The Wire

With the above goals in mind, we chose wire from Duelund as the foundation of our cables. Duelund wire is simple, and perhaps a bit counterintuitive in today's market of hyper pure copper/silver, complex geometries and exotic shielding methods.  On paper, those things look promising, but ultimately did not win out over the simple design of the Duelund wire. Jeff Day of Positive Feedback Online writes very comprehensively about the makup of the wire, and his impressions of it in his review titled "An Adventure in the Art of Tone with the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA Series of Tinned-Copper Cables, Part 1". 

"...these tinned-copper cables were also very satisfying in the way they portrayed the non-musical artifacts of the recording process, like imaging, the soundstage, the soundspace, resolution, and transparency, of a recording, which gave the music a reach out and touch it sort of realism that was very vivid, and viscerally enthralling. 
In fact, these tinned-copper cables changed the way I thought about the importance of the reproduction of non-musical artifacts from the recording process, and how they could enhance the enjoyment of the recorded music listening experience." - Jeff Day, PFO

The Cables

All Dark Energy series cables make use of Duelund wire in various gauges, premium connectors, and Sonic Tonic suspended in epoxy then molded to the vacant areas inside the connectors. Getting the Sonic Tonic as close to the wires as possible makes it much more effective, and also improves the durability of the connection, acting as an additional strain relief on the wires.

The speaker wire is simple at it's essence. We found that three runs of 16 awg per + and - to be ideal. We use the Wireworld Uni-term terminations for their quality of materials, "do-no-harm" sonic qualities, and the best part: The ability to change the terminations to bananas or spades by the user on the fly. Essentially the body of the Uni-Term termination is a silver clad copper "socket" into which a spade or banana of the same material can simply screw in. Here at the Tweek Geek Cable Laboratory we treat the wire to socket junction with Sonic Tonic, and we also treat the socket to banana/spade junction with Furutech Nano Silver/Gold mixture for enhanced conductivity. The cables still ship with 8 spades and 8 banana terminations, so if your needs change, you can change the cable terminations to suit them.

Additionally, the aluminum barrel shaped + and - cable splitter on each speaker cable is filled with Sonic Tonic.
Dark Energy Speaker Cable

The RCA interconnect consists of  20awg Duelund tinned copper conductors with
KLEI connectors. Embedded inside the connectors is our Sonic Tonic in an epoxy mixture.

There are 2 different power cords.  A high Current, and moderate current design. Both feature Sonic Tonic inside as well as rhodium plated copper connectors with a carbon fiber sleeved chrome plated copper shell. The High current is only for the highest current drawing components like large tube amplifiers, as the 14awg rated moderate current design is equipped to handle 15 amps of current.

The Dark Energy Value Curve

Here we see the Value curve again, but this time we have overlaid the cost of the Dark Energy cables vs. what we feel confident is their performance. 
Yes, this is a totally subjective curve, but it is based on over 20 years of evaluating hundreds of different brand name cables at all price levels. We've listened to a lot, but not all, cables over the years and this is our best evaluation. We are not in the business of disappointment, so understand our motivation is to give you good information, of course hoping you will try our cables and agree with our assessment. It's no fun for anyone making a sale and getting a subsequent return. 

With that in mind, we also offer in-home auditions of the Dark Energy cables.

Who are these cables for?

These cables are for the listener who is looking for the ease and flow of the music. You appreciate a wide and deep soundstage that wraps around and outside of the speakers. Dynamics and texture are important to you as well, as Jeff Day puts it the non-musical elements that make reproduction more musical. They excell with well made recordings in large halls, acoustic recordings, vocals, and electric guitar. The magic of the midrange are these cables' strengths.

You may find other cables have more extreme high frequency sparkle, but those cables tend to sound more mechanical and electronic in my opinion.

In conclusion, we feel that the Duelund/Dark Energy range of cables capture the magic that makes the reproduction of music more real, and more enjoyable for long term deep listening. Get in touch with us to Audition them today!