Are reference Bi-wire speaker cables a good investment for a two-channel audio system even if the other components in the signal path are less than the reference level? To find out, I reached out to professional sound engineer Paul Goodwin of Perkune audiophile cables in Lithuania. Paul, a former live-sound man, has a lifetime of experience in accurately reproducing the technical accuracy of sound. In fact, he was already working on perfect sound reproduction back when a young fellow named Jimi was still playing a Stratocaster on stage in the ’60s.
Paul, through his Perkune audiophile cable company, developed an airless-gap technique that brings alarming accuracy to sound reproduction for audiophiles and their stellar sound systems, redefining the critical importance of quality cabling for the highest end of the audiophile spectrum.
Like Paul, my background is in music but a different era, the ’80s rock-and-roll scene in Los Angeles, California. I founded a popular music magazine and was a voting member of the Recording Academy, better known for its annual industry awards, the Grammys.
I had already selected the first components audiophiles gravitate towards for my two-channel home system, that, of course, being the pre-amplifier and amplifier (in my case, an integrated), sources and speakers. To me, they were hi-fi; to those who have half-million dollar systems, they were mid-fi. It’s all about perspective, isn’t it?
My system includes American boutique brands with excellent reputations on both sides of the pond. A Berkeley Audio Alpha DAC fed the Qobuz high-res music files to a VAC Avatar Super integrated receiver. On the second line-level input, a vintage Integra Research RDA-1 DVD/CD player delivered internally converted data through unbalanced cables to the VAC. Sound output was courtesy of a pair of near-reference Talon Firebirds and a single Talon Hawk subwoofer. And, when hearing of my hodgepodge of various brands of cables throughout the signal chain, Paul was not shy in pointing out my system’s weaknesses. “You have a mishmash of cables,” he said.
And, with his advice, I ordered a set of his reference speaker cables and anxiously waited for them to arrive from Europe. Within days, a well-packed parcel arrived at my door. Opening the package, I first observed that the reference cables were entombed in a pro-audio flight case. What a nice first impression that was. Opening the metal case revealed a beautiful set of the Perkune reference bi-wire speaker cables with banana termination on all 12 tips. The next thing to impress me about the cables was the gorgeous termination. Fantastic indeed! Inside the case, I spotted more case candy: a laminated signed certificate of authenticity detailing the cables’ lifetime warranty, an anti-static spray bottle (Paul explained why I should use the spray!) and foam tube runners to elevate the speaker cables off the ground and prevent them from making vibrational contact. It seems Paul thought of everything and he certainly did!
So, without haste, I grasped one Perkune cable in each hand, made my way deliberately to my audio room and shed a small tear to my “hi-fi” speaker cables, which had, at least to my ears, performed their task quite admirably. Not to give away the punch line of this prose, but was I ever in for a loud awakening.
One of my peeves with some speaker cables is the difficulty of their installation, especially when the spaces are cramped and the speakers require bi-wiring. Fumbling with stiff-as-board speaker runs and difficult speaker termination while crouched in a too-small-for-comfort space behind a binding post is about as pleasant as a punch to the mandible. Lucky for me, these Perkune cables were quick to install, sliding snug and firm both into the binding posts on the back of the VAC Avatar integrated and into the trickier binding posts on the back of the Talon Firebirds. Score one for Perkune.
Coming up the first reference track, “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” on Billy Joel’s classic 52nd Street, it took only moments to hear the difference, which the new Perkune reference speaker cables delivered to the sound stage. The piano, previously somewhat set back in the stage, was now alive and as each hammer struck the strings on the recording, I felt as if I was in Mr Joel’s recording studio marvelling at the master tape’s sonic accuracy for the very first time. Paul advised me, “Let the cables break in some with your system and you’ll hear even more detail!”
The next track up, “Roundabout,” from Yes, streamed from a high-res MQS file courtesy of Qobuz, revealed even more sonic sweetness from these reference cables. Remembering this song from FM radio back in the ’80s, I was in for a real treat as these cables wrung out the clarity, depth, and delivery of the studio recording that I never realized existed. All this came to life when I added the Perkune reference speaker cables to my signal path.
I can go on and on about how pleased I am with these Perkune reference speaker cables, but why not just let them perform their own magic on your sound system. I give these cables my highest recommendation. Thanks, Paul, for your expertise and guidance in bringing a new level of enjoyment to my audio listening experience.
Christopher R. Phillip Founder, Thrust Magazine and Hollywood Amps Clearwater, Florida September 2020.
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