This review is a long time coming. What's important
about the statement is the fact that as a reviewer of equipment and
speakers, you tend to become a bit complacent about certain aspects, cables
Secondly, I've been
using Ethereal Cables for well over a year, and they've performed quietly
without fanfare. In my system are Ethereal Elite speaker cables, audio
interconnects, component video, digital coaxial, subwoofer cable, a DVI cable, and
lately an HDMI cable.
For most of us, and I do stress most, reviewing
cables is more about reliability and performance than it is for musical
nuances. As mentioned, the cables I've been using have endured many, many
equipment changes and to date they've been perfect.
Ethereal is a relatively young company, and my exposure
to them came from the NY Home Entertainment Expo held in May of 2004.
When I visited the Parasound room, Ethereal was there sharing the exhibit
space, and Brent greeted me.
"Look," he said, "Measuring the
performance of the wire itself is not hard to do, what goes in one side
comes out the other".
Hmm, logical I thought, please go on. (I still had
one eye to the Parasound C1 amp's 5" screen).
"It's when you add the connectors that
there is a difference". Ah, well, now you have my interest.
As Brent continued, I truly became impressed by his
obsession for his cables. In fact, of all the significant equipment at the
show, Brent showed the most passion. He graciously offered, let me know
what you need, and I'll get it out to you.
He kept his word, as I e-mailed
him with a list, surely the cables arrived neatly in heavy clear zip-lock
type sealed bags, individually wrapped and labeled, no mistakes. I still
keep the bags; they’re just too nice to throw out. All cables I currently
don't use are stored in them.
Ethereal has taken an empirical approach to designing
cables, trial and error. Test as many cables and connections as possible.
Brent's background as chief designer is from an installer's point of view,
respectfully more pragmatic than scientific.
Ethereal was developed by
A/V installers, and knowing what installers need, Ethereal makes more than
just cables. For example, they have in-wall speakers,
infra-red amplifier blocks, wall plates, in-wall speaker cables, CATV
splitters, and even tools.
Basic Design Principal
Paraphrased in their own words:
Ethereal recognizes that typical
cables - even the most expensive, high-end brands - are terminated to two
solder points. Regardless of the wire design or quality of materials used,
the actual connection is a gob of solder, which creates an FM antenna
effect, thus negating any intended benefit.
Ethereal's exclusive compression method eliminates this gap by making a
firm, seamless connection between cable and termination for maximum
unimpeded signal transfer and accuracy.
Sturdy is an understatement for the construction of all
the cables. In fact, they are almost annoyingly stiff, as I've tried to
maneuver them into position. Curling them into a loop isn't very easy. The speaker cables split, of course, for
positive/negative and therefore are a bit easier to bend. I've stepped on them, laid heavy equipment on them, and even accidentally
rolled over them in my office chair. Unscathed I can say, they have
maintained their integrity.
Ethereal specifies 24k gold-plated terminals, low
capacitance dielectric inner cable jackets, and Mylar™ foil shield,
oxygen-free copper, and braided cotton sleeves.
The color-coded rubber grips are very ergonomic. These
cables are generally tight-fitting, and the grips are welcomed.
My one gripe with the speaker terminals is that they
unscrew, as the tip can be separated from the soldered wire connections, and
for the life of me, I can't tighten them enough. As no performance is lost
with them slightly loosened, it's a bit irritating nonetheless. When I
asked Brent about it at CES, he smiled and said, "I'm working on it".
Overall, I find the aesthetics of the cables quite
understated and pleasing.
Clearly I've enjoyed having Ethereal products from
audio cables to video in my system, and I don’t see it changing anytime
The DVI cable I still use between my satellite tuner
and a projector offers none of those issues we've seen in the past with long DVI
cables, specifically sparkles caused by the length of cable and the loss of
voltage. I specifically asked for a longer cable not knowing where my
equipment might end up. The Ethereal DVI cable works flawlessly.
Elite component cables from my DVD player to my TV have
always offered crisp video and excellent color.
The Ethereal interconnects between the receiver and
CD/DVD player were instrumental in my initial love of analog multi-channel
music. As we all march along towards iLink or HDMI for full digital audio
transmission, I'm in no hurry.
Finally, the speaker cables offer a rangy,
smooth, and neutral sound. I've never sensed a loss of bass, or felt the top
side was left short. The ever important midrange is simply fuller and
Ethereal is a product you may see more of very soon, as
I believe they should be right next to the Monster stuff in every hi-fi
store, after all that's their competition in price range. They can be
proud to know they deserve to be there.
- Piero Gabucci -