Sure, a lot is written about cables and wires. And yes, for sure opinions about their influence on sound (or not!) can be found in all flavours. Technically it is hard to prove that there is an influence besides the equation on Ohms law: Wire need to have a bigger diameter as the current flow gets bigger. In my system, using high-efficiency speakers, seldom more than 2 Watts of output power are reached. And that is about speaker cable. Power of interlinks can be neglected, almost no power is transferred over these. But swapping interlinks have audible effects, again for sure.
Lots of wire types are available, but can be split in two: solid core and stranded. Solid is about one wire running from A to B. Stranded means that multiple wires run parallel from A to B, individually insulated or not. In my experience both have their sonic merits. Long time experimenting leaves me favouring both solid and stranded, but made out of copper, preferably cladded with tin (tinned copper) and insulated with natural materials.
Diameters have an influence as well, despite lack of current. Thicker translates to more low-end information, more quantitative less qualitative. Thinner means increased speed at higher frequencies, remaining qualitative. So most of the times combinations will have to made to provide for the best proportion between lower and higher frequencies. This is both subjective and relative to the listening room.
As a rule of thumb, I use both solid and stranded 0.4~0.8mm (26~20GA) for signal applications and 0.8~1.2mm (20~16GA) for power supply wiring. Both tinned copper preferably, signal application always insulated using natural materials (cotton, silk, (rice)paper) and power cabling mostly silicon insulated. Speaker cabling means parallelling signal cabling. To taste. That simple.
And then I stumbled on the more than interesting (for me) story by Lessloss on their CMARC™ bulk cable. Yes, I am DIY thus did not look at readily available stuff. I read their story and perspective and emailed Louis Motek to get an idea about Lessloss' taste for sound. This is always helpfull to judge whether the description suits my taste, or not. Both help. So it turned out is that Louis is musician himself and strives for authentic sound, not reproduced. We have a match!.
I encourage readers to have a look at Lessloss' website to have a look at their animations and videos, I predict you'll find it both informative and educational.
Before ordering Louis warned me that for confectioning some special tools would be advisable, even necessary to get the best out of the wire..
Without getting to deep into technical stuff here, Lessloss claims that their unique cable structure is what it makes outstanding, at least different from all other wire that I know. Every run consists of multiple smaller diameter insulated wires that are run in such a way that it resists all kind of radiation coming from the air (HF/RFI). That means that it is supposedly the quietest wire available? For a far better explanation I refer to the Lessloss website where on each product page a description is added below the product itself.
So given my journey and preference on wire, how would Lessloss fit into that? It is constructed out of very fine wire, all with their own (polymer?) insulation. Thin means speed in higher frequencies but less quality at lower frequencies, remember? But they run kinda parallel, just like my speaker cable. But not entirely, since geometry runs forward and backward to cancel out radiation.. And total surface is around 4㎟ when all fine wires are soldered together. That is way thicker than my preference. Also no tinned copper, but lacquered wire as in transformer use. Even a phono cable was advised by Louis, WAY thicker than what I always use.. How would this work out? Correspondence with Louis gave me enough trust to order both the wire and extra tools to confection it.
Extra tools needed..
As every single fine wire is insulated, all need to be tinned. When this is not done to perfection, the shielding effect of the cable will be less, or maybe none. To be able to do that a soldering pot is needed. This is essentially a bath of hot tin in which the stripped wires need to be dipped in, thus tinning them all at once. The insulation can withstand high temperature as transformers can get hot, so some experimenting in tin temperature is advised: Too hot will melt the wires! A soldering pot with variable setting on temperature can be bought for both little and a lot of money, long live the PRC. Else needed are tin-bars, preferably 99% tin and 1% copper, and flux is used prior to tinning the wire using the soldering pot. And you need patience! Can not be bought so I learned many years ago.
Lessloss cable is this date priced at around €160 p/meter. A quad of RCA-plugs can be bought very cheap, but quality is to be advised. I used KLE Harmony for €100 a quad. The extra tools costed about €75.. That would add up for around €420 per stereo pair at one meter length. Of course the tools remain, but are needed for confection, so add an extra €75 when not available. For DIY this is much money, most DIYers goal is to save money. Well, a meter stereo pair from Lessloss sets you back around €850, so still worth DIYing.
So what to test? As I made both a phono cable and interlinks, let's get them one by one.
Lessloss phono cable.
In order to be able to use the cable with the DIN-connector, wou will need a wide diameter DIN female plug as the diameter of the Lessloss cable is almost one centimeter. Look for the brand Jelco, these have a wide collar and need only a very short transition wire up to the Lessloss cable. When confectioned, it is very flexible. I chose KLE bullet plugs at the other end, which fit very nicely.
This cable was compared against Western Electric 24GA tinned copper interlink, extra insulated using paper and cotton. My favourite. This cable has a natural sound and excels in tone, the sort of tone you get when attending live concerts, the ones that are not extra amplified. Also it plays kinda compact and has absolute no sibling highs. Speed is very good and low end has punch, no latency. Hard to describe, but maybe it is clear. This cable has been compared to the most expensive Furutech phono cable and in our group there was an unanimous preference for the DIY WE as the Furutech had less tone, was more focussed on highs and had a sloppy bass (all a little exaggerated of course). When the Lessloss replaced the DIY WE tone remained, which surprised us all. Not before had we heard a cable with just about the same amount of tone. Also the highs were as tangible as before, as were voices. How can that be with such a huge 4㎟ surface. This is against all earlier experiences! And what really made the difference was energy. The Lessloss cable oozes quality energy, especially at mid- and lower frequencies. How unexpected! Rhythm is excellent, feet were tapping instantaneously. And is it more quiet as advertised? Oh yes! Stage information has not increased, but instruments and voices are sharper lined, have better focus. It is almost like the recording room can be felt.. We called it ambiance. Very interesting. Next step please: gimme an interlink!
Lessloss interlinks from phono to preamp.
Again confectioned with the KLE bullet plugs which look very professionally confectioned as the cable just fits the opening, no need for extra securing the cable. Again it replaced a DIY We interlink (20GA), a little different insulated to get the right tone though. What to expect? Twice the effect from the phono cable could push things into to much. When swapped, immediate the same happened, be it less present. Still very easily observed, but all a bit more modest. The coherence by using the same type interlink was kept, just like with the DIY WE interlinks. Very energetic and rhythmic, detailed yet smooth with all the tone one could wish for. This is fun! Another step please!
Lessloss interlink from preamp to power amp.
Again confectioned with KLE Harmony this 90cm interlink pushed again the experience of energy to a new level. Not in quantity but in quality. All of the before happened again, and yes, again a little less impressive as with previous steps, but noticeable. All components now talked the same language, or maybe it is better explained with singing in canon: no better harmony than with family members. This is kinda like that..
In other systems as well.
The Lessloss cables were taken to friends and put in their systems, all with the same result: Succes! On the same fronts, no difference at all.
One thing must be said though, we all strive for that live sound, with realistic timbre and tone. Sometimes At some times I heard visitors proclaiming that they favour little more highs.. Since that was as well the case with my DIY WE interlinks, essentially nothing changed by using the Lessloss interlinks. Might be that these interlinks can be experienced as a bit serene for hifi. Not sure, just saying.
For me and my friends these Lessloss interlinks embody everything we searched for in DIY for very long, and even more. It is a winner for those who like realistic sound, with energy and tone. For people who like the real thing and are not after hifi!
And then you read about entropic.. Only available when factory made. Supposedly even better than standard CMARC™. Well.. uhmm..
Louis, can you entropically treat one of my DIY Lessloss interlinks to convince us all?
Below a gallery with pictures confectioning the cable.. DIY for above 18..