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HIGH END

The aim of Live Cable is to strive for highest feasible musical quality
This aim has been reached after more than four years of continuous designing and testing with a number of high-quality products such as distributors and power cords. High-quality not only formed by our own experiences, reviewers and journalists too have spoken of a revelation after listening to Live Cable products. The philosophy which Live Cable pursues is to devise and manufacture everything itself. We believe that only by doing this, the highest quality and finishing can be guaranteed.

Our products are built without compromise.
Live Cable is not led by the commercial idea to acquire a position in a certain (price)segment. Hence, our quality is not influenced by the market demand, because then the danger of quality concessions arise. We develop from one though: uncompromising…

Technique
All Live Cable products, without exception, are built from the most high-quality raw materials available. Both the power cords and the junction boxes are built with several especially twisted strings with a diameter of 16AWG each, existing from 5N silver (HPS High Purity Silver). To avoid contact resistance you find no form of solder amalgamation in our products. All connections are created ‘cold’. By linking material this way there is no contact resistance. For these links we use 24-carat gilded connections among other things on the 5N silver wiring and the rhodium terminals on the Signature and S.P.C. power cords and junction boxes. Then all conductive cables and connections are screened by high-quality two-component polyuethane body. This is done to absorb and avoid interference.

The housing of Live the Cable S.P.C junction box is made of 8mm special aluminium alloy. The housing of the Signature junction box is 12mm. In order to further reduce or avoid the influence of interference the S.P.C. junction box is protected by a 0,5mm copper cage within. The Signature junction box cages are doubled to 1,0mm of copper on all sides. The weight of the junction boxes are therefore relatively high 7,4kg (16lb) and 16kg (35lb) respectively. This weight is carried by - made of the same aluminium alloy - spikes and dishes which increases stability and dampening at good.
All Live Cable products are accurately calculated to 0,01mm (a tenth of the thickness of a human hair).
With the same precision the parts are milled from aluminium and copper.
If the end result is not set to this standard, 800 to 900 norms are reprogrammed for the perfect end result.
The spikes and the dishes that carry the junction box are made from the same special aluminium alloy as the junction boxes itself.
What is High-end audio and what is High-end sound?

High-end audio is about passion, passion for music and how this is reproduced.
High-end audio is the search to recreate, at the listeners home, the musical message of the composer or artist, adding a maximum amount of realism, emotion and intensity. Because music is important, recreating this as close as possible to the live experience is of great importance. High-end audio products comprise of a combination of components for musical reproduction that share little similarities to ‘stereos’ sold in the regular electronic supermarkets. A system for the reproduction of music is like a vehicle for expressing our vast emotional and intellectual potential of the music which has been recorded on our gramophone record and CD’s. The higher the quality of the reproduction, the deeper the connection to the music.

The high-end ethos - that music and the quality of the reproduction of music are very important - is expressed in high-end audio components. They are designed by devoted, enthusiastic people who combine both technical skill with musical sensitivity to construct components which bring its listeners one step closer to the live experience. High-end products are designed with the ear and build by hand. They exists for one sole reason: to enhance the experience of listening to music.

A common misunderstanding among many hifi consumers is the picture that high-end audio equals expensive audio. To the masses, high-end audio is nothing more than complicated audio devices with many luxurious options and a price tag aimed for millionaires! The general consensus is that the performance might be “a little better” compared to the hifi sold around the corner, but who can afford something like that? Besides, high-end audio is considered to be exclusive for trained listeners, snobs of hardware and gadget freaks, but not for the average man or woman.

High-end audio is nothing like that! First, the term ‘high-end’ is about the performance of the product, not its price. Many high-end systems do not cost much more than the all-in-one systems from the local stores. I have listened to many relatively cheap systems, which comprise the essence of music reproduction and stays within the budget constraint of the average consumer. Even though high-end audio components can indeed be very valuable, it does not mean a second mortgage is required for some quality reproduction. An amazing audio system can be less expensive than you might think, if you are prepared to think about all the other aspects which are of importance. Acoustics for example, need to be seen as a separate component in the chain of audio reproduction.

Second, high-end audio is about the transfer of the musical message; it is not about luxurious options. In fact, high-end systems are often much more user-friendly than most mid-fi systems produced en masse. This is due to the fact that high-end ethics require the removal of all non-essential and useless functions, instead focussing all resources on the quality of the sound. High-end audio is made for those with a love of music, not electronics.

Third; everyone who loves music can immediately recognize a quality product. There is no need for a ‘golden-ear’ to hear what has a good sound. The differences between good and average music reproductions are clear. The reaction - usually an expression of delight or surprised satisfaction - of someone who hears a high-end audio system for the first time, underlines that high-end audio is appreciated by everyone. If you like music, you will love a high-end system. Easy as that.

And last but not least, high-end audio is supposed to let the audio equipment ‘disappear’. When this occurs, we know that we are dealing with the highest possible grade of communication between composer and listener that we can achieve. High-end audio is not about audio equipment; it is about music.

Less is more…
The high-end creed assumes that the less the music signal is reshaped, the better it is. Every electronic circuit, every piece of wire, the tone control or a switch affect the signal and thus the musical experience. That is why you will not find graphical equalizers, spatial enhancers, sub harmonic synthesizers or any other gimmicks of this calibre in high-end equipment. These things do not only take time and resources which could be spent on bringing the music to life, they also add abundant electronics to the signal. By minimising the amount of electronics and contacts between you and the composer, high-end audio products can maximize the directness of the musical experience.

Picture yourself staring towards the vast Grand Canyon, overwhelmed by the grandeur of the scene (the photograph on the right is one of Ansel Adams’ masterpieces). You do not experience just the vastness of this massive sculpture carved from the depths of the earth, but you also experience the subtle details from the very much alive landscape. You can see the fine degrees of colour and hue from within the rock. Even more subtle details of the giant rock formations are simply distinguished by looking at it, causing your perception to deepen and enhance. Contrasts between light and shadow expose the seemingly unending network of cracks and abysses. The longer and better you look, the more you see. The sheer wealth of perceptual incentives make you freeze at the edge, deeply respecting the incomprehensible beauty of nature.
Listening music played by a mediocre audio installation is like staring at the Grand Canyon through the layered glass. Every component in the chain of audio reproduction - CD player, pre-amplifier, final amplifier, the speakers and the cables which connect everything - reforms the signal throughput. It is inevitable. One device can lay down a coarse and grain texture of the individual instruments. Another device brings down the dynamic contrast between loud and soft passages, causing the dynamic expression of the composer to be weakened. Another component drapes a thick, dull frosting over the music, causing the subtle sub tonal variegation to be destroyed and all instruments are ‘poured’ upon by meaningless timbre. Finally, it diminishes the window frame - meaning; the complete electronic and mechanical display system - the grandeur or the size that describes the artistic meaning of the artist.

High-end audio is about removing as many layers of glass, and letting the remainder of the layers be as transparent as possible. The less layers and the less influence these layers have on the flow of information that passes it, the closer we get to the ‘real experience’ and the deeper we connect to the musical message.

Why are high-end audio products more transparent windows staring over the musical happening than ordinary ‘stereo-installations’ found everywhere? High-end products are designed to sound good - meaning, as in real life. They are not designed to perform according to some technical specification. The true high-end designer listens to the product during all stages of development. The true designer switches and tests multiple techniques to achieve that one goal: to reproduce the best ‘live experience’ possible. This devotion leads to a zealous investigation, which involves hundreds of hours of listening, in addition to a meticulous attention to every factor with an influence on the sound. Often they replace a component with a more expensive replacement, sacrificing profit margin to offer a better quality for the same price. Why? Because the high-end designer is deeply committed to the music and her reproduction.

On the other hand, the mass products of the big electronics companies are designed from the thought of having to perform ‘on paper’ - by means of the technical specifications of the device - to the expense of sound quality. A prime example of this is the “THD-war” from the 1970s and 1980s. THD means ‘Total Harmonic Distortion’, a specification which is used as a standard for the quality of an amplifier by inexperienced consumers. The lower the THD-value, the better the amplifier was thought to be. This brought about a race between large corporations to bring products on the market with increasingly lower THD-values. In the end, it became a race to see which brand had the most zeroes behind the comma (e.g. 0,001% THD). Many consumer bought their receivers or amplifiers based solely on this value.

Even though a low THD-value is a commendable design goal, it did cause a big problem as a result of the methods used to realise these low values. One technique for pushing down the THD-value is called the ‘feedback’. This means that a part of the output signal of the amplifier is feedback to the input. Large quantities of feedback diminish THD, but at the same time cause problems which affect the quality of the amplifier. But did these big electronics companies feel bad about this process affecting quality? Absolutely not. The only thing that mattered was producing a product which would sell in large quantities. They made a trade-off, sacrificing musical performance for a meaningless technical specification, which was sold to the audience as being of great importance. Buyers who purchased audio components based on a piece of paper stating technical details were stuck with a mediocre or bad performing sound system. Ironically, amplifiers with the lowers THD-values possessed the lowest quality too.

This example illustrates the enormous difference between producers who produce for the masses and the high-end designers. The latter care much more about how the product sounds, rather than how it performs ‘on paper’. They also know that their clientele will only purchase based on what they hear, not based on specifications.

High-end audio products are not designed just by the ear, often they are hand-assembled by skilled craftsmen who take pride in the products they craft. Often they are audiophiles as well, crafting with the same care and precision as if they were building for themselves. This accurate attention to detail results in better construction or quality. Better build quality can not only lead to better sound quality of the component, but also to a longer period of reliability and less signs of wearing out. On top of that, hand-built high quality components can give the owner a sense of pride to which the producers of mass-produced components cannot and will not reach.

High-end products are often backed by a better customer service compared to mid-fi producers. Because high-end producers care more about their products and clientele, they generally offer longer warrantees, easier maintenance and replacements routines and better service. It is not unusual for high-end producers to repair products which have no warrantee, free of charge. This does not mean that it is a given fact; it only says that it happens in high-end whilst being unthinkable with mass products. High-end enterprises care about their customers.

These characteristics also apply to high-end retailers. The high-end retailer shares that passion for music reproduction that you have and the adds the wish to offer you a good service. When you are used to buying audio at the large electronics warehouse, you will be pleasantly surprised when you visit a real high-end retailer. Instead of trying to sell you something which just does not suit you or your system, the high-end retailer will view it as his or her responsibility to compose a system that will satisfy your needs best for the longest time possible. Such a retailer will prioritise your musical satisfaction rather than selling the ‘offer of the month’.

Finally, high-end audio could originate from everywhere in the world; the Netherlands, Greece or Brazil just as easy as Japan. The best audio devices do not automatically originate from Japan or the United States.

Seen from a deeper point of view I think that high-end audio products differ fundamentally from mass products. From the moment they are born (either on paper or in the mind of the designer) they differ in design goal, design itself, construction, marketing and even the way the components are being used makes all the difference when comparing high-end audio components to their mid-fi cousins.

Now we know what separates a high-end enterprise to a common electronics warehouse: the caring attitude to which the high-end designer approaches the music. The high-end designer does not make boxes that can be sold like any other domestic- or trade product; he or she makes music instruments, of which the performance is of decisive influence in the way his or her clientele experience the music. The high-end component is the physical manifestation of a deeply felt fascination and attention to which the accuracy of the musical reproduction is portrayed, including the satisfaction the purchaser will experience him- or herself.

The high-end designer crafts products, to which he or she would to listen to at home. Because he or she cares about music, it is important for him or her how the unknown listener, possible thousands of kilometres away enjoys the music. The bigger the involvement of the listener to the music, the better the designer has done his or her job.

A known designer of digital processors is an example of this devotion. In a new design they placed a resistor with a price of about one euro (rather than the usual cents that were previously spent on such a resistor component). By the time the product was ready to go into production, the designer sought ways how to further increase the quality of the product. By means of trial and error he found an exotic resistor, with a price of ten Euros. He was surprised to hear how much this was an improvement and could not stand that the product be sold with the one euro resistor. The production was changed to include this better resistor, even though the retail price was already set based on the previous lower costs per unit. High-end designers strive to add quality to their products, rather than low costs per unit.

In the eyes of high-end designer is the electronic or mechanical design not just a technical matter; it is also an act of love and devotion. It is for surprising to those who are not used to such an approach, in which every aspect of the design of a component - both technical and musical - is explored. The ethos of the reproduction of music reaches to the core of the existence of the high-end designer: it does not concern a job for which he or she must show up to work daily. The result for the listener is the manifestation of a substantially more powerful and intimate involvement with the music, than is possible with equipment which was designed without this form of devotion.

What is high-end audio?
What is high-end sound?

It arises when the audio system is forgotten, seemingly and nearly unperceived it got replaced by the artists in your room. It is present when the artist or composer speaks to you through time and space. It is nearly tangible when you feel the conciliatory physical sensation during a musical climax. It is an indescribable rollercoaster of emotions which the composer has somehow coded to a combination of sounds. It is tangible as the physical world briefly disappears, leaving your consciousness behind accompanied only by the music.

That is the true meaning of high-end audio…

Source: SoundScapes (http://www.soundscapes.nu/high-end.htm) Edited by Live Cable
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