One day, as I was leaving an exhilarating listening session at Clement Perry’s house, I fortuitously found myself with a couple of large shiny boxes in my hands and the words “play with these and see what you think” in my ears. I don’t need to be asked twice to say yes to that kind of assignment! So, after querying CP on the basics, I discover that I’m carrying a pair of speaker cables and interconnects from a French company I never heard of outside of CP himself, who gushed over their performance at last year’s High End show (strapped to a pir of AudioNec loudspeakers driven by Jadis electronics, CP awarded them among the Best Sounds at Show! photo below).
After a quick check on Google I find their website, but not a whole lot more that sheds light on this company. Just as well, because I feel it’s best to assess equipment by just dropping it in to your system and see how it interrelates with the rest of your stuff.
As most of my audio buds will tell you I like to ponder long and hard before I am willing to draw a firm conclusion on somethings true sound (No wise-cracks, Johnny!) but first impressions are often correct and best left to just using your ears – no need to get your brain involved right yet. Deep thinking comes later. With that I was off to the races.
Turns out what I have in hand is a pair of…
TIM-REF XLR Modulation interconnects
a pair of …
TIM-REF Speaker cables
and lastly, the Versailles AC Powercord
On your Mark
The Absolue’s are beautifully built and quite flexible. They look good but aren’t trying too hard to impress in that department. Handsome, elegant even, but not trying to show off.
Though there is not much there to chew on here’s what shows on their web site as description of their speaker cables…
“This cable is in the form of 4 “independent” conductive elements. Physical separation of Drivers + and –. This methodology added to our technologies eliminates all the cross-talk phenomena as much as possible. All loudspeakers are sublimated, all frequencies explored. All the records full.”
Other than some good pictures what’s on their website is lite on details for each of the different models, so forgive me for having to grab info from where I could. One of the best places was a 2014 review on the 6Moons web site. Beautifully written by Srajan Ebaen about some products a few levels down from those I’m discussing here. I highly recommend you look over there for some additional technical background; but here is just a little something, that I nicked, which gives us some help to better understand Absolue’s raison d’être ( come on – it’s French – I had to get that in there!)
“Our cables are developed, designed and manufactured by hand in France and with the same ambition and care as others who develop efficient electronics or very musical speakers. All our cables are flexible, and measurements emphasize an absence of distortion whilst listening shows heightened expressivity and a wider more coherent soundstage without interfering with speaker filter values or other load calculations. We even work with classical music labels like Fondamenta to provide specific cables where measurements across the bandwidth focus on a very clear differentiation of harmonic levels. For the general public we offer six different ranges which share our research into optimized signal transmission speeds. All our cables are available in various lengths and terminations including S/PDIF, AES/EBU, RCA, XLR, spades and bananas.” To help flesh out a little more background about the company I found the following on what looks like a French retailer’s website (remember, it’s been translated from French so give it a little grammatical leeway) …
“Twenty years of experience in the musical world, a constant passion. Since 2009, Absolue Creations has been developing and marketing audiophile connections, with the objective of preserving the speed of signal transmission. This factor allows sources, electronics and speakers to be completely erased, allowing the recordings to fully express themselves. Absolue Creations considers and defines cables as links in their own right of all systems, and as an indispensable element in an audiophile or professional sound reproduction system. Thanks to an ambitious development, based on modern technical foundations, the creation of 6 complete lines (including USB cable, Ethernet RJ45, mains Ramps, mains Cables …) products for the most demanding audiophiles, and this at each level budget.All these products embody the success of the brand’s research in terms of sound reproduction.From the purest notes to the deepest silences, you will be fulfilled by an accomplished musicality”.
“Each element composing a chain has a precise role: to read, to convert, to amplify or to transform an electric signal into music (by the current transmitted to the coil of the loudspeaker). Every element, yes, except the cable … in the minds of many people. The cable is supposed to convey the electrons as best as possible, transmit the currents in time, in amplitude. He is not supposed to have an active behavior, he is supposed to behave like a straight thread as we used to say. In practice, in any installation intervene distortions, crosstalk and other worries. The sound message loses in definition and at the end of the race arrives weakened, shifted or distorted.It is by having the stubborn will to fight against these losses that we have developed 6 series of audiophile cables of high definition. Obviously, our cables make sense in a materially optimized installation because in fact, they will not be intended to compensate or play the conciliators. Our research, developments, experiments, and requirements are focused on the processing of the speed of transmission. A fast cable respects the smallest nuances and promotes greater readability, a more varied range of melodic lines, the subtleties of color and rhythm. The signal from the electronics is often of high quality just like the speakers you have selected. Different sound signatures characterize them and each one then looks for the musical universe that he likes and that suits him.”
Yeah, the translation has got me scratching my head but, reading between the lines, I THINK I get the point that is struggling to be made. Not sure I agree though.On the one hand the company line is that their wires are “not” intended to compensate or play the conciliators” but on the other hand they suggest that the electronics and speakers that are being served by their wires are looking “for the musical universe that he likes and that suits him.” So, what is it? Are these wires personality-less conduits that will work with any equipment or do they suit some better than others? You can’t have it both ways and my philosophical bent is that all wires are “conciliators” so let’s carry on and find the ones that best suit our situation.
As I pondered the various statements about the company, I couldn’t help but be reminded, once again, that putting together a “system” is still more art than science. Melding personalities is the key to good (audio) relationships!
Let’s get deep…
As you are well aware what comes next is me describing the changes brought by substituting the Absolue’s for my current reference wires… ie. the top of the line Acoustic Revive speaker cable and Audioquest Sky interconnect (which is between my amp and pre-amp). Not chopped liver so I was expecting a pretty interesting shoot off! Like most of you I tend to have certain records that I lean on more for reviewing purposes then just enjoyment. I have to have played this one hundreds of times, so let me share my reactions to how it was impacted by the Absolue’s …
Jim Hall/Red Mitchell on Artists House
I’ve had this record for 30+ years and have watched/heard it get better and better as my system has. My recent experience (with my Acoustic Revive + Audioquest wires) has been of detailed, focused images of Jim’s guitar and Red’s bass. Both clearly hanging in space…great presence…good sense of their individual place in the space…best I’ve ever heard it!
Through my Tekton Electron’s the tone was good. Dimensionality was good. Everything was working to help me imagine sitting there in the front row!
There is one beautiful song in particular, (entitled “Beautiful”) with a lot of low-level sounds being heard in the back recesses of the sound stage. For example, a phone ringing at the bar and plates rattling off in the distance (from what I presume to be a busy, working kitchen). This song has always been a reference for me because it reminded me of the feel and setting of the jazz club (in West Paterson, N.J. called Gulliver’s) where I first experienced, kitchen and all, small-scale live jazz. Also, because I have seen Jim Hall there several times, in small group settings like this, it provides a blueprint for me to make mental comparisons. (Uh-Oh! This means my Audiophile brain is starting to kick in, to take just listening and enjoying the music away from me!).
One memorable time I sat literally arm’s length away from him as he played. It was striking how he proceeded so quietly so that he had us leaning in to capture every note. Priceless to me for both its musical values and as a template to evaluate how close to that elusive “real” a system is getting. And remember…until our systems get MUCH better it’s still a matter of “how CLOSE to real!”
So, I go ahead and replace the Audioquest and Acoustic Revive and what happens?
Good meets better!!
The first thing that became apparent was that Jim’s guitar tone was richer, more relaxed, more there, yet more natural. My sense of the size of his guitar and the space he was in, grew. The dimensional aspects of both, him and the surrounding space he occupied, became more noticeable, more vivid! You just felt like you could better “see” his fingers caressing each string and the outline of the body of the guitar! Nice, really nice! Another aspect that stood out was the rattling plates…with the Absolue’s in place they were more obviously there, but let me expand on that a little further because, I submit, that examining how differently the two brands portray this one event provides ALMOST enough info for someone to determine which of these brands might bring their system closer to that elusive “real.”
Hear me out!
Just about every aspect on the audiophile (and musical) checklist can be examined and graded by how each company’s wires handle this type of thing. For instance, the clarity of both the fundamental tone and the reverberations from the plate into the surrounding space were tonally and dimensionally more realistic. With my wires, you got a somewhat glassy, aggressive and dimensionally flatter image. It was these consistent differences that showed themselves with each and every image in the sound field; and that consistency is what made me opine that you could get most of what you need, in the way of audiophile analyzing, from this one event.
That’s my story and I’m sticking with it!
Now, on a cursory listen, some may conclude that the Acoustic Revive/Audioquest combo was quicker and had better jump but, with further playing time and examination, I think most would agree with my further attempts to stereotype (no pun intended!) with this analogy…
It was like playing with the controls on a TV set where the Contrast and Sharpness controls were turned up way too high so that the picture then looked like a garish, overcooked version of itself.
Remember, I’m exaggerating here to make a point. The reality is my wires are quite good, but – in my system – they suffer in comparison!
I’m not sure about how they’d do in yours but hopefully my “description” gives you a way to mentally try them on for size). As usual, YMMV!
Ok, so you heard me out and gave me some leeway but am I really trying to tell you that all you need to do is listen to recordings of rattling plates to decide if a component is better for your system?!?
Crazy talk, obviously!
But, except for a little caveat…. I mean it!
Let me explain…
What I was trying to show was that – except for deep bass, which is M.I.A. from the plates – the before and after descriptions I offered pretty much stand in for what I perceive was happening with all the various audiophile elements i.e. tonality, dimensionality, dynamics, etc. for every image and space.
The Absolue’s did virtually everything better!
When later I read the 6Moons review I could really relate to Sarijan’s thumbnail sketch where he offered that the Absolue “focuses on tonal texturization, soundstage scale and a relaxed warm milieu with lots of inherent airiness.” I wish I said that…I think I was close… but I’m still working on my black belt in equipment reviewing.
Based on the above I must be saying that the Acoustic Revive/ Audioquest combo must suck…far from it! They were/are great, but their “personality” is different than the Absolue. They showed – in my system – as leaner, tighter, quicker, sharper edged; but allowed smaller, more two dimensional (by comparison) images.
With the Absolue… the bass, oh the bass!… it was bigger, fuller, richer with more of a physical wallop! Don’t think loose and bloated and “one note”, instead, I hate to say (because it’s too broad and not specific enough – but I’m doing it anyway) it was…more musical!With these wires in and guiding the proceedings it was just easier to “stand back and let it all be.”
Good, meet better, indeed!!
I have no problem pronouncing the Absolue’s undoubtedly better (for me) yet, in a different system the other wires might be preferable…only a comparison in that different system could help someone make a final call…but you knew that already. I view my job here to be a reliable “describer” so that someone looking to upgrade their wires may be able to narrow the field of contenders. I’d guess that most reading this already have a sense of the type of personality that would enhance their current set of equipment and I hope my descriptions here have been helpful.
If, by now, my feelings haven’t already been apparent let me simply summarize…
Outstanding and truly special wires!!!
Enjoy the journey!
Absolue TIM Speaker cable = 10370€
Absolue TIM Interconnect RCA 1m= 5200 €
Versalilles AC Cord = 2800 €
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