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Skogrand SC Air Reference Solid Copper Core speaker cables
The new reference in speed and dynamics?

 

 June 2011

 


After my first experience with the charged (active) Exemplar Portal speaker cabling throughout my system, I was convinced that in our present world of ubiquitous RFI and EMI, I could no longer endure music reproduction without having a charge on the shields of all cabling. Presumably, these electro-magnetic forces affect the signal adding unwanted signals that steal from the realism. By using charged cables with their more effective shields, I could have realism. There are certainly other variables that affect what we hear with different cables. The Skogrand cables reviewed here focus on the speed of the signal in the cables, being affected by the dielectric constant of the cables. There are many who think the dielectric greatly affects sound. Skogrand cables do reveal some truth to the hypothesis that a low dielectric insulation is best.

The Skogrand SC Air Reference Solid Copper Core speaker cables have no shield much less a charged one. What they claim is an exceptional dielectric constant of 1.00792 with a vacuum, of course, being a 1.0, Teflon 2.1, and Polyethylene 2.25. I have seen few quotes by other cable manufacturers of their cables dielectric constants, but many use tiny Teflon balls with air or a vacuum around them and others merely Teflon or Polyethylene insulation. This moves their dielectric constant toward or above 2. To quote Skogrand, “…a dielectric constant (of) 1.12…(has a) signal transfer speed (of) 98% of the speed of light (versus) Skogrand SC Air …with an effective dielectric constant of 1.00792 and a signal transfer speed of 99.2% of the speed of light.” It is good to have some handle on why these cables sound as they do-very good.

       

The leads passing through Teflon pellets (shown in one of the pictures) minimize contact with virgin Teflon, achieving their very low dielectric constant. The rest of their length, they have no insulation between the leads. This is why these cables are somewhat fragile and cannot take a tight radius. They come in a carrying case where the radius of the bends is probably about eight inches. When I installed speaker wires, I always use a meter to check that I have no short, but heeding the manufacturer’s installation instructions and warnings should be sufficient. They use 10 gauge or 2.5 mm, “seven nines,” long linear crystal, solid copper wire, which is quite stiff. They are somewhat reminiscent of a spinal column with 5/8th inch bulges (the Teflon pellets) spaced one inch apart along their length. No doubt this is to keep air around the naked wires and the very low dielectric constant. Given their stiffness, one can fairly easily bend them for use and expect them to remain as bent. If they must be used in tight space or where a sharp radius other than at the ends of the cable, where the pigtails can be bent sharply, you might not be able to use these speaker wires. Their spades are quite substantial gold plated copper.

After about 48 hours in my system and a good deal of music playing, my first impression centered on the leading edge with these cables. Some friends have claimed that the leading edge is all that is important to me. I think not, but it is outstanding on these cables. There is no sense of smear or grain in their sound. The sound is upfront as though you are about where the microphones are, which, of course, you are. Again, as with the Exemplar Portals, on some recording, notably on Holly Cole’s It Happened One Night (Metro Blue CDP 7243 8 52699 0 5), her singing “Calling You” causes me discomfort, as I think I am looking out on the audience and also looking from the audience at Ms. Cole. I have no such difficulty with Frank Sinatra and Count Basie, Sinatra At The Sands (Vicy 94366 Japan) SHM. Perhaps this is because one can mentally understand that Sinatra, the band, Basie, and the audience are in somewhat of a surrounding staging. At any rate, these cables give a blazing view of the recording venue.

The Skogrand SCs are exceptional in their speed and leading edge, but they give a very clean and dynamic sound also. Their lead edge is, of course, most evident in percussion, brass, and piano. Closely miked piano is the best I have heard, especially on any dynamic driver speaker, such as my Tidal Contriva Diacera SEs. Wynton Marsalis’ horn on Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis Two Men With The Blues (Blue Note Records TOCP-70541 Japan) is exceptional ripe and present. Pachelbel’s Canon in D, on This Is K2 HD Sound (UD! FIM K2 HD 078) is done entirely with percussion instruments. The realism is outstanding and even startling on percussion.

I have listened to the Skogrands for many of my recordings on the Macintosh music server and continually loved their transparency and speed. I love vocalists, and these cables lend realism and accuracy to their voices is very satisfying. Certainly a very low dielectric constant seems a desirable goal for speaker cable designers (I received recent word concerning the Skogrand speaker wires. Their construction has been altered to alleviate any possible shorting with too tight a bend. This covering of the leads increases the dielectric constant from 1.00792 to 1.00798. The manufacturer assures me however that there is no sonic degradation. I have, however, not heard the new cables).

Compared with my reference Exemplar Portal speaker wires, which are charged, the Skogrand cannot match the quietness or low noise. I miss the ambience decay and sense of recording environment or the real sense of depth and hearing into the sound stage. Of course, the Exemplars do not equal the Skogrands in dynamics. What I really want, of course, is the Skogrand’s quickness and slam with the Exemplar’s quiet and 3D imaging. The Exemplar Portal’s charging is unique and the Skogrand’s dielectric constant is, to my knowledge, also unique. Would but that we could have the two combined.


Specifications:

Skogrand Speaker wires:
Capacitance: 4.85pF/ft - 15.922 pF/m
Inductance: 0.21uH/ft - 0.7 uH/m
Effective dielectric constant: 1.00792
Signal transfer speed: 297.643 km/s
DC-resistance: 0.0069 Ohm/m
Characteristic impedance: 209 Ohm
Price: $1000.00/per pair USD plus shipping and duties from Norway
Each additional .5 meter adds $250.
Shipped in a sturdy carrying case.
Webpage: http://skograndcables.com