RS Audio Pure Palladium Cables
|RS Audio Pure Palladium Cables
Pure Sonic Delight
How This Project Really Got Started
Thanks to managing editor Greg Petan having a heavy schedule of previously committed reviews, the opportunity for me to audition the top of the line RS Audio Pure Palladium cables came as an unexpected but welcome surprise. Almost arriving on my birthday, these new cables seemed like a great way for me to celebrate. Although arriving in some rather understated and minimalist packaging, these cables quickly became the object of excitement and anticipation in my home. A note from the company assured me that this type of packaging was an effort to conserve on materials and that actual customer purchased cables are packaged far more appropriately.
Soon after the arrival of these new statement cables, the ever so friendly and totally accommodating Richard Sachek (President of RS Audio Cables) also forwarded a pair of his “bread & butter” interconnects, the Solid Silvers to me. This was done for the purpose of allowing me orientation to the company’s basic entry-level cable. Additionally, they would provide a direct comparison to his much more expensive cable product. At a mere fraction of the cost of the Pure Palladium interconnects, initially I thought – no way. But what the heck, sure I’ll check them out. Much to my surprise, I was actually very much impressed with the overall performance of these entry level interconnects and felt they represented a truly great value for their relatively low cost ($139.00 for a 1.5 meter pair). These babies definitely offered significant bang-for-the-buck and were well beyond what I had expected. As such, they only further raised my level of anticipation and excitement to get the top of the line cables in place.
Additionally, Sachek sent me two pair of his Solid Silver speaker cables to hook my speakers up in the preferred bi-wire configuration. Without question, these relatively inexpensive cables were also total overachievers and I was actually very impressed with their overall performance as well. Up against much more expensive speaker cables, the RS Audio Silver speaker cables were close to matching their performance. The subtle differences between them became only obvious upon close listening. Nothing bold or glaring and basically I could easily live with these speaker cables on a long-term basis and in my reference system. That speaks highly of their overall performance capability as a high-end speaker cable product.
But my anticipation for the Pure Palladiums was running high so rather than continue exploring the surprising performance of these superb entry-level cables, I was anxious to get on with the task at hand. Basically, my job would simple – or so I thought. For the most part, all I needed to do was install the statement Pure Palladium interconnects, give them adequate time to settle into my system and then start doing some serious listening. Since they supposedly already had some run time on them, I had hoped that the dreaded break-in time would be minimal. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was quickly dampened when my initial listening revealed a sound that was anything other than what I had hoped to experience. Instead of being the magical cables I had hoped they would be, it was readily apparent these cables were very much in need of additional break-in time.
Checking back with Greg Petan, I found out that although he had actually used these cables, they had been out of his system for a period of time and most likely had lost much of their prior conditioning. I tell you this merely to caution you not to pass judgment on these particular cables until you’ve provided sufficient break-in and conditioning. Fortunately, with additional break-in, my longer-term assessment of these cables was significantly altered and much for the better. As a result, I strongly suggest to anyone seriously considering these particular cables – make absolutely sure you give them significant amounts of run time before doing any critical listening and/or assessment of their overall sonic characteristics. The additional time you give them to break-in will be well worth your time and effort.
I mention this also due to the fact that the company actually sells it’s cable products direct to the customer and provides a wonderfully generous return policy (i.e., 15 day trial period) insuring the customer with a money back, total satisfaction guarantee (minus $125 for restocking and shipping charges). This speaks to the high level of confidence that Richard Sachek has for his products. Having had the opportunity to critically evaluate his statement interconnect cables, I can now better understand why he takes this approach. However, I must warn you that without sufficient conditioning, you could very well dismiss the Pure Palladium cable’s overall performance and sonic strengths for the wrong reasons. Basically, these cables need time to reach their peak performance so give them the extra time they deserve and you will be richly rewarded.
Although I can’t say precisely how long the conditioning period is for these cables, I can confidently state that it may be well beyond the time suggested by the manufacturer. In fact, Richard Sachek and I have exchanged several e-mails on this particular matter and he basically agrees that perhaps the required time is quite possibly closer to 200 hours than the specified 100-hour minimum included in the packaging. As a reviewer, my responsibility is to provide adequate time to properly assess a given product’s performance, and taking the extra time with the RS Audio Pure Palladium cables greatly helped me to experience their superb performance capabilities.
As a result of this interesting, but somewhat frustrating, experience I will offer a description of these cables’ early sound, the metamorphosis and ultimate transformation of their performance along with the resultant positive impact on the sound of my system. Initially, these interconnects sounded overly smooth, slightly dull, lifeless with the sound being somewhat recessed and laid back. Additionally, the sound was a bit soft in character and needless to say, I was not a happy camper. Fortunately, I’ve had similar experiences with various cable products so I knew not to be discouraged with these initial observations.
The good news is that as additional run time was put on these cables, their true sonic character started to reveal itself which gave me cause for rejoicing and heightened anticipation for the day when they would finally reveal themselves at their very best. So with the patience of a rock, I proceeded to do what was needed. Basically I put these babies on continuous play, in a second system, and literally let them cook at a slow simmer. Checking in from time to time, I could hear gradual improvements and finally the day of arrival came and I felt they were ready for the big test. So back into my reference system they went and all I can say is the wait was absolutely and totally worth it.
“Midrange and high frequencies were similarly rendered and were absolutely stellar in the manner portrayed. Again, the RS Audio Pure Palladium cables shined best with higher quality recordings.“
Here’s what I found with these cables now being ready for their final test. Literally every aspect of their initial sound that I had issues with was gone. And I do mean gone – as in completely gone. For the most part, it wasn’t even close and had I not been the one handling these cables from the day they arrived, I would have sworn that someone had possibly switched products on me. After this extended break-in period, what I heard was a sound that retained the smoothness noted earlier but now the sound was no longer dull, lifeless or recessed. The dullness experienced early on had totally disappeared and the cable’s overall tonal balance seemed quite accurate and dead on.
During one particular evening’s listening session, I decided to switch preamps to determine if there was any type of equipment dependency and/or resultant sonic deviation due to possible mismatch or negative interaction with these cables in place. Fortunately, what I experienced was nothing short of continued listening pleasure. With the RS Audio Pure Palladium mated to either the highly competent and totally outstanding Bel Canto Pre 6 solid-state linestage (review forthcoming) or the wonderfully musical Herron VSTP-1 tube linestage, the sound could be best described as stunning. My notes remind me that I was experiencing a sound that was open, clear, highly detailed but not hyped in any way, super smooth, dimensional and with a natural warmth that was oh so pleasing. Vocals and piano through the RS cables sounded absolutely gorgeous, so very real and lifelike that listening was a joy and absolute pleasure.
In particular, with better quality recordings, the RS Audio cables truly excelled. On the other hand, lesser quality recordings were quickly exposed and could easily become less desirable and even irritating. In some cases, former favorite recordings of mine were reduced to secondary listening status since the overall pleasure they had once brought me was now changed with the RS Audio cables in place. As a result, I found myself switching back and forth, from recording to recording, in an effort to determine just how I could incorporate these superb cables in my system and still be able to listen to these particular favorite recordings.
Eventually, even though I still loved the music contained on these recordings – once I had been exposed to their recording faults, it was hard to simply toss them back in the CD player and sit down for serious listening. No doubt the RS Audio Pure Palladium interconnect cables were doing what they were supposed to do, it’s just that I hadn’t quite expected this to be the result of discovering such accurate and high performance products. Ironically, I believe this is just what cables are supposed to do. Right? Simply pass along the signal from one component to another with minimal impact or degradation. And if anything, these RS Audio cables were most instructive in the way they accurately revealed subtle nuances that were at once seemingly buried in the recording mix.
During most of my critical listening with these cables, I listened primarily to acoustic jazz. Although this was my main musical diet, from time to time I dipped into my collection of R & B, avante garde, fusion and/or other musical types. With the more pure acoustic jazz recordings, especially those with piano and vocals, the RS Audio cables often enhanced my listening due to the superb naturalness rendered. There was also a clean, open, see-through quality without any apparent brightness that kept me contented for long periods of time. Sibilants often seemed to be reduced somewhat but with closer listening, fortunately they did not sound shaved off but just that more accurate in character. Leading transients had a very clean, sharp attack with no exaggerated edginess.
One area where I thought initially all of this clean, clear, open and expansive sound would possibly let me down was in the bass frequencies. However, as these cables evolved and came into their own, I was more than pleasantly surprised. The high level of performance in the bass region was truly outstanding. In particular the bass was deep, powerful, full yet tight and with very good articulation across the entire frequency spectrum. As a result, the bass was reproduced in a very natural manner. Never did the bass seem lean or wimpy. Instead, it was rendered with a nice sense of warmth that sounded tight, accurate and precise.
Midrange and high frequencies were similarly rendered and were absolutely stellar in the manner portrayed. Again, the RS Audio Pure Palladium cables shined best with higher quality recordings. Not that the performance of my system didn’t achieve higher performance levels with other source material, it’s just that the high resolving power of these cables warranted the very best of recordings to get the very best performance. As the old saying goes…..“garbage in, garbage out”. In the case of the RS Audio Pure Palladium Cables this phrase couldn’t be more true.
One good example came to me as I listened intently to the various musical selections contained on the special JVC XRCD recording by Sarah Vaughn titled Crazy and Mixed Up. In particular, this CD offered a glimpse into the capabilities of the RS Audio Pure Palladium Cables. On any given selection of this CD, Sarah offers a full plate of wonderful vocal nuances that may be missed with lesser resolving cables. Throughout the entire CD, there are many instances where her inhaling and exhaling of air or her lyrical intonation and phrasing are captured most graphically by these cables. For me, this just seemed to add to the realism of the recording. Although I am able to can hear some of these sonic effects with other cables, often they don’t seem to portray any number of the minute shadings that I experienced with the cables under review in my system.
Similarly, on the JVC XRCD recording of Bill Evans CD titled Bill Evans Trio – Sunday at the Village Vanguard, his superb playing style was so completely revealed along with subtle musical nuances apparent that I knew the RS Audio cables were doing their magic. Along with capturing all the little hidden details in the recording, the tonal balance sounded very accurate and definitely gave the impression of instruments sounding very much the way you would expect to hear them live. This particular live recording has many of the attributes of other live recordings in that ambient sounds from the audience are clearly heard. What made this recording sound even better was the coherent integration of these sounds into the musical whole. Again, I attribute much of this to the superb RS Audio interconnects in my system at the time.
Truly, during my long-term, exhaustive listening, the RS Audio Pure Palladium Cables were often a bit of heaven and hell. Talk about falling in and out of love – this was a constant with me during the time these cables graced my system. What they did was to expose things – I guess much in the way that we audiophiles so often say we want cable products to do. However, sometimes we might even wish we didn’t get quite such high dose of raw detail through our systems as we say we want. Again, an old saying fits this scenario rather appropriately and it goes something like this…..“be careful what you ask for, you might get it”!
On one of my absolute all-time favorite jazz recordings titled A Tribute To Miles by Herbie Hancock, on the Qwest/Reprise label, with these cables in place I was floored by the precision and accuracy – particularly for the sharp attack of transients and detail provided. There are passages on this recording that will surely tax your system as well as expose flaws in your system’s various components (including cables). On various bombastic passages, the total lack of smearing or edginess through these cables made recorded sounds come to life with a shockingly lifelike presentation. This same aspect of sound was also heard generously throughout much of the Steve Turre recording titled Rhythm Within, Antilles label. On this recording, there are many passages of massed percussive instruments and with the RS Audio Pure Palladium cables, every instrument instantly became clear and precise providing me with the opportunity to hear without straining to pick up these differences.
As a result of all this, here’s where I think the RS Audio Pure Palladium cables are most instructive. Basically, these cables allow the listener to hear the truth! That is, they excel at revealing what’s on the recording and seem to accurately pass along the signal to the rest of your cherished audio system. During the time that I had these cables in place, I found that I needed to work on various other aspects of my system due to these cables helping me to (re)discover other areas of weakness in the audio chain. Initially this was somewhat of a jarring experience but as I worked more to tweak my system (i.e., power cord replacement, repositioning my speakers, providing better isolation to various components and so on and so on and so on), I came to more fully recognize and appreciate the wonders of these cables. Good they are and then some.
In some instances they also helped me to uncover issues that I thought I had previously resolved. In one instance, putting in a fresh set of tubes (CD player only) made a significant difference. Much credit is given to the superbly revealing RS Audio Pure Palladium cables for helping me to track this down. Beyond this, another thing these cables did was to help me rediscover the musical wonders of so many of the fine recordings that I possess. Often times I felt I was uncovering buried and/or hidden treasures in any number of my cherished recordings and especially ones that I felt I was already quite familiar with. Hearing subtle nuances that I had only barely heard previously was at times startling and at the same time truly rewarding. Much to their credit, the RS Audio Pure Palladium cables gave it to me straight with minimal distraction from what was on the recording. What more could you ask for from an interconnect cable?
Cheap they are not. Good they certainly are. In fact they are very, very good and something that hopefully more audiophiles will discover. My suggestion, contact RS Audio Cables through their website – get in touch with Richard Sachek and tell him Bill sent you! I’m confident that your time will be well spent finding out more about these particular cables as well as the other much more affordable cables (both interconnects and speaker cables as well). Beyond that, the company offers power cords (which I did not get a chance to check out), so you may well find yourself getting outfitted with a full line of RS Audio Cables. From what I’ve heard so far, this would be a good thing so don’t delay.
24 gauge, dead soft round wire, Teflon isolation
0.999 pure palladium with RCA or XLR connectors
Price: 1.5 meter $1,550 single-ended, 1.5 meter $1,950 balanced
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