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Ethereal Elite A/V Cables

March, 2006

Piero Gabucci

 

Specifications:

 

● Audio Stereo Cables- 2m pair $49.99

● Audio Subwoofer Cable-3m each $39.99

● Audio Digital Coaxial Cable-2m each $39.99

● Video Component Cable-2m set $79.99

● Video DVI Cable-10m $149.99

● Video HDMI Cable-15m $134.99



Ethereal Cables

 

www.etherealhometheater.com

Introduction

This review is a long time coming.  What's important about the statement is the fact that as a reviewer of equipment and speakers, you tend to become a bit complacent about certain aspects, cables for example. 

Secondly, I've been using Ethereal Cables for well over a year, and they've performed quietly without fanfare.  In my system are Ethereal Elite speaker cables, audio interconnects, component video, digital coaxial, subwoofer cable, a DVI cable, and lately an HDMI cable. 

For most of us, and I do stress most, reviewing cables is more about reliability and performance than it is for musical nuances.  As mentioned, the cables I've been using have endured many, many equipment changes and to date they've been perfect.

Ethereal is a relatively young company, and my exposure to them came from the NY Home Entertainment Expo held in May of 2004.  When I visited the Parasound room, Ethereal was there sharing the exhibit space, and Brent greeted me.

"Look," he said, "Measuring the performance of the wire itself is not hard to do, what goes in one side comes out the other".

Hmm, logical I thought, please go on.  (I still had one eye to the Parasound C1 amp's 5" screen).

"It's when you add the connectors that there is a difference".  Ah, well, now you have my interest.   

As Brent continued, I truly became impressed by his obsession for his cables.  In fact, of all the significant equipment at the show, Brent showed the most passion.  He graciously offered, let me know what you need, and I'll get it out to you.

He kept his word, as I e-mailed him with a list, surely the cables arrived neatly in heavy clear zip-lock type sealed bags, individually wrapped and labeled, no mistakes.  I still keep the bags; they’re just too nice to throw out.  All cables I currently don't use are stored in them.

Ethereal has taken an empirical approach to designing cables, trial and error.  Test as many cables and connections as possible.  Brent's background as chief designer is from an installer's point of view, respectfully more pragmatic than scientific. 

Ethereal was developed by A/V installers, and knowing what installers need, Ethereal makes more than just cables.  For example, they have in-wall speakers, infra-red amplifier blocks, wall plates, in-wall speaker cables, CATV splitters, and even tools.

Basic Design Principal

Paraphrased in their own words:

Ethereal recognizes that typical cables - even the most expensive, high-end brands - are terminated to two solder points. Regardless of the wire design or quality of materials used, the actual connection is a gob of solder, which creates an FM antenna effect, thus negating any intended benefit.
Ethereal's exclusive compression method eliminates this gap by making a firm, seamless connection between cable and termination for maximum unimpeded signal transfer and accuracy.
 

Construction

Sturdy is an understatement for the construction of all the cables.  In fact, they are almost annoyingly stiff, as I've tried to maneuver them into position.  Curling them into a loop isn't very easy. The speaker cables split, of course, for positive/negative and therefore are a bit easier to bend.  I've stepped on them, laid heavy equipment on them, and even accidentally rolled over them in my office chair.  Unscathed I can say, they have maintained their integrity. 

Ethereal specifies 24k gold-plated terminals, low capacitance dielectric inner cable jackets, and Mylar foil shield, oxygen-free copper, and braided cotton sleeves.

The color-coded rubber grips are very ergonomic.  These cables are generally tight-fitting, and the grips are welcomed. 

My one gripe with the speaker terminals is that they unscrew, as the tip can be separated from the soldered wire connections, and for the life of me, I can't tighten them enough.  As no performance is lost with them slightly loosened, it's a bit irritating nonetheless.  When I asked Brent about it at CES, he smiled and said, "I'm working on it".

Overall, I find the aesthetics of the cables quite understated and pleasing.

Listening

Clearly I've enjoyed having Ethereal products from audio cables to video in my system, and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. 

The DVI cable I still use between my satellite tuner and a projector offers none of those issues we've seen in the past with long DVI cables, specifically sparkles caused by the length of cable and the loss of voltage.  I specifically asked for a longer cable not knowing where my equipment might end up.  The Ethereal DVI cable works flawlessly. 

Elite component cables from my DVD player to my TV have always offered crisp video and excellent color.

The Ethereal interconnects between the receiver and CD/DVD player were instrumental in my initial love of analog multi-channel music.  As we all march along towards iLink or HDMI for full digital audio transmission, I'm in no hurry. 

Finally, the speaker cables offer a rangy, smooth, and neutral sound.  I've never sensed a loss of bass, or felt the top side was left short.  The ever important midrange is simply fuller and natural

Conclusions

Ethereal is a product you may see more of very soon, as I believe they should be right next to the Monster stuff in every hi-fi store, after all that's their competition in price range.  They can be proud to know they deserve to be there.

 

- Piero Gabucci -

© Copyright 2006 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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