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Product Review
 

Legenburg Artemis Interconnects and Speaker Cables

Part I

April, 2007

John E. Johnson, Jr.

 

Specifications:

 

Balanced Interconnects
 

● Conductors: Mono-Crystal Rectangular Pure
   Copper (MCRPC)

Dielectric: Porous Teflon Surrounding Each
  Conductor Strand

Shielding: Tinned Braided Copper

Terminations: Mono-crystal Copper XLR Plug

● MSRP: $1,169 for 6 Foot Pair

 

Speaker Cables
 

● Conductors: Mono-Crystal Rectangular Pure
   Copper (MCRPC) - 14 Gauge

Dielectric: Porous Teflon Surrounding Each
  Conductor

Shielding: Tinned Braided Copper

Terminations: Gold-plated Mono-crystal
   Copper Banana Plug or Y Spade

● MSRP: $3,780 USA for 18 Foot Pair
 

Legenburg

Introduction

Over the past five years, corresponding with the increased interest in A/V cables, a number of cable companies have appeared throughout the world to supply us with great products.

Note that if you go back just a decade or so, there really was no big interest in high performance cables, at least for the masses.

Now of course, going into just about any hi-fi store, be it a high end salon, or mass market stores like Circuit City and Best Buy, you will be presented with nice displays of all kinds of cables.

For a long time, Monster Cable dominated the displays in the chain stores. They really got in on the ground floor with mass market cables way back when, and they have a huge line of products, which now include such things as power amplifiers and AC line conditioners.

There are other brands in the chain stores now besides Monster, and that's good, because it keeps the prices affordable.

As to the high end salons, you find products that most of us would love to have, but they are not what you would call "affordable." However, that word is relative. To a high performance audio/video aficionado, it's all affordable, because we end up buying that pricey stuff.

Be it a Lamm L2 Reference Preamplifier, a pair of McIntosh MC1201 Power Amplifiers, some B&W 800D speakers, or  . . . well, whatever it is, we are willing to spend the money to have the best.

So, to us, it's affordable. Sometimes, just barely, but we buy it anyway. We have to. It's in our nature. Hi-fi is our "thing."

Spending a lot of money on cables is something that many consumers have great contempt for. There are several reasons for this. One is that it has been very difficult to show, conclusively, that high end cables really make a difference. We who are fans of high end cables believe that they do. We are pretty sure we can hear the difference, but the problem is that whatever difference there is, is only just a little bit of improvement, let's say 5%. It's that last tiny amount that we are trying to squeeze out of the sound system.

But, that's the same with all high performance products. The fabulous power amplifier costs ten times as much as the amplifiers in a mass market receiver, but it is reaching for that last 20% of the sound quality that requires such manufacturing. Are audio-crazed consumers willing to pay for that? You bet!

If any great cable produced that small improvement with any system, the arguments probably would have ended a long time ago, because it would have been easier to prove that it is occurring. Unfortunately, whether a particular cable improves the sound in a particular system, depends on the various components in that system, e.g., input and output impedances. And, a big problem is that we don't really know which component factors are necessary for a cable with certain electrical properties to work best with those components. So, sometimes, a great cable might not improve a particular system if the other factors are not in alignment.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, high end cables are basically just wires aren't they? So, why are they so expensive?

The answer is that a lot of expense (labor) goes into the testing and perfection of the various designs. And whether it is design time for an output stage of a preamplifier, or a cable, the labor is the same cost. Engineers have to calculate the mathematics, build prototypes, measure values on oscilloscopes, and listen to the results.

So, the end product is expensive, just as if it had a bunch of transistors, capacitors, and inductors.

Legenburg

I had not heard of this company until a year ago when I attended an audio convention in Los Angeles.

Their speaker cables  - in this case, the Zeus - were sitting in a beautiful box on a chair outside one of the exhibit rooms.

I photographed them because they were so exquisite to look at. Little did I know that quite a while later, I would be listening to some Legenburg cables in my reference system.

For this review, Legenburg sent their Artemis, which included RCA interconnects, XLR interconnects, and speaker cables.

Yes, they are very expensive. $3,750 would be considered a reasonable chunk of money for a CD player, preamp, power amp, a pair of speakers, and for a set of speaker cables too.

Again, remember that a lot of engineering has gone into all those products, including the cables.

To start off, the build quality on the Legenburgs is just spectacular.

Of course, one can't see the insides of cables like you can do with a preamplifier by taking off the chassis cover, so here is a diagram of the speaker cable cross section.

You can see that the conductor configuration is complex. The hexagonal shapes are micro-porous Teflon air tubes, and inside the tubes are rectangular conductors (like small thin blades).

You might say, "Well, winding a cable this way shouldn't be really expensive."

Of course it's not expensive. At least, it doesn't cost a couple of thousand dollars to make them, although with those blade-like conductors sitting inside air tubes with Teflon dielectric, I imagine it costs more than one might imagine.

But, it's that engineering design cost that comes in here. Getting to this conductor configuration was where the costs were. Think of the endless ways the conductors can be arranged next to one another. The size, the spacing, the amount of dielectric, the arrangement of the shielding, etc. And, the problem is that such products are always manufactured in small numbers, so the engineering costs have to be spread out over those smaller numbers that end up being made.

Click Here to Go to Part II.

Copyright 2007 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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