Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo
Price: 7990 zł (1 m), 9900 zł (1,5 m)
Distribution: Eter Audio
ul. Malborska 24, 30-646 Kraków
tel./fax: 0048 12 425 51 20/30
tel. kom.: 0048 507 011 858
Country of origin: Japonia
Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Photographs: Wojciech Pacuła, AcroJapan
Translation: Krzysztof Kalinkowski
The brand Acrolink owned by AcroJapan Corporation is still a recent development. It entered the market a few years ago, offering at first expensive and very expensive cables, subsequently amended with slightly less expensive ones. Who knows, how long it would take for that company to reach first league (I mean the perception, and not the quality of the products) if AcroJapan would not make cables for Esoteric. The latter offers cables, which are exactly the same products as the Acrolink ones, having the same symbols, only branded Esoteric. And, as you could probably guess, those are from the most expensive, Mexcel line.
Mexcel is the top line of cables offered by the Japanese, characterized by the usage of copper wires with (real) purity 7N and some other elements, dielectrics and the number of used wires. Two years ago, a limited series of cables appeared in their offering, with 8N purity (!), designed to connect the turntable with the phonostage (8N-RPH/1.2 etc.). Interesting enough, this was not the Mexcel series, and was half as expensive, as the best 7N interconnects. This is interesting, because the purer the copper, the better should be the cable – at least that is dictated by the so called common sense.
Like I say, the Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo is made from ultra-pure copper 8N (99,999999%). Its external diameter is the same as in the model 7N-DA6300 Mexcel, which I am using in my reference system for over a year, it just has a deep crimson color, reminding the color of another top Acrolink cable, the power cord 7N-PC9300 Mexcel, three pieces of which I use in my system (among the interconnects, the closes in terms of color is the 7N-A2500 Mexcel). When I add, that the Leben CS-300 XS (Custom Version) is powered by the 7N-PC7100 then it will turn out, that I have Acrolink in my blood, so to say.
As we can learn from the (scarce) materials coming with the cables, it has a pseudo-balanced construction, with two bundles for the “hot” and “cold” branches and a shield from a thick braid 7N copper.
In the specification we read:
The cable is available in standard lengths 1m or 1.5m, as unbalanced RCA or balanced XLR. The plugs are made by Acrolink - the central pin is a tube made from phosphor copper, many times polished and covered by high quality rhodium, with a body made from epoxy resin coated glass fiber.SOUND
During the test I used the following discs:
Japanese versions of the discs available on CD Japan.
I mentioned burning in the cable. This is something, that brings doubts even among those, who do not doubt the influence of cables on the sound, and in people who negate any influence of cables on the final effect it often induces fury. I am not addressing everybody, who thinks this is rubbish: please do not talk about things you did not touch, things you did not examine yourself. Making fun of things you do not know anything about discredits you for good. I encourage you – please arrange a listening session in a good system, in controlled conditions, conducted by someone who knows his ways around the topic, and you will be as surprised as I was. And burning in, or the so called “conditioning” of the cable by the current flowing inside is a physical effect and not magic. This is why it needs a classic approach – examination through observation.
After some time I went over to regular testing, meaning I compared the new Acrolink cable to the best interconnect known to me. It is so, that this is also an Acrolink, the model 7N-DA6300 Mexcel. The difference between those two cables is so evident, that it is instructive. On first sight those are similar constructions – a similar material for the conductors and isolation, the same plugs, the same external diameter, the same manufacturer. The cables only differ significantly in price. Please organize some comparative listening sessions, some “get acquainted” evenings (I mean to get acquainted to cables sounding differently), please invite “non-believers”, because on the example of those two Acrolink cables you can clearly hear something, most listeners to music do not know – that each element of the system is a part of a greater whole, and each, even minuscule element, has an influence on the final effect.
The thing is, that the ‘6300’ is more resolved. This is not a big difference, and it does not cover the whole spectrum, but it can be heard well. Looking from “below” we know – it is about the small details, which give a slightly different picture of the reproduced music. The model 7N showed better, that some of the recordings on the disc Close-up. Vol 1 Suzanne Vega is clipped, as if someone wanted to blow up the voice of the vocalist, not watching the volume of the recording. I do not know, when it happened, was it during recording, or by mastering, but somebody screwed up. But the case is not unanimous here. On most, and really most, systems this will not be heard in such a clear way, as I described. This split second, when you can hear the delicate distortion, something like “rasping”, but really quickly over, most systems will smoothen out, leaving a big voice, located nicely between the loudspeakers. And to a certain extent (keeping the proportions – this is still a splendid system) so sounded the 8N. Its character is unanimously more pastel and smoother than that of the top cable. But it has a slightly lesser dynamics than the 7N, dynamics understood as the distance between the softest and loudest sound, and which translates on one hand into the so called ‘drive’, and on the other hand into the lack of limitation of the expression of the sound. And without this restraint, the Vega disc shows its worse side.
Interesting enough, when I listened to it with the 8N-A2080III Evo and I knew what to search for, the distortion I was talking about were there, just where I left them with the 7N-DA6300 Mexcel. I will tell even more – I heard them as good as before. But when it came to new elements, when I was not sure, then the 7N cable showed them quicker, better and surer. Because certainty is its immanent characteristic. I came to that with the 8N, but with bigger delay and without that absolute certainty as before.
A good example of the last lesson was the newest disc of Norah Jones, the compilation disc …Featuring. A compilation is a bad description in this case, because while the disc was composed of recordings made in different years (2001 – 2010), using discs of different performers, differently reordered and mastered, yet it is her best – after the debut – disc, compared to her own discs, very secondary to the debut.
Like I said, observing the differences between the top Acrolink cable, made from worse conductor, and the new, while much cheaper cable, where there is less conductor, is fascinating. And while – I’ll repeat – the 7N-DA6300 Mexcel is the better cable, the 8N-A2080III Evo has a few things, that the top cable hasn’t.
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