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Next Level Tech

Manufacturer: NEXT LEVEL TECH
Price (when reviewed): 3069 EUR/2,5 m

Contact details: ROBERT SŁOWIŃSKI
tel. +48 504 931 220


Provided for test by: NEXT LEVEL TECH


translation by Marek Dyba
images by Next Level Tech, „High Fidelity”

No 236

January 1, 2024


NEXT LEVEL TECH is a Polish audio company founded in 2021 by Mr. ROBERT SŁOWIŃSKI. It specializes in audio signal cables. This is a premiere test of its FLAME SPKR-S speaker cables.

T SO HAPPNES THAT THE FLAME SPKR-S is the first speaker cable from this manufacturer; we previously tested two of its interconnects, models → FLAME and → WATER. Their design was interesting, the solutions were interesting, and the explanations the designer gave were satisfying. Still, we knew that this was a niche, really tiny, one-person business with no room for expensive research, material-related innovations and geometry patents.

Instead, there was something else: passion, experience and time devoted to "fine-tuning" the sound of products. And this is something that no money can buy and that, as the example of Japanese manufactures, but also of the Canadian company Luna Cables, shows, can deliver excellent results. For perfectionist audio, which we usually call audiophilism, is stretched between high-tech technology and artistic craftsmanship.

Technological and workshop capabilities, as well as the choices made by designers, are usually somewhere on the scale between the one and the other. And that's because manufacturers with design backgrounds also listen to their products, while mini-manufacturers benefit from the former's developments, reaching for conductors, dielectrics and damping elements or plugs from reputable companies that have somehow done the "work" for them. Both approaches have their pros and cons.


FLAME SPKR-S SPEAKER CABLES are sold in small metal boxes, with the company's logo on them - the same as the interconnects. The reason they managed to fit inside is that they have a small diameter and are flexible.


| A few simple words…

owner, designer

LET ME BRAGG A LITTLE - I have seven testers of my prototypes in the US , Europe and Asia (emphasis - ed.). They have different systems and musical preferences. One of them is also an official tester of the dCS company (I saw at his place probably three versions of the successor to the Vivaldi series). Five of them bought my "inconspicuous" SPKR -S (2 x bi-wire), even though they can afford Tara Labs, Siltech, TC, etc. cables. In my system I also use TC cables as a reference.

⸜ ROBERT SŁOWIŃSKI in front of company’s new headquarters

I worked on these cables for two years, and I will say frankly that more than once I felt like abandoning the project. But it was the aforementioned "testers" and friends that somehow kept me going, to try one more time, but maybe differently. In total, as many as fourteen different prototypes were made, sets for seven testers, and four final sets.

As the testers said, it took the longest in the brake-in process of these cables to hear the opening of the upper part of the band, the appearance of the contours of the sound, the organic feel and "pure magic". It's worth mentioning that all the cables are broken-in using a specialized machine in my shop before they are shipped, but they still need a minimum of 72 hours to "settle" in the system and show their true face. I analyzed all the feedback from the testers and wrote down everything that repeated in all of them.

And one more thing - in two systems with, among others, TAD Reference ONE speakers, the bass and differentiation of this range, as well as the readability was, in their opinion, of a reference level. One of them wrote that he didn't know that his TAD speakers and Accuphase P-7300 amplifier were capable of such a thing, even though he had previously used high models of Synergistic Research's cables.

⸜ The designer in his new office

I should add that I recently completed the construction of the company's new headquarters, which took me as long as two years. It has already been in use for nine months. It contains a 36 m2 room dedicated to audio with two systems; the systems are being currently installed. The new workspace is also still in the process of installation.

OK, the break time is over, I have to get back to work ;-) RS


FLAME SPKR-S CABLES were developed as a result of many trials with various cables produced by major manufacturers and according to their own proprietary topology. These are cables in which each of the runs, that is, "positive" and "negative," are run separately. So in the box we get four separate cables, two per channel. Halfway their length heat shrink sleeves are applied with markings indication the direction of connection. It is also indicated by the logo of a bird (colloquially called "nightingale" by the owners of the cables, which is also a Polish derivative of the name of the NxTL owner).

The name of the Flame cable (the lower AIR and Water series will be ready in 1-2 months) includes the following information: SPKR = speaker, S = single wire. As the manufacturer says, the "S" version will be the highest one, because "if someone can afford it", and uses a bi-wire connection in the system the assumption is that "he buys two sets of SPKR-S and uses two sets separately. It is also possible to add a so-called bi-wire spur, to the existing cable, if that is what the customer wants, and does not need a double run. This is a cheaper alternative to implementing bi-wire. For that you have to add €283 to the price.

The cables are constructed of twisted pair of conductors made of red OFC copper. Each consists of ten thin, individually placed very thin wires in the dielectric. The wires are cold-rolled (formed) and cryogenically frozen and thawed according to NxTL's proprietary procedure, which takes, as we read in the materials sent to us, as long as five days. The dielectric is polypropylene with a foam structure. The cable is double shielded.

They use inductive soldering for the plugs, and use custom solder. As the designer says, it is not generally available. In addition, the cables are tightened with screws using a torque screwdriver, that is, with a selected force. The company that manufactures these custom cables to NxTL specifications is a German specialist.

As the designer adds, he prices his products "not that expensive, relative to what other manufacturers offer," because he is "a beginner and prefers a VW- BUS rather than a Rolls Royce Phanthom." His idea here, he adds, is to make his products accessible to a wider range of audiophiles and music lovers. Despite the extremely low price, the cable is terminated with very cool, convenient-to-use plugs from Oyaide: SPSL spades (on the speaker side) and SRBN bananas (on the amplifier side). However, the user can choose any combination for himself.

The prototype of the M = multi wire version, which is currently being commissioned at the factory, will only be ready in 1-2 months. As Mr. Słowinski adds, this version has a double conductor in one braid, so there is no need to connect a speaker with as many as four separate runs. We also know Next Tech Level's plans for the coming months. In addition to the bi-wire version of the Flame speaker cable in a single outer jacket, the Flame and Water series USB cables will hit the market next month - they are nearing completion. Prototype power cables have been undergoing testing for a year and a half. In early 2024 there is a plan to roll them out in all series: Air, Water and Flame.


⸜ HOW WE LISTENED • FLAME SPKR-S speaker cables were tested in a HIGH FIDELITY reference system and compared to reference cables: Siltech Triple Crown and Crystal Cable Art Series Da Vinci. They all rest on Acoustic Revive RCI-3H stands.

The cable connected my Soulution 710 solid-state power amplifier and Harbeth M40.1 speakers. The comparison was an A/A/B and A/B/B listening with known A's and B's. The music fragments were between 1 and 2 minutes long. The comparison was not instantaneous - the intervals were about a minute long.

⸜ ALBUMS USED FOR THE TEST ⸜ a selection

⸜ GIL EVANS ORCHESTRA, Out Of The Cool, Impulse!/Verve Label Group UCGQ-9045, „Acoustic Sounds SACD Series 3”, SHM-SACD (1961/2023).
⸜ BILL EVANS TRIO, Waltz For Debby, Riverside Records/Craft Recordings/Universal Classics & Jazz UCGO-9057, „Bill Evans Remaster Series”, SHM-SACD (1961/2023).
⸜ PAT METHENY, What's It All About, Nonesuch/Warner Music [Japan] WPCR-14176, CD (2009).
⸜ PETER GABRIEL, So, Realworld/Virgin SAPGCD5, SACD/CD (1987/2003).
⸜ JEAN-MICHEL JARRE, Electronica 1: The Time Machine, Columbia Records/Sony Records Int'l SICP, BSCD2 (2015).


THE OPENING SEQUENCE OF THE GIL EVANS ORCHESTRA'S album entitled Out Of The Cool goes like this: the leader's piano, somewhat dull and not very big, is heard in the center; at 0:16 it is opened from the top of the band with a maracas, placed in the left channel, slightly above the line on which we hear the piano. It is joined momentarily by a double bass, admittedly with a single beat, but establishing the range of the band.

At 0:22, the guitar joins in with a pull on the strings in the left channel, a low, dark, dense guitar, and immediately afterwards, but in the right channel, a hi-hat, also based more on the midrange, more on its upper part than on the treble. I write about this because Flame showed this beginning in a very well-balanced way. It didn't open up the top of the maracas too much, although it did show that they have a long reverb going out to the center of the stage. But it also didn't make the bass, which turned out to be really well disciplined, too shallow.

It occurred to me pretty quickly that this is something that people who spend a lot of money on audio equipment, who have seen and heard many highly impressive right from the start components. And they've had enough of them. After all, those components that make a huge first impression may at first be cool, and interesting, but only when friends come to visit, whom we want to quickly impress with something. When the door closes behind them, however, we want, usually, something else. Something that in my system was just offered by the NxTL cable.

In addition to sophistication, Mr. Słowinski's cable, or perhaps even as part of it, it allows one to feel the atmosphere of a recording in a way that is unavailable to many other cables, usually focused on transparency. Like, for example, the feeling of being inside the Village Vanguard club, where the BILL EVANS TRIO recorded their 1961 live album Waltz For Debby. The performance is accompanied by conversations, as well as audience coughs (as at 0:49), but the energy of the sound, its mass and "center" are focused on the instruments. And yet, it is these extra-musical elements that make this such a "live", so natural, sometimes even unbelievably natural, recording.

Flame, although inexpensive, showed these things beautifully. There wasn't as much resolution in it as with the reference cables, but I didn't expect it, I am a realist. Within what you get, however, the resolution was excellent. As was the selectivity, by the way - the instruments had their own space, quite a bit of body and depth. The sound was slightly pushed towards me, although I couldn't hear it right away, as the space with the tested cable was large, both across and in depth. But I heard it before with Gil Evans' piano, I can hear it now with Bill's instrument.

The two aforementioned albums, recorded within less than a year by two giants, Rudy Van Gelder and Roy DuNann, respectively, are stunning with their natural sound. PAT METHENY's What's It All About album is equally wonderful, though completely different from them. You can hear that this is some next generation of producers and sound engineers. The guitarist's instruments - and there are three different guitars here - were recorded at very close range, on two microphones, and a long reverb was added. The tested cable captured this difference immediately, but did not exacerbate it. As I said, it's a sophisticated stylist.

The attack of the strings of an acoustic guitar, that is, with a resonant box and metal strings, heard in the ˻ 3 ˺ Alfie track, slightly hard in itself, was gently "stiffened". It's thanks to this that we get such an accurate drawing of instruments with Flame, but this is also the difference between the tested cable and cables from higher price ranges. A lot higher, we should add. Here and now the sound is clear, but never too bright, nor overly contoured.

The space is very good with it, as previous albums have shown. So it handled the long reverbs superimposed on Metheny's guitar equally well. Each time I paid attention to what was happening on axis, in front of me, having the impression that this is where the most important things happen, that this is where the "gravitational center" of the recording is located. This is not always the case, but with the tested cable we will sit stunned and most of the time "gazing" ahead, without looking around.

It will be a dense and multidimensional depth with many levels of "in-between". When, in the ˻ 2 ˺ Sledgehammer track, from PETER GABRIEL's So, an instrument resembling a pan flute enters at the beginning, probably (though I'm not sure) played from samples on a synthesizer, it can be heard softly, and has a nice resonance. When, on the other hand, the "hammer" of percussion and, above all, Tony Levin's bass hits immediately afterwards, we get fullness, density and momentum.

This is not an easy album to play, and it also has different sound quality on each track. But the Sledgehammer features full bass. It was reproduced by the Flame in a dense and dynamic way. However, don't expect a very low extension. Or at least not as low as from more expensive cables. It was still a meaty reproduction with well phrased bass instruments, though. It was really fun to listen to.

What makes it all the more cool is that the tested cable plugs it all into the overall intent. When the last track on JEAN-MICHEL JARRE's Electronica 1: The Time Machine, the ˻ 16 ˺ The Train & the River track "thunders" sound off, when Lang Lang's piano mimics the river gorges, with a roaring waterfall, when a low, electronic bass pulse enters in 3:41, Flame remains calm, it is not „forced to do anything". This is a very rare skill, regardless of the price.


AND THAT'S EXACTLY what I think is the key to the tested cable: the calmness maintained with any signal, the consistency with any record, and the smoothness with all types of recordings we can think of. It is tonally focused on the midrange, of that there is no doubt. It's carried out sensitively, however, so we'll really find it hard to say that the lows or highs are in its shadow. It's an exceptionally coherent sound picture.

The cable, in fact, plays in a higher league than its price suggests, both thanks to the fact that it is simply very good, but also because the things that are usually better in more expensive cables it provides in such an interesting way, so well fused with what it does above average, that one has to listen very carefully to point out something of a „lesser quality". And even then we won't be quite sure, because each successive album will bring a new arrangement of advantages and disadvantages, the former of which will seem to us the most important.

Although inconspicuous, this is a beautiful cable in terms of tonality with high dynamics and expression.

Test powstał według wytycznych przyjętych przez Association of International Audiophile Publications, międzynarodowe stowarzyszenie prasy audio dbające o standardy etyczne i zawodowe w naszej branży; HIGH FIDELITY jest jego członkiem-założycielem. Więcej o stowarzyszeniu i tworzących go tytułach → TUTAJ.


Reference system 2022

1) Loudspeakers: HARBETH M40.1 |REVIEW|
2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

  • HARMONIX TU-666M "BeauTone" MILLION MAESTRO 20th Anniversary Edition |REVIEW|


Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC