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Analogue and digital interconnects
SAEC - SL-4000/XR-4000 ǀ SLA-500 ǀ SUS-480 ǀ OPC-X1

Price (in Germany): SL-4000 – 950 euro/1,2 m
XR-4000 – 980 euro/1,2 m ǀ SLA-500 – 245 euro/1,2 m
SUS-480 – 390 euro/1,2 m ǀ OPC-X1 – 615 euro/1,5 m

Manufacture: SAEC Commerce Co. Ltd

Contact: 9th Floor, Akasaka Building,
Akasaka, 4-1-32, Minato-ku, Tokyo
tel.: 03-3588-8481 ǀ fax : 03-3582-4902


Manufacturer's website:

Country of origin: Japan

Products provided for testing by: MuSon Project, Inc.
Text: Wojciech Pacuła | Photographs: Wojciech Pacuła

Published on: June 1. 2012, No. 97

SAEC corporation, presently ran by Mr. Kitazawa Keita, was formed in 1971 with one goal – to manufacture and sell unique tonearms called “W (double) knife-edge tone arm”. Later on they started manufacturing cartridges that were also quite unique. Their business flourished in the 1970s and the 1980s (check the pdf HERE). Because of the unique design of their cartridges (requiring cables with particular impedance) SAEC also needed to develop and manufacture special cables to deliver the signal from tonearm to phonostage. That was, in fact, a beginning of the company's present main business – cables production. They don't manufacture tonearms or cartridges anymore – the CD era ended demand for those products and then it seemed that company would vanish from market. But they survived thanks to their phono cables and now focus on manufacturing both analogue and digital cables for audiophiles. I will not be surprised though if, considering present market trends, they start manufacturing tonearms and cartridges again.
For this review we received:

  • IC RCA SL-4000 analogue at 950 EUR (all prices from German market),
  • IC XLR XR-4000 analogue at 980 EUR,
  • SLA-500 LAN digital cable at 245 EUR,
  • SUS-480 USB digital cable at 390 EUR,
  • OPC-X1 TOSLink digital cable at 615 EUR.

Studying product's folder it is hard to miss that these products look a lot alike others made by other, especially Japanese, companies. For example – the LAN cable was build based on Swedish Supra's conductors, the USB cable seems to use same plugs and same way of leading power line as Acoustic Revive does. It looks like the RCA and XLR plug also come from this company, and all cables (except for LAN) seem to come from the biggest manufacturer of this kind of cables in Japan - Furukawa. Almost all the cables are made of PCOCC-A – a seasoned PCOCC (Pure Crystal Ohno Continuos Casting) copper of 99,999999% purity that is manufactured in a process developed by Dr. Atsumi Ohno, a retired professor of Chiba Institute of Technology in Japan. During that process copper is heated up and cooled down in highly controlled conditions. These wires are casted, not extruded. After the whole process the wires are polished.
For the SL-4000/XL-4000 analogue interconnect they used this kind of copper combined with 6N-OFC, creating a hybrid cable: 6N-OFC makes a central part of cable with PCOCC-A on peripherals (hence the name – 6N+PCOCC-A Hybrid Super Reference/Interconnector Cable). There are two separate wires and two shieldings. The rhodium plated plugs come from Acoustic Revive – these are great! The SUS-480 USB cable is in fact licensed from Sekiguchi Machine Sales, which means from Acoustic Revive. It is available in the following lengths: 0.3 m, 0.7 m, 1.2 m, 1.8 m, 3 m. One of the key features is separating the power wire and the signal wire runs. Each of the wires is separately shielded with copper ribbon.
On the other hand the SLA-500 is licensed from Swedish Supra and thus uses different conductors than the ones used in other SAEC cables. In this case the conductor is a shielded, twisted pair of tin plated OFC copper. There are two shieldings, one made of tin plated copper and the other of aluminum foil.
Also the OPC-X1 TOSLink digital cable is quite unique as it doesn’t use plastic core but glass fiber.


Recordings used during auditions (selection):

  • Blade Runner, soundtrack, muz. Vangelis, Blade Runner Trilogy, 25th Anniversary, Universal, UICY-1401/3, Special Edition, 3 x CD (1982/2007).
  • For Ever Fortune. Scottish Music In The 18th Century, Les Musiciens de Saint-Julien, Robert Getchell, Alpha, 531, CD (2012).
  • Paganini for two, Gil Shaham, Göran Söllscher, Deutsche Grammophon/JVC, 480 246-5, XRCD24 (1993/2009).
  • Diana Krall, All For You, Impulse!/JVC, 532 360-9, XRCD24 (1996/2010).
  • Dominic Miller, Fourth Wall, Q-rious Music, QRM 108-2, CD (2006).
  • Exodus, Supernova, Polskie Nagrania/Metal Mind Prodictions, MMP CD DG 0405, CD (1992/2006).
  • Handel, La Maga Abbandonata, Simone Kermes, Maite Baumont, Il Complesso Barocco, dyr. Alan Curtis, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi/Sony Music Entertainment, CD 88697846212, CD (2003/2011).
  • Jean Michel Jarre, Magnetic Fields, Epic/Sony Music, 488138 2, CD (1981/1997).
  • Jean Michel Jarre, Téo&Téa, Aero Production/Warner Music France, 699766, CD+DVD (2007).
  • Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery, Further Adventures of Jimmy and Wes, Verve/Universal Music [Japan], UCCV-9359, SHM-CD (1969/2008).
  • Michael Jackson, Thriller. 25th Anniversary, Epic/Sony Music Japan, EICP 963-4, CD + DVD (1982/2008).
  • Nosowska, 8, Supersam Music, SM 01, CD (2011).
  • Sara K., Don’t I Know You From Somewhere?, Stockfisch, SFR 357.6055.2, CD).
  • The Modern Jazz Quartet, The European Concert. Volume One + Volume Two, Atlantic/East West Japan, AMCY-1186-7, K2 CD (1960/2000).
  • Wes Montgomery, Incredible Jazz Guitar of…, Riverside/JVC, VICJ-41531, K2 CD (1961/1999).
Japanese editions available from .

Analogue IC SL-4000/XR-4000 (1.2 m)
I more or less knew what to expect from these particular analogue cables. After all, SAEC uses the same or very similar 6N-OFC+PCOCC-A conductors, as the other cables I know quite well – namely Oyaide Tunami Terzo, or, to some point, my reference ICs - Acrolink Mexcel 7N-AD6300. The main Japanese manufacturer of PCOCC-A (both wires and shieldings) is Furukawa that manufactures items based on orders from different companies; the companies then use those wires and shielding for whatever they need. In many cases Furukawa manufactures the whole cables based on customers specifications, and their customers only terminate them with plugs or sleevings of their choice. I don’t know which is the case with SAEC cables, but I can tell for sure that they belong to the same sonic “family”.
It’s mostly about tonal balance that is common for all those Japanese cables. It is, to some extent, well balanced, and those cables usually offer very rich, vibrant and sweet sound. The better the cable the more details, subtleties and body there is in the sound, but regardless the cost I always have a similar impression of taking part in some spectacle in a “separate” world.

The ‘4000’ cable sound differently than most competitors from Germany, Poland or USA, to name just a few “types”. Where most cables attempting to achieve high resolution emphasize attack, details, “brighten up” up the signal, SAEC cables deliver darker, deeper, more energetic sound. For when you try to achieve high resolution in the above described way you pay for it with thinner, less energetic sound, as if signal transmission suffered from it.
SAEC cables are different – when I started to audition them I concluded quickly that they sound darker than my reference Acrolinks.

And this first conclusion seems to be right – there are less small details, subtleties in sound; listening with these cables in my system I was mostly focused on main, basic sounds. But on the other hand differences are not as big as one would expect judging by cost difference.
It seems obvious that one has to pay a lot more for Acrolinks but the quality gain is not that big. One may say that once you are in the high-end world every small difference becomes very important and if it is positive it’s worth any price. But if you have a system with most devices in the, say, 10,000-15,000 PLN price range you won’t notice big differences between those cables and it’s even possible that in such system the SAEC may top Acrolink’s performance.
Because, as I already said, it focuses our attention on primary attack. Tonality is slightly warm, but not dark. There is a lot of energy in the treble; there is a really hard attack, with proper cymbals weight. The sound doesn’t get bright though. There is a synergy of the two, seemingly, mutually excluding sound characteristics – large energy of treble and lack of brightening – and that is really important for me, because in my opinion it’s the only way to achieve engaging, very real sounding music – by ‘real’ I mean plausible, credible.
There is one thing that the SL-4000/XR-4000 IC does even better than the Acrolink – it shows the out of phase sounds in a more distinct, palpable way. It was really obvious on the Bodypop album with electronic music (somehow similar to Depeche Mode's) by the German band And One, where out of phase sounds play a significant role. The SAEC cables properly showed special effects surrounding my head while the Acrolink focused on delivering a proper weight of what was in front of me, treating the surrounding effects a bit lightly.

Auditioning the SL-4000/XR-4000 in my reference system was a pleasure. The sound was similar to what I was used to, so I didn’t have to adjust my perception to find out how these cables modified my system sonics. In my opinion this is what the cable should sound like. It is a slightly warm (but not really warmed up) sound with a strong midrange and lots of energy. The upper treble and lower bass are not as well defined as with my top Acrolinks, but on the other hand the total sonic effect is better than with the Oyaide Tunami Terzo, because sound is focused and offers more emotional depth. The cost difference (1.3 m Oyaide costs in Poland 1,890 PLN, and 1.2 m SAEC sells for 950 EUR in Germany) making the SAEC twice as expensive as the Oyaide represents the difference in their sound quality quite well. The SL-4000/XR-4000 are really very good interconnects.

LAN cable SLA-500 (1,2 m)
The differences between different LAN cables keep surprising me, although they really shouldn’t. I understand the differences, as I recently reviewed the Acoustic Revive LAN-1.0 PA (review HERE) and it is quite obvious to me, as well as to many others, that there are differences, period. But when I hear the extent of sonic changes after replacing one LAN cable between the player and the router with another, it’s still a jaw dropping experience again and again.
I should start with reminding you that 1m of the Acoustic Revive cable is twice as expensive as 1.2m of SAEC. It also sounds somewhat better. The difference is not dramatic and it is not spread evenly across all aspects of sound.
The SAEC delivers bigger, thicker bass. The AR delivers bass with less weight but it delivers more focused attack, and better soundstage layering where the SAEC on the other hand shows a bit less palpable image in front of the listener, which usually means vocals. In general, the sound volume is bigger with the SLA-500, more convincing.
The difference is even easier to spot if you compare the SAEC with a standard LAN (CAT-6) cable. The Japanese cable simply conveys music, while the standard one just “mutters”. The loss of dynamics and of presentation clarity is overwhelming. All that happens after changing a cable that, according to many, should not matter at all!
The only issue you need to find your way around is the stiffness of the SLA-500. The Acoustic Revive cable is very flexible while the SAEC is very stiff, bending only in 2 directions. You should try it yourself. You might find its rich, extended bass more attractive than the slightly more orderly presentation of Acoustic Revive. The latter remains my reference cable but the SAEC comes very close in terms of sound quality.

SUS-480 USB cable (1.2 m)
SUS-480 USB cable was inspired by Acoustic Revive product and to some extend created with their help. SAEC used AR plugs, and AR “patent” of physical separation of the signal and the power runs, and they used similar conductor – PCOCC-A. But the idea of combining all these elements together came from SEAC. I compared this cable with my reference – Acoustic Revive USB-1.0SP employing two A-type plugs on the computer side. The main advantage of the latter was better dynamics and better focus. The SAEC cable offers similar tonality as AR. It delivers a bit warm sound with great resolution; there is no emphasis on attack, nor is this sound bright. Sonic signature of this cable is very similar to the one of SAEC analogue cables. It’s quite expensive but if you want quality you will need to pay for it. The main competitors should be, in my opinion, Wireworld cables and very good Chord cables. But none of non-Japanese cables will deliver such a natural, rich sound as the SAEC does.

OPC-X1 TOSLink digital cable (1.5 m)
One of the basic rules of testing audio products is comparing them with others of exactly the same kind – cable to cable, loudspeakers to loudspeakers, and so on. It is to make sure that you compare products and not technologies involved. This time I made an exception for the SAEC’s TOSLink simply because there was no comparison between it and any other optic cable – it was in a league of its own. That’s why I decided to compare it to my reference S/PDIF RCA cable. I compared on the one hand signal transmission techniques, on the other cables themselves – only the reference product wasn’t exactly the same.

The TOSlink sounds a bit darker with less information about sound attack and decay, and its texture. These are usual disadvantages when it comes to TOSLink cables. This time the differences were not so significant. When I played movies from Blu-ray I couldn’t really tell if my HD Dune Max player was connected with the DAC-2 Wyred4Sound via the Toslink or the Coaxial cable – I could easily tell the difference but couldn’t tell which sound I liked better.
The differences were more noticeable when I played music files from the same player, especially when it came to 24/96 ones (DAC-2 Wyred4Sound does not accept 192 kHz signal). The dynamics wasn’t so great with the TOSlink and the sound was less detailed. My general impression was as if everything in the sound was a little laid back.
But again I was surprised that the differences were not more substantial – the sonic signature was similar, although the overall sound was slightly inferior. This was my first experience when I could actually consider using TOSLink. Especially if a device offers only optical output. TOSLink is also the only option if you want to connect your TV set to your audio system – you need galvanic separation for that, which is, by definition, a feature of TOSLink connection.

The SAEC OPC-X1 TOSLink cable (1.5 m) isn’t cheap – it costs 615 EUR in Germany. Direct comparison with electrical RCA to RCA Oyaide DR-510 cable, proves the advantage of the latter and of the electrical signal transmission in general. On the other hand that advantage is irrelevant when you watch Blu-ray movies or TV. This is the first optical TOSLink cable I know that might be used even with high end audio systems.


  • CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air V-edition, review HERE
  • Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC, review HERE
  • Cartridges: Miyajima Laboratory SHILABE, review HERE), Miyajima Laboratory KANSUI, review HERE
  • Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III [Signature Version] with Re-generator Power Supply
  • Power amplifier: Soulution 710
  • Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom Version, review HERE
  • Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1 Domestic, review HERE
  • Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro; 600 Ω version, review HERE, HERE, and HERE
  • Interconnect: CD-preamp: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300 (article HERE, preamp-power amp: Acrolink 8N-A2080III Evo, review HERE
  • Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, review HERE
  • Power cables AC (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
  • Power strip: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE
  • Stand: Base; under all components
  • Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD, Audio Revive RAF-48 platform under the CD and preamplifier
  • Pro Audio Bono PAB SE platform under Leben CS300 XS [Custom Version]; review HERE