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Black Rhodium Aria/Athena

 

Coherent Thinking

Jon Myles believes Black Rhodium’s specially-treated interconnect and loudspeaker cables could be a perfect upgrade - no matter how much your system costs.

 

I make no apologies for being a big fan of using a coherent cable loom in your system. While some people prefer a mix-and-match strategy, there are good reasons to look to employing a set of interconnects, speaker cables and, if needed, digital leads from one company.

Most obviously, they are likely to have been manufactured to work well together – using similar materials, construction and cable geometry to bring a consistent sound.

 

Black Rhodium Aria DCT++

 

So no surprise, then, that I was more than keen to try out a pair of Black Rhodium’s Aria DCT++ RCA interconnects and Athena DCT++ loudspeaker cables working in tandem.

 

Although not the company’s ultimate cables, this pair sits at the higher end of the Black Rhodium range, costing some £2600 taken together. Admittedly, some people may balk at paying that sort of price for cables but there’s no doubt it’s an upgrade that can often bring greater benefits than replacing a source component or plugging in a new amplifier. As long as you choose wisely.

The DCT++ in the title of the cables indicates they have undergone deep cryogenic treatment to give a more uniform molecular structure - while Black Rhodium also applies its proprietary Crystal Sound Process which it says refocuses the outermost skin of the conductor to aid conduction properties.

Both ‘speaker cables and interconnects use silver-plated copper conductors and also come equipped with designer Graham Nalty’s VS-1 vibration stabilisers - heavy metal barrels which act to reduce distortion by controlling mechanical vibrations travelling through the cable.

Twist and lock Rhodium-plated connectors on the Athenas also ensure a firm grip on ‘speaker binding posts.

 

Black Rhodium Athena DCT++

 

SOUND QUALITY

Used with a variety of amplifiers (including Creek Evolution 100A integrated, Quad QMP monoblocks and McIntosh MC152 power amplifier) the Black Rhodium combination consistently displayed two overriding characteristics - an impressive frequency response and coherent top to bottom integration.

On the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s ‘Take Five’, for example, Joe Morello’s kick-drum played via a pair of Tannoy Definition DC10 Tis just doesn’t have body, it has a visceral slam that hits you in the chest. This isn’t a minor improvement – it’s an absolutely major one that adds real body to the music.

 

With that foundation laid, Brubeck’s piano and Paul Desmond’s alto sax get a lot more room to breathe in the higher registers. What you are hearing is real breadth and depth. A quality which remained consistent no matter what combination of amplifier, loudspeaker and source I tried.

 

Indeed, using the Arias and Athenas together with a pair of Quad S2 loudspeakers and an Audiolab 8300A amplifier (both reviewed in this issue) was a revelation. On paper this would seem a total mismatch (the cables costing a whole lot more than the components) but in reality it worked exceptionally well. Here the transparency of the Black Rhodiums allowed the ribbon tweeters of Quad standmounts to really sing while making the most of the Audiolab’s smooth power delivery.

 

So on Get The Blessing’s ‘OC/DC’ (24/96) the saxophone took on a greater tonality and sense of realism while the walking bass punched with rather more power than you’d expect from such small loudspeakers. I had a sense that I was hearing more than the sum of the parts of the system – a natural synergy in terms of music-making. 

 

Much of that was down to the fact that these cables were not imposing too much character of their own on the system – simply allowing it to show what it can do.

 

Admittedly, pair them with inferior sounding components and they’ll let you know about it. But use them in a good mid-range and upwards system and they’ll shine.

 

CONCLUSION

The Aria DCT++ interconnects and Athena DCT++ loudspeaker cables are a potent combination. They are uncoloured with a natural sound which doesn’t emphasise any particular element of the frequency spectrum. They might not be cheap, but they have the ability to bring the very best out of whatever components they are matched to.

 

 

 

 

 

Black Rhodium Aria  DCT++ 

Black Rhodium Athena DCT++ 

Black Rhodium Aria DCT++ £1000 (1 metre)

Black Rhodium Athena DCT++ (£1600 3 metre pair)

 

OUTSTANDING - amongst the best 

 

VERDICT

An extremely capable pair of cables that display a natural synergy and are able to bring the best out of any decent system.

 

FOR

- open, uncoloured sound

  synergy

- build quality

 

AGAINST 

- won’t flatter poor 

  components

 

 Black Rhodium

+44 (0) 1332 342233

www.blackrhodium.co.uk

 
 

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