It’s a rare circumstance in audiophilia these days where cables are given the same treatment in reviews as are active components. Reviewers tend to sneer at cables, or cable manufacturers seeking reviews, as if their publications are somehow ‘above’ reviewing such things. Of course, they always seem happy to take the advertising money from the cable guys, and the cable guys are at least willing to give them the money in exchange for ad space, but over the last 10 years or so the cable-review has become increasingly rare.
Mind you, it’s not as if cable manufacturers haven’t brought a lot of this onto themselves. In the first place, you’ve got what seems to be people with no real background in electrical theory of any kind creating cable brands out of thin air and engaging some manner of branding effort – large or small – to legitimize their new baby. Like some hastily cobbled-together retirement hobby-business, some of these fellas actually manage to get some decent spotlight for their brands. And it’s not as if they’re making junk. When it comes to audio cables, it isn’t hard to make something good and it actually requires quite a lot of effort to make something actually bad. The real difficulty lies, in my estimation, in making something better than just good. But, for the purposes of our hobby-businessman, “good” is good enough, and no one’s getting dicked. But they’ve come to this effort and idea for two main reasons, aside from being passionate audiophiles who want to be a part of this industry:
- At a basic level, being a cable manufacturer doesn’t need to require a lot of money, a lot of effort, a lot of expertise, or even a lot of credibility. He needs some cable from a third-party or subcontractor (the latter being the more expensive option), some connectors from a third-party, a website, a story, and some advertising. Start on Audiogon, move up from there. Make friends. Rinse, lather repeat.
- The larger, more influential brands have increasingly been one-upping each other for the most insanely-priced cables in the world – these cables mostly being priced to account for similarly extreme margins for dealers (70 and 80 points) and distributors (80 and 90 points), because some of these companies compete for the affection of dealers and distributors by offering them ridiculous margins, spiffs, and whatever else.
THIS has attracted the attention of the smaller guys, who think to themselves, “If ZazmoKabel can make $50,000.00 interconnects and get away with it … I want a slice of THAT pie!” And so the unwitting manufacturer-to-be is lured in by only half the story, the most visible and spectacular half, and has a garage-band style startup using some mythically-derived name to try and lend it a powerful profile. Pick your Greek God or Goddess – Zeus, Apollo, Dionysus, Poseidon, Hera, Aphrodite, (etc etc) … add the word “Cable” after it, and you’ve got a High End Audio cable company.
So from the reviewer’s standpoint, it must seem that there’s no shortage of bullshit marketing going on to try and justify $100k worth of cords in your system on the one hand, and a bunch of amateurs relearning the Greek Mythology via kitchen-table startups peddling RG-6 in fancy jackets on the other hand. It’s kind of an intra-industry sociopolitical process that gives the legit guys short-shrift and makes business even more of a challenge.
Like several-but-not-many brands, Furutech seems to stand as neither the former, basic small guy – they are a sizable corporation that actually make quite a lot of products and are widely distributed – nor are they the latter, trying to lead the press-mentions with absurdly extreme prices for which one could, if one desired, use similar monetary amounts to purchase luxury cars or small pied-á-terre in a second tier city. They’re fairly well-established, have a good reputation, and the people involved with the company seem to be nice and have their heads on straight.
All of this as a preamble to simply say that I’m pleased as punch that Tom Lyle at Enjoy The Music has taken the time and the care to review these cables properly, and with due consideration and respect for the people who make them – and that I’d like to see more reviews of competently-designed cables from real companies with not-batshit-crazy prices.