Continuing the Legacy

Visiting Kara Chafee of de Havilland, whose amplifiers invariably grace music with a wonderful sense of air, enabled me to take a first listen to Cable Research Lab (CRL) cables. CRL's mid-level "Silver" line is a very recent recipient of a "Product of the Year Award" from a certain publication known for its absolutism. Another very positive publication fed CRL an award in 2007.

CRL cables were designed by Winston Ma (First Impressions Music) and Paul Weitzel in the late 1990s. Once known as FIM Cables, their name was changed in 2002, around the time Ma sold the company to Garth Leerer of Musical Surroundings. Then, in 2006, after Leerer discovered that he was concentrating on other products to the detriment of his cable line, Chip Winston of Fort Lauderdale took possession of the company.

Chip has since upgraded the copper used in his cables to OFC 6N. He has also improved other materials and construction, and switched to Bocchino Audio connectors from Australia.

There are three series. "Copper" ($1000/1m interconnect) features a braided copper design. "Silver" ($1500/1m interconnect, $1600/6' speaker cable) is a hand-assembled, solid-core design in which terminations are compression-crimped rather than soldered. The top-of-the-line "Gold" ($2500/1m interconnect) is also made of 6Ns solid-core copper. CRL's two power cables are the Mk.II (unshielded) for amps and the Mk.IV (shielded) for front-end components. The cables are mostly sold direct, with distributors handling sales in Australia, Madrid, and Portugal.

"My goal is neutrality," Chip told me. "I care most about musical passion."

That's one thing this system had down to a "t" (as in triode). What Chip doesn't seem to have down pat is prices. What he quoted me differs from what's on his website, which in turn differs from what's stated on the review printout he handed me. In fact, even the names of his power cables differ. Chalk this up to being the end of the third day of a very exhausting show. Thank goodness for the generous sip of wine freely offered by the NFS (Not For Sale) room at T.H.E. Show of the beloved Buddha, aka Anton, who is a frequent poster to Stereophile's ever-lively forum.