Rocking With Dean

There are always live concerts at CES and the 2009 Show was no exception. Cable manufacturer Ultralink/XLO brought Showgoers virtuoso bass guitarist Dean Peer Friday evening. Dean, whose audiophile sound-quality CDs Ucross and Travelogue are being reissued by Ultralink/XLO, used artificial harmonics, flamenco right-hand techniques, and a battery of effects pedals to create complex yet funky soundscapes. Thanks for the sonic treat, Ultralink/XLO.—JA

Roger Skoff's long-established line of XLO cables joined the Ultralink family of cables in 2002 to form Ultralink/XLO. Since then, much work has gone into further refining cable design. The result is the continued revitalization of XLO and the launch of an entirely new line of Argentum Acoustics by XLO cables. Most of the Argentum line is made of ultra pure, Ohno continuous cast copper (UPOCC), save for the digital cable, which includes silver to handle high frequencies.

According to publicist extraordinaire and former Stereophile staffer Jonathan Scull and Ultralink/XLO sales manager Nate Mansfield, Argentum tends toward a more forgiving presentation than XLO. The high-end is softened just a bit, making it easier to overlook flaws in both recordings and brightly etched equipment. I know cables are not supposed to be used as tone controls, but there you have it. I will be reviewing the Argentum Mythos line-level interconnects, Argento AES/EBU digital interconnect, Aureus speaker cable, and Proteus-12 high-current power cable for another network.

XLO continues to be the company's hand-built, "high-end choice," and delivers a more linear, what you have is what you hear presentation Because some parts of Argentum cables are machine-built, their prices fall in the middle of the XLO line.

New from XLO are the middle level Signature 3 single-ended interconnect and Reference 3 balanced interconnect. Both take advantage of the later technology, and are newly redesigned from older Roger Skoff designs to include different geometries, dielectrics, and metallurgy. All are composed entirely of UPOCC, and feature exposed geometry. (You can't see everything that's going on in Argentum cables).

The room's demo system was one of two I heard in which Dynaudio's 30th-anniversary Sapphire speakers were demmed with their grilles off. Since the speakers were designed to be played with grilles on, the sound was too bright on loud passages. Hence, not even the excellent Wadia 571 transport, Wadia 931 digital controller, Wadia 922 mono DAC, Pass Labs 100Wpc amp, and a combo of Signature 3 interconnects, Signature 3 4B AES/EBU digital cable, Signature 3.2 speaker cable, and Signature 3 10 power cord could get the system to sound good once my chosen selection, Richard Strauss' Alpine Symphony, reached the first of many thrilling climaxes.—JVS