Stereovox's Totally Tubular Cables

Stereovox has introduced a more affordable Studio series of cables to complement its extravagant Reference products. (John Marks raved about them here.) The new Studio HDSE (high-definition single-ended) interconnects are thin and flexible, but each cable is constructed from a single high-purity 0.008" thick copper tube, clad in a silver-plated copper woven shield, with pure tape-wrapped full-density PTFE Teflon dielectric and an FEP jacket. The Studio cables employ a new chrome-plated Xhadow™ Reference precision-machined RCA connector.

The HDSE's "microtube" construction gives the conductor "the skin profile of a 32 AWG conductor, while maintaining the lower resistance of a larger gauge," explained designer Chris Sommovigo. "Making it this way is strictly a skin-effect management approach. It's simply one of many viable ways to deal with skin effect—other designers have used ribbons or Litz, while others don't use Litz but still use finely stranded wires in other arrays. In our Reference Series, I emulated a multi-tiered, tubular, thin-walled conductor by helically wrapping thin conductors around a core to shape them into a tube. It occurred to me that, rather than having to perform all that expensive assembly processing to emulate a tube, I should just use a tube."

"After that, it simply became a process of getting the wall thickness and the annealing right, so it didn't collapse on itself when you bent it. The Studio Series is pretty flexible—you can radius it as tight as the thickness of your thumb and you'll be all right. Of course, you don't want to work it back and forth a whole bunch, but you don't want to do that with any cable, probably."

And why chrome plate the RCA connectors? "Uhh—because I think they look pretty? I could spin you a line about it, but there's no compelling electrical reason to either use or not use chrome. It's durable and a good conductor and it is attractive."

Stereovox silver plates the Xhadow Reference banana connectors on its HDLS speaker cables, which come with an ingenious spade adaptor (also silvered). The speaker cables also employ tubular conductors and a PTFE (Teflon) dielectric.

Completing the line is HDX2, an AES/EBU digital cable made from "two very simple, but very precise, coaxial cables that each exhibit 110 ohms characteristic impedance," said Sommovigo. "The signal conductor is Mil-Spec silver-plated copper, the dielectric is a very fast, layered air-Teflon tape, the shield is a tightly woven silver-plated copper, and the very thin outer jacket is FEP." The HDX2 is terminated with Xhadow Reference XLR connectors.

"The HDX2 was intended to be one of those 'no-brainer' products," Sommovigo said. "I've been asked to do digital cables for Stereovox's Reference line, but between the HDXV and the HDX2 I doubt that there is much more to be squeezed out of the digital interface cable than has already been done in these two products."

"You could say that it's a refinement and simplification of what I originally did in the Illuminati Orchid AES/EBU nine or ten years ago. In fact, it might never have come if it weren't for the request of one of our distributors for an AES/EBU cable to serve his market. I was satisfied with the HDXV and I assumed that the AES/EBU interface had all but withered away as an interface format for high-end audio. I wasn't sure that there was a large enough market any longer to justify the expense of making a new AES/EBU cable from scratch. Our distributor convinced us otherwise, and that's when I got to work on it. I'm glad he convinced us to do it, because it's turned out to be a fantastic product."

HDSE interconnects are $199.99 "for up to 1m," HDLS is $599.99 for a 2.5m pair, and HDX2 is $349.99 "for up to 1m." The HDXV S/PDIF digital/video cable is still $99.99 "for up to 1m."