The importance of the last step in developing a product is underestimated by many individuals.
Of course, a lot goes into the concept stage, along with the product’s design, development and prototyping, but moving forward into production requires you to take one last sober look at your design to see whether you’ve met your targets.
You need to be willing to tip over game board and start over.
Development our cables was no exception.
It’s About Balance
Our litz cables are a case in point. Producing a sonically viable design which is at the same time robust, are two design goals that are at odds with each other.
Reinforcing the cable by adopting the audiophile approved, “garden hose” architecture kills the sound.
Make it too delicate and it will fail in the field.
Ruffling Some Feathers
Contrary to the good press it receives in the audiophile world, we’ve found Teflon to “bleach” out the tone colors, squash dynamics and “sanitize” the sound.
The fact that Teflon based parts have long long break-in periods (typically 300-400 hours) would be barely tolerable if the material ultimately delivered the sonic goods.
Even worse, the break-in path for Teflon looks like a stock market graph – trending in a general direction, but reversing its course multiple times along the way. It gets worse on its path to getting “better” (to the extent that it really gets better).
How many audiophiles give up on a component before it’s “properly” broken in?
One of the watershed moments in the development of the NiWatt amplifiers was when we eliminated Teflon from the signal path (disclosure: the filament wires are Teflon jacketed as a safety precaution). That this sped up the amplifiers’ break-in was a secondary (but much appreciated) bonus.
As we implied above, a cable has to withstand being plugged and unplugged, and in service of this requirement, we confess to using a bit of Teflon in our interconnects (about an inch) in order to protect the fragile litz wire at the strain-relief points. Knowing when to say “when” is the key, and fortunately, this little material has proven to be benign.
Audio Jewelry & Perceived Value
Garden hoses give you more perceived value for your dollar – especially if you’re purchasing audio by the pound (or by the kilo, for the majority of the world). If you value flexible cable runs and sonics however, the value proposition is quite the opposite of the “massive = good” philosophy.
The minimalist plugs designed by Keith Eichman (KLE/Eichman Bullet Plugs) are nothing special to look at, but they’re yet another example of a balanced design.
The Bullet Plugs are by no means the only plugs which reduce the material mass, but they’re a prime example, and excellent execution of this philosophy.
You’re buying a “tool” to perform a stated task, and not jewelry, right?