When it comes to gnomic discussions about cables, Ansuz gets close to winning the prize. Normally, when it comes to discussions about cables, there isn’t great deal to talk about, but what there is usually settles on the materials used in the conductors, the dielectric, the type of plugs used. Within these fairly limited parameters, things get a bit florid. You might start with ‘copper in a PTFE shield’ but by the end of the proceedings, it’s the finest filigree ductile cuprum, lovingly strand-casted by artisans then wrapped in the most sheer gauze of pure fluropolymer of tetrofluroethylene.
Ansuz doesn’t do that. Its X-Series – the brand’s entry-level cabling “is made of twisted, shielded, silver-plated copper solid-cores in mechanically stable Teflon insulation.” That is all you get from the brand. OK, so beyond this there are discussions about electrical and mechanical grounding and how important it is for an audio system. This includes discussions about why such things are important and upgrade paths to show just what can be done and just what can be made better, but even these discussions border on the descriptive, and are disturbingly free from hyperbole and gushing prose.
However, a lot of the technolgies used inside Ansuz cables that act on electrical grounding apply further up the price list. X-Series cables don’t have acronyms like DGC (Direct Ground Connector) or ‘AARC’ (Ansuz Advanced Resonance Control) because these are more complicated systems applied specifically to the more up-market cables in the Ansuz line-up. While X-Series is designed from scratch taking electrical grounding into consideration, it remains, ultimately, a series of ‘twisted, shielded, silver-plated solid cores in a mechanically stable Teflon insulation.’
We got a fairly standard complete front-to-back system of X-Series cables, comprising a single-wired set of Speakz X loudspeaker cables, two sets of metre-long Signalz X RCA-RCA interconnect cables, a single 2m BNC-BNC Digitalz digital interconnect cable, and three 2m Mainz X power cords. These were fitted with EU plugs, because the package also included a Mainz8 X.TC distribution box (currently only available with EU power sockets, and a 4m Mainz X power cord complete with UK three pin power connector. This not only represents a good complete starter system, but the recommended cable lengths by Ansuz.
The Mainz8 X is a star-earthed distribution block with – as the name suggests – eight power sockets. It is available in two versions: the Mainz8 X and the Mainz8 X.TC. The ‘TC’ part of the name relates to the use of Tesla Coils inside the steel framed MDF chassis. Most people’s experience with Tesla Coils revolves around their production of a high-voltage, low-current, high-frequency AC current, which makes for excellent light-shows in a Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory manner. However, at less showy voltages, Tesla Coils also work to influence an electromagnetic field, which is very much at the core of what Ansuz is all about.
The cable system arrived burned in by Ansuz, I used it in a number of systems, most notably however with the Hegel Mohican CD player and the matching H90 integrated amplifier. In loudspeaker terms, I used it with a number of designs, but had great success with the Monitor Audio Silver 300. I also used it more contemporaneously (both the H90 and Silver 300 are now back with their respective companies) with the Chartwell LS6/f and the excellent Primare I35 integrated amplifier tested in this issue. Because the Speakz X cables were sent with banana plugs at both ends, they were unable to be used with my benchmark Wilson Duette Series II loudspeakers, but the spread of good and appropriately priced products gives a fine indication of what X-Series can do.
Unlike more esoteric cables in the Ansuz range, these both give up their goodies almost immediately, and then unveiled the real pearls over time. The instant hit is one of extremely good detail and coherence, with an agile, taut bass and a lot of top-end expression. The longer-term performance is one of far greater midrange clarity.
The usual ‘lowers the noise floor’ cliché does apply here, although not quite so markedly as happened with previous encounters with Ansuz cables. However, those ‘previous encounters’ were with cables that cost two orders of magnitude more than X-Series, so relatively speaking a lesser lowering of noise is understandable under the circumstances. In absolute terms, however, it does set the system in a darker place, and that comes through from the outset. Darker is good: it’s more ‘uncannily natural’ than ‘murder ballads’.
More than that, though, the X-Series had a uniformity to it that proved extremely attractive and coherent. There was a lot of detail on tap, and this gave the cable just the right amount of high-frequency energy without the accompanying zing and brashness. This was particularly noticeable when playing my standard issue ‘Chameleon’ by Trentemøller [The Last Resort, Poker Flat]. The track is ostensibly about deep bass (I use it to test ports, to see if they choke up when the music becomes very deep and very fast-paced), but has a lot of sharp high-frequency sounds (like sampled glass smashing). A lot of very good cables can sometimes fall over this, as those jangly sounds can dominate the sound, especially when played through smaller speakers. The uniformity makes this far more intelligible and, in the process, malevolent.
As the days and weeks progressed, X-Series had a secret up its sleeve. It gave the already intelligible midrange a lift. Not an increase at a given frequency, but an overall increase in clarity and articulation in that all important section. This was a mild improvement, but an improvement all the same. I suspect this came down to the distrbution block, which seems to take some time to take effect.
A good component works to make the music sound harmonious. A good cable family strives to make the whole audio system work in harmony. That is the case with X-Series. It’s more about bringing a consistency to the sound, so that your system has fewer ‘off’ days, so that everything just sings a little bit closer in tune, and makes all the components seem that bit closer. Starting with the power and distribution, X-Series draws your system together.