In pro audio the answer to the question what’s the best cable? Is “the one that is the right length to make the connection.” In domestic audio, as we know, it’s not quite that straightforward! We appreciate that getting the whole signal from A to B without losing crucial information along the way is far harder than it should be. This is why many call cabling the weakest link in the system, the place where more losses occur than anywhere else. Graham Nalty – one of the UK’s cable pioneers with Sonic Link from the 1980s – has long understood this. He has been refining his Black Rhodium cable range since 2002, when he started telling the world about the benefits of rhodium plating for audio connections. Since then, Nalty has developed a range of audio and video cables including power cords and musical instrument leads.
This review looks at several new cables in the Black Rhodium range, Overture interconnect, Polka speaker cable, and Stream power cable. Overture is a hand-built interconnect that comes in RCA and XLR balanced forms and uses pure silver conductors (99.99%) in a dielectric of air and PTFE, which is described as “a layer of air separating the wire from the inner wall of the insulation along its length”, which sounds like a loose fitting tube to me. These have a braided screen to minimise RF interference and the conductors are “wired in opposing direction for lower noise floor,” which means they are oriented differently for send and return, although how this lowers noise is not clear. As with all Black Rhodium interconnects, they are twisted to reduce RFI; a technique that is generally – if not universally – accepted. The RCA plugs are Graham Nalty’s own GN-4 types with rhodium-plated connectors and a single earth connection in a plastic collar, an arrangement not dissimilar to the Eichmann Bullet plug.
Polka speaker cable also has anti-RFI screening using a braided screen that protects 4mm square copper conductors in a “thicker than usual” version of Black Rhodium’s preferred silicone rubber insulation, the extra girth chosen to keep conductors apart. It’s a conveniently flexible cable with a woven external sleeve around the twisted conductors; each length is terminated in rhodium plated 4mm banana plugs with an easy to use locking system, although spade connectors are also an option.