Optimus Reference does sound like something exploding from one of Michael Bay’s abysmal yet lucrative Transformers movies, but it’s the current flagship of Clearer Audio’s range, topping out the best-of-breed Silver-line group of pure silver and silver-plated copper cables from the brand.
A pseudo, quad-balanced design, Optimus Reference uses 99.9999% pure silver conductors throughout, all made using the Ohno Continuous Cast process more commonly found in pure copper rather than pure silver wire. The cable uses a hybrid of seven solid-cores in a concentric stranded geometry to form each conductor core. The conductors are then insulated in foamed polyethylene, chosen for its outstanding dissipation factor, low dielectric constant, and low capacitive effect (or permittivity). Only free air and Teflon come close to these features, but using air alone as an insulator is impractical and Teflon doesn’t sound as good, according to Clearer Audio.
The two send and two return conductors in each cable are twisted around a cotton filler rod to reduce inductance and RFI, and then the whole cable itself is shielded using a seven layer braid/foil arrangement of silver-plated copper and pure copper. Yet more RFI and other spurious noise is caught thanks to the ferrite rings at each end of the cable, coated in the distinctive electric blue found covering the strain relief of the Eichmann Bullet RCA plugs, a popular plug choice among audiophiles in the know about such things. Clearer Audio burns the cables in for 60 hours on an audiodharma Cable Cooker, but recommends an additional 50-100 hours of bedding in time in a system.
This is a cable full of vim and vigour. The sense of energy – especially in that open and expressive midrange – is impossible to ignore, and it Optimus Reference’s equivalent of its signature dish. But, the same applies to the treble and bass, too: it just takes you longer to parse these because the midband is so expressive and immediate. The clarity of the treble can be a test for some systems, as the cable doesn’t suffer high-frequency fools gladly; zingy metal dome tweeters and thin-sounding sources played through the Optimus Reference are left exposed, rather than politely overlooked. But when the system is well balanced, the Optimus Reference will reward you with the kind of purity of sound that is hard to ignore and impossible to live without once experienced first hand. It is good enough that it makes you think you upgraded source, amp, and speakers. What is really surprising here is the temporal precision: this cable has much of that ‘right’ note attack of Nordost’s best.
The name may be a bit of a mouthful, but Clearer Audio’s Silver-line Optimus Reference interconnect cable is one of the very best audio cables out there, regardless of cost. Highly recommended for well-sorted systems.
Product: Clearer Audio Silver‑line Optimus Reference interconnect cable
Price: From £895/0.5m pair, £230 per additional 0.25m
Manufactured by: Clearer Audio Ltd
Tel: +44(0)1702 543981