The cables sit one notch down from the very top of the Audiomica range; a 1m pair of Europa Ultra Reference interconnects costs £1,330, while a 3m pair of Genimides Ultra Reference loudspeaker cables is a modest (by high-end standards) £1,800. These prices may put the Audiomica cables in an odd position in the marketplace: too expensive for many to contemplate, yet too cheap to be taken seriously by those in search of the best available. That would be a shame, because these cables are truly remarkable, and capable of delivering a level of performance from a system which I think it would be very hard to exceed, and not just ‘for the price’.
Sometimes, you don’t realise there is a problem until you hear a product which doesn’t have the problem. The Audiomicas are simply better at getting out of the way. They seem to excel at the important stuff, like pitch, timing, and dynamics, largely by not impeding those qualities to any appreciable extent. They do this while also delivering levels of subtlety, texture, and detail, which amply complement those most vital of attributes.
Taking the Europa first, I was struck by the degree of intensity to music conveyed by this interconnect. Short piano runs in Michiel Borstlap’s playing on 88 [Michiel Borstlap Trio, Challenge Records] stop being mere noodly flourishes and gain a real sense of purpose. Suddenly, you are much more aware what the players are about; music gains in shape and sense of direction. Any given line is deliberate and considered; any emphasis is ‘just-so’, because that’s what was intended. The performance is simply more skilful.
This is partly down to timing, in its most fundamental sense of when the various bits of the signal reach your ear. There is ‘rightness’ about the timing, as delivered through the Europa. Percussion, of which there is plenty on 88, suddenly makes much more sense, hitherto random bangs and crashes coalesce into inventive and skilful playing; the trio gel together as never before and the effect is a compelling, propulsive performance that carries the listener along with the music-making. The opening bass and sax riff on Jennifer Warnes’ classic version of ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ [Famous Blue Raincoat, RCA] catches your interest and draws you in, and there is a greater sense of storytelling to the vocals. The song goes from very good to great. It was always great, of course, but now it’s obviously great.
And so it goes on: the usually ebullient ‘Kramat’ from Abdullah Ibrahim’s Ekapa Lodumo [Tip Toe] is even more joyous and exuberant. From the moment the NDR big band joins the solo flute opening, there is an event taking place in front of you. It’s a big and impressive performance, and has been rendered so by many a big and impressive system in its time but which, for all their size and impressiveness, have rarely conveyed the way in which the various different elements combine into something quite as marvellous as this. ‘Black and Brown Cherries’ from the same album conveys a real sense of conversation between the piano and the horns. The piece builds in emphasis without becoming strident or over-excited, because the band, pianist, and percussion remain locked together.