For example, the References did a great job with the traditional Appalachian song “Darlin’ Cory” from the late Chris Jones’ Roadhouses and Automobiles [Stockfisch, CD]—a superb recording whose rich details are not easy to get right. First, the References let me hear the fundamental warmth of Jones’ guitar properly juxtaposed against its bright, sparkling, yet coolly-inflected harmonics—harmonics many cables tend to exaggerate. Next, the Furutechs caught the traditional high lonesome sound of Siard de Jong’s mandolin, showing how it adds a touch of melancholy to an otherwise light, fanciful string of notes. Later, when de Jong switches to the fiddle, the Reference cables caught the instrument’s inimitable backcountry swagger, as de Jong plays fast-rising bowed swells that almost, but not quite, holler out at the listener. Finally, the cables simply nailed the deep, muscular, commanding sound of Grischka Zepf ’s electric bass. My point is that the Reference cables invite listeners to explore musical textures and timbres without ever generating overwrought caricatures of authentic detail.
The Reference and Evolution Series cables use high-purity copper conductors that have been given Furutech’s signature “Alpha-process” cryogenic and demagnetization conditioning treatments. The main differences between the cable families are that the Reference models provide silver-plated rhodium instead of gold-plated brass connectors, feature better conductor and dielectric materials, and—most significantly—incorporate GC-303 EMI filters (GC-303 is a special EMI absorbent material). Nevertheless, the Evolutions, which cost less than half what the Reference IIIs do, are by any rational standard extremely high-performance cables, though the References do a better job with low-level details very low-frequency bass, and background noise.
I also compared two Furutech power distribution modules: the 6-outlet e-TP609 and 8-outlet e-TP80. The e-TP609 and e-TP80 both feature Alpha-processed chassis panels, high-quality internal wiring, and strategically located blocks of GC-303 for passive EMI filtering. The e-TP609 also has Furutech’s vibration-damped “Axial Locking” connectors, while the e-TP80 isolates two outlets for high-wattage components, another two for low(er)-wattage analog components, and provides four with dedicated, active EMI filters. Unlike Furutech’s cables, the two power distribution modules have somewhat different sonic signatures. The e-TP609 delivered a smooth, organic sound, while the e-TP80 served up a bigger, more overtly dynamic and detailed sound. Although I appreciated the drama of the e-TP80, I felt the sound of the e-TP609 was more consistent with that of Furutech’s cables.