First off, let me acknowledge that the standard cable supplied with the Utopia is a good one—especially for listeners who prefer a presentation that emphasises extreme treble extension, high transient speeds, and crisp definition, albeit at the expense of a subtle quality of coolness in the sound and a slight tendency toward leanness in the bass. In contrast, what the Black Dragon Premium V2 brings to the party is, as advertised, a smoother and very slightly sweeter top end, but—and this is important—with no loss in transient speed, focus, or definition. Moreover, the Black Dragon Premium V2 offered a subtle degree of natural-sounding midrange warmth and a notably rounder, more full-bodied, and more strikingly three-dimensional midrange presentation. Finally, the Black Dragon Premium V2 neatly solved the perceived ‘bass leanness’ problem of the standard cable by adding a subtle but welcome touch of mid-bass weight to match the standard cable’s already excellent low-bass response (the net effect of substituting the Dragon cables is that the Utopia’s bass suddenly seems more linear and balanced in the critical mid-bass-to-low-bass transition region).
A track that nicely shows all these factors in play is ‘You Love the Thunder’ from Jackson Browne’s classic Running On Empty [Rhino UK, 24-192 re-mastered]. Apart from Browne, whose voice and guitar are of course centrepieces in the album, four key contributors are Leland Sklar on bass, Russ Kunkel on drums, David Lindley on lap steel guitar, and Danny Kortchmar on lead guitar. Through the standard cable this wonderful live recording sounds like what it is: namely, really excellent hi-fi. But with the Moon Audio cable in play, the track takes on a new life of its own, becoming more natural sounding, more three-dimensional, and much, much more engaging. Suddenly, Sklar’s wonderfully energetic bass has real punch and a visceral snarl, while Kunkel’s percussion drives the song forward with exuberant, locomotive-like force. At the same time, Lindley and Kortchmar trade beautifully phrased and artfully timed licks, raising the energy level of the song even higher. With help from the Dragon cables, Lindley’s lap steel lines, in particular, become at once sweet, soaring, and very incisive, so that the sheer beauty of the playing is at times simply breath-taking.
My point is that Moon Audio’s Black Dragon Premium V2 headphone cables help lift the sound of the superb Focal Utopia from the realm of great hi-fi on up into that rare atmosphere where great hi-fi leaves off so that truly great music can unfold. In short, this cable helps make a world-class headphone even better: highly recommended.
Type: Premium-class headphone signal cable for use with the Focal Utopia headphone. Offered in various lengths and terminated for use with single‑ended or balanced-output amplifiers.
Cable construction: Four 21.5 AWD conductors feature Teflon-insulated, multi-strand conductors featuring mono-crystal UP-OCC pure copper wire with 7N 99.9998% purity ratings. The cables use variable size stranding geometries, with cotton and Teflon dielectrics, full-length shielding, and polyethylene jackets.
Cable Connectors (Focal Utopia model):
Headphone side: LEMO-type connectors.
Amplifier side: Furutech Top Line-series single-ended (6.35mm TRS headphone plug) or balanced (4-pin XLR) connectors.
Available lengths: 5, 10, 15, or 20-foot lengths.
Pricing: Starts at $395 US.
Manufacturer Information: Moon Audio
106 Brady Ct., Cary, NC 27511 USA
Tel.: +1 (919) 649-5018
Note: Although Moon Audio is a US-based firm it routinely arranges sales and shipments to the UK and to Europe. Contact Moon Audio for details.