An interesting comparison here before we leave the Naim ecosystem is how Super Lumina compares to comparable Chord Company cables, like Sarum T. The two in many respects have much in common in terms of detail, inherent musicality, and pace, but the Super Lumina is the faster sounding of the two cables, where the Sarum goes for a fuller, richer sound. I wouldn’t say one is more ‘engaging’ than the other, but where Super Lumina is more ‘emotional’ sounding. Chord Sarum T sounds more ‘elegant’. The Naim cables (especially the interconnects) are less forgiving of bad recordings, but neither lay the music bare. I can see either keeping a long-held place in a Naim system, and the differences between them are more ‘how do you take your coffee?’ than ‘I cast thee into Hell for crimes against audio’.
Moving out of the Naim ecosystem, Super Lumina fares well too. It faces a much harder task outside of Naim territory simply because there are grillions of cable options available to the listener, and the cachet using a cable by Naim may have for people who use Naim fades fast for those outside the Salisbury Set, but it should not be discounted out-of-hand. Strangely, the cable also seemed to have something close to a change of character, sounding slightly softer, more relaxed, and with a fuller bass. The speed and that leading-edge intensity are still present, but even here these transients are somewhat less present and noticeable. For example, the percussion that underpins ‘La Grange’ [ZZ Top, Tres Hombres, London] still bites and has force, but it’s not simply Frank Beard beating the hell out of a drum kit; there is more subtlety and shape to the sounds, a dimensionality that borders on warmth.
OK, so the Super Lumina’s change of character is not a major one and reflects more the nature of the systems in which it is used, making this chameleon quality one of simply showing up more of the system, which is a good thing. Those set on using cables as tone controls will find that all but impossible with Super Lumina because the sound depends on the equipment, as it should.
As with Naim equipment, Super Lumina is not a cheap-system enhancer, a panacea, or a tone control. Use it in that manner and you may find there are better cables out there to meet your needs. Also, aside from leading-edge definition, Super Lumina is a subtle, yet sinuous, and textured performer instead of something immediately impressive and ultimately disappointing.
Combining the results both in and out of a Naim system suggests that Super Lumina is a remarkably well-rounded cable, especially at top-end information retrieval. It doesn’t spit data at you, regardless of system, and likewise across the board is intrinsically neutral enough to let the basic character of the components shine through. I can see this being something of a surprise for those used to more heavily flavoured cable sounds where the honesty of Super Lumina will be mistaken for a performance change to the system. Some of that comes down to my own initial impressions, thinking – in the speaker cable at least – what was going to be on offer was ‘super NAC A5’. Super Lumina is many things, but not an upgraded NAC A5; not only is the tonal balance different, the rhythmic and timbral properties are not identical, either. It does a lot of what A5 does, but in a different way – not better, or worse, different… like a guitarist who has changed pickups in his guitar.
Perhaps the best part of Super Lumina is the consistency between interconnect and speaker cable (perhaps not so unexpected because both are essential spaced twin conductor designs), but the performance of the interconnect is extremely close to that of the speaker cable. This is an obsession of those companies that talk ‘cable looms’ but this shows Naim is taking its cable responsibilities seriously, too.