After our very nice encounter with the top, factory confectioned, loudspeaker cable from the Japanese company Furutech, the phenomenal Nanoflux, time came to have a closer look at its competitor, offered … from spool only. Yes, yes, while the only power cords that come with plugs are the Nanoflux-NCF, Powerflux (PS-950-18E) and Power Reference III, you should not expect it is different in other cable assortments. So with the enthusiasm adequate to the expected quality of the cables we received the very nicely named DSS-4.1, which were supplied to us by the Katowice based distributor of the brand – RCM .
As you can see on the pictures, the RCM team was kind enough to provide us with a dedicated 2.5m long demonstration set, equipped with plugs and nicely looking splitters, instead of just tossing us two roughly cut pieces on the floor. Of course there is no reason why you would not fit the plugs yourselves, or have the confectioning done by the distributor/shop, but in this case we think, the less complication and steps to be taken, the better, so this pair of ready made cables fulfilled our expectations completely.
The cable itself is not overly thick, so it should pose no real problem when trying to fit it behind the stereo and loudspeakers. This is helped by the single wires sticking out from the splitters. The external, protective sheath, opalescent with silky black and having silvery spots on it, reminds me of the one known from the Danish Organic Original Series. It is very nice for touching, which does not have any tendency for pulling threads or catching dust. In terms of a more thorough vivisection, I mean reaching under the sheath, I must confess that the Japanese did not try to reinvent the wheel but used their experience gained during design and production of the, otherwise brilliant, power cord … DPS-4, the “pink candy”. True, the pink cable reached version 4.1 during last two years, and the sheath is not as purple as it was anymore, evolving into a kind of “bishop crimson” (you can see that on Jack’s photos), yet the idea and the used materials remained unchanged. Going outward from the dead center we have here a double wire conductor, double isolated, where each of the runs is woven around a NCF PE core with 0.8mm diameter. On the outside of this, we have 89 wires from α-OCC copper, 0.18mm each, woven to the right, then another layer of 39 of such wires woven to the left, and finally, a layer of 62 wires with 0.13 diameter woven to the right, but this time the wires are made from α-DUCC. Each of such runs has a secondary isolation made of FEP (Fluoropolymer) and an external one made from PE, brown for “+” and blue for “-“. The whole is wrapped in fabric, then black PVC enriched with ceramic carbon nanoparticles, upon which a double shielding is applied made from copper foil and braid. This is then wrapped in a paper tape and finally a deep purple PVC tube, as known from the “pink candy”. But to make this cable less eye-catching the whole is covered with a black-silver sheath made from Nylon.
The cable is directional, and the proper orientation is marked by arrows on the aluminum splitters.
Knowing what is inside this cable, under the nicely looking “skin”, and what its sibling, the DPS-4, is able to achieve, one could expect similar performance regarding resolution and dynamics. Yet things are somewhat different, as due to, maybe not even the small construction differences, but the much lower currents flowing through the DSS 4.1, make the tested cable behave in its very own way. It has a lot of resolution, but is not as uncompromised, and due to the place it is implemented, it does not have such high demands of the “throughput” of things attached to it. So while the “pink candy” could almost “drown” a device, which was not able to cope with the wealth of information it provided, the DSS-4.1 has only the loudspeakers on one of its ends, and that changes things slightly. Yes, slightly, as we cannot escape reality, and claim that cables are the most important thing, as it is known, that the final sound of the loudspeakers depends in 90% on the amplifier, and in 10% on the package of information we try to preserve with cables. Yes, Dear Readers, the cables cannot add anything from themselves, as being a passive element, they have no means of getting any kind of extra information. At most they can keep some details for themselves, filter out some nuances, accent others, but we are always within the amount of electric impulses provided by the amplifier. Keeping things short it is about the idea, that a certain cable should keep as little to itself as possible, “disappearing” from the sound path, providing the highest possible conformity of what comes in on one end with what exits on the other end. And here we deal with exactly this case. Let us take for example the soundtrack “Tuntematon Sotilas (musiikki Aku Louhimiehen Elokuvaan)” from Lasse Enersen, where grand symphonics mixes with Finnish Christmas songs (“Joulu Rintamalla”) and the sound stage, usually kept at a distance, comes very close, completely changing the perspective. With this kind of aesthetics it is very hard to keep the coherence and mood of the composition. Yet the Furutech was able to master this, precisely pinpointing the individual sound sources, due to what the orchestra remained in its place, and only the vocalists sat down close to the listener. Equally good impression makes the extension, precision and volume of the lowest notes. Absolutely no oneiric spots or flowing around your ankles. Just like the midrange or treble, where we can define the structure and saturation of the contours of the sounds, it is the same with the bass, and although on the mentioned soundtrack this foundation is only there to make an appropriate climate, then on the incredibly fast and perfectly virtuoso “Controlled Chaos” by Nita Strauss, the drums not only push you into your listening seat, but just jerks your internal organs, while the guitar riffs, something this whole album is mostly composed of, are burning with living fire. But instead of thrashing your ears with hisses and fizzles seemingly coming to life under the finger of the only woman honored with a custom, signed with her name, beautiful Ibanez JIVA with a mahogany-maple body and maple-amaranthine neck, the Furutech weaves a subtle spider’s web of fire and hangs it in space. This is not a mindless sprint, who can play faster, or more, but pure virtuoso playing and juggling with conventions, at the same time bucking the trends, like a woman would not be able to “shred” like Steve Vai (who also has a dedicated Ibanez, the Jem7). The thing that counts here is the ability to truthfully reproduce the fingers moving on the strings and the neck, and that speed determines success or failure. And I probably do not need to tell you, that this test was passed with flying colors? Really? OK – it did.
You can experience the refinement and resolution and transparency embedded in this cable’s DNA not only by exploring the extremes of the guitar giants, but also with much more civilized, what does not mean easier, repertoire. Let us take for example “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” from Steve Kuhn and his trio, where each instrument could have its own album, while there were nicely blended in the boundaries of a combines project, and it is somehow our problem not to be overwhelmed with the richness of sounds. With the Furutech every listening means reaching deeper into the recording. So the first one we can perceive as kind of reconnaissance and rough assessment of the potential buried in this recording, the second one would be getting acquainted with the precise positioning of the individual musicians on the stage and the sizes of the instruments themselves, while subsequent listening becomes the music lover’s feast, who can move between the players and feed his eyes and ears with the performance of the members of the trio.
It cannot be denied, that the Furutech DSS-4.1 is an incredibly interesting, but almost three times less expensive, maybe not alternative, but introduction, to what the top Nanoflux can offer. The DSS-4.1 has the same sound aesthetics, internal calmness combined with incredible resolution and refinement, while the “older brethren” has more to show in terms of the size of generated sound, its saturation and the darkness of the background. I am writing about this, because I had the opportunity to host the Nanoflux in my system for a longer time, and I had it quite fresh in my memory, so I compared it with the tested cable more or less automatically. Without this comparison, there would be less of the “but” for the tested cable, but having the reference point at appropriately high level, it is much easier to assess the assets or shortcomings of a lower model. And the DSS-4.1 not only proved itself in such an uncomfortable comparison, but it is very hard to find any shortcomings in it. In short, this is a splendid cable, which has good odds to satisfy maybe not all, but at least 99% of the audiophile population. And what with the missing 1%? For them there is the Nanoflux, the Siltech Triple Crown and other high-end brand top offerings.
System used in this test:
– CD/DAC: Ayon CD-35 (Preamp + Signature)
– Network player: Lumin U1 Mini; Roon Nucleus
– DAC: dCS Vivaldi DAC 2.0
– Digital source selector: Audio Authority 1177
– Turntable: Kuzma Stabi S + Kuzma Stogi + Dynavector DV-10X5
– Phonostage: Tellurium Q Iridium MM/MC Phono Pre Amp
– Power amplifier: Bryston 4B³
– Loudspeakers: Dynaudio Contour 30
– IC RCA: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond
– IC XLR: Organic Audio; Vermöuth Audio Reference
– Digital IC: Fadel art DigiLitz; Harmonic Technology Cyberlink Copper; Apogee Wyde Eye; Monster Cable Interlink LightSpeed 200
– USB cables: Wireworld Starlight; Goldenote Firenze Silver; Audiomica Laboratory Pebble Consequence USB; Fidata HFU2
– Speaker cables: Signal Projects Hydra
– Power cablese: Furutech FP-3TS762 / FI-28R / FI-E38R; Organic Audio Power + Furutech CF-080 Damping Ring; Acoustic Zen Gargantua II; Furutech Nanoflux Power NCF
– Power distribution board: Furutech e-TP60ER + Furutech FP-3TS762 / Fi-50 NCF(R) /FI-50M NCF(R)
– Wall power socket: Furutech FT-SWS(R)
– Anti-vibration platform: Franc Audio Accessories Wood Block Slim Platform
– Ethernet cables: Neyton CAT7+; Audiomica Laboratory Anort Consequence
– Table: Rogoz Audio 4SM3
One thing is absolutely certain. Furutech is one of the best known manufacturers creating changes on the world audio market in terms of audio cables and accessories used for them. Of course, when you take a deep dive into the company’s portfolio, there is also some electronics, but having in mind, how this brand is recognized by the audiophiles, this is just a margin of their manufacturing. That products also have some followers, but there is no way of putting an equal sign between those two parts of the company. What is the reason for that? A much broader offering in the cabling area and all kinds of plugs, sockets and connectors for our systems. Am I not right? You do not need to respond, as for most high quality music lovers this is a kind of unwritten axiom, what does not leave any space for any discussion. What is the reason for my writing above? Well, after the recent marketing entrance of the DPS-4 (currently DPS-4.1) power cable, due to the uncommon dark-pink color of the external sleeve named “pink candy” by its users, time came for the introduction of this series to loudspeaker cabling. This is also the reason that I invite everybody to read a few sentences about the approach to music served by the tested set of loudspeaker cables DSS-4.1, provided to us by the Katowice distributor RCM.
Talking about the construction of our tested cable, I would like to remind you, that this is a kind of adaptation of the idea for power transfer from the wall socket to the powered device. But this is not a 1:1 transfer of all solutions, because when you look at the cross-sections visualized on the company web pages you can clearly see, that we deal here with small changes in the amount and diameter of wires in each of the layers, while covering the currently purple sheath with a black braid with white dots. The cable supplied for testing was equipped with a barrel at each end, which split the signal into the positive and negative wire, and each of those is terminated with solid, proprietary spades. So in short, this is how the cable is made. But I think, that the most important information for many of you, will be the nod to the DIY community, and having this cable available from spool, what, in great probability, will lower the cost of purchase, when you would like to have it in your system. Although I myself, would ask the distributor for help in terminating it, but I know a lot of people, who would exploit this aspect and do everything themselves. So I think that such approach from Japanese cannot be underestimated and positively influences the perception of the brand.
What interesting happened when I plugged the DSS in my audio system? Well, the music gained speed. An interesting phenomenon was the specifics of the cross-section of the acoustic band reproduced by my system. Usually boosting of the attack happens on the expense of saturation and vividness of the sound, yet this time I still had a very energetic and vivid sound. It gets even better. There was no penalty for the treble, identical as with the power cord, resonant, yet far from offensive. The only part, what sounded a bit different than I remembered from the power “candy”, are the more tight bass, so converting from my language into the general one, the bass became tighter without losing weight. All in all, that what was presented by my set, due to the fact, that I purposely emphasize on the aspect of saturation of the music, after application of the DSS-4.1, the sound evolved slightly in the direction of neutrality, more widely searched for by music lovers. Is it bad? Of course not, this is even very good, because people sometimes have to have shown, that they are erring, and this was clearly shown by the tested loudspeaker cables. But rest assured – this was not a lesson like one from the basic school, because the correction was not course opposite, but just a slight change of azimuth. This is the reason, that I used the whole time of the test for my own, checking if I can live with that kind of sound in the long term. First on the review table was jazz from the ECM label. This is my daily bread, so any sign of losing musicality, while the bass was drawn with a finer line, what could mean it being thinner, would cause my immediate protest. And the effect? Everything was perfectly well. A little different in terms of mass of the low playing instruments, but without signs of anorexia, which would mean losing information about the sound of the contrabass or the majesty of a well recorded grand piano. It was just a tendency to contour the notes, but with avoidance of deteriorating thinning or too quick evaporating from the ether between the loudspeakers. Next genre I tested was the, widely understood, rock. Here there were no surprises. All corrections of the visibility of the beginning and the end of the individual sounds allowed for easier understanding, that the musical uprising means, to most extent, speed, coherence and distinctness of any sound artefact. No understatement, like melancholic flow of the music on the floor of a church, but for as far as it was possible and needed, I got an immediate attack, a solid amount of energy in the midrange and open treble, something, what is the main domain of the tested cable. Are you surprised? If yes, then this would only mean, you are not familiar with what Furutech offers, which places similar characteristics, of course with visibility depending on the position in the catalog, in all its portfolio. Using a few if those proposals in my system at a daily basis, I know this way of sounding by heart, so everything I heard during the test was just a positive impression made by the evolution of the sound I knew from this manufacturer.
Like I mentioned before the aspects of the sound of the DSS-4.1, we deal here with a donor of a tad of sound attack, while keeping the juiciness of the midrange and openness of the treble. This is the reason, that without any apprehension, I can recommend the tested loudspeaker cable for practically each audio system. Of course it can always happen, that an audiophile, who does not have a clear understanding of what he wants, will not find his way with it. But in such case – first I would place it on the overly high expectations, or the lack of defining clear goals by the homo sapiens (audiophile), who is overinflated with his all-knowledge. Or secondly – someone who is too much into timbre, having a setup, which is described by its owner as musical, but being too mudded in fact. All other audio combinations will be content when visited by the tested Furutech. Am I stretching the facts? This you would need to verify yourselves, as the verification of my conclusions is up to you. From my end, I can only assure, that it will be at least very interesting, and this is what our game is about, isn’t it?
System used in this test:
– CD: CEC TL 0 3.0 + Reimyo DAP – 999 EX Limited TOKU, VIVALDI DAC 2.0
– Preamplifier: Robert Koda Takumi K-15
– Power amplifier: Reimyo KAP – 777
– Loudspeakers: Trenner & Friedl “ISIS”
– Speaker Cables: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond, Statement
– IC RCA: Hijri „Milon”,
– IC XLR: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond
– Digital IC: Harmonix HS 102
– Power cables: Harmonix X-DC 350M2R Improved Version, Furutech NanoFlux NCF Furutech DPS-4 + FI-E50 NCF(R)/ FI-50(R), Hijiri Nagomi
– Table: SOLID BASE VI
– Accessories: Harmonix TU 505EX MK II, Stillpoints ULTRA SS, Stillpoints ULTRA MINI, antivibration platform by SOLID TECH, Harmonix AC Enacom Improved for 100-240V, Harmonix Room Tuning Mini Disk RFA-80i
– Power distribution board: POWER BASE HIGH END
– Acoustic treatments by Artnovion
Drive: SME 30/2
Arm: SME V
Cartridge: MIYAJIMA MADAKE
Phonostage: RCM THERIAA
Price: 1 700 PLN / m