I do not know why all types of audio accessories can induce a lot of bad emotions amongst a population, that should be interested in sound. Most intriguing is the fact, that the loudest group never tried anything for themselves, is not listening much, but they have read something or seen something in the Internet and they now know everything. They know for sure, that spending lots of money is plain dumb, because you can always do cheaper and better, because cheaper always means better. Sounds logical, doesn’t it? At least according to them. And I am writing this without even a hint of malice, I just want to show the way such people think, as we run into this kind of thinking after our last test of cable supports in-akustic Reference Cable Base, when we were informed by the more “enlightened” people, that spending about 1.2 to 1.9 thousand zlotys on such gear is, putting it mildly, an irrational spending, as it does not matter what you put under your cables, as the sonic effect will be the same each and every time. And if you do not live in a seismically active area, somewhere where there are mining related tremors or near a train line, then nothing is vibrating and you do not need to isolate. Well, it seems that God (whoever he is or is not) is deceitful enough to follow the idea of Dostoevsky stipulated in “the Idiot”, that “when he wants to punish someone, he takes away his reasoning first”, and then removes hearing, as this time he went very far. Because you cannot call negation of basic physical phenomena regarding isolation and resonance of different materials otherwise.
If you wonder, what is the goal of those pseudo-sociological considerations I put to the screen, you will find the response to that question in the following text, as due to the generosity of the Katowice based RCM we received six pieces of … cable supports (did you expect anything else?) Furutech NCF Booster-Signal, a new version of the NCF Boosters we already tested, this time dedicated to signal and loudspeaker cables, and not to power cord plugs, like the previous version.
As you can see for yourselves, the construction of the Signal Boosters is very similar to their plug dedicated counterparts. We have a wide foot, with a rubber sole glued to it, into which you need to screw the chrome plated pins supporting the moving platform, on which the cables are placed. Against appearances, this platform, or flat cradle, as the Japanese call it, is not just made from a plastic mold, but a much more complicated item. Its carcass is made from ABS resin covered from outside with a layer proprietary NCF resin. Additionally the platform has a dampening mat glued to its bottom and in the middle (the cradle is not solid, but it has some space inside used by its constructors) there is a column removing vibration to the anti-resonance support, which rests on a dedicated air chamber. Quite a lot for a simple cable support, don’t you think?
In the box you will also find a rubber, covered in an elegant braid, which is used to avoid the cable moving on the support. Of course there is an option, by using additional platforms and “shaft bars”, this is how the support struts are called, to expand the original supports to multi-level ones.
The main idea behind how the Signal Boosters operate, is to minimize the amount of contact between the cables and the floor, and at the same time to minimize the amount of electromagnetic noise picked up by them. Additionally when placed close to the sockets, they minimize, if not completely remove any tension (static disturbance). This is by far not all, as true to their name, the Boosters use the proprietary Furutech technology called NCF: Nano Crystal² Formula; a crystalline material which not only generates negative ions (eliminates electrostatic loads), but also converts energy into far infrared radiation. This NCF together with ceramic nanoparticles and carbon dust gains one more, very favorable characteristic – piezoelectric damping. In short – even if the tested supports do not look overly technically advanced, they provide mechanical as well as electrical damping.
Yet all of this is just a theory and technical solutions visible to the naked eye, but what is really interesting, is what the tested supports can do in sonic terms. This is the reason, that after looking at them closely and the mandatory photo session I decided to put them into my system as quickly as possible. Rearranging the creative chaos behind the speakers and the audio rack took a while, but the implementation of the Furutech turned out to be quite easy and their presence gained appreciation in my wife’s eyes, as she realized I would be able to clean the to date inaccessible parts of the floor with the vacuum cleaner. True, true, but let us go back to what I promised to describe, the sound.
First of all the difference with the recently tested Reference Cable Base from in-akustik was clear and undisputed. While the German supports operated in the center of the sound spectrum making the midrange heavier and more saturated, the Furutech influence the whole spectrum. Additionally they did not change the tonal balance of my system while improving its resolution and the cleanness of the reproduced sounds. Secondly, you could find some analogies with the NCF Boosters dedicated to power cabling, which were liberating the dynamics of the system. However compared to their cousins, the tested elements did not go into the spectacular territory too much. Here we could not talk about any additional injection of energy into the recording, but only about having the best possible conditions to look deep into the recording and learn its structure. As I already mentioned, the improvement was in the area of resolution, but not through making the sound spectrum barren and aseptically sterile, but by a certain cleaning of the air breathed by the musicians, polishing their instruments and supplying a more unified lighting to the stage. Seemingly there is nothing extra, as where could it come from, but you can see, or rather hear, more of everything and better.
The observations above were so repeatable, that using the Signal Projects Hydra and Vermöuth Audio Reference Loudspeaker Cable interchangeably I decided to put them to a common denominator. In general, the better the played material, the Furutech intensified their abilities and showed the full potential of the recordings even better. It was enough to take the phenomenal disc “Wolfgang Plagge: Ars Nova (The Medieval Inspiration)” Solveig Kringlebotn / Ole Edvard Antonsen / Wolfgang Plagge, or the pompous, played with truly Hollywood-like swing (at least in terms of space) in Watford Colosseum, album “Remote Galaxy by Flint Juventino Beppe” Vladimir Ashkenazy with the Philharmonia Orchestra, to find out, how many nuances and the so called “audiophile plankton” was recorded there, and which we could only imagine. But this was not artificial, like on sampler discs, where each second or third plane noise or louder breath is amplified to the staggering size of the soloist, it was as if a semi-transparent veil would be removed from them allowing them to shine fully.
Fortunately this cleaning and improvement of clarity did not mean that less sublime and well recorded discs were shown the door. I could still enjoy the growls and garage riffs of the Propaghandhi on the brilliant punk-rock “Failed States”. The speed, attack and sound edges were even more palpable and merciless, and the bass licks harder and better differentiated.
Using a car analogy you can easily think, that exchanging the in-akustik to the Furutech was like moving from the comfortable, easy driving Mercedes E to a GTR, tuned to live the extremes. Of course this metaphor is much overbrightened, but I used it on purpose, as it clearly shows the way you can choose to reach your musical nirvana. If this will be a lazy cruising through the sunny Bavaria with the Cable Base from in-akustik or the ability of catching the quietest noise of the leaves of the cherry trees at the foot of the Fuji mountain using the Booster Signals from Furutech is completely up to you. And please do not listen to people, who try to tell you, that it does not matter what you put under your cables, as the above text clearly shows, at least I hope it does, that it is not the case and each accessory does have its own sound signature.
System used in this test:
– CD/DAC: Ayon CD-35 (Preamp + Signature)
– Network player: Lumin U1 Mini; Melco N1A/2EX
– DAC: Chord DAVE
– 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; Chord Étude
– Loudspeakers: Dynaudio Contour 30 + Brass Spike Receptacle Acoustic Revive SPU-8 + Base Audio Quartz platforms
– 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; Fidata HFU2
– Speaker cables: Signal Projects Hydra; Vermöuth Audio Reference Loudspeaker Cable
– 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+; Melco C1AE10
– Table: Rogoz Audio 4SM3
The world of advanced, uncompromised quality sound, noticed long time ago, that without different accessories it is not possible to squeeze the last drop of performance from the stereo systems used. What is the reason for that? In fact there are multiple reasons. Starting with performance deteriorating vibration, unfavorable electrical interactions between components, different kinds of cabling and finally static electricity generated by carpets and floors, everything is interfering with our desire for the best possible music reproduction. Do you think I am talking rubbish? If yes, then one thing is sure, this musical encounter is not for you. However if you met any of the things I mentioned while configuring your system, then I have good news for you. This time we will take a look at loudspeaker and interconnect cable supports NCF Booster Signal from Furutech, kindly supplied to us by the Katowice based distributor RCM. Yes, yes, this is an evolution of the already tested plug supports NCF Booster. Do you think, that this will be boring, as with a large dose of probability, the tested device will repeat the characteristics of the predecessor? Nothing like. Even for me this was a kind of surprise, so I invite you to read on.
In terms of design and construction, tested supports are very similar to the power cord accessories. Of course, as you can see on the pictures, I am thinking about the supportive part of the device. The bases are identical to the predecessors, looking like a variant of the letter H, with the connecting rod between the two bars moved to the top. The whole is made from ABS resin, what is quite common in the audio world. Another common point is the placement of two steel support rods for the cable bed in this base. Those rods can be extended to any height using additional elements you can purchase separately. The only visual difference are the rectangular, rounded on the edges, parts, equipped with thumb screws, which fix the cable support platform, made from NCF enhanced resin, at desired height. To be able to stabilize the cables even at high levels, the Furutech Booster Signal set contains also two additional, metallic extensions and a rubber band, which can be extended between the rods to fix the cable in the device. The complete set allows to select almost any height for the support of the cables used in our system.
I do not know if all of you, but probably still a large group, is waiting for the comparison of the current test with the recently reviewed products in-akustik Reference Cable Base. Of course I will do that, but I cannot forgo the comparison to the power accessories from Furutech, which fulfil similar role. So what is the influence of the tested accessories on my system? Frankly speaking a bit unexpected, but still very interesting. Following the tropes of the power Boosters and also the German RCB, I expected similar effects, boosting the energy of the sound, with good attack, mass and openness, what would result in brilliant artefacts. Yet, the Booster Signal, in contrast to its predecessors, and the German competition, chose a different direction. It gave the sound an additional dose of freedom, as when applied to my Tellurium Q Silver Diamond, music gained in vitality. The sound additionally opened, and with that it got tighter, had a tad lighter mass and put slightly more light to the middle registers. No, it did not brighten the sound, but made them carry more information. This immediately caused a very delightful impression of enlarging, the already very good, but now even better setup virtual sound stage. Being a lover of baroque music played in churches I did not miss the opportunity to enjoy this “ailment”, so every day of the test the CD player had to play at least a few discs with contemporary arrangements of Claudio Monteverdi’s, and other similar compositor’s music. What was the effect? What a question! This was an almost real move to the church, where the music was played. Each time this kind of event gave me a prominent place during the recording in that church. Important was also the fact, that due to the brilliant recordings I did not feel any fatigue after multiple hours of listening.
What is the purpose of the phrase “no fatigue” in the previous sentence? Well, fortunately or unfortunately, the Japanese product is quite brutal, and it shows clearly, where there are any problems in our system. If there is any distortion then it will be shown immediately. Well, your teeth will not shatter, but if you listen to lesser recordings, then you will hear the ugly truth from the very beginning. A truth, which not many people will be able to assess objectively, and most probably, the issue will be blamed on the tested accessories. And in fact they will only underline any issues, they are not able to cause them, but usually we are not able, or willing, to admit that. Yes, yes, sometimes the truth is painful, but in my opinion it is better to face it, than to try and upgrade a problematic system. Of course you can also go the path of forceful shaping of the music world to our liking, but in that case such a music lover should be able to satisfy his or her needs with a kitchen radio, and not trying to approach the objective truth. But does this mean, that the Japanese supports are complete no-no for music lovers listening to, usually bad recorded, rock music? Of course not, because in that case we will get a slightly improved wall of not so well sounding music, now perceived as a sonic success, as now it will be more resolving, but we will be also prepared for that. The problem starts, when we are not willing to see the truth. But if for you it does not pose a barrier, most configurations will profit from the Booster Signal than lose with it.
As you can see from the text above, regardless of the used methodology of forcing stereo systems to generate better quality sound, every process has is better or worse repercussions. And I ensure you, it is always like that. It is important that we are able to properly interpret the result of such application. In case of this Japanese product we get an injection of openness and airiness of the sound, what in case of good tonal balance of your system will translate into the expected musical spectacle. And it does not matter if you like dense or quick sound, it is important, that it is without any distortion. I do not know, how it is with you, but based on my testing process I can tell you something. Of course I had a few failings, but only – I will not cheat on anyone – due to low quality of the recording I listened to. But does this mandate to blame the Japanese accessories, that show those aspects? Absolutely not. This is why I just take this as something what a seasoned audiophile is just aware it happens, and I encourage you to make your own impressions by testing the accessories in your own system. It is really worth it.
System used in this test:
– CD transport” CEC TL 0 3.0
– DAC: dCS Vivaldi DAC 2.0
– Reference clock: Mutec REF 10
– Reclocker: Mutec MC-3+USB
– Shunyata Research Sigma CLOCK
– Shunyata Sigma NR
– Preamplifier: Robert Koda Takumi K-15
– Power amplifier: Gryphon Mephisto Stereo
– Loudspeakers: Trenner & Friedl “ISIS”
– Speaker Cables: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond
– IC RCA: Hijri „Million”, Vermouth Audio Reference
– 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; Vermouth Audio Reference Power Cord
– 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
Step-up: Thrax Trajan
Price: 895 PLN
Height: Base level- 82.5 mm/ Extended level- 142 mm approx.
Overall Base Unit Dimensions: 94.1 x 99.7mm approx.
Net Weight:Base level- 280g / Extended level- 340g approx.