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Sonic Art Reference Blue Lightning Coax Cable


PhilGan
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I'm not a professional reviewer, just a lover of great audio with some decent kit, and learning more all the time.  I was so impressed with this latest addition to my system, that I thought I'd share my impressions.  I have absolutely no conflicts of interest - just giving credit where it's due. 

 

You can’t improve on the source, so the aim of high end audio systems is to faithfully represent all that is presented.  I have a very revealing system (see below), and the Reference Blue Lightning Coax cable revealed just how much I had been missing out on.  Almost all my cables are from Sonic Art (https://www.sonicartaudio.com/estore/ )  – from the Evolution AC Mains Cables to the Reference Series XLR cables.  A friend and I had done a shoot-out with “big name” cables five years ago, and we were so impressed that we've both stuck with Sonic Art since.  One thing I had overlooked was the Coax cable from my Vincent CD-S6 CD player to my PS Audio Directstream DAC (Windom Firmware).  I was using a Mogami W2964 High definition 75Ω digital coaxial cable, which looked to be a well-specced “pro” cable, and I figured it only had to send the 1’s and 0’s to the Directstream DAC, which would then work its magic.  Still, I found that streaming TIDAL to the Directstream via its Bridge II sounded better, and I had drifted away from playing CDs on my old Vincent CD-S6 to just streaming. 

 

Fast forward to July 2020, and I was going through another impulsive audio-tweaking urge, so I placed an order for one of Mark’s Blue Lightning Coax cables.  He informed me that he had just started a Reference version – not yet on his web-site at the time.  I jumped at it, and the cable arrived on 23 July. 

 

Sonic Art cables need 150+ hours of burn-in, but this was my immediate response to Mark hours after plugging in my brand-new “stone cold” Reference Blue Lightning Coax cable:

 

 

This cable has been one of the most singularly impressive upgrades to my kit!  It is not a tweak - it’s a quantum leap!

I am seriously hearing my CDs like never before, and it’s not even run in.  I had practically stopped using my CD player (into PS Audio Direcstream DAC), but it is now far and away the best source - it kills MQA on Tidal, streamed to my Bridge (Direcstream).   

I can’t wait for it to burn in.   How am I going to get any work done?

 

Fast forward 4 weeks, and I can only say the smile just keeps getting broader.  This single cable has been transformative.  Layers and layers have been peeled back, revealing so many details I never knew were there.  I’ve heard muttering between the musicians prior to a track starting that I’m sure wasn’t meant to be heard, and each instrument or voice holds its own and claims its place. The ambience of live recordings is captured, and decay of acoustic instruments lingers on and on.  My Amphion Krypton 3 speakers have great bass, but it’s much better controlled and focused now.  Amphion have a strong presence in studio monitors, and are very accurate - the Krypton 3's are their top of the line consumer speakers.  I’ve been pulling out my dusty CDs and re-discovering them anew.   Listening to Eric Bibb’s ‘Diamond Days’ this morning had me toe-tapping and dancing.  Last night was Wynton Marsalis ‘Standard Time, Vol. III’, as I’d never heard it before.  Eric Clapton’s ‘Unplugged’ had me in the audience.   There's nothing clinical about the detail - it's just there with all the emotion intact.   I would estimate that I might have only 20-25 hours of play on the Reference Blue Lightning, so I’m still a long way off the recommended 150+ hours. It will be a very happy journey getting there.  Unreservedly recommended.  

 

My 2 channel system:

Power: PS Audio P20 AC regenerator.  Dedicated AC circuit in the home to my audio system. 

Sources: TIDAL-Roon via iMac – Ethernet to PS Audio Directstream DAC Bridge II (Windom Firmware), Vincent CD-S6 CD player to PS Audio Directstream DAC via Coax (Reference Blue Lightning). [iMac soon to be replaced with Roon Nucleus+]

Amplification:  PS Audio BHK pre-amp, PS Audio BHK 300 mono-blocks.

Cables: Sonic Art Evolution AC power cables, Sonic Art Reference XLRs (Pre to monoblocks), Reference Blue Lightning Coax.  Sonic Art Ebony Variocore & Analysis Plus Oval 12 speaker cables (bi-wired). 

Speakers:  Amphion Krypton 3. 

 

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I bought some cds a while back and the seller used sonic art cables throughout his system.

He had a spare set of IC which i bought.

Very happy when funds permit i'm buying more.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Guest
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Good feedback, Luc - thanks.  I think the Sonic Art cables are incredible value.  The cables that my friend and I compared with the Reference XLRs were multiples of the cost and did not compare sonically.  

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8 hours ago, PhilGan said:

<snip>

 

My 2 channel system:

Power: PS Audio P20 AC regenerator.  Dedicated AC circuit in the home to my audio system. 

Sources: TIDAL-Roon via iMac – Ethernet to PS Audio Directstream DAC Bridge II (Windom Firmware), Vincent CD-S6 CD player to PS Audio Directstream DAC via Coax (Reference Blue Lightning). [iMac soon to be replaced with Roon Nucleus+]

Amplification:  PS Audio BHK pre-amp, PS Audio BHK 300 mono-blocks.

Cables: Sonic Art Evolution AC power cables, Sonic Art Reference XLRs (Pre to monoblocks), Reference Blue Lightning Coax.  Sonic Art Ebony Variocore & Analysis Plus Oval 12 speaker cables (bi-wired). 

Speakers:  Amphion Krypton 3. 

 

I think remember seeing your room and review on the Amphion website, if I am not mistaken?

Edited by sakabatou
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Hi Sakabatou, 

You are very observant!!  Yup, that's my room.  Well, my system sounds even better now.  The Amphion Krypton 3 speakers have been impressive in discerning every little change.... or big change, as was the case with the new cable. 

Cheers, 

Phil

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Thanks for the kind words Phil!

 

I'm sure many of the local readers don't know much about Sonic Art so I will give you a quick rundown...

I started designing Loudspeakers back around 1988/89 while studying Industrial Design, I was producing my own speakers in the early 90's, did a few shows in Melb and Sydney back then, and spent most of the 90's in other peoples lounge rooms across Melb!

 

I got involved in cable design in the early 90's,  spent a lot of time in study and testing, the Sonic Art "time aligned" cable configuration was perfected and I put out the first IC cable the "SILVER LINE" around 1993. I had contacts in Military production and all my raw materials and cables are manufactured in a US Mil factory, the first time they did my Ebony speaker cable the reels came with so many joins  I had to ask why! Turns out they were testing it to military standards, passing it through a 10kv test station that would blow holes through any section that wasn't perfect! They then cut this out,  join it and continue on.

 

In 1999 I set up a regional office in Thailand and secured distributors through Asia, spent 5 years there, moving back and forth between Melb and Thailand. Cables also went to the UK during this time. I moved back to Melb permanently start of 2005, continued on with audio and got involved in some other facets of electronics.

 

I was the first ORIGIN LIVE importer here in Australia, and while I haven't done a lot of OL recently that is going to change now I am back into FT audio!

I was importing the CISCO range of vinyl including all the reissued TBM vinyl, sad to see CISCO is gone. I also have been the ORACLE guy, servicing and repairing/upgrading Oracle turntables since around 2000. I also imported the Oracle Delphi V and the CD1500 players and PARIS phono stage.

CEC was another of my imports, I sold quite a lot of belt drive transports, Dacs and I sold quite a few of the Single Ended Class A amplifiers from the range that Carlos Candieas designed. I never wanted to be "big" as I enjoyed the boutique side of the industry, this has admittedly limited my spread when it comes to imported products I don't produce.

 

In 2013 I stepped back from work a lot in order to be a stay home Dad and have been essentially part time in the biz up until this year. I have decided its time to get back into Audio more fulltime now, I miss the problem solving and design side of things! I have revamped the website and decided to release the BLUE LIGHTNING Reference at the same time, it will feature on the front page of the site soon as I can get the page done.

 

I am also bringing back the Sonic Art tonearm! Still based on a rega OEM arm, the new SA220 arm will be available from next week, I am manufacturing the structural mod kit in house, some variation on old designs with an alloy end stub fixed with all non magnetic materials, and featuring a solid brass counterweight, this is a coupled design, its interesting that the coupled design that first came to light 20yrs ago and was so revelatory is now reserved for "hi-end" models of arms while the decoupled rubber o'ring mounted counterweights are prevalent across lower level models.  I know as fact the o'ring counterweights are cheaper to produce, as are screw in/solid stubs when it comes to large production, but for the boutique guys like me, its more a labour of love, and making you that custom counterweight in hi quality materials while more laborious, is more satisfying at the end of the day.

 

Anyway enough from me, I would love to be active in the forum again, not sure on the rules here regarding posting up about new products etc but sure the mods will fill me in.

I would love to advertise but I don't run on an 80/20 marketing/product budget, mine is the other way round!

 

Edited by SonicArt
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On 26/08/2020 at 9:51 AM, SonicArt said:

Thanks for the kind words Phil!

You’re welcome, Mark.  Very impressed with all the cables I’ve bought from you. Cheers!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks guys, sorry for the delayed response, and I havent forgotten you Phil, am working on too many things at once right now, just finished doing the REGA structural modification kit design, have a couple of the new SA220 arms in stock now and will have structural kits available for those with any REGA RB2++ or RB3++ series arm. I will post up some info and photos in the vinyl section end of the week.

 

The Blue Lightning USB cable is coming along and I am hoping to have a test sample this weekend...

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12 hours ago, SonicArt said:

The Blue Lightning USB cable is coming along

No worries, Mark.  I’ve been busy, too!  I will do a shootout against Matrix Audio USB when it arrives, and after both are burnt in.  Many thanks!

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