If you are the type for whom audio nirvana and Spotify free tier sense [hey, Kendrick Lamar sounds the same everywhere, right?], the idea of a $1,000 Ethernet cable for your audio setup will feel like utter no-sense.
However, see the world from the ears of an audiophile, and a key approach is to mix, match, and maximize the output of various playback components. An open mind aside, you understand, as I have over the years, of how in your ever-evolving audio set up, every single component matters.
Take the Matis Ethernet cable from Final Touch Audio, which brings up a query. Does your audio set up really need super expensive Ethernet cables?
The fact of the matter is that whether streaming songs on Tidal or accessing songs off your WD NAS, RFI/EMI noise will alter the sound of your local media files. Filter blocks, proprietary shielding designs, higher quality conductors, and connectors definitely shape the RFI noise that ends up in the analog section of your components.
Final Touch Audio is a relatively young, passionate Serbian brand who have been creating a fair bit of stir with their varied devices. Totally handmade, their approach to the whole creation process is interesting too. For instance, while creating their Ethernet cables, they were inspired by the level of detail and care with which Katana swords were produced. The Matis cable utilises a copper wire which is not purified and which possesses a significant amount of gold and silver particles inside the wire. This aside, the wire was mechanically treated, through a process of forging and hammering, in order to achieve the desired gauge and technical specification. The greater degree of silver in the cable points to a possible greater warmth in the cables.
My streamer of choice of course was the Naim Audio Naim Uniti Star, which I prefer for not just going guns blasting away on all things specs, but also addressing old-school radio fanatics out there with a DAB+/FM tuner module. Small touch, you understand. All set, connected to my KEF R7’s, with Audioquest interconnects, I started off accessing my rather extensive collection on my WD My Cloud Ultra EX2 NAS device.
After a few hours burn-in, I started my few moments, the Matis in place, with a personal favourite, a 45 RPM Blue Note reissue of Lou Donaldson’s The Time is Right. The tonal richness that shined through, and the definition given to the tone and texture of maestro Blue Mitchell’s trumpet meant classics like The Nearness of You just shined through.
Move on to a more ‘80’s legacy act, I opted for Yes’s Big Generator Japanese SACD 2017 reissue. The sheer energy and dynamism of one of what I believe was Jon Andersons and Co’s best creations came through.
The last to mention is of course, a recent favourite of mine, the Sicario: Day of the Soldado soundtrack [Being a Brolin fan could be a factor as well]. The sheer atmosphere of dread, loneliness and solemnness manifested itself brilliants, so very much as the filmmaker intended. As always, Hildur Guðnadóttir’s cello work was a revelation.
A few hours in, it was time. Time to switch out the Final Touch Audio Matis ethernet cable and plug in a more generic, budget Ethernet cable, in this case a $44 Supra ‘audiophile’ ethernet cable.
Plugged in, with the same tracks playing, the immediate impression was one of a mishmash, near abrasive output. The sound seemed more artificially hyped, and the instruments relatively seemed to overlap in space.
Relative to the transparent output when the Final Touch Audio Matis was connected, you can’t quite realize the scale or position of the performers.
Quite a revelation, that one, yet one that emphasises that in the larger scheme of all things audio, every single component makes a difference.
The Final Touch Audio Matis Ethernet cable retails $440 to $945, in variants from 0.5mt to 2 meters.