Product: Anti-Cables and Anti-ICs
Manufacturer: Paul Speltz - USA
Cost: Anti-Cables: $10/Foot set, ICs: $150 1 mtr, Bullet plugs
Reviewer: Maarten van Casteren - TNT UK
Reviewed: October 2008
I don't really enjoy reviewing cables very much. It's quite a hassle to replace one cable for another, and it means switching off the power amp, which then has to warm up again after the swap. Actually, anything involving fiddling at the back of the rack is unpopular with me. But then, I was fascinated by the Anti-Cables and Anti-ICs, and not just because of the name. So, I gave them a try, and I'm glad I did.
My interest in these cables comes from two facts. First, Anti-Cables are relatively affordable, and second, they are solid-core cables, taken to the extreme. Solid-core enthusiasts are a bit like the flat-earth group within hifi, and many audiophiles subscribing to one of these points of view also agree with the other one. The idea is that solid-core cable is vastly superior to normal, stranded cable which should only be used to power vacuum cleaners and doorbells. The precise technical reasons for this supposed superiority are a bit dark, as are most things cable-related, but the sound should be clearer and more musical according to the solid cories.
And the Anti-Cables and Anti-Interconnects are very much solid core, this much is clear. The speaker cables consist of just two 12 gauge conductors made out of solid copper, and the ICs have a single thin solid conductor at the centre with another solid ground wire spiralling around it. It doesn't get simpler than this. The speaker cables are terminated with basic spades and the ICs have either Neutrik RCA plugs or Eichmann Bullet plugs. My review samples came with the bullet plugs.
Actually, the material used for these cables is very much like transformer cable. It seems to have the same, very thin, red insulation. The fact that the insulation is so thin is said to be one of the reasons these cables are supposed to sound better than other cables, as the effect of insulation is kept minimal this way. Visually the Anti-ICs are quite stunning, I have to say. Most people are amazed when you show them these interconnects, as they are unlike anything else. They even come vacuum packed!
The speaker cables are exceptionally difficult to handle, as they are stiff and very springy. The fact that my review samples are terminated with spades doesn't make things better either, as it can be extremely fiddly to get the spades in the right position to fit under the terminals of most amps. Compared to that my banana terminated Chord Odyssey 2 are a doddle to use: nicely flexible and very easy to connect. The anti cables really are a reviewer’s nightmare, but that shouldn't really be an issue if you're not constantly changing your system as yours truly does. They can also be ordered with banana plugs, by the way.
The ICs are extremely springy too, and the Bullet plugs aren't the easiest to connect either, but compared to the speaker cables they still are relatively convenient. The only odd thing is the resonating nature of these ICs. They are literally springs and make a distinct 'twang' noise when touched. Some people are claiming that vibration getting from one part of your system to another is very bad for the sound. If that is true then these ICs should be terrible. And I guess the same could be true for the speaker cables. There's no damping at all and both these cables basically are just two conductors and a thin layer of insulation, nothing more.
I immediately noticed something special when I hooked up the speaker cables. They replaced my Chord Odyssey 2 cables, which are rather good themselves. Still, the Anti-Cables did sound a bit more punchy and alive. The difference wasn't very big, it never is with cables, but I still found it worthwhile. The Chord cables are a little bit brighter, but the the Anti-Cables seemed a little bit cleaner at the top end. The Anti-Cables also sounded a bit more natural, and the Chord cables showed a slightly edgy treble in comparison which made them sound a tiny bit more detailed but also more processed. It is partly going to be a matter of taste, I guess, but as the Chord cables are more expensive I actually think the Anti-Cables did an excellent job.
What I found most striking, in the end, is the lack of character in these cables. I own 3 sets of speaker cables, and all have a certain character: QED silver anniversary, which is quite brash, Cable Talk 2.1, which is warm and a bit soft and the Chord cables which are slightly bright and analytic. Compared to all of these other cables the Anti-Cables seems to be the most difficult to describe, as they don't really have a strong personality and just seem to let the music pass through them unaffected. I suppose this is the biggest compliment you can make a cable, and it is what I intend, except for the fact that you have to realise that the differences are quite small, even if they are also quite significant at the same time.
After that I also replaced the Chord Chorus 2 ICs that sit between my Astin Trew AT3500 CD player and my Django preamp with the Anti-ICs, but this time I failed to notice a real difference. Again, given that the Chord IC's are much more expensive, this is not a bad result at all. There certainly doesn't seem to be a negative effect of the resonating nature of the Anti-ICs.
Quirky, quite unique and rather impractical in use, these speaker cables and ICs actually managed to make a quite good impression on me. It is up to you if you like their appearance, or if you mind the extreme springiness of the speaker cables. But if you are looking for a good sounding set of cables, with a lively and natural sound to them, these are excellent value for money and as such highly recommended.
Thank you Maarten for taking on an "unpopular" review. I am glad the Anti-Cables seemed to prove they were worth the effort for you.
Usually cables tend to sound worse then whatever they were replacing, until they have had a chance to "break-in". Having the Anti-Cables and Anti-ICs sound immediately as good as Maarten describes is actually quite remarkable for a cable. As with all other cables, the Anti-Cables and Anti-ICs sound continuously better until they are fully broken-in, so I can't help but predict that they will be bringing Maarten even closer to the music as more hours are put on them.
"Punchy", "alive", "cleaner", "more natural", "lack of character", "difficult to describe", and "let the music pass through" are the words Maarten used to describe the Anti-Cables. Since these are also the same type of words that I, and my many happy customers use to describe them and the Anti-ICs, I have to say Maarten wrote a very accurate review.
Thanks for your efforts!
Paul Speltz, Anti-Cables© Copyright 2008 Maarten van Casteren - www.tnt-audio.com