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2014 Midwest Audiofest Tent Sale & Vintage Audio Swap
Reference Fidelity Components – Reference Pluto Phono Interconnectors Review
So, here we have the Reference Pluto interconnectors from Paul at Reference Fidelity Components. These are copper RCA interconnectors with Eichmann Tellurium Copper Bullet connectors and using a Furutech conductor. Full details on the design choices Paul has made and what they are there to achieve can be found on the product page:
The construction is very solid and compares well to my current set of QED Silver Spiral (£90/metre pair). The terminations feel very solid, and when connected the Eichmanns fit snugly giving a solid connection without being excessively tight as some connectors I’ve encountered. Other than that, these are a set of cables, so concepts like features and ease of use are rather moot sections for discussion so I shall refrain from waffling on the subject.
The area behind my hifi is a veritable rat’s nest of audio, power and computer cabling all intermingled with each other. I can safely report that the shielding on these cables is top notch, suffering no interference at all from anything about it. For some this will probably not be an issue but for me this is a major selling point. For testing purposes these sat between either my Musical Fidelity X-24K or the DSPeaker Anti-mode 2.0 Dual Core, both of which were fed via Toslink from my PC. These were then connected to an original Unison Research Unico powering a pair of Triangle Celius Esw floorstanders.
There is a sizeable difference in sound between the Plutos and my current cables. Where previously the QEDs rather emphasised the somewhat lively top-end that the Triangles can have, the Plutos toned this down just a notch. It is not a complete stop to high frequency shrillness, Queen’s Death on Two Legs still has me reaching for the volume control to turn it down a touch when I’ve been listening at higher volumes, but it is an exceptionally bright recording. Other than that, the top end is clear and clean without any unnatural rolloff.
Where the Plutos really excel is in the mid range, in particular with the sound of acoustic guitars. I significant proportion of my music collection features this type of sound and I have spent more time listening to this kind of music than anything else when reviewing these cables. Across a range of recordings they have a sense of fullness and body that was decidedly lacking with the QEDs. Listening to Whipping Boy from Ben Harper’s debut album the Weissenborn is particularly rich and the sound of the fretwork comes across well on the recording. That should not be taken to say they are muddy either, as rich midranges can sometimes appear. For me, Solid Air by John Martyn has always been a testing track in this regard and I have heard many systems produce a terribly woolly sound to the lower mids. The Plutos help keep the sense of distinction between the instruments rather than blurring them together. It is important to keep some perspective in all this. These are a set of cables and are not going to make night and day changes to the sound of the system compared to other components in the chain. If a system produces a full on “boom-tizz” style sound these cables are not going to resolve that issue, but they do bring a delicate sense of balance to the sound in my system.
On the subject of “tizz”, one thing I did notice was that the decay on cymbals seemed to last noticeably longer with the Plutos in place. This was particularly noticeable on tracks like Sting’s All This Time from the live album of the same name and also enhances the sense of space one gets on well made recordings.
The low end was the most unchanged part between the two cables, but this was something that the QEDs did fairly well anyway so should not be considered a negative in any way. The Wench had given me a couple of hour’s free reign with the volume control whilst she went into town for a while. On her return she came into the room and the volume was up to a pretty respectable level (so glad our house is detached). She paused for a minute whilst I looked at her expectantly for comment. She said nothing. Nothing at all. Not a sausage. Well, not about the sound anyway, but she did ask about why I had not cleared up after lunch in all that time. Ah well, I shall have to wait until another time for some unprompted spousal comment.
In summary these are a very accomplished set of cables in all regards and they do not put a foot wrong. I’m not going to make any hyperbolic claims about them trouncing cables costing ten times as much because frankly I have not ever knowingly listened to a thousand pound cable. What I will say is that writing this review has been a rather protracted process due to getting repeatedly distracted by the music again. Oh, and does anyone want to buy a pair of QED Silver Spirals?
Discuss the review here
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