“INSANITY: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This famous quote has been widely (mis)attributed to Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Alcoholics Anonymous, and novelist Rita May Brown. It is generally used to illustrate the futility of habitual approaches to solving problems. The embedded intention is, presumably, to inspire the reader to snap-out of their reliance upon old cognitive habits in order to explore new solution-pathways. These things are much easier said than done, as the forces of habit are often deeply ingrained. Such was my condition after many years of designing and fabricating audio cables in the usual way: I would design cable forms around the limitations of the industrial processes that were available to me through subcontractors. This is the way audio cables are made, thousands of feet at a time, by all the famous-name cable makers you can think of … and even the not so famous ones, like me. Throughout my many years of designing and making cables for Illuminati, Stereovox, and Stereolab I was ostensibly chained to this mode of manufacture and I did the best I could to work within the limits of these industrial processes. My subcontractors had some tricks up their sleeves, of course things that made them uniquely precise and able to do things that more ordinary wire and cable subcontractors were unable to do - but they were still working within the narrow confines of the industrial processes that were at their disposal. This is the general state of audiophile cable manufacturing, with very few exceptions.
Chris Sommovigo Designer, craftsman: Black Cat Cable
I worked to explore areas for improvement, and this effort actually led to the launch of a relatively well-known connector-brand, XHADOW. All of my cable designs in the Stereovox and Stereolab marques were terminated with Xhadow connectors that I designed, and which lent me some additional control over the quality of my products. Nevertheless, I was still bound to the industrial model for my actual cable designs and I desperately wanted more creative control over the process itself. That’s when I came up with the ideas for Black Cat Cable. Black Cat was going to be different. Black Cat Cable was originally based on a handful of innovations that were developed over the course of about four or five years. Most importantly, the ability for me to insulate my own conductors with materials that were superior to insulating materials ordinarily found in high performance audiophile cables was critical to the mission of bringing the means of production into my own workshop. The development of my AERON™ insulation process made this possible, and this has led to many new and different solution-pathways.
Black Cat Cable is, in some ways, the story of my emancipation from the industrial approach and my exploration of the artisanal approach to designing and building audiophile cables. Because of some very unique capabilities, I’ve been able to do things that others, who are locked into the industrial model, aren’t able to do. I’m not dependent upon industrial subcontractors squeezing out tens of miles of thermoplastic-covered cables … I can make 50 feet of a custom design any time I care to, even at midnight on a Sunday if the mood strikes me. More importantly, staying artisanal means that I can do something that the big brands cannot do – I can personally build every cable that leaves my workshop. You just can’t get that kind of personal involvement from the creators and founders of the big brands. I love being directly involved with the manufacture of my products, beginning at the point that they are just a collection of raw materials, to the point that I have packaged them to be sent. It is personally gratifying to me that, when you receive your Black Cat Cable, you’ve gotten an authentic and original product that was created, manufactured, and assembled by me in my modest workshop. It’s this personal touch in every aspect of making cables that I truly enjoy..
I may have a modest business, but I’ve worked hard to achieve this level … it’s an artisanal level of involvement with my products instead of an industrial one. That’s what I think the real high-end of audio is truly about: connecting end users with authentic, creative designers who make nice things. These are products that are made slowly, intentionally, with a focus on delivering a high quality product that is also a superior technology. It may have taken me a couple of decades to arrive at this moment, through various struggles and mistakes, challenges and successes. But I’m here and I’m happy, and I hope that all of this translates into the kind of lasting and meaningful value that is as important to you as it is to me. ~ Chris Sommovigo Yugawara, Kanagawa JAPAN
Black Cat Cable
Handmade in Japan
Digital Cables Although I’ve been producing award-winning analog cables since 2000, I got my start by designing some very nice digital cables with my first company, Illuminati Electronic Systems and Cables, Inc., which I founded when I was 25 years old. In fact, over these many years, I have probably designed more digital cables than anyone else - both for my own companies and for others. In the Black Cat Cable lineup my digital cables are the only ones that have a subcontracted component. For well over 20 years I have been making the inner cores for my digital cables with one of the best OEMs in the world. They are U.S. military and Surveillance Industry subcontractors that have made extreme-performance “whips” for weapons systems, fighter jets, submarines, AWACS, AEGIS, and for national security and surveillance systems. When I need something done with extreme electrical precision at ridiculously high frequencies, as we do with digital signals, I can count on these guys to execute my designs perfectly. That’s why when you purchase even the least expensive of my digital cables, you are getting something of truly outstanding quality and unmatched performance. ~ Chris
Silverstar! 75 S/PDIF Coaxial Cable
In 2010 we released the first-ever Black Cat Cable product, and it was a little 75 Ohm digital cable named “Veloce” - it quickly gained a wonderful reputation for being a wonderful performer, and was celebrated for being something of a “sure thing” by Srajan Ebaen of 6moons.com when he said: “ … that makes the Veloce a sure thing for all but the excessively monied. Sure things in as uncertain a sector as high-end audio are always welcome. When sure things cost only a little, they become sure things for sure.”
Silverstar! 75 is the evolution of the Veloce, and has been a major underground favorite for good reason – it bests some of the most expensive SPDIF cables out there, and it’s a steal by comparison! The raw cable is manufactured to our specifications by a military/aerospace contractor in the USA that we’ve been doing business with since 1994, and terminated right here in our workshop in coastal Japan. Terminated with 75 Ohm BNC connectors and provided with our precision BNC:RCA adapters.
Digit-75 / Digit-USB DIGIT 75 is a “lite” trickle down from TRØN, where we are using some of our QuieTex materials and techniques to create an RF and EM insulated “blanket” of sorts in order to help defray the effects of RF/ EM from without and within. It’s an electrically precise 75 Ohm coaxial cable with an outstanding bandwidth, terminated with precision 75 Ohm BNCs and sold with my NEW XOX Precision BNC to RCA adapters included.
DIGIT USB is a very different take on the ordinary/mundane USB architecture that you’ll find even in some of the most expensive luxurylevel USB cables available. In this instance, it provides twin 45-ohm highly precise micro-coaxial cables with real silver-plated copper-foil shielding (NOT metalized plastic mylar!) for the data lines. These are bound by a common pure copper shield, and then jacketed in nylon. Power and Ground are run in a separate layer in counter-rotating helices, and then an overall jacket is woven around the whole form. Both of these are best-in-class, in our opinion, and will be extremely hard to beat even with substantial investments in competing products.
This is my top-line 75 Ohm SPDIF cable, of which I believe there is no equal in the world. Many years of experience, many iterative improvements to my digital cable designs over those years, have taught me some important lessons – not just about controlling the electrical parameters within the cable – but also about controlling other factors. Aside from its core precision electrical characteristics, TRØN incorporates a complex layering of metallic and pyrolytic interstitials between the main cable and the outside jacket. This complex, referred to as “QuieTex”, has several functions both in terms of absorbing and/or rejecting RF and EM fields from outside, as well as absorbing and dispersing RF that may be radiating from within the cable. TRØN is terminated with a precision 75 Ohm BNC and provided with “XOX” BNC to RCA adapters.
Analog Cables Although I’ve been designing and building “analog” cables for my whole career, I’ve only been marketing my designs since the first Stereovox cables came out of my workshop in 2000. I’ll never forget how happy I was when I read the words written in our first review, from TNT Audio in Italy, in September of 2001. The reviewer, M.L. Gneier, had the interconnects for quite awhile before publishing his review, and I was pretty nervous about it. But then I read his words: “… if I never review another cable I will be forever happy that I had a chance to hear & write about the magnificent Stereovox SEI-600.” “At the risk of seeming indelicate, I must say that the Stereovox SEI-600 are far and away the finest interconnects that I have ever used.” “If there was ever a product that was a true benchmark of quality, it would have to be the Stereovox SEI-600s. Prepare to be amazed; if anything, my comments presented here are the height of understatement.” These statements gave me the courage to continue, and over the ensuing years I have been the fortunate recipient of many such kind words about my cable designs from reviewers in many respected audio journals. In the pages that follow, you will see my latest creations - all built here in my workshop by myself, for you - and these represent the latest and best thoughts I have about the art and discipline of audio cable design. NOTE: All RCAs and Banana plugs are of my own design, with signal traveling on directgold-plated pure copper with terminations being made under very high contact pressure before being soldered to ensure an ideal signal transfer. ~ Chris
ELEMENTA SERIES : COPPERTONE Coppertone is a beautifully simple cable that has yet a high-tech twist to it. It begins with a braid of 256 strands of 100% IACS copper at 38 AWG each, and this forms the center conductor. The sum of these strands is ostensibly 14 AWG, which lends it low resistance for relatively high ampacity. It sits in a dielectric of our exclusive AERON™ insulation matrix, which is a peculiar cylindrical weave of raw, continuous filament pure Teflon. This matrix naturally includes air that is trapped between the nodes that articulate within the matrix during processing, creating a very fast dielectric with low capacity for electrostatic energy storage. Together, these are bound in a braid of multifilament nylon, and then surrounded with a tubular braid of the very same copper at the same conductor density. An overall jacket of multifilament nylon is applied, and then the raw cable is complete. In total, there are five separate machine operations performed in my workshop to create the raw cable for Coppertone, after which it is terminated to the appropriate connectors. I like to think of Coppertone as the real Giant Killer in our catalog because it’s low price is not indicative of its performance. Because of the peculiarities of its materials and construction, Coppertone can easily compete with some of the industry’s most celebrated (and expensive!) cables … and in some cases, utterly crush them. Coppertone cables are terminated with LOVECRAFT connectors designed by and manufactured exclusively for me. Available in RCA interconnects and loudspeaker cables (banana-termination standard).
REDLEVEL SERIES : The TUBE Although I’ve been working with variations of the CuTube for more than a decade now, this is the first time I’ve put CuTube in a purely air dielectric, and so it seems we’ve nearly reached the peak of its potential. I’m rarely one to advance ideas about “silver bullets” – single, magical elements that make a product stand above its peers – but CuTube is one of those very few that I feel strongly about when it comes to providing excellent performance at an accessible price.
“ … Black Cat Redlevel Tube speaker cables will give you everything you need to push the performance capabilities of your equipment to its limits and show you exactly what you may have been missing.” – David Robson, HiFiPig.com
The TUBE cables are terminated with LOVECRAFT connectors designed by and manufactured exclusively for me. Available in RCA interconnects and loudspeaker cables (banana-termination standard).
Pure copper microtube in The TUBE
REDLEVEL SERIES : LUPO Inside Lupo we use a 99.999% pure Silver solid core conductor, fully annealed dead soft, inside the central air-filled Teflon tube. You will not find the high-contrast, whitewashed “sound of silver” here.
Lupo is rich with all the colors, detail, and nuance of music without the stereotypical “spittiness” that silver has the reputation for, and this is because of three things:
• the temper of the conductor • the size of the conductor • the excellent self-damping of the cable’s form
“The Lupo cables should cause a rather wolfish grin if you prioritize a fully lit-up dimensionally liberated presentation with detail galore.” ~ Srajan Ebaen, 6Moons.com We think you’ll find that Lupo is the silver cable that silverlovers have always wanted but never quite received. The promise of silver without the penalties. LUPO cables are terminated with LOVECRAFT connectors designed by and manufactured exclusively for me. Available in RCA interconnects and loudspeaker cables (bananatermination standard).
REDLEVEL SERIES : The MATRIX The Matrix uses our InterPole™ form with 16 individually enameled pure copper conductors disposed in an expanded array of interalternating helices, forming a micro braided tube of tiny wires. This is then very carefully, gingerly pulled through the air-filled Teflon tube in our cable form and terminated according to preference. This kind of lattice can also be referred to as a Matrix, hence one reason for the name. Because of this construction, the interconnect can be terminated as single-ended (RCA) or balanced (XLR) – and this is the only Black Cat REDLEVEL model that is available for balanced XLR termination. For those who have heard The Matrix, it also earns its name by seemingly placing the listener in an alternative universe, a surrogate reality that is palpably real to the ears (and the heart). The MATRIX cables are terminated with LOVECRAFT connectors designed by and manufactured exclusively for me. Available in RCA interconnects and loudspeaker cables (banana-termination standard).
REDLEVEL SERIES : TRIODE What do you get when you combine CuTube™ and InterPole™, and then take that conductor and deploy it in an air-filled Teflon tube? A seriously complex conductor! It takes quite a long time to put the microbraided pure copper strands of InterPole around the deadsoft, fully-annealed pure copper of the CuTube … but we did it. This is a very finely made conductor that is small and not so very easy to manufacture. Don’t be fooled by the name, though – it’s not designed exclusively for triode amplifiers. Don’t be afraid to put this in your solid state system – you might just find that you’re having your cake and eating it, too!
The TRIODE cables are terminated with LOVECRAFT connectors designed by and manufactured exclusively for me. Available in RCA interconnects and loudspeaker cables (banana-termination standard).
REDLEVEL SERIES : ULTRANOVA For many years I’ve had a love/hate relationship with “ribbon” conductors, as it seems that in order to solve certain problems they created new ones. There’s something delightfully simple about a ribbon conductor, of course, and I admit to being lured by the siren song of what ribbons do really well. But over time certain things emerged that, to my ears, made the ribbon approach … incomplete. For me, that ends here. Ultranova takes a 99.999% pure silver ribbon that has been annealed dead soft, carefully (as in very carefully) twists it into a gentle helix, and then sends it, by hand, down an air-filled Teflon tube. The special construction lends Ultranova a high velocity in a fast (air) dielectric, with lots of surface area and conductor mass. This what I personally consider to be a “high information” cable and believe is probably the most neutral in the REDLEVEL series. Ultranova cables are terminated with LOVECRAFT connectors designed by and manufactured exclusively for me. Available in RCA interconnects and loudspeaker cables (banana-termination standard).
XOX: BNC to RCA ADAPTER The “XOX” brand BNC to RCA adapter is a truly precision design, made specifically for the 75 OHM S/PDIF cable standard. Precision machined, this adapter uses a hollow, directgold-plated pure copper signal pin - very rare to find in BNC-toRCA adapters, but important for a low resistance transfer of the sensitive digital signals. The XOX adapter comes as an included standard with our Digit-75 and TRØN digital cables, however it is also available on its own for those people who have not yet upgraded to Black Cat digital cables or who have our Silverstar! 75 S/PDIF cable. Sold in PAIRS only.
Black Cat Cable is a wholly-owned brand of
HIGH-FIDELITY PARTNERS Co. LTD. 1921-50 Yoshihama, Yugawara-machi Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa-ken JAPAN 259-0312 e: [email protected]