- Manufacturer & Model
- LA Sound Unbalanced RCA Interconnect Cables, original version
- 700 Euro - Deviank series, 1 m length; 950 Euro - Olympia series, 1 m length
Solid retention, silver alloy or solid silver conductors, silver-plated connection surfaces, effective shielding, and solid core center conductor.
The LA Sound RCA Interconnects are the culmination of 20 years of pursuit of the ultimate sound with silver conductors. Designed for the hi-fi, high-end user, the interconnects are sure to satisfy the pickiest of audio system owners.
A 20 year passion of working with silver as a conductor in audio systems has culminated in LA Sound cables. The wire and connectors used in the cables are all produced in their factory. The finished cables themselves are hand assembled. There are not many cable makers who start with virgin metals and make all the materials and parts and sub-assemblies for their wares from scratch in-house, especially when silver is on the bill of materials. Metals arrive at the factory in virgin form and are exposed to minimal processing to preserve their crystalline structure, ensuring transparent delivery of the “sound message.”
The cables tested were the basic versions of these designs. A newer series called "Evolution 1" is also available.
LA Sound RCA interconnect cables are available in 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5 m lengths. The Deviank line is made of a copper-silver alloy, with 99.99% pure silver and 4N OFC copper, a solid core AWG 20 center conductor, with electrical characteristics of 0.040 Ohm/meter and 65 pF/meter. The Olympia line is made of 99.99% pure silver, a solid silver AWG 20 center conductor, with electrical characteristics of 0.035 Ohm/meter and 65 pF/meter.
Both cable series feature Teflon insulation and a locking RCA connector that is pure copper with a 0.8 micron coating of pure silver. The outer cable cover is a handsome woven design, black for the Deviank line and red for the Olympia line, with a very professional looking LA Sound strain relief heat shrink protecting those precious connections from tugs and sharp bends. A label wraps around the source end of each interconnect, identifying the cable series and length and reminding the user which end is meant to connect to the source, the end where the shield is connected to ground for optimal immunity to noise and EMI/RFI effects.
Look And Feel
I received 2 pairs of RCA Interconnect cables from LA Sound for evaluation, a pair from each of those two product lines. The interconnects came beautifully boxed. Each is labeled with series, length, cross section, serial number, and source-end designation, and is terminated with locking RCA connectors. The actual benefit from connecting the shield at only one end will depend on the application, on its location in one’s system, on the presence of ground loops and noise, and on a multitude of factors that make it difficult to predict the precise effect such a cable might have for a given listener.
Overall appearance and build quality were excellent. It was not difficult to spot signs of the cables’ handbuilt heritage - a hand-built cable is usually easy to spot - but the consistency and attention to detail in the build and inspection processes stood out proudly, and the LA Sound interconnects came close to feeling mass-produced while making a professional, high-end appearance statement. The connectors mated firmly and unmated with a good jiggle and pull. The tight connection and the silver plating on the connectors make good electrical connections that do not degrade over months or years of contact a sure thing.
I liked the design of the RCA connectors. A locking sleeve is tightened a few turns to lock, reversed to unlock. The connections are firm to make and break - you might need to brace lighter equipment while doing so - and the resulting connection is secure. Tightening the lock makes it doubly so - I could not budge the connectors once the lock was engaged, yet with just a few turns of the sleeve it could be removed, although two hands and a little effort were required. I like a firm mating action, but not one that puts too much force on the equipment, connectors, and solder joints involved. This is as it should be. In my experience, tiny dimensional variations in some RCA connectors can occur and the tightness of the mating connection can be loose enough that it can pull loose with a light accidental tug. Connection quality with the silver coating on the RCA connector should be excellent with no degradation or loss of connection from corrosion over long connection service periods. Between the locking retention and the silver-plating, there should be no need to wiggle connections to refresh their integrity after an extended connection time (months, years), or to track down a mysterious bad connection of that kind.
The solid core construction made the interconnects a little bit stiff, but not overly so. They were still flexible enough to be easily worked into place in real-world use, mated, and retention engaged without frustration. The woven outer covering feels smooth and will resist binding or catching or snagging.
The labels were my least favorite part of the design. They are made of shiny non-conductive foil-like plastic and were hard to read. Labeling that is difficult to see or read will always get negative points from me.
How Do They Measure and Sound?
I subscribe to the school of thought that many factors in an audio component CAN have a significant audible effect on its sound, and on a system’s sound, but that only a few such factors actually DO matter greatly in a given situation. The flip side if this view is that components that are doing their job in an audio system do not draw attention to themselves (visual aesthetics aside), and are effectively transparent. The component that is not sonically transparent is the sore thumb that needs attention, and the cable that might end up being that sore thumb probably has weak shielding or corrosion on a connector or a loose fit or a broken or intermittent internal connection.
But the sore thumb in a finely-tuned high-end audio reproduction system might just be a barely noticeable throb, a little increase in the noise floor from a less-than-sufficient shield or connection, a slight alteration in high-frequency response from high cable capacitance, or some effect well below the radar for most listeners but now the ONE FACTOR that stands out as being in need of fixing - once you locate it.
Enter high-end cables, like the LA Sound RCA Interconnects. Other than being of first-rate design and build with quality materials, the reasons I can see to consider cables like the LA Sound are:
- They provide solid connections that will not degrade, and will stay reliable for years without needing a “maintenance jiggle” when a channel in your system goes silent or noisy.
- They will stay put, resisting tugs and pulls that might dislodge a lesser cable.
- The shield connection to ground at source end only can - in the right place - give the shielding needed to control interference without introducing a ground loop and making noise worse.
Impedance and signal transmission measurements were performed with the LA Sound Interconnects. Impedance measurements indicated only a few degrees of phase shift above 20 kHz. All other measurements were straight-line flat, downright boring. Exactly the way you want an interconnect to measure. These measurements were performed with the cables in the source -first orientation and in the source-reversed orientation. I could see no difference.
The pairs of LA Sound cables each had time in my listening setup - in both orientations - and were compared to everyday cables. An Oppo Sonica DAC with optical input at 24 b / 96 bps (24/96) drove the interconnects, terminated with an Oppo HA-1 headphone amp and Oppo PM-1 headphones, all serving as part of the testing rig.
This evaluation setup allowed simple testing of the LA Sound interconnects with Room EQ Wizard for measurements and with headphones for listening. Measurements showed only a very slight phase shift at frequencies above 20 kHz, with no change in frequency response. Impulse and step response measurements showed no change from input to output. Noise and distortion remained immeasurable.
All of this was as expected.
Claims that the LA Sound Cables can provide greater detail, a three-dimensional scene, and improved dynamics and naturalness are claims I was not able to prove or disprove. Listening tests showed the cables to be very transparent. Noise immunity and detailed listening qualities can vary widely by application, and there are certainly more demanding test situations where these interconnects might improve the sonic qualities a noticeable amount. I experienced no noise problems with or without the LA Sound interconnects, but others might get a very different noise immunity result as well.
Pros and Cons
- Solid, tight connection quality
- Excellent retention, easy to engage and disengage
- Beautiful design and construction
- Effective strain relief
- No sonic degradation
- Possible sonic improvements in some systems
- The labels are very difficult to read. The reflective material and fine black print had me reaching for a magnifier and a flashlight. Unreadable labeling is a pet peeve of mine.
- Price. The LA Sound interconnects are likely to be the choice of discriminating listeners with deep pockets, for whom price is not an issue.
The LA Sound Unbalanced RCA Interconnects are excellent cables that are sure to do no harm in any application, and in some systems might even introduce welcome sonic enhancements. I recommend them for consideration as a possible cable upgrade for discriminating listeners with high-end systems.