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Luminous Audio Synchestra Signature IC compared

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
These are the much talked about, highly touted, Bob Crump modified, cables on AudioAsylum where owners had it beat out a lot of good cables (including the AZ silver ref, some Cardas, Nordost Quatro Fils)...The Luminous Audio Synchestra Signature (LASS) is another high purity continuos cast copper cable made with Cardas RCAs... Well, I saw some for a very good price on Agon and could not resist trying them out, of course I had said to myself I would not touch ICs again after gettin the Silver Ref IIs... But curiosity got the better of me... Could these cables really perform at the level or above that of the Silver Ref IIs???

I've had the LASS for about 200 hours of burn-in with half of that time being pink/white noise... Actually, burning these cables in also helped burn in the Headmaster, which I only had for about a week prior, even though it was a used unit.

From what I have read about these cables, they are suppose to be musical, fast, big and throws a wide/deep soundstage with detail (everything, at least, I would want in a cable)... These cables are indeed musical, being warmer/fuller in the midrange (though not bloated) than the SRIIs with a sound that has a better "swing" in notes. This effect is helped by speed of the cables, listening to the XRCD of Beethoven's Symph #7, the orchestral attacks with the LASS can go from quiet to loud very quickly giving a greater contrast to the music, and even making the SRIIs sound a tiny bit sluggish, but this was a very close call however.
The presentation of the soundstage and the instruments is where these cables are very different. The SRII makes everything sound even bigger/taller/fuller than the LASS. The LASS in no way has a tiny sound since the only cables I have heard that are bigger is the SRII... As far as soundstage, the SRIIs make it sound like you are right smack in the middle of the orchestration, while the LASS has a farther perspective, more like a few aisles back, which has the effect of the soundstage sounding in general deeper and in a way helps present the sound of the cable better (with the ambient detail).
There is a lot of ambient detail in both cables, but in different ways... The LASS gives ambient detail for the whole concert hall making it easier to place instruments in that space. The SRII on the other hand, has a lot of ambient detail around instruments giving them space and an "airy" sound. To summarize, the LASS sounds like you being in the same room listening to the orchestra, while the SRII sounds like you are in the middle of orchestra with the instruments all around you.
Well, the overall detail and separation of the LASS is where it loses out compared to the SRII... The SR is a more transparent IC, instruments are clearly defined from each other with the SRII, the LASS can sound a bit homogenized in comparison. The highs with instruments like cymbals are far more distinct, with more bite, shimmer and, air with SRIIs, I would not say the Luminous is lacking but does not have that last level of refinement as the SRIIs. The bass is also tighter, more focused and a bit more dynamic than the LASS. Notes being played by bass instruments are more obvious with the SRIIs, again I would not say the LASS is lacking, just not as refined.

To me, the LASS is good and has some addictive qualities, but the lack of transparency really puts the Silver Ref IIs in a different level than the Luminous. Some people could like the musical qualities it posses. The SRIIs, I guess are more analytical/cold, but to me has not gotten in the way of the music. I would not hesitate to recommend the Luminous however since for a copper cable it held it's own very well while also not being overtly expensive. Hopefully this comparison is helpful to somebody.

Note: I have said before of the Silver Ref II's about not locking the RCAs too tight, having it affect soundstaging and HF energy... With the Headmaster, I have to keep the rcas very loose to minimize the hf energy since it can overpower the sound making the hf too prominent with them too tight (which was my mistake when I first got the Headmaster).
post #2 of 3
Nice comparison, AC1. I recently got a great deal on a used pair of LASS, as I figured I would need better cables to hear the differences between high-end sources I was auditioning. So I'll also throw my impressions in here, if you don't mind. Comparisons were against Transparent Ultra cables and Belden 89259 DIY cables. Also note that I have not heard any version of the AZ Silver Reference.

For mid-range balance, I would call these cables neutral, w/ maybe a hint of warmth. Definitely not bloated. The entire range is smooth and balanced, while remaining clearly defined, w/ excellent separation. The mid-bass is a little flatter compared to the other cables, while the deep bass gained more definition and impact. Basslines are easy to follow. Highs are always clear, never harsh (unlike the Transparent cables). Ambience retrieval is excellent, as the performing venue is very clearly outlined when in the recording. Overall transparency and detail retrieval is much better than the Belden, and better than the Transparent.

The presentation is another area I agree w/ AC1. Compared to the Belden cables (front row) and the Transparent cables (six inches from the brass section, ouch), these cables are around third row. Kinda reminds me of the Sennheiser 580's presentation, but more involving, especially w/ vocals as there are no big frequency dips or bumps here. I also think the amount of air is very good, especially compared to the Transparent cables, which feels suffocating in comparison.

Now, for general comments and speculation. One review on AA, which compared the LASS to the AZ (version 1?), remarked that it felt like the AZ was adding too much air and sparkle, which was exciting at first, then over time the reviewer liked the LASS better. Also, AC1 noted the AZ to have a colder mid-range. What all this means, as usual, is system-matching will be very important. A forward or analytical system might sound better w/ the LASS than the AZ, while an already warm or laidback system might not sound involving enough w/ the LASS. For a well-balanced system, both should be tried.

As for the lack of transparency AC1 found, it should be noted that the LASS are unshielded. The second thing I noticed when listening (first being the presentation style) was the background was not as black as the Transparent cables, which are shielded and have some sort of filtering box. I assume the AZ are shielded, but don't know for sure since nobody seems to mention that in the reviews. I plan on trying a shielded version of the LASS (or maybe TG Audio's version of the silver interconnects), to see how much noise reduction I can get. A fair amount, I'd bet.

Finally, the LASS cost $400 new, while the AZ are at least double that amount.
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
The Silver Ref IIs are different than the I's... The I's leaned toward the HF end more (which provides it with more air), while the IIs provide a warmer midrange and a smoother as well as more detailed presentation (it was an overall improvement, but I do not have a pair to directly compare now). The SRs are shielded.
I am appreciating what the SRIIs can really do, especially in the detail/transparency... Accross the audio spectrum, there is just more information with everything having such a well defined pressence, the LASS is not bad but just does not offer the same level of clarity. It is harder to pick instruments out of a group, sounding a bit smeared with the sonic edges of each instrument to one another not so well defined. Even with so much detail, the SRIIs do not sound etched or hard like some other silver cables I have tried, they are still a very smooth cable (though the LASS does have a smoother midrange).
The only problem with the SRII could be too much HF energy, that was the big issue and was almost intolerable... I have since tamed it by adding an extra line noise filter to the DAC (which helped it a lot and not just to smooth the hf energy), along with running in the Headmaster and keeping the locking RCAs of the SRIIs very loose. Of course, the midrange can still be a bit too cold for some systems/preferences.
I actually am finally really happy with the sound from the Headmaster now with the SRIIs... To me, it has just the right amount of deatil, smoothness, and warmness, sounding very "real" to me without it sacrificing the musicality... This was not the case when I first got the headmaster, and that was one of the reasons for trying the LASS.
I read that they have the a bullet plug version of the LASS, where it's said to improve the cable across the board... Would be interesting to know how those compare.
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