studio
contact
rss

Review: Skogrand Air Cables

Bookmark and Share

by Josh Ray on January 16 '12

NewImage

 

I don't usually review cables. Especially expense cables. In fact, the whole cable game is kind of distasteful to me. One of my favorite A/B tests I've witnessed was a shootout between two interconnects, a $2000 pair and a $79 pair. Neither myself nor anyone else who heard this demo could tell the difference. This demo wasn't held by the company of the $79 interconnects, but by a buddy with a $50k plus system. The conclusion of said demo? It wasn't that the $79 wires were masquerading as $2k wire or the expensive silver foil was snake oil.

No, the conclusion was that cables do sound different, you'll just be hard pressed to pick the expensive wire out of the cheap stuff. In some cases, speaker cables the size of T1 lines will kill your system, despite costing (and looking) like a million bucks, while a chopped up extension cord will sound fantastic. It's all system specific.

So why review the new Skogrand SC Air Cables?

First, it's not a true review. No A/B, no "this is the greatest cable in the multiverse" declarations.

Rather, I'm interested in technology. Specifically, advancements in technology. And while these cables run $1900 (for a 2.5 meter pair), wait a few years and you'll find this tech in more budget-minded options. Or not. This is high end audio, after all.
A little cable methodology to start. Air is the best insulator around given that it's has the lowest dielectric of any material that'd be appropriate for cables. PVC, teflon, silk, and other wire wrappers all compete for the lowest dielectric crown, but they leach the good electrons out of their copper or silver innards. Air, however, takes the cake. Convenient, isn't it, that air is everywhere. One option is to run bare wire from your amps to your speakers. The problem is you can't let the positive and negative wires touch.  Shorting cables = vaporized beryllium tweeters.

Since we don't like blowing up our speakers, Skogrand's main man Knut Plukkerud Skogrand has figured out how to dress raw wire in pure air pajamas. At least, 99.28% of the time.

Now, for those who aren't, well, hard core cable nuts (even though I hate cable culture, I'm kinda a nerd about electronics), there's two camps in the world of wire: the first school says bigger is better. Bigger size (aka smaller gauge), bigger shielding, bigger everything. Then there's the purists with their distaste for shielding, multi-strand and anything but the raw, raw periodic table of elements.

A brief side note: shielding doesn't apply, at least most of the time, in speaker cables. The ohms being around 8 and lower, you're not going to hear NPR through your speakers. At least, when your cable lengths are manageable. You want shielding if you're running inside walls, through electrical rats' nests, underground and that sort of thing. But if you're in the market for Skogrands, my guess you're more of the dedicated listening room type.

Skogrand champions the purity approach, simple = beautiful. Solid core (not stranded) pure occ 12awg copper. Pure teflon. Pure balsa wood. Wait, what? Yes, balsa wood in the tips of the cables, providing a structural advantage, or so I'm told. And the whole deal is wrapped in rigid poly tubing and PET braided sleeves, neither of which actually touch anything but your fingers.

NewImage

Also, craftsmanship is top notch, spade terminations are best-of-class and flexibility is similar to a baby elephant's trunk, so be prepared. Cables arrived in a combat-approved locking case and Knut Skogrand could not be nicer and easier to work with.

Overall, The Skogrand SC AIr cables are a glimpse into the future of purist cable methodology. And while some expensive cables are zip cord in fat wrappers, the SC Air's milled teflon/balsa suspension system is surely a bitch to manufacture which, refreshingly, is reflected in the cost. These are truly high-tech designs made with old-world craftsmanship in the mountains of Norway. Henrik Ibsen would be proud.

So here's the obligatory "if you're in the market for cables above $2k, you owe it to yourself to demo the Skogrand SC Air cables." But seriously, while I won't say the SC Airs will sound better or worse than competing cables (after all, maybe your system is too clean and clear to begin with), I will say you're not a true cable aficionado if you don't put Skogrands into your rotation.

What's next for cable technology? If the best insulation is no insulation, then the only thing better than air is, wait for it, no air. Vacuum sealed cables, Knut? I'm game.