SEEC THE ZILLION loudspeaker cables
As neutral as
Author of hifi.nl
Robert van der Wardt
The world of audio cables is one most commonly acknowledged as having a disproportionately large number of snake oil merchants. It’s a never-ending job to distinguish the jewels from the ROMEX® in a world where marketing hype and astronomical prices rule supreme. During the past few weeks I have been caught in a stranglehold by THE ZILLION loudspeaker cable. Breathtaking in performance - but instead of gasping for air, I am subdued and relaxed by its natural, life-like sound. Breathing, I’ve decided, may be overrated.
It is a winter evening when Kees van Haaren, senior designer and manager of SEEC comes by to hook up THE ZILLION loudspeaker cables in my system. SEEC – Scientific Essential Equipment Company- is a Dutch firm probably best known for its AC inline filters. Fact is, that SEEC understands the nuances of connecting equipment together and the corresponding mismatch anomalies that can occur. This is especially true for issues relating to impedance matching – one area that van Haaren has paid much attention to over the years. SEEC preamps and power amps have real 75 Ohm inputs and outputs. The SEEC active interconnect, the ASC-2, ensures a correct electrical connection between components of various brands that can vary wildly with regard to impedance parameters. But today, our listening and evaluation session will focus on SEEC’s top-of –the-line speaker cable, THE ZILLION.
Construction and philosophy
THE ZILLION is a reasonably stiff cable, and requires a long sweeping arc if you plan to take it around a 90 degree turn. Not much different from most high quality speaker cables in this regard except that it is just 3/8” in diameter. . There is a hard polymeric sheath on its outside to protect and contain the delicate conductors. One of the unique aspects of THE ZILLION construction is the insulation of the individual conductors. Each conductor has a sheath of insulating material just a few microns thick -very tough and very inert. The conductor material itself is high purity copper, without the use of “helper alloys” like silver or other precious metals. But perhaps the real magic in the performance of the cable is derived from its unique construction. To control the so-called “skin effect” 12 conductors are assembled in a quasi-spiral configuration. (The Skin Effect occurs when higher frequencies migrate to and travel on the outer-surface of a conductor where there is less electrical resistance, thus causing smearing and displacement of instruments in the soundstage). The irregular and proprietary construction technique, requires building THE ZILLION completely by hand, and has the effect of negating skin-effect and its corresponding negative by-products. For termination THE ZILLION has standard universal connectors. You can use either banana or spades termination.
Connecting and listening
Under Kees’ direction I connected THE ZILLION speaker cables between my Levinson amp and Martin Logan speakers. With a large curve the cable swept to the rear-side of the speakers and then to the amplifier. The small diameter cable does not pose much of an obstruction. I have to admit that it’s much better than having a boa-constrictor on my floor.
My first decision - do I wait for a week to burn in the cable or just go for it? I opted for a quick first impression and Pat Matheny was slipped into the CD drawer. No disappointment here. One might reasonably expect a somewhat laid back, dull stereo-picture to emerge from a cable coming right out of the box. Yet, THE ZILLION immediately revealed a lively image. With the knowledge that the cable would almost certainly improve in time, I was already looking ahead a week to spend some quality time with THE ZILLION.
When a week had passed, THE ZILLION had gotten much better! Now I noticed that ease and control were improving. Whether this was the settling of the copper and insulators, or my hearing needing to recalibrate to the new sound stage, I’m not completely sure. Certainly THE ZILION have brought a wonderful new finesse to my speakers. THE ZILLION delivers refined inner harmonics with delicate strings, yet is definitely in control with complex musical passages and large dynamics. For some perspective on the sound of THE ZILLION one might triangulate by comparing some well-known brands. If cables like MIT and Transparent are smooth, quiet and remove harshness (if not little life) and cables like Siltech and Nordost move to the more speedy, detailed and analytic side, THE ZILLION finds its place between them with supreme neutrality, musicality and responsiveness. THE ZILLION presents a beautiful soundstage that is deep and wide while letting the music flow from the speakers. Complex music passages on Dream Theater’s “Train of Thought” deliver independent envelopes of sound from each instrument yet the music maintains its coherence as a whole composition. The bass is strong, fast, and articulate, plunging deep and revealing the shortcomings of my speaker in the lowest regions. Dennis Chambers’ plays his kit to a fare-thee-well with great control, energy and dynamics that this master drummer is known for. The recording of Patricia Barber’s Café Blue is reproduced without any form of harshness. Sometimes at realistic volumes, the sibilance in her consonants can become too edgy, but not here. On vocal material, midrange and highs are natural and easily reproduced: clear and clean, without veiling, chestiness or the sharp edges. The liquid mids of my Martin Logans are back again!
What more can be said about THE ZILLION speaker cable? The greatest joy in listening to THE ZILLION is the fact that you are not listening to the cable. Nothing is added or deleted from the signal. THE ZILLION performance is exhilarating in all respects. SEEC shows that with classic materials, and years of experience and research, they can deliver a no-nonsense, high-resolving and musically satisfying product. And as high-end speaker cables go, THE ZILLION is very moderately priced. Make no mistake, I will still enjoy using my older well known speaker-cables. But the next time I upgrade, THE ZILLION will, without a doubt, be on my shortlist to revisit one more time.
I would really have liked to replace all my cables and interconnect with SEEC. Oftentimes the synergy realized between components connected with wire from the same designer yields spectacular results. But for this review, we’re talking only about THE ZILLION speaker cables - great performance and excellent value. I was just lucky to have a week with their new STAGE ONE interconnect. A very impressive performer and with a price point of only $399.00 per one meter pair, I know of nothing else that can compete with it. I simply did not want to miss the opportunity to mention it to you. More soon about this beautiful product.
Producer and distribution:
SEEC International Audio Systems
Telephone : 0492-663462
E-mail : email@example.com
Web : www.seecaudio.com
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· Martin Logan Aerius i loudspeakers.
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· Siltech FT-12 G3 speaker-cable