Reviewed are The Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme Cables and you can be sure; these cables mean Serious Business!
Cerious Technologies was founded by audiophile and designer Robert Grost, formerly of Unity Audio and he produces two lines of audiophile loudspeaker cables: the entry level line or Graphene Extreme ($499) and the higher end Graphene Matrix ($749-$1249).
The cables on hand here for review are from the Graphene Extreme line, which include a one-meter pair of interconnects at $349 and a ten-foot stereo pair of speaker cables (quad-as the speaker cables consist of one cable for each positive and negative run) which will cost $549/for a five foot length. In contrast, my reference Analysis Plus Black mesh Oval 9 cables are priced $605 for a one-meter pair of the Solo Crystal Oval interconnects and $861 for a ten-foot pair of Black Mesh Oval Nine speaker cables. (Editor’s note: I still use the Analysis Plus Black Mesh Oval 9, depending on which Loudspeaker I may be using at the time).
Looking at these hulky cables, they feel and look much more expensive than the asking price. The speaker cables come two cables for each speaker as both sides negative markers are black while one positive side is red and the other blue. One thing that stood out from the start is the weight of the speaker cables, 10.8 lbs. for all four cables, a small chore to handle!
The interconnects are RCA terminated and my samples came with spades on the amp end and bananas on the speaker end. The only minor nitpick I have is that the bananas could be a tad longer. One might ask, what is graphene, as used in the Cerious Cable design? For sure, it is not your conventional type of method for making loudspeaker cables. That said, several companies have, over the years, resisted the conventional design parameters and proceeded to work on materials based on a new non-metallic conductor technology. Designer Rob Grost, (by no means a novice to high definition audio and sound) went against the “conventional” cable technology wisdom. Cerious Technology’s liquid ceramic composite based cables are quite an interesting venture as to the future of audiophile cables—yet at this time seems to be an ongoing effort by this company.
LISTENING OBSERVATIONS and SYSTEM
I decided to kick things off here using my Kinki Studio EX-M1 integrated amplifier because of its excellent neutrality and overall balance as I thought this would best showcase the cables in their own light.
The Kinki Studio sound has been compared, quite often to the esoteric, Nagra house sound; surely great company to be in. I was fortunate enough to have gotten in on this amp when the price was a steal as just lately, their prices have increased. For those of you who are looking for one of these fine amps, check the used audio classifieds for some good prices.
Both the Kinki and Analysis Plus Black Mesh Oval 9 cables have been described as sounding on the lean side and this just might be attributive to their neutrality, but when the bass frequencies in the program material are displayed, they unapologetically reproduce an “even” and remarkably accurate bass response! (Ed.- I can attest to that).
Here’s a quick overview of the sound of my current reference system (See end of article!). It’s a prodigiously Neutral overall sound quality that is balanced across the frequency spectrum with fine, intricate detail. The Sound stage is good in all domains. Music has great pace and tonality, with a refined nature to the sound.
The Cerious cables require little to no burn in period (quite unorthodox in the realm of today’s Audiophile cables) but they do need to settle into their resting position due the cables liquid ceramic suspension.
It was now time to replace the Analysis Plus Solo Crystal oval interconnects with the Cerious Graphene Extreme interconnects and once done, immediately I could hear a difference. The Cerious cables appeared to play a tad louder at exactly the same gain level from the Kinki amplifier. Apparently, this appears to happen more often than previously thought depending (possibly) on the speaker impedance and amplifier resistance involved in the matching of the two in question. In any event, I was adamant on keeping the gain unmistakably and perfectly even as the listening proceeded.
With more time and music presented, the Cerious cables were definitely perceived to add a bit of warmth to the mid-range. which in turn gave some meat to the bones in that area of the frequency range-unfortunately, at the expense of a touch of some upper mid-range detail and palpable sonic texture.
I proceeded to hook back up the Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Ovals and then switched over to the Cerious Graphene speaker cables. Ha, Ha! It now appeared that the increase in the apparent volume level I was perceiving had come from the Cerious cables somehow projecting the mid-range in a slightly more forward style, much as some tube amps do. When I say forward, I don’t mean in your face forward but about maybe a foot in front of the speaker plane. Ultimately, I found that both the speaker cables and the interconnects had a similar sonic signature .
For the remainder of the review, I used a full Cerious interconnect and speaker cable set up and decided to just let them sit overnight for them to settle in. Isn’t it funny what a difference a day makes? After letting the Cerious cables sit in place for two days, they’re overall tonal response had suddenly smoothed out quite a bit around the frequency extremes, and what I was hearing now is was more along the lines of what I would expect from a top flight set of cables. Let’s break up my assessment of the complete system as such:
High Frequencies: The Cerious cables were not quite as extended as the Analysis Plus Black Mesh Oval 9 but is very sweet sounding. By sweet sounding, I don’t mean slow and euphoric but wonderfully silky and distinctive in its high frequency reproduction. The pace is fast, detailed, and fleshy with a spot-on tonality; no harshness noticed here.
The sound of the Analysis Plus Cables, in my system and opinion, are more neutral while coming across as a touch leaner in comparison.
Midrange: The Cerious Cables portrayed a fine 3D sound stage, natural tonality with a touch of warmness which gives the sound a heartiness that really fills the soul. Again, the Analysis Plus 9’s were still deemed to be more natural with mostly all types of high definition program material.
Low End: the bass response was solid, clean and extended with good pace and punch. Without sounding like a broken record, the Analysis Plus Black Mesh Ovals still sounded more neutral –in its top to bottom overall balance with my Rosso Fiorentino Volterra reference loudspeakers.
The Cerious Technologies Extreme Graphene Cable System turned out to be a fun, yet ultimately somewhat confusing evaluation experience. As is typical with all audiophile cables, the sound can vary in small increments and in different ways depending on the equipment it is used with. In the case of the Cerious cables and interconnects examined here, their overall capabilities presented a slightly forward presentation with a heavy hand in its midrange and bass response.
However, after letting them ‘burn in’ for a couple of days the midrange and bass seemed to pull back a bit and I thought the high end was just a tad behind them in the complete sound stage presentation.
In one instance, Lyle Lovett’s voice proved me wrong as this was how the Al Grey CD was engineered. Another good reason to love and be fully familiar with your music sources when you audition audio equipment!
Now let’s talk about neutrality. The Analysis Plus cables are indeed fundamentally a subjectively neutral sounding product. If, on the other hand, you are not used to or actually care about sound and/or equipment neutrality, then the first thing you might say is that the Analysis Plus Cable’s midrange and bass may occasionally sound a bit lean. (Always rich and accurate for me…lol -Editor).
When adding this to the exceptional neutrality of the the Kinki integrated amplifier, you almost can get too much of a good thing! (However, it can not be disputed that subjective neutrality can be just as intoxicating while at the same time can include some warmth as part of its total sound balance) The Cerious cables, generally speaking, sounded a lot fuller most of the time. On the other hand, it was a bit strange when I sat down to listen to a particular classical CD of Vivaldi with Seji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra through the Cerious Cables. Apparently, this particular recording happened to be a touch shy in its engineered bass response so in this respect, it was sometimes QUITE HARD to tell the two cables apart!
In the end, I could happily live with either set of these cables but you know what, it’s a real good feeling when you have four large snakes running across your living room!
Music Sources : Lyle Lovett: Joshua Judges Ruth – MCA MCAD10475 ~ Vivaldi: The Four Seasons – Seiji Ozawa – Telarc CD-80070 ~ Al Grey : Centerpiece – Telarc CD-83379
REFERENCE SYSTEM: Amplifcation: Kinki Studio EX-M1 integrated Digital Transport: Jay’s Audio CDT2-mk2 DAC: L.K.S. MH-DA004 Speaker cables: Analysis Plus Black Mesh Oval Nine Power cables by Cullen and Swiss cables Digital coax cable: Apogee Wyde Eye
Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme Speaker Cables
$499/pair for 5-foot length- Banana or Spade termination
Cerious Technologies Graphene Interconnects
$349 -I metre pair Website: http://www.cerioustechnologies.com/
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