This belief that “all cables obey the laws of physics” foremost in mind, Nalty examined the properties of the Thunder and other cables in order to discover what made them so successful. Among these factors were the materials used, the distance between conductors, insulation thickness, RFI screening and the plugs fitted to either end of each cable.
The result was the Quickstep, which justified Nalty’s efforts by winning Hi-Fi World’s ‘Loudspeaker Cable of the Year’ award in 2016. Not bad for cables that were considerably more affordable than the Thunders, a 3m pair selling. One of the obvious features of the Quickstep was its use of exclusive rhodium- plated GN I 4mm ‘banana’ plugs that, like the cables themselves, are hand-made in Black Rhodium’s Derby factory. So proud of these ‘single-line connect’ plugs is Nalty in his words, they’re “possibly the best speaker plugs for sound quality we know” – that he used his initials in their name. Interestingly, GN Is aren’t listed among the speaker plugs you can buy from the Black Rhodium website.
Great though the Quicksteps were, you can’t rest on your laurels in this game; indeed, although reviewers and customers alike praised their many virtues among them clarity and speed, as well as overall musicality some felt that bass delivery took a back-seat. Hence the Quickstep S, its replacement.This is claimed to deliver “more powerful bass”, in addition to “clearer mid-range frequencies and smoother but well-detailed high frequencies”. To meet these objectives, Black Rhodium increased the cross- sectional area of the conductors and used new RFI screening to “minimise distortion from external interference”. Unfortunately, all of this comes at a price; the new cable will cost you 50% more than the original Quickstep did.
The GN I plugs of the well- constructed 3m review samples mated securely (but not impractically so!) with the speaker terminals of my Cambridge Edge A power amplifier – fed with digital source material from the matching Edge NQ streamer – and Quadral Aurum Wotan VIII speakers.After the recommended 100 hours burn-in, serious listening could begin.
First up were a couple of tracks with prominent low-frequency content – Wide Open, by the Chemical Brothers and Beck, and Tame Impala’s The Moment (both FLAC CD rips). Although I never heard the original Quicksteps, I decided to use my ‘regular’ speaker cables – Furutech DSS- 4.1 s; giants, with commensurate low-frequency delivery – as a reference.
I found that the latter gave the edge in terms of visceral impact, but the much cheaper Quickstep S managed to hold its own when it came to subtlety and definition. As far as the original version’s key advantages – clarity and insight – are concerned, the Quickstep S does not disappoint.The ‘snap’ needed to make the complex percussion of Radiohead’s Idioteque (Kid A) work was evident and as a result it sounded immediate and engaging.
Also faring well were the organic timbres of the predominantly electronic melodies punctuated by said rhythms, while the urgency of Thom Yorke’s vocal was satisfyingly conveyed.
Switching to my familiar hi-res LSO/Naseda recording of Britten’s War Requiem, I found that a proportionate sense of scale and dynamics ensured the music flowed naturally – without undue constraint.
The job of a speaker cable is to ensure that as much of your music as possible arrives from the amplifier intact – in this, the Quickstep S does indeed deliver the goods I felt.
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