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Thread: New find: Zavfino arm cables

  1. #1
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 3,909
    I'm Tom.

    Default New find: Zavfino arm cables

    Iím on record as being something of a low level cable skeptic: at one point I had a full rig of expensive of Kondo interconnects, which Iíd built up over years. Out of interest, I swapped them out for some of Paul Coupeís RFC cables, decently made from proper stuff, but hardly in the same bracket price-wise, and frankly heard no loss of quality, indeed I heard precious little difference at all, whether in musicality or enjoyment, or in hifi qualities like timbre, detail or soundstage. After a few weeks of back and forth, I sold the lot and re-invested most of the not inconsiderable amount raised in some new components. I have zero regrets about this, fine audio jewellery that the other stuff was, it really wasnít pulling its weight in terms of outlay.

    Thatís not to say I believe in using bell wire or the stuff you used to get free in the box. Rather, itís my view that for most practical purposes, once you reach a certain level of quality (and, inevitably, price) - decent quality copper or silver conductors with appropriately low resistance and capacitance, proper shielding, quality connections properly put together - cables for the most part become quite hard to distinguish between. Iím not saying that for line-level use, cables canít make a difference - only that differences tend for the most part to be relatively small in the grand scheme of things, and are not necessarily predictable or repeatable from system to system due to differences in component behavior. My solution was simply to go for good quality/well made but not astronomically priced stuff, and forget about it.

    The one exception Iíve always maintained in this area is tonearm cables. When used with MC cartridges, these handle electrical signals with a tiny fraction of the voltage and current of line-level cables. As a result, they are for me the most critical cable in a system (followed by digital cables which are in a similarly critical position) so they more than merit special attention. This is where, for example, the lower resistance qualities of silver wire, top quality connectors, or well-executed shielding can and do make a significant, clearly audible difference, in ways that can be harder to discern at line level. So for the last 7-8 years since flogging the Kondo stuff, I have held on to my Audio Note solid silver tonearm cable.

    However, a recent system shuffle left my trusty Audio Note silver interconnect a bit too short for comfort - so I turned to Hugo at Ammonite Audio for some thoughts. He sent me three cables from a new line heís carrying - Zavfino. This is a US company who have been manufacturing for other companies for many years but are relatively recently into making own-brand products.

    My main interest was in their top-end cable, the 'Highlandsí, listing at £355. This is a pure silver litz cable, albeit with fewer but thicker solid silver cores compared to the Audio Note's very fine ones; the shield was 'aluminium mylarí (according to the Zavfino web site) with silver coated copper braid, made up with decent quality push-fit connectors of Zavfino's own manufacture and a TAD arm plug, gold plated internally. Length was 1.2m and the cable itself was very flexible. The sound quality was comparable to my departing Audio Note silver - detailed, lovely timbre, nice space, balanced top to bottom - a real sense of rightness. My feeling was that both cables were doing exactly the same thing in the same way - with the kick being that the Zavfino is a third of the ANís list price. For my personal tastes - renaissance, baroque and early classical music mainly, with a bit of jazz / jazz fusion and folk/acoustic stuff thrown in - this cable is frankly a bit of a bargain and worth a look in any high-resolution system.

    Anyway, to cut a long story short, I bought one, though with straight connector (the demo ones were with right angled connector which only just fits into the TD124). I have a suspicion this new cable will be a fixture for many years in the same way the Audio Note one was.

    I also tried out two other cables, which like the first cable, I made a point of not reading about until I had listened to them. First was their entry level cable, the ĎCoveí which comes in a fetching copper-braided sleeve. Listening tests were kind of surprising as my expectations were fairly low, but in fact it did a very competent job, albeit without the more delicate spatial nuances of the silver cable. Surprising quality sound and feel for what I later found was a price of £69. Not many bargains left in audio but I would suggest this is proper one.

    Last but not least was the cable a notch up from this one, the ĎMahone'. This actually was comparable in its quality feel and flexibility to the Highlands, only in grey stripes rather than green finish. It uses similar construction to the Cove, though with four cores of multi-strand OCC copper as opposed to the Coveíís four cores of multi-strand OHFC. A small change it would appear, but the difference was palpable - this is a cable that has a big, bold sound to go along with its ability with detail, and indeed it wouldnít surprise me if some preferred it over the silver cable, depending on musical genres and tastes. A further surprise was the price - I was expecting something closer to the price of the silver cable but in fact it sells for just £119 - well worth considering upgrading to this if thereís a prospect the system itís going into would benefit from what it does.

    Anyway, my thanks to Hugo for letting me have a play with these on the TD124 (arms and cartridges in my signature).

    Zavfino web site here: https://www.zavfino1877.com/ - all the construction details are here so no point in me repeating them all in this post.

    I note that they also do some pretty funky tonearms and turntables, so perhaps weíll see them here in the not too distant.

    Pic 1 is the Cove on my TD124. Pic 2 shows the Highlands in green and Mahone in stripey grey.

    Main: Speakers 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys / custom crossovers with Tannoy ST50 supertweeters; Amp - Silvercore 833C monoblocks; preamp TBA watch this space; Vinyl: Schopper'd Thorens TD124 MkII + Ikeda IT345-CR1 9 inch and Ikeda IT-407 12 inch tonearms; Cartridges Stereo - Miyajima Madake, Miyajima Takumi, Ikeda 9TT, vintage Ortofon SPU GE; Mono - Miyajimas - Zero 0.7, Premium 1.0, Miyajima/Edison '78' 4.0 conical, and Shure M44 strapped for mono with several Expert Stylus conicals for different eras of 78s; Phono stage Allnic H7000V used with Miyajima ETR-Mono and ETR-Stereo SUTs; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport, heavily enhanced AN DAC based on kit but aspiring to DAC5 spec.

    Study: Speakers - Tannoy DC6; Amp: Marantz PM-4; Digital: CDP Sony CDP-X3000ES & Arcam rBlink; Vinyl: Garrard 401 with AT 1503 MkI broadcast arm, Ortofon SPU Classic GM, Ortofon 2-15k SUT and Puresound Tenuto platter mat

  2. #2
    Join Date: May 2016

    Location: london

    Posts: 449
    I'm bob.



    sold by ammonite-audio , look very good, May be worth the money if only I had it ,,


  3. #3
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Norwich

    Posts: 2,651
    I'm Hugo.


    Thanks for the kind words, Tom, which nicely sum up what these Zavfino 1877Phono cables do well, at sensible prices. The Highlands cable is the top model that I carry, but Zavfino 1877Phono do produce more expensive tonearm cables which I may look at in slow time, but for now the Highlands is more than good enough to hold its own.

    I should point out that Zavfino 1877Phono are a Canadian company, although distributed via the USA. Also, the tonearm mini-DIN connectors are Zavfino's own, and these are used by many high-end cable makers, for very good reason since they use gold plated high purity copper contacts in a PTFE block (TAD is their mini-DIN name and nothing to do with the Japanese high-end audio maker). The RCA phono plugs are also Zavfino's own and (unusually) employ a signal centre pin that is again gold plated high purity copper, so no brass here. The Highlands cable has gold plated pure copper ground contacts too.

    Zavfino 1877Phono do produce a wide range of connectors, wires and accessories and I have a selection on offer here https://ammonite-audio.co.uk/product...zavfino-2/diy/ . As Tom says, they do also make turntables but I won't be offering those here. Their Aeshna tonearm looks lovely and I have asked if they can make a version with greater effective mass than 8.5g but nothing has yet come back.

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