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Thread: ‘Review’ of three Zavfino arm cables

  1. #1
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Sheffield - UK

    Posts: 6,589
    I'm Mark.

    Default ‘Review’ of three Zavfino arm cables

    ‘Review’ of three Zavfino arm cables



    Intro
    In the title to this post I’ve written ‘review’ in quotation marks because I’m not a reviewer, just a chap who likes music and tinkering with his hi-fi. I should also add that this is a purely subjective report based on personal auditioning and there is no attempt, or pretence, at achieving any form of scientific rigour - this report won’t convert anybody who believes cables cannot make a difference - but then it’s not supposed to.

    Background
    A few weeks ago I visited the North West Audio Show at Cranage Hall (and very enjoyable it was too). Whilst I was there I stopped off at the Ammonite Acoustics stand and had a chat with Hugo Cass, the owner. The end result of this chat was that I left the show with three tonearm cables to try! A had recently been experimenting with different cables between my tonearm and my phonostage and Hugo’s offer to try these additional cables came as both a pleasant surprise and a somewhat daunting task.

    Description
    The armcables in question are by a company called Zavfino, which, despite the rather European sounding name, are a Canadian company. In addition, Zavfino was not a company I had ever heard of but that’s not surprising as there are literally thousands of companies producing interconnects and all fighting for their little share of the market! As it turns out, Zavfino have been in business for over ten years and are unusual in that they not only use cable that is manufactured unique to them but also make their own RCA plugs and DIN/arm connectors (which are, apparently, used by many other cable manufacturers).

    The three cables
    The three cables I was loaned were ‘The Cove’ £69.00 (in a gold and black woven jacket), ‘The Mahone’ £119.00 (in a grey and black woven jacket) and ‘The Highlands’ £355.00 (in a green and black woven jacket). All three follow a similar form in that they consist of a single, rather than double, run of cable that is split into two at the amplifier end. All are really very flexible and should make cable dressing very easy (I’ve set up many LP12’s and none of these cables would cause a problem). All can be ordered with either straight or right angled DIN plugs and come with RCA plugs as the output (I don’t think there is any choice in this bit). The three cables are of shielded construction and have a drain wire to ground at the output that is terminated in a gold plated crocodile clip. There is no ground wire at the arm end and this isn’t an option (as far as I know), but I experienced no noise/ hum problems. Unusually, whilst the ‘Cove’ is a standard 1.2 metres in length the ‘Mahone’ and ‘Highlander’ are a touch longer at 1.5 metres.



    Use
    In use all three cables were very easy to fit and the custom DIN plugs (all metal casework) were a very nice snug fit - not too tight but very reassuring and solid. The build quality of these cables is really first class and, unusual even in cables from big manufacturers, heatshrink is not used at all which makes the joints close to the connectors much more flexible than is often the case.

    Auditioning
    Anyway, enough of the preamble nonsense, to the meat of the matter (sorry vegetarians and vegans, but you know what I mean), what did the auditioning reveal. Well, for quite a while, it didn’t reveal anything as having just finished comparing a number of arm cables I wasn’t keen to go to the bother any time soon as all my trials had confirmed was that the Mogami 2549 cable (1) I was already using was excellent and quite up to the job. You can buy the exact same cable from Yannis Tome for £69.00. However, after some considerable ennui I finally got round to trying my (generously) loaned cables... .. .

    With something of a sense of trepidation I started with the £69.00 ‘The Cove’ and sat back for a listen - wow, I was very pleasantly surprised, I didn’t immediately feel that something was missing and rush to reinstall my usual cable (as I had rather learnt was my usual feeling when substituting new ‘super’ cables). In fact, after further listening I actually preferred the sound of the Cove! It had all the solidity and body of the Mogami but with just a bit more fine detail which made the whole sound seem that little bit more intimate and ‘real’. In my notes I wrote that ‘The Cove’ had a “good solid sound but still airy and open and better than usual detail”. All in I think that makes ‘The Cove’ a bit of an audiophile bargain, it costs the same as the Mogami and is just as nicely made but sounds better and uses higher quality DIN and RCA plugs - what’s not to like?

    Next up was the £119.00 ‘The Mahone’ (I wish these cables were just numbered, but hey, whatever). Well this sounded very like the cheaper ‘Cove’ (I can’t keep on putting ‘the’ in front of all the names even though that’s what the manufacturer, rather pretentiously, calls them) but with a greater sense of apparent intimacy and better stereo focus - not night and day but quite enticing nevertheless! My initial, rather scrappy, notes say “very like the cheaper one but with even better focus and stereo images are really strongly positioned”.

    Last, but by no means least, was the £355.00 ‘Highlands’ (I’ve no idea where these names come from). Interestingly, this cable had a noticeably different character and balance than the previous offerings. The soundstage sounded really open and instruments existed strongly in their own spaces (almost disconcertingly so in some cases). The top end was really fine, detailed and filigreed - almost as though RAAL tweeters had been suddenly installed. However, whilst the sound was extremely free of grain it was also a tad drier in the upper bass region and this gave, for me, the sound a slightly more cerebral and less ‘meaty’ quality than the previous two combatants. On very atmospheric, or simply recorded, music the ‘Highlands’ really shone, or rather it simply sounded as if there was less of a filter present, but on more compressed material it sounded a touch less demonstrative than the other two cables.



    Conclusion
    In the end it was the ‘Mahone’ that had the best balance for me and the music I tend to listen to. It had the weight and drive of the ‘Cove’ but with a lot of the inner detail, and delicacy of the ‘Highlands’. If you listen to more unamplified music than myself you may well prefer the ‘Highlands’. For many the ‘Cove’ will be a worthwhile improvement (£40.00 seems to be about the minimum one can buy an arm cable for and its easy for the connectors alone to exceed the cost of the ‘Cove’).

    There is, of course, a whole lot of USP marketing from the manufacturer about wire design etc. and if that interests you it’s all on their website. I won’t go into it here as I have no clue as to how valid it is. Anyway, that’s it; I wrote this report as a bit of fun (I like the style of the Stereophile reviews so tried to ape that) and I have no relationship with the manufacturer or the distributor etc.
    ——————————

    (1) The same Mogami cable is used by Linn in their T-Kable which is £320.00 for a 1.2 metre length. I think this puts the pricing of the Zavfrino cables into perspective as the connectors that Linn use are no better, in fact not as good in some ways, as the ones Zavfino use.
    ——————————

    Zavfino website: https://www.zavfino1877.com/hi-fi-connectors-and-parts
    Ammonite Acoustics website: https://ammonite-audio.co.uk/product.../audio-cables/

    100% Analogue

  2. #2
    Join Date: Mar 2014

    Location: KY - Scotland

    Posts: 4,459
    I'm Mike.

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    Good 'review'

    Tom had mentioned these cables to me a while back and I've been tempted to give the Mahone a try once my tonearm returns from service/upgrade. Your thoughts make it even more tempting. Thanks.

  3. #3
    Join Date: Sep 2014

    Location: brighton uk.

    Posts: 4,333
    I'm jamie.

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    a very good price for the mahone cable,mogami 2549 is very good,if it betters that then its another 'no brainer' bargain.
    My System
    John Wood KT88 Amp.
    Paradise Phono Stage
    Sony TTS-8000 Turntable.
    PMAT-1010 MK6 Tonearm.
    Ortofon KB with vienna upgrade
    Sony X555ES Cd Player
    Yamaha NS1000m Speakers
    KARMA Interconnects & Tonearm Cable

  4. #4
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 3,954
    I'm Tom.

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    Link to my write-up of these cables a while back https://theartofsound.net/forum/show...ino-arm-cables
    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 GM and SPU Gold; 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

  5. #5
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Sheffield - UK

    Posts: 6,589
    I'm Mark.

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    Oh, I’ve not seen that before - will have a read now .

    100% Analogue

  6. #6
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Sheffield - UK

    Posts: 6,589
    I'm Mark.

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    Hmm... a very good read and most interesting. My findings seem to parallel your own except I did end up preferring the Mahone over the Highlands (though I recognise and appreciate the qualities you ascribe to the Highlands).

    100% Analogue

  7. #7
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 3,954
    I'm Tom.

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    But as you point out people who mainly listen to acoustic music (in my case largely classical, with some jazz) might like the Highlands better, that was the conclusion from my perspective. I think we are pretty much in agreement. Top value regardless.
    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 GM and SPU Gold; 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

  8. #8
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Norwich

    Posts: 2,671
    I'm Hugo.

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    Thanks to Mark and Tom for taking the time to share their thoughts on these Zavfino 1877Phono cables, which confirm my honest view that the COVE is an outright audiophile bargain at just £69, the MAHONE is an outright high-end bargain at just £119, and the HIGHLANDS is quite a special thing at £355, which is a fraction of what most cable makers charge for a high quality, pure silver cable.

    The MAHONE and HIGHLANDS cables are longer than average at 1.5m (the COVE is 1.2m). The HIGHLANDS has relatively long 'tails' at the RCA end which means that there's never any problem using it with dual mono phono amps that have widely spaced RCA sockets. The MAHONE and COVE will both cope with RCA sockets spaced up to 18cm apart.

    I'd like to mention the packaging of these cables, which is understated, tasteful and effective - no cynical blinging up here. The COVE and MAHONE both come in a nice zipped fabric bag, and the HIGHLANDS is in a satin black hinged box, as shown below. I don't think that people like to pay over the odds for lavish packaging and neither do they want flimsy/cheap packaging. Zavfino 1877Phono's packaging is unexpectedly delightful as well as being reassuringly functional.



  9. #9
    Join Date: Sep 2014

    Location: brighton uk.

    Posts: 4,333
    I'm jamie.

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    Could you tell me if the mahone is fully shielded, ie the tails
    My System
    John Wood KT88 Amp.
    Paradise Phono Stage
    Sony TTS-8000 Turntable.
    PMAT-1010 MK6 Tonearm.
    Ortofon KB with vienna upgrade
    Sony X555ES Cd Player
    Yamaha NS1000m Speakers
    KARMA Interconnects & Tonearm Cable

  10. #10
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Sheffield - UK

    Posts: 6,589
    I'm Mark.

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    I did undo one of the RCA plugs and you can’t see anything as the end is very neatly covered by a small length of heat-shrink. I don’t get any hum or noise though and it’s at least as good as the Mogami.

    100% Analogue

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