First and foremost before I get into this review I would like to thank Mr. Knut Skogrand. I had the great fortune to try out Skogrand cables for several months. More than I honestly can say I deserve to. Unfortunately I was in a position for most of November through December where listening was either not an option because the wifey turned my audio room into a make shift present wrapping room. Or I was just plain busy. Always patient, Mr. Knut Skogrand was more than flexible with the time frame. So here it is. Build quality:
Initial impressions. The quality of the build of these cables is absolute. What I mean by that is clearly every detail of the construction is carefully considered. They feel substantial, they are wrapped in a gorgeous gold and jade cloth all the way through. The spades are done in such a way that there is zero concern of them coming loose or causing connection issues. Overall they don't quite look like your average audio cables because of their incredibly odd shape. There is an obvious geometry to the outer sheath under the cloth exterior. Unlike anything I've ever seen. Mr Skogrand explained to me that cable is suspended in air and inside the cable there is less than 1% contact with anything other than air. Quite a design feat if you really think of it, how does one suspend a cable inside a tube while still retaining flexibility and length? I don't know, but I'm certain the shape of the cable must have something to do with it. Any way enough speculation on my part. Sound quality:
I must qualify my review by explaining that mine is not a common setup. I am triamped with SET amps for my mids and highs and pro amp for my woofers. Mr Skogrand was kind enough to lend me one pair of his cables. Obviously in my setup this means I cannot listen to the cables across the entire spectrum. So rather than attempt to find a setup that was more accommodating to these cables I simply replaced my midrange cables on my panels with them as well as the tweeter, that said the biggest focus will be on midrange as this is where these cables really made the biggest difference in my system. Though obviously having one pair it was either on the tweets or mids. The pro amp for the woofers lacks the proper binding posts and uses speakon connectors so they are unable to accommodate these cables.
This unique setup pretty much means that 100% of people who read this will not have a similar setup. but that said I truly think that what I experienced is a good representation of what these cables have to offer. On to the sonics.
First thing I want to say, these cables deliver. They sound really really superb. What do they deliver? In a word, texture. Rich organic texture. An unapologetically lavish, almost embarrassing amount of texture. I Listened to Jeff Buckley 'Grace' remastered in 24/96. Songs like 'Lilac Wine' and 'Dream Brother' were just overflowing with depth and girth that my current cables can't even pretend to convey. Dream Brother opens with what I assume to be some instrument similar to a biwa or perhaps a koto. You can hear the strings pop and twang under the pressure of being bent by the fingers playing it. A very unique and odd sound. The interpretation of this sound is so gratifying when listening through the Skogrand. The swirling mystery of this composition is hypnotic and intoxicating to the point where 'analyzing' what I hear becomes impossible. What I'm hearing transcends such things, until I listen through my Kimbers. Then it's 'well the twang is there and the swirling rhythm is there but it lacks richness, depth and true dimensionality’. I couldn’t wait to switch back to the Tchaikovsky’s. These cables are at home with anything. Orchestral, Rock, Jazz… Nothing I threw at them made me feel they were out of place.
Listening to The Police Synchronicity on 24/96 is spacious! Stings voice is breathy and sexy as hell. For me to call another mans voice sexy... That is certainly a new thing I have not experienced ever before. But I honestly can say I like it. The song King Of Pain starts off with a very tight wooden xylophone that is presented with tautness rather than what I'm used to hearing which I would describe as a plinking sound lacking something keenly obvious. Just closer to what I am sure is the artistic intention, why am I so sure? Because it is so beautiful. Contrast to my Kimbers the life is just not there. No immediacy to the xylophone, way less breathiness and no sexiness. Everything is technically there still as the Kimbers are high quality. They just lack that jen ne sais quoi the Tchaikovskys have in spades. The worthless overused audiophile descriptors of 'speed, air, presence' all lacking in the Kimbers.
Skogrands with the Kimbers. Giant freakin cables!!!!
Obviously the real place where these cables shine is through high resolution music. They do a great job of teasing out every nuance of dynamics and musical/emotional detail. That isn't to say they fail to perform on redbook. When listening to Tom Wait’s Orpans: BBB album on 44/16 There was pep, gruffy Waits growly goodness and incredible beauty (Long way home immediately comes to mind where these cables really shined.) Being an SET guy nothing gets me more connected to what I’m listening to than emotion and warmth. These cables not only deliver this in spades it preserves every nanogram of detail without over emphasis. The old adage of ‘you can have warmth/emotion or you can have detail, but you can’t have both’ is completely and utterly debunked here. The Kimbers on the other hand have a substantially darker timbre. Leaning severely into warm and lifeless. Conclusion:
I feel like one of those cliche audiophile reviews when I reread what I have written here. But you all know me better than that. I am as far away from kind and fluffy as possible. A quick glance through my RMAF coverage will tell you instantly I don’t fawn unless something is truly special. The Skogrand Tchaikovsky speaker cables stand as one of the best pieces of equipment I have ever heard, and among audio cables they are completely peerless. It is obvious from their performance and construction that Knut Skogrand is a man of great passion and engineering brilliance. What an awesome experience it has been having them in my system.
My highest marks without reserve.
Construction notes From Mr Skogrand:
The SC Tchaikovsky offers solid core copper leads suspended in air within a framework of ultra low dielectric fabrics and PTFE tubing. With this cable build we have achieved an effective dielectric constant of 1.0018 with a signal transfer speed of 299253,8 km/h or 99.82 % of the speed of light making this one of the fastest speaker cables in the world - only rivaled by our Ravel and Beethoven cables.
4 x 12 AWG ultra pure OCC solid core copper leads
Ultra low dielectric fabrics and PTFE tube suspension framework
Dual lead construction
Cross linked Polyolefin
Silk brocade cable sleeve
Gold z-banana plugs or spades, Speakon or unterminated bare wire
Capacitance 4.57 pF/f
Inductance 0.25 uH/f (DC)
Inductance 0.22 uH/f (HF)
Attenuation 0.001 dB/km/sqrt(frequency)
Area 3.000 mm² (square-mm)
Area 5921 CM (circular mil)
Diameter 76.9 mil (1)
Diameter 1.954 mm (1)
DC-resistance 0.00575 Ohm/m
The Ultra Pure Ohno Continuous Cast solid core wires are molded within a stabile framework that lets them float in air throughout the whole cable length.
My system notes: VMPS RM40s quad amped using two handmade SET amplifiers and a pair of QSC pro amp. Cables compared to: Kimber Kables one of three in existence KKSV cables constructed of single crystal ultra high purity solid copper in teflon dielectric. Boulder Cables Nitro and M80 cables.
Happy listening and thank you for reading.