The 423.5Phono-Litz is the most popular and one of our best tonearm cable designs. It was initially introduced in 2011 and since then it has been our flagship tonearm cable thanks to its unsurpassed sonic qualities. This low capacitance phono cable incorporates some truly original features that set higher standards in audiophile silver cables. The cable belongs to our Gaia Series of pure OCC silver handmade audio cables. For this series we have created a state of the art Litz conductor consisting of individually Teflon insulated pure OCC silver strands.
Since the initial launch of the 423.5Phono-Litz we have gradually improved certain aspects of the cable design. While preserving its original structure we have further reduced its capacitive and inductive impact preserving a very efficient balance (Capacitance: 49pF/m, Inductance: 0.69µH at 1kHz. & 20°C). In addition, the already very well screened 423.5phono-litz has increased its shielding effectiveness by using a high density, silver plated copper braid with very high levels of optical coverage.
The 423.5Phono-Litz is a starquad cable with Gaia Litz type conductors. The unique Litz conductors used by the 423.5Phono-Litz are a significant improvement over solid, stranded or traditional Litz designs that are available in the industry. As with all of our handmade cables, the OCC strands are made of one of the purest silver and have practically no crystal boundaries. However, the uniqueness of the Gaia Litz conductors lies mainly with the characteristics of their insulation and the methods of its application.
Conductor & Cable design:
Effectively Gaia Litz conductors are formed by combining individually Teflon insulated OCC silver strands. This may appear straightforward and/or common. It isn’t! No silver silver Llitz (or copper) wire is simply insulated with PTFE. The manufacturing process of Teflon insulated Litz wires requires the use of other, less desirable materials that enable Teflon to bond on the metal surface. In most occasions, Teflon Litz wires will only have an outer layer of Fluoropolymer. The actual insulation of the individual strands will typically make use of nylon enamel films, polyurethane enamel base coatings etc. This is a largely unaccounted factor when assessing Litz wires for audio applications and given the electrical properties of such materials/insulators it shouldn’t be.
The primary, solid PTFE insulation we use on our Gaia conductors is manually extruded over the silver cores to create an airtight layer with the desired thickness, firmly attached to the surface of each of the silver strands. The insulated strands are helically wound and encased in an outer secondary layer of medium density PTFE insulation to form a single Gaia litz conductor. The airtight PTFE insulation prevents the movement of the wires maintaining a fixed distance among all the strands of the same conductor and it creates an outstanding layer of primary dielectric with excellent electrical properties (remarkable electrical stability over a wide range of frequency and environmental conditions, with a low dielectric constant that shows less change over a wide range of temperatures and frequencies than any other solid material, and dissipation factor which remains constant and below 0.0004) compared to any coated Litz wire currently produced.
The pure silver Litz conductor used for this cable is the result of extensive work and experimentation in order to produce the ultimate result. The twisted strands carry the signal as individually insulated “transmission lines” exposing a much larger surface area than a solid or stranded 24AWG conductor would. Ultimately, each of these Litz conductors is made up of a group of low mass signal lines. The small cross-section of each discreet conductor permits an even distribution of the signal carriers across each wire resulting to stable capacitive and inductive values at all frequencies.
One of the main advantages in using such Litz conductors is that they have outstanding mechanical characteristics. They achieve the flexibility and strength of stranded wires but they do not suffer from the inherent weaknesses of bare stranded formations. In addition to their excellent mechanical characteristics Litz conductors also prevent surface marring (weathering/oxidization and mechanical wear/friction) and their embodiments have excellent conductor resistance and inductance to cable capacitance ratios.
Four of the Gaia Litz conductors described above (approx. 24AWG effective gauge each) are arranged into a starquad geometry. Star-quad geometries are used throughout the cable industry and in particular where low level signals are involved in order to enhance the noise rejection characteristics of the cable. However, note that the geometry of the cable (star-quad, Litz braid, twisted pair etc) does not replace the effectiveness of the shield in terms of dealing with EMI and RFI. Claims of “self-shielded” Litz geometries for unshielded cables are rather misleading. A cable that does not have a shield is an unshielded cable and subject to all the consequences this entails. This does not mean that such a cable may not perform well enough. It means that if this cable is used in a certain environment it will not be able to prevent EMI and RFI from becoming an audible nuisance. For these reasons as well as for added protection of the cable conductors, we insist in producing very well shielded cables with efficient earthing arrangements.
The starquad formation is encased in two additional layers of medium density Teflon (bedding/packing insulation) to determine the proximity between the signal conductors and the cable shield. Medium density Teflon is a material with a very low dielectric constant (significantly lower than solid PTFE) while it is also very flexible.
The entire bundle is threaded into a braided silver plated OFC copper shield with a 98% optical coverage. This is a very dense braid, and the most effective we have worked with; and despite its high cost we are very pleased to have it introduced in our designs. Its material, density and skin depth provides the best possible protection a single shield can offer.
The outer protection of the cable aims at creating a good electrical insulation with excellent mechanical properties (i.e. strength, flexibility, vibration absorption & isolation, abrasion protection etc). At the same time it offers adequate protection against moisture, UV light and general weathering conditions in a domestic or professional environment. To achieve this our cables have three insulating layers above the shielding: Teflon insulation, flexible PVC & silicone compound jacket and a flexible braided outer sleeve. A 0.2mm layer of PTFE (Teflon) is applied directly onto the shielding of the cable. Then an ultra-flexible, premium silicone jacket is used and the cable is finished with a high-quality braided sleeve by Viablue (a combination of Monofilament PET and expanding fabric fillers). Ensuring that the cable is adequately protected and not simply dressed with an outer braid is essential and it will result to a long life of consistent performance.
Overall the 423.5phono-litz has a robust but highly flexible construction, dense shielding to effectively block any noise, and an efficient Faraday Cage ground/shield arrangement that isolates the external ground path from both send and return signal conductors.
The sonic result is simply amazing. A fast and transparent cable. Open but not edgy with natural upper bass extension, rich midrange and detailed layering. It is truly neutral and casts a beautiful three dimensionality to the soundstage. It will not increase bass or mask detail.
The cost of the materials and the work required in order to form such conductors inevitably set a high price for these cables. However, their performance alone fully justifies their price regardless any claims we may make about the costs involved, the design advantages or its electrical characteristics. The construction of each of these cables requires many hours of work over a period of a few days and each cable is made on order from its first stage to the last. This means these cable are not available for immediate dispatch and usually a 4-6 days lead time is suggested.
Over the past years, our Gaia cables have replaced some of the top lines of highly acclaimed cables of the market (i.e. Nordost, Furutech, Audionote, Kondo etc) on the systems of many of our customers.
To get a better understanding on the ideas and architecture behind our cable designs please read our notes and feel free to contact us for any questions.