Network Acoustics ENO Digital Cable Ag

Hardware Review

Network Acoustics ENO Digital Cable Ag
Monday, June 28, 2021
digital cable
Chris Kelly

Back in November 2020 I reviewed the Network Acoustics ENO in these pages, and the Editor awarded it an Innovation award, I nominated it as one of my Best of the Year products. In the ensuing months Network Acoustics have supplied a lot of ENOs to customers around the world, and the overwhelming feedback seems to be, in broad terms, that the customers are extremely happy with their purchase.

However, rather than rest on their laurels, the Network Acoustics team of Rich and Rob have pressed ahead with enhancements to ENO and other projects. Using their expertise in cable design, one of the post-ENO products to have been brought to market is a coaxial SPDIF RCA cable, designed specifically to work at between a digital source and a DAC. I have had one here for a while now and have used it between a Lyngdorf CD2 player and Lyngdorf TDAI3400 amplifier/DAC/streamer. I also had the chance to use it between a Novafidelity N25 streamer and the TDAI3400.

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There was a time when I thought that a coaxial digital cable would at best have a marginal impact on sound, but over the past few years my attitude has changed. I have been lucky enough to hear several different ones now, and actually there are very perceptible changes to be heard between them all. The stated aim of Network Acoustics for their SPDIF cable (according to their website) is to deliver class-leading clarity, dynamics and a smooth natural realism. We shall come back to that shortly.

Every Network Acoustics product is hand-made, or certainly hand assembled. These are what we might term artisan products, made with great care and consideration by people who are committed to extremely high standards. Materials are very carefully selected. The heart of the SPDIF cable is a bespoke high purity UPOCC conductor (Ag on the heat shield identifies the conductor as silver), mated at either end with a very high quality RCA plug and covered in a very premium-feeling sheathing. This is a flexible but not floppy cable that sits in a comfortable arc between source and destination. The buyer can specify how they would like the cable terminated, choosing between RCA-RCA (like the review sample), BNC-BNC or RCA to 3.5mm minijack (for use with certain Chord DACs), and these plugs have solid silver contact pins.

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Of course none of this matters if the cable does not deliver the sonic goods. Happily this one most certainly does. Regular readers will know that my preferred music source is still the ancient analogue record, which for all its faults still has the ability to draw me into music in a way which digital does not. Or perhaps I should say did not. The gap between the pleasure I get from listening to a digital source or to a record has definitely narrowed in recent times, and Network Acoustics can certainly take some credit for this.

With the Novafidelity N25 receiving its ethernet signal via the ENO and being connected to the TDAI3400 by the Ag SPDIF cable, the sound was remarkably life-like, whether it was music streaming from Tidal or even BBC Radio 4. That smooth natural realism was palpable, and made listening a real pleasure. There was a wonderful sense of clarity and detail, but it was never at the expense of the musical flow. I played everything from AC/DC to ZZ Top, as well as plenty of jazz and classical music, and the results were invariably extremely pleasing. Raucous rock sounded raucous and rocky, and delicate music came across with just the right degree of lightness. I did not detect any digital nastiness at all, and the sound had warmth and depth, just the way I like it.

 

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Switching to CD replay once the Novafidelity had been returned, the story continued. The CD2 is an excellent transport and with the Network Acoustics cable carrying the digital signal to the TDAI3400, absolutely nothing was lost in the translation. I know that in many quarters CD is considered a ‘dead’ format but for those of us who have built up sizeable collections of the little silver discs since they first appeared some 40 years ago it is good to be able hear them sounding at least as good as they ever did in the format’s heyday, and maybe even better. Given that I probably have four times more CDs than records it is comforting to know that when the hands get too shaky to work a tonearm I can still enjoy music from the little silver spinners. They are not being converted to coasters or dumped at the charity shop just yet.

Of course if you have already dispensed with vinyl as a medium but are still using CD, or if you have a separate digital source and DAC, then this cable has to be very strongly recommended. I have compared the Network Acoustics offering with cables costing up to twice as much from better-known manufacturers, and it more than holds its own. Given that the company also offers a 30 day home trial money-back guarantee, the risk of taking the plunge is minimal. If you do, I suspect that you won’t be invoking that guarantee. 

Specifications: 

Type: coaxial SPDIF digital cable
Conductor: 20 AWG solid high purity silver 
Insulation: not specified
Shielding: four layer
Connector: silver RCA - RCA, BNC - BNC or RCA -3.5mm jack
Length: 1m (optional lengths in 50cm steps)
Diameter: 11.5mm
Warranty: 2 years

Price: 
£695
Manufacturer Details: 

Network Acoustics
+44 (0)2380 615 627
www.networkacoustics.com