Apologies to anyone reading for the distinctly disjointed nature of this thread - I really have only a fraction of the time I used to have to spend on the forum and both the quantity and quality of my input have rather suffered - such is the effect of increased work load unfortunately.
However, my experimentation and investigation into all things hi-fi continues, and very interesting I find them too
. I've been very lucky to have an extended loan of the Ziro Disclosure interconnect and have finally managed to formulate some thoughts. In addition the loan of the Chord Sarum T cable has really helped place my experience in context. Finally, a 'curve-ball' has been thrown into the mix!
To summarise the Ziro, well it does seem to do what it claims, the noise floor is subjectively lower and dynamic range, particularly subtle micro dynamic, is increased. Tonally the sound is pure with the same character evident across the entire audio spectrum and no apparent colurations making some frequencies stand out relative to others. Perhaps the upper bass is a bit calmed, or perhaps this is a symptom of the increased dynamic, I'm still not sure. A minor upward adjustment of the volume control (the Ziro does seem somehow a touch quieter) compensates and the rest of the sound doesn't become forced or unrealistically pushy in any way. The Ziro is a silver cable and, as a generalisation, these are sometimes described as having a rather forward and bright character that highlights upper frequencies at the expense of those lower down the range - indeed, I have heard precisely this character from solid silver interconnects I have tried. The Ziro does not share these traits and the sound is very sophisticated and subtlety shaded throughout.
The Chord is another thing altogether. A nicely made, surprisingly lightweight, construct fitted with custom silver plated RCA connectors. It actually sounds remarkably like my regular Atratus 3 - which is a bit of a shock as the Atratus sold (it is no longer available) for circa £100 and the Chord is £2100.00! However, they do share some similarities in that the the Atratus is made from PC OCC long crystal copper and fitted with silver RCA plugs. Now don't get me wrong, the Chord is a fine sounding cable, dynamic and detailed. However, it doesn't have the 'party trick' of the Ziro which is the ability to focus instruments in space in a, sometimes, quite remarkable way.
But, at the end of the day, the difference between these various cables is relatively subtle whilst the cost difference is entirely the opposite! Toward the end of my review process (last week in fact) a friend contacted me to say he had bought, second hand, a 2000VA balanced mains line transformer (made by a U.K. firm called Airlink). The idea is that you plug your whole system into it and they are primarily made for recording studies where noise on the mains can be a real problem. Being a friend (many thanks Paul) said transformer was promptly brought round to my house and it was plugged in. The actual transformer is in the big grey box in the last picture above. The version Paul bought didn't come with any 13A sockets so Paul has added these as well as a switch for the mains input. The circuit board shown (red) is a separate DC blocker circuit that isn't actually wired up and I haven't tried it (though I do have two of them.....). Anyway, this balanced transformer has proved to be a bit of a surprise. The first thing I noticed was that the (often) noisy 500VA transformer in one of my power amps became silent (presumably DC is blocked) and then the subjective differences. Essentially the sound became subtlety more dynamic but texture, across the spectrum but particularly in the mid range, was significantly improves. Focus of instruments, already good, was also enhanced and it did everything the Ziro cables did but a bit more and for considerably less money. Having said that I did subsequently try the Ziro's with the Airlink and their quality was, if anything, enhanced rather than nulified.
In summary, I found the effect of the Airlink balanced transformer to be compelling and I have already ordered one. In my case I have ordered a 3000VA model that comes fitted with two 13A sockets (all I actually need for my system thanks to use of complex Hydra distribution leads) and input and output circuit breakers for safety reasons. However, I remain keen on the Ziro Disclosure cables and can see them in my systems future. The Airlink is a relative sonic bargain but then it comes in a big ugly grey box whilst the Ziro's are quite exquisitely made and can be fitted with my favourite KLEi RCA plugs at nominal extra cost.
NOTE: in the picture above the Airlink is just plonked in front of my system for temporary convenience, mine will sit behind, in the corner of the room. However, it is possible to have it mounted at the mains distribution point (in my cellar) and therefore it's rather overtly industrial quality would be hidden. In my case, as my hi-fi lives in a dedicated room, I don't mind having it visible.