ABOUT 3200

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Since 1992 I have been designing and manufacturing cables for the High End Audio industry, and since 1992 I have been running in the opposite direction of what most audiophile cable companies seem to be doing:
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  • When they all offered ordinary analog cables as “digital” cables, I offered impedance-critical, super wide-band lines that met the specifications precisely.
  • When they offered big, fat cables overly heavy with unnecessary conductor density - I offered slim cables with appropriate conductor density and geometry that addressed issues such as proximity effect, skin-effect, and velocity.
  • When they offered “cable sausage” squeezed out of huge industrial thermoplastic extruders, I countered with high-tech insulators that had to be braided and knitted onto the conductors in order to achieve best performance.
  • When they offered more of the same-old stuff ... I offered something new, something better.
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Still, old habits die hard and the demand for big, heavy cables with shiny jewelry attached remains attractive to many audiophiles. I have been asked by some dealers and distributors if I would be able to make these giant, anaconda-like cables in order to help them market my products to customers who demand such vulgar things. The answer is always “no” - not to be mean-spirited, but to preserve my own integrity and the integrity of my design philosophy. From my perspective, there is a ‘right way’ and a ‘wrong way’ - and this is something that has been clear to me, if not to anyone else.
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In my constant exploration I have generated many experiments in analog cable design in order to test the boundaries of performance in my own system, and in the systems of a small group of audiophiles that have been helpful to me over the years by agreeing to be beta-testers. During this time I have generated a fairly large “graveyard” of designs that didn’t meet the standards of performance that I was seeking to exceed ... this is a very expensive and often ungratifying process. Sometimes, though, something truly extraordinary emerges from the process.
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This is the story of the 3200 Series..

3202:

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This is the one that started the 3200 series - the utterly counter-intuitive interconnect that made me jump out of my seat!
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Over the Summer of 2017 I had decided to revisit an old idea that I once explored in a small project called A.H.A (it stood for “After Hours Audio” and it was a place where I could occasionally create some interesting and rule-breaking products in small batches for a few intrepid audiophiles who wanted to play in this strange sandbox with me). The design I wanted to revisit was one that would not make it into the main catalog of Black Cat Cable, but nevertheless deserved to be enjoyed by those who were willing to take the chance with me.
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This was the “Goldilinks” interconnect. It was an 8-element “matrix” style conductor braided over an insulated copper micro-tube (a conductor that has been unique to my designs since the early 2000’s!). In the Goldilinks, the arrangement was counterintuitive: the braided outer conductor was to be the signal-layer, and the internal copper tube was the ground plane.
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The result was also counterintuitive: a new level of musicality emerged, and it was as pleasantly surprising to me as it was to all those who purchased the Goldilinks in 2014.
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Flash-forward to Summer of 2017, and I was ready to try something “extra” with the Goldilinks idea: increase the conductor-mass in the outer braid by 400%, decrease the dielectric constant, and employ a new process - called “Airwave” - to ensure that a quite-small center conductor would remain uniformly positioned in the air-dielectric of a thin-walled Teflon tube. The intention here was to ensure that the magnetic fields generated by the signals traveling through the outer Matrix would not be subject to a manner of ‘braking’ that might be induced in the ground plane if it were deployed in the traditional manner: as a densely-woven grounding shield in the outer valence of a coaxial cable geometry. A side-benefit of this new geometry would also be an extraordinarily low capacitance, which is certainly desirable when it comes to interconnect cables.
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As a small producer with my own methods and machines, I’m able to explore interesting ideas such as this without having to engage industrial subcontractors - and this is one unique advantage that helps me to engage in real-world experimentation. And so I ran a small batch of this cable, with the 32-element Matrix on the outside of a hollow, Teflon tube with a small twisted-pair of “Airwave” magnet wires suspended inside the air tube.

KAPOW!

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That is the sound of my delighted surprise when I replaced the interconnects in my system with this new, rebellious design! It was something of a revelation to me, truly, as I sat transfixed listening to album after album. It wasn’t a tonal adjustment, per se. It wasn’t actually a resolution-improvement in the way that we tend to think of “resolution” in ordinary terms. It was nothing less than EFFORTLESSNESS.
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If there was ever a Gold Standard for me when it comes to the performance of an audio system, the word “Effortlessness” describes it perfectly. There is no sense of strain, of work being done - the music emerges whole, unsullied by artifact, and the system itself fades away. I have been chasing “effortlessness” since I first heard and understood it for what it was. It is more than ‘resolution’ for sure, and more than mere ‘transparency’ or “coherence” or “continuousness” ... it seems to me as a convergence of all these things, and more.
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Over the years I have heard it emerge from a few places - the David Berning Siegfried amplifier (a rare piece that I managed to acquire!), the OMA “Imperia” audio system, the Audeze LCD-3 driven by Woo Audio 234 monoblocks are good examples from my past experiences. These fleeting encounters with effortlessness became sensitive waypoints in my experiential memory, such that when I heard it again in my own audio system - I knew, instantly, what had been wrought.
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I let my friend, Todd, have a listen. He has a record label, MA Recordings, and he’s one of the most gifted recording engineers and gifted listeners I know. He mirrored my thoughts on the cable. I lent a pair of the balanced version to my friend, Lee, who has always been a fairly difficult-to-please audiophile with gobs of experience under his belt - both as an amateur (but talented!) recording engineer and as a listener. He told me that it was at least equal to interconnects that he used which were several thousands of dollars per pair. He, too, echoed the same sentiments.
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I lent the 3202 balanced to a reviewer that I know, as he was interested in hearing them. Asked him, informally, about them via FB messenger. Here was his response (I redacted the famous name cable):
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  • HIM: “I replaced some multi-kilobuck cables with the 3202 and hardly had any loss of resolution or smoothness. The midrange was beautiful on these cables.”
  • ME: hmmm ... hardly?   
  • HIM: The [Famous Cable Brand] was very slightly more open. But at 6X the price.
  • ME: So the 3202 stood toe-to-toe with cables costing 6x as much and had nothing to apologize for? 
  • HIM: Yes
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When I created an early-adopter intro-price sale, I was anxious to get this in the hands of ordinary audiophiles - regular Janes and Joes - to get their reaction. Many took the chance on this new design, and the feedback I have gotten from them has been truly precious! And while my pride and ego do love to feed on the praises, I’m mostly quite happy that others are reporting back to me the same sorts of things that I heard with my first prototypes.
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In each case when I’ve received a feedback or review from a real-world customer, it has been a happy experience for me to note that the outcome has been so incredibly positive and delightful! Some of the feedback I’ve received is recounted here:
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  • "My first reaction to this cable was a resounding WOW! I have used many different brands of cables that were in the 3-4k range and these were just far and away the best for clarity and 3D imaging! It is definitely a "you are there!" soundstage." ~ Guy Bombardier / Quebec, CA
  • "The 3202 has raised the bar high and set a new benchmark in its class. Bravo! It's an amazing cable. It doesn't even sound like it was built at a price!" ~ Timothy N. / Singapore
  • "... perhaps the [3202]'s greatest strength - unraveling all the information and clarifying musical lines. A congested mass becomes understandable individual players with light on them. Soundstaging is big and spacious with lots of depth. As I mentioned on Facebook, the effect of my Black Cat wired phono system is mesmerizing." ~ James D. // ON, Canada
  • " ...without doubt the best decision I have made when buying an interconnect. If you are thinking about a new cable then in my opinion don't hesitate as it just makes you want to play more albums than you possibly did before even right through." ~ John S. // UK.
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The 3200 Series is, in my estimation, a breakthrough approach to audio cable construction and it is definitely one of the most satisfying builds of my whole career. These are fairly expensive to make, a complicated build, quite time consuming to terminate, and among the most unlikely and counterintuitive products I’ve ever had the pleasure to bring in to the world.
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They are not for everyone.
  • For those who insist that their cables be thick and heavy - these are not for you.
  • For those that insist that the cables have boxes with circuits inside to “correct” this or that - these are not for you.
  • If you’re looking for bragging rights and audio jewelry ... these are not for you.
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For those seeking high-performance and exquisite musical experiences ... these might be for you. I believe quite strongly that - once you hear the 3200 series cables in your system, you will not be able to un-hear them.
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~ Chris Sommovigo