During the latter part of 2012 we began to inventory a product that’s become our hottest selling product to date…the Nanotec Special / SR Speaker Cable. We first read about Nanotec in a 6Moons review, where it received the Blue Moon Award. Here’s some of what 6Moons had to say:
“…the entry-level Nanotec rivaled our much more expensive ASI and Crystal Cable alternatives.”
“A still bigger surprise was the comparison to the ASI Liveline. The dual Nanotec had the same finesse, richness and speed we like so much in the French cables. A very strong feature of the Aquarius is its outstanding imaging. The speaker’s wide baffle sliced into a large egg shape is largely responsible for that. Many of Todd Garfinkel’s m.a. recordings contain vast natural acoustics as part of the musical landscape and there is information present that extends well behind the artists. With such airy soundscapes the ASI Liveline revealed just a bit more information but the more important tonality was equal.”
“From Siltech to Crystal Cable and Mundorf/Zendo, the inclusion of molecular gold into the surface of silver conductor surfaces has long since become an established if not inexpensive metallurgical solution. Nanotec’s colloidal process applies the same concept to copper but smartly circumvents the costly custom-extrusion process.”
Nanotec consists of two cable varieties, the SR (red) and Special (black). Both have 14 strands of copper, but the SR is made from Ohno continuous cast copper and the Special is made from OFC copper.
The real magic of the Nanotec is the nano material coating on each of the threads, consisting of a mixture of 90% gold and 10% silver. We’re big believers in the use of nano materials in audio. Our reference tubes from Synergy HiFi use a nano coating on the tube plates and the newest Zu Audio drivers also have a nano coating. With electrical applications nano materials seem to effect more free flow of electrons through the metal. Through trial and error it was discovered that the highest level of performance was achieved by combining the SR and Special varieties, using the SR on the hot leg and the Special on the neutral.
Nanotec is sold as a kit with the raw cable and connectors. The connectors are solderless, screw terminals, so if you’re able to strip wire you’re set. Read our recent post called Nanotec Tutorial for some pictures and instructions on how we assembled our set.
Fortunately our current reference cable is also the Acoustic System Liveline used as the benchmark in the review. We assembled a 6M pair and compared them to our 2.2M Liveline (after about 200hrs of break in). True to the review, the Nanotec had slightly less extension in the treble, but I didn’t miss it much. I also noticed the Liveline had better control of the lower bass. The Liveline sounded linear down to about 40-50Hz and the Nanotec to maybe 60-70Hz. I was surprised this difference wasn’t noted in the review, but I expect it’s because they were listening with speakers with separate powered bass modules and were only hearing the Nanotec down to about 50Hz. Other than these two factors, the sound of the Nanotec and Liveline were remarkably similar.
I did a 2nd comparison on a friend’s system, where he’s using top-of-the-line JPS Labs speaker cables between his Dartzeel amplifier and Evolution Acoustics speakers; the JPS go for about $10k for 3M. The Nanotec had a bit more warmth, body and a less-analytical character, which worked well in his system, but the JPS were more complex and the better choice for a sophisticated $100k system like this.
In our trials we established that the Nanotec didn’t outperform the Liveline or high-end JPS (we could only dare to dream). However, consider that the Liveline costs almost 10x as much as the Nanotec and the JPS costs almost 40x as much. Depending on your budget and what you’re connecting the cable to you might choose to spend a lot more money on the other brands. Then again you might choose to save a few thousand on cables and focus it elsewhere in your system or just save a few thousand, period. One thing can be said of the Nanotec without qualification…we’ve never heard another cable in the same price range that performs at this level.
This product is listed in our online store where you can find the price for the length you select and connector type. The connectors are high quality 24k gold plated and come in spade or banana. The calculated price includes a full set of cables (both sides), using both the SR and Special cable as separate legs.