I've now listened to orchestral symphonic music and a few opera CDs as well. Last night, I stayed up a couple of extra hours just listening to what the Orchid can do in my main system, as my friends Dale and Chris, owners of Eugene Hi-Fi, needed the cables back for a recording session. They've loaned me several pairs of interconnects to audition over the past few weeks and had been urging me to try the Orchid even though I'd thought my cabling "had arrived" already. And I must admit I was even somewhat smug about it, until I dropped The Orchid into my system yesterday and heard how much more air and vocal separation it gave to Le Chapelle Royale's 1986 Harmonia Mundi recording of Josquin Desprez's motets (dir. Phillippe Herreweghe).
The Orchid was especially good with Beethoven's "Eroica" performed by the Cleveland Symphony, conducted by Dohnanyi. From the first timpani strikes and then throughout the first movement, the Orchid was wonderfully dynamic, speedy, and detailed. And the most pleasing thing of all was it handled string attack transients terrifically, bringout out the pulses of string phrasing as the violin sections quietly "strike" their own notes in response to the energy of the timpani. Only two other cables I've tried captured this exciting effect--the Atlas Titan from Scotland and the van den Hul the Second XLR. Other cables, as good as they are, don't quite reproduce the suddenness of the violin phrasing, those shuddering attack transients and correspondingly sudden silences between phrases. Beethoven's symphony is written as if the violin section was a regiment of light cavalry--quick to strike and even quicker in getaway. The Orchid captures this.
The Orchid is also fabulous with operatic voices, particularly lyric sopranos like Renee Fleming and Anna Netrebko and dark, lyric tenors like Rolando Villazon. While a very few select cables can reproduce the big, fat virtuosic moments of dynamic and treble peaks, the Orchid among them, the cable is also able to render subtly complex pianissimo passages with fine, note to note nuance. I could hear none of the lively transient sounds rounded off or overly smoothed in order to better capture the bigger vocal dynamics--there is no sacrifice of vocal evanescence and pure presence. Again, as I said about the Orchid's performance with choral music, there's an unusual degree of detail, finesse, and refinement here.
In my search for equipment to handle the range of music I listen to, it's been very difficult to find any one piece in any category that can handle energetic symphonies, the beautifully lyric and the powerfully virtuosic operatic arias, and Renaissance choral music full of complex treble harmonies, delicate tones and phrasing. This is the one cable I've auditioned that delivers most completely across the broad spectrum of my listening. In short, the Orchid is aptly named--bold and delicate both. It's now become my reference interconnect.