Review: Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval 8 Speaker cable

Category: Cables

Starting in August of '07 I began a major upgrade of my system, adding the Vienna Acoustic Baby Grand speakers and a Pro-ject RM10 turntable in quick order with dramatic results. Next came a Conrad Johnson CA200 control amplifier (see review) and, most importantly a Sumiko Master Set placement of my speakers (see review).

I was using about 15ft of Kimber 8PR. When he finished my speaker set, Rod Thomson of Soundings, my Colorado based dealer, said something like, "Your system's sounding really good, now you'll need to try some Analysis Plus cable to get the most out of it." Well, that might sound self-serving, but I've grown to trust Rod and promised to try them in a few weeks, after I got used to my amazing new speaker set.

I picked up 15-feet of A-P Solo Crystal Oval 8 from Soundings and started listening tonight. First I spent 15 minutes listening with the Kimber. I thought it sounded pretty darn good and couldn't really imagine what I'd accomplish by putting in the Analysis Plus. Would it be worth a $1700 price difference? I really doubted that I'd want to spend 2-grand for the teeny, tiny improvement I expected.

I was stunned. I was pulling out my wallet and calling Soundings to order me an 8-foot pair after only 30-minutes of listening. I started with Hugh Masekela's "Stimela (The Coal Train)" from his incredible, live album "Hope". Many audiophiles have heard this cut and I've now got it on a pristine new, 45 rpm pressing from Analogue Productions (highly recommended, it's almost totally quiet except for the 40+ dB of dynamic range). As a trumpeter, I really appreciate the accurate recording of his horns. This is an amazing live recording.

It didn't take a ton of back and forth to hear a tiny little difference. I heard it on the first cymbal crash/splash. I heard the fundamental and separately I heard a detailed series of harmonics. Next, the bass did the same thing. I could hear the fundamental absolutely rock solid and harmonics stood out separately. It was like hearing 8 or so separate tones, stacked together, yet separated and detailed.

Dynamics were pretty much the same as was overall timbre. Almost all the difference was in this detail. The bass seemed more "solid" but it was NOT louder. With the Kimber, the fundamental wasn't as focused and clear, but instead it smeared slightly with its harmonics. That off center sound made bass tones seem less powerful, focused and solid.

Next I pulled out Nora Jones on a 180 gram LP. I love several tracks on Nora's "feels like home" album. "Above
Ground" has incredible depth and texture, not only in Nora's sweet voice, but the snare sound and a clear placement of each instrument. Once again, the improvement was in the details. Any voice is composed of various parts of the vocal system (vocal cords, chest, lips, and head) and now that was all clear distinct and clear. I clearly heard the components of Nora's voice.

Rob Wasserman's "Duets" CD is full of incredible bass. The bass seemed more solid than with the Kimber and once again it was due to separation of the fundamental from the harmonics. The air actually sizzles around the strings as they vibrate and you hear that more clearly. Vocalists' sibilants are also broken into their components with a fundamental and harmonics, making it less, well... sibilant, taking the edge off and making it seems like harmonics stacked on a high pitched sound.

Once I heard it, the price was cheap. This is on the order of a serious upgrade of a pre-amp or a better cartridge.

Ok, I needed to go back to the Kimber to confirm my findings. (My system is in an armoire, so it takes a few minutes to go back and forth). I instantly and EASYILY heard the difference. Of course, now I couldn't live with the Kimbers, after hearing the difference. My description above IS accurate. The fundamental and harmonics get smeared together slightly with the Kimber. You hear a "tone" but not the components of the tone. I'm amazed. The difference was larger than when I went from my Bryston 1B/2B amp/pre-amp combination to the Conrad Johnson. Maybe a lot of the difference was masked by the Kimber.

Sorry about my wallet. ;-)


Associated gear
Conrad Johnson CA200 control amplifier
Pro-ject Tube Box II phono-pre
Pro-ject RM10 turntable
Sumiko Blackbird cartridge
Vienna Acoustic Beethoven Baby Grand speakers
Oppo universal player
Kimber Timbral interconnects

Similar products
Kimber 8PR
Nice review. I was close to purchasing the Analysis Plus Oval 8's sometime late last year but settled for something else instead. I have somehow expected that the differences between the Kimber 8PR and the top of the range Oval 8 in the Analysis Plus line of cables would be huge since the latter is in a totally different league altogether. I have owned the Kimber 4TC and 8TC and as good as they can get(I believe these were better than the 8PR), the differences were too profound compared to my Nordost Blue Heaven and SPM. I cannot say the Nordost were better than the Kimber since 'better' is always subjective and others may prefer the sound of the Kimber more. Mind you, I can easily tell the difference blindfolded. So I'm not surprised on your enthusiasm in hearing the AP Crystal Oval 8.

Thanks for looking and writing.

Well, I do tend to understate things in my writing, perhaps an over reaction from perhaps being too strong in the past. (I'm an ex financial auditor and full-time financial guy and I found that my writing can raise some hackles. Of course, butt needs to be kicked occasionally, but I've grown acutely aware of the power of my words).

The difference was indeed dramatic and I heard it in the first measure or two. However, the Kimber wasn't "bad." The timbre didn't change, just the resolution of the micro details, particularly harmonic overtones. Some wires add a grainy metalic grunge that hard edged and ugly. The Kimber doesn't do that. The Kimber is basically an honest cable that's just not as transparent as the best.

It's really interesting to try to disect what causes one cable to seemingly have more energy than the other. In this particular case it was the separation of the fundemental from the overtones. It was louder, it was just clearer and that fundemental had more impact.


The review above was based on 15' loaner cables from my dealer. They've got several hundred hours on them, so they're totally burned-in. Analysis Plus recommends 300-hours of burn-in.

So, how do brand new cables sound? My 8' set came in yesterday and I hooked them up to the Vienna Acoustics today, so here's the cold hard facts:

I used Analogue Productions' newly released 180 gram, 45 rpm version Hugh Masekela's "Hope" to give the cables a real dynamic test and avoid any possible remnants of digital hash or awkward compression. BTW, this is a wonderful LP, with almost no surface noise, rich timbres, huge dynamics and great talent.

Thankfully the sonic signature is the same overall as the broken-in cables. The timbres are dead on. Remember me talking about all the details and layering of harmonics on top of the fundemental, well that's greatly reduced. The cowbell now has one fundemental sound with little richness and complexity. The high hat has much less "splash". The flugel didn't make the dog howl.

Volume actually seemed down slightly, which really surprised me given the significantly shorter length. (I should have tested with my SPL meter, but I didn't even think of that until I'd already made the switch and didn't relish moving the amp around in the armoire to go back to the old cables). (My systme is set up for listening, not reviewing).

There's no harshness, it's just like the micro-details are held in somehow. There's nothing "bad" about the new cables, just not anything "special" enough for the considerable cost.

Would I have spent $1700 if this was what I was expecting? The answer is "no." It's an improvement over the Kimber, but not $1500 worth.

My dealer, Rod Thomson of Soundings, warned me and asked for a report. Analysis Plus mentions 300 hours of burn-in with the literature they package with the cables.

Sooo, if you ordered some of these sight unseen based on my review or other reviews, then don't be disappointed at the first blush. They'll get WAY BETTER and turn into something "special." I've experienced burn-in/break-in improvement with cartridges, speakers, amps and preamps, but I'm actually a little amazed that the impact on a piece of wire could be so dramatic.

Live and learn.

150-hours into burn-in they're sounding much, much better. After I get up to 300-hours I'll post another update. There's still room for improvement.

I added a Jeff Rowland Design Group Continuum 500 intergrated amp, with phono cards, a couple of weeks ago. JRDG and the dealer had put a hundred-plus hours on it per my request and I've added another 150 or so hours, so it's safe to say it's at 300-hours now.

The Analysis Plus cables are now well over 500-hours.

The resolution and transparency jumped forward at least a couple of orders of excellence when I added the Continuum. It's incredibly quiet, such that when I listen to music at 90dB, then turn the source off and leave the amp at the same setting, I can't hear anything when I hold my ear to the tweeter. That's incredibly quiet. I have to turn it up another 10dB or so to start hearing some hiss.

This quietness is allowing me to listen further "into" the music than ever before. The phono cards have the same transparency and quietness, so compared to my former tube phono-pre the depth of the sound is much, much deeper. The highs are just as sweet as with the tubes.

The AP cables are clearly part of a really revealing and stress free system. I'm listening to LPs, SACDs, DVD-As and CDs (at least the well mastered CDs) with total relaxation and amazement at the detail and lack of high end harshness. (Poor CDs and old LPs made from early, limited digital recordings, still show all their flaws. So I"m not listening to those. I'm amazed at the early Telarc LPs of Cleaveland and Atlanta Symphonies that I used to love, now sound really bad. OTOH, the SACDs of the 1950s and 1960s RCA CSO recordings are magical).

Anyway, upgrading the system allowed the AP cables to show even more of their capacity for stress free resolution.

Thanks for the great review Dave. I'm a full time musician, and last year a friend gave me one of A-Ps guitar cables to try- I experienced the feelings you did with your speaker cables. The sound difference was immediate, which considering I was playing an electric bass that day, was saying something. There was way more tone coming out, and I was already using a $100 bass cable of a certain name brand.

After that, I wrote a love letter to the company and was granted an endorsement deal. I don't like to endorse, actually, but this company is something I believe in! Heck, I even told them that I'll buy their cables. I just wanted to be part of the family. That said, they did send me a bag of cables for my stage gear. What a difference!

Since then, I was able to acquire a pair of Solo Crystal Oval RCAs, which have kicked everything's butt in my system- hands down. Their hollow oval technology is the REAL DEAL.

Anyway, just sharing my joy with you :-)
Hey Bassphil,

I must say that I also have an A-P 1/4" guitar cable and it's absolutely top of the heap.

A few years ago I did an extensive comparison of guitar cables for Just Jazz Guitar, comparing bottom-of-the-closet generics, all the way up to a $400+ cable that absolutely sucked. (It's a make that provides high-end audio cable BTW, so they'll go unnamed here. People that MUST know can dig up the old JJG).

Anyway, had I had the A-P guitar cable at that time, it would have been in my top two or three, I'm certain. It's too hard to reproduce the comparisons that I did at the time, with an assistant, but I'm very confident that this is a top echelon cable. Right now, it's connecting my keyboard to my Acoustic Image "Corus" amplifier, producing an incredibly clean sound, top to bottom.

BTW, since you're a bass player, do you know AI? Lots of acoustic bass players and jazz guitarists use their cabs. For electric bass you'd probably want their extension cab. Still, when I tested one back in the late nineties, I took it over to bassist John Adams' (Dallas, UNT grad) studio for him to play both his acoustic and six-string electric through it. Of course, we were impressed with the acoustic's sound, but our jaws dropped when he started a funk line and popping on the electric. Man, the guy's a monster and sounded fantastic through the little AI. Check it out if you don't already know it.

Late to the party here, but good review Dave. I would like to add something here for others who are considering these cables in the future. I recently purchased a used pair of these speaker cables. Yes, tonally they are wonderfully balanced and musical, as Dave has described. I do however have two nits to pick, and to be honest, I will probably be selling these soon due to the secondary nit.

The first problem I had is them damn T1 spade lugs are just too damn big for my equipment, I've heard this complaint from others since too. So I had to send my cables to Analyisis Plus for re-termination with banana plugs. That solved that issue. The second issue is that these cables seem to have a pretty forward presentation, which I do not care for. Not as forward as Virtual Dynamics, but pretty close up. For those that love immediacy and want the thrill of sitting in the front row, these cables will work out well for you. However, if you are someone like me, who prefers a more laid back, mid-hall soundstage, these cables are not for you.

I bought the oval 8 and ,I have the MIT HD36 cables,had Synergistic new
Copper ,cablewith adjustable bullits .i found the oval 8 have the a Best Bass ever I n my System ,and the mids are very involving and fleshed out ,a warm cable ,for interconnect a new company Called Darwin cables
Their Ascention plus Silver interconnects better Any $1,200 cable or under I threw
At it. John had a different seating perspective,your gear has a lot to do with that.this combination is a great mix and a 4-5 th row perspective in my system
The new Digital to round out this replaced my Wireworld Platinum
Little known but Great Revelation audio Prophesy USB ,by far the best digital under $1,000 I have ever had in my system .i have several audio systems and any of these cables are of Reference quality .i will stand behind this statement. My system sound Excellent now !!
I am looking warm up my system a bit for I have the Excellent Revelation audio labs Silver USB cables ,from external HD to Auraliti digital player
Then to Wyred4sound DSD-Femto dac plus Silver a Umbilical cord.
The Ascention plus interconnects are very good but, I need a little extra
Extra body to the music. I recently bought the Matching interconnect Solo Crystal oval interconnect .every bit as good as the Ascention cable in detail
But more control in the midbass ,low bass region .My system now has great balance. If I didn't have all the Silver down stream I may have been ok ,but these Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Copper cables are in some ways a better fit for me then Silver ,especially with a lot of recordings that may
Be a little tipped up in scale .keep that in mind when buying cables for a lot of recordings are sub par. IMO, also good power cords dictate also how
Your system will sound.