Review: Coincident Speaker Technology CST I Interconnect
Coincident Speaker Technology also makes cables, as most folks know. The CST I interconnect ($299 per meter) looks like a high quality audio cable product: nicely finished jackets, robust RCA plugs, and the added touch of extending the rubber surround shoes over the barrels of the RCA's. This helps to prevent nicks when you are moving the cables around other gear. The cable is neither flimsy nor overly stiff. The RCA's grip all the female plugs I've tested them with just fine. The CST I has the physical, mechanical stuff covered. In other words, it's easy to use.
I tested two one-meter RCA pairs in different places in my system against two other interconnect, HT Truth Link and Music Metre Silver, and checked those results with another (smaller) system. My taste in music ranges from classical, to movie sound tracks, to jazz, and some pop. I attend live concerts, mostly orchestral and sometimes rock/pop shows from time to time.
The CST I sounds fast, musically coherent, and does not draw undue attention to any particular part its presentation. It takes a good long while to break in-500 hours in my case. Once it did, I was struck by its smooth, grain-free ability to make musical sense of complex passages.
It has a detailed yet relaxed quality that appeals to both my need for HiFi performance and the need to be moved by the music. It allows a large sound stage to propagate behind- and separate from the speakers although it seems to bring the sound stage a little more forward than either Harmonic Technology Truth Link or Music Metre Silver does. It images precisely but does not highlight things unrealistically, and it maintains stable images. The CTS I frequency extension and tonal balance all seem to be true to the components it is used with. I found these characteristics to exhibit themselves on digital, analog, or from pre-amp to power amps.
Speed. The CTS I has it. It does a quick start and then follows trailing sounds so well that it gives the music a less boggled quality. This is easy to get used to. While I have not had the good fortune to test very expensive cables, the CTS I strike me as possibly having a higher performance level than their $299 per one meter pair would suggest. (Some folks on the AudiogoN discussions have noted how "ruthlessly" it will show less-than-optimal component matching in some systems. This would be true of any worthwhile cables doing their assigned job: passing on the signal they are given. I did not have trouble integrating the CTS I into my system.)
The CTS I's overarching quality, though, is musical coherence. The CTS I has that ability to present the music in a meaningful way instead of giving you the impression that it is just conducting signal well. Other cables I have used may have some part of the frequency spectrum covered more fully, but the CTS I seems to put it all together so competently that I find myself just plain more interested in the music than with HT Truth Link or Music Meter Silver, for example.
The area some users may find not as robust as some other cables is in the bass. The Truth Link and the Music Metre Silver both have more weight in the bass, but I believe the Coincident CST I is just as extended as the HT. (My system rolls off in the upper-20 Hz area. Even so, I do get an audible response from a 20 Hz tone). The Music Metre does seem to go outright lower and with more weight. The CTS I perhaps integrates its low bass better with its mid-bass and midrange than the other two cables do. The CST I also does not have as good front-to-back image layering as the HT Truth Link. Truth Link seems quite good in this regard. Musical enjoyment to me, though, is more than some of these HiFi effects or slices of frequency spectrum. It's how it is all put together in a musical whole that matters.
I did a cross-system test with my smaller, upstairs system with similar results. So, component cross checks and system cross checks give me the strong impression that I am on the right track with Coincident Speaker Technology's CST I interconnect. Highly recommended.
Disclosure: I only connection I have with Coincident is that I own Coincident Speakers and occasionally correspond with Israel Blume--at Coincident--via e-mail. I just happen to find good value and musical merit in Coincident Speakers and their IC. I don't use any other of their products such as power cords, or speaker cables. (Just haven't gotten around to testing them.)
Turntable: VPI TNT 3.5 (w SDS), SME V, Benz-micro H20
Phono cable--Cardas PIB to 1 meter Coincident Speaker Tech. CST I
Digital: EAD T-1000 Transport feeding EAD DSP-7000 DAC
Digital cable--Music Metre, Fidelus coax
Analog cable--HT Truth Link Interconnect (RCA) DAC to pre-amp
Audible Illusions Modulus 3A pre-amp (w. NOS Tungram E88CC's)
Cable---Coincident, CST I Interconnect pre- to power amps.
Cary SLAM-100's power amps: (Sylvania VT-231's and Svetlana KT-88's)
Speaker wire---HT, Pro-9 Plus 8ft
Speakers: Coincident Speaker Technology, Super Eclipse
------------- Do dads -----------
Target TT5T stand with granite slab for TNT
Welborne Labs, Gatekeeper power center for front ends
Bybee power cords for DAC and VPI SDS
Synergistic Research power cords for power amps
Shinyata Research power cord for pre-amp.
Two 20-amp dedicated circuits with PS Audio power-port outlets
------------ Room ----------------
12' x 17' x 7.1' with cement floor, medium pad and thin w/w carpeting.
Treated with acoustical foam on first sidewall reflection points,
behind speakers, and on wall behind my listening position.
Harmonic Technology, Truth Link
Music Metre, Silver