This is a review of LAT´s new top-of-the-line loudspeaker cable, the successor to the SS 1000 D. In order to tell you why I think it is an outstanding cable, let me start with its older brother, the LAT SS 1000 D.
I was completely unfamiliar with LAT-cables, when, a few years ago, I asked around on audiogon which cables would make a good match with my Audionet Art CD-transport, Chord DAC-64, McIntosh C 200 preamp and MC402 amp, and Shahinian speakers.
Member ljgj recommended LAT-cables, and after ordering a first IC-200 as a test cable, I went to a rewiring of my whole system with LAT-cables: speaker, ICs and digital cable. The IC-200 interconnect and the SS 1000 D speaker cable defined a new level for my system.
The SS 1000 D had a long burn-in of somewhere above 150 hours, but immediately bested not only a Kimber 8TC, but my HMS In Concerto-cables, which are the third-best-speaker cable from German producer HMS, known in the US for his state-of-the-art Gran Finale cables.
The LAT, compared to the HMS, offered better definition of instruments, more exact bass, and more slam, with the kinds of music I listen to: chamber music, lots of piano solo, large symphonic music, jazz, rock music and hip hop.
In the beginning, there was however a certain harshness in the highs, which completely vanished after the burn-in period. Another criteria which improved beyond recognition with burn-in was soundstaging and depth, when the recording called for it.
I then compared the SS 1000 D to quite a few different cables, both in my and a friend´s systems, which consisted of Densen amps and CD-player, and Shahinian and Linn-speakers. The cables listened to were an Alpha Core and a Transparent cable, the names of which I do not remember, a Nordost Red Dawn, and a Supra Sword 3.0. None of these cables, to my ears, was better than the SS 1000 D, all were more expensive.
So I lived on quite happily with the LAT-cable – first with one pair for my Shahinian Obelisk speakers, later with two pairs for the Shahinian Diapason speakers I upgraded to, which need one pair of cable for the Diapason-module for middle and high frequencies, and the subwoofer for the bass.
I discovered, however, that the LAT-cables can be improved. I changed the LAT-supplied locking banana-connectors for Eichmann Bayonet-plugs, which gave an improvement again in the bass area, as well as with more natural voices, even more details. This in fact was an improvement comparable to a different, better cable
When the upgrading bug got the better of me about a year ago and I had again money to burn, I asked here and on audioasyslum what might better the LATs – not only the speaker cable, but the whole line.
A few people recommended to try Pure Note or Ridge Street Audio`s Poiema!. I bought one RSA-Poiema!-Interconnect on audiogon. When I put the Poiema! between my Chord DAC-64 and my C200 preamp, and then between the preamp and the MC402 power amp, this 1000-$-cable was, in my system, none better than my 280-dollar-LAT IC-200, even after a lengthy burn-in period of two months. So I sold the Poiema again, and decided not to continue in this direction.
When LAT announced a few months ago, that they had developed a new speaker cable, the SS 1000 MkII, which they claim to be „significantly better“ than the SS 1000 D in all areas, I decided to give them a try. As a) I was visiting the US in April 2005 and b) could sell a pair of my two SS 1000 D to a friend, I bought one pair first and equipped it with Bayonet plugs. As it was only one pair, I tried it first not with the Diapasons, but with the Obelisks, going back and forth to the SS 1000 D I had kept.
In its introduction to the SS 1000 Mk II, LAT International claims: „While the performance is improved virtually overall, the most prevalent are in dynamics, focus, inner detail, and harmonic accuracy – and most important, it is enjoyably musical.“
I found all of this to be true.
The Obelisks gained so much that, if it had been a blind test and somebody told me it was another speaker, I would have believed it. With the new cable, you hear more details, even better soundstaging – although this was a strength of the old cable already – more convincing voices and instruments. The music sounds more dynamic, so much so as to be shocking sometimes. The difference was so huge that I did not really need to go back and forth to hear the differences, but I did it anyway, with music ranging from Bruno-Leonardo Gelber playing a Beethoven sonata, to Laurindo Almeida, going on to AC/DCs „Hell´s Bells“ to Tschaikowsky symphonies, and Haydn´s Oxford symphony.
Shahinian speakers need fast cables to sound their best – I suspect that the construction changes LAT claims are responsible for the better sound – changing the weaving pattern and insulation, as far I understood it, makes the SS 1000 Mk II electrically faster.
And I found that bass definition is improved beyond what I had believed possible from a cable which looks the same as the old. Again, this is noticable at low listening levels. I put on the LP „None But The Lonely Heart“, with Charlie Haden on the acoustical bass, and Chris Anderson on the piano. The whole body, the texture of the bass got so much more physical, and musically convincing, like listening to another, much better recording.
The gain in dynamics does not come at a cost: The sound is not crisper or more aggressive, but rather more honeyed, the whole music more textured, than with the SS 1000 D. I find myself listening to higher levels than before, because it is so much more fun, without stressing my ear.
The cable change was so convincing with the Obelisk that I put the SS 1000 Mk II on the Diapason-module, and ordered another pair for the subwoofer (together with the new IC-300 Signature and the new digital cable DI-30 Signature, which I have received as well, and about which I will write a review seperately. The first run of the IC-300s and DI-30s is sold out, that is why they have been taken off LAT´s website until the new run arrives, LouTumolo told me.)
The SS 1000 Mk II is by now three months in my system, I feel musical heaven come true, as the Diapason as a whole responded as enthusiastically as the Obelisk to the new cable. I am especially astonished that the improvement is indeed so significant, when the price change for the new cable is not. The SS 1000 Mk II sells for only 50 dollars more than the old SS 1000 D.
LAT claims that the SS 1000 MkII is as good as, or better, any cable at any price. I cannot comment on that, as I have not yet compared the new cable to the supposedly best, such as Nordost Valhalla or the like. If I succeed in doing so later, I will add to this review in an addendum.
Complaints? The SS 1000 Mk II is, as was the SS 1000 D, quite stiff, which depending on your speaker and room, may make them difficult to bend an tight corners. On the plus side, they are thus built for heavvy duty, for many years.
LAT so far does not regularly offer Eichmann Bayonet plugs as connectors, although I found them to be sonically superior to their banana connectors. I think LAT should change this policy.
LAT offers a 45-day-trial-period, which I, living in Moscow, could not use, but which may make a try interesting for you in the US.
Disclaimer: I am in no way connected to LAT International, nor do I have any commercial interests in the high end-industry.
Price paid: 459 dollars for a 12-feet-cable at LAT International
Audionet Art V2 CD-transport
Chord DAC-64 DA converter
Shahinian Acoustics Diapason Speaker
Shahinian Acoustics Obelisk Speaker
LAT International IC-200 Interconnect
LAT International SS-1000 Speaker cable
Shunyata Black Mamba, Sidewinder Power cord
Creaktiv 1-4 Stand
McIntosh C-200 Preamplifier
McIntosh MC-402 Amplifier
PS Audio XStream Statement Power cord
Eichmann Express Power Cable Power cord
Exact Power EP15A AC filter
Exact Power SP15A AC filter
Scheu Premier MkII Turntable
Scheu Tacco Tonearm
Ortofon Venice Cartridge
Living Voice Mystic Mat Tweak
Furutech RD-2 Tweak Associated gear Click to view my Virtual SystemSimilar products
LAT International SS 1000 D
Nordost Red Dawn
Supra Sword 3.0