They are very detailed with a very slight "laid back" quality, which works well getting the edge off of CD players. They also work well as a digital cable.
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Speaking of Acoustic Zen, here is a segment of the AZ review posted on the Acoustic Zen website where the reviewer (Jim Merod) discusses Van Den Hul's Thunderline and The Second (which is just like The First):
Nordost Quatro-fils cables deliver excellent spectral extension. For the past two years, I have regarded the Quatro-fils as part of my working equipment in the field and back in the studio. To the Nordost and Magnan cables, I'll add one more, less recognized (in truth under-recognized): van den Hul's "Thunderline," along with their carbon-filament "Second," cables are truly magnificent (if, also, eccentric) cables that have no easy comparison.
I used the lst and 2nd Van den Hul's since they came out but I traded them in a year ago on ixos ixotica as it gave me more dynamics in my system. But they are great cables and I think you have to spend almost twice the money to beat them. The siltech gen 3's were clearly better in my system and the ac matrix is, again, more dynamic on my gear. But the van den hul's are still very smooth and do not drop off the resolution at very low listening levels, a trait I admired. UHF reviewed The First Ultimate and were very impressed. At one time they were using the lST as their referemce...If you have a chance to try the Ultimate at home go for it...it comes from a great family....cheers and good listening, Bluenose
The First is a wonderful interconnect with smooth detail throughout the frequency range and a natural sound lacking any edge. While there may well be more superficially exciting cables these are the ones to which I always return . I use The Second between pre and power amps to avoid possible hum and RF.
Martin Colloms reviewed them in Hi Fi News in 1993 and returned to the them in a comparative review in Hi Fi Critic in 2005 . The First's only competitors cost four times as much !