XLO Signature S2-2.2 Balanced Interconnect

Category: Cables

This is my first review on the XLO Signature series interconnect. This cable had prevented me from selling off my power amp and that was the point when I knew this cable was something special.


First, let me start off by saying that this XLO Signature 2 interconnect is a very dynamic cable. If you want dynamics, attack and taut defined bass that goes deep, this is it. If you like transients and sudden burst of energy in your music, this cable will let you hear all of it unlike others. The sound of strings and drums in particular sounded sharp and real in comparison with the other interconnects I have which include the Nordost Frey, Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II and the Wireworld Super Eclipse 5.


I have been always a Nordost fan. My very first wires I got for my first 'high-end'(come to think of it it's low-end actually) system since college was some Nordost Flatline Gold speaker cables and Solar Wind i/c's. Tried some cheapo QED Silver Anniversaries and Kimber 4TC's along the way and eventually ended up with the Nordost Blue Heaven speaker wires and Frey interconnects. These stayed the longest in my system(Blue Heavens for 5 years, Frey 2 years). Time moved on and my system changed. I figured out it's time to upgrade the wires. After 7 years I finally managed to own my all-time dream wire -SPM Reference. I was always fascinated by the candy-colored purple wire since I first set my eyes on the SPM and wondered how would they sound like(looks do matter!). My dreams came true last year when I spotted a pair of these bi-wired cables here on Audiogon. Negotiated with the seller and after getting the price down a little, they arrived at my doorstep a few days later. These were certainly a marked improvement over the Blue Heavens with a more refined highs and an overall more balanced sound.


Next up was the Nordost Frey interconnects. Good resolution, good bass but slightly lean. Then came the XLO. Heard and read good things about these. XLO cables rarely get any press or reviews and this just made me wonder how Roger Skoff, the founder of XLO sell their cables. Spotted a pair of these here and grabbed them. Once I swapped the Nordost Frey out for the XLO Signature 2, I was utterly shocked. Words cannot fully describe how I felt about this cable. Dynamics were improved drastically, by leaps and bounds (I was exagerrating but can't help it) and the bass was so much better than the Nordost -goes deep and very defined. Normally I don't expect cables to have such big effect on the sound but this is by far the biggest sound improvement I have discerned throughout the years of upgrading. The Nordost Frey, in fact all Nordost products were known to have an in-yer-face kind of sound, lean and dynamic and somewhat bright-sounding. The XLO is even more dynamic than the Nordost minus the lean sound with much better bass to boot. THe bass on the XLO just blew away the Nordost.

So impressed with the XLO, I have bought another pair of Signature S2-2.2 to go from my preamp to power.

I also happen to have a pair of Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II balanced cable for comparison purposes. In comparison with the XLO Signature, the AZ Silver Reference II shares quite a similiar sound but still loses out in dynamics and transparency. Drums in particular sounded more real with an added snap with the XLO. The Acoustic Zen however is more balanced-sounding than the Nordost Frey. The Frey sounded lean and thin in comparison with the other two. Nevertheless, I believe in some warmer and fat-sounding system the Nordost would work a treat.

There are many more cables out there that I have not tried, and I am sure there are others that will outperform this XLO cable that I am so fond of right now. The question is, how much money I have to spend to get this kind of sound and performance? I don't have the luxury to spend more than $1,000 on a pair of interconnects, not to mention I already have about $3k worth of cables in my system. Comes to think of it, I may have actually overspent on cables having noticed some members here are actually using cheaper cables on their more expensive components and/or speakers. Nevertheless, I do not regret a bit for settling on the XLO.

Btw, I am now in the process of negotiating for a pair of XLO Signature 5.1 speaker cable to replace my Nordost SPM.


Krell KPS-30i CD player
Audio Research LS-16mk1 preamp
Plinius SA-100Mk3 amp(nearly sold this, saved by the XLO)
PMC LB1 Signature speakers

Nordost SPM speaker cable

Nordost Frey 1.0m RCA interconnects
Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II 1.0m XLR interconnects
XLO Signature S2-2.2 1.0m XLR interconnects (CD to pre)
XLO Signature S2-2.2 1.5m XLR interconnects (pre to power)
Congrats on a great review. I'm glad you found satisfying cables. I'm not surprised that the XLO match well with your Plinius SA-100 mk III, as the Plinius has a reputation for rich, warm, smooth sound, and the XLO has a rep for fast, detailed sound. So they probably strike a nice balance. With a more detailed amp, like an Ayre, you may find the XLO's sound too lean.

As for $$$ spent, it doesn't really matter as long as you're happy. There are all kinds of audiophiles, some who spend big $$$ on gear and little $$$ on cables, and vice versa. Yes I have seen several folks who have power cords that cost more than the gear they are attached to. Of course there are many that balance cables and gear spending too (whatever balance means to you).

Now that you have some nice cables, you can move on to the important things.....like power cords. :)

Thanks for the advice John. It has always been sound and helpful. I agree with the synergy thing in that XLO will sound lean on Ayre gears. That goes the same with everything else I guess.

After having seen some folks here with cheap Analysis Plus and Harmonic Tech cables on their Wilsons and B&W N801 speakers, I was feeling little guilty on my part. Since you've mentioned there are some folks who had power cords that cost more than the gear, at least I know I'm still not the worst.

As for power cords, I've not had much luck. Didn't detect major differences when I first hook up the latest VD Nite II cords(got 2 of them). Although I was tempted to take them out and see how would the system sound like without those cords after the burn-in period, I was put off by the incredibly stiff nature of these cords which are just so difficult to manage. So I didn't bother to swap cords after that and left them as they are right now.
Feel no guilt, I can asure you that you are far from the worst when it comes to cable costs vs. gear cost. I know how you feel though, but just relax and enjoy the music.

As for the VD Nite II cords, I am not a fan of VD cable/cords, but I am surprised to read that you did not hear a difference. I find the VD line to sound very powerful, dynamic and full, but too forward and two dimensional for my tastes.

I've been a cable believer for over 20 years, and I fought the idea of power cords for years. It's only in the last 6 years or so that I started experiemnting with power cords. I am now of the opinion that the power cords have the most affect on the sound, followed by the interconnects,with the speaker cables having the least effect sonically. That's just $0.02, YMMV.

Jmc- what are you using for power cords currently?
12-27-07: Sutts
Jmc- what are you using for power cords currently?

Stealth Dreams.
Ryder, great review!
How do you find the Wireworld Super Eclipse compared to the other cables you have?
Thanks Hobby. Describing the sonics of cables is one of the most difficult part without actually making comparisons to others. Among all cables that I had, I find it the most difficult to describe the sound characteristics of Wireworld cables since I can't find any adjectives to use on them. They are fairly neutral and don't sound too warm or lush, or too bright and in-yer-face. They don't have any particular qualities that call attention to themselves unlike the Nordost or Cardas that are totally the opposite of each camp. That may the reason why there are just so few write-ups on Wireworld cables in the forums and elsewhere. In fact, I did search for reviews on the Gold Eclipse 5 but never got to try them since I can't find too much of write-ups here.

In comparison with the other cables I have, the Wireworld Super Eclipse 5 is in fact close to all of them except that the Nordost Frey had a slightly tilted upper end in the highs which may not be too good in lean and bright systems, the Acoustic Zen having a fuller midrange and lush sound and the XLO being forceful, dynamic, slightly grainy upper mids and unbelieavable bass. If I were to do this all over again blindfolded, I may screw up trying to figure out which one is one but I think I may be able pick out the XLO for the signature bass slam it has.
Hey Michael, now that I've switched to a tube amp, which I love everything about except the bass performance, maybe I'll have to try the XLO cables again. It's been several years since I've heard them.

Hello John, I am well aware you have tried and owned much better cables which cost considerably more than the ones I had, so I am not sure if you would get better bass performance from the XLO with regards to your existing cables. Nevertheless, I still stand by my comment on the impressive bass and dynamics on the XLO Signature in comparison to my existing interconnects which include the Nordost Frey, Acoustic Zen Silver Referece II and the Wireworld Super Eclipse 5. Of all, I find the Acoustic Zen to be the closest-sounding to the XLO but still loses out in dynamics and bass slam. I'm temporarily done with this cable swapping.