“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” was the message inscribed on John Keats’ Grecian urn in his famous ode. And as there can be no authentic elegance without simplicity, there can be no authentic beauty without sincere truth … and no authentic truth without sincere beauty.
By this modest philosophy we strive toward virtue in our endeavors to create and otherwise cultivate a collection of audio products worthy of ownership, for which the pursuit of musical beauty is irretrievably entangled with the pursuit of musical truth.
Stereolab is not a purveyor of boxes of commodified “stuff,” nor “product of the month.” Rather, it is a roof under which a philosophy is tended. We share Keats’ fascination for the intertwinings of soul, eternity, art, and nature and believe that this nexus is revealed when we are deeply immersed in the truth and beauty of exquisite music.
Chris Sommovigo: A History
Since 1992, Chris Sommovigo has been designing and manufacturing specialty cables for high end audio according to a fairly spartan philosophy: Do What Works
It may seem elementary, of course – perhaps even insultingly simple, however one need only observe the vast selection of cables on the market and realize that most can be categorized into two compartments:
- Overly simple and austere, appealing to the budget-oriented audiophile and the quasi-cable-skeptic.
- Overtly exotic, appealing to the status-oriented audiophile and those who are susceptible to Magical Thinking (attributing an effect to an impossible or implausible cause).
Somewhere between these extremes lies a grand territory where work can be done to evolve the State of the Art in non-steady-state analog and digital signal transfer, an area of philosophical and empirical territory that begs experimentation and investigation. In the audiophile cable world, there are but a few sincere and authentic designers constantly pushing the envelope to discover what works – whilst avoiding the temptation to merely develop what sells.
Chris Sommovigo counts among these few.
In 1992 he introduced to the world the first truly precise 75 Ohm digital coaxial cable under the brand name “ILLUMINATI,” and since then has designed more than a dozen other digital cables for the market – either for the Illuminati brand, for Stereovox, or for other brands (such as Kimber Kable and i2Digital). His digital cable designs remain among the most sought after and popular designs in the world, and reasonably so: he has proven himself as an effective designer producing positive results.
In 2000, he introduced a new brand: STEREOVOX. Under this marque he examined new concepts in analog signal transfer for high end audio systems, very purposefully exploring the brute-force aspects of applying Skin Effect to extremes. The result of that expedition was a catalog of cables that met with 10 years of critical acclaim for their extraordinary performance.
During this time Chris introduced a novel concept in conductor technology: the thin-walled, pure copper microtube: CuTube™ for short. At a scant 0.035″ in outer diameter with mere 0.008″ thick walls, annealed dead soft using the purest copper available for tubing, CuTube provied to be the closest thing to a “magic bullet” in Chris’ design portfolio, and it would go on to inform many products throughout the history of Stereovox.
Since then, the CuTube has remained a staple, but has also been complimented by the development of other unique conductors and processes:
- “Nami” Process: a manner of processing certain conductors such that they form an undulating, sinusoidal pattern that enables the conductor to be substantially suspended in air when installed in an air-tube, thereby helping to decrease capacitance and increase signal velocity.
- Matrix / Interpole™: Micro-braided, enameled wires with multiple pole-identifying colors.
- Zoltán Matrix™ (ZMX): A combination of the Interpole braiding technique with a specialized, custom-made system for inter-weaving additional conductors (in the case of ZMX, the extra conductors are 99.999% pure 30awg silver).
- Stargate: A combination of the Interpole braiding technique used to deposit a form-fitting braided Matrix of 64 individually-enameled conductors onto a helically-twisted ribbon of 99.999% pure, annealed silver.
- QuieTex™: A combination of metallic shielding and specific textile elements to provide effective shielding against EM and RF noise.
These design innovations, along with a handful of proprietary processes, help to make our cables truly high-performance products that stand apart from their competition, and deliver the kind of ineffable musical experiences that authentic audiophiles passionately chase.