The NVA LS6 is a development of the ideas used in the NVA LS1, 3 and 5 cables. Where they are based on a raw cable design of 7, 14 and 28 individual cores, the LS6 uses a different cable with 48 separately insulated cores, 20 of them thicker silver plated and 28 of them very high quality thinner silver alloy. The cores are split in order to make the LS6 a natural bi-wire solution, with everything terminating in a single connector at the amplifier end and two unevenly distributed sets of cores at the speaker end. In fact, speakers with bi-wire terminals are a must.
Showing the two runs of a single channel.
The cable is oval, 9 mm maximum in diameter and finished in a nice black weave. The 4mm connectors are of unknown origin and look to be workmanlike, but no more. I found that my WBT speaker sockets would tighten down on them adequately but my amplifier’s static WBT sockets had a rather loose fit with them. The cable is supplied as individual signal and return runs, rather than being a single cable set, and is very flexible with no problems laying it in the desired direction.
Playing Norah Jones’ Little Broken Hearts, there is a big soundstage with upfront vocals and a real sense of the space that she sits in. I pay particular attention to female voice and in this regard the LS6 is faultless, presenting her big voice in front of the plane of the speakers – just where I like it. Bass is nicely extended and has real impact.
Kraftwerk’s Minimum-Maximum is a very severe test of whether a component can hold together crystalline synthesisers together with enormous bass lines without the soundstage falling to pieces. The opening audience applause bodes well and everything stays together – the amp peaking at some 150W in places – with big bass proving exciting if not as vice-like in tightness as the TQ.
Ry Cooder’s Bop Til You Drop is another record that separates the men from the boys (though sadly the CD is not in the same class). This digital recording has a wealth of detail presented in a realistic stage with driving bass. The track ‘Go Home Girl’ sounds full of percussive elements with great leading edges to the guitar strings. As it builds to a crescendo, everything is dynamic, exciting and demands that you play the whole album. The LS6 sounds superb, losing nothing at all from an album that I know very well.
T-Bone Burnett’s Proof Through the Night is powerfully recorded with a guitar that threatens everything when it gets busy. The very powerful percussion is well portrayed and guitar remains in focus while allowing the lyrics to remain intelligible.
Michael Hedges’ Aerial Boundaries featured his unique harp guitar. This instrument (and his playing) has transient attack like no other and lesser cables just make a mess of it. The LS6 hits me between the eyes with these tremendous plucked edges from both the main and bass strings. Wonderful stuff.
Steve Winwood’s Back in the High Life is a horribly bright recording, capable of removing fillings if the system has any tendency to brightness itself, any upper-mid harshness or sibilance. I kept my teeth intact, a great result for the LS6.
Turning to classical, a good test I think of whether a system displays synergy and hangs together well is choral music. Can you hear individual singers or is it a homogeneous mass of noise? Vivaldi’s Gloria (Simon Preston, AAM, Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, Decca) is a simply stunning recording, beautiful music with a choir to die for. The second movement has it all: young voices, older voices, soloists and instruments all vying for attention. The effect is spellbinding. If there is any grain at all this performance shows it up mercilessly. The LS6 is excellent here, keeping all the strands separate and intelligible, creating a wonderfully vibrant sound picture, again beaten by perhaps the last percent by the TQ, which is by far the best cable I have ever experienced for choral reproduction.
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, especially the performance by Carlos Kleiber (VPO, DG), should sound uplifting and exciting if done well. I know what sitting in front of a large orchestra at the Festival Hall sounds like and this recording brings a huge performance to bear; one where the string gut can really be heard, where the double-basses underpin everything with power and, most importantly, where the strings must not sound like a gloopy mess; where the brass should shine forth from the rear ranks with all the raspiness of the real thing. No problem at all here, the LS6 has me sitting back and enjoying the entire performance.
Other recordings played just reaffirmed my findings above. There is no doubt that the LS6 is an open window to the original recording in the tradition of some of the very best speaker cables around, mostly at much higher prices. It is tonally neutral, uncoloured and presents fine detail in a wide and deep soundstage. Bass is tight and extended though it cannot reach the sheer potency and grip of the Tellurium Q in this area. The bass is, however, at least as good in quality and tunefulness as the Kimber, my previous reference. In the midrange, the LS6 is highly transparent, detailed and exhibits good microdynamics with all the tiny cues that give realism to good recordings well presented but without any artificial edge or glare. Here it is on a par with the TQ, perhaps lacking the last 2% of edge definition. Treble is sweet and extended and sibilance is not an issue – certainly less than I experienced with the Kimber. The LS6 represents fantastic value for money at its price and sees eye to eye with the Kimber KS-3035, quite a feat at one tenth the price, and losing only a little to the TQ Ultra Black, another fine result.
Martin Taylor 2012
Heavily modified Technics SL-1210 turntable with Dynavector DV-507II arm and Shelter 5000 cartridge. Ayre C-5xeMP SACD/CD player. Whest PS.30R phono preamp. Pass Labs XP-20 preamp and Chord SPM-1200E power amp. Usher Dancer Be-20 speakers. PS Audio Power Plant P10 mains regenerator.
Competitive cables: Tellurium Q Ultra Black (with UB jumpers), Kimber Select KS-3035 (with KS-9035 jumpers).
NVA LS6 Speaker Cable
Price: LS6 is £100 per stereo metre plus £60 termination, e.g. a 3m stereo pair costs £360.
Available directly from NVA via their eBay shop.
Nene Valley Audio http://www.nene-valley-audio.com/
© Text and photos Copyright 2012 Martin Taylor.
NB No part or portion of this article may be reproduced or quoted without written permission.