XLO Signature 2 Type 2.2 Balanced Interconnect [AIG Archives]

      Date posted: April 2, 2008

XLO Signature Type 2 2.2 Balanced Interconnects
XLO Signature 2 Type 2.2 Balanced Interconnect,
6 metre Length
Sugg. Retail: $720US a metre pr, $4320 As Tested

Manufacturer: Ultralink XLO Products, Inc.,
2030 South Carlos Ave., Ontario CA 91761 USA
(909) 947-6960 FAX 947-6970

Canadian Distributor: Ultralink Products Inc.,
161 Alden Road, Unit 6, Markham ON L3R 3W7
(905) 479-2831 FAX 479-9347

From the Fall 2004 Audio Ideas Guide

I have always recommended long interconnects, as opposed to long speaker cables, since less degradation can happen at line level than when cables are driven by an amplifier. That’s why the Signature 2 2.2 pair was 6 metres long as reviewed. Such a length is a real test for an interconnect, though, ideally, short is better for both. But before I talk about the Signature interconnects, a little background on XLO. The company was started in 1991 by Roger Skoff, a genial, highly intelligent man with whom I’ve had very pleasant dinners and lunches over the years. We have a lot in common, since he, too, has worked as a broadcaster, recording engineer, and as an audio equipment reviewer.

According to the XLO web site, “Mr. Skoff’s active involvement in the design of high-performance audio cables began as a recreational math exercise in late 1986. This rapidly passed from a purely abstract theoretical study to the stage of concrete experimentation, and by 1988 the first of his cable designs…XLO Electric Type 1.”

The early designs were not marketed, but used as reviewing tools when Roger was on staff at Sounds Like magazine, but, apparently the word got out, and audiophiles started wanting his cables, and XLO was born. Again, from the XLO site: “Signature 2 is now the very best of XLO’s generally available product lines”. It is made with “99.99997% pure (‘six nines’) Laboratory Grade copper.”

“It still gets XLO’s two secret proprietary treatments before being insulated, and all of the dialectrics - in the cable and even in the connectors - are still 100% DuPont Teflon [EPTFE]. The ‘field balanced’ winding geometry, though, has been refined…”

From a Signature 2 White Paper written by Roger Skoff: “EPTFE is a special sintered Teflon-variant material originally developed for human artery replacement during cardiovascular surgery, and, in the form used for XLO line-level cables, can be fabricated by only one company in the entire world. After the winding of the cores, the completed sub-assemblies are jacketed with another (or, for speaker cables, TWO more) Teflon-variant materials and given a third and final XLO proprietary treatment.” The balanced version of Signature 2 has XLO’s own XLR connectors, with pin 2 wired as hot (AES standard), but can be ordered with pin 3 hot if required. There are also unbalanced interconnects in shielded and unshielded versions, a phono cable, digital coax, speaker cables, and an AC power cord in this product group.

I had been using Ultralink Ultima in a similar length between my Monarchy preamp’s balanced outputs and the Bryston 3B SST, and had been very happy with the results. However, hooking up the Signature cables was a revelation: the midrange opened up, the highs took on a new clarity, and bass was better harmonically defined.

These are truly exceptional interconnects, and would probably be even more transparent in shorter lengths. I’ve enjoyed listening to them over the summer with all kinds of music, and can happily conclude that they represent a new level of resolution in what I think is already a very good audio system. They make my Energy Veritas speakers literally sing, with amazing detail and air. I can hear right into the soundstage in a way I never quite could before.

The reason may well be a reduction in both noise, and inherent cable distortion, but whatever the reason or reasons, this is truly a cable to conjure with, the purest interconnect I’ve heard, at least at the 6-metre length. The XLO Signature 2 2.2 balanced cable is very expensive, especially in greater lengths, but it delivers a level of performance that truly inspires listening.

Andrew Marshall

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