22 February, 2012

Review: Belden 9497 Part II

Review: Belden 9497 Part II

See Part IPart III and Part IV.

Revised March 18, 2012

9497, aka "Studio 497Mk2"?

For the story of Belden 9497, one of my reference cables, I refer you to start with my previous article, Part I of review.

Belden's official website lists only the 9497. My roll made in and purchased from the USA also says 9497.

But in Japan there were similar-looking "497" and "497Mk2". Are these all the same? Since these possible variants are available in Japan only, and some are supposedly "Made in Japan", Google search leads only to Japanese articles, and translations of these leave much to be desired. Are all these the same cable? This article attempts to elucidate this.

The most intriguing and comprehensive article I found is from this Japanese website (in English; but the layout is much clearer in Japanese). The author queries what is real and if any is "fake". Some points (subject to translation error) are intriguing. Let's scrutinize them by referring to 2 of the pics:

  • Direction/Handedness of Cable: This is absolutely fascinating. For those confused about the handedness or chirality of helices, read this wikipedia entry. The first pic shows two different "497", the top being unmarked and the bottom one marked with letter; note that the two have different handedness, the top being right-handed, the bottom one left-handed (the author got them reversed). The second pic compares "Made in Japan" original "497" (top; right-handed) and "497 Mk2" (bottom, left-handed). My made in USA Belden 9497 is left-handed and resembles the "made in Japan" "497 Mk2". The "made in Japan" original "497" has the same handedness but different color!
  • Model number and Code: From the same pics, it is deduced that "genuine" Japanese models, be it the "original 497" or "497 Mk2", have printed model number and code which differ from period to period. The second pic shows one such print, and the lettering look very much like authentic Belden, such as the lettering on my trusted USA 1810A (another wonderful cable; pic here). My 9497, from a full reel bought from the USA, has NO lettering.
  • Sonic Comparison: There are differences, but unfortunately I could not make out the translation, which gives it a rococo feel. If you can read Japanese, let me know what is said.
pic from second Japanese article.

Another Japanese article (in English) from which the top pic is copied, shows a similar "497Mk2". To confuse the matter more, the picture also shows a "9497" which appears to have the same construction but different color. Both are left-handed.

All that does not clear up matter much. If you ask me, I'd say forget about the Japanese 497 and get on with the wonderful 9497, which is still a reference cable for many of us. The "497+/-Mk2" is highly revered in Japan, not only by Shindo san (one of the comments is from a Shindo user; he points out the left-handed cable is used in the wiring of his Shindo speaker) and other horn enthusiasts, but by recording studio people as well. Me and my friends say the same thing about the 9497.

Belden 9497 and Kondo
If you need proof of this cable's worth, let me tell you in a recent test, the 9497 outperformed the venerable Gotham 10150 in my Kondo system. A good friend, JCR33, uses 9497 with his Kondo too.

Below is an article on the "497Mk2" in the prestigious Japanese magazine Stereo Sound. I have no idea what the panel said (no doubt great things). If you know, let me know.

CD Recommendations: Classical

CD Recommendations: Classical

Currently Available CDs

CD/LPs I am playing now

(right, EMI) The legendary Celibidache Edition has been re-issued in 4 compact boxes and at super bargain prices. Grab them this time around! Slow tempi concerns aside, I consider this essential listening. The dynamic control, such as the perfect crescendo, are captured in sterling sonics.

(middle, Orfeo) Lifschitz is a magnificent Bach pianist. This new release on Orfeo imho is better than any of those by bigger names. Unlike most others, Lifschitz varies his tone according to the origin of the work. Splendid sound and accompaniment.

(left, Talent) Brilliant Shostakovich from little known forces. Click link for review. I agree that these rank with the bests. Stunningly recorded.

Currently Available SACDs

SACD I am playing

(left, ECM) A magisterial reading by an upcoming Beethoven specialist and a maturing conductor. Marvelous, and I look forward to the next installment in the cycle.

(right, BIS) Finally, a version of Bach's Cello Suites on the viola that I like! I have heard several versions, including those by old masters like Primrose and Fuchs, but I feel this one is the best.

Somewhat older CDs from the Library

(left, Onyx) What a surprise. The Turkish orchestra under its Austrian conductor is splendid and fully up to international standards.
A great CD of colorful music by Respighi and Florent Schmidt! Fabulous recording quality. Click pic for more info.

(right, Signum) Elgar's masterpieces here receive a see-through recording of the highest quality, and a solid interpretation from a noted Elgarian.

CD I am playing (often from the library, usually older issues; may not be available)

(Left, DG) 2 Transcriptions here. The Goldberg Variations is indestructible and there is much beauty in this version for harp played by Catrin Finch (DG). For the open-minded, this is a real treat. Click pic for info.

(right, Sony)The Harp version of Rodrigo's Concierto Aranjuez is stunningly played by Maistre, harpist of the VPO. Click for artist's official site.

(left, Berlin Classics) What a beautifully recorded Paganini performance (as always with this company) by a promising young violinist! Well-chiseled and not at all bombastic. This one goes to the top. Click for info.

(middle, Berlin Classics) Peter Rosel is much under-rated. His recordings on Berlin Classics are all fabulous in execution and recording quality! The Beethoven is amongst the best cycles.

(right, Hanssler) A stimulating version of Beethoven's 9th. Norrington's recordings with Stuttgart are frequently quite good and sonics from SWR is always exceptional.

CD I am playing (often from the library, usually older issues; may not be available)CDs I am playing (often from the library, often older issues; may not be available)

(left, Virgin) Excellent early music continue to pour forth from Virgin. L'Arpeggiata is a new sensation. Dynamic and virtuosic Monteverdi that catapults to the very top!

(second from left, Virgin) Old favorite Le Concert Astree, led by Haim, continue their quality output. This Handel Dixit Dominus pulsates with life!

(second from right, EMI) The songs of Faure and Poulenc are under-rated masterpieces, here well rendered by Ian Bostridge.

(right, DG) A superb Ravel Chansons Madecasses, as well as Shostakovich and other 20th century rarities. Beautifully sung and stunningly recorded.

Old Favorites

CD/LPs I am playing. Often older issues; may not be available.

(left, Westminster) This old abc/Westminster LP showcases the great flamenco playing of Carlos Montoya. In splendid sound as good as any. Great hifi demo.

(middle, RCA) When it comes to Schubert, not many think of Rubinstein, but his D960 astounds me in its freshness, beauty and humanity. My top choice now. May be hard to find. Click pic for youtube

(right, Decca) In terms of expressiveness, this old Britten recording by the Allegri String Quartet is still competitive with the best modern versions (like the Belcea).