See Part I, Part 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.
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.