For me,this may be the biggest upgrade so far,I paid 900 off audiogon and I absolutely love it.It has taken my system to a whole new level.This cable is really musical,fast and not the littlest bit bright.Iam listening at a lower volume.Iam using the one between pre and amp,(AR 15 and plinius SA250).So far Iam enjoying xlo signature 3 feeding into the pre,cd player, phono stage etc.Back to the one ism,it really is the one, twice as good as any other cable Ive tried,and its a keeper.
I did a home audition of a dealer's demo1m. pair of "The One", in XLR version and with the "Solo" GS. The One does many things as well as a cable can be expected to do - except IMO it fails in one important area: large-scale (macro) dynamics. In this respect, The One is akin to a high-quality FM broadcast, whereas some of its contemporaries (AQ, NBS, Synergistic Research, XLO, etc.) are more like a good analog or digital rig in comparison, dynamics-wise. The One just didn't have the 'swing' that some other models did; it couldn't get the cresendos and peaks of the performance out of the components. I decided to return them to the dealer.
I try not to be too biased for or against any competent brand or design. I'm just trying, like many 'philes are, to get the best-sounding components for my listening tastes and budget. The One's dynamic deficiencies stood out almost immediately in my system, so there is no point in discussing the other parameters pro or con. To me, reproduced music can't begin to sound like a live event until you can begin to get the 'big swings' right. C'ya, Tara.
I think The One i/c's would be most happy with acoustic and smaller-scale music, which is fine if that's your main musical diet. For that, it probably deserves a 4 to 5 star overall rating. But for $2195./meter retail, I expect much more.
This time, I am reviewing Tara Labs’ The One PC. I’ll call it TOPC for short.
I used TOPC on a variety or equipment, including tuners, CD players, transports, DACs, preamps, power amps, and powerline conditioners. Rarely have I had such a difficult time, pinning down the sound of a component. TOPC sounded different, depending on what I hooked it up to. Or were the components themselves the ones sounding different?
On the Theta Jade, I thought the sound became kind of homogeneous and murky. On the Jade, Tara’s Decade AC sounded clearer. On the Fanfare FM FT-1 and Creek T43, TOPC produced a balanced, grain-free sound. So I ended up using the TOPC on my AudioPrism Debut II/Red Rose Music Model Two power amp. TOPC allowed this amp to perform at a level I didn’t think possible. All sonic parameters improved, yet, nothing seemed highlighted or missing. I have known the RRM2 to be a neutral amp. But until I hooked up TOPC, I did not know how detailed, dynamic, refined, transparent, and evenly-scaled this amp really is. Here I was blaming the somewhat bland sound on interconnects, tubes, speaker cables, and upstream components. Some of that is true, but TOPC wiped out at least half of my complaints.
I now have Tara Labs’ The One Digital, The One balanced interconnect, and TOPC. I have only heard The One speaker cable at dealers’ showrooms. But from my brief exposure to that cable, I think it sounds pretty much the same as the rest of The One line. Never before have I encountered a line of cables where each type (i.e., digital coax, line-level interconnect, speaker, and power cord) sounds like each other. In my experiences with the various The One products, they are self-effacing, quiet, grain-free, and neutral. They seem to get out of the way, and let the electronics speak for themselves. This is what you want out of a cable. I just wish this stuff weren’t so expensive!
If you are interested in TOPC, let me add a few more comments. (1) First of all, this is a THICK and stiff cable. You can order it in any length, but it still may put strain on your components’ IEC jacks. (2) If you have components whose IEC jack is located underneath the belly (e.g., Counterpoint and Mark Levinson), you won’t be able to use TOPC, unless you prop up the component. Go instead with a thinner power cord, like Tara Labs Master AC or Synergistic Research AC Master Coupler. (3) The stock color is black, but you can order it in a clear/white jacket for no additional cost. The clear jacket looks much better, attractive, and elegant than the butt-ugly black jacket. (4) At $1195 for a six-foot piece, TOPC is intended for upper-echelon components. Yes, TOPC made my tuners perform at their absolute highest, but c’mon, only a reviewer would use TOPC on equipment that costs less than the TOPC itself.
CAVEAT: I am reviewing the balanced interconnect only. I have not auditioned the speaker cable or unbalanced interconnect. If I am fortunate enough to evaluate those products, I will at that time review them.
ASSOCIATED EQUIPMENT: Theta DS Pro Basic IIIa and Pro Prime IIa Mark Levinson No. 380 and Classe' Thirty Classe' CA-100 and Muse Model 100
How do you describe something that has little or no sound of its own? This is the dilema, when auditioning products as neutral and transparent as Tara Labs' The One balanced interconnect (TOBI). TOBI sounds fine right out of the box, and after a two-week burn-in period, simply disappears. However, if you do not use an Analog Floating Ground Station, the sound will noticeably deteriorate. The soundstage shrinks, and grain sets in.
If you want to hear what your balanced components sound like, then you absolutely must check out TOBI. If you want your cable to be a tone control, then pick something else.
Yes, I admit that TOBI, especially when you add a Floating Ground Station, is expensive. But I've heard many more expensive cables, and can tell you that TOBI is simply more honest. And TOBI is much more open, airy, extended, dynamic, fleshed-out, and detailed than Tara Labs' lower-priced cables.
TOBI is among the best out there at any price. TOBI is a true five-star product. I'm lowering the ratings of all other cables by at least one-and-a-half stars. Save your money, angst, and whining, and buy Tara Labs' TOBI.