Burkz Hyper-Tube Valve-Emulating Studio Cable
As we enter the era of affordable digital recording, there are already complaints that digital sound is too pure — too clinical. Top studios have turned to the past in the form of valve amplifiers and compressors to help warm up the sound, but this is a costly business, and valve equipment needs to be carefully maintained. A recent development could change all that, however, as the well-known German cable manufacturer, Burkz, has developed a conductor that exhibits almost the same degree of non-linearity as a valve.
Unlike the purist cable destined for the hi-fi fraternity, who insist on oxygen-free copper for maximum purity, the new cable is actually made from oxygen enriched copper. But there's more to it than that, as the type of oxygen used is, in fact, the usually unstable isotope O5, which is produced by combining one atom of oxygen with one atom of ozone in an intense magnetic field. According to the cable's designer, Rolf Piola, the magnetic field is essential to modify the normal valency bonding characteristics of the oxygen molecules, but when combined with the copper conductor, the result is a quasi-semiconductor material which compresses and distorts high level signals in a way which some claim is indistinguishable from traditional valve circuitry. Once the material is made into a cable, we have a purely passive system which can be used to treat any line-level signals. Furthermore, it transpires that the 'compression threshold' of the cable is influenced by external magnetic fields, making it possible to fine-tune the effect by reorientating the cable in relation to the earth's magnetic field. In practice, this means you could put a couple of lengths of cable into the master insert points of a console and then move the cable around until the best subjective result is achieved. The longer the cable, the more pronounced the effect, but for normal use, a three-foot length is adequate. Stereo cable is available for this very application, to ensure that both channels receive the same treatment, and beta-tests indicate that the subjective results are excellent. Much longer lengths can be used to create passive guitar overdrive sounds. Connectors can be soldered onto the new cable in the usual way.
So far, the only shortcoming is that the copper compound isn't entirely stable, though its half-life is in excess of 50 years. In practical terms, this means that a 6-foot length of cable will actually shrink by around one inch every year, though it's only the metal inner that shrinks; the plastic outer casing doesn't, so after a few years it ends up looking rather like Nora Batty's stockings. However, providing you buy a long enough piece, this shouldn't be a problem.
Hyper-Tube cable £5 per metre. Please quote code 544/441.
Studiospares Ltd, (Contact Details).
A free sample length of Hyper-Tube is available for a limited period of time. Write to Avril La Bete, Burkz Gmbh, c/o the above address.
Review by Paul White
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