November 16, 2012

Best Budget Choice! Tara Labs TL-2/14 Speaker Cable.

Tara Labs TL-2/14 speaker cable as pictured. No fancy build or garden hose thickness. Just sturdily built.

Let's get the nitty gritty out of the way first, this is the entry level Tara Labs speaker cable your money can buy, priced at RM$1,019.00/8ft pair. If that's not a steal, just buying the Tara Labs brand, then there's indeed more substance to the name after all. All Tara Labs products are declared made in the US of A on their website. And with the marketing muscle of local dealer A&L Audio Station behind the brand, the Tara Labs products may proved more difficult to lay hands on.

The cable came sealed in regular printed cardboard box(nothing fancy here), no un-necessary packaging thrills either. The cable looks sturdily terminated with gold(not too shinny) plated banana plugs on both ends, if the cable size is a little weedy looking(who says good sounding cables must be thick, and come with shinny plugs?). There are the usual directional markings for signal flow on this 14 AWG copper cable. So far, everything seems mundane and not terribly exciting.
Check out this "live" CD and Blu-ray set, featuring amazing performances by many, many artist in collaboration with the Hit Man himself, David Foster. The Blu-ray has brilliant picture and stereo quality in PCM audio playback mode.

That is until I plug them Tara Labs in to my system, replacing my resident, and many times more costly Siltech 25th Anniversary 330L reference cable. I had previous left the TL-2/14 on my home made kable kooker for 2 whole weeks 24/7 to burn in. On my first album, the very entertaining Hit Man Returns, David Foster & Friends, featuring the likes of Seal, Donna Summer(possibly her last public appearance prior to her un-timely death), Chaka Khan, Earth Wing & Fire and many more artist I'd care to remember. I am very familiar with this "live" recording and the Blu-ray AV disc too. I was stunned by how organic, yet kick ass dynamic this cable sounds!

Here we have a very quietly dark sounding cable, with smooth, non-jarring highs, honeyed mids and propulsive(with very low extension too) kinda bass. It's like as if my PMC Fact 8 speakers was operating with sub-woofer(2.1 set up) kinda low end kick. It was as if the Earth Wind and Fire medley performance was rocking my gulis(balls for non-Malaysians) all over, just sitting on the throne(sweet spot). I would say the tonal quality is rather well balanced to the warm side, making my system less critical of recording faults, making it easier to consume my music(ala instant noodle style).

The other area that took me by surprise, which I never believed should not be attainable from such a cheap/budget cable is sound staging. The stage is deep, layered, tall and wide(beyond both sides of speakers and out side of the physical wall). However, the pudding just got sweeter when I realised that there's even a halo of "air" around each vocal, and instrument neatly projected within the sound stage!

By now, you must be waiting for some sins committed by this Tara Labs, right? Well, I won't disappoint you either. Coming from an entry level product, there must be some kind of performance compromised. First thing, while still relating to the sound staging and the imaging properties, while organically projected, it may not be solidly out lined enough for some taste and system synergy. However, one area I am sure the performance is compromised in the level of absolute transparency. In the high end audio game, transparency is highly prized commodity, while the TL-2/14 isn't the most transparent of speaker cables around, I was actually too busy enjoying my music to spot it, until the time came to remove it, and had my reference Siltechs re-installed in to the system. Only then, the one sin of omission became startling clear.

Otherwise, I am all praises for this Tara Labs TL-2/14 speaker cable. It's highly musical and appealing on an emotional level, does all the basic hifi performance parameters right, plus a sound staging and bass "king", all for beer budget money. It's been a blast of a time spent with it.

If one is in the market for any speaker cable, regardless of budget, do give this Tara Labs a try first, especially if one is after the music first, and the hifi-ness of sound next. It's that good!

Tara Labs is sold by A&L Audio Station, contact Yap(Wah Chai) at 03-79582884.

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