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The audio cable that opens up black holes, fixes global warming and eats pets

July 23, 2008 |  3:39 pm
Denon AK-DL1 Ultra-premium Link Cable

Update 11:57 pm
Denon's Director of Product Development and Systems Integration, Jeff Talmadge, wrote back to us this afternoon to tell us what distinguishes the AK-DL1 cable from the others. "The cable is manufactured with the highest quality materials and technology available," Talmadge said. "It offers 1.4 Gbps transmission speed, extremely low voltage (.04 volt rmf), which helps provide the highest transmission speed, highest noise rejection, anti-vibration available and resists deterioration that occurs over time with "standard CAT 5 Ethernet cables."


Audiophiles are a dedicated lot. They of the Golden Ears think nothing of spending tens of thousands of dollars on equipment that might help them achieve the perfect sound. But it seems that even hyper-listeners cannot swallow the idea of a $500 audio cable.

Denon's AK-DL1 (pictured above) is an "ultra-premium link cable" used to connect the electronics company's devices, say, from the DVD player to the receiver. Denon's website describes the 59-inch-long cable as made from "high purity copper wire" that "will bring out all the nuances in digital audio reproduction."

The cable has generated what may be the funniest collection of user-submitted product reviews on Hell hath no fury like audio nerds who feel their intelligence has been insulted.

Here's a sample of the 240 reviews (and faux reviews) posted about the AK-DL1:

"After I took delivery of my $500 Denon AKDL1 Cat-5 uber-cable, Al Gore was mysteriously drawn to my home, where he pronounced that Global Warming had been suspended in my vicinity," wrote Daniel A. Koblosh.

"Unfortunately, Denon does not provide the necessary warning regarding the directionality of the cable. As I write this email, a small black hole is tearing through the space time fabric of my living room, consuming everything in its path (including my former pet Chihuahua, Wolfgang)," said Momo the Barbarian.

"The first time I downloaded a picture to the printer over this cable, the bits moved so fast the printer collapsed into a naked singularity, right there in my office. Since then, I can't find the cat, and my entire set of VAX/VMS 4.7 documentation (DEC Will Rise Again!) (Mmmmm, orangey!) has gone missing," according to Patrick Carroll.

"If I could use a rusty boxcutter to carve a new orifice in my body that's compatible with this link cable, I would already be doing it. I can just imagine the pure musical goodness that would flow through this cable into the wound and fill me completely -- like white, holy light. Holding this cable in my hands actually makes me feel that much closer to the Lord Jesus Christ. I only make $6.25/hr at Jack In The Box, but I saved up for three months so I could have this cable. It sits in a shrine I constructed next to my futon in Mother's basement," wrote G.P.

"I accidentally dropped one end of my Denon cable into a glass of Tuscan whole milk I was drinking. Later when I finished my milk (yeah, I still drank it; should I not have done that?), my right arm (lost in an accident in 1987) spontaneously grew back. Is this normal?" asked R. Blais.

There are a lot more, and many are priceless. Feel free to weigh in with your own in the comments below.

We posed Blais' intriguing question -- Is this normal? -- to Jeff Talmadge, Denon's director of product development. He replied, "It's refreshing to see that's customers have such a great sense of humor."

We spoke with Paul Reynolds, electronics editor of Consumer Reports, a magazine that tests and rates products. His take: It's basically a fancy Ethernet cable, a close cousin of the type sold at Wal-Mart for about $20 to connect a broadband Internet router to a computer. The magazine in general has discouraged consumers from buying premium-priced cables, he said, because it's unclear whether they offer any improvement over regular cables.

"Often audiophiles feel they are getting a bump in performance, and it's arguably a placebo effect," Reynolds said. "Even if you’re not sure, you convince yourself it sounds better because you paid $500 for it. So it’s interesting that even they are not convinced they got their money’s worth."

He added: "It’s just striking that people are spending many times more for the cable than most people spend on the entire stereo system. But when you put it into the context of a world where spending five figures on a stereo system is not uncommon, $1,000 for a couple of cables is not out of the question."

When I put it that way to my audiophile friend, he said: We'll take two! One for this world, and one for the alternative universe that the cable apparently creates.

-- Alex Pham

Photo courtesy of Denon