This is part three of a four-part series of high-end cables. For the general introduction about cable performance and matching, please see the first review of the series (Rhapsodio Golden). In each review, the scores of ‘looks’ and ‘build & ergonomics are weighted together in the final averaging of the score, as I find the other two scores proportionally more important.
Traditional Japanese cable manufacturer Wagnus has been a major player in the business for over 10 years and has earned a sterling reputation when it comes to high-quality cables. The recently developed ‘Frosty Sheep’ is their latest addition and their new flagship product. A brief interview with Haruyuki Kume, the CEO of Wagnus.
Hello Haru, could you briefly tell us something about the history of Wagnus?
Hello Nic, thanks for your time and interest in our product. I founded Wagnus 10 years ago. I started as a professional musician and mixing and mastering engineer, so I needed to optimize the quality of the sound reproduction system in my studio as far as possible. So I changed the cables in my studio and was amazed to hear the sound changing with different cables. Then I started to study the cable’s material and experimented with modern and vintage cables, solders and more.
Does Wagnus have any philosophy or mission statement concerning its products?
Just one thing. I ask myself “Can this be used by a professional studio engineer or musicians?” If it can’t, I will never release it. So factors as clarity, phase balance, power, high resolution, natural balance, and total quality are important for me. Another thing we consider important is if the provided sound can enter the heart of a listener to our cable in a natural way.
What can you share about the construction of the Frosty Sheep?
The plug is a special edition of our silver plated plug. The cable itself consists of a Litz construction with 60 wires and pure double silk insulation. For the wires, we chose OFC silver-plated copper.
Silver-plated copper seems a bit unusual for a flagship cable, especially since a lot of manufacturers are using silver or silver/gold alloys. Why did you decide to stick with SPC?
The high frequency goes along the surface of the wire, while the rest of the electrical signal passes through the lower and middle levels. Therefore, I use a pure silver-plating layer with less metal resistance for the high frequency, and for reproduction of sound at the super high level.
I find that the frequency balance and general outline of the sound are often narrow when I make a wire with pure silver, as the lower tone is harder to distinguish from a satisfactory intermediate tone. Because a sound digresses to the high level in pure silver, there is not enough sound balance (the middle and bottom sound is not enough) when I use pure silver, or else it requires thicker wires. Therefore the element of copper material provides an SPC with good balance for revitalizing the lower level.
If I use only copper, I miss a bit of high frequency. This is why I use silver-plated pure OFC Class A copper to achieve what I find a really good sound balance. But I adopt a very high-performance class 1 OFC in copper, designed to optimize resolution and the phase characteristic.
There are many manufacturers blending gold in their alloy, but I personally don’t find it very useful. Gold has inferior resistance to silver and copper. Therefore, you can use it to change the sound, but the balance of the sound is affected because it cannot maintain a flat frequency. That’s why we use ‘perfect balance SPC’ (our special made SPC).
Wagnus Frosty Sheep.
Alloy: Silver-plated copper
Conductors: 4 twisted wires
Construction: OFC Litz construction
Build & Design
The Frosty Sheep consists of 4 twisted wires, making it a great deal slimmer than a standard upgrade cable. Due to the plastic shielding, the cable is a bit stiffer, though still flexible to roll up securely for storage. The 4 wires are individually insulated with silk, giving the cable its white color. As mentioned earlier, each wire consists of multiple smaller wires (Litz construction). The plug is beautiful; a sturdy silver-plated metal composition, that has a high-quality look and feel to it. The splitter is a sober plastic wrap with ‘Wagnus’ marked on it, where other manufacturers tend to use some kind of wood or metal for an extra finishing touch. The L-shaped connectors are built from transparent plastic with some glitter and bend the cable effectively behind the ear.
The twisted wire gives the slim Frosty Sheep a unique look within my collection. I like the design, although I must admit that my perception of it is influenced by what I know of its performance and price. It is a bit sober, so I could understand if someone might prefer a bit more flash considering the price, although it is not my priority, and I think it’s safe to say neither that of Wagnus as well. Its overall ergonomics are good due to the slim design and excellent connectors, although the wires do pass on some microphonics. This is especially noticeable when they braze a hard surface like a desk while listening on the go the effects are negligible.
Page 2: Sound Impressions