DH Labs, out of Alachua, Florida, has been in the cable business for a number of years, slowly and steadily building a base of very loyal customers and dealers. They also have a catalog of great reviews that seem to have a common theme, which is attractive, great sounding cables, offered at very fair prices. I evaluated the silver Revelation interconnect in part 2 of my silver cable overview here. It has since become part of my reference system after I purchased a 1 meter pair. I found the clarity, resolution, and overall coherence of the Revelation very impressive.
DH Labs also makes very impressive power cords and speaker cables, including the Q-10 Signature, which has been in production for over ten years. They have also recently added HDMI cables, and there are plans for a state of the art USB cable. The subjects of this review are suite of digital cables from DH Labs, including their D-75 and their Toslink optical. I was in an excellent position to evaluate these cables as I had several superb digital products in house for review, including the excellent Byrston BDA-1 DAC, the Squeezebox Touch, and the Olive O6HD music server (review forthcoming).
The principal driving force at DH labs is Darren Hovsepian, a soft spoken, no hype personality. Which is a true breath of fresh air from a cable manufacturer. High end cable designers are quite famous for outlandish, pseudo scientific claims, ridiculous marketing campaigns, and for products whose prices are difficult to justify. From my conversations with Hovsepian, it was obvious he believes in solid engineering, practical science, and offering good value, which leads to repeat customers.
The digital cables I received from DH Labs included a D-75 coaxial terminated with RCA plugs, another D-75 with BNC connectors, and a Deluxe Toslink optical cable. The build quality and appearance of all three cables is absolutely superb. The cables are also relatively flexible and easy work with. The price for a 1 meter D-75 with RCA is $75, with an additional $12.50 per BNC connector. The Deluxe Toslink is $45 for one meter.
According to DH Labs, in the D-75, “a solid, silver-coated center conductor is used to maintain the most uniform impedance. The use of a solid center conductor minimizes signal reflections, which are very important in digital data cables. This center conductor is encased in a very uniform closed cell foam Teflon dielectric, which has an extremely low dielectric constant of under 1.4. This provides the lowest dielectric absorption and loss, along with the most uniform attenuation vs frequency curve. Noise rejection is maximized by a 2 Layer shield. This dual shield provides 100% coverage for complete immunity to noise. The combination of a 100% aluminum Mylar shield and a heavy braid keeps ground resistance as low as possible. The braid is wound with carefully controlled tension in order to minimize a phenomenon called "VSWR spikes" (a common cause of signal reflections in high frequency cables).”
DH Labs says “the result of these efforts is a cable that can provide excellent performance to beyond 2 Gigahertz. The D-75 is available in bulk, or carefully terminated with our coaxial RCA connector, for minimum reflection and optimum signal transfer. For maximum performance, 75 ohm BNC connectors are available as an option.”
Hovsepian, and many others believe that BNC is preferable as it offers he lowest noise and highest bandwidth. It is considered a “true 75 ohm” connection.” I was glad to hear this as my Naim CD5 XS offers one digital output, and it happens to be a BNC connector. The Byrston BDA-1 offers a BNC input, both the Squeezebox Touch and Olive 06HD offer both optical and RCA digital outputs. All of this considered, I had an excellent opportunity to put all three cables to good use.