AudioQuest William Tell Zero Loudspeaker Cable

hfnedchoiceHero of Swiss independence, and a dab hand with the crossbow, William Tell is now the inspiration for a speaker cable. Review & Lab: Paul Miller

One of the founding fathers of the audiophile cable scene, California-based AudioQuest has been developing its conductor technology for no less than four decades. The William Tell Zero featured here is part of the 'Folk Hero' series – prices range from £2340 (2m pair), £2910 (3m) to £3480 for a 4m pair, with £570 per extra metre. This ranks as affordable when compared to the flagship 'Mythical Creatures' series that tops out at £20k for a 2m set of the Dragon Zero...

The materials and geometry of the cable derive from AQ's understanding of skin-effect and its efforts to minimise non-linear conduction between adjacent strands. In this instance, three dissimilar-diameter strands are employed per leg of the cable, AQ specifiying its PSC+ copper (an OCC copper subject to additional annealing), and each individually insulated with a thick PE dielectric.

The 2.62mm2 (12 gauge) cross-section ensures a low 14.3mohm/m resistance while the combination of strand spacing and gentle twisting results in a moderate capacitance (203pF/m) and inductance (0.79µH/m). I would probably not advise lengths over 5m or so. Otherwise, the thickness, and stiffness, of the cable is largely accounted for by the multiple braid, foil and conductive carbon screens that envelop each trio of conductors, providing comprehensive EM and RF shielding. A choice of spade and banana plug terminations is offered, all heavily silver-plated, and 'cold-welded' to the strands using miniature grub screws.

You'll also notice a 72V DC power pack velcroed to the destination end of this directional cable. This is AQ's DBS (Dielectric Bias System), wired between the drain and shield to impress a polarising voltage across the internal dielectric. AQ postulates that this fixed electrostatic field rapidly 'forms' the dielectric and hastens the 'run-in' time of its cables. If you have a good few hours burning a hole in your diary then you can discover more here –

sqnote Straight As An Arrow
Whatever the rhetoric – and AQ does produce a lot of literature – the impact of these William Tell Zero cables between my Constellation Inspiration/B&W 800 D3 [HFN Oct '19/'16] amp/speaker combo cut straight to the chase. There was an immediacy here, reflected in the tangible, edge-of-your-seat threat posed by the electric cello and string section underpinning 'Why So Serious (The Dark Knight)' [Hans Zimmer – Definitive Collection; Silva SILCD1453]. And yet, despite this sense of urgency, attack and power, the system would also convey the finest subtleties with what I might best describe as a 'considered delicacy', free of any grit or grain.

A challenging listen on some systems, the acoustic jazz of Craig Taborn Trio's Chants [ECM 2326, 88.2kHz/24-bit] possessed a little extra velvet with the AQ cables in tow, the composition's intriguing melody still weaving its typically hypnotic patterns but without the edginess that I've heard before. This cable is certainly no 'Zero'.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
While clearly not an 'entry level' cable, AQ's William Tell Zero still offers plenty of bang (or should that be 'slam'?) for your bucks, but you'll need very robust sockets on the rear of your speakers and amp to manage the bulk and tension of its 'Y-shaped' terminations [see picture]. Securely fastened, this cable squeezes as authoritative a sound as possible from your system, with a smoothness and freedom from 'hash' that'll soothe the most furrowed of brows.

Price £2910 (3m stereo set, terminated in 4mm plugs)

Supplied by: AudioQuest UK
01249 848 873