CFM (Cables For Music) Resonant OnEarth Cable System

A radically different cable solution…

By Roy Gregory

When it comes to cables you could be forgiven for thinking that the book hasn’t just been written, it’s been written over and over again! By now, we’ve pretty much worked out what conductors and dielectric materials work and besides the odd metallurgical evolution, adding another nine to an already ridiculously long number, or some clever construction to further reduce contact between the conductors and anything else, the last really big step forward was the emergence of low-mass connectors, over a decade ago. Instead, the focus has switched to system grounding and the likes of CAD’s Ground Controls or Nordost’s Q-Kore units. But just when you thought it was safe to assume that the cable market had settled down to a steady status quo, along comes a company like Cables For Music (CFM), intent on upsetting the applecart.

This isn’t a review in the conventional sense. It involves no pricing and for many of you, the fact that the CFM cables are only currently available in Hong Kong (where they are hand made), China and the Antipodes, means that they aren’t readily available to audition or buy. Why the lack of even local pricing? Because the Honk Kong price contains no export or distributor margin, no shipping or mail-order costs. In other words, if these cables were to become available across a wider, global market, with harmonized pricing – whether they were sold direct or via a classical three-tier distribution network – the prices would rise significantly. Whether that ever happens remains to be seen – and if it does then some re-branding is definitely going to be necessary: choosing to call a range of cables the Resonant line certainly demonstrates the dangers of non-native nomenclature. So why bother with the review? Because despite the unconventional situation, despite the off-beat name and lack of pricing, the CFM cables do something decidedly different and that something is very, very interesting, both topologically and musically.

Like any good disruptor, CFM has one big idea. In this case, that idea is grounding – just not as we know it. Generally, talk of grounding in the context of audio cables fastens on the integrity or relative scale of the ground provision in power cords, or the arrangement of shield drains in signal leads. There have been cable systems (notably Audioplan from Germany) that star-ground the shield drains, connecting them all at the pre-amp or line-stage (and thus mandating distinct source and amplification cables) but CFM take that concept significantly and dramatically further: significantly, because they provide an entirely separate grounding network for both the cables and components in the system; dramatically, because unless you plan with considerable care, your cable loom will end up making a mangrove swamp look orderly. Okay, so that isn’t helped by the fact that each cable is sheathed in a green and yellow weave that is more than faintly suggestive of organic matter. Combine that with the inevitable tangle of cables that results from a full CFM OnEarth set up and you get the picture.