CFM (Cables For Music) Resonant OnEarth Cable System

The CFM cables are – at least on the surface – utterly conventional. For the most part, they combine solid core copper conductors and Teflon insulation in a classic, round-section, shielded construction. The range consists of five cable families, each set being larger in diameter than the one below it and all cables (including the speaker cables) are shielded. The Resonant series cables reviewed here sit one below the flagship Melodius line (the only CFM cables that offer pure silver conductors) and cost roughly four times the price of the entry-level Beat series. The power and speaker cables are both supplied with cylindrical wood block risers to keep them clear of the floor. While the Resonant moniker applied here might well be construed as confusing or even negative in a Western context – in its native cultural context the resonance referred to is positive, musical and emotional, rather than mechanical!

So far, so normal. Where CFM starts to diverge from mainstream cables is in its method and the nature of its construction. Rather than being produced as a complete, finished cable wrapped in an outer sheath, CFM cables are entirely hand-built from individual conductors and their own, specially formulated, copper braid shields. That matters because not only do they claim to hand tune each cable (the result of a proprietary measurement and treatment process) but the difference between the various cables rests mainly in the number of shielding layers used. The entry-level Beat cables use a single shield: by the time you reach Resonant, you find three layers of shielding surrounding the same conductors used in the entry-level model. You’ll also notice a loop of wire connected at one end of each CFM cable. These flying leads are joined in the middle by a 4mm banana plug and socket and link the shields to signal ground. You can order the CFM cables without these external ground connections but as you’ll see, that largely defeats the object.

Familiar ground…

Listen to the Resonant cable loom wired in an entirely conventional fashion and it delivers a solid performance, long on colour and dimensionality, body and presence, but less transparent, detailed and incisive than some of the competition. No surprises there: the materials, construction and feel (yep, the mechanical feel of a cable often relates directly to how it sounds) of the CFM cables all point this way. It’s a respectable but far from earth shattering performance – certainly not one that sets new standards or unduly disturbs the status quo. Listening to Víkingur Ólafsson’s Debussy:Rameau disc (DGG 483 7701) the piano is certainly solid and weighty, but it lacks texture and immediacy, with neither precisely defined shape nor volume, instead sinking into the murky acoustic space, while the playing itself is stolid and lacking the articulation so critical to both Debussy and Rameau. The overall affect is pleasant and worthy, but it doesn’t exactly set the emotional pulse racing. It’s certainly viable in terms of weight, tonality and scale, but far from the sort of impactful musical performance that creates a slam-dunk purchasing decision. However, the fact that the conventional cables offer this solid performance is important, both because it’s how many listeners will start using them but also because it’s the sonic and physical foundation for CFM’s OnEarth system – and that’s where things start to get really interesting.