Tiglon’s 47-year-old founder, Kentaro Okino, became fascinated with the sonic properties of magnesium during his mechanical engineering studies and, after using it to suppress vibrations in loudspeaker stands and component isolation platforms, obtained an international patent in 2009 for its use as an electromagnetic wave shield in hi-fi cables. The Japanese company has been making high-end audio accessories for more than a decade but has focused its efforts on the domestic market. Okino is now looking west and, having recently secured a UK distributor, is keen to bring the benefits of his magnesium technology to audiophiles in Europe.
A rather large box duly landed on my doorstep just before Christmas bearing a TPL-2000A power cable, TPL-2000L ethernet link, TPL-2000R RCA and TPL-2000X XLR analogue interconnects, and MSS-DF1000SP-HSE loudspeaker leads. A TPL-2000U USB cable was expedited to me a couple of months later and should hit the market by the time this review is published. These are all from Tiglon’s premium series and feature its acclaimed ‘Magnesium Shield’ technology. Magnesium isn’t new in audio, it has been used in the construction of turntable head shells and tone arms for many years, but Tiglon is the first to exploit its sonic properties in cable design.
Okino is convinced that magnesium is a far more effective electromagnetic barrier and vibration-suppressor than commonly-used alternatives, explaining that it’s “…an ideal shielding layer that dampens external vibration and blocks EMI/RFI radiation, producing an uncommonly low noise-floor and a relaxed presentation heard in very few (other) cables…”. Tiglon’s website contains a graph that appears to show a clear advantage over both copper and aluminium in this context. Tiglon’s magnesium shield takes the form of a foil tape that’s wound spirally around the insulated conductors in the direction from input to output. The foil is electrically insulated from the input and is connected to the cold terminal of the output, “eliminating the influences of external noise invading the cable”. Best performance is thus obtained when the cable is installed in the direction indicated by the arrow on the heat shrink.
AC power cable
The cross-section image of the TPL-2000A shows the extremes Okino has gone to in designing what he believes is one of the most transparent-sounding power cables on the market, it also helps to explain why it took me a fair bit of effort to wrestle it into position! From the inner conductors formed from 0.18mm strands of dip-formed oxygen-free copper – a process that yields a conductor purity of 99.99% – to the outer jacket made from an anti-static mesh, there is a total of ten layers including the all-important magnesium shield that’s just 100 microns thick. As if this wasn’t enough, there is also a very large second-generation ‘Pure Magnesium Filter’ clamped around each end of the cable, providing additional vibration-suppression to further lower the noise floor. The 2000A is terminated with Furutech’s flagship FI-50 plugs that use rhodium-plated contacts and NCF nanoparticles, these generate negative ions that apparently eliminate electrostatic charges.
The TPL-2000R RCA and TPL-2000X XLR analogue interconnects are reassuringly thick but light enough to avoid strain on sockets. They follow the blueprint of the 2000A but are fitted with a much smaller ‘Advanced Magnesium Filter’ at each end. Although petite these filters do still limit the cable’s bend radius at the plugs and may necessitate moving your gear a couple of inches further away from the wall. The 2000R is terminated with KLE Innovations Silver Harmony plugs that use silver-plated copper for both the signal and ground pins, the 2000X is fitted with Neutrik NC-FXX plugs.
The MSS-DF100SP-HSE loudspeaker cable celebrates Tiglon’s 10th anniversary and features what Tiglon calls ‘Magnesium Separate Shield’ – essentially their Magnesium Shield technology wrapped around each conductor – and both ends of the cable are clamped with chunky 25mm chokes made from pure magnesium similar to those found on the 2000A. The leads I received are terminated with Furutech FP-203 rhodium-plated PC-OCC copper spades (PC-OCC is Furutech’s trade name for the Ohno Continuous Casting process that reduces the grain structure within the conductors), however banana plugs can also be specified. The cable isn’t excessively heavy but the outer PVC jacketing has stubborn shape memory that requires some patience and perseverance when routing.
Despite having Advanced Magnesium Filters on both the input and output ends, the TPL-2000U is the lightest and most flexible of the five Tiglon products I tested, which is a plus point because USB ports can be quite vulnerable to strain. The signal lines in this USB cable are made from OCC silver, the 5V power lines from OCC copper, and the two are shielded from each other by a magnesium screen. Installing the 2000U between my transport and DAC instantly dissolved the guilt I felt about setting aside the TPL-2000L ethernet link that was also included in the original shipment of cables, my transport being USB only.
Before leaving the factory, all cables undergo Tiglon’s ‘Hyper Saturated Energizer’ (HSE) process that applies a modulated, high-intensity current to organise the crystal structure of the metal and improve its conductivity. This process apparently removes oxide layers at the grain edges and increases the length of the crystals. The heating effect is also claimed to reduce the internal mechanical stresses of the cable making it more pliable; I dare not imagine the stiffness of the 2000A power cord prior to HSE.
When it comes to upgrades I’m a firm believer in putting one’s ducks in a row and, for me, that means investing first and foremost in a quality playback system and ensuring that the room is properly treated. Only then does it become possible, in my experience, to appreciate the more subtle improvements to be had from upgrading cables. As passionate as he is about his products, I’m sure that even Kentaro Okino would concede there’s little point in reducing noise passing between components if the transparency of the system is hamstrung by the components themselves and the acoustic character of the room.
The two systems used for this review each include a component that balances resolution with a generous measure of musicality. In my reference rig comprising a Mac Mini transport, Schiit Yggdrasil DAC, Yamaha A-S3000 Class AB integrated amp and Celestion Ditton 66 loudspeakers, that measure is delivered mainly by the speakers. In the system loaned to me earlier this year featuring a Bricasti M3 DAC, Mastersound Compact 845 S.E.T. amp and Blumenhofer Tempesta 20 hybrid horns, the forgivingness is provided by the amplifier. While the improvements I’m about to describe were perceptible on both rigs, I expect they would be more readily revealed by systems with higher levels of transparency.
With similar design philosophies and constructions you’d expect there to be sonic consistency across Tiglon’s TPL series and this is largely what I hear. If you’re looking to steer the tonality of your system warmer or cooler and your existing cables have neutral tunings, I’d suggest looking at other offerings because these magnesium-screened leads are very transparent and stamp no identity of their own onto the music. Instead, they subtly enhance the listening experience by making music sound more fluid and dynamic. It’s possible to hear deeper into the recording with these cables and with finer granularity. Small variations in the levels of the quietest parts of the music (micro-dynamics) are more perceptible and – because the noise floor is lowered – the difference in level between the quietest and loudest transients (macro-dynamics) becomes more pronounced, giving a more effortless attack. Reducing the amount of electrical and EMF/RFI noise infiltrating the system via the cables doesn’t just provide a calmer and more peaceful ‘blackground’ between notes, it also appears to reduce fatigue during loud passages, especially in music with densely-layered instrumentation. The reason for this is well beyond my knowledge of the subject but if I were to speculate then I’d say that the magnesium shielding is helping to reduce the noise that modulates with the signal and is often attributed to the slight hardness that especially affects digital playback.
During my listening tests the TPL-2000A was tried on both DAC and amplifier to see which benefitted most; in my reference rig my DAC seemed to gain more from the power cord upgrade but in the other system the valve amp saw the bigger improvement. The 2000X (XLR) interconnect had less of an effect than the 2000R (RCA), which perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise since balanced circuits by design are less susceptible to noise infiltration.
It bears repeating that cables are system-dependent and their ability to effect change depends on the design and performance potential of the components they’re connected to, this is why it’s so important to audition and compare their effectiveness for yourself. The ability of Tiglon’s TPL series to simply get out of the way and let music flow freely sets an impressive benchmark in transparency and ought to be of significant interest to those committed to improving the resolution of their sound systems.