At Avalon's suggestion, NBS sent me its Monitor III interconnects, Monitor III
loudspeaker cables, and Monitor III AC power cords. I have never tried NBS cables,
partly because they were hideously expensive. NBS has since revamped their line -
now the cables are just plain expensive. The mid-line Monitor III speaker cable I
tried with the Opus, for example, costs $2,400 for an 8-foot pair.
The performance increase afforded by the Monitor III cabling was startling, however.
I've never believed that expensive cables are a musical cure-all, and would rather put
more of my system budget into sources and electronics. But the Monitor III clearly allowed
more music through, and became an essential component in achieving the level of performance
described in the review. It resolved detail like no other cable I've heard. Bright cables
can fool the listener into thinking they are resolving, but the Monitor III combined
resolution with a smooth and unforced tonal balance. The detail wasn't analytical or
etched, but subtle and refined, drawing me into finer and finer levels of the musical
The midrange and treble had a crystalline quality that allowed tonal colors to emerge fully
fleshed out. This clarity also contributed to the cable's ability to let me hear quiet instruments
in the presence of louder ones: the NBS better revealed ensemble passages as different instruments
playing together, rather than congealing the instruments into a single sound. I also heard this
quality on unison phrases in jazz (trumpet and saxophone, for example); the NBS kept the timbers of
the two instruments distinct, heightening the communication of musical interplay.
Finally, the Monitor III's bass was spectacular, with deep extension, weight without bloat, and
tremendous mid-bass articulation. The Monitor III seemed to snap the bass into sharp focus, like
pulling taut a slack trampoline. Often a cable trades weight and warmth for pitch precision and
"speed"; the NBS delivered a full measure of bass authority and power, while simultaneously
increasing bottom-end pitch and dynamic resolution.
Needless to say, the NBS Monitor III has become a fixture in my reference playback system.
NBS Audio Cables
155 Fifth Avenue South Suite 455, Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
Phone: (800) 627-0204, fax: (612) 339-8750
Source of review sample: Manufacturer Loan
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