RMAF12: Black Cat takes the Red Pill

Black Cat Cables has been something of an experiment in progress for cable designer/manufacturer Chris Sommovigo. With success in the Stereovox, and later, the Stereolab, line of audio cabling, it’s almost curious as to why Chris would veer rather sharply into the world of the entry-level, but that’s precisely what he’s done. Over the last year or so, Black Cat has branched out from its breakthrough Veloce digital cable to offer speaker cables and interconnects, under the name Morpheus. Shortly after that, Chris launched an even less expensive line called Firefly, and it was in the development of that line that Chris made a couple of breakthroughs that led to today’s reintroduction of the Morpheus line — now called “Neo-Morpheus” — that he was championing here at RMAF this year.

NeoMorpheus improves upon the original Morpheus design by adding two more interstitial layers inside the cable: an additional shielding layer and an additional Aeron™ layer of insulation. These help with additional mechanical damping of the cable, aside from the benefits of having a secondary shield for noise rejection. New on the interconnect is our latest RCA design, which trickles down several of the features from my Xhadow RCA designs into a connector that costs 10% of Xhadow’s RCA while delivering 90% of its design benefits.

A picture taken of Black Cat’s Chris Sommovigo, talking business at RMAF in 2012

Chris being Chris, has a lot to say about the business of audio’s high-end, so perhaps it’s best to let him tell his own story:

If the NeoMorpheus had been subcontracted, which is the ordinary means that cable producers have to make their raw cable it would cost me roughly 4x what my manufacturing costs are now, and subcontractors don’t even have the insulation capability that I have with our proprietary Aeron process. If then it were given ordinary margins such that it would be sold through dealerships and distributors at customary markups, NeoMorpheus would have a retail price between $600 and $1,200 @ 1.0m pair (interconnect) – depending on whose markup formula you use (as you know, some cable companies have SRPs that are 10x or more their build cost).

That is the nature of the value-proposition with Black Cat cables. The one-two punch is that we own the means of production and therefore begin with raw materials and not subcontracted cables, and we have successfully created a hybrid-direct marketing paradigm that truncates dealer margins (as it also truncates our own margins), but allows us also to sell direct to the consumer – which helps us keep this whole thing moving forward. There’s not a lot of cash in a $195 1.0m interconnect, so we have to sell a fair amount of them in order to survive, but as people become aware of the nature of our value-proposition combined with our high performance … I think that Black Cat will hopefully become the no brainer standard choice for anyone shopping for cables under $1k.

I’m hoping to get a set of these new guys at some point to try out. More on this front soon.

Black Cat was sharing space with Woo Audio and MA Recordings, as they did at the Capital Audiofest this summer. I love this combo — it’s like an oasis in the middle of a storm. Your choice of music, your choice of transducers, your choice of amplification, your choice of seat, view and of course the duration of your event. It was like CanJam, but all in one room. Here’s to hoping they keep up the collaboration.

I wish I’d been able to swing back by for an extended stay, but it wasn’t to be. Another time, another place, another audio show, another Big Red Pill.

Neo-Morpheus, deconstructed for your viewing pleasure.
Random guy holding wire
Woo Audio setup that, sadly, I didn’t get any time to play with
Amazing selection of new-to-you music from MA-Recordings.

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