Delivery.
As during my previous Esprit assignment, I received twelve black zippered cases. Those were no different from those which arrive with their entry-level stuff. A plastic cover sheet indicates the range, kind, terminations and length of each cable. These are not luxury boxes, just friendly protective packages you can store your cables in when you remove them from your system. By comparison to other high-end rivals in Cableland like Argento, Richard Cesari doesn't spend too much on packaging. I have to recognize this pragmatic approach because who should really care about having a Louis Vuitton or Gucci case to go downtown for dinner with his favorite pair of interconnects? Yes, that’d be stupid. If you have to justify the price of your cables with such lovely but silly presentation boxes, then in my opinion you are on the wrong path to audio Nirvana. Anyway, each Lumina cable is completely handmade, completely black and rather heavy but flexible. So let's start this investigation from the power outlets on upstream.


Power cords. The Lumina power cords are designed with Schuko and IEC connectors having pure copper pins with silver plate. The plating is unusually thick; 40 microns versus the common 3-4 microns and the case for all connectors Richard Cesari uses. Each plug is reinforced with glass fibre to guarantee perfect mechanical behaviour with the wire itself. The conductor consists of an asymmetrical design featuring 5’000 strands of pure long-grain copper amounting to a respective thickness of 6mm² per conductor. Shielding is sophisticated, with a double twin shield over air plus full optical sheets and mechanical damping. A 12V battery insures further insulation and polarization of the power cord. It's rather difficult to present more technical information about Richard Cesari's power cords without divulging his IP. No matter how sophisticated, long tales of power-cord tech tend to glaze over my eyes. On to performance. These provided me with different results contingent on various component combinations. My colleague Thierry Nkaoua reported that they were the best he had yet hosted in his system. He also admitted to not having much experience with power cords. But the Lumina cords far outclassed the less expensive Wireworld Silver Electra contenders in his system.


I had warned Richard Cesari from the beginning that two big snakes on my two Luxman M800a wouldn’t give satisfying results. And so it was. The Luxman M800a really need to work with a very thin power cord to deliver their best performance when used as monaural amps (i.e. in BTL mode).  That's different from when used as a single stereo amplifier as the likely majority usage. In my system, the Luxman M800a's BTL mode is rather sensitive and needs a very careful setup in terms of associated preamplifier and power cords. With the recently reviewed Red Dragon S500, BTL mode seemed to work very different. Here the Esprit Lumina were able to change the amps’ dynamic skills, overall relief and soundstaging. This was a most impressive result and of quite the night and day difference over other power cords.


Equipped with Lumina power cords, the class D (Pascal) contenders from Utah delivered nearly the same level of performance as my two Luxmans which cost roughly 8 times as much even if adding two Luminas increased the total bill significantly. Beyond a more vivid dynamic rendering, the Lumina power cords created a very dark background to highlight very small subtle details. They also increased the size of the soundstage to be slightly wider and deeper than with other power cords. Adding more Lumina snakes to the preamp and my two digital front-ends (Lumïn S1 and Esoteric K-03), these results compounded. The overall impact on performance was not as impressive as on the class D monos but nevertheless consistent and obvious.


By comparison with the Triode Wire Labs 10+ power cord on digital or preamp, the sound was amazingly more nuanced and detailed, with small data revealed quite distinctly which was masked with the TWL cord. On a stereo amp, the Lumina further enhanced dynamics over its American contender. Back on the bridged Luxmänner, I preferred my basic and inexpensive stock power cords. Just so, the big Esprit were second best and the only useful options to deliver decent BTL mode over all others I’ve tried before in that capacity. What came as a real surprise was their impact on voices. For instance, on the Red Hot Audiophile 2010 SACD album [Master Music], "Amazing grace" showed the added value of the Lumina power cords with an incredible level of subtle details which were highlighted on Sigvart Dagsland’s voice. This track is a really good clarity test for the upper and lower midband because the liveliness of the voice must count as much as the naturalness and blending presence of the giant church organ. With the Lumina, the sheer quantity of small modulations in the lower midrange was outstanding to produce very uncommon authenticity and authority to the church organ. Of course you need the right speaker to support this in the first place but with my Vivid Giya G1s, it became no less than a match in heaven. The same fascinating presence continued to emanate all through this album but the last track especially and the fourth "Tears in Heaven" featuring Chie Ayado were particularly stunning.


Speaker cables. Working our way upstream from the AC outlets like salmon, Richard Cesari had sent me two pairs of 3-metre length to biwire my Giya G1. Esprit don't manufacture integral biwire cables. One must use two discrete pairs whose combined sticker will send your wallet into paroxysms of crazy cable cramps. Your banker will instantly confirm just how unreasonable this notion really is.  And in my case, he’d have been right. On my Vivids, one pair was more than sufficient. I wasn’t surprised but still thankful that Richard had fulfilled my request of testing two pairs just in case. The Lumina speaker cables are big and heavy black snakes consisting of two 25mm² conductors made of 6’684 strands of pure long-grain copper within an asymmetrical dielectric (the two conductors don't use the same insulation).  Shielding again is reinforced by 12V battery as are all Lumina range cables. It's important to avoid contact with other conductors that could create charge loss to insure the best performance with the Esprit Lumina. My loaners had spade terminations on both end whose 40-micron silver plating allows for the highest operational silence and lower resistance.