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Silver Reference Mk II interconnects
as reviewed by Fown-Ming Tien
As any cable designer will tell you, the best interconnect is no interconnect at all. Of course, this just isn't possible. The interconnects that did the best job of disappearing in my system were the Argent Audio Pursangs and the AudioQuest Cheetah DBSes, which bested other highly-regarded cables, including the Acoustic Zen Silver Reference MkIIs, the Cardas Golden Sections, and the Ridge Street Audio Midnight Silver Edition Gen2s. As much as I loved both the Argents and AudioQuests, both cost nearly $1000 per one-meter pair. I simply could not afford them, so had to suffer with my existing interconnects—until now.
In September, Mike Garner of CryoTweaks told me that he had developed new interconnects that I had to hear, the Silver Reference Mk IIs. These cables use cryogenically treated, 99.9998% pure silver wire. Since the wire has a very long crystalline structure, there are fewer crystals in a given length than in a non-continuous cast silver wire of the same purity, and fewer crystal boundaries for the signal to traverse means less noise and distortion. These interconnects are double-shielded to prevent EMF and RFI interference. A woven, unbleached cotton outer covering is used because cotton has a very low dielectric constant—even lower than Teflon. They are terminated using WBT NextGen Silver locking RCAs.
Mike says that the Silver Reference Mk IIs are the best interconnects he has ever heard, and unlike many manufacturers, I have always found Mike to be honest in his opinions. He is extremely accepting of the opinions of others, and has never been offended when I found that other products offered the best sound in my system. In fact, he often agreed with me, and took my criticism constructively. I knew he was onto something when he told me that the Silver Reference Mk IIs had bettered all of the other cables he tried, but what really caught my attention was the price. At $549 per one-meter pair, these are nearly half the price of my reference cables!
After spending some time with the CT Silver Reference Mk IIs, I called Mike and told him that these interconnects were the best I had heard, as they got out of the way better than any other cables. I believe this is largely due to his use of the WBT NextGen Silver connectors, which sell for nearly $200 for a set of four. Other cables seem sluggish, colored, or restricted in comparison. I had been comparing a couple of DACs, and was straining to hear differences between them. Removing the Argent Audio Jaden Signatures and inserting the CT interconnects enabled me to discern the differences much more distinctly. These cables opened up the highs considerably. Natalie Cole's voice was more open and airy on her Unforgettable album. The bass drum on "Orange Colored Sky" was lightning fast and taut. The separation and clarity of the cymbals was better than ever, without exhibiting any artificial accentuation or glare. A byproduct of the improved separation was a better sense of space. Every track had a deeper and wider soundstage, and the blackness between instruments and voices sounded darker.
The CT Silver Refs really stood out in their handling of trailing edges and decay. "L-O-V-E," from Unforgettable, was genuinely unforgettable! With the improved decay, the song gained better fluidity, and sounded more natural and moving. I played Beethoven's Fifth at high volume, and the peaks did not sound compressed or strained. The trailing edges again passed through unmolested, giving a sense of passion and emotion that I had never before experienced. Music did not simply play—it flowed, and was more effortless and engaging. The CT interconnects were never the limiting factors in my system. They were capable of resolving every change I made. When a friend brought over a preamp for me to hear, the differences were very apparent. I experimented with a variety of power cords on my DAC, and the sonic differences were easy to identify.
I think that these cables are tremendous, but I should point out that the differences between them and my previous reference cables were significant, but not huge. At the level I had reached with my reference interconnects, it would be unrealistic to expect a cable swap to make as big a difference as changing speakers. The CryoTweaks Silver Reference Mk IIs increased my ability to enjoy the music five to ten percent, for forty percent less money! It is this combination of first-class performance and third-class price that puts these interconnects in a class of their own. I highly recommend that you try them. CryoTweaks has a thirty-day, no-questions-asked return policy, so it's a no brainer! If your experience is anything like mine, you will not want to remove them once you have them in your system. As you have probably guessed, mine are not going anywhere! Fown-Ming Tien
Silver Reference Mk II interconnect