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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 21
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harmonic technology

Pro-Silway III interconnects

as reviewed by Robert H. Levi

 

 

 

 

ROBERT H. LEVI'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Avalon Eidolon and REL Stadium III subwoofer.

ELECTRONICS
E.A.R. 324 phono preamplifier, E.A.R. 890 amplifier, Pass X1 preamplifier, and an E.A.R. 834L tube line stage.

SOURCES
VPI Scout/JMW 9 tonearm, VPI SDS Controller, ZYX R100H phono cartridge. ModWright Sony 999 SACD/CD Player with Signature Truth, Mod/Bybee Filters and Revelation Cryo Silver Umbilical. Pioneer DVL 919 LD/DVD Player, and a Marantz DV8400 DVD/SACD/CD player. Magnum Dynalab MD-108 Reference Tuner, Marantz 10B tuner, and Scott 350B FM tuner, AQ 7500 FM Antenna, Stax 7t Electrostatic headphones, Grado Reference 1 headphones, and a Grado headphone amplifier.

CABLES
Harmonic Technology CyberLight interconnects, Soundstring interconnects and speaker cables, or Kimber Select balanced, Kimber TAK phono AG, Kimber Hero balanced and single ended interconnects, Eichmann Express 6 Series 2 interconnects, and Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II balanced interconnects. Kimber D-60 Digital Interconnects. Kimber Select 3038 Silver speaker cables, Harmonic Technology Magic Reference Silver speaker cables.

ACCESSORIES
Monster Reference 350 Mark II v2 Power Conditioner and World Power Power Wing, Kimber Palladian power cables, Tara RSC and Decade power cables, Tiff power cables, Tice power cables, Tice Clock, and Audio Prism Quiet Line IIs. Cable Cooker 2.5, Winds Stylus Pressure Gage, Bedini Ultra Clarifier, VPI Record Cleaning Machine 16.5, Soundstring Pro Power Cables, and Kimber Pro 10 Gold Power Cables.

 

Harmonic Technology's Pro-Silway III interconnects were a discovery. I recently acquired a Marantz 10B FM tuner that I then had fully restored. After trying my best single-ended cables, including Kimber Select, Kimber Hero, Soundstring Pro and Omega, and some older MIT and Audio Research cables, I was not satisfied with the overly warm sound and lack of air. In order to minimize interference with this unshielded tuner, I placed it a full five meters away from my front end, and five meters of cable with capacitance exceeding 1000 pf was audibly rolling off the sound. I looked through a mountain of cable literature to identify a shielded cable with low capacitance. The lowest on earth is Kimber KCAG at 16 pf per foot, but it's not shielded. I thought that the Harmonic Technology CyberLight cables would be perfect. They are shielded, have zero capacitance, and are the reference cables in my front end, but they were a no go because they are not available with right-angle plugs, and since the RCAs on the 10B are mounted vertically, the available bending room is only three inches.

I was back to square one. Then I saw that Harmonic Technology had recently revised their Pro-Silway cables. The Pro-Silway IIIs have only 22 pf per foot of capacitance—half that of HT's top-of-the-line Magic Reference cables and a third that of the unshielded Kimber Selects. Five meters of these beauties, with right-angle RCA connectors, were in the mail the next day. After some appropriate break-in time on the Cable Cooker and on the tuner, I began to listen in earnest. These new mid-priced cables are true sonic beauties! Made of ultra-pure silver and copper (with more silver than the Silway IIs), the Silway IIIs got out of the way of the music better than any other interconnects I've yet auditioned that cost less than $500 per meter. The 10B came to life, with extraordinary definition and pacing and snap galore. It could now compete with my Magnum Dynalab 108 in the frequency extremes, while maintaining its highly textured and luscious mids. I was in heaven!

I recently wrote about a faceoff of FM tuners. In that contest, the 10B was hooked up with the Pro-Silway IIIs. With these interconnects, the 10B bested the Day-Sequerra Reference, the McIntosh MR-78, and the Magnum Dynalab 108, all of which were connected with Kimber Select. This ranking was not accidental. The ultra-low-capacitance Pro-Silway IIIs are more cable for the money, and represent a tour de force in cable design. I asked for two more pairs, and quickly broke them in. Here's what I heard:

The top end is superb, and highly detailed. It's also ultra-quiet. The Pro-Silway IIIs sound more similar to the Silversmith Palladium interconnects in the highs than I'd like to admit. I don't like comparing $475 cables to $4000 cables, but with the Pro-SIlway IIIs, you can! The Silways are a touch less delicate and sophisticated than the Silversmiths, but not by much. These interconnects are a really stunning design achievement. They have a punch and power that makes music come to life. Cymbals jump out of your speakers, and violins have added layers of definition. They may be a touch too dynamic in the high end for bright speakers. If your system sounds crisp and edgy, these are not your cables. If your system is dialed in, the Silway IIIs will get your attention and not let you go ‘til the disc is over!

The mids are luscious and mellifluous. I love swagger, and these are as powerful and tastefully dynamic as they come—at any price. They sound amazingly close to the CyberLights in definition, though they still have a slight metallic signature. The CyberLights are ultra-ultra-uncolored. The Pro-Silway IIIs sound a bit tighter in focus and "squeezed." The Silways are otherwise hard to fault. Voices sound alive, and the micro- and macro-dynamics are perfect. The mids blend exquisitely with the lows and highs. Textural cues are accurate and smooth. There are no lumps or bumps at various frequencies, as with other cables in this price range. The Silways speak evenly at all frequencies. You just have to hear Rubinstein play the piano on the new RCA SACD of Chopin concertos. The piano is as lifelike and robust as it gets.

The mids remind me of the $1000 Acoustic Zen Silver Reference cables. The Silways sound very close, musically and dynamically, though they are just a bit better at resolving fine detail and are a touch more dramatic and dynamic. The Silway IIIs are also perfectly neutral, while the Zens tend to be a bit dry up top. The $500 Kimber Select copper interconnects are warmer and more laid back. The $900 Kimber Silver Selects are thinner and a tad more dry. Neither of the Kimbers has the dynamic range and pacing of the Silways. No interconnects that I've heard to date, aside from the $1400 CyberLights, are as open sounding in the mids.

The bass is superb and powerful. It outperforms the bass of the Kimbers and the Soundstrings, and takes you into the world of the exotic cable formulations. The fast, focused, deep bass is a joy to hear. The combination of quiet, high definition, and speed is astounding. It is hard to fathom that these interconnects cost $475 per meter pair. What a value!

Quibbles? Like other low-capacitance designs, the Pro-Silway IIIs are unforgiving of any system component that is not up to the challenge of true neutrality. They will lay bare any coloration (or noise) upstream, and will cause you to experiment with power cables and line conditioners. Their dynamic drive may be a bit overpowering for some, particularly in loud musical passages. These cables may sound their best with tube gear, but I'd try them with high quality solid-state equipment in a heartbeat. I really love the sparkle and drive of these cables. This is a taste issue, as I prefer highly resolved, front-of-the-hall sound. The Pro-Silway IIIs can be a wakeup call for boring systems. They may be more neutral than you like, if you are used to warmish, liquid sound.

The Harmonic Technology Pro-Silway III interconnects can compete with just about any high-dollar cables. They are as sophisticated as cables costing double their price, and their dynamic range is trend setting. Heavily shielded and built like a battle ship, they exude quality as well as extraordinary neutrality. A sure winner with tube gear, they may be a bit revealing for less expensive solid-state equipment. With the best gear, you'll hear nuance after nuance and airy ambience. The mids are textured and smooth, with the real pacing of live music. The bass has the swagger you crave and is as fast as lightning. These are addictive cables, and a true alternative to softer, wetter sounding cable formulations at this price point. I recommend the Pro-Silway IIIs as the best under-$1000 cables I've yet heard. If you are looking for cables in this price range, you have to try them. They are passionately musical sonic winners, and affordable, too! Robert H. Levi

Pro-Silway III Single 1 meter RCA Interconnect Cable
Retail: $479

Pro-Silway III Single 1 meter XLR Balanced Interconnect Cable
Retail: $479

Harmonic Technology
web address: www.harmonictech.com

 

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