as reviewed by Michael Wechsberg
Bob Levi took a first look at the WyWires custom designed interconnects in issue 50 and found them to be a good value at the top of his list for under $1000 interconnects. To quickly review, Wywires builds cables to order for you based on the needs of your system and personal preferences. No cable is fabricated until after a phone or e-mail interview between you, the consumer, and Wywires. This is a unique approach in the industry, as far as I know, and according to Bob the results are pretty effective.
I ran into Wywires founder Alex Sventitsky at an LA Orange County Audio Society event and asked him what he had in phono interconnects. I acquired a Dynavector Ruby cartridge a few months ago for my VPI Scout turntable and had trouble finding a cable that worked well in this system. Since then I replaced my turntable with a Townshend Rock 7 with a Helius Omega tonearm that made a major improvement in my LP sound, but I still had doubts about the interconnect cable I settled on, a set of Kubala-Sosna Fascinations. Alex agreed to make a set of his phono cables for me to try. They are distinctly different from the interconnects destined for use between line level stages of your audio system that Bob Levi sampled.
The Wywires phono cables come in two basic varieties for either hi output (e.g.. > 2mv) cartridges or low output cartridges. The difference is in the amount of litz wire used in the cable. In addition to this difference there are a few connector options depending on whether you need a DIN connector, RCA or XLR on one end or the other. The standard length for the phono cable is 4 ft but Wywires can supply other lengths as well. I got the hi-output version with the nice Xhadow RCA connectors on both ends. There is also a ground wire wrapped inside the cable jacket with a spade lug on either end. The cables themselves are unshielded, but the integrated ground wire allows you to accommodate different turntable grounding needs or experiment to minimize any hum or noise. I attached the ground wire at the preamp end and experienced no discernible hum at all.
Wywires are deliberately unshielded as Alex Sventitsky has found adding a shield has a definite negative impact on the sound. He tells me in an e-mail that he is working on a shielded version that, hopefully, does not alter the sound. Lack of a shield could cause problems in some systems so make sure you can return the cables if you run into this annoying problem and canít solve it using standard methods.
One caution I have is that this cable requires a pretty long break in period. Wywires burned in the cable for about 24 hours before they sent it to me, but my first listen was a little discouraging. After an e-mail discussion with Alex he advised that about 70 hours of burn-in is preferred so I hooked up the cable to my CD player and ran it in for another 50+ hours. After this the sound on phono had settled in much better to give the results I report on below.
The most obvious sonic characteristic of the Wywires phono interconnect is their solid performance in the bass. Most other litz-type wires I have tried in the past have been a bit wimpy in this area but not the Wywires. The bass is big, bold and dynamic without being overblown. I think this low end is responsible for the excellent sense of pace I heard with these wires in my system.
The midrange is really sweet and clear and gave excellent rendition of male and female vocals. However, what stood out was the great way the Wywires handled piano music. The piano seemed to come up in the mix in just about every jazz, classical or pop piece I played that had a piano. Again I found the result very natural and appealing. The highs were crystal clear but a little bit benign compared to other parts of the audio spectrum and compared to my reference cables. There was a little bit less air around the instruments and voices and a slight veiling of some of the highest reaching instruments. And although the soundstage was very wide, I noticed that depth was squeezed down a bit, especially at the outside edges of the soundstage. However the timbral accuracy especially through the midrange, together with the distinct low end, good detail and enjoyable pace made this cable very enjoyable to listen to. I would say that introduction of the Wywires into my phono system seemed to cause an effect similar to a slight vertical tracking angle adjustment in that the bass came up and the highs came down a tad.
The Wywires are built very well (indeed they are handmade) with excellent materials and the customization offered is an intriguing opportunity to optimize system performance. The cables sound very lifelike with a particularly good low end and sweet midrange. Although not cheap they are well worth the money as they can make your phono system sing. Wywires offers a five year warranty (this is not stated on the web site) and from now until the end of the year they are offering a discount if you trade in an old interconnect. I recommend you contact Alex at Wywires and see what he can do to bring the best out of your phono system. Michael Wechsberg
Cost $1149 - $1429 depending on connectors Ė 4 ft