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Positive Feedback ISSUE 60
The Neoteric Listener and WyWires' Silver Speaker
"Ok, two meters each, terminated, that'll be $200."
"What? For speaker wire? Are you kidding me?!"
That's pretty much how my first experience with "high-end" audio cables went down. I was getting a hell of deal and didn't know it, but it seemed steep at the time. Still, after shelling out three thousand dollars for my new system (big, big money for me back then), I wasn't going to punk out now on speaker cables. Ok, so they did cost third of the price I paid for the Acoustic Energy standmounts, but these cables were flat as a ribbon and shiny as a copper penny dipped in Tarn-X. My Nordost SuperFlatline speaker cables became the finishing touch of this burgeoning audio adventure.
But had the smooth talking, chain-smoking salesman clowned me? I'd been reading the internet boards, and those dudes said I could dip kite string in mercury and, other than the toxic poisoning, it would sound better than any boutique speaker cable around. What kind of hobby robs you of two hundred bucks for something you can make yourself for $4.98?! Desperate to know if I was a champ or a chump, I hurried to make a quick comparison between the Nordost cables and the budget bulk speaker wire I'd bought to run under the house to the back room speakers. Relief! The SuperFlatlines super stomped those budget cables, and suddenly, in the context of the entire system, it became obvious that buying anything less would really make me Audio's fool. Since then, I've learned that cables make a pretty big difference in sound quality, to my ears, anyway, although I do studiously avoid the loogie fights of cable directionality, Radio Shack wonder wire, or the morality of ten grand per meter. Instead, I keep my ears open for products that enhance my system at a price that I can reasonably afford, which is just what happened during my audition of a pair of WyWires Silver speaker cables.
Bob Levi's excellent review of WyWires interconnects, Michael Wechsberg's fine phono cables write up, and Dave Clark's bestowal of a 2011 Brutus Award for the LITESPD USB cable illustrates the critical acceptance being accorded to WyWires' products. The effusive praise by audio stalwarts in various show reports further heralds the growing fame of this innovative new company. By now, you're probably aware that WyWires utilizes a precise consultation to help ensure that cables match the particular needs of the system and customer preferences. Ever impatient, though, I did exactly none of that and just asked them to ship out a pair of the Silver ones. Due to the backlog of review products and the patience of WyWires founder, Alex Sventitsky, I've been pleased to audition the Silver cables with a variety of products over a long trial period. The cables were alternately paired in the main system with Nola Contender speakers, various integrated amps (Ayon Orion II, Peachtree Audio iNova, and Arcam A-80), and a number of sources, including two CD players (Arcam CD82 and Block CD-100) and the CEntrance PX and Audioengine D2 DACs recently reviewed. I also used the Silver cables when reviewing the complete CEntrance Audiophile Desktop system, which proved especially instructive, as I'll discuss later.
Cable technology is fascinating, in part because I rarely know what the hell they're talking about, but it's just so much fun trying to keep up with those who do. I always end up imagining a flood of electrons in geometric patterns rushing along the wire like water down a pipe, with all the design particulars becoming variations on that theme, so engineers have a hard time with me. Even so, Mr. Sventitsky was kind enough to offer some insight into his design principles, stating, "Like all WyWires products, the speaker cables are constructed using a proprietary Litz formula. Litz is a type of cable that is made up of a large number of thin strands of wire. Each strand is insulated using a material called Nyleze, developed by Dupont. These many individually insulated strands are bundled together and twisted into a specific configuration and then wrapped in two layers of organic, unbleached cotton. Two cotton wrapped Litz bundles are inserted into two larger diameter PTFE Teflon tubes and twisted again to form a twisted pair cable. This type of construction utilizing cotton and air enables Wywires to achieve a very low capacitance of only 8.1 pico Farads per foot. Overall gauge of the Wywires speaker cable is 12.5 AWG per conductor. This type of construction can only be done by hand. Average build time for a pair of speaker cables is approximately five hours. The company will pre-cook the cables upon customer request at no additional charge using the audiodharma Cable Cooker." Ok, I think I get it, but now I see electrons breezily flying down Nyleze insulated wire in an airy cotton lined pipe. On the plus side, "Picofarad" is destined to be whipped out for some Scrabble game in the future, but what does all of this have to do with Clean the House with MOG Fridays? Lambchop and Cowboys Saturday mornings? Monday Night with Muddy? Fortunately, all that science I don't understand but WyWires does means that all my music playmates are more real than ever.
Compared with the Nordost SuperFlatlines and the Kubala-Sosna Imagination speaker cables that I typically use, the WyWires Silver bests the Nordost in transient speed and dynamic extension and offers a more even tonal balance than the Imaginations. Of course, the WyWires cost more than the other two, so it should be expected to improve in performance. With cables, however, a higher price may give you a different sound, but not necessarily one that you'll like better or one that suits your purpose. We've all heard the admonition not to use cables as a tone control to alleviate the weaknesses of the system. Bollocks! Buy a product to please yourself, and nobody else. The frequent warnings against tinkering so much that you lose the best part of the original sound only applies to those who sell off items as soon as they buy new ones, so shape all you want and put it back if the sound degrades, I say. The more I consider the adjective "neutral" (or its close kin, "natural"), the more I question the value of either term as a descriptor, because it always begs the questions "Neutral according to whom and in which system?" The WyWires Silver cables deliver a "natural" sound, because to me, when compared with the other cables used in my system, there is no apparent boost across the frequency range, nor is there any attention-getting accentuation of resolution, soundstage, and timbre.
This is a huge advantage when listening to the Nola Contenders in my room because they don't need any help in the midrange department, especially when matched with the Ayon Orion II tube integrated amp. Inserting the WyWires in this configuration produces a wide open, detailed, and perfectly thrilling sound that can't be matched by the other cables on hand. Cables, like anything else in audio, are a mixed bag of preferences, typically voiced to achieve what the designer feels is best sonically, especially if it also happens to appeal to a large consumer base. Finding the "voice" of the Silver cables, however, proves a difficult task, as there doesn't seem to be any detectible characteristic other than everything sounds confidently clearer, deeper, and better. Like most products that eschew flash for substance, the effect is subtle but eminently perceptible. The Silver cables sound fast paced and lively, but they don't have that hyperactive super-speed that some people seem to desire.
Moreover, these cables won't deliver that instant punch up of voices and piano tones on their own accord, although it may seem so if your current cables mask those characteristics. The WyWires Silver cables open the windows of my system without rearranging the furniture, which works for me. The WyWires draws sweet music out of the Arcam integrated, and this is somewhat of a surprise, as that amp doesn't always show well with cables this revealing and responsive. This bodes well for those who might question whether or not $1200 is too much for a modest system. No matter which amp is used, however, the image and depth of instruments in the listening field seems more focused with the WyWires cables than with either the Nordost or Kubala-Sosnas. The only time I don't prefer the Silver cables is when they are inserted in the CEntrance Audiophile desktop system. There, the Kubala-Sosnas added a bit of midrange warmth and bottom end that, though maybe not exactly accurate, is what I prefer. All this is meant to underscore the value for potential customer to avail themselves of the opportunity to discuss listening preferences with WyWires prior to purchase
The WyWires Silver loudspeaker cables improve the sound of my system in all meaningful areas at a fair price. They offer excellent performance and solid build quality, and the ability to shape them to suit a customer's needs is an added bonus that makes them ridiculously easy to recommend.
WyWires Silver Loudspeaker Cable