Many audiophiles harbor distinct views about copper and silver wire. Copper is smooth and full. Silver is fast and a bit zippy. Or so goes the conventional thinking.
But what happens when the silver sounds palpably, audibly superior to copper? Then you have a happy audiophile, which happens to be me these days. Ypsilon Electronics is now offering its preamp and phono stage with silver-wound transformers. I recently received the silver versions and have to say that I was quite surprised by how much meatier both pieces of equipment sounded. Treble and bass extension was also improved. Imaging was more solid. This wasn’t a marginal difference, either.
Then Demetris Baklavas of Ypsilon announced that he would visit to perform some surgery on his large SET 100 amplifiers, as well. He’s moved to an 8010 input tube, which sounds considerably more dynamic than the previous German C3g. In addition, he indicated he could safely snip out a 12-amp fuse. But when he showed up on my doorstep late last week, he indicated that he had another surprise stored away in his suitcase: new silver interstage transformers that were wider bandwidth than the ones currently in my amp.
Once again, the improvements were readily obvious. I kind of gulped before he tackled the amps because the playback was quite stellar already. But after he dove in—the work took about five or six hours total—the treble clarity, speed, and dynamism now matched what I heard with the Boulder gear I had in-house a few months ago. Bass punch and crunch were also enhanced. But above all, the felicitousness of the presentation was enhanced—in listening to an Anne-Sophie Mutter SACD of the Beethoven Violin Concerto, I was riveted by the fidelity with which low-level detail was reproduced with a complete feel of freedom and pellucidity. The equipment provided such a clear window into the performance that you could hear that at some points she almost made very soft, legato passages sound atonal. It’s not a performance that would probably pass muster with purists, but I found it utterly engrossing, both in terms of sonic playback and musical performance.
Perhaps none of this may seem surprising, but it does offer a reminder that at this hobby’s extreme high end, just as at the entry level, it’s possible to effect major improvements in sound. To my humble ears, the Ypsilon gear is as good as it gets. Overall, it confirms my impression that when it comes to musicality and reproducing sound, the audio industry is in a new golden age.