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2017 Editors’ Choice: Interconnects and Speaker Cables Part 1

2017 Editors’ Choice: Interconnects and Speaker Cables Part 1

Transparent Audio The Link interconnect, The Wave speaker cable, PowerWave 8 AC conditioner
$100/1m pr., interconnect; $220/8′ pr., speaker; $125, Performance Power Link; $1195 PowerWave 8
The $100 The Link interconnect brings more than a taste of high-end interconnects to an entry-level price. Similarly, the $220 The Wave speaker cable is a bargain, offering superior tonality, wider dynamics, and a more open soundstage. The PowerWave 8 conditioner is also an extremely cost-effective upgrade, rendering wider dynamic expression, smoother timbres, and greater musical involvement.

Wireworld Nano Eclipse
Nano Eclipse is about midway up Wireworld’s comprehensive line of headphone cables, but it doesn’t skimp in materials or sonics. Eclipse is composed of OCC high-purity copper conductors in a DNA helix configuration surrounded by Wireworld’s Composilex 2 insulation. The result is so effective that switching from a stock headphone cable to the Nano makes a difference commensurate with significantly upgrading the headphones themselves. AT claims it’s impossible to overstate how much the Wireworld opens up, cleans up, and tightens up the sound. A no-brainer for any reasonably high-quality personal audio setup.

Audience Ohno
$199/1m (+$82/m) interconnect; $209/1m (+$20/m) speaker
Audience’s new value line of Ohno cables runs counter to the idea that great wire always requires heavy jacketing and complex conductor geometries. Sonically these featherweights were quick and extended with well-focused imaging and dimensionality. Most significantly they were not additive, nor did they crimp dynamics. They were also easy to position for desktop use, offering an unerring sense of musicality without busting the budget.

Moon Audio Silver Dragon V1 IEM Cable
The Silver Dragon V1 IEM headphone cable is a drop-in replacement for use with in-ear monitors where light weight and flexibility are important. The Silver Dragon IEM is a coaxial design using a 99.99998% UP-OCC stranded silver 26AWG center-conductor for the positive leg. The center-conductor uses the same Kevlar reinforcing as other Dragon cables. Available with various source connection options as well as terminations to fit many brands.

Wireworld Equinox 7
$200/1m pr. unbalanced interconnect; $225/1m pr. balanced; $870/3m pr. speaker
Falling right smack in the middle of Wireworld’s extensive new Series 7 line, the Equinox appears to be good value. The interconnect offered a pleasingly rounded and warm presentation not unlike that of Cardas Clear Light, while the Equinox 7 speaker cable was very similar to the Cardas Clear Sky in sonics. Excellent hum and noise rejection.

Kimber Kable Hero
$219/1m pr.
Yielding only a tiny bit in sheer control, ultimate top-end transparency, and inner detailing to PS’ reference Kimber Select KS-1021, Hero’s bass lives up to its name, prodigious in amplitude and definition (rather better even than its pricier brother). This interconnect is either dead neutral or tilts a notch to the yang, with dynamics at once powerful yet finely resolved in an essentially grain-free presentation.

Nordost Purple Flare
$259/1m pr. interconnect ($26 per addl. half-meter pr.) ; $439/1m pr. speaker ($52 per addl. half-meter pr.)
Featuring Nordost’s classic flatline configuration the Purple Flare is a rung below the current incarnation of Blue Heaven, yet it’s a little trip to heaven on its own. It really shines in the midband with a driving, slightly forward energy that imparts dynamic liveliness to all genres of music.

Shunyata Research Venom
Interconnects, $295/1m pr.; speaker cables, $595/2m pr.
The new Venom Series represents fifteen years of Shunyata Research’s ongoing technical innovation and custom-parts engineering. The over-arching goal for this new line was to create products that offer high-end quality and performance at real-world prices. To that end, the company uses the finest available metals in expensive Ohno Continuous Cast Copper. And these speaker cable terminations use the same interchangeable terminals that can be found on Shunyata’s most expensive designs. With Venom cables, you might discover that high-quality cables need not cost a fortune.

WyWires Blue Series
$299/4′ pr. interconnect (RCA or XLR); $449/8′ pr. speaker
The first WyWires cable reviewed in TAS, the Blue is also one of the most pliable, easy-to-handle cables around. Its sonic signature is energetic, with a potent midrange, plenty of drive, and a slightly cooler, forward tilt.

Morrow Audio SP7 Grand Reference speaker and MA4 Reference and MA7 Grand Reference interconnects
$329/1m pr. MA4 interconnect.; $1399/1m pr. MA7 interconnect; $1499/2m pr. Speaker
Relative newcomers to the cable ranks, Morrow Audio’s wires performed like old pros. Nicely weighted with a solid midrange sweetspot, these wires had terrific low-level resolving power, solid bass, and good soundstaging and dimensionality. The MA4 interconnects were mildly dry on top; the more expensive MA7s spiced things up, adding just a bit more juicy harmonic texture and complexity. Overall this was a cable that defied expectations in its range and comfortably joined some of the well-established notables.

Wireworld Eclipse 7
$450/1m pr. interconnect; $1800/3m pr. Speaker
Celebrating its 20th Anniversary, Wireworld has produced a bargain in its Series 7 Eclipse speaker cable and interconnect. Among Eclipse’s many strengths are a sense of layered depth that brings inner detail alive, a broad dynamic envelope, and an ability to reproduce fine instrumental textures.

Kimber 8TC and 12TC
$453/8′ pr. interconnect; $688/8′ pr. speaker with SBAN banana plugs
Tilting a tad toward the yin, the 8TC has that elusive ability to remain musical no matter what is happening fore or aft, ideally mediating detail, liveliness, tonal neutrality, and dynamic contrasts within a very realistic, holographic soundstage. 

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