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VooDoo Stradivarius Amati Edition Interconnects

VooDoo Cable is an Oakland, California, cable and accessories manufacturer. VooDoo’s work is largely custom-made from raw materials in its factory to client specification for length and termination—in contrast with a number of wire companies that prepackage many of their cable offerings Underscoring that personal commitment, VooDoo points out that its finished products are “not made from bulk wire that has been extruded, spooled, and printed by a cable fabricator somewhere in Asia.” In recent years, I’ve reviewed an assortment of VooDoo’s power cords and accessories (like the highly effective Iso-Pods), and have always come away impressed with their build-quality, finish, and sonic refinement. 

However, this is the first time I’ve weighed in on VooDoo audio cables—more specifically, its interconnects. Why interconnects? Very simply, my own reference system took a distinct turn when I opted for ATC SCM50 active loudspeakers, essentially eliminating the need for wires to link the traditional amp to the speaker. With this set of cabling out of the picture, interconnects (from a preamp) have assumed an even more critical role. When I received word of VooDoo’s latest Stradivarius series cables, and specifically its Amati Edition interconnects, I was intrigued by how they might perform in my setup—the aforementioned ATCs driven by a Pass Labs XP12 preamp with a dCS Bartók streaming DAC as the source component.

Amati uses conductors made of continuous-cast, pure-silver Litz wire and of solid-core, single-crystal silver and copper. These conductors are encapsulated in oil-impregnated silk with an air-core Teflon dielectric that is balanced for inductance and capacitance. A concentric shield of silver-plated copper-braid blocks EMI and RFI. The balanced version is terminated with rhodium-over-silver-plated tellurium-copper XLR connectors. All cables are also treated to VooDoo’s computer-calibrated liquid-nitrogen cryogenic process at –315 degrees Fahrenheit, which is said to “re-align and fuse the molecular structure of the conductive metals and alloys”—a process that minimizes break-in time. A tony hard-shell case is included, as is the certification of authenticity and serial number. Construction quality is top rate, as I’ve come to expect from VooDoo products. 

To paraphrase an old television commercial, “with a name like Stradivarius Amati it has to be good.” Putting it mildly, it is, indeed. From top to bottom, Amati delivers a full-bodied, ripe, and colorfully detailed bounty of musicality. Tonally, it plays it straight down the middle with no obvious frequency hiccups. It had a forward-leaning character that lends soloists and vocals energy and presence. Nothing is recessive or laid back here. On a scale of warm-to-cool, Amati tilts ever so slightly to the cooler range—a subtle trait perceivable during high-drive wind or brass passages or upper-octave violin solos. 

In passages from Nickel Creek’s This Side, and Alison Krauss’ A Hundred Miles or More, the interconnects demonstrated a low-level resolution that brought forth a shower of details from acoustic string instruments—the snap of a five-string banjo, the ring of octave strings from a 12-string guitar, the buzzy drone of a dulcimer, the hummingbird-like resonances of bluegrass mandolin. Vocals were smooth, with a sibilance range that was clean and quick, filled with natural expressiveness rather than overly etched attacks. Vocal harmonies were resolved with stunning clarity, as in Ricki Lee Jones and Lyle Lovett’s gentle duet “North Dakota” from Joshua Judges Ruth. Her accompaniment is so quietly sung as to be almost subliminal, but these cables clung to her every breath and phrase. In its combination of broad micro and macrodynamics and timbral and tactile detail Amati was an absolute standout.

Of particular note was its midrange and lower midrange eloquence—a quality that brought to life the deep voices and trailing resonances of cello, bass viol, and bassoon, or the throaty bloom of tenor sax. Bass response was equally outstanding. I relished listening to Leonard Cohen’s dark tremulous vocals on Old Ideas, or the bouncy acoustic bass intro to Harry Connick, Jr’s rendition of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” from We Are in Love. Generally speaking, bass response not only seemed to extend a bit deeper than my previous reference, but pitch also remained rock-steady and focused, well into a sustained decay. And I had to pick my jaw up off the floor as I listened to the thunderous bass drum from the Wilson Audio recording of “Liberty Fanfare” from Winds of War and Peace. From the instant the mallet struck the drum skin to the final flare and flutter and resonance of decay, I sat immobilized by the power and grandeur of the sound.

During Mary Stallings’ “Sunday Kind Of Love” from her performance Live At The Village Vanguard, images were accorded a natural sense of spaciousness that conjured up the energy and immersive ambience of the cabaret, of artist and audience intimacy, of tables and chairs, of clinking cocktail glasses and stemware, of individual images given ample room on the soundstage. Whether it was the space between musicians in a symphony hall or a lack of smearing of individual notes on a piano or violin, Amati vividly portrayed the aura of air between the notes and during pauses. The orchestral soundstage from Vaughn-Williams’ The Wasps Overture was expansively wide, and the well-lit soundstage revealed enough low-level reverberation to suggest the volume of the hall. String section layering was indicated although not fully defined in terms of row-by-row precision—a front-to-back foreshortening perhaps attributable to the hint of forward character in the Amati.

 Sonically, very little slips past Amati, but even in its excellence there’s always some room for modest improvement. To my ear it doesn’t always have the treble air and lift that flesh out instrumental images, disentangle instrumental layers, or fully unspool spatial landscapes. My listening bias leans toward greater warmth and bloom, and wider contrasts of tonal color—qualities that my reference interconnect, Analysis Plus Golden Micro, provides in abundance. But the Analysis Plus wires are also much pricier.

No component in a high-end system exists in isolation. System synergy is what we seek—like links in a chain, each individual component fuses with the next to form a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. When it comes to purchases, there is also proportionality—understanding where to allocate resources to derive the most musical bang for the buck. In my mind cables play a unique part, not as leading players but as supporting ones. They don’t define the character or voice of a high-performance system; rather, they refine and underscore its presentation. 

I think it’s fair to say that VooDoo’s latest cast a spell on me. I won’t opine on how much you should spend on cables (that’s your call), but I will suggest that at $1650 per meter VooDoo Stradivarius Amati buys you an awful lot in today’s interconnect market. It hit high marks in nearly every criteria with no glaring weaknesses, knocking on the door of some of the best cabling out there.

Specs & Pricing

VOODOO CABLE LLC
(510) 535-9464
voodoocable.net
Price: $1650/1m pr.

Tags: CABLES INTERCONNECTS VOODOO

By Neil Gader

Writer

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