|Model:||3' Silver Interconnect|
|Suggested Retail Price:||$295.00|
|Description:||3' IC with RCA terminations|
|Manufacturer URL:||Darwin Cables|
|Review by amioutaline? on June 15, 2012 at 14:19:11|
IP Address: 126.96.36.199
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for the 3' Silver Interconnect
I'll save you all a lot of time by stating in front that adding 3 feet of this wire to my system made the most positive impact I've ever heard. From wire.
I build my amps, my speakers and my cables, either from kits or with some help, from scratch. Over the years I've tried a lot of different wire from DH Labs, Homegrown, Mapleshade, Vampire, XLO, Blue Jeans and Radio Shack that I've terminated with just about everything out there. I've owned ready-mades from the Spelz anti-Cables thru Renaissance Audio Graphite-filled to MIT Terminators. Almost forgot MAC.
I finally settled on the DIY White Lightning, ICs and speaker cables because they gave me overall better highs, better dynamics and deeper bass than any of the above, although with some sacrifice in imaging and soundstage. The only reason I auditioned these cables was because I won them!
That's right, it's late afternoon at the most recent Ribfest and JimK comes to me and says, "write your contact information here, we're having a drawing". You know, door prizes. 10 minutes later I hear I won the grand prize, these very ICs which are handed me by Bill Magerman, the maker. Some of you may know him from Tribute Audio which has long been a source for speaker crossover repair and upgrades. We traded e-mail addresses and talked a bit and I told him that if they sounded good, I'd do an AA Review.
What I took away with me from MuzikMikes was the knowledge that these Darwin cables retailed for $299, that they were narrow, but unspecified gauge, and the wire itself was inside a larger gauge PTFE tube so that air was the main dialectric. Oh, and the RCA terminations were of light gauge metal.
When I returned to the mountains, I connected them from CDP to passive pre-amp and listened to the Bonnie Raitt cut on The Chieftains CD that happened to be in the drawer. I firmly believe that break-in is mostly in the mind of the beholder and what one hears in the first 3 seconds is the true basic character of whichever component and that will not change significantly no matter how many times the Earth circles the Sun. In that 3 seconds I heard, and wrote down a note, that 'the image is waaay recessed between the speakers, the bass is extremely articulate and the imaging far more focused than previously'.
I shut off the amp and let the cables cook on repeat, changing the CD periodically, for a little more than 50 hours.
During this time I corresponded with Bill, mainly to find out whether these wires, as it states on the website, were Copper or Silver. You can believe me or not but I waited to open his reply until after I had heard several selections at the conclusion of the break-in period. The reason why was that I've never liked the treble emphasis I've always heard in Silver wire ( I once tore very high quality silver out of an amp I built and replaced it with fine gauge XLO copper) and I didn't want that to color my opinion.
Now I've had a chance to audition these cables with both CD and Vinyl and find that they present a recessed soundstage on some recordings and a fuller, more upfront image on others. In other words, they present what's on the recording. In all cases, the soundstage is more "real" and the imaging far clearer, "pinpoint" if you will, than with the White Lightning. Instruments and voices, from Count Basie to Verdi, are much less captive to the speakers. One of my notes reads that '88 Basie Street, the band reminds me of the scene with the Count Bsie Band in the desert in "Blazing Saddles"; outfits, fancy music stands, and all.
The Bass deserves it's own paragraph: I recently added a pair of subwoofers to the 4Pis and once dialed in for phase and gain, the bass was still muddy and indistinct. The addition of the Darwins immediately made the deep bass amazingly articulate in tone and texture, by far the best I've ever heard from the JBL 2226s in the 4Pis. The subs will stay!
I felt that the treble was about the same as with the White Lightnings, perhaps a bit more forward, a bit more detailed. Then I found that the wires are indeed Silver, but the treble had nothing shrill or strident as I had found in the past.
Now I have to wonder about two important points: what would my rig sound like with Darwin Cables from source to pre-amp to main amp and, how can replacing just one of three interconnects effect such a major change in the sound? Is the blend fortuitous? Does one cable cancel 2 others? Naaah!
It's indisputable that cables have a proprietary sound because they emphasize some frequencies, de-emphasize others and leave the remainder alone. It's why cables are often called "tone controls". Frequency response and how the room and our ears process it is what this hobby is all about. It's what concert halls are all about. It's why I use this brand of capacitor or plate choke and not that one.
I can only wonder how this one length of wire influences it's mates. I also wonder why the effect on the systems output is exactly the same even though CDs were heard with the Darwin from the source, the CD Player while Vinyl went first from cartridge to phono pre with Cardas 4x24 and then with the Darwin from phono pre to pre-amp That makes me lean toward believing that one wire trumps another...but how?
There's an introductory price on the Darwin website so someone might think it's worthwhile to plunge and find out if my experience transfers to others. If that's the case the Darwin Cables are quite a bargain.
|Product Weakness:||Some emphasis of recessed soundstage on recordings with recessed soundstage. Or perhaps it's just faithfully reproducing the master.|
|Product Strengths:||Imaging, low bass tone and texture|
|Amplifier:||Single-ended, direct-coupled, parafeed UX-45|
|Preamplifier (or None if Integrated):||Just a good switch and a better volume control; Caravaggio phono pre-amp|
|Sources (CDP/Turntable):||Marantz SA-8001 CDP; VPI hW-19 MK IV with SAMA and some mods, AT-1005 tonearm and Aurum Beta|
|Speakers:||4Pi Horn/Bass Reflex|
|Music Used (Genre/Selections):||Count Basie, Bonnie raitt, Union Station, Christopher Hogwood|
|Room Size (LxWxH):||12 x 15 x 8|
|Room Comments/Treatments:||Owens-Corning 2|
|Time Period/Length of Audition:||1 week after 50 hour break-in|
|Type of Audition/Review:||Product Owner|
Thanks for the review. The general construction of the cable seems promising from my experience and it's neat that you won them! That just makes things special, memorabilia that sounds good.
I do question your statement that "It's indisputable that cables have a proprietary sound because they emphasize some frequencies, de-emphasize others and leave the remainder alone. It's why cables are often called "tone controls". Frequency response and how the room and our ears process it is what this hobby is all about."
Could you share some of your measurements, I'd love to see what you've found. I've measured a lot of interconnects and have not had much luck finding a correlation between an in-band amplitude sweep and how they sound. Tone controls, on the other hand...
The proprietary sound of a cable would include more than just a portrayal of linear/non-linear frequencies; it will include the evaluation of many listening cues such as general coherency and PRAT, imaging, soundstaging, spatial cues, inner detail, ambient information retrieval, high resolution vividness, presence, etc.
"high resolution vividness"
Or even low resolution dullness, how stuff sounds depends on what happens to the signal on it's journey through said stuff, and the boxes on either end are part of that 'stuff'! Since I want to improve my stuff it would help a lot if I better understood how all of the attributes that you mention map to the electrical and physical domains. And it ain't simple...
That complexity is the whole impetus behind humans measuring things. Although we experience the world in the gestalt we can't usually influence it effectively nor understand it well at that level so we try to dissect it into simpler factors that we can make sense of. That's the human way which is why you do that very thing when listening and I do it when designing. We divide and conquer. Or at least fight the battle...
The last pass I did on interconnects, a couple decades ago, was deliberately empirical and it was a hoot! While I'm still enjoying it's fruits I'd like to try and do better which I believe will require better sorting out the factors. Naturally that means being able to isolate and measure them which is why I was interested in the OP's assertion.
Cable measurements can be rather untelling as far as what a cable actually sounds like. I once read a report that included a cable that I know quite well, which measured among the lowest inductance and capacitance within a group of cables being compared, and that particular cable sounds unacceptably veiled to my ear, from an audiophile perspective.
"that particular cable sounds unacceptably veiled to my ear, from an audiophile perspective"
Well, guess there must be more afoot than L and C, huh? Or maybe the messed up something trying to minimize them.
Audio systems are deceptive, they seem so simple but as you well know they aren't by a long stretch. I'm happy with my current system's performance but I suppose better would be, er, better. I know that I could just try various things however at this point I'm actually more interested in trying to understand better what's going on than feeling driven to improve it. It's just something that's interesting to me and now I have time to do it. Guess we all have our oddities...
The last thing I should be thinking about at the moment is cables. I've got two tube amp projects going. Got a Dynavector cartridge back from SoundSmith that I haven't mounted yet.
In other words, lots of things to do, and yet your review tempted me. I'll keep the Darwin cables in mind for the future.
Thanks again for a nice review!
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