When the “Soundrebels” portal was created two years ago, we had a very clear view on how we would like to position our page among those testing audio gear, developing in the direction of the premium level. It was clear, that the project, that we conceived during some evening meetings, had to clash with reality, and only consistency and determination could bring fulfillment of our plans. It was not easy, but month after month our idea got some body, and one day we created the “dream system” cycle, where we proposed to the distributors to deliver a complete set for testing. Going up the price levels with the systems we were testing, we did not realize, when we hosted a set costing more than the magical million zlotys. The dream finally came true, and we started to think, that the best is already behind us. But as we all know, fate can be tricky, and it showed its nature and waywardness confronting me with the controversial, amongst audiophiles, audio Voodoo, cabling that breaks all common sense in terms of price, which oscillates around the mentioned level for the dream system. Yes, yes, I wrote the price in words and not figures on purpose, so that no one would blame me for erring with the number of zeros. I know, this seems close to madness, but if there are potential clients, why should we not propose them something very expensive, but at the same time exclusively sounding? If I would be a manufacturer of audio gear, I would do like that. But despite having an expensive audio system I am surely not a target for such cabling, but when the distributor selected me to describe my audio impressions after listening to them, I will do that with pleasure. So let me invite everybody for an encounter with the top of the top of our market in terms of cables, the newest product from the Dutch brand Siltech in the form of RCA, XLR interconnects and loudspeaker cables from the highest series Triple Crown, distributed in Poland by the Krakow based Nautilus. To amend this madness I also got cabling for the bass section of the Isis (they need bi-wiring unfortunately) in the form of the King cables, and the cable supports from Acoustic Revive – used to separate the cables from the deteriorating influence of my carpet. Let us be frank – this is a true orgy.
The external look of the tested loudspeaker and interconnect cables is very similar; the middle part is covered with a blue braid of significant diameter, while the ends are equipped with connectors determined by the role of the cable – a plus and minus loudspeaker terminal or a RCA or XLR plug respectively. Each of the cables, just before the ending parts, is equipped with a gold colored box, on both ends, with a switch labeled Ground/Float, which allows to choose appropriate shielding for the cables. Of course on the boxes there is also the company logo, model name, direction and a serial number for each of the cables. In addition the buyer receives a special certificate confirming the cable number. The plugs have similar shapes to the boxes I just described, are just a bit smaller. The loudspeaker cable uses spades, while in RCA plugs there is a special nut, that is used to tighten the plug on the socket in the audio gear. In the XLR plugs a similar plug expands the fixing in the socket making it fit very tightly. This makes the connection very reliable, what has special meaning giving the weight of the tested cables. Finishing this paragraph on external looks, I have to say, that leaving aside the price of the cables, they look brilliant, and for many people, the visual aspect of a cable designed just to conduct the signal through the system, is very important. And please do not tell me otherwise, as in that case, you would be lying.
Every time when I am describing expensive or very expensive audio gear or accessories, I try to point your attention to the fact, that the basic aspects of sound, like bass, midrange and treble become secondary. Yes, those are still important aspects, but in case there is a problem there, even a hair bigger than minimal, we can treat such a product as a way of cheating on the potential clients. Such items may not be the solution for your system, making it drift in a direction not desired by us, but in absolute terms, they have to fulfill very high standards. Why am I writing this? Many people, when testing very expensive products, treat any departure from their expectation as a flaw, while it can only be another view on the problem of generating sound. Please show me a system, which is ideally balanced and will accept all changes to the way it sounds with joy. Of course, it can happen that you find such a system, but this would rather be a result of very meticulous cover-up of all issues, what is aided by the guest item plugged in such a system, and what is more and more possible, bearing in mind the progress of audio engineering. But enough of that. It is time to start listening to the heroes of our test, concentrating on the more refined aspects of the generated sound, than on the basic presentation of the individual parts of the sound spectrum, which, by the way, were splendid, as expected on this price level.
Going into the world created by the Triple Crowned Siltech, the musical spectacle happening between the loudspeakers allows us a much more detailed insight in its micro-information. This does not mean that the midrange becomes more flashy, but a slight brightening of this range with phenomenal smoothness, resulting in the increase of the air that we are searching for in music. And that all without any manipulation on the highs. We just become a few years younger, and we take out from the music what we did not realize, or did not hear, when entering the mid age. Beautiful, don’t you think? Another phenomenon is, that while the sound operates at slightly higher parts of the midrange, we do not have any thinning, we just perceive that the sound opens, while everything is presented in a very homogenous way. Impossible? Please try it for yourself, and I assure you, that your world can shatter. Continuing the test process I watched the way the sound stage is buildup. This parameter is very involving, but happens with a minimal enlargement of the virtual sources, proposing us to sit closer to the sound stage in our usual concert hall, but at the same time not influencing the depth. Probably there will be people not happy with this, but please do not worry, because this bringing the musicians closer, with the increase of micro-dynamics, result in their virtual projection being much more real than before. And this is a feat not many manufacturers can achieve. I know, that each one of them will write they can do that in their colorful catalogs, but during my dozen years with advanced audio I was able to bust a lot of such myths, not excluding very expensive products from the list. To approach a bit closer what this almost million zloty worth of cable can do, I will use my repertoire certainties, not reaching to things like metal music, as in my opinion such recordings do not have the potential of showing the refinement of the Triple Crown. I will start with the choice of the sound specifics, which can be achieved with the switches I mentioned during the description of the cables. We have two options, from which Ground gives a much more transparent sound, but with slight diminishment of low frequencies and sparser midrange, while Float moves the tone a tad lower, hitting much better my expectations with regard to timbre. As you can probably imagine, for testing I chose the second setting and the CD player was fed with John Potter with his compositions of ancient music in the surrounding of a church. When the first notes of this beloved genre sounded, I almost instantly perceived bigger breath of the artist’s voice. To date, there was always a delicate fog between me and the singer, almost not perceivable, yet it was there. I treated it as something that needs to be there, as it exists in the real world and gives some additional magic, but interestingly, when it got removed, did not impact the presentation negatively. In addition I got additional layers of sound nuances, I did not notice before, of the instruments accompanying the performer, in this case a baroque guitar and bass clarinet. This was a very fruitful listening experience, as with the Dutch products I heard a lot more of the nuances so important for every audiophile, and in addition so smoothly served.
Another interesting test step was the soundtrack for “Black Hawk Down” by Hans Zimmer. Usually the sound engineers are extra careful when recording soundtracks, so those are usually very good audio gear tests, and I am happy to exploit that. I wanted to check the track that have vast parts located in the lower registers, which have enough meat – despite good mastering – to show even the most hidden problems of the stereo system. But I will calm you down – even the most outrageous musical passages did not bring Triple Crowns to their knees. When demanded by the musical material I got strong and well-controlled low murmurs, while in other parts I could enjoy the beautiful singing of Lisa Gerrard engulfed in the beautiful shine of the sound. Bravo.
Finally I broke my promise and decided to try to listen to a few folk-metal pieces by the group Percival Schuttenbach. Like I anticipated, the Siltech cabling allowed for more information to be passed-on to my ears, what showed the naked truth about the recording. The vocalists were shouting the same way as they were before the cables were included in my system, what showed me, that the beauty of the Triple Crowns is not in bettering bad things, but in extracting all the best from the good items, what brutally exposes our music library. Sad but true.
During the conversations before the test I had some doubts about the synergy of the cables with the system that was composed to fully match my expectations. My blood pressure was also raised by information from my predecessors, who have systems composed of devices manufactured by many different companies, what allowed them to feel the quality of the cables more easily. Fortunately, the brand known most probably to all audiophiles, showed itself from a very good side, although with the idea for sound a bit different to what I have on a daily basis, but, like I mentioned before, it happened on the level of sound preferences, and not degradation of the Reimyo system sound. Looking at the repertoire I used for testing, to get the best from the tested cables, at least in my opinion, we need to use the best mastered discs, especially with acoustic recordings. I can ensure you, that not only the amount, but also the quality of the fantastically presented minuscule information will surprise even the most skeptics amongst you. It will made them think, if they cannot afford them, that maybe someday… I do not know, how many potential buyers of such products are on the market, but if somebody is financially prepared and will take them home, then he will have problems to return them to the shop.
I probably do not need to convince you, our readers, that we do write about very expensive devices/systems/accessories (please cross-out the not needed) without any stage-fright. Of course, to keep a kind of balance, we try to have some assortment that is much more reasonably, or if you wish not reasonably, priced. But I will not hide, that the top offerings, that touch the heights of the extreme High End make our pulse go quicker. The inevitable effect of such approach to audio is not only the thickening portfolio of reviews appearing on our pages, but also the baggage of experience and observations broadening our horizons. Learning to know the broadening amount of allegedly reference products, or pretenders to the title (in their own classes), makes us create a network of reference points and a certain distance to this pursuit of the unattainable, although seemingly near absolute. But there are moments, when even such jaded and bad to the bone fairytale writers as ourselves feel, that things become serious. One of such moments came, when the Krakow based Nautilus told us that they are sending not one, not two, but a complete set of cables from Siltech, the flag series Triple Crown. Only to match our, quite original system, and not degrade the sound using any jumpers, we asked the distributor to provide a cable to connect the bass section of our loudspeakers ISIS, and he provided us with appropriate Siltech cables, but this time “only” the Kings.
Like it should be with ultra high end extremes, the luxury and truly jeweler’s artistry can be seen from the beginning to the end of each one of the cables, meaning the plugs. Designed by Lennart Thissen, covered with 24-carat gold plugs are not only enchanting, but plainly intimidating. Instead of standard plugs, the interconnects are equipped in special mechanisms clamping them on the sockets, and the pins in the RCA, XLR and loudspeaker terminals are made from mono-crystalline silver. Due to the visible stiffness of the cables, delicately speaking, the plugs can be turned around by 180 degrees, and, or maybe first of all, the cables have a very stable construction and dense shielding. Air Cradle Construction, this is the name of the newest “topology” combines massive, made from mono-crystalline silver, conductors with a very complex Teflon construction allowing for very low inductance, resistance and capacity.
In addition, the constructor of the top Siltech decided to allow their clients to have influence on the final sound of the Dutch cables, because in the place of the standard splitters, there are massive boxes with switches, that allow to connect or disconnect the external shield. This does not mean, that if at two ends you select “Float” on the switch the Triple Crowns will become unshielded, as the interconnects and the loudspeaker cables have internal shielding. But having four combinations (the shield attached at both ends, disconnected at both ends, connected at source end, connected at receiver end) it would be a major sin not to use the generosity of the manufacturer and not play around with the settings, at least at the beginning.
Before we engulf in the rivers of sounds and fiords full of audiophile plankton, it is worth to look at the Siltech as a whole, a very nicely designed and coherent whole that is. Deep blue braid covering the part with the external shield contrasts intriguingly with the warm gold of the splitters, to become lively blue in the part just before the plugs. This blue part is also more flexible, what eases connection. The Triple Crown are maybe not a synonym for modesty, but those are top cables, and the almost byzantine splendor is absolutely fitting. Noble heritage commits.
Although the set of cables did not have a moment of rest, since it appeared in Poland, as it was very popular among audiophiles and press representatives alike, we still decided to burn the Dutch silver in for a week time, using a truly explosive combination of baroque music and heavy metal. After such amount of pure current probably a rebar would sound well, but having a much more audiophile set plugged in, we had not even a slightest wish for disconnecting the Siltech. The time spent for accommodation was also used to try out the optimum settings for the shielding. The effects of this game surpassed our most daring expectations, and while the two extreme settings, with the shield connected/disconnected at both ends, created pure enthusiasm, the intermediate steps were not so obvious, as they created a dilemma as to the direction it wanted to take, so we left the cables alone to figure that out.
Having a set plan and only two options to choose from, we decided to tackle the listening sessions with clear conscience. Those sessions admittedly broadened our horizons, but most of all the sound stage generated by our system. Please believe my words, or read through the reviews of devices made during the lifespan of the SoundRebels portal, but the scale of changes introduced by the Siltech cannot be described differently than fundamental. The amount of air that surrounded the Isis made us believe we moved from our official listening room to small, wooden church somewhere in the Scandinavian voids. If you know the album “Antiphone Blues” by Arne Domnerus and Gustaf Sjokvist – this is the level of reality and reproduction I am talking about.
Completely, absolutely black background, the ambient noise minimized almost to zero (this is an asset of listening at night) made us become part of an ideal, and full of musical harmony, microcosm. The precision and breath with which the virtual sources were created showed quite painfully, how much we lose using more common cables. Here you did not have to imagine anything, or watch out for anything, it could just be heard or observed, in full glory, with all details, often not desired by the producers. And this is not about over-brightening and shocking with all, even the smallest details, like in demo modes of 4k TVs, but rather about a feeling as if we would get new, fresh eyes from Mother Nature and gained full sight again. My initial note about the scene being closer was later verified with this small detail – the musicians are not closer, we just see them better. The tonal balance oscillated between the more aerial and concentrated on putting more light on the treble with the shields disconnected and more bass oriented and thus a bit quieter and not so extreme with shielding on. Of course I am exaggerating the differences vastly, due to obvious reasons, as in both settings we deal with the same, almost unimaginable quality, and timbre coherence as well as truth to the company school of sound. A school, where the amount of detail, insight into the structure, nuances and diversity, meaning resolution and selectiveness increase inversely to offensiveness. It is just that at this level you do not need to prove anything to anybody and instead of swaggering it is better to concentrate on what is most important, on the reproduction of music. With shielding disconnected the performing art was underlined, as well as equaling mastering artistry, achieved on the album “A Trace of Grace” by Michel Godard. I would need to search for long in my memory to have such true and palpable reproduction, and the vocal parts in “L’Abbesse” caused gooseflesh. I must also concur with Jacek, that with such refined and well recorded material the Dutch silver was able to dazzle us with incredible vitality and potential, although I would not be me, if I did not try out some of less well mastered climates.
However to do that, I needed to take some preventive action, and switch on shielding on all interconnects and speaker cables. After a while, when we lowered the tonal balance a bit and put more weight on the edge of midrange and bass, at the same time rounding off treble by just a bit, the atomic power of the avalanche of incredibly nice (at least for me), almost cacophonic growls, riffs and beats created by the throats and instruments of the Tunesian formation Myrath (“Tales of the Sand”) and the veterans and precursors of classic banging, Black Sabbath (“13”) came down on us. For people with soft nerves and high sensitivity would have the aesthetic and teaching quality comparable with “music therapy” at Guantanamo, but my, surely skewed, gusto was grinning more, than the distorted silhouettes from the “Black Hole Sun” Soundgarden music video. Although compared to the version with the shields disconnected the sound lost some of the edginess and holographic space presentation, but let us be frank – even the Siltech costing a few hundred thousand zlotys would not be able to create something, that is not even hinted at in the recording. So the only thing played was what was on the disc or in the file, and still with a quality probably not even imagined by the creators. The Dutch cables concentrated on extracting all nuances and phrases, which were escaping our attention, as they were lost in the mass of information, or were covered by layers of dust accumulated over the years.
The cables Siltech Triple Crown, supplied by the Krakow Nautilus, turned out to be an extremely performing set. Putting emphasis on the resolution they skillfully mixed it with a phenomenally blackened background and such amount of air present on the virtual stage, that they could be taken to a submarine and used as means for generation of additional oxygen. After a few weeks of listening, I can authoritatively claim, that the top Siltech are now a class on its own, and if I would pick on something, then I can easily find such thing, and it is … there is no Triple Crown power cord to accompany those cables. That would make the set really complete.
– IC RCA/XLR Siltech TRIPLE CROWN: 20 000 €/2 x 1 m
– Speaker Cables Siltech TRIPLE CROWN: 35 000 €/2 x 2 m
– Speaker Cables Siltech King: 10 699 €/2 x 2 m
– Cable Insulators Acoustic Revive RCI-3H: 790 PLN / each
System used in this test:
– DAC + CD transport: Reimyo CDT – 777 + Reimyo DAP – 999 EX
– Preamplifier: Reimyo CAT – 777 MK II
– Power amplifier: Reimyo KAP – 777
– Loudspeakers: TRENNER & FRIEDL ISIS, MARTEN DJANGO XL
– Speaker Cables: Harmonix HS 101-EXQ (mid-high section); Harmonix HS-101 SLC (bass section)
– IC RCA: Hiriji „Milion”
– Digital IC: Harmonix HS 102
– Power cables: Harmonix X-DC-350M2R Improved Version
– Table: SOLID BASE VI
– Accessories: Antivibration stand for the power amp by Harmonix TU-505EX MK2, Harmonix Enacom improved for AC, Harmonix Room Tuning Mini Disk RFA-80i
– Power distribution board: POWER BASE HIGH END
Drive: SME 30/2
Arm: SME V
Cartridge: MIYAJIMA MADAKE
Phonostage: Audio Tekne TEA-2000