Sonic Art Silver Digital receives 'Best Digital cable' in 2000' and 2001'

Audiophile magazine Thailand.

 

Sonic Art Cable review, October 1999'

Part 1

This cable just recently arrived in Thailand, originally from Melbourne, Australia. Mr. Mark the cable designer has brought the cable to our office to promote it in our Audiophile magazine. Good Coincidence that I was in the office so that I could meet him and talk to him about the background of the cable.

I really didnít know much about the cable because it is an Australian product, which is still not well known in the US. (Thailand derives most of it's Hi End from the US and US based magazines such as Stereophile).

From the conversation I knew that Mr. Mark was also an audio enthusiast with exceptional golden ears ability, he told me that there are small groups of audiophiles in Australia and most of his customers enjoy the music more than the System. He said that Australian people generally donít spend so much money on expensive HiFi so you would not see much variety in the market compared to other countries. He designed the cable in 1994 on his own theories and test by listening to it until satisfied, he then start to market it, up to the moment there are dealers for his cable in Australia and Asia.

Well his visit today is to find the distributor in ThailandÖ.

Today he carried the signal cable for me to listen test, Iíve listened to it, good? Good Thanks!

It is the cable that I wanted to listen to since I first saw it. Mr. Mark told me that the conductor inside is made of silver and copper alloy wire formed together in a perfectly round conductor, the wires are grouped inside Military Teflon shield, also shielded all together by the small silver mesh, the outer jacket is also Military grade Teflon.

The interesting thing for me is that it is the silver cable, I believed that silver should be the best conductor for audio signal. Basically silver is a metal which has the most suitable characteristic to be used as signal cable, is much better that copper, but from my experience, I found that silver impose more problem to the sound than copper signal cable. However it does not mean that copper is better than silver, but it tells that the designing of the silver required more detail than copper cable.

From my experience in audiophile, I have run into 3 cables, which have the mixture of silver and produce good sound. The first one is AudioQuest Diamond, second is Kimber Kable KCAG and the third one is Nordost Quattro Fil (Copper with Silver). All of them can produce the clear beauty of silver conductivity while suppressing the weakness that found in other cables which have silver mixture. A good silver cable must produce clarity, detail, and smooth top end and most important is not too much treble.

At the moment I am particularly interested in silver signal cable because the characteristic of digital sound that we will encounter will come in the same direction, as those 3 mentioned above. The digital sound will have more detail, wider response range especially on the higher frequency will have higher response (the digital signal sampling at 96kHz will get to the 48kHz which is 2 time higher than maximum sampling frequency at 44.1 kHz!!!!) give a higher dynamic range( the new DSP can take signal at 24/96 give dynamic range to 140 dB!!!)

When the future input signal has more detail and demand, the required signal cable, which can pass the signal quick, and clean it is clear that no other material has higher conductivity than silver. The rest is how to design them to pass frequency at all frequency range, well you have to ask AudioQuest, Kimber or Nordost your self.

Today I have tested on Sonic art cable even though it has not burned in yet but what I heard really excited me, because the cable has many similarity with the 3 cable in my heart mentioned above, only much cheaper! Normally if when listening to the unburned in cable, I would not listen for long because there is a sharpness in my ears. So in the mean time I will let the Purist Audio Designís CD do its job before we will talk about the cable again next week.

 Part 2

Mr. Mark was very nice, he made a 6m long signal cable with XLR balanced plugs for me to test after I told him that my system will perform the best with XLR. He said that generally the audio enthusiasts in Australia not really use the system that using balanced circuit, so not many people use the XLR cable apart from the one in studio. I told him that here people are used to with Hi-End system with fully balanced circuit which required the balanced connector to perform the best, Mr. Mark told me that here people really spend a lot of money on Hi End system where as in Australia its not so common.

Mr. Mark quite believed in higher quality of the material has more effect to the quality of the sound, more than the choice of XLR or RCA finish of the cable, Thatís one reason why he has chosen silver to make his cable. From our conversation prior to the testing, I realise that he also understood the characteristic of silver to the quality of sound. When I told him that some time I heard the harsh and rough behaviour from his cable during the high frequency, he said that it might be because of some of the system components that have produced such sound characteristics already.

This cable represents the good characteristic of silver immediately after connecting to the front part of the system (CD player, Integrated Amp, and Speaker). I tested the cable between CD player Rega Planet, with Integrated Valve Amp AMC CVT3030a and Audio 1105 speaker. I made comparison with Nordost Solar wind and Cardas Crosslink 1L which is in the same price range as Sonic Art cable, another reason was because they both have different sound characteristic.

The Crosslink 1L has a dark fast tone, while the solar wind is much brighter with dynamic musical movement. Normally I used these 2 cables for matching when evaluating a system. If any system give thin and cold sounding tones and is too quick of melody movement then I would use the Crosslink 1L. On the other hand whenever I need to wake up the liveness of the system I need the Solar Wind, these 2 cables I usually use to balance the lower-middle end system.

From the testing with various kind of music, realised that Sonic Art Cable has a distinctive characteristic of silver cable in comparison with Crosslink 1L, Sonic art gives more detail with clarity from mid to high range. Initially Crosslink appeared to perform a bit better in the mid to low range, but it became apparent the sound was more muddled, male vocal also not so firm in the Crosslink 1L, result, 1 point score different.

 At this point I would like to support the test method of listening back and fourth between the two cable systems. When doing this, I concluded that the lower mid range of Sonic Art is not actually thinner. The reason why I found this might be because that the lower midrange decay of Sonic Art is quicker and imaging tighter than Crosslink 1L. 1L's decay remained afloat in the air longer, which produced a noticeably slower, muddier sound from Crosslink 1L.

It is also difficult to clearly tell the different between Sonic Art and Solar wind, because the character of the sound is similar. Both go in the same direction, when swapped back and fourth, the emotion of the music did not change, the tone of these 2 cables tends to be clear Ė and open, ready to show off the full detail of the sound quickly without hiding. The middle and higher frequencies float in the air from the speakers freely.

Treble is good on both cables, but it extends further with Sonic Art, clearly seen from Track 1 of Carmen Fantasy. Sonic Art reveals the fine harmonics of the percussion clearer and drumming sound is emphasised on impact more. If I really have to score both on differences I would give them only 1 point different.

Bass of Sonic Art is tight and decay is a little bit quicker than solar wind, the fact that when listened with a small speaker like System Audio 1105 or Totem Model 1, I think I like the Bass of Solar wind more, but if listening and switching back and fourth between larger speakers such as System Audio 3070 or Tannoy Turnburry HE. I like the Bass from Sonic Art much more because its tighter and quicker with no boom, which means that there is no lower signal sound remaining to irritate my ear!!!!!.

The conclusion is that the sound character of Sonic Art is Open, Clear and fast, which is similar to Nordost Solar wind. It has shown many good characteristics, its sound reminded me of the 2 cables that I used to listen to which are Nordost Quattro Fil and Silver audio Silver Bullet 6.0s. They both are much more expensive Silver/Copper cables, which have many outstanding points, all of them similar to Sonic Art which also gives excellent micro detail.

Silver Bullet 6.0s is similar to Sonic Art in the way that it gives a broad and detailed sound, which might be too much for some systems. The difference is the midrange of Sonic Art is more relaxed and better focused. Silver bullet 6.0s are too fast which blends the Hi frequency range with the low tone which is the reason why is Silver bullet has less Throw off sound. (lack of soundstage)

Anyway the difference of the comparison is in the level of sound quality which gives higher average value to this signal cable. My reference sound quality is the sound that the hi end audio enthusiast need. (I usually take ideal sound quality in to account.)

Thanee Modshanga

Editor

AUDIOPHILE THAILAND

Available at: 'Audio Design Centre' in Ploenchitt Plaza, Sukhumvit Road Bangkok.

Sonic Art RCA cables B6000.00 per metre pair

 

*Note from Sonic Art: this is a hard to understand review, the reviewer does however manage to convey his feelings towards the cables and it appears our cables have stood up against some very stiff competition!