There is surely a diversity of opinions when it comes to the design of audio cables. There is even more diversity of beliefs about how they work, if they work, how they should be used, and maybe most of all, how much they should cost. In the last 10 years I have owned several great brands of wire. I think I owned them in this order: Virtual Dynamics “Nite Series”, Audio Tekne, Nordost Valhalla, Audience Au24, Auditorium 23 speaker wire, Teresonic Clarison, and Shindo Silver. I have also listened to several other great cables from Audio Note UK, MIT, Furutech, Synergistic Research, and Tara Labs.
Cables seem to generally fall into two camps with a multitude of sub-camps. There are the technically very advanced cables from people like Furutech, MIT, Nordost, and Tara Labs. Then there is the other camp that designs cables that are unbelievably simple, but made of incredibly expensive metals; examples include Teresonic Clarison Gold cables, Audio Note UK and Shindo silver cables, those from Audience, Audio Tekne, Auditorium 23, and the Teresonic Clarison pure copper cables. The copper cables are the least expensive yet are the best sounding on some systems. Truth is, any of these copper cables are incredible sounding and a bargain to boot.
I guess as a guy who listens to an SPU phono cartridge with a step-up transformer, a single-ended directly-heated 8-watt amp, and single-driver speakers with Lowther drivers, it should come as no surprise that I prefer the second camp of audio cables.
Let me take a few minutes to carry you through my thought process as I changed cables over the last 10 years. The now-defunct VD’s “Nite Series” sounded just fine, but they were so thick, heavy, and inflexible that they literally pulled a pair of monitors off their stand and broke the binding post. For me that was it – they had to go, and I replaced them with the incredibly light, flexible, and thin Audio Tekne cables. Then I had a chance to get some Nordost Valhalla cables, and I fell in love with their detail and bass slam. A few months later I heard the Audience Au24 cables. Every time I did quick AB comparisons the Valhallas won hands down. Bob Neil encouraged me to listen to the Au24s for a week or two and then put the Valhallas back in. I did and I bought the Au24 cables and used them for over five years.
As I begin to move up the Shindo preamp line and the Wavac amp line I tried the Auditorium 23 speaker cables. Then when I got the Teresonic Ingenium Silver speakers and I changed to their speaker wire and their incredible gold interconnects. When I changed my system to the Shindo 301 turntable and the Shindo Giscours preamp I changed to Shindo’s silver interconnects, and then when I thought my system was just about at the point of no return I wanted to try Shindo’s silver speaker cables, which brings us this review. What does Shindo Silver wire sound like?
Picture courtesy of Pitch Perfect Audio, San Francisco (dealer)
The Shindo cables aren’t anything special to look at. They are thin, light, very flexible, and use light weight connectors. By the way, the use of very light weight connectors is something that the Au24, Auditorium 23, Audio Note, and Shindo cables all have in common. Shindo’s cables don’t come in fancy wooden boxes or anything like that. They are in a word the most simple looking cables I have seen, with the Audio Notes coming in a close second. The interconnects are directional and a green Shindo sticker indicates the preamp connection.
You can read reviews I have written of most of the cables I have owned, some before I became a reviewer by the way. In those reviews I give you a lot of information about how they sound in audiophile terms. If you want to know these things go back and read the review of the Teresonic Clarison speaker cables and their gold interconnects, because in this review I’m just going to tell you how the Shindo silver cables sound compared to those cables.
The Sound of Music (not the movie)
I tried the interconnects first, and they were rather a no-brainer. First, they cost less than half what you have to pay for the Teresonic Gold cables. Then there’s the obvious, Shindo interconnects are designed to be used with the ground design of the Shindo preamps. So it came as no surprise that the system became much quieter when I switched to the Shindo cables. It was much more than just the quietness though, and I’ll get to that when I talk about the sound of both the interconnects and the speaker cables. For now, just let me say the Teresonic Gold cables are simply incredible, if you don’t own Shindo gear you should give the Shindo interconnects a try, but if you own Shindo electronics then you more than owe it to yourself to try the Shindo silver cables.
The speaker cables were a bigger question and in the end a bigger difference. First, I would be using them between my Wavac EC-300B amp and my Teresonic Magus Silver XR bookshelf speakers. So, the speaker cables are not the ones that the amp or the speakers were voiced with. Second, they cost six times what the copper Teresonic Clarison speaker cables cost. Third, they take a lot longer time to break in than the interconnects.
Yet, to my surprise after about three weeks the Shindo silver speaker cable begin to sound both warmer and at the same time more detailed than any of the three cooper cables. They seem to remove a haze in the midrange that sometimes could have a tendency to glare. Now I have to admit I had never heard the haze until it was gone and had assumed the glare was just there on bad recordings. This combined with the ability to hear both the leading edge and decay of bass instruments creates a very lifelike sound. They also have made a significant difference in the soundstage.
When reviewing the Wavac EC-300B amp I wrote: “This amp, like the Shindo preamps, possess another kind of depth. The EC-300B lets you hear deep into the emotion of the music. This is something that is so important in live music, but rarely heard in recorded music. … you are brought deep into the emotions of the music through small nuances that they let you hear, but nothing is ever razor sharp, in fact, it’s instead a beautiful blend of delicacy and dynamics.”
The Shindo silver cables allowed my system to sound even more this way. With the Shindo cables you can more easily hear the difference in textures and harmonics of voices and instruments. They also let you hear more information, including the air and space around and within the instruments and performers while having even more natural warmth and real weight to the sound. They allowed me to hear even deeper into the emotions of the music through small nuances that they let through, but the music never sounded overly sharp. Most performance had a beautiful blend of delicacy and dynamics. Like all Shindo gear I have heard, these cables allow recorded music draw you deeper into the musical event, and thus give you more of a sense that you are enjoying a live event.
Even though I would have never dreamed it possible, the speakers in my system disappear even more with the Shindo silver speaker wire. This results in an even more believable soundstage with significantly more width and depth. In fact, as I sit here and listen to Janis Ian it is very obvious that these cables allow my system to sound less forward and more relaxed. The remarkable thing is it does this without any loss of transparency or aliveness. The top-end of the Shindo silver cables are a little more extended than the copper cables which comes as no surprise. What does come as a surprise is that they do this without a hint of brightness or edginess. The treble simply sounds prettier with the Shindo silver cables in my system.
If you have Shindo electronics, the Shindo silver interconnects are a must-have and a great value for the quality cable they are. On the other hand the speaker cables, because of their price and the value of the copper cables mentioned above, fall under the category of things you purchase only if you already have your system where you want it. What I’m saying is that if spending $6,000 on amplification, source, or speakers will make a significant difference than I suggest you go with the Audience AU24, Auditorium 23, or Teresonic Clarison. These cables should be your choice. If you are at the point that you would have to spend a lot more than $6,000 on amplification, source, or speakers to get a significant improvement than I highly recommend the Shindo silver speaker cables. That’s what I did.
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