As in nature, so also in audio; if the source is pristine, then there is a good chance everything downstream may be as well. One of the classic audiophile mistakes is to focus on the source, forgetting to focus on the source of the source, namely the power. There also seems to be a temptation to weight the anticipated performance of some genres of components more heavily than others; some hobbyists prefer to overweight the price and quality of the source;while others attempt to get most of their performance from the amplification or speakers. The critical nature of cabling is too often overlooked completely, and when it is considered typically speaker cables and interconnects are weighted more heavily than power cords.
Many years ago, through extended comparisons of sets of cables, I learned that the wires carrying the signal are no more important than the quality of power cabling. Yet, I must admit that power cables were the “final frontier” for me in regards to cabling. Why? It would make sense that the most important cables for components would be those conducting the signal. It may make sense, but it is wrong. The audiophile deals with two interrelated applications of electricity, (1) the power to run the component and (2) transmission of the signal from the source. It is absolutely critical that both be considered for superior sound. Neglect either one and you have downgraded your fancy audio system.
In The Beginning
In the lead up to this review Frank Dickens, owner of Silent Source Cables, was curious enough to read my previous work and learn that I place high importance upon an audio system’s power cabling. He affirmed, “… that you realize the contribution power cords can make to the foundation of a system.” I would hope that anyone who has familiarity of how a system works would have an appreciation for the critical role of power cords. The number of hard boiled skeptics and skinflints always amazes me; they think there is a conspiracy to sell fancy power cords as their favorite phrase seems to be, “… snake oil.” It reminds me of the saying, “There is no one as blind as the person who will not see.” Sadly, as long as they sit with their stock power cords they will have a compromised system and an impoverished listening experience.
The Main Behind The Cables
Frank has an extensive background in applied science, having worked on air force avionics, pumping stations with 1,000 hp turbines moving natural gas, installation of remote telemetry and conducting underwater acoustics research! He seems to have the firepower of scientific knowledge without the self-assured presuppositions which would hinder development of cables. As with several other cable manufacturers I have known he began to make them for friends and acquaintances, eventually concluding he could begin a company. He has had success as evidenced in partnerships at audio shows with Pass Labs, TAD, Walker Audio, and Berkeley Audio Design, among others.
Just as the listening starts with powering up, so also Silent Source Cables began as a power delivery concern, since Frank focused first on power cords. It’s easy to entice audiophiles having little knowledge or experience with a fancy speaker cable, or nowadays a shiny digital link, perhaps a super-duper-USB wire. But power cords? Everyone knows you can go to Lowes and slap some hospital grade plugs on some Belkin cable and get the same result. Right?
If you have bought into that, you have bought “shopping center development” swampland in Louisiana, or the equivalent in stereo system terms. When Frank mentions “foundation” of a system, he means the kind of foundation which won’t sink under the weight of weighty music. Put a bunch of homemade cords into a rig and you have some fancy equipment straightjacketed in terms of performance. Put a Silent Source power cord into a rig and you have something worth paying attention to! I know from experience, as I made my own garden variety power cords and found them to be a waste of time when it comes to building an impressive audio system. I didn’t have that much experience with aftermarket power cords at the time I built them, so I thought I was shrewd. But as I continued to compare them to manufactured PCs it quickly became obvious that I had proven homemade cables tend to perform quite poorly against more ambitious designs.
Quality, Quality, Quality
If there is one word which expresses my summary of the Silent Source experience it is, as you guessed, quality. Some components inspire awe at the over-the-top effort made to craft them by taking attention to detail to an extreme. Silent Source Cables are such a product, which exude beauty – yes, beauty – in a cable. A maker of cables is serious when the plugs and terminations are all made in house and proprietary technology is employed with exemplary execution. Silent Source strikes me as the cable equivalent of YG Acoustics, where the effort is made to be the most extreme. I get the feeling no Silent Source Cable leaves the shop unless pristine in both form and function.
I will describe each of the cables under review, beginning with the power cords. These have heavy, machined solid housings with gleaming black finish finer than many box components! The eye is met with a lustrous jet black shiny finish; the heft and feel leave little doubt a lot of money was put into the development of this power cord. For all the thickness of the cable it is sheer delight to work around tightly placed components, as it both flexes and twists comfortably, a trick far too many lofty cables can’t accomplish.
Due to the massiveness of the plugs one should test the diameter of holes or slots through which the plugs must pass. There is needless frustration in acquiring a power cord which has a plug that does not slip through a portal! Conversely, a snug IEC plug is a thing of beauty, and Silent Source power cord plugs are as close to perfection as I have found. One feels a slight snapping action as they are friction locked into place. Not a single one of these cables were loose although placed into components of a wide variety which had seen competitor cables wiggling.
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