My attention suddenly sharpened, as I stood immobile in the dark staring at the unmistakably reptilian eyes looking back at me. My memory flashed back to a nighttime hunting excursion in Peru on the Ucalali River with Shipibo hunters. Working our way up a rivulet of the mighty river in a shallow canoe, we shone flashlights at the banks to cause alligators’ eyes to gleam in preparation for the one shot which might yield food for the villagers. A cool, calm demeanor was on demand as in the jungle darkness fish jumped into the boat, tending to make me jumpy!
However, at this moment I was unconcerned, even as I knew by the size of the serpentine eyes it was a huge snake. I turned on the bathroom light and the entire graphic of “Eddie” the Snake River Audio mascot appeared. “Glow in the dark eyes, nice touch,” I thought as I considered the quality of the T-shirt, a product of Gradient Shift Graphics, run by Angelie Wilson, who happens to be the wife of the president of Snake River Audio, Jonny Wilson. Purchasers of Snake River Audio products are treated to a complementary shirt along with a selection of local treats, namely the “Idaho Potato” candy bar and Huckleberry Candy. The cables themselves come vacuum-sealed in clear pouches, such that when the seal is broken with a whoosh the cables are released as though breathing to life. Together the shirt, candy and cables present a multi-sensory experience, a potent sample of Snake River Audio charm.
Jonny was drawn to the manufacturing side of audio like many other boutique brand owners in the industry, through making something for himself. He states, “I was in need of a new cable for my system. A few different cables later, I came upon that same epiphany that every audiophile eventually realizes, that not only are cables a very important part of the overall system, but that quality, price and performance are not always congruent.” Over time he took prototypes to friends’ homes; they requested more and urged him to make them for sale. Things have gone well for Snake River, having partnered at shows across America with recognizable names such as deHavilland Electric, Border Patrol, mbl, Pass Labs and Orion Speakers.
Jonny shared one of the best answers I have ever heard when it comes to defending the need for aftermarket cables, “… the signal will pass through more cabling than any other component of the system. Therefore, source materials and construction of cables have quite a large opportunity to accurately relay, or degrade that signal. Choose wisely, my friend.” Indeed, while cable naysayers tend to highlight the miles of wiring outside the home as though it negates the need for attention to it inside, in terms of the signal path there are figuratively miles of wire to traverse on the way between the components and to the speakers! I agree with Jonny that the audiophile needs to choose wisely!
THE CABLE PARTICULARS
Snake River offers a full complement of cabling with the exception of USB digital link, which is said to be under development. The differentiation between the models shown on the company’s website is a bit obtuse; terms such as “Mamushi” and “Cottonmouth” are used in lieu of the actual terms. An example of the potential for confusion is found in the samples of the unshielded “Signature Series” Cottonmouth sent for this review. If one references the term “Cottonmouth” in the home page listing of cables, it indicates gold as conductors, and elsewhere the Signature Series is discussed as having gold, silver and copper conductors. The nomenclature could be confusing and Snake River may want to clarify it.
I was sent examples of the entire Signature Series including power, interconnect and speaker cables. In addition, Jonny sent the newly developed Boomslang Digital Cable in both AES/EBU and RCA terminations, as well as a set of Snake Pit Power Bars. All cables are cryogenically treated and sold with a certificate of authenticity, a sensible anti-counterfeiting safeguard. Paired cables are sold with matching serial numbers, and unless requested, are burned in for 200 hours (6 days). WBT brand terminations are standard.
Snake River Signature Cables are distinguished by the ribbed and iridescent entwined coloration of their jackets. With high flexibility and attractive appearance they should easily win over the spouse should they need to be seen in an audio installation. I call them “broodingly beautiful,” as they are so lovely to behold that one would not even mind glancing at a tangle of them; it is a pity that so many gorgeous cables reside behind components.
Another beautiful feature of these cables is their ability to be locked securely in place. Their WBT connectors, even on the banana plugs, allow for tightening such that they will not pull out. One can confidently secure connections even though these cables carry a bit more than standard weight. I did not find Snake River cables unduly heavy or to cause stress upon jacks of components, but I was happy to be able to snug them tight.
- (Page 1 of 5)
- Next page →