Continuing in the series of articles pertaining to the “Super-review” system I established in the second half of 2008, this month the suite of Wireworld Silver Eclipse and Silver Electra cabling is examined. I consider the suite of cables utilized in any rig to be a component; hence, as integral to the success of the system, the Wireworld cables are worthy of consideration on their own, hence this review.
The other components in the review series are: Legacy Audio Helix speaker system (published in a dual format review), Ayon Audio CD-3 two chassis tubed CD player, VAC Renaissance Signature Preamplifier MkII, and the Rowland MC-606 multi-channel Class D amplifier. This system was assembled based on previous experience with these manufacturer’s products, and the reader is urged to give special consideration to their use together. For those who want to approach the limits of high-end, without having to conduct demos, if the entire Super-review rig is purchased unheard, I can assure that one will experience SOTA (state-of-the-art) sound. (Usual caveats implied, such as fairly balanced room acoustics and decent music tastes. –Ed.)
It should be noted that four pair of balanced interconnects, necessitated by the processor’s inability to accept single-ended connections, and three sets of speaker cables are needed to operate the Helix speaker system. This is a significant sum which may factor into the selection of the actual Wireworld Cables used. Conversely, knowing the significant impact cables have on the sound of a rig, I intone that it is not wrong to spend 15% of the total system cost on cabling. The suite of cables here reviewed is in line with the quality of the system. There are good values with high performance-to-cost ratio, and cables which are quite the opposite. I consider Wireworld to offer very good performance relative to price.
Wireworld Silver Series
Can cables make or break a stereo system? More precisely, can seemingly negligible elements of a speaker cable, such as the dielectric, geometry or conductive material make or break the sound? It’s a question that presents a “slippery slope” as definitive evidence runs thin and passions run high. I will attempt to address these questions in as dispassionate a manner as possible.
This article is part of what I term a “Super-Review” conducted with components selected for suitability with each other. It is not the result of four pieces I happened to have on hand and jostled together to make a high-end arrangement. Rather, it was initiated as Bill Dudleston of Legacy Audio requested that I assess his flagship speaker, the Helix. This actively crossed, true full-range behemoth is no run-of-the-mill speaker, and it calls for top-tier equipment as well as exceptional cables. When it came to securing the cables the choice was not difficult. Being enamored of Wireworld’s mid-line Electra 5 Squared series, I was hopeful that its penultimate Silver Eclipse 5 Squared cabling would yield startling results.
Few people will ever be able to afford such a two-channel system, as it bears a price tag of near $100,000. However, to conclusively determine answers to questions such as the one I have posed, an audiophile must have exquisite equipment capable of a prodigious degree of resolution and finesse. This rig has what it takes to arrive at a solid answer to the question: Can seemingly inconsequential aspects of construction elevate cable performance significantly?
David Salz, the designer and owner of Wireworld, has focused on cable geometry as his “Holy Grail” of cable construction. His goal is to make his cables passive power conditioners by addressing inductive loss as a signal is transferred through a conductor. His solution involves the use of multiple packets of stacked small gauge conductors, grouped in a vertical array similar to ladder rungs, each with its own dielectric, and set parallel in groups. For interconnects, a “DNA Helix” design (coincidental naming to the Legacy Audio Helix speaker) uses a proportioned twisting of the conductors. I have more thoroughly discussed the geometry and practical usage of these cables in my Wireworld Equinox 5 Squared review, so I will direct your attention there via this link if you wish to delve into it further.
The Silver Eclipse series differs from the Equinox line most obviously by its appearance, and use of OCC silver clad copper as opposed to OCC copper. Having these two sets of nearly identical cables both silver in hue might have been confusing, but I never found it so; the darker jacket of the Equinox was easily distinguishable to my eye from the Silver Eclipse. I noticed as a new element the leads of the most recently acquired set of speaker cables (discussed below) covered by nylon mesh as opposed to stiffer plastic. This flexibility aided greatly in placement of the leads; I hope this is a permanent changeover for the series.
The Silver Eclipse speaker cable is 10awg per polarity versus 12awg for the Equinox. This is a significant change; along with silver’s capacity to improve definition, image and focus, the larger gauge allows for improved dynamics. The Silver Eclipse interconnect has an upgraded RCA plug which David states, “…isolates the outer shell from the signal path to reduce interference from field effects.” There are two additional differences between the Equinox and Silver Eclipse interconnects. Whereas the Equinox has OCC copper conductors and HD polyethylene dielectric, the Silver Eclipse uses OCC Silver-clad copper with a Teflon dielectric.
Contemplating whether Wire World’s small but calculated changes in cabling is enough to consider them worthwhile improvements, I will first focus on the interconnects. I was already in possession of the older Silver Eclipse 5 Squared interconnects when I received the Silver Eclipse 6, which has a fine black nylon mesh covering a deep silver outer insulation. The transition between the two generations of this cable keeps the same conductor material, but the geometry and insulation have been upgraded to match to the sizzling new flagship model, the Platinum Eclipse.
There are several new developments in the 6 series, which make the cables more than a simple revision of the 5 series. Study of composite materials technology led to development of a new proprietary dielectric. Coupled with groundbreaking use of molded carbon fiber connectors on the Platinum Eclipse, the result is hailed by Wireworld as, “…easily the finest interconnect cable we’ve ever heard.” The carbon based connector is said to, “…eliminate the eddy currents and stray field effects generated by conventional metal shells, while still providing effective shielding.” The four flat solid silver conductors are laid out in a DNA Helix geometry. These improvements to the previous Helix design yield an improvement in low-level resolution, focus and micro-dynamics.
The changes to the series 6 interconnect were more than skin deep, as was evidenced in listening sessions. My notes declared there to be a big increase in vibrancy, a more lithe character, while simultaneously adding depth and weight to the music. Ambient information came through better; the barely perceptible reflections and echoes lost on some recordings were retrieved. There was less coloration, as the series 6 made the 5’s sound translucent versus clear.
In relation to power cables, I had reviewed the Electra (“Electra” designates power cables; think “electric” supply) Power Cord. For this review it was upgraded to the Silver Electra, which exchanges the Ohno continuous cast copper to the Silver-clad oxygen free copper. The change seems small, but the results were not, as we shall see.
A short word about my “Law of Efficacy” is in order. This rule, which applies across the board for all audiophile equipment, states that in order for a component upgrade to be worthy of consideration, or “efficacious”, it must produce an immediate, almost startling effect in the ear of the listener.
On principle, I believe that one should never have to strain to hear a distinction in sound with a potential upgrade. If so, the candidate for upgrade should be dismissed as unworthy of consideration. What is the point of upgrading if not to get a meaningful, significant (read “large”) improvement?
When I was first engaged in this hobby, I did not know the extent to which components could vary. I also did not know how much variance there could be between similar components, say two CD players. I knew there had to be some degree of variance, but was ignorant of how much variance could exist. Several times I settled for an upgrade that was marginal, due to erroneously thinking it might be close to the limits of improvement. I was under the impression that I had come close to some performance threshold. I laugh now to think back on it; in the years since I have had at least five major performance explosions beyond perceived thresholds! I have come to the point that, given the fluid nature of technological improvements, I attempt to set no barriers to upgrades and improvements in an audio system. Logically, there must be a final barrier but it seems, like the sound barrier, to be broken with regularity. So, maybe I should refer to it as the “Performance Barrier”, and assert that it can be broken several times, possibly consistently, in an audiophile’s life!
This review is an instance of the Performance Barrier being broken in terms of cabling. It may be obvious by now that I see major improvement in the Silver Eclipse 5 Squared and Silver Electra series of cables as opposed to the Equinox series. Just what improvement is there? Two dominant aspects come to mind, and I will endeavor to share listening impressions discussing them both. These elements are clarity and tonality. If I had to settle on just two criteria by which to assess cables it would likely be these two, and it is in these two aspects where I see the greatest differential between Wireworld’s mid-line and higher offerings.
The more robust one’s rig becomes, the more conductor material makes a difference to the ear. The two most popular conductors are copper and silver, and rightly so as they are affordable and highly effective. Most cables with silver conductors I have used harbor a common characteristic – they are more detailed, more incisive sounding than copper. They generally have yielded a refined, filigreed presentation of the music. This reminds me of a memory device used to identify ancient architectural columns; Doric is Dull, Iconic is Interesting, and Corinthian is Complex. Similarly, copper cabling sounds interesting, but silver yields complex sound.
Solid silver is not only complex, but exquisitely expensive, thus I was working with the more sanely priced silver coated copper conductors of the Silver Eclipse. Compare an 8ft pair of speaker cables: Silver Eclipse at $2,149.95 and the Gold Eclipse at $8,149.95. A slightly confusing moniker for the top cable series, Gold Eclipse indicates solid silver conductors in the same geometry. Likewise, the conductor of the Gold Starlight Digital cable employed in the previous review was solid silver.
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