A “Fixer” is a person who makes it right, who takes a seemingly impossible situation and corrects it, sometimes by not so universally adopted and sanctioned methods. Often, the problem is inconvenient or even dangerous, but the Fixer can be counted upon to shepherd his client safely through the chaos.
Over the years I have learned to rely upon a Fixer of a different sort for less than ideal audio systems, and most of the time Wireworld is my Fixer. In more rigs than I can recall, I have returned to Dave Salz’s designs to remedy problems. I have become so familiarized with the influence of Wireworld’s power cords, interconnects and speaker cables that I can usually predict the outcome of changing them. When I have a particular attribute I want emphasized or a nuisance eliminated I am able to grab the cable to get the job done. I cannot think of one rig I have assembled where I was not able to have the equipment perform to expectation through concerted employment of Wireworld products. I cannot say that for the majority of cables I review, and it is part of the reason I continue to use Wireworld cables in reviewing.
Past Wireworld Reviews:
August 2008: Wireworld Cable Technology
Having already expressed my appreciation of Wireworld designs in previous reviews, it should come as no surprise, then, that I extend appreciation for the Platinum Eclipse interconnect and Gold Eclipse 6 Digital Cable. In assessing them I am reaching the peak in Wireworld’s interconnects and Digital cables, buoyed through experience with the more economical members of their respective lines.
As I covered the geometry of the Wireworld cables in previous articles, I will direct those seeking information concerning details to them, as well as to the Wireworld website. Suffice to say here that the Platinum eclipse shares the identical geometry as the Silver Eclipse, but is upgraded with the use of Ohno Continuous Cast (OCC) solid silver. Similarly the Gold Starlight 6 remains true to the flat conductor “DNA Helix” geometry of the previous digital cables and uses OCC solid silver.
The Platinum Eclipse interconnects utilize the Composite Dielectric Technology (CDT) found in the previously reviewed Silver Eclipse model, but innovate a molded carbon fiber connector housing. In the press release of the new interconnect David Salz, designer and company owner, stated that he believes, “…there is no one perfect insulating material. Each has advantages and disadvantages.” As in speaker cabinets, so also it seems with interconnect connector housings; every material everywhere makes a difference. I’m not certain that I could conclude that the housing material is the largest contributor to the distinction between the Silver eclipse and the Platinum Eclipse; not having a comparative sample of the Silver Eclipse outfitted with the carbon fiber housing it becomes impossible to know. In my experience, aside from the geometry of the strands and total gauge, the conductor material has been the most influential variable in distinguishing between all types of cables. I would find it interesting to conduct a comparison between interconnects or digital cables outfitted variably with or without the molded carbon fiber housing.
Also at work in these products are the proprietary “Silver Tube” plugs, described on the website as, “…silver-clad OFC contacts and a silicone rubber tension band, which produce the lowest contact resistance available.” I found these plugs to grip well, not be easily dislodged and to offer no discernable degradation of sound. I have no qualms about the effort to put silver on such plugs, as experience has shown me that even the modest Wireworld power cables sporting silver clad prongs are most effective.
I’ve Got A Secret
Regarding appearance of the Platinum Eclipse interconnect, the dark mesh jacket of the Silver Eclipse has transitioned to a lighter gray with white and black stranding, and sports a laser-engraved aluminum sleeve on the cable. I like the design, it’s a nifty identifier for otherwise potentially confusing similarities between it and other Wireworld products. The Gold Starlight 6 sports a flecked gold field with black mesh and a single red thread twisting its way along the circumference of the cable.
Over the years, I am coming to categorize cables as either “Intensifiers” or “Pacifiers”. By that I mean the tendency of a certain brand of cable to emphasize detail, dynamics, and the boundaries of the sound space, or in the opposite not emphasize these in favor of what my ear hears as tonal coloration. Some cables I have reviewed which intensify are MIT Cable Technologies, Harmonic Technology, and Wireworld. Some which pacify are Jena Labs, Magnan Cables, and Tara Labs. There are trade offs with every cable; the audiophile needs to discover what they will trade off in the context of his own system. I have made the decision that I will trade off some warmth for detail. My method allows me to achieve warmth through the components, but I cannot capture enough detail to suit me using cables that too severely round down details. While I consider the “pacifier” cables above to have comparatively less intensity in general, I consider them very constructive toward building an otherwise highly pleasurable system. I did so, and I could do so again. However, my present preference is toward cables which reveal detail to a higher degree.
Delineating a bit more on the difference between two “intensifiers”, a distinction can be made between MIT and Wireworld, both of which I have used extensively. I have described MIT products as having an ability to magnify the signal, to make the music seem more powerful. This is not surprising, as the cables are designed with networked boxes to effectuate Power Factor Correction (PFC). So, let us liken MIT products to a copying machine which expands the image by 10%. To my ear, MIT trades a touch of purity for a lot of intensity in terms of the scale of the music.
Conversely, Wireworld tends to work the opposite, condensing the image by the hypothetical 10%, so that while it sounds perceptually “smaller” than MIT, it’s images and contrasts are more sharply defined. Wireworld is more absolutely clean than MIT and not as muscular sounding. Its soundstage is smaller and a bit more recessed. It makes voices and instruments sound proportionately correct to my ear almost always, whether listening to a studio solo or a band’s live concert.
So, which has the better sound? That depends on one’s perspective, whether you want a bigger, broader sonic panorama, or a tighter, sharper picture. When I want big and bodacious I go for MIT but when I want tight, ultra-clean and focused sound I reach for Wireworld.
Returning again to my analogy of “the fixer” I’ll share my secret for adjusting a system to achieve just the right mix of detail and warmth using Wireworld cables. I have at my disposal two pairs of Platinum Eclipse and Silver Eclipse interconnects, as well as a minimum of two each of the Silver Electra 52 power cable (silver over copper) and Electra 52 power cable (all copper). With these I can tune almost any combination of solid-state or tube equipment to my preference.
I’ll refer to one musical selection as I discuss how I utilize the method below in nearly all my system building with Wireworld cables. A good candidate for discussion in this process is The Best of Chuck Mangione, an older compilation featuring flugelhorn. While this instrument is inherently less harsh on the ear than the trumpet, in this older recording if one tries to make the instrument stand out, it tends to sound trite or brittle, spatially and dynamically deprived. Conversely, if one tries to mellow it, the presentation can fall flat – a flugelhorn is already mellow in comparison to a trumpet. I often will start with the Platinum Eclipse interconnect and Silver Electra 52 power cord option to see how much detail can be achieved. If this proves too bright for my ear I place a pair of the Silver Eclipse interconnects into the mix. For added mellowing I replace one Silver Electra 52 power cord on a key component such as the source or preamp with one of the Electra 52 all-copper power cords. Usually by the time I have made three to four changes I have approached the opposite effect, bordering on too “soft” and a touch diminished in detail. If necessary, I reverse my last change to recover the proper amount of detail.
The fine tuning takes another turn at this point in that if I have a mix of copper and silver cabling I will swap them on the components to hear the effect. For instance, with Mangione’s disc I first listened to the Platinum Eclipse interconnect running from source to preamp, and the Silver Eclipse interconnect going from preamp to the amps. Then I switched them around. Likewise, I began with the Silver Electra 52 power cables at the preamp and the Electra 52 power cables at the amps. Again, after listening they were switched.
The end result in this case was, with an entire solid-state system comprised of nearly all Cambridge Audio separates, with the addition of Monarchy Audio’s latest NM-24 pre/DAC on review, and the Kingsound “the King” speakers, I ended up with the Platinum Eclipse interconnect upstream of the Silver Eclipse, and all power cords the Electra 52 model. It took about six permutations of cables to settle on this combination. One can see how, with patience and a wide enough selection of cables, a system can be dialed in perfectly to one’s expectations. Those who have perennial problems with making systems should take note. It’s not always the components which need a change; sometimes one can spruce up a system by the proper proportion of cabling.
What did my work with the wires give me? Mangione’s horn was energetic but not shrill, upbeat but not tiresome. The recording was brought closer, more intimate and lost some of the older, AAD (Analogue-Analogue-Digital) recording haze and thinness that is in many older discs. “Children of Sanchez” was popping with energy as the drums and horn punctuated the refrain, yet the outbursts of the instruments were not indiscriminate blasts where more attention is drawn to the intensity than the note, but rather fitting expulsions of the horn and reverberation of the drum skin. Time spent on tuning the rig via cabling was well rewarded.
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