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Silnote Audio cables Review

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Construction and Silnote methodology

Most gurus have their “method”, their secret recipe for a winning wire. This usually entails employing their concept of a superior set of conductor materials and geometry across most of their products. It may be an air dielectric or square conductor, or perhaps an exquisitely pure metal conductor. Some shove passive electronics into the signal path, a method I call a mistake I have learned to avoid. Even though their heart and soul might be poured into their products, the fact is more than half of them are unexceptional. Statistically speaking, half of them must be unexceptional. My ear tells me there are better ideas and worse ideas to implement when making cables. If the maker selects the correct variables, the cables stand a pretty good chance of sounding impressive, but if they select the wrong variables… well, let’s not go there!

Silnote Audio cables are different from the crowd in one crucial aspect: They employ a variety of geometries and conductors intentionally, such that it is hard to nail down a Silnote geometry and conductor pairing. This is a stroke of genius. Silnote is not out to find the “holy grail” of cable construction, but to find the most superior average sound. Please do not misread that comment, as it entails a consistently high performance across an enormous range of systems. The word “average” in that context pertains to the implementation of the variety of geometries and conductors, not the sonic result. Silnote cables are designed such that if one is not optimal, the collective of them will be superior to the hunt and peck method of putting all one’s energies into a single geometry and conductor. This is an elegant, smart way to make and market cables. It means Silnote will not always sound superior, but in the majority of cases it will, as it relies upon spreading weaknesses and focusing strengths of each cable type.


The Silnote cable mix-up

Silnote’s consistency lies in the use of ultra-pure conductors, but varies the conductor materials and geometries in its products. The majority of plugs and connectors are sourced from Cardas, Xshadow, Neutrik and Wattgate. Teflon and air dielectric is typical, and the preferred length for power cables is five feet, digital coax 1.5m, and interconnects as short as possible. Custom lengths are possible. Mark indicated that Silnote has also worked with customers to internally rewire speakers.

To chase down all the conductor and geometry combinations employed by Silnote would take up quite a bit of space, and I’m sure Mark does not wish to give all his secrets away. A sample should suffice to inform the reader some appreciation for Silnote’s methods. Most cabling includes at least a presence of surgical grade silver, 24 karat gold, and ultra-pure copper. The Anniversary Speaker Cables use 9-gauge ultra-pure copper, interconnects have various combinations of silver, gold and copper, and the power cables use differing gauges of copper.

Regarding geometry, the Anniversary Speaker Cable has both stranded and solid core conductors, however, the majority of Silnote’s speaker cables have only solid core conductors. This is a good example of the fluidity of design inherent in Silnote products, as well as the goal of achieving the widest spectrum of suitability for systems and average highest sonic performance. Over the years my ears agree with the principle of leaning heavily on copper for conductors, but the inclusion of some silver and gold is a good move to tune the cables, offering more than one option for customers.

The appearance of Silnote cables could be summed up as classy. That’s not a word usually associated with cables, but the variety of outer jackets across the line colored white, light gray, pearlescent, Safire blue and purple evoke comparisons to semi-precious gemstones. Most are acceptably flexible, even the hefty Anniversary Speaker cables. However, the thicker Poseidon series of power cords are unwieldy. I had to wrestle with the 2m long cords to get them placed, and it meant the cord remained arced in the air at times rather than lying flat on the floor, not a high WAF condition. Terminations were secure and snugly fit all posts on components and speakers, and even the plugs on the power cords tended to stay put when placed.

There was one cosmetic issue that revealed itself over time. After months of use the short lengths of expandable sleeve covering one speaker cable’s L/R leads at both ends pulled out from the larger heat shrink collar on the body of the cable. I wonder if there was a snafu on the construction line, because the other five lengths (I worked with three sets) did not suffer that problem. While unsightly, it was of no consequence to the operation of the cables. Slippage of the mesh sleeve has been a fairly common occurrence affecting a number of brands. Perhaps one third of all cables with sleeve that I review eventually have one end or the other pulled out. This is far less likely to happen to any owner of Silnote speaker cables unless the cables are moved about on a very regular basis, or if the sleeve is grabbed while attaching the plugs to the component posts. I mentioned it to Mark, and he told me the temperature at which the heat shrink collar is affixed has been increased and the problem eliminated.


Among the very best

My taste in cables has shifted little over the past decade of reviewing. There have been a few notable changes, the two most significant being a reference for non-networked cables and entirely silver OFC wires.

I’ll be blunt; I believe there is neither a networked cable, nor an entirely silver cable, which cannot be bested by a straight wire of high copper content and multiples less cost. Neither one has brought the proffered performance level to my system. Every once in a while I return to test the water, to see if anything has changed, and thus far it has not.

When I tested such cables they didn’t sound as good as products like Clarity Cables, Silent Source, and yes, Silnote Audio cables. I always remain open to being shown that I’m wrong, but after several go-rounds a precedent becomes established. This is not to say that you cannot set up a beautiful sounding rig with either one. But my experience is that any rig which sounds great with a networked or silver cable can be upgraded by the insertion of a cable more massive, high quality copper conductors. If there would be an exception to this rule, it would be with the silver OFC. Silnote Audio cables offer excellent performance, but the supposedly extreme performance cables of the kind mentioned above are not to be expected to perform better.

2 Responses to Silnote Audio cables Review

  1. Patrick GRIFFITH says:

    Is it possible to make a comparison between SILNOTE cables and SILENT SOURCE ones?

  2. PJ Letteri says:

    I have heard both these cables between myself and others in my audio group
    Silent cables have very good detail depending on cable model seem to emphasize more to the high frequencies like nordost in a loose way by being a bit thinner in the mid bass at first listen gives the impression of more detail. In reality just not as well balanced. Silnote has a very even handed balance
    If you listen to a live jazz quartet nothing jumps out . This is the best way I found to describe them.
    And I own cables 3 x as much that are not as musically satisfying. I just purchased the New Silnote Orion USB cable with a money back guarantee. It is the best USB cable to date I have heard. I sold my AQ Diamond USB cable which was no slouch.
    Cable it is that good.

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