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Snake River Audio Cottonmouth Signature Series Cables Review

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A BIT OF CONDUCTOR MATERIAL FOR EVERYONE

Recently, I sat down to lunch at a nearby Chicago style hot dog parlor where I could get my dog done up right! Just installed was a Coca Cola “Freestyle” vending machine, which offers a myriad of syrup combinations for a wide selection of beverages. Variety trumps all! That is my philosophy in building systems long term; I would far rather have several compelling options for speakers, for example, than one supposed “best.” Cabling tends to be more limited as you may have noticed. You get one result, and you tend to get that result no matter the system to which you hook the cables. If the cables are bright, you get a brighter sound no matter the system, and if they are closed in sounding, that will be your result even if you move them to another rig. Obviously, I do not subscribe to the theory that cables are system-dependent.

If you want to avoid such problems, Snake River Cables are a wonderful solution, as they don’t teeter to the lean side or the bloated side of sound. I found that no matter the system, they were incapable of sounding strident, nor muddy. I used a wide variety of electronics – 24 bit and 32 bit players/DACs, tube and SS amplification, dynamic and ESL speakers – all sounded eminently listenable. In no instance did I have to futz with the cabling to get away from stridency, which may be the first time that has happened in my years of reviewing! This may be the only cable I could recommend for nearly any configuration of gear with assurance that it will bring enough definition and vitality to hold interest while assuring that it will not offend.

Everyone who takes audiophile cables seriously has a favorite conductor material and I am no exception. Typically, I enjoy heavy gauge copper cabling and I have worked with cables such as Harmonic Technology, Wireworld, and Clarity Cables, all of which approximate that pattern. However, I must admit that I found certain advantages to the mixture of gold, silver and copper employed by Snake River, chiefly the near impossibility of them sounding harsh.

FROM THE SHOW ROOM TO YOUR HOME

At the past AXPONA Chicago show, I was able to hear the Snake River products in a most enchanting demo with Border Patrol amplification, one of the standout rooms at the show. I heard much commentary on the accompanying stunning Volti Audio Speakers. Very few show goers had the opportunity to hear the prodigious Volti Audio Alura speakers and Snake River cables in a domestic setting, but I did. The man who bought them is a friend and I visited him to lay my ears on that combo.

It’s one thing to optimize the rig and stack the odds in the favor of the show demo by selecting components that are ideal. It is another thing to drop a speaker system and cables into a rig that is an unknown quantity. My friend had deep concerns that his big splurge might fall woefully short in terms of performance with his older, lesser-known mono tube amps.

He shouldn’t have worried; the quality was superb and the Snake River cables, which had served so well with the Alura at the show, did even better in this man’s home. He was ecstatic to find that his “questionable” amps were in fact unquestionably good! It was his previous speaker system and cabling which had constricted his sound, and now it was being set free.

Big, full-range high-sensitivity speakers like the Alura (98dB) will show all warts and scars of a system. If the cabling used to feed them is anemic, the speakers will simply sound uninviting, irritating, or even perhaps dead like a low sensitivity speaker fed by a low power amp. But the Snake River cabling held nothing back, and the Alura was most alluring!

Again, the absence of strain, brightness or sibilance in vocals was notable. Even in a home with a goodly amount of reflective surfaces the result was not irritating. To give some idea of how much information retrieval the Snake River cabling is capable of while simultaneously warding off treble torture, my friend felt satisfied enough with the treble to sell off his set of Tannoy supertweeters which had been used to bolster his previous speakers.

Snake River Audio Cottonmouth Sign Mamushi (shielded) RCA Interconnect Cable

THE SNAKE PIT

Along with the cables, I was loaned a pair of Snake Pit Power Distribution Centers. These are square, metallic boxes emblazoned with the bright Snake River icon and containing six plugs. The Snake Pit is not just a power bar, but contains a simple filter to eliminate noise.

I found the Snake Pit, like other power filtration devices, to weed out noise as advertised but also to slightly soften the higher frequencies and shrink the sound stage slightly. I did not find it to be any more harmful to the sound than many other devices, which carry passive filtration. I would consider the Snake Pit viable as a very high quality power distribution device, on a par with products from Wireworld or Tara Labs.

I normally do not utilize power bars or power conditioning in my systems because they are a give and take proposition; they typically give added sense of macrodynamics, but take from the microdynamics in order to do so. However, unless one is intimately familiar with the system, this effect may never be noticed. My friend who owns the Volti Audio Alura uses a Snake Pit in his system and the above deleterious effect is marginal. Only by careful comparison would one notice the trade-offs I have noted. The audiophile who is short on outlets can confidently use a Snake Pit without destroying the essence of their system’s sound.

4 Responses to Snake River Audio Cottonmouth Signature Series Cables Review


  1. Roger says:

    Thanks for the review. I have been considering a used Clarity Clear Focus power cord, described as “very neutral,” so finding this review was very useful in confirming my understanding of your earlier reviews of the Vortex and other Clarity wires. Those latter definitely give the sense that you’re more a “sound” (clarity) and “event” guy vs. “music” or tonality/timbre first, myself being of the latter kind (that clarity you describe used to be referred to as “clinical”). It’s tricky putting together an enjoyable system with the former characteristic, so I’m not surprised that with time and experimentation you’ve opted to mix in some warmth. A major part of my approach derives from the perception that acoustic instruments and human voices by and large have a natural warmth.

  2. Bill says:

    You did not say how you mixed them. Clarity on your Pass amps, or VAC ? Snake river power cord on your DAC ? Which combo worked best on the VAC preamp ?

    Coincidentally, I use a Clarity Focus power cord on my computer power supply, and a Boomslang AES digital cable from Weiss converter to DAC. It does sound very good. A Clarity cable Red was not so good on the DAC after hearing a Bybee-Furutech power cord on same DAC. Excellent sound. But the Bybee-Furutech was not very good on the computer power supply. It is quite a job getting these cables right. I feel sorry for guys that buy “looms”.

  3. Bill,
    God’s Joy to you,

    Mixing the cables to suite one’s preference would be a more personalized thing. I did so many mixes with them on different systems I do not recall that particular configuration. But, mixing them did consistently yield the best result.

    Looms of cables can be superb and preferable in many instances. Not all mixing of cables is efficacious, but one will never know until actually comparing looms, then mixtures of cables. This is often more time consuming and costly, so most audiophiles will not do so, even though it is the best way to assure the system reaches its potential.

    Blessings,
    Doug Schroeder

  4. Douglas Schroeder says:

    The EXOGAL Comet and Ion with HyperDrive are FANTASTIC with the Cottonmouth Power Cords!!!!

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