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Snake River Audio Cottonmouth Signature Series Cables Review

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Once the brood of Snake River cables struck and their venom began working its way through my system, I was paralyzed with pleasure; I sat all but motionless for hours, transfixed by their beauty. During the course of assessment of the Snake River Cables, I played everything from Carlos Santana’s “Maria, Maria” and “Mirgra” from Supernatural, to Simply Red’s “So Not Over You” from Stay, to Leanne Rimes’ “How Do I Live” from the same titled album. I found I could listen at length at higher listening levels with the Snake River Cottonmouth Series than most other cables I have used. Most importantly, I did not lose interest when playing music for extended periods of time.

I compared the Snake River loom to some other fine wires in my possession, most notably complete sets of Clarity Cable and the newly received uber-cable Silent Source. I built several systems in comparison between Snake River and Clarity while Silent Source was a late review arrival. I will illustrate the differences between the first and second by showing a base system with two different reference-level speakers:

Simaudio Moon Evolution 750D player/DAC as transport

Eastern Electric Minimax DAC Plus with DEXA dual discrete Opamps and Burson single discrete Opamps rolled in

Wells Audio Innamorata amplifiers (2)

Legacy Audio Wisper DSW Clarity Edition Speakers, or

Kingsound King III ESL Speakers

The Clarity Cables are the antithesis of the Snake River Audio cables in terms of aesthetics and utilization. The Clarity offerings are plain, rather mundane appearing and are comparatively stiff, a striking contrast to the Snake River’s effusive beauty and flexibility. If appearance and flexibility are necessities, then Snake River is the cable to investigate. While neither of these is directly related to the sound of the cable, they can be very important considerations for some installations.

In contrast to the nearly cuddly sonic presentation of the Snake River offerings, the Clarity Cables have required light finessing when building rigs to ensure that they do not cross the “treble line,” the point of too much brightness. As I listened to the Snake River wires I wondered if I was giving up too much air, too much definition. I went back and forth several times and finally concluded that the greatest degree of difference was in the Snake River cables being warmer while being softer on the treble. The two were similar in terms of the midrange to the point that I consider them nearly exchangeable but more different on the frequency extremes. The Clarity Cables struck me as having emphasis slightly at the frequency extremes while the Snake River set was more homogeneous throughout the frequency spectrum. In the end, I concluded that the Cottonmouth Signature series did not have less treble information, just a more seamless blend with the upper midrange.

In the mid-bass, the Clarity Cables brought more weight with slightly less definition, while the Snake River Audio sound was tighter, but surprisingly lighter. The LF capability of one’s speakers becomes an important variable as a result. The Snake River cables should not be expected to accentuate the LF of a system, but it will present it cleanly and in proportionate weight to the midrange and treble. The Legacy Audio Whisper DSW Clarity Edition, so named for the use of Clarity Caps and Clarity Cabling internally throughout, found terrific support on the bass with the synergy between Clarity Cables and the speaker. However, listeners who wish to reduce mid-bass abundance should steer toward the Snake River sound.

The Snake River cabling did not mask older recordings to smooth their often rough edges. Playing Starship’s “Jane,” I noticed that more noise from the recording was eliminated while at the same time a highlighting of the aged nature of the recording was perceived. The piece became more intense, but not more “in your face.” There was a strangely gratifying magnification effect, such that Simply Red’s “Stay” was more immediate with the Snake River cables, and background electronic effects brought much more forward. One could say that these cables highlight the background of a recording.

However, some listeners want to be absorbed with the primary instrument or voice. They may wish for backing musicians to be present but not all that noticeable. Conversely, some want an egalitarian experience in which every instrument carries similar noticeability. The Snake River cables increased the noticeability of voices and instruments which would otherwise be recessed slightly in the soundstage. However, I did not feel they were unnaturally emphasizing the lead instrument, as I have perceived with cables having passive networks. Instead of spotlighting the lead artist, the Cottonmouth Signature Series softens and spreads the light to include the entire stage equally. This allows for hearing into the entire piece, rather than being wowed by the lead, and missing the many nuances happening nearby.

Snake River Audio Cottonmouth Signature Series Power Cable

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.

    Doug Schroeder

  4. Douglas Schroeder says:

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

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