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Stealth Audio Cables USB-T Select

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Pulling the Trigger

Based on these experiences I decided to take a leap of faith and ordered a Stealth USB-T Select from George Vatchnadze of Kyomi Audio. Why not an Audioquest Diamond or other top-tier cables? Perhaps I was a bit lazy, but my experience with Stealth cables of all kinds has been so positive that the risk seemed minimal. Moreover, George’s selection of components has always been impeccable and I have found that his listening preferences closely match my own, and Stealth cables are his go-to brand.

The Stealth USB-T Select. My expectations for the Stealth USB-T Select were quite high. That can be a bad thing, since high expectations can set you up for disappointment. However, the instant I played the first piece of music after inserting the Stealth USB-T Select I knew I had made a great purchase. The immediate impact was something that, at least in my audio experience, rarely occurs: I got not only more detail, I got more body; or I could just as easily say: I got not only more body, I got more detail. The improvement over the Cinnamon was dramatic in both cases, and also unmistakably better than the Coffee with the Jitterbug.

Soon after obtaining the Stealth USB-T Select I purchased a new server – the Laufer Teknik Memory Player (review to come). Suffice it to say at this point that the MP is the best digital front end I have encountered, and its ability to convey nuance and the performance venue is unmatched, at least in my experience. Switching between the Stealth and the Coffee + Jitterbug was revelatory. The Coffee + Jitterbug was very engaging, but the nuance and you-are-there factor was hugely improved by inserting the Stealth USB-T Select.

Over the next few days I engaged in the painstaking process of optimizing the position of the tuning collar. I was able to get it close very quickly; in fact, it was already close to optimal position when I received the cable, but the added realism that comes from getting it just right really highlighted what the Stealth USB-T Select is capable of. Let me break it down.

Bass Response. I like to start with bass response because in any full-range system the greatest effort and expense goes into reproducing realistic bass. My speakers are the Vivid Audio G-1 Giya, whose bass extension is matched by only a few speakers. They are driven by Electrocompaniet Nemo monoblocks, and have never been challenged by any piece of music I have played. For example, the lowest bass notes in Bella Fleck’s Flight of the Cosmic Hippo are reproduced with ease, not only in terms of bass extension, but also in terms of the solidity and speed of the bass line. I regularly play this piece for visitors, who never cease to be amazed at the sound. The additional solidity and body that was presented after insertion of the Stealth USB-T Select created the most you-are-there experience I’ve ever had in my system. Similarly, the sense of speed associated with Jaco Pastorius’ Donna Lee is not only maintained – it’s even more impressive because of the simultaneous sense of body in the reproduction.

To confirm my impressions I went to two live performances with the express intent of focusing on the bass, to be sure that what I was hearing was actually “real”. The first was a Friday evening performance of an excellent collegiate jazz combo with a standup double bass. The second was Saturday evening in one of my favorite venues to hear Macy Gay and her band live. In both cases I was able to clearly discern the nuances of the instruments and the technique employed by the players. I was able to replicate these nuances playing similar music on my system with the Stealth in place.

Treble. Treble extension was, of course, excellent, but the real treat is in the realistic tonality and the ability to replicate piercing notes without sounding like nails on a chalkboard or white noise.  A good example is ‘CypressAvenue’ from Van Morrison’s acclaimed album, Astral Weeks. This recording can sound hard and unnaturally aggressive for the type of music being played. It’s a very delicate balance and not easy to achieve in any system, and of course every component in the chain has an effect. So how can I tell if it’s the Stealth USB-T Select? I’ve heard this piece numerous times in different systems, and this is the first time it sounded the way I’ve heard it live.

Midrange. The v1 version of the Vivid G-1 may not be strident or hard in the midrange, but it is not sweet-sounding either. The v2 version and the G1 Spirit are both a bit sweeter, and thus a smidge more forgiving. This makes it very important that any cable in the chain be as less editorializing as possible; in some cases people compensate by looking for cables tilted to the sweet side. I find that mezzo sopranos and operatic tenors are a great test of a system’s midrange and that cables can directly influence the accuracy of the reproduction. In my case, I decided on Pavarotti, on both live and studio recordings. One of my favorites, though it’s not a particularly good recording, is ‘Rondine al nido’ from The Three Tenors with Zubin Mehta.

There’s a string intro which itself can sound substandard on an average system, then followed by Pavarotti’s nuanced and passionate solo. On a top notch system, Pavarotti’s soulful performance brings tears to your eyes. However, on an average system it “merely” sounds like a nice piece of music by a master. The difference comes almost entirely from the quality of the midrange. The difference in using the Stealth was in the reproduction of the performance venue, the nuances in Pavarotti’s phrasing, and the passion in Pavarotti’s voice. Again, the combination of these qualities, in addition to the usual qualities of pace, rhythm, timing, extension, clarity, etc., made the performance a powerful emotional experience.

At this point let me stop and remind you that these evaluations were made on my system after insertion of the Laufer Teknik Memory Player, and the overall performance of the system is due in no small part to it. Nonetheless, it was pretty obvious that the MP’s performance was optimized by the Stealth – neither the Cinnamon nor the Coffee+Jitterbug could come close to matching it.


Summing Up

So what is it that makes the Stealth USB-T Select so special, beyond just being an exceptional digital cable? I got very good detail, extension, body and soundstaging with the Coffee+Jitterbug, but the minute nuances of the performances and the spatial cues that described the performance venue transformed the experience from a good band in a good hall to a great live performance in a top venue with superior acoustics. Pricey, but not as expensive as several other USB cables and totally delivers on the promise of maximizing what your other components can deliver. Unreservedly recommended if you can afford it.


Copy editor: Dan Rubin

One Response to Stealth Audio Cables USB-T Select

  1. zhong tao xu says:

    I’ll take it Stealth Audio Cables USB-T Select .Is this line blue for the new edition? The old version is black?My line serial number is 3050715.When is the mailing time of this line?
    Are the two lines just different in colour and nothing else?
    Thank you。

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