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STEALTH Sound Technology Enabling Audibly Lucid Transcomponent Harmony

 

Hugh Mandeson

Then came the Indra

It has been my very great pleasure to know the designer and to be using Stealth cables since about 1997. I believe Iíve owned or heard every model he has produced since then from the original Fine Line to the current and truly awesome PGS Gold 3D. Iíve been a fan of recorded music a very long time, I got my first taste of an audiophile music system in 1973 and was bit hard by the audio bug, Iíve had some kind of system of my own since then and usually some good stuff, I m real lucky on used gear and Iíve had some gems. I received my degree in audio engineering and record mastering in 1983. Now I use my main system for audio production; mixing and mastering. I believe it to be up to mastering lab standards, but I have a big edge using Stealth Audio Cables. Iíve owned and listened to many cables over the years. Now only Stealth give me what I want. Every year Serguei has sent me something new to listen to and without a doubt every year he completely blows my mind. This man knows something or is damn lucky because his cables take music to a higher level. I think he knows something, understands something that most other designers have no clue about. His first cable was the FLR. The Cross Wrapped Silver that followed just demolishes the FLR, and then the M7 was a real breakthrough, a serious breakthrough that brought the space and dimension I never thought possible. The PGS followed and indeed were superior, in many ways the quality was fantastic. The M-21 raised the bar and definitely revealed more detail and space, certainly beyond what44.1k/16bit could offer, the limit had been hit in my humble opinion and I thought I was satisfied. Silly me. Well, I upgraded my turntable finally and also began recording at88.2k/24bit, I needed more resolution, the PGS 3D was just that, another level of resolution. Here was space, depth, and dimension beyond my expectation, far beyond. It was truly startling and another breakthrough in cables. Nothing else was close. The 50/50 cable seems quite close to the PGS 3D but has a different tonal character and I use it on another small tube amp based system that often glues guests to the chair. On my large main system the PGS-3D was perfect. Many musicians shook their heads and expressed their love for the sound. I have a friend who has been doing live sound and designing electronics for over 40 years. He never believed cables mattered; well heís changed his tune on that after a listen or two. Iíve had to remix just about everything once these where in the system. Drums are just out of this world! Iíve gotten very careful with reverbs too, they have to be right on or immediately sound fake.

Then came the Indra. Serguei first told me about the Indra upon finding this very special wire. Always a skeptic but trusting him at this point I of course asked to audition these when it was ready. Itís been in the system now about 6weeks and itís never coming out! On first listen one is always kindía off balance, it takes the brain a few moments to adjust and then relative comparisons can be made. The Indra is quite different in that sense; it changes EVERYTHING. It has no distinct character of its own at all. You hear every bit of the source and your electronics, in your face. The music sounds completely unbound, completely physical and apart from the speakers, right in the air. Images appear solidly both in front of and behind your speakers as well as beyond and above them. To say these are detailed is wrong. Better to say that these obscure no detail whatsoever!. Unless you have the finest sources, components, and speakers these cables could ruin your perception of your system, drive you into upgrades to try to keep up with these amazing cables. The 3-d-ness of the PGS-3d has not only been exceeded, it has been blown away. I was really stuck by how much more portrayal of height there is and not only depth but also I swear you hear the air behind the instrument bodies! Voices especially have a spooky disembodied presence, like hearing the microphone feed direct in real time, that Ďoomph that gets lost in the recording chain. Iím a big fan of ďclassicĒ two microphone recordings, and to say the Indra brings you right into the performance is an understatement. The performance comes to you and envelopes you in a way that is almost paranormal. I love it! What really blows me away though is how multi-track mono (studio) recordings sound. My god you can hear every element as clear as if in the room with you. Every microphone, every reverb, breathes, room ambiance, tapping feet, utterly beyond my experience, completely beyond anything Iíve been able to hear before. These cables are absolutely scary; itís foolish to talk about how the bass or the highs Ďsoundí, there is no sound other than the signal you give it. Youíll have no idea how much is in a recording until you hear it through an Indra. Words cannot describe what you cannot hear and the Indra is beyond description. I invited my audio designer friend over and played them a fantastic John Renborn LP, "A Maid in Bedlam" well Geoff is not often speechless but all he could do was shake his head and groove on the music. He gave me the highest compliment Iíve heard from him (ďIíve never heard Jamesí(Bongiorno) amps sound better , he said.) You have to know him to understand that heís been designing tube amps since he was 14. My solid-state amps were a liability to him (although he had modified them for me) but it was the Indra that did it, he heard it before with thePGS-3D and said it was good but with only the change of the Indra he was blown away. He even made me remove them so he could see and touch them. I was already sold but Geoff is my sounding board, and mentor, He was ready to buy a pair! I can now listen to my 1st generation 88.2k/24 bit orchestra recordings and be brought to ecstasy. I literally cried the first time I played it with the Indra in the system. So good, so so good. Even television audio is enhanced and Iím watching more of the Jazz channel lately. It is a pleasure and if you believe that the better it sounds the higher the enjoyment, get ready for real musical BLISS. Keep the Kleenex handy. Please take my word for it, the Indra is as good as it gets. It is positively supernatural. What it does for music is take it to the highest level, where the technology becomes invisible, it disappears and there is only the sound, the music, and all of its soul. Itís about art and communication. The Indra takes the art of musical communication and puts it into orbit. Serguei has taken the art of the audio cable all the way to Pluto in my opinion. My highest and most heartfelt recommendation; The Indra is the King of all audio cables! Hugh Mandeson, Music Lover and Audio Engineer, Santa Barbara Sound and Recording.

Notes from the past

... I couldn't help myself and swapped in the STEALTH Ultimate Ribbons in my tube system, and the Varidig and - Oh, my God! I thought I had died and gone to heaven. This was amazing! I didn't budge for about an hour, really really nice. I might leave this as it is. The Ultimate Ribbon sure is something special and made an enormous improvement on that system, Like I said, I was transfixed. The detail they convey is remarkable and their quickness and extension awesome. The center image is more than amazing it is magic, you feel like you can reach out and touch the musicians! It has such power to the bass, and the highs really sound pristine. The mids do not suffer, I can hear the fineness of clarity and freedom of the high end, female vocals just float like silvery clouds. The bass is stupendous, has a whole different character and too I can detect a quietness or blackness between the notes when separated from the highs. The URs are so fantastic, I mean they're worth the entire system! Thank you so much for this opportunity to remove all doubt about which of STEALTH speaker cables I like! ... One of these days you have to tell me about the theories behind the AC cords. This M(agnificent)-7 AC power cable (installed on My Cal Alpha tube DAC), how can a power cable make so much difference? I swear not only has the main peak levels increased, but the surround levels, especially in the rear; even the center level became higher without my touching the preamp volume control. Something really happened to the bass, like it moved into the room itself and became deeper and both more focused and wider spatially. I could hear my subwoofer work harder... 

Let me tell you a bit about the 50-50 cables. I first listened to them attached to my DAC to the preamp. I had been using the PGS 3D Gold signature there from CES. When I saw the smaller PGS' I wondered what was up. the fact is they indeed have a more open image then does the Signature! It is subtle but with my system easily audible. Next I tried the M-21. This is so close to the PGS but has less of a sonic signature, in fact possibly the most transparent interconnect I've ever heard. The PGS delivers more very low level ambiance and also is a bit more "3D" in the image. Some folks may think it sounds recessed (as do the M-7s) but it is actually preserving more spatial and low level information. A few more hours of listening and then comparing vinyl to CD I finally placed the PGS 3D signature on the phono preamp and the M-21 on the CD. The slight extra resolution of the PGS is lost in the 16 bit of the CD and so now my phono sounds unbelievable, just incredible and the DAC is awesome through the M-21. Then I went for the most important cable in the system, from the preamp to the biamp (crossover) module. I had been using a "gold" IC, smoothed out any harshness of the silver cables everywhere else. Well swapping that with a PGS 3D really blew my mind. Not only do these conquer space but it reveals the spaces within the space. Remarkable, so natural sounding. Incredible detail, a considerable upgrade using just these two cables. I then tried the 50/50 cable. Wow, this should be a fantastic seller for you. First off it sounds louder than any other cable. How this can be I know not but it sounds louder. Fantastic space, detail, and quickness. It adds "meat" to the individual instruments, palpability deluxe! What killed me though was the bass. The bass was to die for! Not just the low bass and actually the mid bass is what came alive. Not just in clarity and presentation but a suppleness and fullness of tone that is addictive. Honestly I hear increased bass dynamics using this cable.; Possibly it is due to replacing the circuit breaker last week but I was stunned. I never heard such bass in my room. I could eat it with a spoon! However extended listening reveals some flaws. Despite the massive luscious bass it has a boost in the presence region 5k-7k that I find irritating. It kind of sounds like an old large condenser mic including the proximity boost. It is hard to find material that makes this obvious but I have one track of a female vocalist with the most sibilance I've ever heard and it is unbearable through the 50/50 (to me, in my particular system, coming out of a Conrad Johnson Premier 17ls tubed preamp). When I listened to a lot of 2 microphone acoustic recordings (Opus 3 & MALabs stuff) the image is also very strange. Things are too close and too wide and bit too tall. Now this is me being ultra critical, most people are going to be blown away. Just a fantastic sounding cable anyone will Love unless they are into image as much as I am. 

Returning the PGS 3D and the M-21 on the DAC is just so natural and realistic sounding. Just a hair less dynamic, I am so very very pleased with these. Maybe the 50/50 needs more break in but I prefer the PGS 3D. I am still using M-7s from the crossover to the power amps. The 50/50 and M-21 are too short unless I redo the entire cabinet. I tried a few combinations, so tempting to try the 2m PGS 3D, it will reach the bass amp. I just have to be careful with money. I am so happy with these two, M-21 & PGS 3D that it is enough for me now. Hell, it is now honestly the best sound system I've ever heard. Next year I will replace the two end of line cables to PGS 3D without a doubt. However I may try it this weekend and I may go for it now if I can't help myself. I think it would be best to get another pair of power cables (an M-21 and an M-7 signature) and add those to my power amps. So I believe I would like to keep the 20in M-21 and the 1M PGS Gold plus get the 2 power cables I mention for this trade if that is okay with you. However I will keep an open mind and listen some more this weekend. Plus I guess I need to hammer out an exact dollar figure on the system and RAID tower, and freight so I will work on that today. We shall talk about finalizing the trade soon, this week. I may stick to your original offer of 3 cables and resell one but I now have an "extra" GOLD 1m & M-7 signature 1M cables. Many possibilities. I wanted to get back to you and tell you how fabulous these cables are, the M-21 is a stunner, the PGS gold has no peer, and the 50/50 just kicks ass, Krell lovers should be flabbergasted... 

 

Stealth Audio Cables 2002 - My two cents

 Author: Hugh Mandeson

As my background includes training in Audio Engineering, Audio Electronics, and Disc Mastering I never believed that cables could make much of a difference.

Then I got my first cable designed by Serguei Timachev (the Audio Finality). My world was shaken because not only was it clearly audibly better but it was light years better.

Over time as I upgraded equipment the cables became more important. My ears began to learn to hear more and deeper into the music. Soundstage and transparency became an obsession as timbre and dynamics seemed a given. Serguei struck out on his own and we corresponded regularly. I got more of his fine silver cables and delighted in the improvement each time.

There is a wonderful naturalness to the silver wire that copper does not have. Copper has a nice warmth and golden tinge that can suit some systems but it is certainly less transparent and fast. I strongly believe the fineness of the wire as well as the purity of the silver affects the signal far less than standard designs, especially stranded wire that sounds ďsmearedĒ to me. I was very fortunate in having at first a pair of Ohm Model F speakers and when they failed, the even more refined and remarkably low distortion ADS L1230 professional studio monitors. Early on a friend had sold me a Rotel RCD-955AX CD player, which elevated my source to a very high fidelity. My amplifier was a McIntosh 2105 and the preamp at the time was a Sumo Electra+. Soon I obtained a Revox B791 Linear tracking Turntable and felt I had arrived at the high end.

Speaker cables were the next issue. I had gone through several DIY cables and then to biwire. When I compared the Audioquest to MIT cables I learned how different and how much speaker cables contributed to the overall sound. I saved and was able to obtain a pair of MIT MH750 biwire cables that were my pride and joy for about a year. Then Stealth was born. We discussed various options and the man sent to me to review a pair of his Reference Litz wire cables (the PC Premier prototypes). Well I was agast. I had compared the MITs to a few others and there seemed nothing in this league. Well I have to say that in the end, as important as your source is, the speakers are most important and the speaker cables make the most difference of any other cable IMHO. Such clarity, subtlety, space, quickness, and especially transparency. The MH750 sounded like crap, veiled, limited extension, woefully colored compared to these. I fell hard for these and never regretted it.

Things in my life changed considerably and music became my solace. I was very fortunate to buy a home with a large high ceilinged room of all bare wood that has become my listening asylum. The Mac 2105 was replaced by a Sumo Nine class A, the Rotel CD by an Audio Alchemy DDS-3 with a CAL Alpha tubed DAC and a wonderful passive preamp from Monolitic Sound. The sound I was getting was pretty amazing and more than one person fell off the couch when a drum was smacked, but the best was yet to come.

1999 moved along towards the Millenium. I became obsessed with my system and hungry for improvement. I turned again to Serguei who sent me his latest, the CWS (Cross Wrapped Silver) interconnect. Not only had he found the extent the wire had contributed to the function of the Interconnects but now he had revised the geometry to reduce interaction between the conductors. I again was delighted with more space, more transparency, better dynamics, and timbre you could almost reach out and touch. Gads, I loaded up on it and delegated the original fine wire to the FM and Cassette Decks. With his help I also replaced the stock cables on my Revox Turntable with the CWS which has been one of the best upgrades imaginable, the layering of depth and frequency extension were fantastic and I tore through my vinyl collection rediscovering many gems.

My mania increased and I decided to explore the realm of tubes. Somehow in my travels I had a Harmon Kardon Award Series integrated amp lying around. I had it restored and then the signal capacitors upgraded to some Quicksilver caps. This became my little nearfield listening system. This little gem of a system revealed to me the advantages of the Stealth Ribbon Interconnect. Now this is only my opinion but the ribbons rule for tubes but I prefer the round conductor wires for solid state. Still something was missing I assumed the short lengths of thick speaker wire I used was good enough. I begged Serguei to let me try some speaker cables and he utterly floored me by sending my 4 different cables to try!

First the FR Fine Ribbon cables, well these give you a taste of the amazing speed and pace of the ribbons with quite adequate bass and treble extension but the mids were glorious, warm and live. I was using a pair of great ADS L810 speakers with some of my own modifications and it was quite hard to get up out of the chair when music was playing. These are budget champs and youíd have to spend at least double for better.

Next I tried his top copper cables the TL52 with the upgrade WBT ends. I was impressed with the width of the soundstage and transparency. Very powerful sounding. The warmth and depth of the bass was delightful and the highs very smooth but a bit rolled off. The imaging was topnotch with great depth and width. These are certainly no compromise if the silver cables are beyond you budget. Very low fatigue and natural sounding but with a golden tinge as I mentioned, quite enjoyable.

The next cables, the PC premiers really grabbed me. They get space right! So transparent, a bit warm on the bass, which was nice with the politely voiced L820s, and sweet too. The highs were more pronounced and a little splashy on my speakers but terribly clean sounding, Just beautiful sounding. I tried them on my big solid state system and have to say they are only a hairs breadth below the Reference Cables I use and really an excellent match reinforcing my opinion that the round conductors are best for solid state. For their price they just kill. These are the bang for the buck champs.

I saved the biggest for last as I formed a prejudiced opinion that I preferred the round conductors to ribbons. Boy was I wrong! From the first note these just sound absolutely right! Tremendous speed, extension, and effortless bass that stuns. The soundfield seems completely free of the speakers with amazing delineation between instruments and voices. Ultra extended highs, the image was as 3 dimensional as I ever experienced. So much detail and texture. Punchy without any boominess these are without a doubt the ultimate speaker cables and you better believe I bought them right away! In my years as a recording engineer I never thought drums could ever be properly reproduced and now I think Iíve been proven wrong! There is nothing better period! I had to use these on my big system and I also bought a pair of the PCs for my smaller system (until I can afford another pair of URs) Try them for yourself if your system is up to it.

The end of my story goes back to interconnects and also to power cables. The M-7 Line is a quantum leap in cables. I hadnít mentioned the very nice improvements the Stealth power cables made, especially to my CAL DAC and Monolithic Phono Preamp. Well when he sent me the M-7s to try it was a revelation. These really connect you to the music. It is hard to find words, and not say all the things Iíve said before. More, more, more. of all that is good. Transparent isnít even the word, invisible is more like it. And the blackness of the background is shocking, just shocking. I wish I could convey to you the qualities these possess. The realism, the life they bring. At first they sound so weird and different you canít put your finger on it. As you listen there is a sense of really actually being there, of the musicians right there with you. Utterly without any coloration, they are actually kind of spooky, I mean it. They break through a barrier we never conceived of and once you hear them you can never go back. Supreme, exquisite, euphoric. You must hear these.

In the end it is all about the music, sweet beautiful music. In the 25 years or so I have called myself an ďaudiophileĒ never have I found any product at any cost that give such satisfaction. I donít know how the man does it, on a slide rule or a Ouiji board. I donít care. I know what I hear and if you care at all about the quality of the reproduction of the music you enjoy then you can do no better then these fine, fine products. No matter how good your equipment is, or your listening environment, or the recordings you play you are not getting the full potential you can until you use these cables. I mean that and I believe that with all my heart. Hugh