STEALTH audio cables
STEALTH Sound Technology Enabling Audibly Lucid Transcomponent Harmony

Jeffrey Fiori

(Before the Indra: dedicated ground added)  Let me begin by saying I honestly did not expect much from a dedicated ground. My intuition told me this can't make that much of a difference. I began by playing a Cal Collins cd, 'Interplay', Concord 4137-2. A cd I am very familiar with. My reaction was "jaw dropping". I was stunned. ------Warmer, more base, a lot warmer, fuller. I had to listen to 3 songs before I could even write a note on what I was hearing. By song #3" People Will Say", the cymbals on Jake Hannas' drums were clean and clear. I could hear the pick hit the strings on Herb Ellis' guitar. The notes are separated, not blended together. On the guitar duel on song 4 "That's Your Head", You can pick out the 2 guys. They have a separate position on stage. WAY more analog sounding. Warm, smooth. Never heard the voice in intro to song 6-"I Got It Bad" sound so natural and smooth. Very easy to listen to. No fatigue. I have the urge to turn up the volume, and I never listen loud. Played Coleman Hawkins "Soul" , Prestige 096-2 The soundstage depth is so real. Hawkins sax on song 1, "Soul Blues" is clean with no edge. The high notes here will make you cringe. Not now. Just smooth and clear. Kenny Burrell's pick hits the guitar strings. After one hour, I think it has gotten better. after 2 better yet. 

Day 2: Played The LA 4, 'Zaca', Concord, 4130. Song 1, "Zaca", You can heard the hollow body of Laurindo Almeida's accoustic guitar. The clapping is real. The music is taking place in front of me. More detail. Even the cat has positioned herself in front of the speakers in the middle! Again, I swear it's better than day 1. Song 2-"You Can't Go Home Again". Bud Shank, alto sax, starts, very real. Drum hits are real, you can hear the heads as Hamilton hits. Song 3  "A Child is Born", Base and guitar start out together, base is tight, mids from Almeida's guitar are incredible. Song 4----I can not take the time to write. must listen, too much detail.  Played Inya, "A Day Without Rain" Repise. 47426. song 10 'one by one'. I always go to this one when I make a change because it's very hard to resolve the background violins. Not now. They are very clear. Great. I have played a lot more this past week, and the results have been the same, HUGE stage, detail, and depth. The space seems to be the biggest improvement. I don't know the right words, 'reflections, ambiance, what ever, It's all good because I want to listen more. I must say, this seems to be one of the biggest single improvements to my system yet. Who'd thought... 

(Hybrid MLTs and Cloude Nine cords added) 

Hooked up the Mlt's, plugged in the cloud 9, must write! Played Cal Collins, Herb Elllis, 'Interplay' CD. Concord 4137, track 4, That's your Head. Huge sound stage-----It fills the whole front of my room, and deep. I am amazed at the "size" of the performance. It's as if I am in the bar room in front of the stage. It fills the space in front of me. THE BASE. A lot more base, and it's tight. Ray Brown plays base on this CD so you know it's the best, and it's the best I have heard Brown. When Cal Collins and Herb Ellis break into a guitar dual, I started to laugh out loud. The highs are much better too as Jake Hanna's cymbals are crisp and clear with less edge. This rocks. The improvement is on a level with Indra interconnects. Now I wish I didn't have to work tomorrow, I would like to stay up late and listen...

(Indra, two pairs)  

I listen mostly to classic jazz from the 50's 60's and some newer. I listen at low levels. It has required some effort to put a system together that produces all the dynamics of this music at lower levels. My criteria is simple, if I'm listening longer and louder, I'm headed in the right direction. The results that follow are in the right direction. I've listened now to the Indra on 3 systems. In each case I compared the Audio Magic illusion, Stealth PGS-3D, and the Indra. The systems and results are as follows.

System 1

  • Denon 1520 CDP
  • Harmon Kardon hk580i receiver
  • Dynaudio C-4 speakers
  • Mapleshade Samson rack, triple point cones under all
  • Shunyata Hydra power conditioner.

...Played Zoot Sims/Jimmy Rowles, " Warm Tenor", Pablo 2310. Audio Magic Illusion: Not much music coming through. What did come through become fatiguing after about 15 min. The highs were rolled off. Had an edge. PGS-3D: ' Liquid' is introduced for the first time. Highs now present. The midrange is pleasing, no grit. Took this low-fi system from unlistenable to rather pleasing. The low end improved a little bit but is weak. Sound stage got wider but is not very deep. Drum sticks are present for the first time. The piano now sounds like music. Indra: Cymbals are here! Breath from sax is present. Piano resonates! Some base is coming through. I'm hearing instruments for the first time. Less digital edge. Drum sticks are hitting the drum head. Music for the first time with this system. I get the feeling the cable ' fixed' some problems with the electronics, and left me with their limitations, but presented them in a way that made the system listenable and somewhat enjoyable. Saying a lot considering what we started with. 

System 2:

  • Pioneer PD-S95 transport
  • Stealth Varidig RCA cryo
  • Bremen #1/Shunyata Anaconda
  • VAC Signature Mark II pre/Stealth Cloude Nine
  • Audio Magic Illusion interconnects
  • B&K 220M mono blocks/Electraglide Fatman
  • Stealth Hybrid MLT
  • Dynaudio C-4/mapleshade cones
  • Shunyada Hydra
  • Mapleshade Samson rack

Played Sergio Salvatore/John Patitucci, "Always a Beginning", Concord Jazz 4704 Cables compared were between dac and pre-amp Of course I am now listening to way more of everything. This made switching cables more interesting, especially as noted for Indra below. Audio Magic Illusion: Highs rolled off, what is present made me want to do something else after about 10 min. had an edge. This system put the base back in although it is boomy, not tight. PGS-3D: Highs coming though now. Piano makes me smile. Quite pleasing. Biggest difference seems to be the mids to highs. I listen the entire CD without wanting to turn it off. Indra: 2 things have arrived. The music, and the room the music was made in. For the first time I am presented with a music hall (room) in addition to the music. I can more easily forget about my listening room. The piano has volume. The base is now tight. Highs are crisp, clean and powerful but not harsh. The drum head is felt with each hit of the stick. I am excited! Downside: Music sounds a little like reverberation units we had in our cars as teenagers----which delayed the sound to the rear speaker and gave you a sense of a big space. It quickly became fatiguing back then. This did not fatigue, but was not something I would say was good either. 

System 3 Same as above but the B&K's were removed for VAC Signature mono blocks. (Note: The difference in amps is staggering. More of everything with way less edge. More separation between instruments. More base. Soundstage is deep and wide. Music seems slower (not a bad thing, as in wrong timing, but good in that I'm enjoying it more.)---this seems odd. Once again I switch between the 3 cables. Cindy is present for a comparison session and her comments are included.) Played Sergio Salvatore "Always a Beginning". Concord Jazz 4704 Audio Magic Illusion: Music is dry. The piano sounds muffled. I am aware I am listening to HiFi. Base is somewhat boomy. Highs are rolled off. Not much space between instruments, after only 4 minutes it became irritating, causing me to lower the volume. At the lower volume, it lacked dynamics. I did not make me want to listen to more than one song. {I don't want to sound completely negative about these cables, I liked them with my old Conrad Johnson electronics, but they're not working for me now} Cindy: Lacks vibrancy, pizzazz. PGS-3D: Warm, more liquid, midrange (piano) is no longer muffled. Base is tighter. Midrange is glorious. Drum head i presented as a head, (skin) Music has a volume, way more detail. Still sounds HiFi.(note: I may be spoiled, I have heard the Indra already) Cindy: Wider sound stage, distinct instruments, more crispness of sound, especially the piano.

Indra: More base, way more. The room is brought in for the first time. (as in system 2 only more so) The effect is "you're there" (no longer HiFi): greater cymbals, and snare drum. The two are noticed as distinct for the first time. The subtle scat voice in the background on one song came out with the PGS, is now awesome with the Indra. Not out of place, just distinct. Able to play this cable at low volumes with no loss of anything. Don't want to turn it off. Cindy: Everything is up a level. The scat voice that was not identifiable before as a voice, is now distinguished as a voice. vibrancy all the way though. Back to PGS-3D: Depth of soundstage shrinks, dryer, flatter, HiFi again, Base is not as tight. Cindy: less pizzazz, umth---You could turn it off and that would be fine as opposed to Indra--Now you want to hear the end of it (the CD) Back to Indra: Everything is up a notch. Liquid less edge, A triangle is struck and sounds real. I want to keep listening. Base has a resonating volume, it's coming from a wood instrument. The subtle scat voice in the background has a position in the soundstage. Cindy: It's right here. Vibrancy, wider notes.

I think the best thing about the Indra is it's ability to get me to forget I'm in my listening room. I'm there!

(after Srajan's first review) The "three-dimensional space exploded" is probably Indra's most poignant quality. "also removed electronic tension and effort" is also true.-----that said, the lack tension and effort was truer for the cryoed cable vs. the non cryoed pair I had. I suspect Indra responds well to the process. As for the "reported lack of advantages when inserting a second Indra", ????? where did this come from. Not me. My second pair made about as much of an improvement as the first. I can't remember if it was a little more or a little less improvement, --I did not make a note---but the point is moot. It was big. I will try removing a pair again, when I get the time, just to see. But the fact that I have not had ANY inclination to do so, proves my point. Last Saturday a non- audiophile friend stopped by for a chat and asked to hear something. We played side one of Boston Symphony Orchestra, Jean Sibelius, symphony No. 5, E flat. Gary's face went blank when the music started. He sat right down and did not move until the side was done.---Let me tell you that Gary considers his ears to be damaged from 25 years of flying airplanes. He is a captain for American Airlines. But the music gave him goosebumps. He played trombone in orchestra in high school. He kept locating the different positions of each section in the orchestra. Maybe his ears are not that bad. Or maybe Indra is that good. The non-audiophiles are the best judges.

(production Indra versus beta: first pair with STEALTH connectors) I must say, I was quite surprised at the improvement the new connectors make. I wrote the following notes the first day. Day 1 -no break-in. Played Ray Brown Trio, 'Soular Energy', Concord 4268. MORE detail, noticed immediately. song 1 Exactly like you---Strings on Brown's base have more detail. They are vibrant. You can hear the wood. The piano starts with a better tone. The notes are more alive. The brushes on King's drum are more there. All this increased detail, with, most important, less edge, it's smoother. Harris' piano on #2 'Cry Me a River', is more of the same. The notes last longer in space. They fill the room better, the sounds seems to fade behind me, like it does live. At this point I switched back to the pair of Indra with the Cardas connectors.------Not as smooth, less detail. Less involving. This is NOT a subtle difference.

I switch back to new connectors...I won't be going back. Played Louie Belson's 'Big Band Explosion', "The Art of The Chart", on Concord 4800-2 Song #2, The intimacy of the Blues. The horns here are my usual test for 'edge'----NONE here, gone, a big difference Sense that first day I have played many cd's that I am familiar with. They all sound new, fresh. I now hear things for the first time. Similar to hearing the Indra in the system for the first time. This is clearly the next level. I have also switched back to the Cardas connectors with the same result as above. As you know, this is between the Bremen DAC, and the Vac preamp. Congratulations, this is a hit. Once again I am amazed at what is locked up in this system. I had a few non-audiophile friends over to listen the other day (actually all my friends are non-audiophiles) and they said it sounded better than live. I was thrilled at the comment.

(second pair upgraded) ...I was so excited that I changed my afternoon to install them and give a listen. I must say my expectations were sky high. I started with everything cold. I was a bit disappointed at first. ----let me clarify----it was immediately way better than the Audio magic illusions I have been listening to for a month. More base, much of the openness in the midrange was back, along with the highs. This I could remember from a month ago---it's amazing how little we forget once we have heard something. This may be why it is impossible to go backwards in this hobby. Now of course this is stone cold. Within 5 and then again at 10 minutes in things started to improve. As one would expect. Gene Harris' piano on #6 Solar Energy, the Ray Brown Trio came back with the magic I had become used to. The base started to tighten, I was hearing all sorts of things that had been missing for weeks.----It was a great experiment to listen 'back' with the Audio Magic while you had the Indra. That said, I must say, the improvement right out of the box was not as great as with the stealth connector 1 meter Indra. The good news is, cold, with no break-in, these new connectors sound almost as good as the fully broken in pair with the Cardas connectors (which took 100-150 hrs to break-in. maybe more as I broke them in on a second system and then noticed a continued improvement as they settled in on my main system.) I will of course, make notes as I break them in...

I have been listening the last few days, somewhat in disbelief, it seems too good to be true. The sound is WAY better than it was, and i only have 20-25 hrs. in. As I listen I sometimes find myself laughing for no particular reason. I started to notice that as a got up from my listening chair during a song, the sound remained true. The "sweet spot" had increased! Then as I moved about the room, I noticed the whole room was a sweet spot. The experience was like that of live music in that you are not limited to one particular chair. Musicians do not play to only one chair. They play to the whole room. Audio, it seems it plagued with the problem of a 'sweet spot'. Not now!--- I can walk around and enjoy from many places in the room. That alone is worth it. And the sound------Way better in all ways , laughably so. I'm amazed, and still not broken in yet. Thank you very much for taking this system to a new level. I am hearing things I have not heard before. It's very interesting that this particular upgrade has upped my enjoyment so much and at the same time (or at this time), I find the specifics do not seem as important as before. Anyway-----enough rambling--I'll talk to you soon. ( and provide some specifics) I imagine you can tell I like this :-).  

(after two weeks listening to two pairs of Indra, both with the STEALTH connectors) : ...These  new stealth connectors on the long Indra have exceeded my expectations, and my expectations were high.  I now have heard the new connectors on both the short and long Indra.  I must say the connectors have made a bigger improvement than the Indra itself!  The effect was even greater on the long Indra than the short. (maybe this is due to the cumulative effect)   As I mentioned before, the soundstage increased. The 'sweet spot' expanded to most of the room. 

On recording after recording the effect was the same.  Increased dynamics, more low level retrieval of information.  I kept hearing things that were not apparent before. 

On Ken Peplowski Quintet, Sonny Side, concord records, 4376, song 2 the piano was more real, each note resonated, you heard the attack, then the decay, and it lasted and filled the room.

On song 3, 'Don't take your love from me', Peplowski's sax---you can hear the reed, valve, and horn 'air' as distinct.  The endings fade out longer.

I think I mentioned to you that Cindy and I have studied ballroom dance for many years.   Last year, at a local social dance we finished doing a Viennese Waltz and a fellow came over to us and said, "it seems to me that you changed the timing", "you looked different than everyone else." I smiled and said, "yes!, very good".  Of course we were on time and we had changed the time.  Let me explain.  Waltz timing is 1   2    3.       We danced   1..........2 3.  By holding the one we had time to add movement, swing, and sway.  Elements not possible with the  even timing of 1  2  3.  The whole experience of the dance was changed.  And improved.  It is this experience that came to mind when I listen to the new connectors.  The timing changed.  It was more real.  It had improved and was more enjoyable. 

(beta testing continues: the Sextet) Before listening to the Sextet, I started by inserting the BNC terminated Vardig in place of the RCA termination/adapter. Played Gene Harris Quartet, 'Like a Lover' , Concord CCD-4526 I immediately noticed a little more on the high end, and the low tightened up a bit. The pace seems to slow slightly, it became a little more relaxed. This showed up on Song 2, "Misterioso".  The cymbals rang true, the highs on the electric guitar come out more.  Again on song 4, 'Until the real thing comes along", the cymbals, and the piano are smoother, the highs have improved. 

On song 5, "Jeannnine", when Harris' piano duels with Escheie' guitar, they are presented with more separation. I'm noticing the leading edge of base notes as they are plucked. Cool!  More of the same with Woody Herman Presents, Vol. 2, on Concord CCD-4180, On Song 2, "Woody's Lament", the horns are smoother with no lose in the highs. On song 4, "I wanna go home", The tenor saxes (there are 4!), the last little bit on edge is gone. Sound is more "analog" - as they say. 

To sum: the BNC connector is clearly better than using RCA and an adapter, the results above are not huge but worth the effort, and I would have been happy if I didn't hear the Sextet.

With the Sextet replacing the "standard" Varidig it gets interesting. 

Played Suprano Summit, Concord CCD-4052 immediately noticed an increased volume level. It's smoother, way smoother, the sound stage is wider and deeper. Some instruments seem too high on the stage. This could easily be the recording or the room's reaction to the recording. The  Sextet clearly stages the music wider and with more separation. The description "analog" used above with the Varidig is now laughable. This is what is meant by saying digital can sound like analog. The base, 4 alto saxes, drums/cymbals are all more separate, and by no small margin. This not a 'golden ear' improvement. There is no edge. The information coming out seems unchanged from the BNC Varidig, but the presentation is better. On song 2, "Puggles", Budwig's base starts the song, I hear the strings stretch, then separation of the base and rhythm guitar. The saxes have the right volume and position as if real, ...with real impact. 
I could listen all night. And did... for 2 weeks. 

With each CD, the result was the same. For 2 weeks I wrote no notes. Just enjoyed the music at the highest level I have ever heard. After 2 weeks I started making notes again:

Played Walter Norris Duo, "Hues of Blues", concord, CCD-4671, song 1, 'Fontessa', Norris' piano starts very powerfully with no edge, lots of air. When Mraz' base comes in, it is very separate from the piano. It's almost bigger than life. Lots of wood. But again, round and full. More "liquid". I hate to use all the audiophile speak, but I don't know how else to say it. I see the Sextet as taking care of both ends, while delivering a fullness to the sound. I have never described the VAC electronics as polite, yet now they head in that direction, not a bad thing, like a coloration, just good.  

On song 2, "Serenata", I switch back the BNC Varidig, after not hearing it for 2 weeks. Imagine shrinking the middle of the stage. It is noticeably dryer, not as relaxed, that "make you melt" feeling is gone.  Switching back again is a sign of relief. After Sextet is in the system for couple of weeks it is not possible to go back - I've tried.  

To sum: I'd say the Sextet makes it's mark in presentation of the music. I'm not hearing more music, as the Varidig does a great job of that.  I'm just hearing it the way I like to hear it. The staging, imagining, and separation has been raised to a new level. The Sextet is to digital, as the Indra is to analog. Together, they make beautiful music. Jeff F.


Nov 2004 system:

  • Maplenoll Signature Ariadne
  • Koetsu Onyx Sapphire
  • Pioneer PDS95 Transport
  • Stealth Varidig (Varidig Sextet)
  • Bremen 1 DAC
  • Stealth Indra
  • VAC Renaissance Signature Mark II Pre (+dedicated ground)
  • Stealth Indra
  • VAC Renaissance Signature 70 Mark V Monoblocks (Custom version)
  • Stealth Hybrid MLT
  • Dynaudio C4 (modded)
  • Tannoy ST100 super tweeters
  • Infinity Intermezzo 1.2s Sub
  • Power cords: Stealth M21, Cloude Nine
  • Plitron Isolation transformer with "dedicated audio ground"
  • Argent Rooom lens
  • Thingman base traps
  • Echo buster corners
  • Mapleshade Samson Racks
  • Mapleshade cones/platforms under all