STEALTH CABLES TESTIMONIAL
Author: Tom Patton
STEALTH analog interconnects.
Twelve years before I first heard of STEALTH cables, my interconnects were AudioQuest Diamond and MIT CVT Terminator. I replaced them five or six years ago by homemade cables of my own that sounded better, loose braids of Kimber AGSS multistranded silver and other "name brand" wires. My first STEALTH interconnects were two Fineline Reference (FLR) pairs and two cross-wrapped copper (CWC) pairs. Each made my music a lot more vivid and detailed than it had been before. The CWC also gave me an incredible background of silence, and the feeling that I was hearing the ambience of the recording venue in extraordinary detail. They were my favorite at that point. A few weeks later I tried a cross-wrapped ribbon (CWR) pair, and ended up liking them better than CWC, though it was a close call. The two designs have a different "voice", reminding me of reviewers' talk of Yin and Yang in The Absolute Sound. CWC is darker, CWR lighter, and I think either could sound more natural in a given system. But CWR clearly did in mine. The CWR I tried, and still have on hand, used the thinnest silver ribbon obtainable in its time, but a thinner ribbon has become available now, thanks to the efforts of Serguei Timachev, the STEALTH designer. Very recently I tried a balanced version of the new CWR, and while I can't be sure how much credit to give to the XLR connectors and the balanced configuration, the new CWR interconnects were more vidid, more detailed, more dynamic, simply more musical, than the old. Theory dictates that this should be true, and my ears tell me that it certainly is.
The final STEALTH analog interconnect that I've tried is the revolutionary new gold model. This cable is truly remarkable! I can't find words strong enough to convey my amazement at what it did for my sound. I've listened to small jazz combos mostly so far, and some tangos, with a female vocalist or two thrown in. The sense of instruments blending together, yet each being separate and distinct, and of dynamics, with sounds jumping out at me but just in due measure, as they would in a live performance, was a source of great listening pleasure. This gold interconnect gave me the most involving music my stereo system has ever achieved. It too has a distinctive "voice", but I wouldn't call it light or dark, just beautifully balanced. To ears attuned to a "bright" or even a "silvery" sound, it might seem "soft". But among all the STEALTH cables I've auditioned, the gold is the undisputed champion on detail. Any "softness" is simply a refusal to overemphasize highs. This gold interconnect also strikes me as handling transient decay better than any other I've used. This may be a key factor for realism and naturalness, as important as good handling of transient attack. The pleasing silence that closely follows a transient is unique in my listening experience.
STEALTH speaker cables.
I used very expensive MIT CVT Terminator speaker cables for some years, then replaced them with better-sounding ones of my own, braided out of Kimber AGSS mustistranded silver, Kimber AGSC solid core silver, and various other "name brand" wires. The STEALTH Premiers that I replaced these with were an order of magnitude better in every way: detail, transparency, solidity of sound stage, and especially dynamics, both quiet and loud. My interconnects at that time were STEALTH CWC's, and I thought these might fit especially well with the Premiers, since both use Litz wire, whose very thin, individually insulated wires reduce "skin effect" to the max. But the system sounded even better when I replaced the CWC interconnects with the CWR silver ribbon. I then tried STEALTH UR ("Ultimate Ribbon") speaker cables, and ended up liking them better than the Premiers, though it was a close call. They have a higher (or lighter, as opposed to darker) "voice", and a very pleasing way with upper midrange transients, percussive elements in Latin jazz being one example. A choice between these two will doubtless depend on other system components, but the UR made the music more natural and "live"-sounding in mine.
STEALTH digital cables.
The digital separates I've used call for two digital cables, to and from a Genesis Digital Lens. I was using either two Altis Altimate optical cables or one of these and a van den Hull AES/EBU cable. As my system improved, thanks mostly to other STEALTH cables, I realized that what I had taken as a nice midrange liquidity in the Altis was really just a loss of detail. My van den Hull was better on this score, but my first STEALTH digital cable, coaxial on RCA plugs, gave me still more detail and a generally fuller, more natural sound. I then replaced the van den Hull with a STEALTH AES/EBU cable, this one featuring the Varidig technology. This made for a huge improvement! My digital separates left the system, replaced by the Accuphase DP-75, before I got around to comparing the two STEALTH digital cables. But I'm sure the unique Varidig feature is well worth having.
STEALTH power cords.
During the first few seconds of auditioning a STEALTH HAC power cord going to a power amplifier, I thought a tango I often use for comparison testing, on Pablo Ziegler's "Asfalto" CD, sounded a little harsh. I quickly realized that I was simply hearing the music more clearly, that the harshness was there in the musical performance. When I introduced a 10gauge dedicated ground wire, going to an 8' copper-plated brass rod driven into the earth, the sonic potential of STEALTH power cords was more fully realized: dramatic dynamics and a background of dead silence, in particular. I'm now using three STEALTH power cords, and planning to add more.
Besides simply listening to music for pleasure, I work at improving my system to enhance that pleasure, and this calls for comparisons and evaluations of various components that pass through my system, from major pieces like power amplifiers to small elements like resistors. STEALTH cables have helped greatly in letting my system develop into a sensitive test instrument for these purposes. Before I had them, I could never have accurately compared the sound of Holco metal film and Audio Note tantalum resistors, for example. I could never have seen how my Shallco-Holco passive preamplifier and my CAT SL-1 III active preamplifier compare on quietness and detail. STEALTH cables improved my system first through their excellence as cables, but second through their role in helping me evaluate, for purposes of upgrading, the system components they run between.
Components used in auditioning.
- Loudspeakers: Quad ESL 63's (major upgrade by Nick Gowan, True Sound);
- Power amplifiers: Pass Labs Aleph 3, Atma-Sphere M60 II's (extensively upgraded), Sonic Frontiers SFS-40 (customized);
- Preamplifiers: CAT SL-1 III with phono, AHT DM-P phono preamp, Vendetta Research SCP-2A phono preamp, passive preamp using dual mono Shallco ladder attenuators with Holco resistors;
- Digital sources: Accuphase DP-75 and Sonic Frontiers SFCD-1 CD players, Sonic Frontiers SFT-1 transport, Genesis Digital Lens, Parasound 2000 UltraDAC;
- Analog source: Oracle Premier Mark IV, SME V tonearm, Koetsu Rosewood Signature cartridge;
- Power conditioner: Cinepro 10 Line Balancer;
- Dedicated Audio Ground wiring configuration;
- Acoustic treatment: four RPG Skyline diffusers, three Argent Room Lens clones, one RPG 734 diffuser clone, two RPG Omniffusor clones, two RPG Skyline clones, three ceiling level perforated panel absorbers, various wall and near-ceiling absorbers, heavy drapes over three windows.