Vol. 11, Issue 5
By Mark Chaffin
I had been giving some thought recently to upgrading my speaker cable. However, I could not bring myself to spend the kind of money that is required to purchase the really good cables that are out there. Or so I thought.
Several months ago I read some good comments on CompuServe's audio forum about some cables from DH Labs called Silver Sonic T-14. The representative of these cables frequents this forum, so I e-mailed a request for information on the T-14 cables. The literature arrived a few days later, and it included reprints of glowing reviews these cables had received in various publications. The review convinced me that I should give the T-14 a try. I ordered an 8-foot bi-wire pair from the representative, Terry Rossen, whose service was excellent. The cables arrived in three days.
When I unpacked the cables, I could tell that the construction quality appeared to be as good as any cables that I had seen. The T-14s use two 14 AWG conductors of OFC that are coated with a heavy plating of silver. This plating is said to be twice as thick as most other silver plating. The conductors are insulated with tightly extruded TFE Teflon, then twisted in a low inductance spiral using polymer rope spacers. The conductors and spacers are then tightly wrapped to maintain their shape. An outer jacket of PVC finishes the construction of the T-14s. Darren Hovsepian of DH Labs says that the conductors are so tightly sealed that they will not oxidize over time. This makes them ideal for internal wiring of speakers and electronics. You can order these cables in any length, with spades or banana plugs, or any combination of the two.
Terry Rossen told me that the cables are broken in to some degree before shipping and should sound good right out of the box. He said that they would attain their best sound after about 48 hours of use. I was anxious to replace the cables I had been using and give the T-14s a listen. My current speakers are Apogee Duettas, driven by an Aragon 4004 MKII. The Apogees had been wired with two different brands of cable, one of which cost somewhat more than the bi-wire set of Silver Sonic. When the music began to play, I was pleasantly surprised by the change in the sound that I heard through these cables. The music was more open and transparent. The highs seemed more extended, yet smoother. The bass was as deep as my previous cables, but it was tighter and more controlled. Sound stage width was about the same as before, but the depth and layering were greater. There was also better resolution of low level detail. The overall sound of the cables was totally neutral from top to bottom.
I could not detect any detrimental artifacts being added to the sound by the T-14s. And this was, as Terry said, right out of the box. After a few hours of play, the cables did improve to some degree in most areas of performance. However, after I used the Duo-Tech Cable Enhancer on the T-14s for about 48 hours, there was a more dramatic improvement. I wouldn't be surprised if these cables could hold their own against most of the mega-buck cables on the market. They are that good.
Are there cables on the market that might sound better in your system than the Silver Sonic T-14? Possibly, but be prepared to spend major money for them. Are there other cables in the T-14s' price range that will do everything as well as they do? It's doubtful. They are just too good in all areas to expect other inexpensive cables to match their performance. How much do they cost? My 8-foot bi-wire set, with spades on both ends, sells for $155! [Current price $193.]
DH Labs also has the BL-1 interconnect, which uses similar conductors and construction, and is fully shielded. The BL-1 sells for $95 for a 1 meter pair with RCAs (add $20 for XLR). I have not tried the BL-1, but they too have been well received by others. I hope to try a pair soon.
Everyone is looking for a bargain these days. True bargains in high end audio, ones that provide the quality and performance audiophiles demand, are hard to find. A few companies such as Audio Alchemy, Acurus, NAD, Adcom, and Golden Tube, are noted for providing such bargains. Now we have a cable company that seems to be earning the same type of reputation. If the BL-1 interconnects perform as well as the T-14, and I have every reason to believe they will, then DH Labs may be the place for audiophiles on a budget to begin their search for audio nirvana. These cables are highly recommended.