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  1. #1
    Forum Regular Mwalsdor_cscc_edu's Avatar
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    Jan 2002

    Three Cables, Two Months, One Baby

    This is a review of three [3] interconnects I recently posted on another forum.

    First, I’d like to thank both Wardsweb and Sasaki for sending me these interconnects for review, and for letting me borrow them far longer than I should. Thanks guys.

    The review consisted of three cables: Wardsweb DIY [silver plated copper] – Steve Huffman “Grover II” [silver] and my reference: Silverline Audio [copper]. While the Silverlines were originally introduced in 2000, they have been upstaged many times by cables I’ve “borrowed” since. Yet never were those cables essential to my enjoyment. And what is essential to my replay enjoyment? The 45 driven SET, the passive line stage and the i2s digital format w/Audio Magic silver cables. Truth be told, if I had the disposable cash I may have pulled the trigger on some mega-buck cable but instead needed a low-cost alternative. And after sampling the two cables in this review I may have found the elusive coupling device. Read on.

    Physical Description: Ward’s: 1.5m w/Dayton connectors, twisted pair multi-stand silver plated copper with a teflon cover. Bentely Harris fiberglass cloth lined rubber sleeving, all covered in Bentely Harris expandable sleeving. Sasaki’s “Grover II”: 1m w/hollow plug vintage connectors, using a coaxial design with a very fine gauge silver ribbon conductor through a Teflon air core. Silverline Audio: 1.5m w/Cardas connectors, with a PVC dielectric consisting of seven small groups, one of which is a flexible PVC core for absorbing the excess resonance within the cable, the remaining six groups divided into three red (+) and 3 black (-), each consisting of multi-strand 16 AWG pure copper.

    Review Protocol: Both of the review cables saw alternating duty in my system for the period of two months. I also compared them in another system that I’m very familiar. The review protocol consisted of two phases. The first where I’d insert one and listen casually as if I wasn’t conducting a “review”. This would last for weeks at a time. Then in phase two I’d put on my “analytical hat” for some A/B/A comparisons, listening for specific components of each cable. For this I reduced the source material to a handful of tracks. I compared each cable for possible effects on the overall presentation and for subtle shifts in the music, attack of instrument or voice inflection.

    Burn-in Process: All three cables were in different states of use. The Grover cables had seen some use, Ward’s were brand-new and mine, of course, were stable. Needless to say the two review cables saw the most action, and one or the other was always looking at a signal. I know some of you don’t put much faith in this process but others have witnessed the effect firsthand.

    After a month I sat down for a comparison. The thing that grabbed my attention was the “snap” and “aliveness” with the Grover interconnects in the system. The Silverlines almost sounded “constipated” in comparison, although a bit more composed [smoother] overall. As we became more acquainted I became more and more impressed with they’re imaging abilities. They had a unique way, one I’m still coming to terms with, of presenting multiple instruments distinctly rather than as a homogenized blur [Johnny Cash: American IV]. This added a great deal to my musical enjoyment. The other strong suite of these cables was they’re ability to resolve information the other two cables shrouded in a haze of electronic artifacts. At first I thought they were a bit forward in perspective but later attributed this to they’re resolving power. In fact, I found them to be anything but forward or “large-gestured”.

    Next up, I checked out Ward’s DIY silver cables. The build quality of these cables was impressive and I wanted to like them because they were assembled just for me. Unfortunately, while pleasant enough I found them somewhat muffled and veiled. They were a bit too intrusive and glossed over the same information the others revealed. And like the Silverlines, it lacked the dynamic expression of Sasaki’s cable and rather than project images they remained shackled to they’re enclosures [Jeff Beck: Who Else]. While neither of the "silver cables" would be defined as robust, Ward’s leaned further from that characterization.

    Slids the Grover interconnect back in. In addition to they’re imaging, speed and pace I also appreciated the way they uncovered ambient cues, like room noise; movement about the mic, and the chattering of cords, chairs or feet [John Lee Hooker: Chill Out]. Room boundary information, while not the best I’ve ever heard, wasn’t lacking either [Kings of Convenience: Quiet is the New Loud]. These cables had greater extension in the upper registers, and I kept jotting down the word “shimmer” in my notes. They were a bit more sibilant than the copper cable and perhaps not the best patch cord in a SS system.

    I then listened to the cables in a friend’s system and recognized the same qualities I had earlier. We then A/B/A between the Grover cable and his reference – Omega Micro Ebony – which are hideously expensive and incorporate a very unique out-board battery supply. While recognizing the “Grover signature”, the longer I listened I had to agree that in comparison the Omega Micro was simply superior: Offering a richer mid-band, lightening quick transient attack and a variety of tonal color, shading and texture that was on another level [Nick Drake: Pink Moon]. Due to the complex nature of the Omega Micro device I’ve not tried them in my system but if my friend considers them his reference they must have won many a battle. Even so, head-to-head the Grover cable didn’t embarrass itself, especially in the recovery of low-level data.

    For me the highest praise I can give any component is that puts me closer to my music. And because it didn’t editorialize or serve the music in a compartmentalized fashion it delivers a measure of that promise by weaving discrete elements into one uniform fabric.

    Reality Check: Audiophiles often have difficulty interpreting the effect of a component in product reviews. We need to put those words into context. As you can tell I was quite impressed with Sasaki’s cable and intend to give it my highest endorsement – by purchasing a 1.5m pair. But shortly after concluding my audition I was introduced to another component that may assist in adding perspective to my cable review. The component was the Audiomeca Enkianthus DAC. A very beautiful and expensive component, and one that transformed my friend’s system like no other SOTA cable or cord ever had. Or for that matter, like any other core component either. It was like dropping a vinyl rig in his system, minus the rumbling and pops. So while I believe the Grover cable is a terrific bargain [$75] it will not fundamentally change your system or makeup for shortcomings elsewhere in the chain. If anything, it may present them in sharper relief.

    Disclaimer: As with any review, and especially for one involving cables, many of the descriptors used do not concern attributes of the device themselves [in this case a cable] but for what they recover or allow the system to replay. I.E. The cable itself isn’t “fast” instead it better replays the music with a “alive” quality. Assuming, of course, those characteristics were present before you pressed play. If that was not the case, then you need to hang out more in the Music Forum [or listen to live music] and spend less time reading silly reviews.


  2. #2
    Forum Regular
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    Nov 2003

    Wow - excellent review!!!

    Of course you will be told you imagined the whole thing.

    I'd never heard of Sasaki - I'll keep an eye (and an ear) out for them.

    It always nice to see a review that covers such a spread of time in a single system. Really adds confidence to know we are not getting knee jerk reactions to a component.

    Thanks again.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular Mwalsdor_cscc_edu's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002

    Thanks but let me clarify

    The "Sasaki" cable were loaned to me by a friend on another audio forum - Sasaki. The cables are distrubuted through remastering guru, Steve Hoffman. They are known as "Grover". There are three versions; the original, the MK II [reviewed] and the MK III. I understand the differences - in construction and signature - between them are subtle. Though from what Sasaki has reported to me, the new MK III's may be more to my liking, in my system. He'll have a better idea when he gets the cable I reviewed back and compares them directly.

    Another point I'd like to clarify, there is no association between Mr. Hoffman and myself, and as far as I know, between Sasaki and Mr. Hoffman. His only contributions to our forum are through his posts. I believe Sasaki discovered the cable on another forum and after sampling them in his system, which is very similar to mine, contacted me off-line about reviewing them in my system. I contacted Wardsweb after seeing his DIY cable posts on AK and asked him if he would let me take a listen. It just so happened that the two cables arrived about the same time and were compared to one another, as that was not my original intent. I simply was looking for a low cost replacement for my Silverline copper cables.

    Pictured below, left to right: Silverline Audio, Wardsweb DIY, "Grover II".

    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Mwalsdor_cscc_edu; 12-03-2003 at 10:52 AM.

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