AOM Logo February 1999


Silver Audio’s Silver Breeze Analog Transmission Cable
A phono cable for the AGes


Andrew Chasin

It has been with keen interest that I have watched Silver Audio’s Max Kreifeldt metamorphose from an amateur wire enthusiast into a full-fledged cable designer, from whose pen has sprung some of the finest examples to grace my reference system. I enthusiastically reviewed Mr. Kreifeldt’s first commercial product, the Silver Bullets 4.0S interconnects, in November 1997 and my ardor for this fine product remains unabated to this day. (The Silver Bullets were originally marketed under the D Lin Audio banner but the company name was subsequently changed to Silver Audio.) Of late, the company’s budget-leaning product line has moved decidedly upscale and now includes the top-line Appasionata interconnect (US$700.00/meter pair), the Silver Symphony 32 and 48 loudspeaker cables (US$1100.00/8 ft. pair and US$1700.00/8 ft. pair respectively), and the Silver Breeze Analog Transmission Cable.

Silver Breeze Analog Transmission Cable

The Silver Breeze is Silver Audio’s most advanced cable design to date, and embodies Max Kreifeldt’s latest thoughts on grounding, noise cancellation, and shielding against the sonically detrimental effects of RFI and EMI. The essence of the cable is eight strands of pure silver wire hand-woven around a pTFE air core into a complex geometry which is, according to the cable’s designer, effective at canceling "proximity effects" i.e. inter-conductor electro-magnetic interactions. A great deal of effort has been expended on shielding the Silver Breeze from the vagaries of RFI and EMI, both of which can play havoc with the tiny cartridge-induced voltages the cable is designed to transmit. In particular, a proprietary shielding system "floated at both ends and shunted to ground separately rather than by shorting to the negative returns of the preamplifier" is employed. Finally, a pure silver ground lead (surely one of the longest to grace a phono lead) is individually shielded within the "main bundle" and terminated with an alligator clip. In order to accommodate the requirements of the VPI JMW tonearm’s termination block, the review cable was supplied with RCA termination (the superb solder-less, locking WBT 0108) at both ends (standard termination is straight five-pin DIN to RCA).

Had Silver Audio not claimed that the Silver Breeze was "designed to be the finest cable in the world regardless of price" I may have been less inclined to compare it with my current reference, the XLO Signature Phono Cable, thought by many to be the finest such cable extant (and most certainly one of the more costly). Since finding its way into my system, the XLO Signature has delighted with its seductively smooth treble, delicate midrange, and nimble, yet extended, bass, not to mention its presentation of backgrounds that are haunting in their silence. It was only in comparison with the Silver Breeze that a slight opacity throughout the midrange and a softening of the upper treble became apparent in the Signature’s delivery of the musical signal. The Silver Breeze also illuminated the Signature’s tendency to shroud the rear of the soundstage in a penumbral shadow, with a concomitant obscuring of detail at the stage’s deepest depths.

Having auditioned the Silver Breeze with countless recordings spanning a variety of musical genres, I am hard pressed to ascribe any particular sonic signature to it. I had, on occasion, concluded that it leaned a trifle to the white side of neutral. Further investigation, however, would inevitably uncover the real culprit, be it a sub-optimal VTA setting, an inadequately clamped record, a preamplifier tube allowed insufficient burn-in, or, more commonly, a recording with an up-tilted treble. (Some of the early Classic Records reissues being particularly good examples of the latter.) Where the XLO Signature forgave minor imperfections in system setup and configuration, the Silver Breeze demanded their correction.

The Silver Breeze was a model of clarity, transparency and resolution, terms that were scribbled liberally throughout my listening notes. The trails of hall reverberation heard on Duke Ellington’s Indigo Moods (Columbia 8053), and Charles Mingus’ Ah Um (Columbia/Classic Records CS8171) and Mingus Dynasty (Columbia CS8236, 6-eye pressing), low-level details which are critical to providing a convincing sense of the recorded acoustic, were resolved in breathtaking fashion by the Silver Breeze. Ditto for Mingus’ reverential outcries from deep in the recesses of the right channel, heard with greater perspicuity than ever before.

Associated Components

Analogue: VPI Aries turntable, JMW-10 tonearm (latest version), Benz-Micro L0.4 moving-coil cartridge
Preamplifier: Audible Illusions Modulus 3A (Tungsram E88CC NOS tubes) with John Curl designed gold MC phono board
Power Amplifier: Celeste Moon W-5
Loudspeakers:Anthony Gallo Acoustics Nucleus Solo
Cables: Silver Audio Silver Bullets 4.0 interconnects, Silver Audio Silver Symphony 48 Loudspeaker Cables, XLO Signature Phono Cable
Accessories: Echo Busters room treatment products, Target equipment stands, Black Diamond Racing Mk.IV Pyramid Cones and "Round Things" Record Clamp, Arcici Lead(less) Balloon Turntable Stand and Air Head Isolation Base, LAST stylus cleaning fluid, 15A dedicated AC outlets.

Billie Holiday’s Songs for Distingué Lovers (a superb Verve reissue) threw the Silver Breeze’s midrange openness and neutrality into stark relief against the slightly veiled view offered by the XLO Signature. The Silver Breeze is one of precious few cables able to present Holiday’s uniquely captivating voice with coherence of character throughout her (limited) compass. As Holiday coaxes her voice into its lowest register during her sublime performance of Johnny Mercer’s Day In Day Out, one does not hear the thickening of texture or the slightest hint of a chesty lower midrange coloration, both of which plague the performance of lesser cables.

Coupled with the latest version of VPI’s JMW-10 unipivot (a true masterpiece of audio engineering), the Silver Breeze bestowed a wealth of recorded detail upon the listener. Faint performance details and complex orchestral passages once blurred or obscured were now intelligible. When Charles Mingus plays sixteenth notes against the barrage of Booker Erwin’s thirty-seconds on Goodbye Pork Pie Hat from Ah Um, one can hear the distinct lines in both the bass and tenor sax as clearly separated in space and time. The light-speed triple tonguing of the trumpet heard in Maurice Ravel’s Alborada del Gracioso (RCA/Classic Records LSC-2222), which can become blurred into a sustained single note unless all playback components are adequately fleet of foot, remained unscathed by its traversal of the Silver Breeze.

Both upper treble and lower bass performance were first class. Treble transients (the strike of a cymbal, the thwack of a snare, the percussive sparkle of high register piano trills) dazzled and delighted, demonstrating none of the cottony softness of the XLO Signature. Bass was ripe and full, but not unnaturally so. Scott LaFaro’s brilliant bass work on The Bill Evans Trio’s Explorations (Riverside), afforded a deservedly prominent place in the mix, boils over with body and richness undiminished by the Silver Breeze’s seemingly endless low frequency reach. Likewise, the organ which opens the second movement of Saint Saëns’ Symphony No.3 (Decca/Ace of Diamonds SDD 2123) shook, rattled and rolled through the listening room in seismic fashion.

Conclusions
Chemist by day, cable designer by night, Silver Audio’s Max Kreifeldt is clearly emerging as one of the brightest lights on the high-end cable scene. His latest offering, the Silver Breeze Analog Transmission Cable, is a considerable achievement, made all the more so by its more-than-reasonable price (roughly half that of the XLO Signature). Kudos to Silver Audio for continuing to push the limits of small-signal transmission during what many believe to be analogue’s final hour.

Silver Breeze Analog Transmission Cable
Manufactured by Silver Audio
13616 North 43rd Street, Suite 148, Phoenix, Arizona 85032
phone: 1-800-570-7881, fax: (602) 996-8779
e-mail: DLin@SilverAudio.com, web: http://www.SilverAudio.com
Price: US$400.00/1.2 metre pair
Source of review sample: Manufacturer Loan


Manufacturer's Response:

Mr. Chasin,

I was overjoyed to read such a fair and insightful review on our Silver Breeze tone arm lead. I was especially delighted to learn you had a difficult time ascribing a sonic signature to the cable - this means I did my job too!

You actually received one of the first phono leads we made using the same high performance geometry of our new Appassionata reference interconnect for the signal network. This, in conjunction with the superb, solder-less WBT 0108 RCA connector, really brought the cable up to a new level of accuracy.

Yes, Silver Audio (formerly D Lin Audio) has come a long way in a very short time. I am always so grateful to everyone who has supported Silver Audio and made everything we now have to offer possible. Anyway, with the specter of year the 2000 looming in front of us, the winds of change are blowing through high-end audio! I believe there is a saying to the effect that no technology ever completely matures until it has been replaced. This could not be more true of analog sound reproduction.

I would venture to say that none of the ever-more-fervent vinyl bashers have recently (if ever) experienced the uncanny realism still capable from those big black CDs when retrieved by a fine tuned, modern high-end phono system. Vinyl has its own problems, and may be hopelessly impractical, but I feel there is still a certain organic purity to instrumental timbre and extended sound stage depth that makes it worth all the fuss. Or should I say fuzz? I also think the advances made in the digital realm are an absolute joy to behold. I think it is obvious that digital sound has really become more analog in the higher frequencies in particular. This after 15 years of often severely flawed digital saccharine sound, which drove the sale of modern high-end turntables and phono equipment to such heights that even Forbes magazine noticed and was inclined to address the trend a few years ago.

I think the top echelon of analog playback really held the torch for digital to follow in some respects. There must have been enough of a critical mass of dedicated analog enthusiasts making enough noise that the industry really did respond. The mainstream market certainly wasn’t protesting the quality of digital sound, so why else would the industry have tried so hard to improve something everyone else thought was perfect anyway?

I really hope vinyl always has a place in the world. If you really think about it, both analog and digital at their best probably fall equally short of being mistakable for the original event, just in different ways. If we are lucky, we will always have a choice in our pleasures: digital or analog, tube or solid state, cake or ice cream! It would be a shame if mere inconvenience was the only reason to eliminate any of these choices wouldn’t it?

Thank you again Mr. Chasin and the staff of Audiophilia. You and your readers can all look forward to plenty more good things from Silver Audio! I am also pleased to announce that we will be exhibiting at Hi Fi 99 in Chicago this May with Coincident Speaker Technology and Manley labs. This should be a fantastic show.

Sincerely,

Max J Kreifeldt
Owner, Silver Audio

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