Back in January 2016 I reviewed the latest Anticables interconnects and was truly amazed at how good they were. Given how superbly these interconnects performed, I wondered if Anticables owner Paul Speltz would consider incorporating his gold/silver alloy (Electrum) in a new speaker cable. So, I discussed this possibility with him and he said he would think about it. About eight months elapsed and he contacted me that he was ready to ship out a pair of his latest speaker wires, the Level 5 Signatures.
Speltz' philosophy is to create top performing products at budget prices. By keeping the design as simple as possible and eliminating any window dressing that adds cost without a beneficial sonic result, he’s come up with the 5 Signature speaker wires. I guess my prodding proved effective, however, he writes:
'Since Silver costs over 100 times more than Copper, and Gold costs many thousands of times more than Copper, and since speaker wires require a much bigger cross sectional area than ICs to get the bass right, it is looking like an 8 foot set will need to sell for $2,800 to make it a worthwhile product for us.'
The Signature 5 price includes cryogenic treatment and 150 hrs of burn-in. Add or subtract $350 for every foot of length.
Now, $2,800 is not cheap but there are top end speaker cables out there that cost 3-5 times that and may or may not sound as good. Did Speltz meet his goals?
The cables arrived in their plain US postal box wrapped in bubble wrap (no fancy, velvet lined Rosewood cases). They were shockingly thin and somewhat stiff. As the instructions indicated, they needed to be carefully straightened out before connecting them. I don’t mean to imply that they were delicate but when one is used to wrestling with python-like, thick speaker cables, it is a nice surprise to see, or in this case barely see, these diminutive cables. Thus, they immediately will achieve a high Significant Other (used to be Wife) Acceptance Factor. My set arrived with spade terminations and I proceeded to hook them up and start the burn-in process. Even though they’ve been pre-burned in they will continue to develop.
Out of the box I felt that they produced a slightly lean presentation. As time passed, the presentation filled out and became more full-bodied. Images were solid and life-like. The additional burn-in really provided significant improvements. Along with killer imaging it was apparent that detail, resolution and transparency were off the charts and placed these 5 Signatures in rarified air. Instruments were so well defined -- at times it was startling. It was as if each instrument had its own envelope of air surrounding it. This was very apparent when playing The Modern Jazz Quartet CD, Concorde. Milt Jackson’s vibes jumped out at you with a life-like realism that was truly astonishing. Connie Kay’s percussion work on cymbals, bells and drums was understated and clear as the proverbial bell.
It seems to me that the ability to get instrumental timbres correct should be inherent in the design of any audio product. One of the impediments in reaching that goal is that we all hear differently. I must report, to these ears, the 5 Signatures got the musical timbres of instruments as correctly as I’ve ever heard. I think the combination of characteristics also contribute the fact that the leading edge of notes or transient attack is accomplished without sounding edgy or hard and still produces a full, three dimensional image that is smooth and texturally complete. This is so difficult to achieve that one usually suffers at the expense of the other. A good reference I use is that old warhorse, Sinatra Sings for Only The Lonely. His voice is so well portrayed that you can hear very clearly all the vocal nuances, vibrato, hoarseness and dynamic shadings that make Frank so unique. The feeling of intimacy that Frank creates is complimented by Nelson Riddle’s arrangements and the excellent playing of the orchestra. The 5 Signatures so superbly brought forth the performances that I was floored. I’ve heard this CD hundreds of times on many systems and these 5 Signatures provided the most completely accurate aural picture I’ve yet to experience.
Two more areas I’d like to touch on are dynamics and resolution. A perfect reference for these categories and any others you might choose is the vinyl production of Carmina Burana, by Telarc. The record is wonderfully recorded and unraveling the complexities of orchestra and chorus is a tough a test for any system. With the 5 Signatures, the individual voices were more defined and large choral groups resolved themselves into groups of individual human beings singing, not some amorphous, ill-defined sound. The perception of the space of the recording venue was more apparent than I’d ever heard before. The physical relationship of the chorus to the orchestra was more apparent, with greater depth creating a more three dimensional experience.
This recording has massive dynamic swings from the quietest passages to full orchestral/choral crescendos and the 5 Signatures handled the performance without congestion, blurring or smearing. In other words, you get all the music, all the time. If problems occur with the sound, it’s coming from other pieces in your audio chain, not these speaker wires.
It’s no secret I loved these speaker wires and they’re not leaving.
Star them up, boss.
Further information: Anticables
Amplifiers: Merrill Veritas Monoblocks
Preamplifier: Music First Classic v2
Speakers: Alta Audio Celesta FRM-2
Analogue: Avid SEQUEL SP/SME IV arm; Cartridge: Shelter 9000
Phono Preamplifier: AVID Pulsare updated to II
Digital: MSB DATA CD IV Transport
Preamplifier/Processor: The DEQX HDP-4 w/USB option board used as DAC and Subsonic filter; QolSignal Completion Stage
Speaker Cables: Acoustic Zen’s Absolute, Waveform Fidelity GS Mk III
Power Cords: Waveform Fidelity GS Mk II
Interconnects: ANTICABLESThe Level 4.1 xlr REFERENCE PLUS XHADOW, Antipodes AudioREFERENCE, Acoustic Zen’s Absolute Copper, Morrow Audio MA-7
Accessories: Redpoint BLAKHOLE’s, Herbie’s Audio Lab Tenderfeet, Soundcare products, Acme Audio Labs wall outlets
Power Conditioning: Waveform Fidelity