Snake River Audio Cables
Cottonmouth XLR and power cable plus Mamushi RCA interconnects.
A reference cable in my system.
Review By Brett Rudolph
are one of the broadest and most varied segments of the audio industry. The
different cable varieties, connections, materials, quality, production
techniques and creators to name a few of the factors that contribute to a
cable’s overall performance. These factors combined with an often long
break-in period, extremely lengthy evaluation period, and sometime system
dependencies are why many reviewers prefer other types of equipment to evaluate.
However, it is this complex tapestry of various components, which always
intrigues me the most and makes reviews so important to consumers.
A few months ago, the opportunity presented
itself to reviews cables that are manufactured by a small company located in one
of the more rural parts of Idaho. Jonny Wilson, president of Snake River Audio,
a company named for the river in the same area, and I spoke at length about his
cables and where he thought they fit in the market and why he felt his cables
were superior to those currently on the market. A few weeks later samples of his
Mamushi audio interconnects fitted with RCA ends, his Cottonmouth audio
interconnect with XLR ends and a Cottonmouth power cable arrived at my doorstep.
The two unassuming boxes contained some very
nicely designed packaging for the cables and even more importantly the cables
themselves. The interconnects themselves are fairly flexible, the Mamushi
perhaps a little less pliable than the Cottonmouth, but not enough to cause
anyone attempting all but the most difficult connection between their components
to have any problem. The Cottonmouth power cable was also extremely flexible and
not exceptionally heavy which means you need not worry about it putting undo
stress on your component.
It did not take long until the cables were out of
their boxes, which included certificates of authenticity and right at home in my
reference system. Jonny had mentioned that the cables were already
“broken-in” and really did not need much time to settle into my system. My
initial evaluation was done about an hour after installation. The cables
performed well, but in truth, after numerous cable reviews, it has been my
practice to allow them at least another 200 hours before any real evaluation is
completed, and in this case, it would have been a big mistake had I evaluated
them with any less hours logged.
Once the cables had finally settled in, the first part of
the review consisted of various classical music selections. The first selection
was Robert Spano conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus playing
Pucci’s La Boheme on Telarc’s
label. The sound was simply fabulous and the level of detail incredible. This
was made possible by what many might consider a more laid back sound stage than
one finds in other cables. This laid back characteristic allowed not only the
true beauty of the vocals and orchestral music to shine, but to fit perfectly
together in a synergy of sounds.
The second selection was Sarah Chang and the
Orpheus Chamber Orchestra playing Antonio Vivaldi’s The
Four Seasons on EMI’s label. The three tracks, “Concerto No. 1 in
E” better known as “Spring,” were definitely something to experience.
Sarah’s violin was magical and sweet against a backdrop of orchestral sound.
It felt as though this was the first time this reviewer had heard this
particular selection and yet it has been used in many of my reviews in the past.
The biggest reason for this was the laid back character. It allowed the
enjoyment of all the instruments without allowing one to become too intense.
After spending days listening to various classical
selections, it was time to move on to Jazz. The first selection was Ray Brown
Trio playing The Real Blues, live
on Concord Records’ Super SACD Sampler Volume 2. The selection has the
tendency to overwhelm the listener by making them feel as though they are
sitting on top of the musicians rather than in front of them. However, once
again the cables did a beautiful job of pushing the musicians back a few feet,
in regards to the reproduction of course. This allowed for this live performance
to actually be enjoyed as a spectator rather than a unwilling participant. It
also created a nearly holographic vision of the venue giving even more enjoyment
to the piece.
A second selection on the same album was track
ten, Karrin Allyson playing No Moon At All. She has a beautiful voice, which has been
enjoyed many times within the context of reviews. However, while her voice
certainly contained all of its usual beauty, it seemed even more enveloping
because it seemed to draw the listener into its folds and hold them there. The
band only enhanced the already incredible experience.
The final jazz album used on this review was
Patricia Barber’s Night Club on Mobile Fidelity’s Label. It is an album full
of delicate vocals, rich sounds and wonderful ambiance. This album can humble
nearly any system because it tends to somewhat bright, even the remastered
Mobile Fidelity version. However, the brightness of the album was tempered by
the somewhat dark qualities of the Mamushi cables. They seemed to be meant to be
My first rock selection is usually Dark
Side of the Moon, and this was no exception. My first choice,
“Money,” definitely set the tone for this section of the review. The song is
definitely one that is best experienced when listening with the best of systems.
The slightest loss of detail or compression in any musical range tends to color
the music and it loses some of its beauty. However, while it seemed a tad more
laid back normal on my reference system, it felt as though there were more
details reveled at the same time. It was not the best my system has ever
sounded, but it certainly had detail that had never been heard before.
The second selection from the same album was
“Speak To Me.” This review keeps talking about there being a somewhat laid
back or dark. However, to make things clearer, and perhaps to make sure there
was no loss of detail, the beginning of the song was particularly important to
me. The heartbeat can usually be described as felt more than heard by many
people. On systems that are tend to have a tad too much treble or brightness for
my taste, the sound quickly goes from nearly non audible to nearly overpowering
in mere moments, detracting from the song itself. However, in the case of these
cables, while it seemed a tad farther away, it did not seem overpowering. In
fact, it seemed to lead into the vocals in a way that was incredible.
The last selection was an old album, Chris De
Burgh, The Getaway. It is a
typical example of everything bad from the early eighties. It not only was mixed
with way too much treble in the hopes that bad systems would be playing it loud
enough to generate some bass, but it suffered from the original A/D conversions.
The cables certainly did not fix an already broken album, but they did allow you
to hear a little more detail than you might hear normally.
It would not be fair to write the review and not make
individual comments specifically about the Cottonmouth series of cables. The
balanced Cottonmouth cable remained in my reference system between the
preamplifier and amplifier until the final selection of material. My reference
MIT cable replaced a few times the Cottonmouth and while it is impossible to
make any definitive remarks; there are a few thoughts that bear mentioning. The
difference between the system with and without it was noticeable. The
Cottonmouth did not seem to have nearly the amount of ability my reference to
convey the signal to the amplifier. However, it is also somewhat less expensive.
This was certainly one of the most interesting reviews in
sometime. My praise for the Snake River cables, in particular the Mamushi is
extremely high. They are not entry-level cables and do not have an entry level
price tag; however, they still represent a bargain for a cable this good.
However, if you are looking for a very neutral cable, should it really exist, or
have components that tend to be dark, you might want to audition these cables
before making a decision. With that in mind, there is no doubt I would consider
using them as a reference cable in my system and I would recommend them
Cottonmouth Audio Interconnects
Made with our own Snake River Audio high quality 24k gold-plated wiring
Cottonmouth balanced XLR's are available with Neutrik© XX-B series, or Furutech gold-plated XLR connectors
Price: 1m - $1349.00
Cottonmouth Power Cable
Cottonmouth power cables are available with Snake River Audio© 18k Platinum-plated or 24k Gold-plated US/IEC Connectors
24k gold-plated wiring
Price: 1.5m - $1349 with US connectors
Mamushi Audio Interconnects
Made with our own Snake River Audio high quality 24k gold-plated wiring
Mamushi RCA's are available with WBT© Topline next-gen ends (your choice of either pure oxygen-free copper plated with 24k gold, or pure silver)
Price: 1m - $1649.00 with WBT Topline next-gen 24k gold plated
Snake River Audio
1309 S Main - Box 158
Riggins, Idaho 83549
Voice: (208) 724-5152