First let me say that i am personally ashamed it took so long to review these two wonderful products. As was written in last month's editorial, life here has been extremely busy and am therefore slowing down my reviewing duties in favor of insuring the business end of this website will experience ever more growth in 2002 (as if the past two years and well over thirty new writers writers have not been an accomplishment enough). These two products seem to have been repeatedly get delayed, for one reason or another, as each month passed. It is not that the merits of each are on a lower scale. Far from it! It is simply my personal time management needed to be better executed. So i promised myself that the BassLine acoustics product and Better Cables' Silver Serpent digital cable would be reviewed before the end of 2001. As this is the December issue i have kept my promise, if coming down to the wire (pun not intended).
Eagle's Talon Productions' BassLine
What is an inexpensive way to help reduce the internal reflections of your loudspeaker's drivers? Why the BassLiner of course! While many loudspeakers have foam or other such devices inside their cabinet, they may leave a bit to be desired in the ability to truly disperse the sound waves inside the cabinet. At only $2 each here is a simple and inexpensive way to possibly improve the sound reproduction of your loudspeakers. As a side note, but not covered here, these BassLiners could also be used as acoustic diffraction devices on the walls, floor, etc. of your music room.
So what exactly are these BassLiners? They seem to be grey corrugated cardboard (not foam) like that found to hold eggs in your local supermarket, yet with a difference. The difference being is that the eggs would need to be about 1/4 the size to be held properly. Simply see the top picture in this article and you will get a better feeling for what the BassLiner is. Each panel measures 12" x 6" x 1" (HxWxD) and is easily cut to size for smaller loudspeaker cabinet installation while multiple panels can be employed for larger surfaces. So what exactly do they do?
It has long been known the controlling the back wave, the sound waves from the driver's rear, is very important to help reduce internal cabinet distortions from adversely affecting the overall sound quality of a loudspeaker. While foam and polyfill are good, they may not give the best results 100% of the time. BassLiners can be used in place of, or in conjunction with either of the previously mentioned loudspeaker fillers. Due to the shape of the BassLiner, it guarantees that internal sound waves will be reflected in various patters to diffuse the drivers back wave. Of course your final results may vary.
Loudspeaker are designed as individual parts that make up a whole. Of course with some inexpensive loudspeakers, there might be cost cutting efforts to insure profitability. Adding something like the BassLiner adds to both parts and labor costs. Regardless of any loudspeaker costs, many DIY and tweakers may want to try this product as it is easy to install (or remove), very inexpensive, and may bring about enhancements to their musical enjoyment while better controlling acoustic output. At $2 each panel the BassLiner is a no nonsense cost effective way to possibly enhance your loudspeaker's performance.
Better Cables Silver Serpent Digital Coax
Virtually everyone i talk to when discussing their favorite digital to analog converter (DAC) or digital disc transport also mentions which cable they are using to connect the two. Some swear by this one, while someone else with the same combination says another cable is the best s/he has ever heard. Strangely, there seems to be little guideline as to price and performance when it comes to digital interconnects. Maybe there is some correlation within the same manufacture, though as those of you who have tried the Max Rochlin Memorial Cable ($25 for one meter in kit form) have realized that you can achieve high performance with low costs. So are more expensive premade cables a rip-off? Absolutely not! In fact many companies have their own cable making machinery and do use "off the shelf" parts like the MRMC does.
Better Cables' Silver Serpent Digital Coax came about after months of
development. The cable itself was designed to handle very high digital data rates,
yet have vanishing low overall loss including those from structural return
(internal cable reflections/distortions). The Silver Serpent is, of course,
a precision 75-ohm design. It uses an 18AWG high-purity silver coating (99.999%)
over a copper center conductor. Of course there needs to be an insulator
between the center conductor and the outer shield. While the MRMC uses
Teflon, the Silver Serpent employs top-quality Nitrogen-injected foam HDPE.
Speaking of the outer shield, it consists of 100 percent foil covered by 95 percent
braid to insure that outside interferences have little to no effect on the
center conductor's signal. Lastly, for those concerned about the cable's
capacitance, it is 16.2 pF per foot. Let us get down to brass taxes... How
does the cable sound?
After thorough running in for a few hundred hours on my basement system (used strictly for burning in devices), the first word that came to my mind was smoothness. The Silver Serpent has a effortlessness and lack of grain that is akin to a smooth cup of specialty coffee versus the usual mud or grit served at many restaurants. This cable dances the fine line nicely between resolution, yet without harshness while also being smooth without getting sluggish. The resolving power in my system seems to be better than the MRMC while imagining is a dead heat tie. Overall the Better Cables Silver Serpent Digital Coax edges out the MRMC for resolution and in the ability to decipher innermost intricate musical passages. It equals it in imaging and the pace/rhythm/timing (PRAT) department. For those who have not experienced either cable may want to simply try the Silver Serpent as the cost is well under $100 and it seems to provide very good performance for the money. Sure there may be better cables, yet spending $500 for a one-meter digital cable is a personal matter i shall not delve into for now.
Dimensions: 12" x 6" x 1" (HxWxD)
Price: 25 panels for $50.00
Better Cables Silver Serpent
Type: 75-ohm coax cable
Wire: 18AWG high-purity silver coating ( 99.999%) over a copper center conductor
Insulation: Nitrogen-injected foam HDPE
Shield: 100 percent foil covered by 95 percent braid
Capacitance: 16.2 pF per foot
Connectors: RCA to RCA, RCA to BNC, BNC to BNC
Price: $69.95 for 0.5 meter, $79 for meter length (other sizes available)
Eagle's Talon Productions Inc.