World Premiere Review!
It's no secret that cables are an important part of a high-end system, and therefore which cables one uses deserve serious consideration. As one's system improves, it is very important to make sure that the cables one uses are not only as good as the rest of one's system, but also match the components they are paired with. Still, even though most recognize the importance of cables, many audiophiles still feel as if good cables are "icing on the cake". Those who know me realize that I feel that once a system gets to a certain level, everything makes a difference. And so, cables may be as important as any other component one uses in their system. Depending on the quality level of one's system, cables can make a huge difference in the sound of that system.
With that in mind, I re-wired my entire main system with Wireworld cables. There are lots of things I like about Wireworld cable. But the most impressive is not the actual cables that I set up throughout my system, but the fact that that when Wireworld head honcho David Salz started Wireworld cables he tested their sound not by comparing them to other cables, by instead by direct connections made by docking components together with custom adapters, and thus comparing them to no cable at all.
I've stressed for years the importance of transparency when it comes to cables for our high-end audio systems, that the most important "sound" of a cable is no sound at all, and so when hearing what David Salz had been doing in his test lab, this made me feel that it would be a crying shame if I did not have the chance to hear these cables for myself. And if his manufacturing acumen could match his philosophy of what makes a great cable great, I certainly wanted to hear the results for myself. And let the readers of Enjoy the Music.com in on what I had found.
The Wireworld cables I auditioned in both my systems are not inexpensive. Good high-end equipment usually isn't. I don't think it added too much to their cost, but the packaging the Wireworld cables are delivered in are sure to make audiophiles feel a bit better after spending all this money. Each interconnect is packaged in what resembles a road case, an aluminum-colored mini-suitcase that contains the coiled cable, with the outside of the case wrapped in a cardboard slipcase that indicated the type of cable inside.
The speaker cables are packed in a black cloth case, and the power cables in cases resembling the speaker cable's case, but smaller. Each cable's end is protected with plastic webbing, with other packing materials made not only to protect the product, but in very impressive looking cases. The cables themselves are very attractive; most of them have black and silver striped insulators. Plus, they are quite flexible, and gave me no trouble as I snaked them throughout my system.
Platinum Eclipse 8 Interconnect
Besides using its conductor material being 17-gauge OCC 7N (Ohno Continuous Cast) solid silver, which might be a good enough qualification for most interconnects, mainly because it is the highest purity, most expensive metallurgy available. These cables also feature a patented Silver Tube plug with a silicone ring to improve the cable's connection, carbon fiber plugs, their Composilex insulation, and their patented DNA Helix design "delivers dynamic sound quality", says Wireworld.
In my main system, a balanced cable ran between what I consider one of the most important connections, between the preamplifier and power amp. In this case of this review, the preamp was either a Mark Levinson No. 523 or Nagra Classic Preamp, connected to a practically brand spankin' new Pass Laboratories X250.8 power amplifier. I also used balanced Platinum Eclipse 8 interconnects on the digital front end, connecting an EMM Labs DA2 digital converter to the preamp, and the analog front end, hooking up the new reference phono preamplifier in my system, the excellent Pass Labs XP-17, to the system's preamp.
In my second system I sometimes ran a balanced interconnect, and sometimes an interconnect with RCA termination, depending on which amplifier I was using. Between the preamp, usually a Nagra Classic Pre and when I was using the PrimaLuna DiaLogue 6 monoblock tubed power amplifiers, and when I was using the Auralic Merak solid-state monoblocks I used an unbalanced Platinum Eclipse 8. I used an RCA terminated Platinum Eclipse 8 between the Benchmark Media DAC3HGS digital converter and the preamp, and another unbalanced cable between the M2Teck Nash phono stage (review forthcoming) and the preamp.
Silver Eclipse 8 Speaker Cable
I used a three-meter run of Wireworld's Silver Eclipse 8 speaker cable in my main system, connecting my reference Pass Labs X250.8 power amp to a pair of Sound Lab Majestic 545 full-range electrostatic speakers. The Pass Labs only accepts spade termination, the speakers just about any termination, and since the Wireworld cable was terminated in spades on both ends it presented no problem. In fact, for a cable this thick I thought it was quite flexible, and easy to snake through the rear of my crowded Arcici Suspense equipment rack that sat to the left of the left speaker.
Platinum Starlight 8 75-Ohm Digital Audio Cable
I connected the digital output of an OPPO UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Player to my reference EMM DA2 digital converter's coax input. This 2018 Blue Note Award winning converter has been in my system since August of last year, and since then, I've been spinning discs in the OPPO universal player much more. Usually I'll listen to digital files sourced from my music server, but playing standard physical CDs while using the OPPO as a transport yields excellent sound, and so quite often if I own the disc I've been listening to it this way.
Platinum Starlight 7 USB 2.0 Cable
I used the Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7 USB cable two ways. First, and for most of the review period I used it running from the USB output of my computer-based music server, and secondly from the Melco N10 digital music library player I'm currently reviewing. The Platinum Starlight 7 is the thickest USB cable I've ever used, its flat cable running two meters between the player I was using and the EMM Labs DA2 to which it was connected. In spite of its thickness, I ran into no problems either connecting it to input or output, and as it snaked its way behind and across other gear to get to the other component.
Platinum Electra Power Cord
I was sent enough Platinum Electra power cords to connect just about every IEC outlet on the rear panel of the components in my system. The Pass Laboratories X250.8 was connected directly to the wall outlet in my dedicated listening room, with power supplied by two separate runs that connect directly to the circuit box in our basement. The power cables from the preamp and front-ends of my system were connected to a Goal Zero Yeti 400 battery power supply and so that gear really didn't gain much from these super-cables since the batter power supply is generating a near perfect 60Hz sine wave. That's where the second system came in.
Connecting these power cables to the components in this system, which has uses a much more standard Panamax power conditioner, paid huge sonic benefits. But there were many components in the main system that were not connected to the battery power supply that benefited from have their power supplied via the Wireworld cables, including the power amplifier plugged directly into the wall socket, and even the AC synchronous motor of the Basis Debut V turntable, even though its power was supplied by a PS Audio P300 AC regenerator that is used as a speed controller. I will not try and figure out why that was so.
Wireworld also sent me their Silver Electra 7 power cable, which uses silver clad OCC 7N copper for its conductor material and silver-clad copper for its plug contacts, but still uses the same insulation as the Platinum Electra (and all their power cords use the Fluxfield design). The benefit this cable may have for some is that even though I found the Platinum Electra power cord to be flexible enough to use where ever I wanted, the Silver Electra 7's flat cable design and Globe-Grip plugs can bend and coil more easily. Wireworld says that this cable also is better for longer lengths as it is more effective for filtration.
The continuousness I heard manifested itself as being more than just organic sounding, more than simply "not calling attention to itself" type of sound, one that was complex, yet was very easy to listen to because the music was what was being featured more than the sound of the system. Difficult to explain but not difficult to recognize, very simply put its more than simply letting the music flow as if the components were connected not only without any cable whatsoever, and but also letting the components musical characteristics shine through.
These days I've been using some nice pieces of gear in my system. All have their own personalities that improved the overall sound of my system, and so the system's sound would improve with each component that had the Wireworld cable installed. The speaker cable that I was sent for review deserves special mention. I cannot recall my reference Sound Lab Majestic 545 electrostatic speakers ever sounding better than after I connected Silver Eclipse 8 speaker cable, especially when connected to the new Pass Laboratories X250.8 power amplifier that was recently acquired. What was the reason or reasons for this improvement, and what were the defining characteristics of the cable that allowed them to sound this good? Again, it's a bit difficult to explain, but was very easy to hear. But it's a good bet that the engineers at Wireworld will say that it was because of the way they designed their silver-clad conductors inside the speaker cable that caused the speakers to have a deeper and wider soundstage, and a subjective increase in the extension of its frequency extremes, and an extremely flat frequency response in the lower midrange and upper bass.
Or was the reason the Sound Labs speakers sounded so good was because of the interconnects within my system letting each front-end component perform their best, and then pass their signal onto the power amplifier, and ultimately to the speakers where I could hear this improvement in their sound? I didn't replace all the cables in my system with Wireworld cables all at once – I started with their interconnects, and then proceeded to replace other cables as the review period progressed. The change from the previously installed cables to the Wireworld was not very dramatic, because the previous cables were also very, very good, made by Accusound, which are generally more expensive than the Wireworld cables. Still, the Wireworld cables certainly impressed me with the sound I got when they were installed. When I put the speaker cables into the system, this wasn't the only instance that I noticed their effect of injecting a continuousness to the sound of my system. Each component was clearly performing its best, and the sound I was hearing subjectively resembled the original recording as I've never heard it before.
Late one night I decided to spin my three LP set of Romeo & Juliet with Lorin Maazel conducting the Cleveland Orchestra. This boxed set on Decca from 1973 is the best version of Prokofiev's ballet score that I ever heard. While playing side 4, Romeo At Friar Laurence's from act 2, the music sounded so detailed, so lifelike, with a reach-out-and-touch palpability that often while listening to it the outside world disappears, and I'll be able to hear the orchestra laid in front of me in a semi-circle, the top edge of the soundstage curling downward at its uppermost portion, with each instrument and group of instruments separated from each other in the huge soundstage, so much so that each will be patently visible in my mind's ear.
Enjoying this album will often be akin to a meditative session, as my attention would take in the entire orchestra during certain passages, other times my attention would turn to a single section of instruments, or even a single instrument in that section. My eyes would well-up at the sound of some of these instruments, so lifelike sounding and also reminding me that this even occurred over 45 years ago, many on the record long gone, but their music making engraved into the record's grooves for me to revel in.
Later in the week I replayed the record with other cables. It proved that the Wireworld cables are exceptional products. But it also demonstrated that at this level of engineering craftsmanship the differences between brands of top-flight cables are not huge. I can see why not only do some audiophiles prefer one brand of cable over another, but that system matching might have quite a bit to do with why some prefer some over others. I've found that the better my system becomes, it becomes much more important to have a neutral sounding cable installed not only between one component and another, but between the component and the power that is being supplied. During the audition period the Wireworld cable has proven that it is indeed a transparent cable, and because of that trait each cable I installed was somehow able to bring out the best in each component.
Later within the review period, I was able to test the digital cables that were sent. Since all the cables in the system were Wireworld, I was listening to those, also. But that's not the point. Eric Dolphy's album Out There is one of the only titles I where I have a physical SACD and also DSD files of ripped from the album on the hard-drive of my music server. I was able to totally music-geek out by listening to the music on this monumental album through the Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7 USB cable that ran from my computer's USB port to the EMM Labs DA2 digital converter, and I was also able to spin the physical SACD on the OPPO UDP-203 Blu-ray / universal disc player which was connected to the coax input of the EMM Labs converter.
About half-way through the second track "Serene", I thought to myself, "what a waste of time". This was because there were too many variables involved, including version of SACD, method of ripping the disc, and the method I was using to listen to the disc and the file. But, what I did discover was that the Wireworld USB cable was much, much better than one of the brands of USB cable that I've used in the past, which was basically a budget cable, and only slightly different than the Accusound cable that it replaced.
The same was true with the 75-Ohm digital cable that ran from the OPPO to the EMM Labs unit. Again, the difference between the cables was nuance, the Wireworld cable having a slightly more orderly upper-treble. And when I state that it was "slightly more" orderly, I mean to say that the difference was minute, and that repeated listening may have proven that either I was imagining the difference, or that if I played it for another audiophile they might not have heard was I was hearing. Even though these two cables weren't the most expensive cables in their lines, nuance was the only thing separating the two similarly priced cables. What was more obvious, at least to me, was this Eric Dolphy album this was an outstanding example of a group of musicians letting go, and laying down in the studio a premier free-jazz, modal, post-bop masterpiece.
The reason why this album is so exceptional might also have had something to do with the three men who joined Eric Dolphy on alto saxophone, flute, B-flat and bass clarinet that night at Rudy Van Gelder's studio – namely drummer Roy Haynes, bassist George Duvivier, and instead on his double bass, Ron Carter on cello. I've played this album countless times on various formats, and to still be able to hear new things coming through my speakers, both sonically and musically, is testament to the Wireworld cables that were installed in my system.
Platinum Electra 7 Power Cable
Silver Electra 7 Power Cable
Silver Eclipse 8 Speaker Cable
Platinum Starlight 7 USB Cable
Platinum Starlight 8 Digital Cable