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Skywire Audio SE Cables
 
Sky's the Limit!

 

September 2011

 



  

Like my ex-girlfriend’s running shoes, I’ve had Skywire’s 1200 Series cables in my possession for some months now. I was actually supposed to review them (the cables- not the shoes) some time ago, but regrettably came down with an unfortunate case of drag-assitis. Alas(s), time constraints and work stuff precluded critical listening sessions and intimate writing about said critical sessions. Suffice it to say, I now know the 1200s intimately, but I have kept this knowledge close to my bosom… until now.

Maybe it’s the non-ferrite based RF shielding or some kind of speed of light transmission or whatever, but with the exception of the always involving Audio Art IC3-SE’s, which touch more excitement and paciness, Skywire’s 1200 cables have plain out-musicaled every other single cable I’ve had in my system(s).

Chiefly and most saliently, Skywire’s 1200s are more tonally correct, more balanced top to bottom, quieter and more fatigue-free over long listening sessions than any other set of cables I have heard. Now I’m not gonna name names here — Stereovox Firebirds and HDSE, JPS Labs Superconductor 3, Artisan Cables Ultimate Silver Dream (prior version), DH Labs Silver Sonic Air Matrix, Audio Art standard IC-3’s - that’d be insensitive. But when I throw the Sennheisers on for a night at the (digitized) opera, the 1200s are the cables I now reach for.

The SE- But Not the SE of My Understanding
Given my love for the 1200s, perhaps you can understand my centered buoyancy (self-help speak for ‘happiness’) when I unboxed what I thought were the upgraded SE versions of these cables. I thought, “1200s good, but now with SE, I arrive at true understanding of the suffering of this human condition” (Or hear if the second viola needs more rosin—I’ll take either).

Believing what I now had in hand was a new and self-helped version of what I already had in hand, I went about comparing the Skywire SEs to the bevy of cables I mention (or rather don’t mention;) above, and thought they pretty much held their own with any of them. Except, that is, when it came to head-to-head comparisons with Skywire’s own 1200s, and perhaps the Audio Art IC3-SE’s (though the Skywire’s SEs may be somewhat more strictly “natural” sounding tonally than the latter).

Upon comparison with the 1200s, I discovered that while the SE cables retained most all of their pricier brethren’s superb tonality and weekend-in-the-Hamptons quietude, they were a bit more restrained—a bit less charitable with dynamics and space, as well as with detail.

I was about to holla a cyber “what gives?” at Skywire’s Jimmy Chan and tell him he should seriously consider either reversing the pricing or at long least the rankings of his cable stable, or maybe take up a collection to send designer Don Palmer back to his tablet PC or whatever it is that passes for a drawing board in the engineering community these days, when some internet “research” led me to discover that the 1200 was supposed to be better. The SE was actually their new entry-level product!

I felt validated—alive in the manner in which Harry Pearson is alive. I heard what I was supposed to be hearing, without knowing I was supposed to be hearing it. Ah me.

Relativistics
Each of the other cables I own (see above for the cast of characters) has some aspect I prefer to any other given cable in a given system on any given Sunday—but not all of them work harmoniously in a broad range of systems. Horses for courses and all that—objectivists be damned!

One example would be my JPS Labs Superconductor 3 interconnects. This interconnect stole my heart with solid-state gear driving Proac 1.5’s and 2.5’s, but I later found that with more balanced speaker systems (like the Daedalus Audio speakers and those from Living Voice) and especially with amplifiers of lower power (Lavardin, Shindo etc.), they contributed to a sound which was a bit too warm and ‘heavy.’

The Stereovox cables are roughly shades of opposite —a bit thinner boned and not maybe as dimensional, but they really get out of their own way—letting go of the notes. They’re also great dynamically and maybe just a touch lit up. Therefore, they didn’t work so well with past systems like the Proac system, but were a joy to own and operate with Red Wine-based systems as well as with Lavardin etc.

Other cables such as DH Labs Silver Sonic Air Matrix are, like the Stereovox’s, superb values for money—very detailed and balanced, but are a bit flatter dimensionally and a bit less ‘human’ than a great cable like the Skywire 1200.

As for the Skywire SE’s, they were quieter than most of my cables regardless of price—blacker backgrounds meant musical sustains and transients left little trace; fading into the deep recesses of digital silence. Instrumentalists and vocalists were thrown into greater relief than with the Stereovox and DH Labs cables, and things sounded a bit less confused and a little less edgy, in a good way.

On the other hand, they were less detailed than the much more expensive Artisan Ultimate Silver Dreams (what isn’t?) and perhaps a bit less so than the DH Labs and Stereovoxes. But I don’t necessarily care.

For, while I love cables like the Ultimate Silver Dreams for being detailed and open-throated without sounding clinical, they’ve always missed a bit of the humanity a cable like the Skywire 1200 has, as well as the speed and okay, joy — that something like the Audio Art SE lets through. I would say the SE’s have the ring of humanity in their sound as well- more so than with pretty much all my cables excepting the 1200’s. I don’t know why — but I accept it. I am at peace with it. I am okay if you are not okay with this.

What are you feeling right now?

 

I really like these Skywire SE cables. I really liked them before I knew how inexpensive they were, and I really like them now that I know they are inexpensive. They are quiet—just like the Skywire 1200’s. They are tonally spot on—not too lit up and not too warm, just like the Skywire 1200’s—perhaps even more so than any of the other more expensive cables in my collection. Skywire has a thing for tonality and yeah- I admit that’s a hot-button of mine. (The others you must discover as our relationship progresses).

They are not quite as detailed and dynamic (both macro and micro)— not quite as ‘free’ with the notes as the 1200’s. So I guess I’m saying they sound a bit ‘tighter.’ But everything’s there—the highs- the lows, and the center, and more importantly, the humanity. They seem to speak Italianate high C’s as well as they do Gaga. Okay—I listened to some Gaga; a track or two. I had to understand.

In fact, had I never heard the Skywire 1200’s, I feel like I could live happily and deliberately with the SE’s. I may test this theory, as I’m not sure I can afford a full boat setup of 1200’s at this time—even at supercilious, super-special MRE (Master Reviewer Extraordinaire) pricing.

But I’m okay with that. I accept it. I have the SE’s here beside me and I can tell you I am at peace with them, sonically and financially. I suggest you try them. Especially if you cannot afford Skywire’s more expensive offerings and don’t want to upset what may already be a tonally ‘balanced’ system. They may serve you similarly. Remember-- only you can prevent forest fires; only you. (Soooooo much less cliché than ‘try them for yourself and see,’ dontcha think!?)
I bid you peace.



Specifications:
Skywire Audio SE Interconnects
Termination
∙ Gold plated RCA connector
Construction
∙ Multi strand silver coated pure copper conductor for low loss
∙ Pure *Teflon dielectric insulation (*Teflon is a registered trademark of E.I.du Pont de Nemours and company)
∙ 100% Braid shield for maximum resolution and dynamics
∙ Patented noise suppression to reduce ringing and RF
Price: SE Interconnect $190.00 0.5m, $225.00 1.0m, $265.00 1.5m, $295.00 2.0m

Address:
4109 Ashbrook Circle,
San Jose, CA 95124
U.S.A.
Website: www.skywireaudio.com

E-Mail:info@skywireaudio.com
Phone: 408-838-9565


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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