Sunshine Audio Cables

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timbarrall.jpgI’ve always been able to hear the sonic differences in audio cables. As my system improved over the years, I’ve found myself seeking cables with higher fidelity, only limited by my wallet. Cables can be quite pricey, as we know. Some are near irresistible in looks and style. Maybe that”s their way of justifying the asking price… we all have a budget that works for us.

I received a message from our fearless leader, Clement Perry, asking if I would be willing to give Sunshine Audio Cables a good listen. “Sure,” I replied. Sunshine is a Japanese company with a big boast – they say their cables sound just as good as other cables costing 10-times their price.

Once I received the cables, I swapped them in for my Synergistic Alpha Quad speaker cable, Synergistic Kaleidoscope interconnects and AudioPath 10 gauge power cord (a nicely made cable by the late Tom Hills). As I installed the Sunshine Audio cables, I noted its flexibility and thought it was too good (flexible) to be true. Should I trust such flexible wire? We’ll see. 

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The Tech

psaudiobox.jpgSUNSHINE and TIGLON in Japan have combined forces to make high-quality copper wire very affordable. The process is called Dip Forming Process (DIP). It is a process of making oxygen-free copper in the reduction of a protective atmosphere (N2) by the principle of heat conduction. The resulting oxygen content is under 5 ppm and its high-purity will not oxidize. The oxygen-free copper does not need acid washing while keeping its lustrous surface. It is said to be the best copper wire in the world. The popular TAD of Japan sells their speaker cable for $800 per meter. They use the same Dip-Forming conductor. Such a price can limit a product’s wider audience.

Sunshine Audio sells their speaker cable SSP-reference model for $100 USD per 2-meter pair (other lengths available).  Internally, the speaker cable comprised of a twisted structure with a polyethylene insulator in an Ultraflex PVC sheath and sold un-terminated. They prefer you use the wire in the raw form as they believe connectors will color the sound. Their SAC-reference interconnects retail for $198 USD per meter and are terminated with fluorine resin RCA Gilding plugs.

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The SAC-reference IEC AC powercord is made of the same Dip Forming Process (DIP), with a PVC Ultraflex sheath and 3P mold three-prong plug. Their 1.8-meter length sells for $160 USD. All their cable is processed with HSE (Hyper Saturated Energizer) by Tiglon, as printed on the wire sheath. As outlined in its mission statement, Sunshine Audio wants to provide the best quality cable for the masses. That being said, this AC cord closer resembles the standard (cheap) AC cord I find inside almost every piece of electronics I’ve purchased. At $160 each, they are expensive based solely on appearance. My hope is the technology employed will make them competitive with the exotic cords I’ve grown fond of. 

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The Hook Up

I installed a Sunshine RCA cable between my (Brocksieper) EarMax “PhonoMax” tube phono stage and my Conrad Johnson PV8 preamp and a second from the CJ to my PS Audio 200CX power amp and lengths of Sunshine speaker cable running to my Proac Super Tablettes, mounted on 28” sand-filled stands. I ran a Sunshine power cord from the PS Audio amp to the Core Power Technologies EQUI=CORE 300. The 10” Infinity Sub also in the mix, connected with a different brand of wire to the preamp. Done! Now to turn the system and listen. 

Listening

kdlang1.jpgThe first vinyl record on deck was K.D. Lang’s “Save Me” from her 1992 “Ingénue” (Sire Records, 1992). I cued and slowly dropped the needle and Wow!, the system sounded really bold but relaxed. The punch was there, as was the ambiance. The only thing slightly lacking was upper sparkle from highs that the Synergistic’s deliver. but the sonics were very smooth as a whole. I let the needle move on to the second song, “The Mind of Love,” and yes, that sound was what I remembered. A good foundation, with upper mids that have a palatable air to them and solid bass. The Sunshine cables certainly did this recording justice. I increased the volume a bit to a level above average but still comfortable room volume. The Sunshine cables passed the test. “Smooth and bold” to my ear. What makes these cables unique? The manufacturing process seem to have a great advantage, especially at its asking price. 

I wanted to hear something recorded within the walls of a church. When that sort of recording is done correctly, it’s fabulous. The next recording was just that, “La Spagna” (BIS Records LP 163/164), the group, Atrium Mvsicae musicaaa.jpgDE Madrid from the Spanish director Gregorio Paniagua. The song “Spagna Contrappunto – El Divine Francesco Canova.” Now that’s a mouth full! A little history – this group has been around since 1964. They imagined historical music from the 1400-1600s and recreated some of the instruments of that time for the ensemble’s play. As the needle settled into the groove, the church space appeared in front of me. Acoustic strings and percussion held the beat with precision which reverberated into the church rafters with depth and verticality. I’m hearing a pretty accurate mid-tone presentation. The presentation was very clean and much to my surprise, non-fatiguing. 

Moving on to a contemporary live recording, I selected the audio show favorite, the Eagles “Hell Freezes Over” (Geffen Records, 1994), and cued up “Hotel California.” This particular song has a very pronounced kick drum, which can be over-powering on some systems. The Sunshine cables kept that big drums controlled without giving the impression of restrictions. The guitars sounded bright but controlled and Don Henley was well-voiced on that stage. As the Sunshine cables worked their magic, I noted they gave an ever so slight nod towards politeness, which is not a bad thing.

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A Second Setup

With a Vincent Audio SV-200 integrated amp close at hand, I thought it might be fun to hear the Sunshine cables in the context of a different component. The SV-200’s got a lot of excellent features that bring a user into the modern world. Here I’m just using the RCA terminals in 

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back of the amp. I couldn’t use the Sunshine power cord due to the SV-200’s smaller C7 connection, the speaker wire and RCA interconnects connected easily. I ran Transparent Audio performance USB cable from my Apple laptop to my buss powered HRT Music Streamer ll DAC. From there, Sunshine RCA’s connected to the Vincent amp. The Sunshine speaker cables ran from the amp to a pair of Pioneer BS21-LR speakers (on the same 28” sand-filled stands). My music files played through Amarra Luxe software on the MBP. 

Time for a little digital music. On deck was a Jazz recording from Anthony Wilson. “Jack of Hearts,” (Groove Note Records 2009), and the song, “Jack of Hearts.” I like this song because of its uncomplicated arrangement – each instrument gets to be heard. Larry Goldings’ organ really held the melody. Jeff Hamilton’s drums had a solid cadence, with cymbals nicely coming through the mix. Anthony’s guitar had a gentile dry tactfulness. The Sunshine cable lacked nothing that I can hear.

meshell.jpgOn to a more intimate recording, Meshell Ndegeocello album “The Spirit Music Jamia: Dance of the Infidel” (Universal Music, 2005), sprang to mind. “Aquarium” is a recording with lots of atmospheres as delicate detail swirled around my head, as Meshell’s voice softly supports the arrangement. There are many musicians on this recording – too many to mention here, but Meshell crafts every song beautifully on this album. An American singer-songwriter, born in Berlin, Germany and raised in Washington. DC, Meshell’s been credited as helping spark the “neo-soul” movement. The Sunshine cable really brought forth all the information in this recording, with lushness, if you will.

Next, Billie Joe & Norah Jones, “Foreeverly” (Reprise Records, 2013). All the songs are engineered with that subtle 1950’s slapback reverb sound, on par with the Everly Brothers style of music. From the twangy guitar upright bass and Billie and Norah’s vocal duets, this pair really pulled it off. The album is crafted well and it’s just fun to listen to (doesn’t hurt that it was mastered by Greg Calbi of Sterling Sound, NYC). The Sunshine cables presented a clear picture of the recording effort. I played the entire record. Yes, it was just that enjoyable.

JimmysmithSS.jpgLastly, Jimmy Smith’s “Back at the Chicken Shack” (Blue Note, 1960, reissued 2007), wouldn’t be half as great a recording without Rudy Van Gelden. – his Englewood Cliffs, NJ studio was THE STUDIO to all jazz greats. This recording, remastered by Rudy himself in 2007, includes a roster of great players including Jimmy Smith (Hammond organ), Stanley Turpentine (tenor sax), Kenny Burrell (guitar) and Donald Bailey (drums). This album really has excellent swing and fluidity.  Through exquisite play and sophistication, Jimmy Smith made the Hammond instrument a household name with his organ playing. In 1963, Jimmy won the best “Down Beat” poll in the organ category. Here the Sunshine cables revealed the music of that time with beauty, consistency and class. 

Conclusion

I really enjoyed the Sunshine cables relative to my equipment. Although that upper sparkle I crave is slightly underplayed, compared to my older Synergistic Research cables, which eliminate most RF interference. That said, the Sunshine’s brought forth a lot of everything else that these recordings had to offer. Their affordability and superb flexibility was a plus. Who would not want that! Sunshine provides a sound investment that’s hard to beat! Highly recommended. 

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 Tim Barrall 

Specifications: Sunshine

Cable reviewed:

Speaker cable: Model No: SSP-reference1.0 2 meter pair $100 USD

Interconnects: Model-SAC-reference 1 meter pair $190 USD

Power cable: Model: SAC reference 1.8 meter $160 USD

Website: sunsha-en.com

Tim’s Associated Equipment & Software:

Amara Luxe music software

Core Power Technologies Equi=Core 300 (mains filter)

Counterpoint PAC-5 (mains filter)

Conrad Johnson PV8 preamp

Audio Path power cord

Kimber Kable “Silver Streak” interconnects

Monster “Power Line series 3” speaker cable

KabelDirekt optical Mini Toslink cable

Infinity 10” powered RS Subwoofer System

Pioneer BP21-LR speakers

PS Audio 200CX Amplifier

Proac Super Tablettes

Synergistic Alpha Quad speaker cables

Synergistic Alpha Sterling interconnects

Synergistic Kaleidoscope interconnects

Transparent Audio Performance USB cable

 

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