Alpha-CoreGoertz Silver Series Python AG2 Speaker Cables and TQ2 Silver Micro Purl Interconnect
|Alpha-Core/Goertz Silver Series Python AG2 Speaker Cables and TQ2 Silver Micro Purl Interconnect
You must have seen the ads. You know, the one with the girl wearing RCA plugs for earrings and an interconnect cable for a necklace. Well if you were able to get past the pretty face you’d have discovered a very competent marketing director for Alpha-Core, Inc. named Dawn Langston. Dawn and I have crossed paths so many times at the various shows that I’ve lost count. But this most recent time at the 2004 CES in Las Vegas did the trick; among all those thousands of faces I made a point of remembering hers. Knowing who she was, I did what any red-blooded audio reviewer would do, I gave her a call and asked her to send me samples of Alpha-Core/Goertz AG2 Silver Python speaker cables and TQ2 Silver Micro Purl interconnects.
The Object De` Article
These cables are named for Danish engineer, Ole Goertz, and are patented in twenty countries by the Alpha-Core Company. The basic construction consists of thin, flat ribbon shaped signal conductors made with 99.99% pure silver placed on either side of a common ground plane. A wrapping of micro thin dielectric material called Polyester Terepthalate insulates the individual signal conductors. The term “Purl” as in “Micro Purl” is how Alpha-Core refers to the spiral twisting of the ribbon conductors within a solid tubular extrusion of clear plastic polymer.
Alpha-Core manufactures several variations of this ribbon-type construction in silver and copper, both in the Purled version and several in a flat-layered configuration. The 8ft. speaker cables cost $1,346.00 and the 1.5 meter RCA interconnect cable will set you back $238.00 Dollars. The cables under consideration for this report are logical companions by virtue of their “Purled” design and silver ribbon construction. Alpha-Core claims their design minimizes many problems associated with external magnetic fields and RF interference. They use the term, “Inherent noise rejection”. There are many more technical aspects that might be considered; let’s just say at this juncture that there is no perfect electrical signal path, every design has its tradeoffs. But the flip side is that every cable configuration is not totally bad, even lowly lamp cord might work somewhere. Read on and I will try to correlate what I hear to this specific design, both the good and the bad and maybe even the ugly.
The Perfect Marriage …
… would be finding the cable that brings out the very best qualities of your audio system. As I see it, my task must be that of matchmaker, someone who will enable you to decide if you and Alpha-Core might live happily ever after. Over my many years I have seen countless untested relationships fail. I have read many reviewers dictums concerning successful cable joining of ones system. Foremost among these is the contention that you should use the same type of cable for every connection in a system so that you can derive the maximum benefits of that design. Maybe those aren’t the exact words, but that’s the theory used to justify it, and I consider it a form of mental morbidity. Some would say silver sounds different than copper, and to some extent I would agree. Others would contend flat strips of metal are better than round wire shapes, and at certain frequencies, again, I would agree. The point is there are many factors and the most important is physical construction, poorly thought out construction and materials can make any design fail.
The Sound of Silver…
… and most importantly the sound of Alpha-Core “Purled” silver. For this evaluation I used a pair of Aurum Cantus Leisure 2 SE speakers. I purchased these two-way speakers for just this sort of testing. They employ an aluminum ribbon tweeter that can reach up to 40KHz and the bass is good down to 40Hz. Many cable manufacturers will tell you to “burn in” their cable designs for some finite length of time. Unusually Alpha-Core recommends only two hours at the very most. I placed the TQ2 1.5 meter interconnects between my Audio research SP-9 MK3 pre-amp and AR-Classic 60 power-amp along with the eight-foot Silver Python speaker cables. The very first thing I did was install the interconnect and take a few notes. Next I hooked up the speaker cables and quickly determined that they had the same sonic signature as the interconnect. Both aided and contributed to the tonality of the other, what you will read is the effect of both without any contradictions.
And so it was with great certainty that I sat down to listen with my pencil and note pad in hand. My primary test disc is and has been for some time, Basia’s (Trzetrzelewska) “Time and Tide” [Epic-EK 40767]. As far as I’m concerned this complicated studio mix contains just about every aural clue I need. You see I’m a “voice man.” That is my instrument and what I use to judge the content of a melodic phrase. The inflections of a human voice are by far superior to any construct of metal or wood. Let me tell you about the first track, Promises. If your system is properly set up that first word is deep in the center stage. On the next line, “… we forget about our promises,” the microphone seems to zoom in and Basia moves closer, but still dead center. The title word ends with a strong double sibilance that sounds like, “Miss,Sez”. I use this and other sibilant consonants to determine midrange resolution in combination with a teeth and palate overtone that tells you it’s not escaping steam. The very first melodic lines tell you of high frequency extension that opens up the space in front of you. This is good, this is very good, particularly if you’re like me and are a soundstage/imaging guy. It may be studio induced reverb but it works for me.
By comparison with the original Onix Grandmaster cable the stage is a bit wider but the center image is much deeper. Basia’s voice seems to come from a place farther back near the wall behind the speakers; after all it is the higher frequencies that we use for localization. Lower frequencies, say below 180 Hz tell a different story. The very same wire characteristics that enhance treble resolution tend to thin out lower frequency harmonic overtones. Those deeper overtones are what enable you to distinguish the sound of a Bosendorfer piano from a Baldwin. My primary low frequency test is a selection from New York’s “The Audiophile Society Reference Disc Vol.2.” Track 3, Gary Karr and Harmon Lewis’, Adagio d’ Albinoni“. Acoustic bass and organ harmonics is their forte. This track is recorded in a spacious, stone cathedral, and it doesn’t get much better than this. It’s not enough to do bass you must also do wooden bass. You should hear the warm reverberant body of the bass fiddle. It’s not overt but by comparison to my reference, the body of this stringed bass is smaller and not as resonant. Its sound does not project and swell to reverberate within the hollow of this stone chamber as I know it should.
Now here is a very important point I would like to make. Just out of curiosity I used the test tones of my “Rives Test Disc” and a Radio Shack SPL meter and I measured the intensity (in decibels) of test frequencies up to 400.Hz. I could find (as I expected) no significant differences between my reference Esoteric Ultrapath cable and the Alpha-Core cable. Now I make no claims as to the validity of this test and I mention it only to make a point: it would be extremely difficult to say one has more bass or treble than the other. For the most part what I describe are rather subtle harmonic overtones that can only be properly decoded by a human brain capable of understanding subtle textural shading and emotions.
At the end of my story I must provide a rational, after all where does all this lead us? If sound were like a flavor then I know how to season my sound to suit my taste. In my main system I use modified and rebuilt Quad ESL63 speakers driven by a tube-mosfet hybrid AR Classic 60 triode amplifier. This bi-amped system uses two Gradient subwoofers crossed over at 120Hz powered by a Hafler 500 mosfet amplifier. The subs are connected via an eight-foot pair of Esoteric Ultrapath cables. These cables are so far the best low frequency pipes I have found, and the Python AG2 Silver is for this application not in the same league. But! At higher frequencies these Quad panels and the Audio Research amplifier are, let’s say, on the polite side of neutral. These silver slivers impart clarity derived from speed and hi-frequency extension. They enable the Quad speakers to better elucidate a sense of spacious dimensionality. The interior of my room expands to a soundstage comprised of clearer etched images. For me, that’s what it’s all about. Carry me into the performance, melt the walls around me, turn my stereo into an aural time machine, then I require little else. I can be happy like this until another pretty sound comes along. After all we are Audiophiles and our quest only ends with perfection. If you’re like me, I believe you may live happily ever after with these cables or you can at least take advantage of their 30-day no-risk money back guarantee trial offer.
915 Pembroke St. Bridgeport, CT 06608
Tel: 800-836-5920 (USA), 203-335-6805 (CT)
Price: Python AG2 $161.00/ft per single-wire pair (termination $40-$58) TQ2 Silver Micro Purl $238.00/1.5m pair (RCA)
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