Magnan’s “Silver Bronze” Cable
|Magnan’s “Silver Bronze” Cable
|A Pro’s Point of View
|9 March 2001
Silver Bronze Interconnects:
Micro-thin silver and bronze ribbons with Teflon-air dielectric
4’ unbalanced RCA: $1,000
4’ balanced XLR: $1,200
Dave Magnan has been making extraordinary cables for a long time, sometimes laboring in semi-obscurity, a condition that superior craftsmen and great artists understand too well. His “Signature” interconnect has been one of my reference cables for years and I have written about its unusual glory: a relaxation and musical “rightness” that are difficult to describe but easy to live with in a good sound system. The Magnan “Vi” cable is also a standard to live by at a price point that is modest for what it delivers.
Enter now the Magnan “Silver Bronze” interconnect, a sonic instrument unlike any other in the Magnan lineup, unlike any anywhere.
Let me say immediately that Dave Magnan’s website posts information that may help many skeptics who believe that all cables are the same. The site discusses somewhat technical issues such as the importance of reduced skin effect for maximum clarity in signal delivery. Magnan looks at issues of ground return as well, but I will not rehearse what he writes within easy reach. The bottom line for any audio product is its sound. It is very hard to describe sound. We all know that. The sound of the new Magnan “Silver Bronze” is more difficult to describe than most.
Begin with the fact that this cable grows on you across the many hours of its break-in period. I heard nothing onerous or unusual during break-in. However, I did find myself increasingly mesmerized, even perplexed, by the cable as it continued its movement toward and past maturation. The mesmerizing quality of the “Silver Bronze” is its wide sonic spectrum. I have seldom heard any interconnect approach this cable in sheer width of frequency extension. One is almost shocked by a quality that lead to the sense of perplexity I experienced over a long span of time.
The first album that I listened to with these cables in the chain, between DAC and pre-amp, is the classic Miles Davis session for Columbia, “Milestones,” newly mastered in the Sony/ Columbia box set recently issued as a “Miles and Coltrane” retrospective.
Perhaps that choice was inadvertently on target in dialing in the ferocious sonic power that this album delivers. Columbia’s late ’50s engineers used their famous tunnel reverberation effects on this material. One finds a sharp, quick sonic attack married with medium reverb decay, the whole creating an unusually fat if somewhat eerie effect.
It’s a sound seems to have been created so that the “Silver Bronze” cable can show off its strengths. A quality peculiar to the original three track recordings is the predominance of sonic (and musical) heft, or weight, in the upper mid-range. The original “Milestones” sessions are not in any way sonically neutral. No recordings easily fit a perfect description of sonic neutrality. But these “Milestones” sessions are truly eccentric. You will like or hate their sound immediately. The music is extremely self-confident, and the sound has a similar attitude. No doubt the emerging and increasingly successful partnership between Davis and Columbia lent itself to two things that appear in spades here: powerful and aggressive sound values, and Davis’s influence on the presentation of his music in every aspect of its marketing. My point here, invoking my initial experience with the new Magnan cables in the company of such strong performances, is simply this: I had never heard the full degree of sonic attack on this material as I did when I listened with the “Silver Bronze” cables.
To say that these cables have an “up front” quality is both accurate and deceiving. I do not mean that they are tilted up or forward and bright. They are not. Nor do I mean that these cables exaggerate what they transmit. They do not. The special quality these cables lend to reproduced music is a no nonsense get-out-of-the-way quality that, in certain respects, goes further in the direction of sonic neutrality, or accuracy, than any other cable I know of. You cannot as a listener deny that these cables confront you. You are confronted with the full force and detail of the recordings you send through them.
That is a daunting experience. I dare say that many – probably most – audiophiles do not really want the whole hog: unadulterated sound without any editorial shaping whatsoever. Believe me, once you find an accurate but unforgiving let-it-all-go-through interconnect like the “Silver Bronze,” it will force you to a decision. Do you want to experience everything that sits on a recording? Is your sound system up to the challenge of reproducing such dynamics and micro-dynamics without sounding bright, edgy, or any other discomforting sonic quality that a flat-out, full delivery of sonic truth produces?
To hear “Milestones” (both the track and the album as a whole) with Magnan’s new wire is to hear the radical force, that deliberate attitude of evil energy that Davis and his engineering collaborators at Columbia aimed for.
For me, the result is appealing and more. To hear a session that I’ve known for more than forty years now presented, warts and all, with all of its impact and appeal, daunting but glorious, is stunning. The “Silver Bronze” simply digs out all of this confrontational music. It gets out of the way to let you hear what Davis did and what the Columbia sound sculptors accomplished. That is a significant and magnificent achievement.
Let me add that I have used Magnan’s IIIi as runs of mic cable. They have an ability to capture low level information, especially at the bottom of the sonic scale, that is ear-opening. You will not easily be surprised – if you’ve already experienced Magnan’s “Signature” cables – to find Dave Magnan, once more, leading us all toward greater daring in facing the full-bore truth of reproduced musical sound.
That is precisely what I think has been achieved here with the “Silver Bronze,” a take-no-prisoners refusal to back away or roll off any dollop of sound it is fed. This is a cable, perhaps eccentric (since one is not easily prepared to hear such force all across the spectrum), but capable, as few cables are, of re-educating a caring listener’s already well-trained ears.
I intend this as a compliment from me to Dave Magnan and his “Silver Bronze” cables, and from Dave Magnan to us. These interconnects bear the Magnan pedigree. They are also a labor of love, requiring each listener who hears them to think about what his sonic and his musical values truly are. And that, I think, is a good thing in a world that rounds too many sonic corners and makes the notion of musical confrontation into a purely aggressive event. Magnan’s “Silver Bronze” cables confront us intellectually, emotionally, and aesthetically – where we live and love.
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