|RS Audio Cables Review|
|Home Theater Accessories AV Cables|
|Written by Todd Whitesel|
|Wednesday, 06 January 2010|
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Kevlar Starchord ($179/6-foot)
The Starchord is a beefy, shielded cable built with “star quad” configuration, a design employing four conductors that RS asserts “minimizes the 'loop area' between twists of the conductors, and is laced with an external ground wire. Although the cord is thick as a pro wrestler's thumb, it's also very flexible and can be tucked into service neatly and nearly anywhere. The Starchord comes terminated with Marinco hospital-grade connectors. One caveat about the cord and termination: Make sure your AC outlet can “handle” such equipment, otherwise the weight of the cable may compromise the connection and pull the plug from the wall. I recently installed Acme Audio Labs' 20 amp/125 volt duplex AC outlet (Series 2), which provided an extremely tight connection with the Starchord. I experimented with the Starchord, using it as the power cord for amplifier and CD player. When paired with a player, the Starchord offered a better sense of detail and overall space. As I noted in my review of Electrocompaniet's PI-2 integrated amplifier, replacing the stock power cable with the Starchord significantly reduced any hum emanating from the amp. That was a very evident and repeatable result. Expect dead-quiet backgrounds, too.
As I mentioned earlier, silver cables are sometimes prematurely labeled as bright or thin-sounding. I didn't have that experience with the Illumés or Silver Speaker cables. Once broken in – and they do need break-in – the sound is very smooth, detailed and never fatiguing. In my opinion, cables should be seen and not heard, and that's what RS does very well. Hook 'em up and just enjoy the music.
David Gilmour's On An Island is a generally breezy affair, with some guitar histrionics thrown in for good measure. Tunes such as the title track and “The Blue” are lush, dreamy numbers with superb background vocals from Rick Wright, Graham Nash and David Crosby. Through the RS setup, it's possible to hear the three vocalist's breathe as they expel the last syllables of a phrase – a wonderful thing. It's as if the words are picked up and carried through the air into your ears and allowed to float and sustain like a lingering summer cloud.
Multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald's 1999 solo album Driver's Eyes didn't get much notice, but it features a formidable backing cast including G.E. Smith, Steve Hackett, Hugh McCracken, John Wetton, Lou Gramm, Peter Frampton, Gary Brooker and Michael Giles. McDonald taps into each for a colorful mix of rock, jazz and prog. “Hawaii” is a ride through '60's surf music with a touch of the orient bringing both sides of the Pacific together. Reverb was subtly dispersed and sparkling. The brooding “Let There Be Light,” sung by Brooker, was breathtaking in its intensity and grandeur, heightened by McDonald's string arrangement and Brooker's inimitable vocal.
Beachwood Sparks' 2001 release Once We Were Trees is absolutely dripping with reverb and glittering harmonies, recalling the glory days of late 1960's country rock. I've heard the album countless times, but what impressed me most here was the feeling of being in-studio as “Confusion Is Nothing New” and “The Sun Surrounds Me” played through the RS cabling. There's some magic happening here that's difficult to describe but easy to enjoy.
Steeleye Span's brilliant 2006 album Bloody Men features a gritty version of “Bonny Black Hare,” a traditional British folk tune taken to the extreme with octave violin solos. If Maddy Prior's saucy vocals don't hook your ears, Peter Knight's violins will. There was the perfect mix of detail and “loud” where all bloomed comfortably.
Listening to jazz guitarist Steve Khan's The Suitcase – a live recording from 1994 with Anthony Jackson on bass and Dennis Chambers on drums – was a treat. Khan's creamy guitar tone underlies Chambers' physical and driving drumming. The bell on the ride cymbal rang true, and the low buzz of Jackson's bass on cuts such as “The Suitcase” sounds at times like Tibetan throat singers or the very lowest piano keys. The bass response went far beyond my expectations.
It should come as no surprise that I liked these cables very much. Don't let the sticker fool you, RS Audio Cables are bargain cables in price only and only hint at their quality and level of performance. They make a very fine introduction – if not permanent stop – into the world of audiophile cables.
Electrocompaniet PI-2 integrated amplifier