|Densen B-110 Integrated Amplifier & Darwin Cables Silver Interconnect Review|
|Home Theater Power Amplifiers Integrated Amplifiers|
|Written by Andre Marc|
|Tuesday, 26 November 2013|
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Simple design principles? No suspicious scientific claims? Value based pricing? Count me in. All of this sounds great, but the proof is in the listening, right? You can bet I did some listening. But first a bit more about the design and development of the cables. To start, they use solid core silver conductors. In the designers' own words:
First of all, we started with the purest silver solid core cable of the optimum gauge for performance we could find. Silver is the best conductor and even when it tarnishes it retains its efficiency. That cannot be said for copper, which degrades as it ages.
The industry standard "remedy" has been to seal the copper in with rubber, plastic and teflon. But now you have the second best conductor in direct contact with a dielectric that audibly degrades the sound. We know. We tried it. And even with superior teflon dielectric, wires in direct contact sounded lifeless.
It turns out, there's a reason for that. Even the best solid dielectric becomes part of the signal path when it tightly surrounds the conductor, but with low voltages in interconnects, it takes forever (or in the case of phono cables, possibly never) for the atoms to organize and break in. The bottom line is you want your signal flowing through a superior conductor. Anything else is an unnecessary compromise.
With Darwin's silver conductor and air dielectric, you are already two steps ahead of "formula" cables. Our wire makes minimal contact in a teflon tube of specific gauge and wall thickness selected by ear. Because there is little contact with the solid teflon, break-in time is minimized. Performance is maximized. After a relentless search for the best sounding RCA terminations that included some of the best known brands, we discovered one, precision machined, with the metallurgy that perfectly suited our design. We removed the barrel for even lower mass.
Our XLR's employ low mass Neutrik ends. It should be noted that because of the structure of the XLR ends there is more break-in time with the XLRs. Our most trusted XLR beta tester reported continuing improvement after 100 hours (presumably as the ends settled in). Our other Darwin Cables approach peak performance much quicker. Cable break-in is difficult to quantify under varying conditions. Our experience mirrors that of many in that cables do sound better when undisturbed, as time progresses.
The final touch is cryogenics. Electron microscopes reveal that molecules are much more organized and linear after cryogenic treatment—like the difference between ice and water, except after treatment, cables retain that organization. The result is a more efficient, better performance. The most noticeable effect is a reduction in your system's noise floor.
We soak our connectors in contact enhancer and also swab the ends with a silver contact enhancer. Soaking the connectors and the strategic use of teflon tape to isolate them from the shrink tubing produced audible improvements.
I used the Darwins in several different configurations and with multiple components. There simply was nothing missing. I thought down the road, after weeks of listening, I would be able to identify some weaknesses, some deviation from neutrality that would make itself apparent with critical listening. But nothing of the sort happened. The Darwins remained true to my initial impression. Buttery smooth highs and mids, and amazingly good at fleshing out voices and instruments.