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From Artisan's website, "… the conductors in the Artisan Silver Dream interconnects are of high-purity slow-drawn solid silver arranged in a double-balanced four conductor Litz* braid. The conductors are sheathed in Teflon insulation, which is deliberately a slightly loose fit, thus the conductors are surrounded by a mainly air dielectric (air being widely regarded as one of the best performing dielectric materials). The conductors are neither too thin nor too thick. This is important. There is an optimum thickness which gives the best sound. Too thick leads to the cable sounding unnaturally smooth at the top and overripe in the bass. Conversely, having the conductors too thin increases the resistance of the whole cable too much and leads to a weedy anemic sound with lightweight bass."


* The term litz wire is derived from the German word litzendraht meaning woven wire. Generally defined, it is a wire constructed of individually film insulated wires bunched or braided together in a uniform pattern of twists and length of lays. The multi-strand configuration minimizes the power losses otherwise encountered in a solid conductor due to the skin effect or tendency of radio frequency current to be concentrated at the surface of the conductor. In order to counteract this effect, it is necessary to increase the amount of surface area without appreciably increasing the size of the conductor. It is also essential to position each individual strand in the litz construction in a uniform pattern moving from the center to the outside and back in a given length. Efficiency of the stranded conductor can be multiplied by increasing the number of twists per foot. Generally, six to eight twists per foot is common.

"The four insulated silver conductors are then braided in a Litz configuration very similar to the geometry used in some well respected high-end cables. The Litz braid principle rejects external interference (which can cause rough, impure treble). The braiding is fairly loose deliberately. An over-tight weave does not have the same noise rejection properties. The cables are terminated using solder with a very high silver content, with very high quality silver-plated RCA plugs (superior to gold-plating due to the higher conductivity of silver). All conductive surfaces within the plugs are silver-plated and feature Teflon insulation."

What I did notice straight from the box was how the Silver Dream were very different from the Kimber KCAG which I did buy brand new some years ago. The KCAG required a few hundred hours of burn-in and the sound changed dramatically during this period exactly as described by the UK distributor Russ Andrews. Perhaps relevant in this context is that the KCAG uses multi-strand silver in each of its conductor bundles whereas the Silver Dream uses single strand solid core.

Installed between an AMR CD-77 CD player and AMR AM-77 integrated amplifier, it was obvious from the first track that the Silver Dreams hit the ground running. The AMR LS-77 speakers don't suffer fools gladly and any deficiencies at either frequency extreme would have been plainly evident.  Fortunately, bass was full with plenty of detail while the highs again were detailed with no hint of stridency. Of course the midrange is the deciding factor for most when it comes to judging any audio component and I class cables as components, not just ancillaries.

Here the qualities of silver are without peer and even after being acclimatized to Kimber's finest, I couldn't find any fault whatsoever. Reverting back to the Select KS-1030 was very interesting as subjectively the perceived volume lowered ever so slightly, requiring me to turn it up a notch to make comparisons. I should probably expand a little on the Kimber Select KS-1030 at this point as I'm using is a reference to judge the Artisan.

For me, the KS-1030 is the closest realization of the 'straight wire with gain' ideal I've yet heard and it’s difficult to think of how it could be bettered.  Kimber uses the very finest silver and terminates it with the best WBT connectors. Virtually impossible to provide a higher quality path from one component to another, we accept that very little is being lost of the signal. Then we have to look at what may be added such as RFI, a problem Ray Kimber has spent many years combating with his designs.  All Kimber cables utilize a weave to cancel RFI without extensive screening which affects the sound. It's the screening of cables which is a major cause of their wide variations in sound even if using otherwise very similar conductors of similar gauge. Both the Kimber KS-1030 and Artisan Silver Dream use Teflon dielectric but Kimber applies theirs using a “pressure extrusion process” where the dielectric is forced against the silver conductor to eliminate all air pockets. The Artisan has an intentionally loose fitting Teflon sleeve as described earlier.

If there is one word which best defines the KS-1030, it would be holographic. I still vividly remember the first time I heard this cable in my system and the effect it had was beyond expectation.  Playing “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” from the bonus CD of live recordings included on The Best of Mary Black [Grapevine – GRACD324], I was blown away by the live acoustics and sheer sense of being there. It’s an experience easier to demonstrate than describe with any real authority but authority is what the Kimber brought to the table track after track.

From top to bottom, everything improves compared to copper conductors without drawbacks.  The removing a veil analogy is perhaps the most overused in audio so despite how apt it would be here I'll leave it aside and instead suggest that moving from copper to silver is like upgrading a camera lens to one with a finer-grade polished glass. You don't simply see more detail, you see more light, more contrast and shades between light and dark and you get more sense of depth. In short, you are nearer to seeing the landscape as it would look without a lens.

The analogy falls down a little when from an audio perspective, the landscape in question is actually a high-resolution photograph. In theory, the more scrutiny a lens puts to that photograph, the more likely it’ll expose the faults of the photograph when there may well be an  'optimum' lens to provide just enough resolution to see the landscape but not so much to signal that we're looking at a reproduced image. That's playing devil's advocate.  In practice, you really cannot have too good a lens for audio.  Increasing resolution with the use of silver interconnects in this instance means increasing realism.