Reviewer: Phil Gold
Source: Meridian G08 CD player, Denon DVD-5900 universal player
Integrated amplifier: Perreaux Radiance R200i
Speakers: Wilson Benesch ACT1 Reference
Cables: Cardas Golden Cross
Power Conditioning: Chang Lightspeed powerline filter
Headphones: AKG K1000
Room size: 24' w x 12' d x 8' h [sloping ceiling] in long-wall orientation.
Review Component Retail: under $400 for any given Moon Audio cable; $430 - $819 for Soundstring equivalents
|These two complete sets of cables have been in my system for close to six months now - plenty of time to audition them with a variety of music. As you might expect, I prefer the more expensive set. But I also found that a set from either manufacturer sounds better than any mix of the two. To my surprise, the single-ended Moon Audio Silver Dragon interconnect outperforms the balanced Silver Dragons while the reverse is true of the Soundstring cables. Go figure.
The Silver Dragon interconnects are very flexible and fitted with the excellent new Eichmann Silver Bullet connectors. They are covered in a protective red Techflex braiding, firm to the touch and sport quite a thin diameter. There are no directional markings. An 8-wire braided geometry is used, each wire being solid 99.99% pure 26-gauge silver with Teflon insulation. A 3-foot pair will set you back $270. Longer lengths are available at $60 for each additional 1.5 feet. You can save money by buying the single-ended cables with Cardas GRMO connectors ($220/3'), or you can purchase the Neutrik X-HD terminated balanced version for $240.
Moon Audio supplied me with two types of power cables: Blue Dragon and Green Dragon. The Blue Dragon retails for $100/4', $20 for each additional foot and is optimized for amplifiers and receivers. Three 12-gauge 19/25 stranded silver- plated copper conductors make up positive, negative and ground runs each. These are shielded with a silver-plated copper braid while all conductor casings are made of Teflon. The male outlet is a Marinco 8215 15A/125V hospital-grade black plug, the female connector a Wattgate WG-320-Blk. The designer aims for dead-quiet and complete rejection of all EMI and RFI interference. The Green Dragon is the same price and has similar specifications but is optimized for front-end components and uses six 18-gauge 19/30 stranded silver-plated copper conductors, two for each of the positive, negative and ground legs. Each grouping of two is individually shielded with a silver-plated copper braid. Though relatively thin, these power cables are stiff particularly in rotation about their axis. This can make it difficult to plug them into your equipment without a struggle. By contrast, my Cardas power cables are a lot more supple and the Soundstring power cables are more flexible still though considerably thicker.
Drew Baird of Moon Audio sent me up an 8' pair of bi-wire Silver Dragons ($380 for 4', with $160 extra for each additional 2 feet). Single-wire versions are $200 for 4 feet, with an extra $80 per each additional 2'. My shotgun set was terminated with Cardas CCMS 9R milled spades using billet copper and rhodium-over-silver plate, with two separate cables per speaker connecting to a single set of spades at the amplifier end.
All Soundstring cables are finished in a soft harvest-gold cloth jacket and, as the name indicates, remarkably flexible - even the 8' bi-wires. In my tight setup, this was an enormous advantage and must have also improved the mechanical isolation of the components. These cables are all thicker than their Moon Audio equivalents but not thick by the standards of a number of high-end cables.
Soundstring Cable Technologies is the collaborative effort between Jed Hacker's ideas and the design and manufacturing experience of two industry veterans, Superior Insulated Wire Corporation and the "Lion Cords division" of Astrophonic Corporation of America. The patented Tricormaxial power cords and speaker cables, patent-pending Starfire Octaphase and Starfire Quadraphase interconnects and their patented ultra low-mass RCA plug show that this is no me-too company. The conductors in the speaker cables and power cords are made of 99.99% pure oxygen-free copper (not 99.9999% as quoted in some reviews) in a finely stranded rope-lay pattern of a composite 10.5 gauge per leg. The interconnect cables use 99.99% pure oxygen-free finely stranded copper conductors in a 7-strand configuration of composite 22 gauge. All products carry a full lifetime guarantee against manufacturing defects and are "made in the USA".
The Soundstring power cords use one-piece molded terminations. The tricormaxial progressive geometric multi-gauge design of the power cords and speaker cables is claimed to allow voltage, signals and frequencies to find the path of least resistance. The technical details of the patent make interesting reading but what matters to me is how it sounds so I will move right along. The power cords are available in standard lengths of 3', 6' and 9', with respective pricing of $530, $546 and $562 as of the first of this year.
I received 3-foot lengths of the balanced Octaphase 95%-shielded interconnects terminated with Neutrik XLR connectors ($488/pair) and 3-foot lengths of the single-ended Octaphase interconnects with Soundstring's patented gold-plated beryllium/copper low-mass RCA that sports a finely cured wood housing to reduce outside interference ($430/pair). The Soundstring speaker wires were supplied in prototype bi-wire form, with two entirely separate cables for each speaker wrapped in a common black woven jacket. While cosmetically different from current production, they were identical in internal construction and performance. Like the power cables, their progressive geometric multi-gauge tricormaxial design is engineered for crisp clean signal transfer. A 6-foot single wire pair currently sells for $678, its bi-wire version for $819.