Speaker, Interconnect, Power and Jumper Cables
$385 - $1540
The Swiss are famous for many things. The Alps...cheese...army knives....beautiful women. Cables? Not so much. You might be thinking as I often do that here is yet another cable company to take my well earned pennies away. It seems there are more stereo cable designers/manufacturers than any other type of gear. Another way to look at the situation is that there are just that many more choices. Maybe all the new companies with great sounding cables will slowly chip away at the big boys and force them to start lowering their prices. I might also be cast in the lead of Downton Abby and chosen for the cover of Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue...
Swisscables was founded in April of 2012 by Anton and Barbara Suter. And yes, the cables actually are made in Switzerland. The Suters have more than twenty years in the high end trade industry, part of which was marketing a well known Swiss audio cable brand worldwide. During this time they realized that the market needed a major step forward, a reference grade cable at a very reasonable price; something that would necessitate some truly innovative design approaches and outside-the-box thinking, not merely another of the numerous repackaging of known and unquestioned technologies.
Well, I guess I will see if they have achieved their goal or if their claims have as many holes in them as swiss cheese.
For the realization of this goal they consequently turned to Lumen White Research in Switzerland, a multiple award-winning high-end technology- and design firm renowned for their groundbreaking, superlative loudspeakers, turntables and edge-of-the-art audio OEM design services.
SwissCables makes two lines at two different price points; the Evolution (entry level) and the Reference. My goodie box arrived with an assortment of their cables in the Reference Line: two pair of RCA interconnects ($950 ea.), set of jumpers($385), and speaker cables ($1540). They also sent a power cord from the line just for me to take a listen, but I won't get into much about it in this review.
The system I used to evaluate the cables is as follows:
Preamp – Belles 21a with 6Sons Audio Thunderbird power cord
Amp – Usher R1.5 with 6Sons Audio Windigo power cord
Amp – Consonance Cyber 800 (tube) with 6Sons Audio Thunderbird power cords
Speakers – Usher Dancer Mini 2
Source – Virtue Audio Piano M1 CDP with Virtual Dynamics Testament power cord
Interconnects – MG Audio Design Planus Cu2
Speaker Cables – MG Audio Design Planus II
Speaker Jumpers – Audio Art SC5
This review has been the hardest and yet the easiest of all my cable reviews. I will elaborate on this later in detail.
All cables except the power cables arrived pre burned in, but I was informed that it would take an additional 200 hours of burn in for the cables to sound their best.
The cables are nicely designed and look good with the wood accents, they are flexible but not as heavy as you think they would be by looking at them. The only negative was the plastic strips they use with directional arrows and company name has an adhesive backing instead of being heat shrink wrap. On the jumpers they were coming off of the cables; not something you would expect of a "reference" line cable.
When asked about this and directional arrows being on jumpers, Barbara Suter informed me that they were placed on the jumpers not for directionality but as a company name badge and that they were cut too short thus causing them to come off. This problem has now been fixed in the current production models.
I thought I would start my listening sessions with something easy so I substituted my Audio Art jumpers with the Swisscables. I popped in a few of my favorite songs and “BAM!”, for the life of me I could not hear a difference. Some jumpers will shrink the sound stage and sound thin but the Swisscables like my Audio Art does not effect the sound of my system. Bad thing is the Swisscables are much more expensive than my Audio Arts.
Up next, put my jumpers back in and replaced interconnects between amp and preamp, MG Audio Design Planus Cu2 for the Swisscables. Again, there was no difference in the sound of the two cables.
I was beginning to think that my hearing was going on me so back in with the Planus Cu2's and in with the Swisscables between my preamp and CD player. The Piano M1 has two outputs so I could hook up both cables at the same time to different inputs and switch between the two. Again no difference no matter how many times I switched.
To give you a better idea of the sound of my reference cables here is a review from Stereomojo.
MG's are THE reference cable for several Stereomojo reviewers including our esteemed publisher who has heard tons of cables, so now you see why I said this is the hardest and at the same time the easiest cable review that I have written.
So far I'm shooting blanks, so my last chance to get (hear) something to write about is the speaker cables. I put in the speakers cables and finally a difference in sound I can talk about. The speaker cables are a tad more focus in the upper bass/lower mid range making them sound a little clearer but that was the only difference.
As they say now it's time for the “Full Monty”, all Swisscables.
Since I heard a difference in the lower midrange/upper bass region I tthought I would start out listening to Boz Scaggs” “Speak Low” CD. This release is well recorded and would be a great addition to your reference collection.
Vocals on the song “She Was Too Good To Me” were very clean and crisp but lacked a little warmth. The sound of the bass upright was natural sounding with the voice being up front and large in size. Instruments tended to blend together a a little. Funny thing, when I compared the interconnects I could not notice a difference in sound but now switching to the Planus Cu2 on the source, the imaging was tightened and I could detect a tad more 3D effect in the sound stage. This was really apparent on the title cut “Speak Low”.
All in all with male vocals the foundation was there for a natural presentation and hearty reproduction.
Looking through my collection of female vocalists, I stopped on a Patricia Barber CD, “Modern Cool” which I had not listened to in a while. Patricia's voice had an airy, feathery touch with just a hint of sibilance every now and then, but never did it bring undue attention to itself. I again heard the somewhat blending together of instruments, it seemed the more instruments added the more it was noticeable, but with only a few instruments playing imaging was spot on. Piano on “Love Put On Your Faces” is mesmerizing and cymbals have a nice shimmer to them. The sound stage is three dimensional with good depth - overall a quality presentation.
Now it time to boggie! Capital Cities “In A Tidal Wave Of Mystery”. After falling in love with the hit song “Safe And Sound” while driving to and from work, I had to get this cdCD. Wait, let me go get an ice cold one if you know what I mean, now hit play and... I'm bouncing up and down in my chair, the bass is pounding, the highs are clean and relaxed, the mid range is clear and all enveloping. There's nothing here to make me want to turn the music off. I'm not listening to cables but to music, just pure live fun.
Oops, almost forgot about the power cable. I placed it on my Usher power amp and as opposed to the 6Sons Audio Windigo power cord the Swisscable was not as thick sounding, meaning a bit leaner in overall presentation. The sound is clean with a quiet background with good pace and speed. The bass was tight and deep. The only problem I had was trying to orientate the holes at the amp end with the three prongs as the cable is fairly stiff and hard to twist around. Other than that a nice upgrade to the standard power cords supplied with equipment these days. These can be had with either American or European plugs.
As I stated earlier this was the easiest and at the same time hardest review that I have done. The Swisscable Reference line and my reference Mg Audio Design cables are neck and neck as far as sound with the only difference I could detect being between the speaker cables. This might have been somewhat expected since the SwissCables cost $500+ more. This might be reversed if I could find the coin to move up to the Planus 3's which are the same price as the Swisscables.
Now as to why I could not hear a difference in the interconnects until I placed my reference cables into the Swisscables setup, It might be that the speaker cable in each series is imparting it's sonic siginature and since I detected a little cleaner sounding part of the spectrum with the Swisscable speaker cable thus I could then tell the difference in the two interconnects. This would be very strange that if I had the Planus 3's and the two cables systems sound identical how two totally different companies with different approaches arrive at the same end result.
Either way the Swisscables are a nice sounding set of cables and I would think do well in a system where the price is appropriate.
phone +41 (0)41 566 77 11