High-end cable industry literally exploded in past few years. With the availability of high quality materials and high-tech technologies at the reach of the small companies, the particular high-end audio cables movement became a huge thing. Not only as the growth of the high-end audio manufacturing side, but also as an entrance to the vast possibilities of exploring and fine tuning the dedicated high-end audio system.
Dealing with Jonny and the company was a real breeze. I never experienced such a dedicated corespondency on each step of the process. The updates came in almost on daily basis. Putting myself into the shoes of the customers, this is how I would like to be treated with each of my high-end audio purchases. Informative, up to date and friendly. There is a lot to learn from such customer relationship and I do hope that some would follow this path.
From the confirmation of the "order" and making the cables (Cryogenic treatment etc.) I was informed by the email about each step of the process. I've been around for long enough, but never experienced such a dedication to the communication. And satisfaction doesn't ends here. Upon unpacking on the arrival day my face was instantly transformed into a large king sized smile. The box, vacuum cable packing, accompanied papers, a t-shirt and even the candy created such a positive atmosphere, that rarely happens these days ;). Call me old fashioned, but I totally dig and respect the personal touch like this. I can now totally understand the recommendations and happy customers base that Jonny already have.
We set with Jonny for the Cottonmouth power cable and a 1.5m pair of Signature Series Mamushi XLRs for the review. All the cables have been sent to cryogenic processing and were burned in (cured) with the 200 hours in prior to shipping them out to Mono & Stereo! Along, that I've added my part of additional 300 hours of playback, before I've started with the critical listening. High-end cables are getting better and better, but as a fact there is a prolonged need time of their "settling in". The more complex the structure and materials are, the longer it takes for them to start performing at their best. With quite few of the high-end audio cables I've noticed an interesting phenomena. They show their initial sound ability when tried at first, then something happens and they need to go through the process of being ready. This is also the reason more and more manufactures are using the cable "cookers" and offer the burn in service to those customers, that ask for this.
SNAKE RIVER AUDIO APPROACH
Snake River Audio is a small artist company thinking outside of the box and with strong urge to develope a whole new products that can compete with the big names of high-end audio industry.
I'v asked Jonny to write a few words from the manufacturer's standpoint. Here are the few things, that he pointed out:
All of our cables are custom-built to order by hand, one-at-a-time.
Every cable is completed from start to finish before the next one is started. We do not believe in mass-production. Our belief is that it is impossible to mass-produce TRUE quality.
Every cable is cryogenically treated, and given a 200 hour burn-in before shipping to the customer.
Instead of the traditional up and down setup, with "entry level" cables at the bottom and working your way up to the topline at the top of the pricing - we have a completely different approach.
We understand that different precious metals of the conductors have a different sonic effect on the music. So we take more of a side-to-side approach, offering similar products of different source materials to better fit your system.
While we don't agree with trying to "correct" a system with cables, we also don't want the end user to use cables that will make those inherent issues worse.
Then as an ultimate, of course we do offer the Signature Series, which consists of the pure 24k gold, pure .999 silver, and pure oxygen-free copper - all together in a hybrid mix.
The silver provides the detail, clarity and accuracy, while the gold and copper bring in the full rich body and character, and bring the music back to your music. If we were forced to choose a "topline" model in our products, the Signature Series would be it!
Each of Snake River Audio Cables are frozen down to -300*F. I remember the emotional reactions from the high-end audio society when this treatment was introduced. Like with many things in high-end you'll always find people who'll act negative when something new is presented. I always point to the other industries when dealing with the nayasayers. If anyone do the simple digging, there are elaborated texts about the cryogenic treating of the cables. This process was used in many other branches of industry long before the high-end audio even step into the picture. Benefits are clear and documented for those who are being enough broad minded to actually care. Just for example. There is already a "perfect" cable conductor with the zero loss in signal, but it needs to be cooled down at the constant temperature of - 200*C.
COTTONMOUTH POWER CABLE
The Cottonmouth cables represent the Snake River Audio gold series cables. They use company certified oxygen free, high density and purity copper wire being plated with 24k gold. Six strands are double-weaved with ether-based polyurethane coating braided in an anti parallel way to minimise cross contamination. Everything is then coated with the stylish nylon braiding, that is abrasive resistant. On both sided Cottonmouth power cable is mated with the 24k Gold plated connectors.
As quite elaborately explained so far, Snake River Audio cables are not usual set of power cables and that was instantly noticeable with the first note strikes. When used with the my reference Thrax Dionysos preamplifier my listening notes quickly projected positive remarks. I cannot point out enough the importance of the "last" meters of power cabling and the Snake River Audio Cottonmouth power cables excelled as a clear example of making this a fact. When compared to some even higher priced cables Cottonmouth worked with clearer and more focused impact. When contemporary high end audio power cables are being designed properly, they bring that recognised analog like feeling to the performance. Cottonmouth brought the power of in depth musical perception back into the focus. I don't like to write about the overused black blackness, yet with Cottonmouth inserted in the preamplifier and later on in the power amplifier the details tend to stand out with much more presence. All positive attributes combined formed the music replay, that offered natural, believable embodiment of instruments and vocals. Cottonmouth power cable didn't act as a filtering cable like most cables do. Many wants to jump on the wagon of high-end audio. Especially with power cables they see the "easy" money coming their war. Luckily for the experienced ears there is a clear and instant distinction between mediocre and properly designed power cable. The strictly money driven products often kill the music and strip out to the basic bones of musical reproduction. Its better to use 1$ industry cable then cables, that act like passive filter.
When you've experienced the well executed power cable life instantly come back into the music. This is exactly the attribute I want to connect with the Snake River Audio Cottonmouth power cable. It didn't hold anything back, that would act against letting the music flow. I've written in my night listening notes, that when electricity settle down, the delicate nature of Cottonmouth really shines. With both Portrait Of Tracy and Bright Size Life Jaco Pastorius bass guitar playing enriches by the far out harmonics become as sparkling and refined as they need to be. The needed focus and warmness really worked in Cottonmouth favour. This power cable shoed its open and controlled nature even with the few song turns. Well executed cables share this ability and Snake River Audio knows exactly what they're doing and how to achieve this.
MAMUSHI BALANCED XLR INTERCONNECTS
The Mamushi magnetic series of high-end quality audio cables were designed to deal extensively with the RFI. They deal with the interference suppression in the unique way with separating conductors using only the thinnest layer teflon between them. Special to the Mamushi XLR interconnects are the implementation of the multiple pole magnetisation pattern, that evenly distribute the magnetic strength across the whole cable.
Like it or not we're heavily surrounded with the ever raising hubris electronic interferences of all sorts. Before even talking about the purity of the signal, we should be addressing this primal need of operating with the different types of noise in establishing the needed bandwidth. Without the real open nature of interconnect cables and especially bandwidth broad performance there can be no real talk about the true high-end audio performance.
Mamushi XLR interconnects brought the freshness and vividness, that I don't recall easily being presented at such high level in this price range. These cables potency rivals the XLR's few times the price and connects with Jonny clear and focused vision. He combines technical advantages used in the combination of clever solutions tailored toward the keeping the musicality untouched.
Playing one of my all time favourite artist's album Blue Pacific, brought back nice memories of the first encounter with the album. How much simpler life tend to be back in eighties and music seems to be of a different kind. This album represent Michael Franks's interesting/turning point of his carrier. He moved forward with more studio based production, but album still reflects the energy of his past legendary albums like Sleeping Gypsy and Tiger In The rain. Blue Pacific was mastered by the Dough Sax and sound is a challenge for any real balanced system as well as the cables under the review scope. I saw this album in the active display at the Japanese high-end audio shows during the years. Seeing Mr. Smooth music getting played and shared with more people makes me a happy man.
Snake River Audio Mamushi XLR interconnects kept the Michael wit spirit intact. Masterful production really shines on a well balanced system and with the high-performing cables. Mamushi role as the via medium for the music was grand. Going through my classical and jazz test repertoire showed the same results. These interconnects shined with the palpable presentation, that evoked the real emotional impact in no time. As with Cottonmouth power cables, Mamushi ability to correlate with music in highly emotional was contagious. I've always seem to be drawn into the music and spend my time listening without critics glasses on 24/7. Just a direct musical voyage.
Snake River Audio cables cough my attention instantly back with my review of EMMESpeakers. I'm really happy for having the chance to hear the both Mamushi XLR interconnects and Cottonmouth power cable in my listening system. They proven the fact, that for some manufactures cable design and manufacturing means serious business, with serious products.
Everything surrounded with the Jonny and his company dealings is hard not to like. And especially one cannot argue with the pricing. Snake River Audio cables are not cheap, but they are affordable compared to what some companies are trying to charge for the performance, that more relate to the hi-fi rather then high end audio.
Snake River Audio Mamushi XLR interconnects and Cottonmouth power cable are the examples of things done right. This is a clear example of how the independent small manufacturing high-end business can excel. With the knowhow, thinking out of the box, passion for music and with the products, that offers the sound and performance that set the standards.
Mamushi XLR interconnects $1845 US
Cottonmouth power cable $1145 US