Darwin Cable Company silver cables

Affordable silver cables

Quite few readers pointed me toward  Bill Magerman and Tony Bender  Darwin Cable Company. Here is more info about their silver cables:

It might have been easy for some, having developed something like the Darwin Silver interconnect, to simply rest on that achievement—a cable that most customers agree outperforms the expensive big boys on the block. But Bill Magerman and Tony Bender are not wired that way.

“First of all, we are of the mindset of many of our customers,” said Darwin Cable Company co-founder Bill Magerman, who heads up production. “We're working class guys who have busted our butts for every nickel. We just happen to love music in a way that tests the boundaries between passion and pathological. We understand from our own experiences how consuming the obsession for great sound reproduction can be and how challenging it can be to achieve it. We demand performance but refuse to pay an arm and a leg for it. One or two fingers maybe, and a toe, tops.”

He added, “I think there is still a bit of a chip on our shoulders by the way audio morphed into a rich-mans sport. We realize audio is a limited market, often necessitating higher per-piece costs because the volume isn't there, but it shouldn't be exclusionary. We understand the cost of research and development and the overhead involved, but $18,000 interconnects are not grounded in any reality we are familiar with. Our goal is to offer a world class cable within reach of most audiophiles. The company's original 3-foot Darwin Silver has a MSRP of $295. Their newest design, the Darwin Ascension is priced at $595 with an introductory offer of $495 for either unbalanced or XLR. Shielded/Phono Cables (They are interchangeable) are slightly higher. They also offer a Darwin Ascension Digital Cable, an upgrade over the original that some believe to be the best on the market already.

The seeds of the Darwin design sprouted from Magerman's low mass cable design. Together, he and Bender, chief analyst of Darwin Cables, have turned that original concept from giant killer to giant, based on reviewer and customer testimonials. So why not leave it at that? “Like all good audiophiles, we're obsessive,” Magerman explains. Research and development never ends. And that is how the company's newest cable, the Ascension, was born. These guys just cannot quit when they're ahead.

Bender notes that the original Darwin concept evolved by subtracting “the mistakes” most manufacturers make. “First, you have to identify the elements that detract from cable performance and to what degree.” Bender said. “We are fanatical about building a cable with the least amount of compromises possible.”

A quick overview of the Darwin philosophy:

• Low Mass Ends. Magerman has long described heavy, bulky ends as “audio jewelery.” All flash and no substance. Heavy ends create unwanted signal anomalies and eddy currents, smearing the sound. By painstakingly testing many, many ends by ear, including some very well known expensive brands, Bender and Magerman found the best combination of low mass, quality metallurgy and synchronicity with their unique design. Under a microscope, Magerman looked for a smooth finish—no gaps or pits—for superior connectivity.

• Silver Core Wire. Analysis of silver wire from three continents was an education unto itself. “We learned that seemingly infinitesimal variances in gauge, purity and build quality can make a huge difference,” Bender said. Silver is vastly superior to copper in conductivity in low voltage applications. Hours long, computer controlled cryogenic treatment—enhances molecular structure and lowers noise floor for better dynamics. Darwin Cable Company relies on an industry leader that meets military specifications. “It's an expensive extra step but we just cannot stand the thought of building a cable that isn't as good as we can make it,” Bill said.

• Air Dielectric. By suspending the wire in an oversized teflon-like tube, Darwin Cable Company eliminates the veiling that is introduced with coated wires. “ANYTHING that touches the wire diminishes the sound,” Bender said. “Even quality dielectric in close proximity to the wire will diminish performance.”

Based on the original Darwin concept, the Darwin Ascension has been voiced with a unique selection of wire and tubing as well as other dielectric improvements. The cable requires significantly more build time, an effort measured in hours. “Our goal—and we think our achievement with the original Darwin Silver was to create a connection so effective and truthful it allowed the components to speak for themselves,” Bender said. “All of that is retained in the Ascension, but there is an angelic presence and soundstage that stunned me in the best way possible when I first heard Bill's prototype.”

Of course, this “overnight success” was the result of months of discussions, experiments with a variety of materials and long listening sessions involving a series of prototypes. “Very few people have ears like Tony's,” Magerman said. “I think it is something you are born with—or cursed with (if you can't find the gear to make your ears happy).”

Bender added, “Much of this is Thomas Edison-style process of elimination. Tweak. Listen. Tweak again. Listen some more. It requires patience, but we learn something every time. Science will take you a long way, but electronic analysis cannot predict what evokes emotion. That is where the art comes in. I know things are right when I am moved emotionally by the music. I am also insufferably analytical, and know when something is missing or when something new is revealed even on a micro-level.”

Bender has a series of key test tracks he uses to analyze inner detail, attack, decay, bass, treble and midrange response and clarity. “Transparency is the key—transparency top to bottom,” he said. “No coloration allowed. The Darwin is not a tone control cable. There are some brilliant component builders out there and some amazing musicians, recording engineers and producers. We are not going to presume to “fix” anything. Our goal is to get the heck out of the way and let them work.”

Magerman agrees. “Too often people end up buying one expensive cable to try to forgive the sins of another. The industry has completely lost sight of the purist school of thought. Simple is almost always better. Do we really need in-line equalizers in our cables? Only if the system is seriously flawed, and most are not. A pristine connection allows you to hear the quality of the gear and the musicians.”

Like it's predecessor, the Ascension was floated through a network of extreme audiophiles before declared fit for duty. “The only problem with that is, no one wanted to give up the test cable,” Bill laughs. In order to placate the beta testers and avoid the pitchforks and torches and an unprecedented audio riot, Bill was forced to sell some Ascensions before the public launch of the new cable on June 15, 2013. The feedback:

• “I'm blown away. I have good equipment. I listen to good music. But, I've never heard the potential of my components and recordings to such a high level before. These cables let me hear how good it all is. What am I hearing? First, clarity. I'm hearing the lyrics, voices and instruments, not a mishmash of sound. Each instrument of the music fits nicely with the others, as it should. Yet, there is a quality which I can only describe as "presence". Each component piece of the ensemble, whether a voice, guitar, trumpet, xylophone, whatever, exists in its own space and is distinct and accurate. The sound is "up front", but I hear these instruments emerge from the back and sides, where they are located within the recording space. The stage is wide and deep. Talking about depth, I've never been drawn into the music like this. I can focus on a part of the music, or the whole. It doesn't matter: I'm enjoying myself. Shimmering highs, taut and detailed bass, midrange with authority, or subtlety. Decay. Accuracy. It's all there. I can play the stereo louder. There is no breakup, distortion or harshness as the music gets louder... I AM HEARING HOW GOOD MY COMPONENTS AND TUBES ARE! ...And, the Darwin Ascensions bring out the beauty of every recording I listen to. Jeez, It's as if I had earmuffs on for all these years. My old cables should be melted down for scrap!”—Joel G. (3-phono/shielded cables)

• Immediately, I was impressed by both clarity and the non-loss of bass throughout the music. I will not compare The Darwin Ascension to other interconnects that I have owned in the respect that the Ascensions were the best to my ear bar none… the sound of the Ascensions was so dramatic I could not believe what I was hearing. After I ran speaker cable to my outdoor B&W speakers, my son said he had never heard outdoor speakers sound that good. "Those guys know what they are doing," he said. Someday, I may have to downsize, but the Darwin Ascensions will remain. It is great to know that success comes to those who think outside the box. This Ascension cable gets my highest recommendation. —Jack Hrvatin, customer (Ascension IC)

• “I am not a golden ear or a professional reviewer. I have, however, been upgrading my system since 1967 and have attended hundreds of concerts, ranging from being a regular at the Fillmore East and a long time subscriber to the New York Philharmonic. I like what I like and I love my Darwin Ascension interconnects, which have been in my system for about four weeks. They are truly outstanding and an outright steal at double their price. I visited my brother’s home and listened to Darwin Silver interconnects which he was auditioning in place of highly regard $1300 per pair Brand XYZ interconnects. The Darwins simply blew away the far more expensive cables. There was simply no comparison. I will not mention the make of the other cables, for I come to praise Darwin and not to bury XYZ. The Darwins simply transformed his B&W speakers, raising them to a level that I thought was unobtainable, bringing them closer to my Wilson Watt-Puppy 5.1s than to their former state. I was awe-struck and decided on the spot that I was going to replace my $600 per pair XYZ interconnects.

As for my system, it was, IMHO, pretty good before I swapped the Darwin Ascensions for their predecessor cables. Everyone of my friends and relatives, audiophiles and civilians, as well, were already bowled over by my rig. In addition to the Wilsons, I own, among other things, all Rogue amplification which I think sounds far superior to far more expensive equipment I have listened to. These amps are the Rogue 99 Super Magnum pre-amp (with Sylvania 6SN7WGT tubes), the Rogue Medusa power amp (with Mullard 12AU7, long plate, square getter, tubes), and the Rogue Aires phono pre-amp (with pairs of Mullard 12AX7 and 12AU7, long plate, square getter, tubes). These are killer amps and I would refer any reader of this rave review of Darwin Ascension to the Rogue Audio web site for links to rave reviews of these very serious amps. These amps are incredible no matter which cable I use. They just happen to be more incredible connected to the Darwins.

I would describe the Darwin Ascension interconnects as being incredibly coherent. They relay whatever is recorded upon the vinyl or digital recordings that I listen to. The air around every instrument and every note is palpable. The soundstage is wider and deeper than I have ever experienced in my system. Because notes and chords are distinct, rather than slurred or blaring, music takes on a clarity that I had never before experienced in my system. It almost seems as if the timing of recordings is altered, allowing the music to flow in a more coherent progression. I hear new layers of sounds in recordings that I have listened to hundreds of times over many decades. Music is both more dynamic and subtle across the entire frequency spectrum. Everything I listen to sounds great from chamber music to rock, played at near ear bleed levels. In addition, the sound of CDs is improved when played over the Darwin Ascension cables, bringing them closer to vinyl. These cables bring to life and fully illustrate the transformative nature, reviewers and manufacturers wax poetic over, that great cables can have upon an audio system. These cables have afforded a far greater bang for the buck improvement in my audio system than any other change or addition I can think of.” J. Gorinsky, (3 Darwin Ascension phono/shielded)

Darwin Cable Company sells directly to customers to keep prices down and equally important, to provide more personal service, taking the time to answer questions by e-mail and phone. It is not uncommon for them to receive phone calls from enthused customers after the sale, often within hours of the cable's arrival. “When they tell us that our cable has re-energized their appreciation for music, that's huge for us,” Tony said. “It comes right down to the core of what this is all about—finding some beauty and joy in life. To have that kind of impact on a music lover's experience is immensely satisfying.”

Matej Isak. Mono and Stereo ultra high end audio magazine. All rights reserved. 2006-2013. www.monoandstereo.com. ..:: None of the original text, pictures, that were taken by me, links or my original files can be re-printed or used in any way without prior permission! ::..