Silnote Morpheus Reference II Cables
$1195 per 1 Meter pair
Well it seems like here we are again, another cable company that's going the online sales route. The good thing about this is that one can get in on the ground floor meaning cheap on a product that just might sound great and save yourself a ton of money before word of mouth gets out there. I believe this is one of those products. I first was intrigued by Silnote when I noticed an auction for one of their cables, the original Morpheus Reference I Le. I won the auction at what I thought was a fairly reasonable price, when the cable arrived and I gave it a listen I was blown away at how close it came to sounding like my reference 6sons Windigo interconnects that I promptly purchased another pair. This new Morpheus Reference II is a “right direction” improvement over the originals as it addresses
some of the minor weaknesses that I heard.
The 45 year old owner/designer Mark Williams was born and raise in Roanoke, Va., now living in Boones Mill, Va., studied mechanical engineering at Lynchburg College for a couple of years and worked for GM in the auto industry for a couple of years. Mark started Silnote Audio about a year ago in May 2010. Mark has been involved in the audio industry for approx 15 years mainly as a hobby. Silnote came about as one day Mark decided to build and design a cable for himself. After many designs, testing and listening sessions Mark came up with a cable that used a combination of silver, copper, and gold that he thought sounded very good and made several pairs and sent them to close friends for impressions.
The rest is history.
Silnote Audio's interconnects range in price from $199 - $1395 for a meter pair. The Morpheus Reference II comes in next to the top of the line.
The reference system that Silnote Audio uses to evaluate their cables is comprised of a McIntosh 2100 amplifier and C-26 Preamp, Camelot Arthur V3.0 24bit Dac, Sony BDP S5000es, Teac reel to reel, VPI Scoutmaster TT, Sansui CD501i, Mac Mini, Chang Lightspeed 9600 MKII, and various speakers from Usher, B&W, Monitor Audio Platinum, and an in house designed monitor.
All this background is good for you to know, but how does all that reflect in the actual audio performance of the cables? Also, this cable calls itself "reference". Is it really reference quality or is that just typical misrepresentative marketing? Let's find out, starting at the top of the frequency range and working our way down.
Listening to the highs on any piece of equipment including cables can be a mixed can of worms. Things that you run into such as harshness, detailed, hyper detailed, warm, recessed, forward and rolled off sound, add to this one's personal preferences and and system synergy and you can see how difficult it can be to isolate the sound of one piece in the equipment chain. The best way is to start with your reference system and knowing the sound of each piece and the intimate sound of the system as a whole. Going to my stash of “outdated” cd's to evaluate the high end performance of the Morpheus II's. I picked “Waking Hour” by Vienna Teng and “Afterglow” by Kendra Shank. While the highs are not rolled off, they sound a little “controlled". For example: the cymbal work on “The Tower” by Teng seems a little muted. I am used to a bit more shimmer on the upper end. Listening to Vienna's voice and piano on “ Gravity” there is no harshness and I don't feel like I am missing out on anything. There is no carryover on the Ssss or Cccc sounds. There are a few beats on the tambourine on the fifth cut "Between” where the jingles - known as "zills" in the music world, did not have that full metal jingle.
To investigate this further, thinking it might just be the recording, I put on Kendra Shank's “Afterglow”. This is a wonderful Mapleshade recording. Lo and behold, everything just opened up with plenty of sparkle. So it appears it was the recording, with the cables revealing more of what was really there - or not there. What more can you ask; just give me what's on the dang disc!
The piano on “Almost Blue” sounded like a fully realized piano with all the wood, metal and overtones that make the instrument so difficult to capture. The Morpheus' are outstanding in their abilty to reproduce texture. Webster's defines texture as "the feel, appearance, or consistency of a surface or a substance; the character or appearance of a textile fabric as determined by the arrangement and thickness of its threads; the tactile quality of the surface of a work of art; the quality created by the combination of the different elements in a work of music or literature. What that translates to in real life is the difference between a real rose and a plastic imitation; the difference between real silk and polyester and even the difference between a prime rib in a top Chicago steak house and something you'd get at Sizzler for $4.99. It's the same in audio. A true high-end product will let you hear the millions of tiny differences that exist in music and do so effortlessly. The Silnote Morpheous II meets those criteria.
The chimes on “Photograph” were spectacular. I could hear metal everywhere. The little bells and the shaker were for lack of a better word; REAL. The highs are clear and extended without any harshness or sibilance, very smooth and dynamic in presenttation.
Speak Low - Boz Scaggs Stream – Tim Reynolds
The vast majority of the music is in the midrange. Give me glorious midragge and I can fudge a little on the bass and high end. Don't get me wrong; I don't mean down right terrible sounding highs and lows, but passable.
This is some of the best midrange I have heard. The sound is clear, fast and natural with a wonderful dark background. On Tim Reynolds' Stream CD the strings of the guitar are very vibrant as I can hear each vibration of the strings and feel the full weight of the instrument. No artificial sound here but clear and natural tones. As you listen to more and more recorded music you sometimes lose your way as to what real instruments sound like, it would do us all some good if we take the time out to go listen to some live un-amplified music and get our musical bearings back on course.
I was enjoying this CD so much it was hard to change to my second reference recording, Speak Low by Boz Scaggs (a Stereomojo recommended CD). Boz was there in the room with me, sax, bass, drums and keyboards were located in their own space with voice up front. This is a very well recorded CD and a must have in your collection.
These Morpeus just disappear and let the music come through. If you have never heard music coming from a black, silent background, do yourself a favor and give these interconnects a listen.
Gladiator Soundtrack Pirates Of The Caribbean Soundtrack
Now with two thirds of my listening done it's time for the heavyweight...BASS. I started with my-go to cuts from the soundtrack of Gladiator, #3 “The Battle” and #9 “The Might Of Rome”. The bass was tight and deep. Another thing I noticed was how clean sounding the bass was, no muddines; also this word clean keeps coming up no matter what frequency band I listen to. Being the bass hound that I am....HA!, I put in the Pirates soundtrack, one track which appears on The Stereomojo Ultimate Stereo Evaluation Disc, and Oh Yeah! The bass was still there. Great foundation, powerful and fast, not stuck in mud. This track is very complex and often sounds congested and even distorted on lesser systems, but here all the roaring string basses and cellos, shrieking violins hollering horns well laid bare. Clean, baby!
Another word that comes to mind is tuneful; these interconnects exudes that elusive, subjective, yet essential quality of musicality, and for not a lot of coin. Well, who am I to say not a lot of coin, but if you look at it as a lifetime investment where you'll never want to go cable hunting again, then nice coin.
I have found that while listening to the Silnote Morpheus Reference 2's that there were a few words that kept occurring throughout my listening sessions, clear, clean, natural, fast,tuneful or musical, and dark background, these alone makes the Silnotes a bargain.
Needless to say the prerequisite soundstage height, width, and depth was there in spades.
All three phases of the audio spectrum are brought together seamlessly and balanced in a very refined musical presentation that kept me toe tapping and drawn into the music.
Take a look at some these auctions for new cable entries and you might be surprised at what a great bargain you can find before word of mouth gets around and the prices go up.
The only minor negative was the Cardas connectors were very loose on the RCA's. I spoke to Mark about this and he seems to think it is because I was changing interconnects so much. Still, at nearly $1,200 bucks a pair, a cable should not deteriorate after repeated changes. We suggest this needs some improvement.
In comparison to my reference interconnects, 6sons Audio Windigo, I give the edge in bass to the Morpheus and the Windigo takes it in the high end with maybe the Windigo being a tad bit warmer in the midrange. These are so close I consider it a toss up and knowing how much the Windigo costs ($2,300), now if I had to buy again I would take the Morpheus.
As to the question asked in the beginning if this cable is a legit "reference" quality product, after reading this review, I'll leave that conclusion up to you.
Mark Williams: www.silnoteaudio.com 540-206-4835
Speakers: Dali Ikon 8
Speaker cables: PNF Symphony bi-wire
Amp: Virtue Audio M901 integrated with Dodd tube buffer, Sonicap platinum bypass, battery power supply, stock tube.
Preamp: Belles 21a with Auricap upgrade and CBS/Hytron 5814 tubes.
Interconnect: 6sons Audio Windigo.
Source: Virtue Audio Piano M1 cdp.
Power cable (cdp): 6sons Audio Windigo.