WyWires Interconnect Cables
$849 for the standard 4 feet
Same for all versions including the Balanced. Xhadow XLR's add $200
I first noticed a buzz about this new cable manufacturer on Audiocircle where there were lots of “audiophiles” singing the great musical exploits of these Wywires. I didn't pay too much attention to this because there are so many new cable operations popping up that it's hard to tell if they just trying to “cash in” are if they are truly something worth listening to; until a friend of mine sent me an email about the Wywires saying how great they sound and asked me if I would like to give them a listen. Well I'm always game to listen to new cables so my friend introduced me to head cable guru Alex Sventitsky.
There is one very unique aspect of these cables: They are custom tailored to your system and the position in which they are to be used in your system. Every other cable I know of is a "one size fits all" application. So, in this case, the cable that goes between your CD player and preamp is DIFFERENT than the cable that goes between your preamp and amp, which is different than the cable that goes to your speakers...or turntable....get it?
I received two pairs of cables: one that goes from the source to the preamp and one for the preamp to amp connection.
Alex had been doing research and testing cables for eight years. He told us his conclusions are:
And as a result of these findings, Alex implementations are, according to him:
A. The conductors that we use in our cables are made of many individually insulated strands of ultra high
purity copper that are combined and braided according to a proprietary formula that considers voltage
output as a primary variable.
B. Our cables have the correct number of strands of a specific gauge for the
signal and the return conductor depending on the application.
C. The dielectric material we use is mostly air
since the conductors are enveloped in organic cotton and in a larger Teflon tube.
D. Our cables have very
low characteristic impedance with very low inductance and capacitance.
E. Our cables have a
minimalist look by design. We have demonstrated that adding insulation to obtain girth tends to degrade a
cable’s performance. On average, each WyWires cable requires at least 4 person-hours to assemble and test.
Regarding "E” about the look of their design, the cables are thin but not fragile by look or feel. The connectors are solid “Xhadow” as witnessed by their use in other high end designs. The cables are flexible and easy to route.
I had a few questions for head honcho Alex Sventitsky after I read his design goals on the Wywires website.
Most people think shielding is important in cables. Your thoughts?
“I find that the traditional shielding scheme of attaching the conductive shield to the source end of the return conductor and floating the other end to be flawed in audio applications. The only shielded cables that I think are acceptable are ones that offer an "active" shield such as the high end Audioquest, Tara and Synergistic.”
“We use Litz wire with multiple individually insulated thin conductors. This reduces skin effect to zero since the skin depth of a 40KHz signal is actually larger than the diameter of our wires. This way we can use less material to avoid eddy currents while still maintaining very low resistance at high frequencies. Due to proximity effects, ordinary stranded cables will exhibit skin effect such that only the outer conductors are carrying the current at high frequencies. Solid core has the same problem in that the effective area of the conductor is reduced as frequency increases. As we know, reduced conductor effective area increases impedance.”
“Cotton is actually a much better dielectric than Teflon since cotton is 90% air and we know that air is the best dielectric of all. In our cables, we try to maximize the use of air such that the conductor is enveloped in cotton and then air around the cotton and finally the Teflon tube which is there to maintain a constant distance between the legs of the cable. Most cables are assembled by machines where they have little choice than to extrude the dielectric over the conductor material with no air gap.
Dielectric constants are as follows:”
The lower the constant the better.
“Specs: All per foot at 10KHz with series measurements for L and R, parallel measurement for C.”
Impedance: 0.1 Ohms
With curiosity satisfied, it's time to set the technical stuff aside and go for the meat and potatoes, how the Wywires sound in my system. The two pairs of cables that I received were the for use on the source end and for the preamp to amp connection. Instead of the usual listing of reference material and going through each one and pointing out what I hear through the Wywires as opposed to my reference cables, I decided to take what Wywires strives to achieve in their cable designs and to my ear access how close they have come to reaching their goals.
Totally silent background between notes
To test this one out I thought I'd use a solo instrument with fast attack and pinpoint delineation of notes, so what instrument better than the piano and who better than the great Oscar Peterson. The music was from “Tracks: Oscar Peterson piano solo cd.
First off there was an overall darkness to the background which makes the music stand out without annoying noise to distract you, of course this depends on the quality of your recording. Rifts were executed with speed and a cleanness that let you sit back and “see” each of Oscar's fingers as they struck the keys. The individual notes were there each in their own isolated space without smear thus allowing me to hear the overtones of the notes, which can be quite enjoyable as you sit back and indulge yourself with a refreshing beverage of your choice. I know, it's getting a little deep around here, but if the music doesn't move you then why put up with the time and expense of this hobby? The overtones that I refer to can be demonstrated easily if you can get to a grand piano and have someone strike a note as you stand close to the open end of the piano. You will hear many different frequencies consisting of harmonics, some that dissipate almost at once and others that linger and gently cascade softer and softer until only one pitch is left - the fundamental. Those overtones and harmonics are what differentiate a real piano from a fake one such as a digital model. They are also what differentiate a great system from one that is merely good or just plain bad. Because of the extreme complexity of the hypersonics a long piano strings generate, you've heard that a grand piano is the hardest instrument to record. True, but it's also the hardest to play back! And cables are one of the biggest culprits in altering, misaligning and generally screwing up harmonics in our systems.
For fun I put on Nickelcreek's “Smoothie Song” from their “This Side” cd. I could hear plenty of detail from the various fiddles, guitars and strings as the sounds came from a crystal clear soundstage.
I'll have to say Wywires has met this goal in spades.
State of the art realism, especially vocals
For vocals I brought out “Famous Blue Raincoat” 20th Anniversary Ed. by Jennifer Warnes, “Tracy Chapman” by Tracy Chapman and “Beautiful Stars” by Isaac Freeman and the Bluebloods.
Jennifer was a joy to listen to with her precise phrasing and inflections that she is so well known for to the soulful sound of Tracy Chapman made for a good contrast in styles. The Wywires passed the emotion, tonality and balanced range of each vocalist test with flying colors. Male vocals have that chesty sound that shout natural which is why I picked Isaac Freeman's rich bass gospel voice. Again I feel Wywires has achieved their goal.
Greatly Expanded Soundstage in all Dimensions
The soundstage was expansive in width, height and depth on a level with my reference Windigo interconnects. I listened to Roger Waters' “Amused To Death”.
If you have not heard this cd, run, don't stop it has to be in your collection. The soundstage could be heard well outside the speakers with sounds and instruments being heard in its proper depth one behind the other. The height of the soundstage was in correct proportion to the venue. There was not “the looking down” to hear the artists in the soundstage. Editor's note: "Amused to Death" was recorded in Qsound, a studio process that manipulates phase info to trick the ear into thinking it's hearing 3D surround from two speakers. "Amused" is probably the most striking example of this technique - IF your system isn't already phase impaired and ONLY if you are seated right in the sweet spot of properly aligned speakers. That's why Qsound never took off; most people's systems suck.
So far three out of three.
Natural Tone, Timbre, Attack & Decay,
Inner Detail without added Sibilance and Lifelike Scale of Instruments
I decided to combine several of Wywire's goasl in this one section and I used (among many others) Nickelcreek's Smoothie Song again. It showed the attack aspect by the cable's ability to hit you with each note and immediately release it for the next note, very clean sounding. Throughout the cd where there was mandolin, fiddle, guitar and bass I could close my eyes and clearly see the instruments as if they were placed side by side in order of size. Chris Thile's voice sometimes can be a little edgy but listening through the Wywires there was none and Sara Watkins voice, what else can I say but “nice”.
Each of the individual instruments were spot on as far as tonality. I could hear the wood of the instruments, no artificial sounds here, quite refreshing.
Treble, Midrange, Bass Performance
There is seamless transition between these three elements of the musical spectrum. Treble was natural with no added sibilance and by added I mean if it is not on the recording you will not hear it. The midrange has the ability to convey the natural tonality of instruments and voices with depth and precision.
Last but not least the bass is tight and deep without overpowering the rest of the audio range.
I found the Wywires to be flexible, solidly constructed and easy on the eyes. When I say "flexible, it is because many cables are like iron bars - a major pain in the butt to manipulate into tight spaces with the need for some bend or twist.
The overall sound is well balanced with no roll off at either end of the sound spectrum. There is a naturalness to the tonality which imparts neither a warm or cool character.
Listening to the Wywires brings to mind the question,” Why Wires?” as they just get out of the way and let the music flow.
WARNING: If you are looking for a cable that turns your "too warm" system into one that's "just right", you don't want these. Same thing if you want to change your "too cool" to a little warmer. As we've stated many times, cables are not tone controls. Attempting to use them as such is a huge mistake because any cables that fundamentally changes the character of your system also inserts other anomalies that diminish the overall clarity and performance of your system. In other words, they make things worse, not better, even if they do make things warmer or cooler or whatever else you may be seeking besides clarity, speed and transparency.
Now it may be that your cables ARE making your rather neutral system too warm, cool, cloudy, grain or many other negative qualities. In that case, you do at least want to try a cable that is as neutral as possible. The WyWires interconnects are such a cable. you may just find out your system is better than you thought.
One cavet is that you cannot tell the difference between the two cables by looking at them. The only way I could tell was because of differing lengths.
I can say with a clear mind that with the Wywires in your system the enjoyment of the music will far outlast your urge to change cables.
Speakers: Usher 6381
Amp: Consonance Cyber 800
Preamp: Belles 21a/Auricaps
Source: Virtue Audio Piano M1
Interconnects: 6sons Audio Windigo, Grover Sx
Speaker Cables: Straley Reality
Power Cables: 6sons Audio (Windigo, Thunderbird), Virtual Reality Testament