August 28, 2009

The Three Fairy Sisters vs The Three-Eyed Warrior

仙女三姐妹 對 二郎神
(the title in Chinese)

Big E has been hot on cables lately, I have been busy too. Those Siltech Classic Anniversary Series loudspeaker cables also spent their time at my place. But there was a slight twist, I had the JPS Superconductor 3 at the same time too.

A mutual friend texted me, when he learned that I had 3 pairs of Siltech and the JPS Labs cables, "So how is the fight between the fairy sisters and the 3-eyed warrior?". I was startled for a while, and managed to catch on to what he meant only after some long thought. Wow, when did my listening room become the battleground of these Chinese mythological characters? :-)

The macho 3-eyed warrior 二郎神

Big E's seductive heavenly fairies 仙女散花

Anyway, nicknaming the Siltechs "fairies" was apt, and calling the JPS "warrior" was apt too.

The Siltech Classic Anniversary range consisted of the 330L, 550L and 770L models. All of them exhibited unparalleled achievement in terms of refinement, smoothness, sweetness and sonic beauty in my system. It must be the magic of Siltech's use of silver-gold mix in these cables.
Siltech Classic Anniversary 550L
Actually, at this level of photo resolution, the 330L, 550L, 770L would all look the same. However, in real life, they got heavier and there were more twists in the cables as you move up the range.


I started actually with the 550L, the middle fairy sister. The most prominent impression that hit me was the highs, I never heard highs so silky smooth, so beguiling in my system ever. This was coupled with a beautiful shean in the same region, giving the sound reproduction that highend glamourous feel (chinese called it "gui qi 貴氣"). I found the highs so beautiful that my attention was invariably drawn to it, just like coming face to face with a beautiful woman - the gaze was glued to the face, the rest of it became secondary.

The 550L handled the rest of the sonic spectrums excellently too, though I felt that they did not attain the achievement of the highs. Its mid was clear and articulate, its bass was a little lighter than what I was used too, but it was well defined. Its slight lightness balanced out the bass heaviness that I suffered in my system due to my small listening space. Overall, an organic and musical presentation, absolutely beautiful with music that required sophistication and subtlety - female vocals (these played right into the Siltech's hands), small ensemble Jazz, classicals. But probably not the best choice if your music diet was rock or those slap-me-silly dynamic tracks.

I told Big E how impressed I was with the 550L. He gamely lent me the 330L, the little fairy sister, for a comparison. He has bought the pair of 330L and they were his reference now. Wow, if you love 'sweet', you'd love the 330L. They reminded me of a younger time, of my high school sweetheart - fresh-faced, pretty, clean-cut, and did I mention sweet? Again, the junior model was equally competent in the area of musicality and organic-ness - it always presented music rather than hifi sound.

I came to a different conclusion from Big E at this point. He said he preferred the 330L's musicality over the 550L's more technical achievements. I, though, preferred the 550L which I felt was no less musical (well, probably just a bit less) but also with added improvement in resolution and dynamic contrast. Bear in mind, though, that the 550L (RM17.5k) came in at almost double the price of the 330L (RM9.3k).

Then my party with the 2 fairy sisters was gate-crashed. That was the JPS Superconductor 3 loudspeaker cables that Big E wrote about before. I had not heard them and I wanted to contrast the 550L with something in the same price range, so it was just natural for me to go borrow the JPS from Centre Circle Audio. It was a CONTRAST indeed.
The JPS Labs Superconductor 3, stiff but malleable, hooked up to my EgglestonWorks.
Can you cable hold a loop like this? :-) A little too long for my place, so the Superconductor 3 was connected 'standing up'!

Let's talk about their physical attibutes first. The Siltechs had a soft and flexible body, making them very easy to route and install. The JPS was stiff (and I mean really stiff) just like a metal pipe (if I remember correctly, the cables were actually shielded inside copper pipes). They fight you during installation, you have to bend them into shape to make the connection. The fortunate part was that they would hold the shape just like a metal pipe would.

See, this JPS 3-eyed warrior's physique was 'muscular', and it was reflected in the sound too. Gone was the sweetness of the Siltechs, instead it was replaced with the feeling of energy. It was transparent but did not fully match that of the Siltech 550L, however it was a more exciting listen than the Siltech. Its bass was muscular, mid had good body and energy, the highs did lose out to the Siltechs in terms of smoothness and that sweetness thingy again, but was no less extended. Even with simple vocal music, the contrast was rather stark. With Siltech, I was beguiled and relaxed; with JPS, I was attracted by the energy displayed by the musicians and singer, the listening was exciting even. The JPS Labs Superconductor 3 also portrayed a bigger soundstage which was also slightly forward.

What the Siltech had the JPS did not. What the JPS had the Siltech did not. There was no clear winner in this situation, system matching and, probably more importantly, personal taste would play into one's decision making.

This was a problem, I wonder whether there was anything that could combine the best of both. I spoke to Big E about it and he thought the top of the line 770L would solve this dilemma, so he went to CMY to borrow a pair.

Well, you can read Big E's earlier post on the 770L. You knew he was extremely impressed, he said, "The big sister is like having both the technical superiority of the 550L and the musical presentation of the 330L in one cable! In other words, the all conquering JPS Super Conductor 3 (retailing at RM$13K+ for a 2.5m pair) is now finally being put into its place." I was equally impressed too. Yes, there was now 'beauty' and 'energy' all in one. It matched the JPS in energy level and excitement to quite a large degree, and outstripped it in transparency and sophistication. The sound was perennially glamourous, a term that Big E used which I agreed with both hands. Details, timbre accuracy, smoothness were the best among the 4 pairs of cables here.

Wow, this is what you get by almost doubling up the price paid again (RM30k)! To me, the 770L was insanely expensive and I could not afford them. But I sure admire those who could!

Now, I have to admit that I found it hard to go back to my first generation Transaparent Musicwave Ultra speaker cables, which had served me very well all these years. A few guys including Big E had a wager on, betting whether I'd succumb to the beautiful fairy sister or make friends with the macho warrior. And I was pre-warned that whichever side I came down on, the losers would beat me up.

Well, be patient, guys. You will hear about it here. :-)

Siltech is carried by CMY Audio & Visual, contact John Yew, Ph: 03-21439406

JPS Labs is carried by Center Circle Audio, contact Nelson Chia, Ph: 03-77282686

4 comments:

Big E said...

Odiosleuth,

Whichever way you go with, fairies or heavenly 3 eyed warrior, I don't think there's a wrong choice, just a choice of preference and system synergy.

However, that choice will indeed determine if I am about to have abalone or plain ol' chicken rice for lunch?!

How's that for buying under pressure? :):P

PuchongWong said...

Odiosleuth,

A you ready play that cruel game? hee...

The Wise One said...

Interesting and exotic stuff but would you be able to get your hands on the Audience AU24 and Synergistic Research Tesla cables to make some comparisons? I read somewhere that both these cables (I/C, speaker or power) are pretty good and can stand up to their other heavenly expensive competitors!

OdioSleuth said...

The Wise One,

Thanks for your suggestions. I have not seen these cables represented by any dealer in Malaysia though. If I come across them, I'll ask. :-)