October 17, 2009

Sensible Silver. Siltech ST-18 IQ.

The Siltech ST-18 IQ looks very simply constructed but the feel and look is of justified quality for the price.

This little known series of budget Siltech cables, has been sold since it's G3 designation for a few years now. It's currently available in improved IQ guise due to consumer demands for quality sound at sensible price. This review sample, at 1.5m long, XLR terminated interconnect is priced affordabily(by Siltech standards) at RM$1950.00/pair. So don't question my opinion of what's affordable. I do know of cheaper interconnects out there, but not better at this price.

Knowing fairly well that silver based cables can be such a dog to run in, I hook the Siltech ST-18 IQ on to my home brew kable kooker Rev B.(see article located under DIY category of this blog) solution for 72 hours prior to auditioning.

I don't know if it's because this cable struck a particularly favourable synergy with my system or just plain luck? But when compared to my usual reference Audioquest Sky interconnects, this budget Siltech ST-18 IQ gave away very little in terms of musical performance to the former reference costing almost 10X the price when new!

"That good?" you asked. Here's the low down. The tonality of Siltech is fairly neutral with a tinge of warmth, just enough to remind me of their current G7 Classic Annivesary series cables. The highs retained that Siltech signature of grain free, delicate smoothness with a pinch of sweetness thrown in for good measure. The mids are open, if a little dry and the bass is articulate and tuneful, if not as full or robust when compared to the AQ Sky.

In terms of frequency bandwidth extension, the Siltech ST-18 IQ just doesn't extend as high of as low as the AQ Sky. But this is only discernible post interchanging the cables a couple of times.

The staging width is slightly reduced, but illusion of depth is well maintained. The imaging is pin point and portrayed with enough conviction. This cable excels at micro dynamics and does warm acoustic instruments like guitar, violin, piano, cello and double bass realistically. However, horns does tend to lack bite and missing that burnish tone of metallic ness. Again these short comings are only apparent in a series of repeated A/B cable swaps.
This Siltech has gotta be one of the most transparent interconnect on the right side of RM$2k. All the musical nounces and recording details, no matter how low in level, are easily reproduced. This is especially true with classical music, where during times, there are members of the orchestra clearing their air tubes, droping a puck or turning a page of their musical notes as they prepare for their next note, all this action are clearly reproduced, even as the music is on going. In this respect, it is as good as the AQ Sky!

What I found so amazing for a cable at this price is it's sheer musical coherence from top to bottom frequency presentation. The music never becomes disjointed, or sound very impressive in some areas only to be let down by other areas of sonic performance. In other words, this cable has very even handed performance in all sound aspects. The Siltech will do everything within it's limitation at 75-80% of the AQ Sky bench mark. During it's 3 weeks attached to my system, I've never felt the urge to pull it out and re-insert the AQ Sky back in to my system. I never even felt the lost of the AQ Sky from my system! It's that good, and that says plenty about the fine qualities Siltech ST-18 IQ interconnect. It just punches way,way above it's price bracket, sound performance wise. Now, if that's not sensible enough for you, than I don't know what is?

If one is looking to step up from the likes of vdH D102 MKIII or other cables of similar grade, I bet that there'll be no cause for complains, unless one's system synergy is way off neutral, or for some funny reason, in compatible with the Siltech's sonic strengths, and sometimes just plain ol' personal preferences thing. It's o.k. after all it's only hifi, and it's meant to be fun.

The Siltech ST-18 IQ plugged behind my Marantz CD7, and what's the other Siltech plug for? hint, hint! It's in the follow up story. Stay tuned.

In the later part of the review period, I managed to bring the budget Siltech up a notch closer to the AQ Sky! Stay tuned to find out.

Siltech is sold by CMY Audio Visual, contact John, tel: 03-21439206


Big E said...

Sorry readers,

I made a mistake, the review sample is Siltech ST-18 IQ, not ST-18 G3 as mentioned earlier.

My appologies also to the guys at CMY Audio Visual.

Any inconvience caused is deeply regreted.

Big E said...

Article has been amended with thanks.