Elf Super Helix Gold speaker cable

Anyone have any experience with these speaker cables? If so how is the low end?
I have spent considerable time evaluating and comparing the 18 gauge Elf Super Helix Gold, the 16 gauge Elf Super Helix Gold and the Clear Day Double Shotgun speaker cables in my system and the one thing I can tell you is that system dependency is the most important factor in determining what works and what doesn't. I discovered that even a minor change to my system completely turned around my preference for one of these speaker cables.

I had been using Transparent Ultra speaker cables with XL technology (now 2 generations outdated) and wondered if I could get better performance for less money. I first listened to the Clear Day Double Shotguns and was very impressed with their performance. They were smoother, richer and more relaxed than the Transparent Ultra's while exposing more detail and extension at both frequency extremes. At 20% of the cost of the Transparent Ultra's, they were a no brainer.

Next I tried the Elf 18 gauge Super Helix Gold speaker cable because I had previously listened to the Elf Golden Signature interconnect and been very impressed with it in my system. Compared to the Clear Day Double Shotgun, the 18 gauge Super Helix Gold was faster and a little more dynamic at the soft end of the spectrum. It portrayed images with more three dimensionality and had a bit more airiness to it. While the bass extension was about the same as the Clear Day, the 18 gauge Elf's bass was a little tighter and more defined. Overall, the 18 gauge Super Helix Gold was just more exciting to listen to.

However, that excitement came at a price. The Elf exhibited a bit of edginess in the upper midrange that became fatiguing over time in my system. It also became somewhat strained and rough on very loud, dynamic passages. While the Clear Day didn’t have quite the excitement of the 18 gauge Super Helix Gold, it was smoother and easier to listen to. The Elf was fun for a record or two, but I could happily listen to the Clear Day all day (and night too).

I explained what I was hearing to Ernest at Elf and he recommended I try a 16 gauge version of the Helix Gold cable. This cable took quite a long time to reach its full potential. The Clear Day Double Shotgun and the 18 gauge Elf reached 90% of their full potential after about 300 hours, but the 16 gauge Elf took much longer. During the break in period, it sounded very dark and closed in. The high frequencies were subdued and lacked any air, extension and sparkle at all. The mid bass was loose and boomy. I was just about to the point of concluding that the Clear Day cables were the best fit in my system, when after about 450 hours, the 16 gauge really started to open up.

The highs became as extended and airy as the 18 gauge, but had a little bit more control over sibilance. The bass tightened up considerably and exhibited a power through the mid and upper bass that I had never experienced in my system before. The deepest bass is slightly better than the 18 gauge, but the mid and upper bass has much more power and richness that makes the sound far more lifelike. The midrange has a far more dense and rich tonality that also contributes to the natural and lifelike sound. Piano, guitar and voice have more body and fullness and just sound more natural. However, while the upper midrange/lower treble edginess was greatly reduced, there was still just enough to make me cringe every now and again. I was torn between the excitement of the 16 gauge Super Helix Gold and the complete smoothness and listenability of the Clear Day.

Now, here is where the importance of system dependency really became apparent to me. I made one small, seemingly insignificant (to me anyway) change to my system. I had re-tubed my amplifier about 6 months before, but hadn’t yet purchased any tube dampers for the 6922 input and driver tubes. Frankly, I had kind of forgotten about it. When making my Christmas list for my wife, I remembered that I wanted to get the dampers. So, I got Herbie’s Audio Lab Ultrasonic Tube Dampers for the four 6922 input tubes in my amp. I initially thought they might make a small improvement, but was not prepared for what they did. It would seem that the upper midrange/lower treble glare I had been hearing with both the 18 gauge and 16 gauge Elf Super Helix Gold cables was actually tube microphonics. With the dampers in place, the glare and edginess was completely gone. The sound now became smoother and richer, yet also had more detail, a quieter background, better defined images and greater dynamics.

The 16 gauge Super Helix Gold delivers a sound with these tube dampers in place that is completely enjoyable. All of the excitement is still there, in fact even more so, but there is now nothing fatiguing about the sound at all.

The Clear Days with the tube dampers in place sounded a little too smooth, laid back and relaxed. The transients were more rounded and didn't have the speed of the 16 gauge Super Helix Gold. While they were still enjoyable, they just didn’t convey the same sense of excitement and realism in my system. The Clear Days actually sounded better without the Herbies tube dampers in place. I was amazed. If my system was slightly more aggressive (like it was without the tube dampers in place), I would have chosen the Clear Day Double Shotgun speaker cables.

I then compared the 18 gauge Super Helix Gold with the 16 gauge with the tube dampers in place. The upper mid glare was now gone on the 18 gauge, but the 18 gauge still lacked the full bodied richness and power of the 16 gauge from the mid bass up through the mid range. In voices, I hear more vocal chord and less chest in the 18 gauge than in the 16 gauge; pianos have more string and less sounding board in the 18 gauge; guitars have more string and less wooden body resonance. The 16 gauge also handles large dynamic peaks with greater ease, has a quieter background and larger, more fleshed out images. The 18 gauge is no slouch in any of these areas, it's just that the 16 gauge is exceptional.

This whole experience really does emphasize just how system dependent cables, and any other component for that matter, can be. The small addition of 4 tube dampers completely changed my speaker cable preference. All three cables are fantastic performers and easily eclipsed my previous, much more expensive (albeit older) cables. I can also say that Paul Laddati at Clear Day and Ernest Farley at Elf are outstanding gentlemen and operate their businesses with a dedicated focus on complete customer satisfaction. They both offer a trial period with their products that is imperative if you are ever going to figure out what cable will match best with your system and preference. Best of luck to you in your evaluation.
Thank you for the well thought out response.
I have the ELF Super Helix Gold, and although I cannot
give as an extensive write-up that Beavage did,
I found them to be better than the Anti-Cables that I was using.