Review: Jena Labs Twin 15 - Valkyre Speaker cable
The usual caveats apply, IMS, IMHO, no connection with anyone in the audio business except as a satisfied customer.
As I wrote before here: http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?rcabl&1190044367, I don't like most speaker cables I've heard. In addition in the several cases where I've had speaker cables and interconnects from the same manufacturer I've found not synergy but too much of a particular sonic signature.
I'd been using Ridge St. Audio's Alethius Cu for a while (which I still own and think very positively of) when a change to mono-blocks prompted a desire for shorter cables. Having been curious about Jena Labs for a while, I purchased a used pair of their Twin 15 Valkrye in four foot lengths. These are all copper (cryo'd) assembled in a basket weave and come in two runs for each side (single or bi-wired; mine were the former).
At the time I was using Kubala-Sosna Emotion and Expression ICs, finding them the best I'd heard and a better combination with the Alethius than the KS Expression speaker cables (quite good nonetheless) were.
Inserting the Jena Labs cables resulted in a sound that was significantly more open, resolving of low level detail and neutral (both in frequency and tonal balances). The tonal accuracy (the value of most importance to me) is the best I've ever heard. Instruments and voices simply sound more realistic than with any other cables I've tried and are extremely three dimensional. Vocals, in particular, seem to just float in front of one. The other qualities that distinguish these cables are a refinement, smoothness and transparency that surpass any other SC I've had in my system. Imaging is excellent. Soundstaging is good but I can't say it's any better than the other quality cables I've had here.
It's to be noted, however, that when I received the cables they had rhodium plated spade connectors. Most of the positive qualities described above were present but I hear a forwardness and a "glaze" over the sound with any rhodium connectors. Therefore I asked Jennifer Crock to replace the spades with gold plated ones which she graciously did (using Cardas). The result is these cables have become my reference and I can't really identify any weaknesses in them. Jena Labs now offers their wires with gold plated connectors as well as rhodium plated ones.
Being so pleased with the speaker cables, I ordered a new pair of Jena's Symphony ICs (with gold plated RCAs). Everything I wrote above about the SCs applies to the ICs. The major difference between the Symphony ICs and the Kubala-Sosna Emotions (wonderful as they are) is that the latter's treble, while not rolled off to my ears as some suggest, is a bit recessed. The Symphonys' frequency response sounds more balanced and they also, possibly consequently, sound more open. I sold the Emotions and kept the less expensive Symphonys.
This is the first time I've been happy using ICs and SCs from the same manufacturer. And I still can't identify any detrimental or exaggerated sonic signature to the cables.
It must be said that Jennifer Crock is a pleasure to communicate and deal with, and shares her knowledge and information freely and at length.
My musical tastes encompass classical, folk, world, rock and jazz and I did extensive listening to the Jena Labs products with all of these genres over several months, with all of the equipment listed, prior to writing this review. I'm now solely using the Cronus Integrated (with Black Treasure 6CA7 and NOS tubes) which the four foot Twin 15 SCs were not really long enough for, so, unfortunately, I had to recently sell them. I've just purchased an eight foot set of Jena Labs Twin 11s (not received yet) to replace them.
Modwright Platinum Truth Sony 9100ES; Marantz SA-15S2; MHDT Havana (modded); Modwright 36.5; Dodd Mono 50s; Rogue Cronus; Aural Acoustics Model B; Black Sand Violet ZI and ZII, and Kaplan PCs.
Nordost Valhalla; Synergistic Tesla; Ridge St. Audio Alethius!; Audience AU24; Kubala-Sosna Expression; and various by Pranawire, Purist, Kimber, Tara Labs, Straightwire, Stereovox, Nirvana, Morrow, Chimera Labs, Nagys.