Review: Soundstring 1 M XLR Interconnect Interconnect
SOUNDSTRING XLR interconnects 1 M
This is not a professional recitation, review, or advertisement. It is simply put, my experience with an interconnect in my system. That’s it. I do however, believe it to be honest and accurate… and significant enough for one to glean some inkling of how these interconnects may perform in another system. Consequently, my aim here is just to help. Many online, or magazine reviews I’ve read over the years don’t carry quite so much weight as do the experiences I hear from those like me… audio nuts. I always have a question lurking in my head that maybe the reviewer and or the review is tainted by the ad dollar the maker of the item is throwing at the publication, or the incentives given the reviewer. None of that may well be the case but there is always that element of doubt. In fact I have found some reviewers and their reviews to be spot on, to their credit. So just to let you know up front I didn’t get nothing to do this… nada, zilch, sip… just the entertainment value my own money entitled me to in the doing. As Audiogone has been largely responsible for me obtaining what I currently have as a stereo system and the people I have met along the way have been forthcoming in sharing their experiences with me either online or on the phone I figured to do as much. So these are my thoughts and experiences with the Soundstrings IC’s… and others I tried along the way to the ones I finally bought and why.
Needing to scratch the itch of curiosity and see what’s on the other side seems the usual case for me. This time around and for this application I did hold out for a couple years before the itch became to great to ignore any longer. To ensure I did not delay the scramble for another interconnect, I sold mine. Both sets of Cardas Neutral Refference 1 M XLR’s. Now delay is no longer the problem. Which interconnect to get is the problem. I had figured somehow that $500 could satisfy the issue. So I thought anyway. So much for my thinking. I began in earnest to audition those cables that my curiosity had found most attractive. I planned to audition eight to ten and then pick one. I felt that would be enough.
Things kicked off at a nearby dealership I like very much and the owner has vast experience and is most informative. I asked his advice, given my preferences and system content, and he advised me that I might just like these ‘new’ cables he had brought into his inventory. …and we’re off. Soundstrings? What’s a Soundstring, I never heard of them before? I was about to find out….
The soundstrings look a bit different than the usual interconnect. They look pretty good actually. Light Brown soft coverings incase the flat wound cables. I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary about the connectors. Standard looking, and securely fitting ends. They are quite flexible and therefore very easy to integrate into a system. At the time I tried the Soundstrings the XLR units I bought were the only models available. This may have changed or may change in the future so do check into it. The retail value was $539.95 for a one meter pair. That should give you a place to start or for reference.
The makers of the Soundstrings are one of the major industrial suppliers of wire. National and international. The rep I spoke with gave me some tremendous numbers of how much they do produce. Even down to the hour. Big, big numbers. Although they make tons and tons of wire and cabling, their entry into the high end audio realm is an inauspicious one. No horn blowing, or flag waving. Subtle. A very solid entry to say the least.
The Soundstrings attracted me as a quite affordable cable. They came recommended by a local dealer near me. Based solely on the suggestion I give them a whirl, and their price point, I took them. They took a good deal longer than the purchase did to run in properly. The run in time was a bit surprising as the dealer said they already had close to 100 hours on them. I played them in my system as the interconnect from the BAT VK5i preamp to the BAT VK500 w/BAT pk. As the main interconnect in the system. They remained in that spot for the entirety of the trial. It took another 100 hours roughly to get them to the point where no further changes were noticeable. At that point I was duly impressed.
The gawk factor was large. My mouth was open frequently during listening sessions. The Soundstrings provide the largest sound stage I’ve yet to encompass. Front to back, side to side, and top to bottom. Into the listening area towards the spot where I set as well. If you’re looking for a front row seat you’ll need to move back a bit perhaps depending upon the system you have and the way the sound is developed. The Soundstrings manufactuer a mammoth presence. As impressive
as is the depth and breadth of the SS, the development of the bottom end is prodigious as well. There is literally tons of bass response. Impact. Resolution, and presence. This area of performance is one I’m engaged by and enjoy greatly most of the time. Keeping on the tonal thread, the mid bass is as justified. All the way up the scale the harmonic balance remains on an even keel. I will say that the overall reproduction of the bandwidth is done quite well without artifacts or attenuation.
The fingerprint of the Soundstrings is the way they drop the complete bandwidth in it’s natural register. Everything is down a notch in timber. Top to bottom. The overall presentation appears quite natural and more organic as the result. All the musical cues and elements remain easily determined.
Being quite sensitive to the top end of the musical scale, and dreadful of anything resembling upper end brightness or brittleness this reduction of timberal values was at first quite refreshing. That’s not to say the system I have is a bright one, or that it possess’ any errant attributes whatsoever. It does not. It is quite warm and full range with a modest tilt towards midrange prominence. Vocalists routinely have tremendous presence… as do much of the rest of the instruments. It is quite easy to listen to and has very good dynamic impact across the musical scale. It is not unusual for me to be startled by just how much texture and presence is realized during some listening sessions, given the quality of the midrange and of course that of the recording. While I’ve brought that up just so you know, all the musical information that is reproduced are from digital sources. Primarily my CD player. So in all, my system is quite minimal in devices… I sure wish it were so in dollars too... It ain’t however.
As strikingly dynamic and smooth as the Soundstrings are they seemed to lack in one area I truly enjoy. The ‘wetness’ factor. The wet factor as I call it is the life like quality one derives from a note or tone that duplicates the real thing in a most enjoyable way. It’s when the notes, tones, or lyrics are revealed in a fashion that is extremely musical and emotional. ‘Wet’ is not usually commonplace. You will definitely know it when you hear it though. It is strikingly colorful, textured, affecting. It will bring into play more than simply the audible senses. It touches memory and is emotive. It is fully rounded and has weight. It comes into being instead of being reproduced. Its as if the sound is being splashed or spilled out of the loudspeakers, not just being generated by them. It’s that instance wherein the reproduced and the real are indistinguishable from one another. “Wet” works for me. I get faint glimpses from time to time of those wet passages or lyrics in my system. My goal is to increase both the frequency and degree of the available wetness quality in the music.
Given the cavernous presentation of the Soundstrings, and their tonal harmonic recitation of the bandwidth, the distracting issue I found with them was their lack of wetness. Not totally dry sounding or uninvolving, they simply did not have enough color in the tone to suit me. A great advance in a couple areas I truly enjoy, but on the whole, given my preferences, not my long haul favorite. Primarily due to the vocal renderings it provided by and large. Recordings I have found to be quite liquid and involving with other likewise cables were not so with the Soundstrings. The Soundstrings manifested the lyricists without evoking much emotion. They do keep the whole of the performance on balance. Nothing is either laid back further into the soundstage than it should well be. Quite the dynamic cable. Smooth. Sure handed and with very good detail. …and let’s not forget the resounding bass they allow to pass through. Air between the images was not quite so evident either and is possibly the result of the overall reduction of the timberal content. Images are solidly placed though. The images are represented in form without a noticeable air buffering them. These aren’t an abundantly airy cable. Quite the contrary. Akin to M.I.T. offerings. The resultant recreation although textured and energetic is towards the dryer side.
Cables aren’t the ‘fix’ for a systems deficiencies so far as I can tell. They will allow whatever a system is capable of to be realized though. Some do in fact attenuate, remove, reduce, and enhance certain aspects of the performance. The Soundstrings take nothing away from the music, they provide a fascinatingly huge soundstage. Developp quite the extraordinary lower registers, and add no degree of brittle or brightly lit prominence to the music. I suggest as with any piece of audio gear one try them first. I would think that they would be quite the good fit for any system that is an over achiever in upper range brilliance or currently suffers from a lack of bottom end resolution, or impact. With their costs being in a reasonable area considering cable costs these days, not a bad choice either.
BAT VK5i w/Matsushita 6DJ8’s, & Tung sol 5881’s
BAT VK500 w/BAT pk.
Sony SCD xa 777 es CDP
Shunyata & VooDoo power cords
Synergistic Signature 10 X2 active bi wires + Alpha Quadd X series active on bass driver only.
And an old Velodyne 10 inch active sub. Running off the preamp outputs.
PS Audio UPC 200
All devices draw power via dedicated 20A ckts…. Yes, even the PC.
Various Vibrapods & cones
Cardas Neutral Reference XLR interconnect, VooDoo Silver Reference XLR.