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Snake River Audio Mamushi Signature loudspeaker cables

Snake River Audio Mamushi Signature loudspeaker cables

I still tend to be a bit ‘old school’ when it comes to evaluating things. First impressions count an awful lot; those initial few seconds are supremely important – pivotal, even. Yet first impressions can be misleading, if not downright wrong.

Audio is very much a ‘marry in haste, repent at leisure’ activity. We make changes that seem to point in a better direction, but things don’t always work out long term. What seemed like a massive improvement may turn out to be the very opposite with increased exposure…

Evaluating the Snake River Audio (SRA) Mamushi Signature cables for this review was very much an extended process – one measured in months, rather than days or weeks. The UK importer had already given the cables a bit of a burn-in, but warned me that much more time was needed.

Mamushi Signature cables look and feel the part. They’re very heavy and thick, the build is absolutely superb, and they look great. They’re magnetically shielded against radio-frequency interference, and feature a special capacitive weave to cancel RFI.

The manufacturer describes Mamushi’s construction as incorporating a natural capacitive rejection of radio frequency interference by their construction alone. SRA separates the conductors using a thin layer of Teflon (PTFE) between the send and the return conductors, as well as a large air gap dielectric, and protects this configuration by surrounding it with magnets. These magnets are specially ordered for the Mamushis, and are said to be magnetically supersaturated in a multiple pole magnetization pattern, so their magnetic strength is evenly distributed across the surface. The Signature version of the Mamushi cable tested here goes for quality materials. It combines 24k gold, 99.999% pure silver, and oxygen-free copper in a special formulation.

 

My first impressions of the Mamushi were of a brighter, livelier, more forwardly-balanced sound, with increased bite and attack. In many ways the sound of Mamushi was better that the Townshend Isolda it replaced, but the SRA was also a mite less relaxed and comfortable. Clearly, more time was needed; the slow burn-in had begun!

After three months or so, I switched back. The Isolda cables definitely sounded smoother, and less immediate, with perhaps a slightly more integrated tonal balance. The mid and high frequencies were less pronounced, and the overall sound seemed less brilliant. Via the SRA Mamushi Signature speaker cables, the music sounded keener and more dramatic, with added brilliance and increased dynamic attack. 

Subjectively, the sound seemed to be about 1dB louder – the Isolda cables being slightly muted and less holographic. I found this slight increase in loudness/vividness a great benefit when using a small low-powered tube amp – it helped make more of its limited resources.

Although the SRA cables sounded slightly brighter/sharper, they also seemed to offer a broader palette of tone colours. The dynamic contrasts were very well handled, creating a sound picture that was tonally-varied and constantly changing.

Playing the Barenboim/Chicago recording of Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe suite on Erato, I was surprised by the sonic light and shade audible – and this from a recording that can easily sound a tad thick and congested, a bit bland and nondescript.

I’d never experienced such a varied tonal palette from this disc before – from bitingly brilliant trumpets to mellow flutter-tongued flutes. Ravel’s scoring is wonderful, but needs sound of amazing clarity to fully reveal every strand. Here, things sounded tonally natural, but very detailed.

Turning to some unaccompanied vocal music, I was taken by the way the Mamushi Signature cables allowed the individual timbre of each voice to stand apart – as well as revealing subtle dynamics and changes of pitch. The ambience of the church was more apparent too. 

Each time I Returned to my regular cables, I half-wondered if they didn’t sound a tad smoother and more integrated. Were the old cables more comfortable to listen to? Well, maybe… But I sure as hell missed the extra clarity and dimensionality of the Mamushi Signature cables.

My old cables – in comparison – always seemed to make everything sound more ‘samey’; more consistent perhaps, but also less individual and distinct. The Mamushi Signature cables made the music seem more interesting and individual – more tactile, more special, more engrossing.

 I used the speaker cables with both a high-powered solid-state amplifier, and a low-power transformer-coupled tube amp. Both worked well, but it was with the latter that I heard the biggest difference. The sound was noticeably more holographic and dimensional with the SRA cables.

Also, because the Mamushi cables delivered a greater sense of attack and dynamics, I did not feel the need to increase volume levels beyond the limits of the power available. With my own cables, I sometimes pushed the little tube amp too hard, and heard it compress/congest slightly.

 

But partnered with the Mamushi cables, the sound seemed to expand more. It was almost as though the amplifier’s output had increased slightly. With the small amp, this was especially welcome on demanding operatic and choral recordings.

I find naturally-miked uncompressed recordings of human voice to be the most testing material for small low-powered amps. So, I was encouraged by the manner in which the Mamushi Signature cables helped my small tube amp to punch far above its weight. 

After a long period of ‘living together’, I’m totally convinced by the sonic qualities of SRA’s Mamushi Signature cables. It will be a big wrench to go back to what I used previously. And, having drunk at the fountain of knowledge, I’m wondering if that will be possible. Oh dear… 

price and contact Details

Price: £1,518/3m pair. 2m, 3m, 4m as standard, other lengths (at £181 per stereo metre) to order

Manufactured by: Snake River Audio

URL: www.snakeriveraudio.com

Distributed in the UK by: Mackenzie Hi-Fi

Tel: +44(0)7905 362545

URL: www.mackenziehifi.com

Tags: FEATURED

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