Analysis Plus Silver Oval Speaker Cables and Silver Oval-in Interconnects
|8 May 2000|
Eight foot Silver Oval: $499
One Meter Silver Oval-in
Interconnects: $630 per meter
6321 N. McKinley Rd.
Flushing, MI 48433
Telephone: (888) 579-0386
Web: Analysis Plus
"The differences wrought in my system by the addition of the Analysis Plus Silver Oval cables and interconnects are positive, dramatic and immediately apparent -- quite an achievement when you stop to consider that I already use a reference-caliber product in the Harmonic Technology designs."
Analysis Plus, Inc., the latest rave cable company, is proving that the most expensive-sounding cable on the market doesn’t have to cost so much. It needs only to be engineered correctly.
Background check. Analysis Plus, Inc. has provided electronic and electromagnetic simulation and analysis for a number of companies since its inception in 1993. All the members of the Analysis Plus team hold advanced degrees in electrical engineering or physics, and their specialty is the art of computer simulation. For this reason, they’ve consulted on wide-ranging jobs with Motorola, Mitsubishi, Ford Motor Company, and TRW (hope that helps my ailing credit rating).
The folks at Analysis Plus use mathematical models, incorporated into software packages, to predict how a device will operate according to the laws of physics, most notably cables. To this extent, Analysis Plus, Inc. concluded after lengthy measurements, studies and experiments that not all cables are what their manufacturers claim. (Hey I knew that!) Company statement:
Analysis Plus was an established electrical engineering consulting company when we were approached by a couple of audio cable manufacturers to test and analyze their cables. After we performed the work on their cable, we realized we could improve the current state-of-the-art in audio cable.
We were able to do countless runs of computer simulation and testing that would have been cost prohibitive if the engineering was contracted out. We faced a tough decision when we came up with our discovery of the hollow oval audio cable. What should we do? We knew we should apply for a patent, but should we sell the design or go into the audio cable business?
I was sent two 8ft. sets (bi-wire) of their reference Silver Oval speaker cables and three pair of Silver Oval-in Interconnects. Their impressive looking speaker cables are made by layering pure silver over a stabilizer strand of Oxygen Free copper, which is then woven into a 12-gauge hollow-oval conductor. The quite expensive (at $630 a meter), Silver Oval-in Interconnects are also built from pure silver layered over a stabilizing strand of oxygen-free copper braided into their patented hollow oval geometry. These conductors are combined with a computer-matched dielectric and surrounded with an open-braided shield for ultra-quiet, noise-free performance. In addition, these interconnects are terminated with WBT-0108 Topline RCA connectors. AP’s unique speaker connector, a solid block of machined copper is, coated with silver. This unique connector fits either 1/4" or 5/16" speaker posts.
Mark Markel, resident engineer and chief honcho, possesses as pragmatic an approach to what makes cables work as I’ve heard from a manufacturer. His claims have to do only with he can measure, not hear (à la Ed Meitner). I find this very interesting, to say the least. Mark’s not the sort who says his cables sound better owing to tunings and tweakings.
Leave that part to me.
Welcome to the Lunatic Fringe…Again!
As most readers are well aware, my reference cable is by way of Harmonic Technology and its single-crystal approach. The whole nine yards: power cords (including HT’s new Magic A/C cord), speaker cables, interconnects and the new S-Video Silvers used for the Dream Vision DL500 projector. These cables have long been my long-standing reference and that of other ST staff writers. Nothing I’ve used since their arrival has equaled HT’s portrait of sonic ease, acoustic beauty, incredibly lush midrange, and exquisite soundstage. It was an honor to be the very first reviewer to shout the HT accolades, but more important to me was HT’s price. Their Pro Nine speaker cable at $899, for this writer, set a new standard for excellence in both sonics and affordability. For just short of two years it has stood as the best of the best.
That Is, Until Now
Remember the day you first replaced your zip cord with real speaker cables? Yes, of course! Was the difference huge? Yes, of course! Undeniably, resoundingly, oh my Yes. How about the time you cleaned all your contacts with Pro Gold, and re-oriented all of your A/C plugs? This proved a huge improvement too, didn’t it? Absolutely!
The differences wrought in my system by the addition of the Analysis Plus Silver Oval cables and interconnects are positive, dramatic and immediately apparent -- quite an achievement when you stop to consider that I already use a reference-caliber product in the Harmonic Technology designs. I’m getting ahead of myself here. The most telling assessment was made by my very close friend Terry Smoak.
Smoak, as he’s called around these parts (shouldn’t everyone be called by there last name?) loves music, especially jazz, and doesn’t consider himself an audiophile. He challenged me to prove that cables made a difference. "Okay," I said, "I’ll prove it," as I looked through my closet for wires. Resting on the shelf was a cigar shaped box with the inscription Analysis Plus. I literally forgot about them since moving into my new house!
"Alrighty then, Smoak, before we begin," I said, "we should do some listening to demonstrate why HT cables are my favorite." A favorite of Smoak’s is the Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis Big Band CD entitled Trane Whistle (OJCCD-429-2). The first track features Eddie Davis, whom Smoak refers to as "The Lock." The recording is both musically appealing and a system torture test because of the extraordinary size of its brass and woodwind sections.
The sound was as rich and full as I predicted through the wonderfully synergistic HT Pro Nine (bi-wire) and Pro Silway Mk II’s to the Sony SCD-1 SACD Player. My reference Von Schweikert VR6’s continued to impress, causing me to yell out a resounding woof! as "The Lock," wailing his tenor sax, cut the air with a resounding first riff. Two, maybe three times we played this track before I decided to hit the pause on the Sony, shut the system down and replace the HT products with Analysis Plus. The excellent HT Magic Power Power Cords remained, since AP doesn’t yet provide A/C cords.
With the Analysis Plus Oval speaker cables now fully installed, which took all of ten minutes, I powered up the Carver Sunfire Signature, the Tact 2.2 preamplifier/room correction system and then, before lifting the pause button, reiterated to Mr. Smoaks my reasons for using Harmonic Technology designs. "You shall now see for yourself why I, along with many others, choose Harmonic Tech as the reference cable upon which all should be judged, ahem."
Track one again, Trane Whistle: "The Lock" came in off the rhythmic big band hook, but this time it was oh so different, and consider that the cables weren’t even broken in! Mr. Smoaks exclaimed, "Oh my God, this is so much better!" I heard it too, sitting off center, but wasn’t quite ready to accept it as better. Different, yes. Yet, there it was, all the proof I would ever need that the individual instruments possessed more dimensionality in the soundstage, along with an increase in air between the players. Crystal-clear air replaced a fog-like character. A touch of sharpness in leading edges, a hint of brightness, illustrated that break-in was still mandatory.
"Here, the relative locations of different sounds -- Keith’s yowling on the piano, along with Jack DeJohnette’s delicate cymbal work, the initial snap and resonance from Gary Peacock’s double bass, could not better illustrate these cables’ superiority."
Mr. Smoaks words still ring as he matter-of-factly stated: "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Perry. I agree that cables make a difference because these sounds so much better." We listened to CDs, one after the other, as revelations. I couldn’t take it any more. I said to Smoaks at four in the afternoon, "Yo, I’ve got work to do. Latah, ma’brutha."
I revisited AP’s website, this time however, with much greater intrigue. I read their theories on current bunching, cylindrical cable conductors, skin effect and the disadvantages of rectangular conductors.
This time, however, I took it all in like Absorbine Jr.
Things simmered as I set the Sony to repeat for the break-in. The differences, however, never changed in favor of Harmonic Technology. The Analysis Plus kept getting better. This was most apparent with vocals, solo instruments, or small groups, for example, the wonderful recording of Charlie Parker compositions by The Roy Hargrove Trio entitled Parkers Mood (Verve 314527) or Keith Jarrett’s Live at the Blue Note (ECM 1577). With the AP Oval Silver, the instruments took on a more palpable dimensionality and body, whereas the HT seemed dimensionally truncated, more two-dimensional, but longer in the extension department from top to bottom. But even this wasn’t able to cool my preference.
I began to take special note of how well extended the HT was in the lower region as well as top frequencies, particularly the high treble, compared to the AP’s more natural, and ultimately more pleasing qualities. HT’s upper extension was no longer pleasing to my ears. Surprisingly, the HTs sounded harder than the APs, forcing me, for sanity’s sake, to take the APs out of my system, put back in the HTs and re-evaluate. No question about it, the AP produces a richer more realistic top end, with a warmer low end. The lows, particularly in the midbass, sound better integrated with the lower midrange frequencies. Hard to explain, but the bass sounds more solid, more there, with less attention-seeking behavior. If held to only a word, I’d say natural.
The AP produced, to my amazement, greater inner detail as a direct result of its more natural, thus superior, dimensionality. The sound of Hargrove’s muted trumpet -- rather its intricacies -- the sound of air moving through the horn gave it greater presence and spatial localization. The same is true of Keith Jarrett. Here, the relative locations of different sounds -- Keith’s yowling on the piano, along with Jack DeJohnette’s delicate cymbal work, the initial snap and resonance from Gary Peacock’s double bass, could not better illustrate these cables’ superiority.
I can’t possibly recommend the Analysis Plus Silver Oval more highly. At $499, a fraction of the cost of most reference-caliber speaker cables, while the quite expensive Silver Oval-in interconnect at $630, is sure going to become a great deal of talk among audiophiles. The budding audiophile, in particular, should feel fortunate that new companies like Richard Gray’s Power Company, Quantum Symphony Products, Inner Sound, and Analysis Plus exist. They’ve set the benchmarks for musicality at sane price points.
The Analysis Plus Silver Oval makes my system sound more real. These cables have taken my system closer to the Absolute Sound.
See Stuart McCreary's related article on Analysis Plus cables.
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