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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Source: Zanden Audio Model 2000P/5000S
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright SWL 9.0SE
Amp: 2 x Audiosector Patek SE run one channel each, the other shorted out
Speakers: Zu Cable Definition Mk 1.5
Cables: Zanden Audio proprietary I²S cable, 2 x Zu Cable Varial, Zu Cable Ibis, Zu Cable Birth on Definitions; Crystal Cable Reference power cords; ZCable Hurricane power cords on both conditioners
Stands: 1 x Grand Prix Audio Monaco four-tier
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S
Sundry accessories: GPA Formula Carbon/Kevlar shelf for transport; GPA Apex footers underneath stand, DAC and amp; Walker Audio SST on all connections; Walker Audio Vivid CD cleaner; Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; WorldPower cryo'd Hubbell wall sockets
Room size: 30' w x 18' d x 10' h [sloping ceiling] in long-wall setup in one half, with open adjoining living room for a total of ca.1000 squ.ft floor plan
Review Component Retail: 1m/pr. ea. - $119/Elixir Blue; $149 Shaman Blue; $189 Phrygian Blue

Turkey. Anatolia. Land of Gypsies and Sufis. Cradle of composer/musicians Mercan Dede, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Sezen Aksu, Hüsnü Şenlendirici, Barbaros Erköse and Nedim Nalbantoglu. Home to the Istanbul Hifi Society, one of whose founders, Adnan Arduman, is a serious DIYer, writes for StereoTimes and runs his own website Ankara. Home of Sezai Saktanber and his small "boutique cable atelier" SilverFi where he handcrafts braided cables now in their 3rd generation, all built using a special tertiary alloy (silver plus two other metals) that undergoes a custom drawing and casting process. With an appearance naturally derivative
of Kimber -- the cable emporium built on braids -- and very reasonable pricing, three different SilverFi interconnects are the subject of today's Reality Check. They are tri-braids based on 3, 5 and 7 conductors which are encased in what appears to be a skin-tight cotton legging, tucked into red shrink sleeve and medium-mass RCAs. Inevitable comparisons to Steve Eddy's silk-sleeved Q Tao cable come up as well. You see, braiding affords RF and EMI rejection without separate shielding and is thus an attractive solution for DIYers. No plastic crap, no complicated layers of stuff, no final outer dress sleeve to screw up the sound. Just simple geometry, conductors and connectors. As Kimber's popular PBJ had proven -- followed up by many more upscale Kimber models using the same approach, just more expensive conductors -- this concept works.

Shunyata Research too developed a whole line of cables around a complicated French braid [above]. Why fix the braid approach if it ain't broke? Why go more complex just for the sake of complexity? To charge more money? Well, today's report was inspired by the promise of the opposite - a proven solution for an amazing price made possible because middlemen markups are eliminated and because we're dealing with a do-it-yourself venture driven by enthusiasm, not greed. So here's what showed up in Taos one fine fall afternoon, by mail from Ankara: From Turkey with Love:

A loosely attached plaque with the company name and model number keeps each pair together. The only difference between models is the number of individual connectors woven into the braid. Delivered in a satin box, the SilverFi cables have a classy jewel-like appearance and seem well made, their channel identity marked with a red or white band around the RCA barrels.
In Sezai's own words: "Before going into cables, a little personal background. I am 58 years old and a formally educated city planner. I graduated in 1972 from the Faculty of Architecture of Ankara's Middle East Technical University, specialized in tourism planning. I'm also a cook with a 'Master in Teaching' diploma and a self-taught cable designer. Most importantly, I'm a life-time music lover. I'm father to twin daughters. My one daughter has lived in NY City since 2002 to study for her PH. D. in international relations, mainly for media and related issues. The other lives with me. She is a graphic designer, artist and amateur transverse flute player.

Being an obsessed music lover,

you always hunt for better sound in search for aural nirvana. I founded Odeon Audio Ltd. in 1995 as an audio importation enterprise. This brought many opportunities. I was introduced to the products of many leading audio firms in abundance. Hearing various brands' top of the line interconnects and speaker cables, I realized that I needed a cable with a different voicing. So my study of cable designs began in 1995. Getting familiar with the most recent theoretical background, I then fabricated various working models with different topologies, metals and dielectrics in differing strand diameters and lengths.

My SilverFi Cable Atelier project developed and matured parallel to Odeon Audio. Our current production is limited. Every cable is produced by myself and my skilled technician. All SilverFi cables are hand-made and by now 3rd generation products. They are directional. The shorter red end is the origin, the longer end the destination. I employ a unique drawing and casting technology using our own specially cast silver alloy. I basically use two different silver alloys with varying metal ratios. In all cases, the proportion of silver used exceeds 65%. All SilverFi cables use air-gapped discrete strand topology and are unshielded. I feel that fully shielded cables sound lifeless, blurred and fuzzy. A simple braiding architecture fulfills the shielding function. Still, careful attention should be paid to cable routing. It is better to keep away from power cables and transformers. I have also avoided fancy jackets to impress the market. Less plastic means more music. [Below next to daughter Aslý, her aunt Inci and husband Wolfgang.]

My design philosophy is simple: maximize the use of air for insulation, minimize the use of other insulation materials. Yes, all dielectric materials have negative sonic effects to varying degrees. Air doesn't store energy to release it out of time with the music the way other dielectrics do. Air dielectrics don't smear or congest the sound. Each silver-alloy strand is housed loosely inside its own sleeve to be mostly surrounded by air. I try to abstain from using more dielectric or heat/compression techniques during the annealing, drawing and tubing process since that negatively affects harmonic coherence, continuousness and micro/macro dynamics. A handcrafter's technique called 'cool tubing' helps each silver alloy strand to retain its intrinsic quality during the sleeving process. Almost all manufacturers use excessive heat and chemicals during the sleeving/jacketing process of the metal conductors. That reduces conductivity.

SilverFi's conductors are not exposed to any heat, chemical processes or pressure past being annealed. Application of heat and pressure causes negative changes in the conductors' properties and damages the ultimate performance of the cable. Our "direct sales" model helps to keep our introductory prices low and within reach. I believe that even our most affordable Elixir cable competes with other commercial at 3-4 times its price. The sonic palette of my cables is quite different from other products. I strongly believe that my cables' voicing is aurally correct. A cable should be transparent and well-balanced, yet pleasing in the long run. My cables portray continuousness of resolution, musicality, neutrality, a wider soundstage and greater depth compared to more expensive cables. To get the best out of my analog interconnects, I strongly recommend the use also of my speaker cables. Break-in is very important. Before any serious listening, my cables should be used for at least 250 hours. The cables continue to mature until they reach
500 hours. Long periods of inactivity may require a new break-in time of at least 50 hours. I will launch my SilverFi website in November 2005. For the time being, all correspondence should be made through my present e-mail of"

Here's some much needed context from our Letters/Feedback section: "Dear Mr. J. D. [Jeff Day - Ed.], It's been a long time since I sent you the last message because my job is a little unusual. I am a seaman, actually the chief officer on a car carrier. Usually I go missing from home for about six months at a time but I make copies of many columns and reviews from 6moons on CD/ROM and after that print them when I board the vessel. Most of them -- especially yours and Srajan's reviews -- I not only read but learn from. That's true because in my small country Bulgaria, I'm the only person to have Avantgarde speakers (for example, the median salary here is about $200/month, mine is $3,900 but only when I am aboard the ship 6 to 7 months out of the year)... Vasko Nikolov."

We get letters like this from all over the world. The audiophile community transcends cultural and political boundaries. Alas, the global imbalance of currencies and thus individual buying power and access to specific goods does not. Just because your income in rupees, rubels or pesetas limits your ability to pay for audioware priced in US currency shouldn't and doesn't mean that you can't make good sound. Today's cables are prime candidates. For a relative song -- and certainly peanuts compared to most commercial American cable products -- you can go straight to the top of the food chain. Don't let the DIY angle fool you. SilverFi is up there. Having Stealth Audio's Indra, Zu Cable's Varial and Crystal Cable Reference for direct comparators makes me supremely confident of such a statement.

These cables are very smooth. Forgot all the nonsense about the 'silver = bright + zippy' equation. Not here. Yes, this is a very dynamic and articulated cable that apparently increases the contrast ratio between notes for strong dimensionality. Bass in particular is exceptionally well defined and controlled, reminding me of how other skinny conductors like Crystal Cable and the Indra seem to excel at avoiding time smears. This produces apparently faster rise times, more precise transients and far more decisiveness in how bass lines serve their rhythmic functions. Yet these cables are bodilicious across the board, not bereft of substance or whitened out. So the SilverFi leads completely avoid hype or pushiness. Resolution is very high but the feel of the music remains free-flowing rather than pressurized.

With a complete lack of edge or bite, high playback levels don't expose any nasties (unless they're on the recording). These alloy cables equally lack the fuzziness of certain copper cables which induce blurring and softness and can be mistaken for additive body. If the SilverFi cables behave additively, it's surely in two domains: tone & space. Dimensionally, they remind me of upscale AudioMagic cables and conditioners. Those repeatedly and predictably address soundstage depth and lateral expansion. However, SilverFi's way with space doesn't turn ethereal or all fluff and flotsam, no anchored concreteness. Not at all. The soundstage is simply wide open, expansive and unconstricted. The virtual performers within in -- defining its boundaries not just by placement but by how they play the recording venue to mark the wall behind them -- are very corporeal and developed. Think antithesis of semi-transparent ghosts. The so-called element of air only plays a very small role here. The core consideration is contrast ratio. Polarization -- between space and tones -- is intense. To my ears, it's the key feature of these cables if I had to pick just one.

If I could pick two, tone would follow. There's nothing at all subtractive or lean about tone here. This will come as a surprise to those who believe that silver is tipped-up and a bit malnourished. You know, fast but haggard. But then again, a good 30% of the conductor here isn't silver but something else. I deliberately picked certain 'hairy' tracks and was amazed by how the internal sensors on alert for edge and bite never went off.

Spatially huge, tonally reminiscent of that presence factor we admire with the best direct-heated low-power triodes; rhythmically vigorous with no loss of apparent speed or precision yet texturally smooth; super bass definition and impact without additive girth; and long-term listening ability without fatigue - these are the calling cards of the SilverFi interconnects, with the spatial expander action already in full evidence with the least expensive model but tone/body increasing as you climb up the ladder.

In a nutshell then, preconceptions regarding silver are arguably relevant today if they remain restricted to resolution, energy, precision and leading-edge clarity. The upper midrange/treble band, however, is thoroughly de-stressed. Despite excellent extension, there's no metallic glintiness, no highlighted reflections. The effect here is thus one of relaxation, albeit only by comparison to generic silver expectations.

These cables from Ankara/Turkey perform completely INXS of price or "lo-tech" propaganda. I can't find any qualifiers that would preclude anything but an enthusiastic recommendation. Sezai's elegantly simple creations with the bracelet look are true high-end performers. They're hyper in only one area - excessive fairness of pricing and thus, accessibility to allow more music lovers to partake of natural high-resolution sound without
going into hock shock. Unlike especially DIY speaker builders who are most liable to fall into the "more expensive drivers, thicker baffles and heavier cabinets for your money" trap as though heft and parts cost will ever outweigh design chops and engineering acumen, SilverFi approaches its design goals with simplicity. There are no bragging rights, no marketing drivel and misdirection. So if you're sick of paying too much, consider SilverFi your favorite new supplier of very very good audio cables. Time to launch a new award. To get it, a product must be very affordable while giving peak performance and not suffer any build quality compromises. With plenty of bona fide Sufi saints in Turkey, Sezai Saktanber is a Pîr or Sheikh of a different sort. He's a master realsizer if I've ever met one. Let the new Turkish Liras roll and save some serious coin...
Manufacturer's website