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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Source: Zanden Audio Model 2000P/5000S; Opera Audio Reference 2.2 Linear
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright SWL 9.0SE; Music First Audio Passive Magnetic; Bel Canto Design PRe3; Wyetech Labs Jade; Supratek Cabernet Dual [on loan from owner]

EQ: Rane PEQ55 active merely below 40Hz
Amp: 2 x Audiosector Patek SE; Yamamoto A-08S; Canary Audio CA-308s; FirstWatt F3 & F1; Bel Canto e.One S300; Eastern Electric M-520; Canary CA-339s w. WEs [on review]
Headphones: AKG K-1000 w. hardwired Stefan AudioArt harness; audio-technica W-1000
Speakers: Zu Cable Definition Pro in custom lacquer; Anthony Gallo Acoustics Ref 3.1

Cables: Zanden Audio proprietary I²S cable, Zu Cable Varial, Gede, Libtech and Ibis; Stealth Audio Cable Indra; SilverFi interconnects; Crystal Cable Reference power cords; double cryo'd Acrolink with Furutech UK plug between wall and transformer; Crystal Cable Ultra [on long-term loan]
Stands: 1 x Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular five-tier
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S fed from custom AudioSector 1.5KV Plitron step-down transformer with balanced power output option
Sundry accessories: GPA Formula Carbon/Kevlar shelf for transport; GPA Apex footers underneath stand, DAC and amp; Walker Audio Extreme SST on all connections; Walker Audio Vivid CD cleaner; Walker Audio Reference HDLs; Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer
Room size: 16' w x 21' d x 9' h in short-wall setup, with openly adjoining 15' x 35' living room

Review Component Retail: $2,000/1m/RCA/pr for Nano Carbon | $3,000/1m/RCA/pr for Meta Carbon

Self preservation. Curiosity. Creative challenge. These are three core ingredients of Serguei Timachev's latest Meta and Nano carbon fiber cables. Self preservation because the infamous amorphous conductor of his Indra will eventually run out. Thereafter, Indra will be mere legacy and memory. Curiosity because anyone with a product believed to be the best wants to know how close he can come for less money. Creative challenge because the Indra conductor was the result of aerospace, army or spook origins while its replacement would have to be developed in-house.

Serguei's reach for carbon conductors is explained by the fact that just like the amorphous Indra, Carbon lacks all crystalline lattices. If Indra's superiority was due to its wholesale avoidance of metal crystals, it stood to reason that to approach its performance, another conductor without molecular crystal boundaries would have to take its place. However, Carbon's innately high resistance especially on a ground return leg is liable to introduce noise. This in fact plagues the unshielded Cerious cables in the wrong circumstance. It gets noisy. Additionally -- and this has been noted in my own review and a recent one by Myles Astor for PFO -- the non-metallic Cerious interconnect is slightly soft on top and somewhat guilty of defocusing transients though its midrange performance is exceedingly fetching.

For the Metacarbon, Stealth introduces a deliberate amount of fine metal particles to the Carbon fiber recipe. This adds otherwise lacking HF shimmer and subjective leading-edge speed. Hence Meta(llized)carbon. The Nanofiber is completely non-metallic. It thus deliberately avoids the last degree of air, overtone spray and incision power. However, its maker -- and a substantial group of beta testers -- are on record stating that for pure pleasure listening, the Nanofiber cable rules the current Stealth Audio Cables roost for having the most glorious midrange and being the most relaxed.

hate when that happens - not relaxation but manufacturers writing their own reviews and being spot on. It leaves nothing for us reviewer types except to follow and repeat. Naturally, I haven't heard the entire stable of Stealth cables. But with Nanofiber, Metacarbon and Indra in-house, I can confirm that the Nano indeed is the sweetest of the three. That's relative of course. The Indra is neutrality incarnate and disappears entirely. With this disappearance act, it also takes with it certain reminders of mechanical artifice which are impossible to quantify but obvious in their removal.

The Nanofiber siphons off the top layer of energetic charge. In turn, things get a bit warmer and the center dial moves deeper into the bloom phase of notes, with less splash on impact. If this attribute is typical for Carbon -- Cerious and Van den Hul precedents certainly bear it out -- then managing this innate relaxation becomes vital for the designer of such cable. He must avoid getting his music overly limpid. The principle of tensegrity, of tension as the organizing principle of upright structures, becomes his counterminder. As does muscle tone. It remains relevant even in a state of relaxation.

Unlike the non-metallic Cerious, the Nanofiber proved completely quiet in my system. And yes, it too lacks all metal in the signal path. Even the RCA center pin is Carbon. In fact, it is the center conductor, no crimp connection involved. While Timachev acknowledged the noise challenge, he kept tight-lipped on how he got around it. Just as he predicted and now states on his site, the Nanofiber isn't as preternaturally resolved as the Indra or Metacarbon. That's due to its warmth factor and slight rounding over of leading edges. While it thus belongs into a lower resolution category, the lack of mechanicalness is a match for the Indra. Especially for solid-state systems which as a breed tend to err on the leading edge, the Nanofiber could be the perfect solution - avoid tubes while successfully taming the etch. The Nanofiber categorically isn't bloated or fuzzy as certain multi-layer massive copper constructs can be. Its warmth doesn't derive from the soft focus of timing errors. It's a function of slightly attenuated HF reach and outright refusal to bite.

For full-on light into the upper treble reaches, enter the Metacarbon. Its project brief was as Indra clone, using the Nanofiber foundation but spiking the concoction with metal dust to approach the performance of the amorphous alloy. The connectors too are Indra issue. As are sonics. It remains conjecture to imagine what type of differences an extreme ultra-resolution system would highlight between Metacarbon and Indra. At my level, differences were far smaller than expected. Juan Carmona's brilliant Sinfonia Flamenco [Nomades Kultur 2741411] is a spectacle of large orchestral forces, Flamenco guitar, Gitano vocals, palmas and Indian-style vocal percussion. Dynamics are huge, rhythms are incisive, colors are deep, emotive charge is heightened and recording quality is in the top 15%.

It takes something of this -- sadly very rare -- caliber to hone in on the remaining advantage the Indra holds. Where I hear it is in the apparent rise times of transients. The Indra renders them sharper and more instantaneous still. Whether close-mic'd guitar arpeggios or trumpet staccatos, the Indra seems more charged. There's even more rhythmic violence and startle factor especially at higher settings on the dial. The other distinguishing feature is related and occurs in the lowest bass. Think Mercan Dede's brilliant Nefes [DoubleMoon DM033], a crafty bit of ambient-sufi studio trickery that mixes first-rate Turkish instrumentalists with synth effects for infrasonics that exceed the reach of real instruments.

The Indra seems to have even less 'resistance' to instantaneous current draws that occur with big drums, long strings and hits, cracks and snaps down low. The Indra's basement scare factor is even higher. For most intents and purposes, however, it's nearly academic to speculate on the percentile difference between these two heroic cable efforts. If you can afford the Indra, you may primarily care about knowing that you own the best. If you can't afford the Indra but the Metacarbon is within reach? Know that telling the two apart is a matter of pulling out the very best recordings in your collection, reaching for the magnifying glasses and committing vivisection on cadavers rather than enjoying the music. For most, the Metacarbon is the new Indra yet it's priced about 50% lower while performing 95% as well. (The latter number is guess work. It's given only to suggest how little separates the two).

Considering that the Indra's clock is ticking towards eventual extinction when its conductor becomes true unobtainium, the appearance of the handcrafted hybrid Metacarbon is timely and excellent news for those who play in these price leagues. It's also very flexible. Lightweight components needn't be weighed down to stay put. Nearly more exciting even is the Nanofiber. This cable is relevant especially to music lovers who read audio reviews far more for entertainment than with any ambitions to listen with sharpened pencil at the ready. It destresses the music experience even more powerfully than the other two wires while arguably not performing quite at their exalted standards of magnifying power. Which, in the majority of contexts, will be perfectly appropriate. It means you can keep your transistor electronics just as they are while a cable injects a palpable dose of midrange glory for once. Depending on the level of time-out spa treatment your system needs to mellow out and forget its aggression, one pair of Nanofiber might be all it takes. As always, season to taste. And remember that by definition, reviewers listen to music backwards - not to get carried away but to note sonic differences. That's not why anyone else should ever cue up a recording. And the Nanofiber is an expert reminder...
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