STEALTH audio cables

Posted by jurisprudent (A) on June 15, 2003 at 07:42:15

This is a review of the following STEALTH cables and power cords as they appear in my current reference system:

Stealth M7 from phono to preamp

Stealth M21 from preamp to amps

Stealth PGS from CD to preamp

Stealth Hybrid MLT speaker cable

Stealth double M7 power cords from amps to Power Conditioner

Reference system

Well Tempered Turntable with upgraded arm/Grado Reference II cartridge

Full Modwright Sony 9000ES CD/SACD/DVD player

Modified Counterpoint 5.1 preamplifier

Homebrew EL 34 based monoblocks with Magnequest transformers and Mullard original EL34s

Blue Circle 1200 Balanced Power conditioner

Green Mountain Audio Continuum 1.5i speakers

Room dimensions: roughly 30x18x9

I have spent most of the last two years auditioning cables and power conditioners having finally settled (if only temporarily) on an overall music playback system to my liking. I auditioned at least fifteen different kinds of interconnects, five or six speaker cables and at least as many power cords and conditioners. Among the brands I considered were Audio Magic Sorcerer, Mapleshade, Music Metre, Nordorst, Cardas, Acoustic Zen, Zu, Analysis Plus, Harmonic Technology, RS Cable and more. In each case I had the most well regarded of the manufacturers with the exception of Nordorst as I lacked the means to consider Valhalla.

I came upon STEALTH inadvertently as I was put on to them by an audio aquaintance who was, like me, a professor of philosophy, Tom Patton. We had both owned Oris horns and discovered our shared professional lives accidentally. He had encouraged me two years earlier to contact Serguei of STEALTH once my search began. I had other fish to fry at the time and postponed doing so until my search had in fact been well underway.

Once I contacted Serguei I ordered a pair of PGS for connections from CD to preamp and simultaneously won an auction for an M-7 which I then put between preamp and amp. In time I received an M21 and a four foot pair of MLT speaker cables. The M7 was replaced by the M21 and was moved to the phono/preamp connection in turn replacing a CWS I had bought locally.

Here are my findings: individually and collectively, beginning with the former.

The M7 is a remarkably good silver IC that will strike many as in the same general league as the Acoustic Zen reference. It is smooth, clear, completely coherent, musically satisfying, and altogether lacking in edge. It does a wonderful job of expressing the nuance and inner detail of music. It worked well in every part of the chain, and is an absolute bargain at the price for which it can be purchased on the market. I would not hesitate to wire an entire system with M7. It was in fact the very first silver IC that worked well between preamp and amp for me.

The M21 is a step and a half up from the M7; everything the M7 does, the M21 does better and noticeably so. It is more nuanced and subtle, capable of somewhat greater dynamic contrast, especially micro detail, a completely open window to the music, somewhat faster and slightly fuller sounding. Like the M7 it worked extremely well everywhere in the chain and was the best cable I have used between preamp and amp. This is the single best silver cable I have used. Unlike the Acoustic Zen and Audio Magic, both quite good, it had better focus and control. It was naturally warm and wonderful. It has to be the equal of the very best silver cables available and should be auditioned with the most refined and revealing systems.

The PGS is something special. I have reviewed it elsewhere in this forum and will repeat only the following. This gold interconnect was the single best audio product I heard last year. It is completely devoid of hifi artifacts and comes as close to being unnoticeable as anything I have ever heard in my systems. And I have been engaged in the audio hobby for over 25 years. I am sure there are other outstanding ICs available, and given the system dependence of cables especially, I hesitate to go overboard by declaring this the best -- ludicrous on its face really -- but this is a very special IC that worked best from the CD player to the preamp. I would recommend it primarily in that position and to anyone. Apparently has a newer product that is less expensive and which may supercede it in quality, but this is one part of my system that I see no reason to ever consider changing. It is that good.

The MLT speaker cables are more like the PGS than any other speaker cable I have owned or auditioned. I had good success before it with a number of cables including the best Zu, Satori, the better AP, the very good and underrated Music Metre and the very much underappreciated Straightwire Virtuoso. But the MLT is a different breed altogether. It has a totally black background, and it imparts absolutely no sonic signature of which I am aware. It does this at the same time that it conveys the music coherently and honestly. It is very expensive but incomparably good. Fortunately, I only needed a short run of it.

The STEALTH cables aim for a certain family sound and achieve it. IMHO that sound is the absence of sonic contribution. The goal is to allow the rest of your components to perform to their aspirations, not to correct for weaknesses in them or to balance out the various parts. The silver cables have a sound, however; it is the subtlest version of the very best features we associate with silver cables, speed, detail, layered soundstaging and openness with a certain warmth that is unusual and unusually satisfying. The gold gets closer to the STEALTH ideal. It is utterly natural sounding. If you are looking for an analogy that may work for some. I think of the Magnepan 3.6 speaker as very natural sounding. It sounds like music. To my ears it is a bit veiled and unable to resolve inner detail well. Take the utter naturalness of the Magnepan and add to it the highest resolution of inner detail and you have the PGS. You also have the Hybrid MLT.

I had been very happy with van den Hul Mainstream power cords, but they were too short once I had the monoblocks. It was only natural that I complete the system with STEALTH power cords. They work wonderfully well with the Blue circle power conditioner that is itself a great deal in the audio world. The power cords are sonically most like the M21 interconnect. Coherent, quick, excellent bottom end and transient attack.

Collectively, the STEALTH cabling comes as close to sounding like nothing at all as anything I have (ironically) heard. It requires some system matching. I would not use PGS ICs all over the place, but they make a tremendously synergistic connection with the M21 and with the M7 between preamp and amp. The STEALTH is designed to produce an overall gestalt, and that is to provide full and complete information in a way that never calls attention to itself and aims to bring you what your other components were designed to provide. Of course cables are components too: but the best are anti component components. They are at their best not just when they are invisible, but when they allow the other components to reach their design goals. I don't know that the STEALTH cables are in my system until I remove them and replace them with anything else.

I should add that Serguei is a genuinely wonderful person to deal with. Customer service is very high on his priority list. And he seems to have a real personality, and like the rest of us is extremely opinionated. Frankly, it's refreshingly honest. He's as easy to work with as Roy Johnson of Green Mountain Audio.

I am sure there are any number of wonderful cables. Indeed, I quite enjoyed my time with several of them. No need to bash some of the others that are more about hype and far less about music. But for me STEALTH represents the right design goals and achieves them to a level that is extraordinary and sufficient to make them an outstanding value and a welcome addition to my system, and something I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone.

I have since departed with the GMA speakers and am now on a quest to try electrostatics and planars. This means a big amp with lots of current. I have recently purchased the Innersound monoblocks and when I receive some electrostatics to play with I will post a follow up to report on the way the STEALTH cables (which will remain unchanged throughout the auditioning of new speakers) work in the new set up

I hope this is helpful