STEALTH audio cables


Stealth Does It Again

The “Indra” Amorphous Cable


                                                         - -   Jim Merod



First Things First


My headline should, more accurately, read “Serguei Timachev

Hits Another Grand Slam” . . . this being the moment professional baseball gets cranked up in full.


Serguei lives within easy reach of Camden Yards, where the Baltimore Orioles (once the inglorious St. Louis Browns) play in cozy environmental elegance.  Such a designation – cozy elegance – might truthfully nominate the final facts of Serguei’s new Stealth cable, The Indra.


I wish I’d broken the story of this special, vastly remarkable cable.  It is utterly distinct.  It has no discernible sound or sonic signature.  I’ve listened long and hard to its disappearance act.  It’s not an “act.”  The Indra is to the world of high-end audio cables as Tantalus to Ovid’s narrative psychology.


I’ve thrown everything at it I could imagine in search of some tell-tale index of its eccentricity.  None.  Nothing. The cable vanishes before your eager, suspicious ears.


I’d have enjoyed “breaking” the story of The Indra’s break through into such astonishing “non-footprint sound” since I’ve waited so long for such an event.  In truth, I thought I’d not be around when essentially non-interferring cable would appear. The prospect of that unlikely day seemed distant. My doubt, or pessimism, had everything to do with hearing literally hundreds of good, average, very good, and (even) great cables over the years.  None of them ever completely “got out of the way” of a master signal feed put directly through it from a recorded source. 


Because skeptical awareness dies hard, I want to hold out pragmatic theoretical caution here.  Perhaps I’ve been seduced by the far greater sonic “invisibility” of The Indra in comparison to hundreds of wires that appeared before it.  Perhaps I’ve not gotten wholly to the bottom of this cable’s seemingly infinite subtlety.


Who knows?  I’ve tried my best to push and drive my two meter balanced run of this new, potentially revolutionary wire to its utter limit.  I’ve sought to find its spectral weakness, its dynamic flaws, its uneven delivery of some small piece of the sonic signal coursing its six-plus feet of effortless relaxation.  Nada.  Zero.  Zip.  No weakness.  No flaws.  Nothing uneven or exaggerated. Damn thing smiles and takes signals in one side, out the other, as if only air or god’s sweet fingers carried them innocently intact . . . in perfect wholeness.


Alas, such feeble hope.  Alas, each sonic voyager.  Let’s get real.  This much too goo news completely irks me, if you know what I’m getting at here . . . irksome because a cable’s not supposed to be utterly NOT THERE.   Understand ?  That defies the laws of ordinary physics.  There must be a “signature” in the output signal.  Somehow, some way, the musical signal going in one side of The Indra cannot be exactly (perfectly) the signal oozing out the other end.


Cannot be.  End of review.  I’ll stop now.  I’m stumped.  Irks the hell out of me.  Lousy thing for a nice man like Serguei Timachev to do to a hard working recording/mastering bloke (me). 


What’s this: some kind of trick?  An early Halloween joke? I’m not big on trick or treat … in this case, a big treat that just about bumfuzzles my attempts to get to the bottom of its mystery.  I’ve listened.  And listened more.  And swapped cables.  Driven hard and soft, smoothly seductive and distortedly cacophonous signals through The Indra.


It does not care.  It is not “there” . . .


The wire-related, metallurgical facts are fairly obvious, reported by very good audio writers, such as my old colleague at Enjoy The Music, Srajan Ebaen.  The “aginbite of inwit” here, to pickpocket James Joyce a moment, is the lack of molecular structure -- the absence of inner “borders” or crystalline “boundaries” -- that define zero crystal silver and “six nines” copper wires.  Apparently, in addition, Stealth employs a carbon-titanium barrel at the point of termination. I have read some controversy about the sonic efficacy of that termination.  For the purpose of this review, I’ll overlook it since I have not had a chance to explore its merits.


Pushing Sonic (Cable) Limits


You think most cables withstand sonic torture with staid equanimity?  Not so.  Take your average or better audiophile grade balanced cable and pump high decibel (undistorted) signals through them.  You’ll find the coherence of your input signal deformed by dynamic stress.  Try sending an extremely low-level signal through, say, a fifteen meter balanced cable.  Take, for instance, a quiet (low decibel level) bass signal put through a very good (expensive, audiophile caliber) microphone cable.


Four out of five such cables that I performed this renewed observation upon flunked the “sonic integrity” test.  What went into

one end (the female) side of the cable did not arrive as a pristine, perfectly-rendered signal coming out the other (male terminated) end.  Note : these were not cheap mic cables.  No Radio Shack bargains

or Guitar Center standard brand jobs.  There were no Belden or Canare (universally-used) “professional grade” cables.  Better than that.  Much better . . . proprietary, state of the art cables far too  expensive for most recording applications.


Second iteration.  Drop down to two meter balanced lengths and run the same tests.  Very high and, also, modestly low decibel signals. 


Better results all around this time.  Working with an even playing field in this scaled-down version (shorter cable lengths), similar results.  The Indra smoked every cable I ran against it :  Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II (a great cable) ; Magnan Silver-Bronze (an awe-inspiring cable) ; van den Hul carbon (extremely neutral cables) ; Analysis Plus (a workhorse cable with a big heart) ; Audience Au24 (a contender for ultimate neutrality) ; Nordost Valhalla (a gorgeous sounding cable with a huge soundstage) …. my livery of undeniable monster cables.

I love them all, each different, each fantastic in distinct ways.  Great cables, every one !


The Indra has something going for it not related to any conventional (or previous) “sonic flavor.”  It is a cable without an attitude.  No sonic “attitude.”  Its inaudible presence is virtually miraculous.  Did I mention I adore it . . . even as it irks me to the max?


Concluding Forays With Nothing


The Indra irks me because it puts my listening and discernment up against a wall. A reviewer is tempted by embarrassment as soon

as he -- or she (RIP Valerie K. / Anna Logg) – announces the most recent reappearance of Elvis Presley.  Where would Moses be without Charlton Heston?  Jesus without Jimmy Swaggert?


Reviewing is a time-consuming, under-compensated occupation, inevitably subjective.  Some reviewers are better than others at the intricacies involved; some have no clue at all.  There are one or two in this laudable, much maligned profession deserving permanent vacation.  I loathe those whose “stake” in the audio game is fraudulent as the bent ace of spades your ornery cousin, Claude-the- card-shark, slips into the late night deck. Spades are never innocent with such slippage.  Do you remember Red Skelton’s anti-hero, Klem Kadiddle-hopper?  Think about it.


Audio reviewing demands two fundamental requisites at the least : good hearing with the unlikely capacity to consistently recognize near-difference sonic discriminations; intelligence enough to share the nuanced complexity of the audio art with taste, professional courtesy, and tactful (in fact, dialectical) critical clarity.


I can name several who approach that set of standards, one or two who flunk all tests involved.  I’ve cited Srajan above because he’s proved to be an unusually discerning reviewer of audio gear.  One thinks (perhaps most all) of Robert Harley. I’ve learned a great deal over many years from Robert Harley.


For me, one irrefutable thing emerges from the morass of sometimes indecipherable (unpalatable) subjectivity.  The integrity of any reviewer is hedged by human frailty and personal taste, on one hand, and by the uncertain conditions of equipment and system interactions, on another.  Other limiting conditions obtain, as well,

but my point is like Samuel Johnson’s (the great 18th century literary critic) who thought of intellectual effort as a wager made against the impending disaster of one’s mortality and the bastards one disputes.

Not even Johnson’s hero, Shakespeare, escaped such midnight oil.


Let my conclusion’s momentary diversion suggest the humility needed to exclaim as I have here. I am not at all sure, with apodictic certainty, that my reading of the Indra cable is correct to an absolute degree. I am sure I’ve sought to torment its capacity for accuracy, clarity, beauty and, most of all, transparency. The Indra has not (yet) failed my irksome measures.  Reciprocity. You dig?


Here, concluding “unscientific postscripts,” once again, I’ll suggest to any who cares, as I do, this :  approaching ever-receding degrees of sonic and musical truth (that uncongenial partner to our love of sound and lyric eros), Serguei Timachev’s brilliant good luck and hard-earned genius, I feel, deserve adoring scrutiny and sincere investigation. 


One final note. I’m not aware how much material resource STEALTH has to producing Indra cables. My information suggests that the amorphous wire at the core of these incredible cables may be severely limited … not false scarcity. Genuine short supply.  In truth, that may be the limiting condition of this cable’s otherwise glorious future.  Thus spake Zarathustra :  Coelitus mihi veres.


We Are All In It Together


Whatever the fate of that potential, I’ll say something here I’ve never (knowingly) asserted in speech or print about any audio product.  At any price the market bears, for those who want knowledge of the upper limits of their sound system (warts and all), Stealth’s INDRA is a component to be pursued, cherished, protected, used mercilessly, and heard into the inmost recess of attention’s soulful, conscious space.


Caveat emptor !  Listener, beware !