Chris Sommovigo is an American based relocated to Japan where he makes finished audio cables and the wires inside them by hand. Here Dominic Marsh takes a listen to his Ghostwire Silverheart speaker cables costing $239.95 for 1.5m pair and $349.95 for 2.5m pair.
When I was assigned to carry out this particular evaluation, I took it upon myself to read fellow Hifi Pig reviewer Dave Robson’s review of other Chris Sommovigo cables to get a handle of what performance I am likely to find with this Silverheart speaker cable. Dave’s verdict is that they are fine cables and awarded them a recommended result, which may or may not translate here to the Silverheart cables under review.
These cables are hand built by Chris Sommovigo who upped sticks from the USA and moved to Yugawara in Japan and because all his cables are hand built in his own workshop, you won’t be able to buy reels of finished cable by the kilometer, or indeed beyond lengths that his expertise, available time and winding machines can muster. He is also fairly prolific with his new ideas and just when you think you have mastered his product range he creates even more! From what I have read about this person he is very passionate in what he does and takes immense pride in the product he builds and ships worldwide.
It is constructed in the following manner:
- 3.0mm Japanese cotton-based cord
- Silver-Plated Copper woven tube (sums to ca: 15awg)
- Nylon Multifilament woven insulator (32 x 1680 denier) BLUE AND BLACK
- Bare Copper woven tube (sums to ca: 14awg)
- Nylon Multifilament woven insulator (32 x 1680 denier) WHITE AND BLACK
The “positive” line is the internal blue-black line (silver-plated copper), which is carefully extracted from inside the center of the cable.
The “negative” line is the white-black line, which is formed by the outer (bare copper) conductor.
This concentric, or “coaxial” construction lends itself particularly well to the requirements of a speaker cable, being quite naturally low-inductance (due to the proximity of the conductors to one another inside the cable). It is also less susceptible to issues related to skin-effect (the AC resistance and DC resistance of the thin-walled woven tubes are essentially equivalent to roughly 700KHz), and also less susceptible to issues related to proximity effect (the coaxial construction means that the conductors are always an equal proximity to one another for their full circumferences, unlike twisted pairs).
Chris will be making, on a limited basis (as time permits, monthly), Ghostwire Silverheart loudspeaker cables. Each month he will be making between 10 and 20 pieces, mostly 2.5m lengths, as this is the most popular length. He will also be making fewer pairs of 1.5m sets for those with monoblocks or more closely-spaced speakers.
The review pair arrived ready terminated with gold plated 4mm banana plugs. They are surprisingly flexible, easily routed and the banana plugs have ample grip too, which is surprising to me given that they have a simple splined construction which I am no great fan of, given that the cheap ones seem to lose springiness in the splines over time.
The MSRP for the cable are $55 per running (linear) meter unterminated, while the completed speaker cables, terminated with XOX direct-gold-plated copper bananas, are $239.95 and $349.95 for 1.5m pair and 2.5m pair respectively, exclusive of shipping costs ($25 flat shipping fee).
I am unable to confirm if other lengths or terminations are available.
When I first connected the Silverheart speaker cable to my resident system, they sounded, well how can I phrase this yet remain diplomatic? Horrible, yes that word will do very nicely. Bass was decidedly foggy and muffled, midband wet and limp, treble had receded into the midband and was waving a white flag and going down for the third time. I cannot recall a cable that was in this much distress fresh out of the packaging. Oh dear. Well, start the bedding in process while Dominic goes away and does other things to amuse himself. Suitably refreshed after a cup or three of coffee and a slice or two of cake and the cables had livened up enough after just one hour for me to discern some treble, a cleaner midband, but still a very sluggish bass. It was close on 10 hours before the “horrible” disappeared and was starting to sound half decent. These things usually resolve themselves exponentially, so at around 30 hours they had improved sufficiently for me to start putting them through their paces, even though I knew there were still some hours to go yet before they would give of their best. After that I lost track of how many running hours had elapsed, as it’s a case of multiple plate spinning tricks as you have to fit in other evaluations into your busy reviewer’s schedule and it’s all too easy to lose track of what components have had what running times when everything you receive to review is all factory fresh.
I have recently expanded my music collection in the search for finding another reference recording, as by now those of you who regularly read my reviews must surely be a bit jaded by now with my constant references to Fink’s “Wheels Beneath My Feet” album. Haven’t found one yet folks, so here we go again.
Yes of course I listened to other music genres during the evaluation, but this album is an essential tool to use during my extensive listening sessions to see if it could meet all my benchmark sound quality expectations. The drummer’s cymbal strikes in the intro to “Biscuits” were very satisfying and without complaint, which in reality is commendable. Bass kick drum was propulsive and solid, the timing being spot on. The acid test for me is listening out for the drummer’s rim shots on the snare drum. Very difficult to put into words that you dear readers can relate to easily, so the closest I can get is to say that they have to sound “real” as if you are sat next to the actual instrument being played. The strikes must not sound at all thin, you can note the different energy put into each strike and you should be able to hear the shell of the drum for sure and if you cannot, then something is amiss. Given these are live recordings the venue’s ambience should also capture these snare drum rim shots. Most hifi components struggle with recreating the sounds an audience makes during a performance and it usually gets conveyed sounding like frying pan cooking bacon, with sizzling and sloshing sounds that really annoys me. The Ghostwire Silverheart allowed me to hear the clapping, whistling and cat-calling very clearly as if I was sat in amongst the audience.
The album’s true forte though is the instruments, with some stunning well recorded drum playing and bass guitar. When the drummer hits the Floor Tom in the track “Sort Of Revolution” it should penetrate to the centre of your being with it’s power and slam, the bass guitar just has to have a throaty growl to it and the audience claps along too, giving the entire track a propulsive, dare I say infectious element to the performance. Listen carefully to Fink’s voice and it has to have an edgy throaty rasp to it, even though his diction is sometimes unintelligible, but that is all part of the charm this album holds for me.
The Silverheart speaker cables sailed through all of these benchmarks with ease and if you had said to me the cable would do so when I first connected them up, I would have stared at you in disbelief.
The biggest shock of all was when I reconnected my resident speaker cables after the evaluation which cost three times more than the Silverheart cables and suddenly I realised which cables I preferred listening to. Not a huge amount of difference granted, but it is those tiny minute subtleties that we all hunger for, were there to be heard.
From an inauspicious start to a big surprise at the ending, the story of the Ugly Duckling came to mind as I write this. At first hearing I described the sound as “horrible”, then as the cables were run in their true colours finally shone through, pretty much like a Swan with the beautiful pristine white plumage the adult bird carries.
For your money then, you get a unique hand built, good sounding cable that you would probably have to spend a good deal more to better, plus you get the satisfaction of knowing this cable was never chopped off a huge reel of standard wire with some cheap plugs soldered on and covered in camouflage to hide its true origins. On that basis I simply must give it a highly recommended award and to do otherwise would be a travesty.
Build Quality: Very flexible and easy to route. It isn’t just a fancy jacket on the outside either, it is part of the construction
Sound Quality: Great bang for the buck, but be patient from the start, it will get there
Value For Money: Cannot think of anything that would class it otherwise than good value for money
Pros: Nicely built, hand crafted, good sounding.
Cons: Give it plenty of running hours before passing any judgment.
Price: $239.95 for 1.5m pair and $349.95 for 2.5m pair