Product: Stereovox SEI-600 Interconnect
Manufacturer: Stereovox - USA
Address: 2710 Natoma Street
Coconut Grove Florida 33133 USA Telephone: (305) 858-7777 tel/fax
Approximate price: $/Euro 2,500 / 1 meter pair
Reviewed: September, 2001
The other day I pondered just how many cable reviews I had written over the last 10 years. My best estimate is more than 20. It's a little scary having to confront the concept of devoting so much of my time to evaluating what should be, after all, passive elements of one's audio system. To much of the
world, cables are nothing more than wire, while to the beknighted, card-carrying audiophile they can represent a curse or the final crowning achievement of a system.
Do the very best cables, in fact, do nothing and in doing nothing perpetrate no harm to the fragile electrons? Or, do the very best cables act in some hitherto misunderstood way to help create the final musicality that we all seek?
See there? I've proved to all of you that I have simply reviewed too many cables.
Still, if I never review another cable I will be forever happy that I had a chance to hear & write about the magnificent Stereovox SEI-600.
To the uninitiated, I should state that Stereovox is the creation of that luminary of the digital cable realm, Chris Sommovigo. The advent of his Illuminati cables lo these many years ago proved that digital cables needed to be at once something more and something different than their analog counterparts.
Before Chris' ground breaking and myth-shattering work, most of the cable mavens simply used versions of their analog cables for their digital products. The results were largely disappointing. The high end community owes many of the advancements of the digital arts to Chris Sommovigo. The faithful have always hoped that Sommovigo would someday tackle the challenges presented by the non-binary world of analog. The wait is over.
That the SEI-600 single ended interconnect is a profound labor of love for Sommovigo is fully evident from the first glance. It is a lovely cable. From the warped perspective of the reviewer, I can say that it is fairly flexible and easy to use. The custom made (truly, not just a word play) RCAs establish a new state of the art. As you can see from the photos that I accompany this review, they are unlike any other connector used by any other manufacturer. They fit virtually every female RCA jack that I tried them on quite perfectly.
Their contact pressure is both linear and smooth, and though the connectors appear (and are) quite massive, their clever shape ensures that they will fit well on even the most tightly spaced jack clusters.
The cables themselves are clad in a blackish (almost like carbon fiber but with less of a brownish hue) substance that can only be described as a tactile joy. It is smooth, like gossamer, yet seemingly very tough. Between this substance and the beautiful RCAs the Stereovox SEI-600s are about as visually alluring a cable as you will ever lay your eyes upon.
Without knowing for sure, I will go out on a limb and state that the SEI-600s are pretty much in the middle of the road in terms of the classical issues of electrical cable measurement (resistance, capacitance and inductance). Further, I will hazard an educated guess that they are well shielded as the backgrounds are exceedingly free of noise and the like.
What are now a series of fairly safe assumptions were not always so. I have reviewed interconnects with staggering resistance and speaker cables with enough inductance to send an amplifier into fits. I am happy to report that those days, and therefore the days of genuine electrical incompatibility of cables to certain types of gear are now over. I can see the word, Spectral forming on some wise & jaded old lips out there but I will pretend that I don't know what you're talking about.
At the risk of seeming indelicate, I must say that the Stereovox SEI-600 are far and away the finest interconnects that I have ever used. Were I truly an honest and courageous man I would write a review that consisted of but one forsaken word: Clarity...
Clarity is a descriptor of the purity in which the SEI-600s are able to render musical tone. True clarity of musical tone necessitates a lack of transient artifacts. Freed from such artifacts a system can create precision of pitch, image, timbre and stage...quite simply the holy grail of high fidelity.
Of course, that which sounds simple is anything but.
The clarity of these cables is like opening a window. They make the rest of any system better, irrespective of its quality. This is seldom the case: most audio cables are anything but clear and create interdependencies within a system. Part of the frustration people face in choosing cables is that they are usually forced (sometimes by money, but usually by cables of suspect quality) to use cables that manage to create a shaky sonic equilibrium of sorts. They wrongly assume that one cable is good for their preamp but shows their amp to be rather darkish, while sapping all the life out of their CD player.
Again, it is the lackluster cables that induce this sort of thinking.
The musical improvement wrought by the Stereovox cables is so consistent and so striking as to border on the unbelievable. They illustrate in a most convincing manner just what can be achieved in a passive component. Their sense of high frequency extension is limitless yet natural. For lack of a better word they seem infinitely fast and agile in their recreation of low frequency information. Perhaps most striking is the impact that the SEI-600 have on dynamics and stage size.
Bring on the blindfolds, these cables are amazing.
I have always eschewed discussing the worth of the products that I review and questions of whether they are too costly. Frankly, I just can't see how it is any business of a reviewer to discuss such matters. Only the consumer can determine whether a product costs too much, for his system and for his budget. That said, the SEI-600s are not inexpensive. They constitute a substantial investment for all of but the most affluensa-affected audiophile.
My only comment is that as audiophiles and music lovers we must all acknowledge that each aspect of our systems contribute to or detract from the totality of the musical experience. Quote simply, everything is critical. To say that cables are less important than any other component in a system is both disingenuous and anathema the goals of fidelity.
It is up to each of you to judge for yourself whether any product is worth its price.
For myself I can say that the Sterevox SEI-600s are among the most musically significant components that I have ever heard. When you consider that they may be the one piece of a system that can never be made obsolete, that will function consistently over time and will partner with whatever other components that may be used in the future, there is every chance that the SEI-600s are a bargain.
Chris Sommovigo has promised a Stereovox speaker cable, and that information should cause nothing short of outright panic in the minds of other cable makers. If there was ever a product that was a true benchmark of quality, it would have to be the Stereovox SEI-600s. Prepare to be amazed; if anything, my comments presented here are the height of understatement.
© Copyright 2001 M.L. Gneier - http://www.tnt-audio.com
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