BetterCables of Broadlands VA (some 30 miles west of Washington DC) is a maker of high-value, no-nonsense, USA made cables. In an industry where a single pair of interconnect cables can cost as much as a new luxury car, a company with a top-of-the-range, American made RCA cable – the Silver Serpent AIR – that costs just $279.99 for a metre pair and a loudspeaker cable – Blue Truth Reference –that starts at $299.99 for a 2m pair deserves greater attention and respect.
Of course, reasonable price notwithstanding, that attention and respect are contingent upon that cable being something more than just another interconnect. Silver Serpent AIR is the only design Brad Marcus of BetterCables has updated in the first 10 years of the brand, developing the AIR edition from the previous flagship Silver Serpent. You’d be forgiven that given the ‘AIR’ suffix that the only change between old and new is something to do with the use of air as a part of the dielectric, especially as the cable uses an air tube in place of the foam HDPE dielectric of its predecessor. The air tube gives the cable a feeling of rigidity but remains flexible and strong, unless you use brute force to try and strong-arm a 90° angle in your cable.
However, in upgrading, BetterCables also moved from stranded to solid-core conductors. Those conductors remain silver-plated copper designs, but it was felt the move to solid-core – combined with the air dielectric – made a substantial improvement over the original Silver Serpent. The twin conductors in their air tube is then 95% shielded by a copper braid (many listening tests – not only by BetterCables – suggest a completely 100% shielded cable reduces overall performance when compared to the same cable design ‘almost completely’ shielded). This braid is itself covered by an outer braid (a good-looking semi-matt black with a single red thread spiral running through it) and is terminated in well-made, sturdy but generic gold-plated RCA plugs wrapped in red or black heatsink with the company’s logo. The RCA plugs are apparently the only part of the cable not made in the USA.