Based in Riggins, a town in the Pacific Northwest region of the USA, Snake River Audio is a small specialist company, hand-crafting high quality audio cables. It is near Hells Canyon, the deepest gorge in the whole of North America; an area famed for its wild natural beauty. Its product categories are named after venomous snakes. Nice!
The range includes Interconnects (analogue/digital), Speaker cables, Power cords, and falls into four price/performance categories; the Adder Silver series, the Cottonmouth Gold series, the Mamushi Magnetic series, and the recently introduced Signature series. The latter are available in ‘Cottonmouth’ or ‘Mamushi’ formats.
The Adder series features high-purity (0.999%) silver wire, while Cottonmouth employs 24ct gold-plated OFHC copper. The Mamushi option is available in a choice of silver or 24ct gold-plated OFHC copper, and features a capacitive woven design with magnetic shielding to reduce RFI. There’s a choice of balanced/unbalanced configurations.
Snake River’s flagship Signature series is available in either Cottonmouth or Mamushi formats, and combines pure silver with 24ct oxygen-free high-density copper in a hybrid cable designed to give the best features of both. A new range of Boomslang digital cables was recently announced.
All Snake River Audio cables are now cryogenically frozen to improve performance, and subjected to a minimum of 200 hours ‘burn in’ before being shipped. This should minimise running-in times – though the company still recommend allowing a certain amount of time for the cables to fully settle.
We were sent three cables to test; a 3m long Cottonmouth AMP series power cord (£1,396.90) – a pair of 3m Cottonmouth Signature bi-wire speaker cables (£1,591.90) – and a pair of Mamushi Signature Interconnects (£1,202). At these sorts of prices, you’d expect top performance, and I wasn’t disappointed!
I started with the power cable. Snake River Audio offer two variants; the standard version has 15amp capacity and consists of six cross-woven strands. But there’s also a 20amp 10-strand AMP version for big power amps. A 1m length AMP cable retails for £1,006.90, but add £195 for each extra metre.
Given the number of things I have to improve the quality of my mains supply – specialist cabling, and purification devices from IsoTek and PS Audio – I’m always mildly surprised when a cable comes along and singlehandedly makes an audible improvement. But that’s just what the Snake River Audio’s AMP did. Using the cable to power a Musical Fidelity AMS CD player (my power amp takes a 20A flat pin plug, so couldn’t be used) I noticed an improvement in terms of clarity and focus. The music seemed to sound ‘firmer’ and more solidly projected. The background seemed slightly quieter, and overall the sound was cleaner.
Okay, it wasn’t a massive difference, and I’m not sure I’d want to pay nearly £1,400 to get it. But, considering how many widgets I have installed to improve mains quality, and the fact that my mains is pretty clean to start with, it’s amazing the cable made any difference at all. Physical construction is first-rate; SRA’s AMP cable feels built to last.