The objectivist/subjectivist audiophile debate on the veracity of cables and interconnects is one I have watched from afar for decades. Many of my binary (1’s and 0’s don’t change because of a cable) friends insist I could attach lamp cord to my gear and there would be no noticeable sonic difference. My time with many different pieces of audio kit and many brands of cable begs to differ. Cables can and do make a discernible difference to a system that delivers microdetail. In my experience, the choice of “Wire” matters and can be that last bit of tailoring to make the music fit. Off the rack or Saville Row; people take notice and comment.
Silversmith Audio, founded in the year 2000 by Jeffrey Smith, has been researching and producing audio cables for twenty years. Jeffrey is a trained engineer who has spent his time applying materials, geometry and electromagnetics in his pursuit of cables that do not sound like anything but instead faithfully transfer what is on a recording from the amp to the speakers without editorial or additional colour. The silversmithaudio.com website offers up over one hundred pages of research and equations providing the foundations for his twenty-year search to create as neutral a cable as he can. What I found interesting and persuasive is this most recent cable, the Fidelium, is one-tenth the price of his previous flagship effort yet in Silversmith Audio’s estimation, they outperform. His concern, a well-founded one I think, is that audiophiles can be a “More expensive is better” crowd. Indeed, it may be best to demo the Fidelium before examining the price tag.
When I received the cables, the packaging was very different than many of the high-end cables I have received previously. The shipping container (small cardboard box) for the eight ribbons (I am bi-wiring) was 5 ½” × 5 ¾” × 3 ¼” and weighed less than two pounds! A bi-wire adapter is in Beta test that will soon eliminate the need for buying two pairs of cables. I am using Vandersteen Quatro CT’s which use a barrier strip with spade channels for Bi-wiring. The Fidelium come in stereo pairs terminated with red or black labels in lengths from four to ten feet and are ribbons 2 ¼” wide with a notch at each end for a spade-like amplifier connection. As previously mentioned you will need to purchase two stereo pairs to bi-wire. With the Quatro CT’s I simply folded the ends to fit within the spade channels. Connection to my PS Audio BHK 300 Monoblocks was simple as well as they have two sets of speaker taps each.
Burn-in can be a thing with many cables to finally offer up their best. The Fidelium, however, were able to bring their qualities right out of the box. Particularly in the treble. There is nothing like a triangle to show off the highs. Tears for Fears “Shout” (1985 Phonogram/Mercury) starts with a triangle. Streaming from Qobuz in 96/24 the Fidelium cables delivered a delight for any fan of high-frequency percussion. A series of clear notes with perfect decay led into the song. At the time, I was using another brand of cable that was about five times as expensive and new, requiring a couple of hundred hours of break-in. I was not there yet. The new Fidelium brought the treble right out of the box. Very satisfying.
Next to get a sense of scale I selected Leonard Bernstein Conducts Beethoven with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra (Sony) Symphony No. 5 opening Allegro con brio is one of the most recognized orchestral pieces ever written. It is a performance writ large for big speakers and powerful amplifiers. The Fidelium cables brought the house. The sound was expansive with a large soundstage and excellent depth. The positioning of instruments was precise, and you had that sense of sitting a few rows back from the middle of the orchestra.
The next several weeks were a treat as I threw all genres of music at the Fidelium; Fingerpicking Bluegrass with perfect plucking, check. Heavy metal with speed and crunch delivered. Smooth yacht rock with Fleetwood Mac, Christopher Cross and Ambrosia, yes to smooth. Linda Ronstadt with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra crooning “What’s New” on DVD Audio 96/24 sourced from the PS Audio DirectStream player/DVD DAC was a particular treat as the Fidelium and female vocals are a delicious combination. I came to appreciate the Fidelium alloy in all of its 1/1000th of an inch-thick glory. As far as I could tell with my reference gear, it was living up to its billings as a neutral conduit for the signal between amplifier and speaker.
I love a great entrepreneur story. A designer has a concept and the engineering chops to see it through to completion and then devotes years to perfecting that concept. I particularly love it when the engineer is also a military veteran who continues his work and passion between deployments overseas. Jeffrey Smith followed his dream for twenty years while on active duty or the reserves. Now that he has retired and has at the same time developed this best iteration of his research, it is time to get the word out about the Fidelium Cable. In the world of high-end cables, it is a steal. $995 USD for each 6ft. stereo set. These cables do compete with higher-priced cables. They also look terrific—a deep gold river running from your amp to your speakers.
Over time great values in audio reveal themselves. Gear that performs to an audiophile’s expectations yet leaves room in the budget for other gear or more music. Gear like an ELAC speaker or KEF LS50, a Luxman integrated or a VPI Scout turntable. Each find improves the system yet leaves some budget on the table for later. Seasoned audiophiles recognize these products for their performance versus their affordable prices. The Silversmith Audio Fidelium speaker cables should join the conversation, and as an audiophile, you should take notice and find a way to schedule an audition. I suspect you will have some new cables in your system soon. Highly recommended.
Price and contact details
Fidelium alloy ribbon cables 2 ¼” at less than 1/1000th inch thickness
“Derived exclusively from electro-magnetic wave equations, Fidelium reflects our design philosophy in its purest form: A single, ultra-thin ribbon conductor per polarity; seamless from end to end and without traditional, sound-degrading soldered, welded, or crimped connectors; and individually laminated in an extremely thin, yet rugged, polyimide film to achieve a geometry with a primarily air dielectric.”
Source: Silversmith Audio Web Site
¼” Notched ends to facilitate a good connection with terminal strips or binding posts
Available in: 4ft – $795 USD per stereo pair
6ft – $995 USD per stereo pair
8ft – $1195 USD per stereo pair
10ft – $1395 USD per stereo pair
Manufacturer URL: silversmithaudio.com