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November 2011
Enjoy the Music.com
Snake River Audio Cables
Cottonmouth XLR and power cable plus Mamushi RCA interconnects.
A reference cable in my system.

Review By Brett Rudolph

 

  Cables are one of the broadest and most varied segments of the audio industry. The different cable varieties, connections, materials, quality, production techniques and creators to name a few of the factors that contribute to a cable’s overall performance. These factors combined with an often long break-in period, extremely lengthy evaluation period, and sometime system dependencies are why many reviewers prefer other types of equipment to evaluate. However, it is this complex tapestry of various components, which always intrigues me the most and makes reviews so important to consumers.

 

Snake River Beginnings
A few months ago, the opportunity presented itself to reviews cables that are manufactured by a small company located in one of the more rural parts of Idaho. Jonny Wilson, president of Snake River Audio, a company named for the river in the same area, and I spoke at length about his cables and where he thought they fit in the market and why he felt his cables were superior to those currently on the market. A few weeks later samples of his Mamushi audio interconnects fitted with RCA ends, his Cottonmouth audio interconnect with XLR ends and a Cottonmouth power cable arrived at my doorstep.

The two unassuming boxes contained some very nicely designed packaging for the cables and even more importantly the cables themselves. The interconnects themselves are fairly flexible, the Mamushi perhaps a little less pliable than the Cottonmouth, but not enough to cause anyone attempting all but the most difficult connection between their components to have any problem. The Cottonmouth power cable was also extremely flexible and not exceptionally heavy which means you need not worry about it putting undo stress on your component.

It did not take long until the cables were out of their boxes, which included certificates of authenticity and right at home in my reference system. Jonny had mentioned that the cables were already “broken-in” and really did not need much time to settle into my system. My initial evaluation was done about an hour after installation. The cables performed well, but in truth, after numerous cable reviews, it has been my practice to allow them at least another 200 hours before any real evaluation is completed, and in this case, it would have been a big mistake had I evaluated them with any less hours logged.

 

The Classical Test
Once the cables had finally settled in, the first part of the review consisted of various classical music selections. The first selection was Robert Spano conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus playing Pucci’s La Boheme on Telarc’s label. The sound was simply fabulous and the level of detail incredible. This was made possible by what many might consider a more laid back sound stage than one finds in other cables. This laid back characteristic allowed not only the true beauty of the vocals and orchestral music to shine, but to fit perfectly together in a synergy of sounds.

The second selection was Sarah Chang and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra playing Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons on EMI’s label. The three tracks, “Concerto No. 1 in E” better known as “Spring,” were definitely something to experience. Sarah’s violin was magical and sweet against a backdrop of orchestral sound. It felt as though this was the first time this reviewer had heard this particular selection and yet it has been used in many of my reviews in the past. The biggest reason for this was the laid back character. It allowed the enjoyment of all the instruments without allowing one to become too intense.

 

The Jazz Test
After spending days listening to various classical selections, it was time to move on to Jazz. The first selection was Ray Brown Trio playing The Real Blues, live on Concord Records’ Super SACD Sampler Volume 2. The selection has the tendency to overwhelm the listener by making them feel as though they are sitting on top of the musicians rather than in front of them. However, once again the cables did a beautiful job of pushing the musicians back a few feet, in regards to the reproduction of course. This allowed for this live performance to actually be enjoyed as a spectator rather than a unwilling participant. It also created a nearly holographic vision of the venue giving even more enjoyment to the piece.

A second selection on the same album was track ten, Karrin Allyson playing No Moon At All. She has a beautiful voice, which has been enjoyed many times within the context of reviews. However, while her voice certainly contained all of its usual beauty, it seemed even more enveloping because it seemed to draw the listener into its folds and hold them there. The band only enhanced the already incredible experience.

The final jazz album used on this review was Patricia Barber’s Night Club on Mobile Fidelity’s Label. It is an album full of delicate vocals, rich sounds and wonderful ambiance. This album can humble nearly any system because it tends to somewhat bright, even the remastered Mobile Fidelity version. However, the brightness of the album was tempered by the somewhat dark qualities of the Mamushi cables. They seemed to be meant to be played together.

 

Rock It Is
My first rock selection is usually Dark Side of the Moon, and this was no exception. My first choice, “Money,” definitely set the tone for this section of the review. The song is definitely one that is best experienced when listening with the best of systems. The slightest loss of detail or compression in any musical range tends to color the music and it loses some of its beauty. However, while it seemed a tad more laid back normal on my reference system, it felt as though there were more details reveled at the same time. It was not the best my system has ever sounded, but it certainly had detail that had never been heard before.

The second selection from the same album was “Speak To Me.” This review keeps talking about there being a somewhat laid back or dark. However, to make things clearer, and perhaps to make sure there was no loss of detail, the beginning of the song was particularly important to me. The heartbeat can usually be described as felt more than heard by many people. On systems that are tend to have a tad too much treble or brightness for my taste, the sound quickly goes from nearly non audible to nearly overpowering in mere moments, detracting from the song itself. However, in the case of these cables, while it seemed a tad farther away, it did not seem overpowering. In fact, it seemed to lead into the vocals in a way that was incredible.

The last selection was an old album, Chris De Burgh, The Getaway. It is a typical example of everything bad from the early eighties. It not only was mixed with way too much treble in the hopes that bad systems would be playing it loud enough to generate some bass, but it suffered from the original A/D conversions. The cables certainly did not fix an already broken album, but they did allow you to hear a little more detail than you might hear normally.

 

The Balanced Cottonmouth
It would not be fair to write the review and not make individual comments specifically about the Cottonmouth series of cables. The balanced Cottonmouth cable remained in my reference system between the preamplifier and amplifier until the final selection of material. My reference MIT cable replaced a few times the Cottonmouth and while it is impossible to make any definitive remarks; there are a few thoughts that bear mentioning. The difference between the system with and without it was noticeable. The Cottonmouth did not seem to have nearly the amount of ability my reference to convey the signal to the amplifier. However, it is also somewhat less expensive.

 

The Conclusion
This was certainly one of the most interesting reviews in sometime. My praise for the Snake River cables, in particular the Mamushi is extremely high. They are not entry-level cables and do not have an entry level price tag; however, they still represent a bargain for a cable this good. However, if you are looking for a very neutral cable, should it really exist, or have components that tend to be dark, you might want to audition these cables before making a decision. With that in mind, there is no doubt I would consider using them as a reference cable in my system and I would recommend them wholeheartedly.

 

 

Specifications
Cottonmouth Audio Interconnects
Made with our own Snake River Audio high quality 24k gold-plated wiring
Cottonmouth balanced XLR's are available with Neutrik© XX-B series, or Furutech gold-plated XLR connectors
Price: 1m - $1349.00

Cottonmouth Power Cable
Cottonmouth power cables are available with Snake River Audio© 18k Platinum-plated or 24k Gold-plated US/IEC Connectors
24k gold-plated wiring
Price: 1.5m - $1349 with US connectors

Mamushi Audio Interconnects
Made with our own Snake River Audio high quality 24k gold-plated wiring
Mamushi RCA's are available with WBT© Topline next-gen ends (your choice of either pure oxygen-free copper plated with 24k gold, or pure silver)
Price: 1m - $1649.00 with WBT Topline next-gen 24k gold plated

 

Company Information
Snake River Audio
1309 S Main - Box 158
Riggins, Idaho 83549

Voice: (208) 724-5152
E-mail: snakeriveraudio@gmail.com
Website: www.snakeriveraudio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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