David Price tries out this understated mid-price analogue cable…
Silver Hybrid 2 Interconnect
Siltech’s Edwin Rynveld once told me that cable design is like cooking, and I think it’s a great analogy. Your dinner is only as good as the weakest ingredient, but you can conjure up something nice using modest foodstuffs if you know how. I would suggest that Origin Live’s Mark Baker is another such masterchef; he’s had nearly four decades of rustling up tasty audio dishes, without spending too much in the process. As a result, his company has won the hearts of many cash-strapped audiophiles who want a serious supper, but would rather not pay Ritz prices.
In this case, the £535 Silver Hybrid 2 is a middle-market interconnect that attempts to give a taste of the high-end. To do this, some choice ingredients are used – albeit sparingly and intelligently. That’s why it doesn’t look too flash, and its packaging is modest, to say the least. Yet at the core of the cable is specially selected, deep cryogenically treated, silver-plated copper wire – a combination that many geeks think is substantially better than the cheaper copper-only variety, without the expense of pure silver. It has, “an advanced configuration using little-known hand-built techniques”, Mark says obliquely.
The plugs are Graham Nalty GN-4 RCA types. He told me that, “they were the best by a good margin when I tested them against others. I can only surmise that their Rhodium-plated contacts are particularly good at making a seamless electrical interface at the joint – unexpected because Rhodium is much less conductive than gold. Yet it possesses an incredibly smooth surface, which is what counts in this application, I think.” Like the cable’s conductors, they are not cheap. “The plugs alone retail for £160 for a set of four, but the difference they make is very audible.”
Handling the Silver Hybrid 2 is nice enough, but not a ‘super deluxe’ experience in the way that some more lavishly packaged mainstream designs are. One thing I particularly like is that the sheathing is quite malleable, making the interconnect easy to bend. It’s also acoustically near-silent when you tap it. Slotted between my Chord Hugo TT2 DAC and Sony TA-N86B power amp, it was clear to hear what this Origin Live cable was doing through my Yamaha NS-1000M loudspeakers…
This cable has a distinctively neutral sound, in two respects. First, it lacks the opacity and general ‘fog’ of basic copper cables like Atlas’s Element Achromatic; there’s lots more detail thanks to the more ‘see through’ sound. Second, despite a better lit upper midband and treble than many copper cables, it lacks the forwardness that pure silver cables often display.
In other words, it’s a good half-way house between pure copper and pure silver designs. The slightly thin-sounding Sanctuary from New Musik showed this; although an early eighties analogue recording, it can sound harsh and nasal. The Origin Live cable seemed to take the sting out of it, whilst letting me better focus on the natural sound of the synthesisers and vocal line. Ditto the rare groove strains of Norman Connor’s Romantic Journey, which were vibrant with detail, giving a wonderful insight into this mid-seventies sound. Keyboards had a great texture to them, and the bass line was really crisp and supple, with no slurring or overhang.
Indeed, whatever music I played, the Silver Hybrid 2 appeared to step out of the way much more than I’d expect cables at this price point to. Smooth yet not bland, it never drew attention to itself. The result is that I could play pretty much anything and enjoy the finer points of the recording – from the lovely, silky hi-hat cymbal sound on Rush’s Subdivisions to the thick, chunky bass synth on Thomas Dolby’s Airhead. The velvety Roland Jupiter 8 synth glide was a joy on Duran Duran’s Save a Prayer, too.
Overall, this is a most capable interconnect at a just-about affordable price, for those serious about sound. Indeed it presents more like a high-end design to me, with its unfailingly neutral nature allied to the wealth of detail it excavates. Best of all, it’s musical and dynamic, letting the recording ebb and flow just as it should. It’s well worth a try if you’re running a mid-price or lower high-end system. Indeed, there’s actually a one-month money-back guarantee on this cable, so any prospective purchaser can audition it in their own system. Can’t say fairer than that.