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Homegrown Audio Silver Lace Review

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Well, these are my first really nice interconnects, so I thought I’d share a little about them, and how they sound. First though, here’s the different interconnects I’ve used in the past. First I got Straightwire Chorus interconnects, then moved on to DH Labs Silver Pulse, then Audioquest Corals, and finally added a pair of Audioquest Diamondbacks when I got my speakers. With each upgrade I heard subtle improvements, which is what prompted me to upgrade this time. I was very happy with how my system sounded, and wanted to see if I could make it just that much better with a cable upgrade. For the critical listening in this review I used mainly my Sonus Faber Concertino speakers and my Etymotic ER4S headphones. I also have HD600s, but felt the Etys brought out more detail and were better to hear what I thought were going to be subtle changes.

So, first things first, how is the build quality and appearance? Well, build quality is great. Eight wires braided, leading into a very nice locking RCA plug. They really are beautiful cables, and whoever said if I didn’t like them I could wear them as jewelry was certainly right . I ordered two 0.5 meter pairs, one to go from my DAC to my preamp/headphone amp, and then another to go from the preamp to amp for my speakers. Its frightening how good two pairs look in the back of my system… ok, enough about how great the build quality is and how great they look.

I let them burn in for about a week before really sitting down and listening critically, so this should be how they sound once burned in. I’ll start with the highs… My previous interconnects (the two different Audioquest models…VERY similar BTW) seemed almost rolled off. They were very smooth in the top end, and I didn’t feel like they really presented me with all the details. Turns out I was right, because these cables give me a lot more. No subtle differences here. Listening to the Flecktones’ Outbound, I realized what a great recording, and how extended and airy the highs should sound. It really does sound great. I also listened to some classical, mainly Pines of Rome and Pictures at an Exhibition. I felt both of these sounded better, especially Pines of Rome. I heard details I’d never heard before, and it sounded much more extended in the top end. So am I saying the cables are bright? Not at all! They are still very smooth, something I wasn’t expecting from silver cables. At first they may have been a little bright, but certainly not fatiguing. However, with burn in, they did smooth out so that there is no brightness at all. Just sweet extended music. I was very happy with the improvements in this aspect of the sound.

Moving on to the mids, I think there was a lot of improvement here, but maybe not as much as with the highs. My favorite CD to listen for sweet vocals is Diana Krall’s All for You. I usually start with the track “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”. Those familiar with the CD will know which track I’m talking about I think… Anyway, her voiced sounded a little more separated from the rest of the music, not as… mushy I guess is the best word. Before it almost sounded like it was all together, you couldn’t really tell where the voice ended and the instruments began. I’m exaggerating a bit there, but hopefully that will give you an idea of how it sounded. There were also some details I was missing out on… For instance, you can hear some sounds coming from Diana opening and closing her mouth that were lost before. I had heard these on other speakers, but they were dry and analytical. With these interconnects I can get the details and still have the warm and full sound of my speakers. So while there wasn’t a drastic improvement, there was definitely an improvement. That’s really all I was expecting, and these probably surpassed my expectations in this department.

As far as bass goes, I had a stereotypical notion that silver cables would provide thinner bass. I also thought this was a strength with my Corals and Diamondbacks. Well, either the Silver Lace is that good, or I was wrong. The bass is definitely tighter and has more focus, seemingly more potent because it is cleaned up a bit. This was most apparent on the Etys because they have lean bass to begin with. It didn’t make them sound like V6s or anything, but definitely improved. I don’t have a sub with my speakers, and they’re just mini monitors, but they still sound really good in my small room, especially now. They weren’t really boomy before, but could come close depending on volume and what I was playing. Now it seems everything is balanced the way it should be, and sounds great.

Aside from improvements in certain frequency ranges, I also noticed an improvement in soundstage. Etys have a relatively small soundstage, but you are able to place instruments and singers very well because it is so accurate. These cables, due to their superior separation I think, made this even easier to do. You can easily pick out where everyone is on stage, and with classical orchestral pieces you can easily tell where on stage the various instruments are. Moving to speakers, the separation was even more drastic. Air was added around instruments and voices, making them sound much more live.

I really don’t think I could have asked for more improvement that this. These definitely surpassed all expectations. I never thought cables could make this big of an improvement, but they did. I haven’t auditioned any higher end cables, and mainly bought these because of all the great things I heard about them. So maybe this is how high end cables are supposed to sound? I don’t know, but I’m happy. I can only hope that future cable upgrades yield similar results.
post #2 of 15
Sounds like a very nice cable. I may have to try it someday but at $189 for 1 meter - eek!
post #3 of 15

Re: Homegrown Audio Silver Lace Review

Flumpus - you need to change your .sig now.

PS Thanks for the review. After yours and Dark Angle's comments, I may have to try out a pair...grrr...
post #4 of 15
Nice review, the cable is definetely on my Next Cable To Buy list.

Custom title for flumpy!!!
Something like, I dunno... "Dresses his equipment with jewelry" or something?

Oh and someone put this in the reviews thing if it hasn't been already!
post #5 of 15
Yeah, nice review, Flumpus.

Personally, I think his new custom title should be, "Wears his audio on his sleeve".
post #6 of 15
Note that the Silver Lace is $50 cheaper if you're willing to solder (and also give up the right to return them). I tried a .5 m pair, and just ordered two more...if they work in all the applications I test them in in my audio and home theater systems, I could wind up buying a bunch of these (particularly if I wind up with a 7.1 channel setup )
post #7 of 15
My 1m kit just arrived. Can't wait to try them out!
post #8 of 15
Sounds like we have some satisfied silver lace owners. They really
are fabulous, I have tried many of the top performing ICs under
$500 a pair and I can honestly say nothing competes with these
ICs at their price range, you must spend much more than $190
to get a clearly better IC.
post #9 of 15
How much work is involved in the construction of the DIY kit?

... interested ...
post #10 of 15
ponxio,

The kit takes an hour or two to assemble. The wire in the kit comes already braided. You'll have three main tasks: strip the wire ends (eight strands/interconnect), apply three layers of heat shrink to each end, and solder the wires into the RCA jacks. Each strand is a thin wire (26 ga) and needs to be handled delicately. If you have good soldering skills (and tools), it's not hard.
post #11 of 15
It took me good 6 hours to assemble the thing yesteday. You **WILL** need a heat gun, or you'll waste hours trying to shrink the heatshrinks. You'll succeed without one in the end but it is cheaper to just get it assembled. Plus, a good wire stripper (profi grade) should be in your possession.

If you do have a heat gun, it'll take you 2 hours, my guess.
post #12 of 15
I found very careful usage of a torch-like lighter-based thingy to work well for heatshrinking the higher temperature tubes. Of course, one would have to practice a bit first to know how to do it right, or the tube won't be completely shrunk and/or you'll burn it a little.

Warning: This was only a poor-man's approach to heatshrinking, since I didn't want to spend $30-40 on a real heatshrinking tool.

This is what I used:
http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showd...ID=10646&DID=7

But I didn't pay $20 for it, I paid $2 for the same exact torch but branded as "Tech America - Micro-Jet" sold in an online Radio Shack sale last year.
post #13 of 15
Six hours? Man, you DIY types are nuts.
post #14 of 15
It didn't take me anywhere near six hours...but then again, after about five minutes of struggle, I gave up and forked over $26 for a heat gun, and the heat shrink became a non-issue. Cost me half the money I saved buying the kit, but I'm now buying more kits...after working out the procedure with the first kit, I think I can knock out each subsequent one in about an hour.
post #15 of 15
Oh, after you figure out the first termination, subsequent ones go much faster. I'm just warning people to carefully consider whether it's worth their time to build it themselves. I was very timid for the first few hours, I mean it's the SILVER after all.

>Six hours? Man, you DIY types are nuts

Well, in this particular case, I should've spent extra $50. I am of course good with soldering but that was about 5 minutes out of 6 hours (and it really was about that long, I barely have took a 5 minute break to eat). But as I said, lion share of that was heatshrinking. I didn't expect it'd be that bad. However instructions also warn against nicking the wire while stripping it, and you should also have good contact while soldering which is difficult to do even if you have "helping hands". In any case, I don't think it's too much to give Homegrown extra $50. If you want more cables, however, it does pay to get a heatgun and wire stripper and do it yourself.

I'd rather spend 6 hours making cable that 8+6 hours at work though .
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