Frank you've got PM.
3 hours after you replied to all the PM's
Canada - where's that?
In WW2 in some Mediterranean watering hole a naval man wearing a mix of naval gear walked into the bar peopled by smartly dressed naval officers from various countries.
Eventually one of the U.S. officers went up to him and asked 'excuse me, which navy are you in?'.
'The Royal Navy' he replied, 'is there another?'
A riot nearly ensued.
This is from a book but I don't know which one.
Glad you enjoyed the review Frank, it was a pleasure to write.
Also Its just my eyes & ears acknowledging the great work you are doing.
Review Toxic Cables Virus and Silver Widow
Samsung laptop, Windows 7, JRiver Media Center 17 with 112 dB Redline Monitor plug-in
Flac-files, mostly 16/44, some 24/44-96
Wireworld Starlight USB cable
Lynx Hilo DAC with built-in headphone amp
Special Wireworld XLR to RCA and XLR to XLR cables
Bakoon HPA-21 headphone amp
Bryston BHA-1 headphone amp, SE output
Red Astrachan headphone cable with ¼” to XLR adapter cable
Audez’e LCD-3 (RMA’d)
Event Opal monitors
For more information on the Redline Monitor plug-in, see the Redline Monitor section in my HPA-21 review.
Last week I got a Toxic Virus LCD-2/3 cable and a Toxic Silver Widow LCD-2/3 cable from Klutz Design for review. I can buy one of these cables from Klutz, but since I’m going on vacation I need to decide which one to buy rather quickly. Since the Virus cable was brand new I let it burn in for approx. 50 hours. I cannot say that I have heard any difference during the burn-in, though. The Silver Widow cable has been used at some shows so it should already have gotten some burn-in, but of course I let it burn-in a little bit too. I have used the Red Astrachan cable (made by KDM in Sweden) for my LCD-3. I will compare the Toxic cables to it.
The build quality for both cables is excellent. After all, they’re Toxic cables! The Virus cable has a NEO ¼” TRS plug with Toxic Cables heat shrink on it. The Silver Widow has a Viablue ¼” TRS plug. Since the cables are used with HPA-21 a balanced plug is not needed. The comfort is excellent, not quite a "shoe string" like my old (unused) Q cable, but close enough. Compared to the Red Astrachan cable the comfort is like heaven!
So how do these cables sound like and how do they differ from each other? I think that I have come to the same conclusion as other reviewers of these cables have. I’ll try to describe the sound signatures as good as I can. I have done most of the listening using the current output on HPA-21. Remember that this is a review of cables so you could say that everything I write is "magnified". But these (and other) headphone cables do a big difference in your listening experience. IMO, YMMV etc. of course.
Virus has a comfortable "analogue" type of sound. Some would call it "musical". The cable presents an amazingly amount of details, but they do not jump out on you. Some tiny details (like hi-hat figures) are actually easier to distinguish with Virus than with the other cables, maybe due to other parts of the soundscape having a softer and more relaxed presentation. Voices sound very round and natural. The treble is soft, "silky" and a little bit attenuated compared to the other cables, but still very extended. When you compare Virus with Silver Widow or Red Astrachan side by side this is obvious, but when you listen to Virus for a longer period of time you don’t think of it. So the details and treble are there, but in a polite, forgiving and non-intrusive way. When comparing Virus and Silver Widow side by side Virus may be perceived to be a little bit louder, probably due to the mids.
The bass has a very physical impact! I love it! But I can't help thinking it is a little bit "woolly". It is easier to concentrate on the "physical" sub-bass than on the attack part and tiny details of bass instruments.
The Virus sound stage is a little bit more in your face and flat compared to Silver Widow due to the less airy presentation.
It is a very comfortable experience listening to Virus. The music never gets in the way if you are doing other things like surfing while listening to music. If you do not like "digital" sound or sibilance (even if it’s in the recording), Virus may be for you! It would be fun to try it with HD800.
Compared to the Virus cable Silver Widow opens up the sound. To me this is a more familiar sound. Silver Widow has a very detailed, crystal-like sound that fits LCD-3 perfectly. Compared to my Red Astrachan cable Silver Widow has a tiny bit bigger and rounder mids that gives you more room information (reverberation). The treble is very extended. All details are very accurately and distinctly presented. If the recording has a sharp treble or sibilance, that is what you get.
The only "problem" I have, or rather had, with this cable is/was the bass. The bass is very detailed. I think you could even call it "dry". However the sub-bass feels a little bit attenuated compared to the other cables. It is definitely there, but more in an analytical way, a little bit like the HD800 bass character. I would like to have a little bit more physical impact. But at the other hand, the more I listen to Silver Widow, the more I like its bass! Maybe a burn-in effect? It passes the rumble test on Pink Floyd’s Breathe (Red Astrachan still excels here, though).
The Silver Widow sound stage is better than Virus’ sound stage IMO, it is for example easier to pinpoint instruments in a quartet. Acoustic instruments are also better rendered.
The Silver Widow cable gives you an open, crystal clear sound with LCD-3, especially when using the current output on HPA-21. I compared Virus plus LCD-3 and Silver Widow plus LCD-3 with my Event Opal monitors, and the Silver Widow’s sound signature is closer to the monitors’, even if the monitors still have some more treble energy.
Current drive vs. voltage drive (slightly OT)
According to Nagai-San at Bakoon you should hear considerably less differences between different cables in HPA-21’s current drive mode compared to its voltage drive mode. The current in current drive mode is not affected by the cable’s impedance and composition in the same way as for the voltage drive mode according to Nagai-San. However I could hear as much differences between the cables in current drive mode as in voltage drive mode or when using the built-in amplifier in Lynx Hilo or Bryston BHA-1, both voltage driven of course (HPA-21 is currently the only current driven headphone amp in the world). Since the current output provides such a clean signal compared to the voltage output, and also compared to the other amps, I actually found it easier to spot differences between the cables using the current output. Sorry for bringing this OT up in the Toxic thread.
If you compare these cables with headphones you could roughly say that Virus is LCD-3, Silver Widow is HD800 and Red Astrachan is HE-6. Silver Widow is IMO a perfect match for LCD-3. But I also like the "cozier" Virus, and I understand if some of you prefer it.
May I suggest a new Toxic cable, "Virus Widow" (VW, the cable for common people...) with 2/3 Silver Widow wire and 1/3 copper, or something like that. It must not lose any Silver Widow qualities and add a little bit of the Virus "analogueness" and bass impact. I volunteer to review it!
I would not mind keeping both cables, but since I could only choose one I bought the Silver Widow cable. How wonderful to get this sound and comfort! Thank you Frank!
Great review CanDude. The only part where I disagree with you is where you say the virus soundstage is more in your face. On saying that, I have only compared the virus to the silver poison but the virus definitely had a few rows back perspective than the poison.