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Quick Take Product Review

BetterCables Silver Serpent Speaker Cables
September, 2002

John E. Johnson, Jr.

 

Specifications:


Conductors: 8 Silver, 8 OFC Copper
Dielectric: Teflon FEP

Terminations: Choice of Banana or Spade
MSRP: $299 for 2 Meter Pair; Silver Rhodium Bananas or Spades are Optional

 

http://www.bettercables.com

BetterCables is a relatively new company that has rocketed to success because they make a basic product (cables) using very high quality parts. No weird physics or black magic. Just quality. The best part is that they sell only on the Internet, so prices are about 30% less than what you might pay if you bought them in a store.

We have reviewed their Silver Serpent Video Cables, and here are our comments on their latest entry, the Silver Serpent Speaker Cables.

The cable consists of 16 conductors total. Each conductor is 22 gauge. Eight of them are solid silver, and eight are OFC copper. All the conductors are braided together, except for a few inches at the terminations, where all the silver conductors go to one termination (in our case, a banana plug), and all the copper go to the other termination. The braided design reduces inductance. However, it should be noted that special equipment is needed to braid the conductors. It is not an easy process, and the braided configuration was chosen specifically for the reduction in inductance, because, while capacitance is a principal issue with interconnects, inductance is the main issue with speaker cables. There are other braided conductor cables out there, along with all kinds of cables that use different types of conductor winding.

This is an unusual design (hybrid) in that one leg is all silver and the other is all copper. Silver is a better conductor than copper, and there is a lot of interest in cables using this element. Teflon is a better dielectric than rubber or other plastics such as PVC and PE. It is used in the best and most expensive cables, and it is used in the Silver Serpents. The classic Teflon is PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), and it is corrosive to copper, so military spec requires a coating of silver over the copper if Teflon is the dielectric in military copper cables. For the Silver Serpents, Teflon FEP is used, which is a copolymer of tetrafluoroethylene and hexafluoropropylene. I assume this Teflon version is not corrosive to copper, since it is used directly on the copper conductors in the Silver Serpents.

A close-up of the mid-portion of the cable, where the copper and silver conductors are braided together, is shown below. The picture at top left shows the separation of the conductors at the termination region.

The sound of the Silver Serpent is very smooth and neutral. I did not find anything particularly noticeable to comment on, such as special detail in the highs. It just sounds good. I think the silver adds to the smoothness, but this is a subjective opinion.

One of the things I like most about these cables is that they are so solidly built. They are flexible, yet held their position when I ran them around corners of the equipment rack. I like their feel too, much more than rubber. Teflon is great stuff. A small advantage is that they are also easy to see behind the rack. Black cables are more difficult to work with.

I am not going to sit here and write that these are the best cables I have ever heard. I have listened to too many cables over the years to remember what every one of them sounded like in comparison. "Best" is also a subjective thing, and by now, you know that is not the way I review products. What I will say is that I am very pleased at the way they sound, they are extremely well constructed, are made from no-compromise materials, and are incredibly priced. This makes them an easy choice for anyone looking for quality and value. I would have no problem in choosing these cables for a complete custom install home theater project.


- John E. Johnson, Jr. -

 

 

Copyright 2002 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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