STEALTH tuning collars
Based on numerous listening sessions with various equipment, a
STEALTH “T” cable with a tuning collar in the optimum
position, the overall result (sound) is better than with
the cable without the collar, BUT – with the collar in incorrect
position the sound is not as good as with a cable without the
The best sounding tuning collar position is different for every two pieces
of equipment which that cable connect, thus it is impossible to
point at the same spot (location) of the collar, giving the same
sound as without the collar.
Finding the best position of the collar is a lengthy process and
requires some time and patience. Usually two people are needed
(one is listening, and the other is moving the collar). It is
even better to have several people, and listen together.
So, usually, an evening, or even entire day can be dedicated to
finding the best collar position – for a particular audio
But the result is worth the effort!
In general, finding the best position of the sliding
tuning collar on a STEALTH audio cable is similar in effect to
finding the best position (location) of a pair of speakers in a
room: an audio system sounds MUCH better if the position of the
speakers in optimized, and the same audio system doesn’t sound
good with wrong (incorrect) position of a pair of speakers in a
BALANCED XLR versus SINGLE-ENDED
There is absolutely no technical advantage in using balanced
XLR instead of single-ended RCA with short cables (under several
meters, and especially one meter), but still many people think,
for some reason, that balanced is better, while in reality,
balanced connection is only better with very long runs - 10
meters or more, or in turntable setups (especially from a phono
cartridge, which is a balanced source by its nature, to the phono stage
The most common theory – which works well for me, because it
coincides well with what I usually hear – is that single-ended
connection (and gear) produces a natural spectrum of musical
harmonics, same as in real life, while balanced gear (and
connection) greatly reduces even (pleasant for our hearing
harmonics), but leaves the odd (subjectively unpleasant,
un-musical) harmonics virtually unmodified, unchanged, and thus
DISTORTS the natural spectrum of harmonics, i.e. the ratio
between odd and even harmonics, compare to life music.
A part of that theory is that our perception is less sensitive
to the overall level of harmonic distortion (i.e. to the sum of
odd and even harmonics) – than to the RATIO between odd and even
harmonics. The same part of the theory explains why, for
example, certain musical instruments sound “better” than others
(why a Stradivarius violin sounds subjectively better than a
modern instrument), and also explains why vacuum tube-based
audio components usually sound more pleasing to a human ear than
solid state, despite the overall level of harmonic distortion
being usually several times as high in tube gear, compare to
solid state gear.
The tonearm cable – from the cartridge to the phonostage – THIS
IS where a balanced connection is superior (a phono cartridge is
a balanced source, plus the signal is very, very small) – but,
traditionally, contrary to the technical reason, most people use
RCA cables with phono setups.
In general, I think that solid state units should have both
balanced and RCA (for compatibility reasons), while tube gear
should be RCA only: after all, the best sounding tube gear
around - CAT, Jadis, Kondo of Japan - are RCA only.
However, while most equipment sounds better with RCA-terminated
cables, it is true that some audio components do sound better using
balanced XLR cables. NOT because the balanced connection is
generally superior, but because of some other reasons,
particular to the equipment.
Single-ended (RCA) and balanced XLR cables are different inside:
RCA cables have one signal wire plus one shield/return, while
balanced XLR cables have TWO identical signal wires plus shield
(reference ground). Therefore, RCA and XLR cables cannot be
converted to each other via just changing the ends.
Standard Dream V12 or V16 cords cannot be “converted” into Dream V12
(or V16) UNI via just changing the ends – because these cords are
Single-ended (RCA) and balanced XLR cables cannot be
converted to each other via just changing the ends because they
are different inside.
Standard Dream V12 or V16 cords cannot be “converted” into
Dream V12 (or V16) UNI via just changing the ends – because
these cords are different inside.
When it comes to cutting STEALTH longer interconnects or speaker
cables, and making them shorter, such retermination would be
extremely labor intensive (the long cables would be completely
disassembled – down to bare wires, bits and pieces - and then
cut and individually reassembled again).
In other words, cutting an existing 3 meters Indra, or Sakra,
or Nanofiber, or Metacarbon pair into three 1 meter pairs and
terminating each of these three pairs would require MORE labor
than making three standard production pairs, and thus makes very
little sense in general, and absolutely no economic sense: it
would be less expensive for a customer to trade-in his used 3
meters pair and get three brand new 1 meter pairs – compare to
having the existing cables cut and re-terminated.
We can easily change wall plugs and/or IEC receptacles on
SWIFT and Cloude 99 cords. Unfortunately, it is not an option on
Dream (any revision), M7000 and Straight. Both the wall plug and
the IEC end are an integrated part of these cords - which helps
the acclaimed excellent performance, but creates a problem with
changing the plugs. The Carbon fiber shells are permanently
glued to the cords. Inside the shells, there is a collet, which
mechanically holds the cord inside the shell, to prevent
stressing the glued joint.
Thus, absolutely no-one (no dealer and no other cable making
company, and certainly not a handy individual) can replace or
change a wall plug (or an IEC receptacle) on a Dream cord (any
revision) to make it look authentic and perform properly, it
cannot be done even here, where we make them.
The only way is to cut off the end of the cord completely,
re-strip the ends of individual wires, refill the cable core
with Helium, seal it, and install a new plug. After the
re-termination, the cord would become about 8 inches shorter
than the original cord.
While the above mentioned procedure can be performed at our
facility, it is labor intensive and thus usually is neither
economically reasonable nor beneficial for the end user.
Altogether, this "procedure" of changing a wall plug or an IEC
receptacle on a Dream, M7000 or Straight cord usually costs at
least $600; and this is the ACTUAL cost of parts and labor - as
we do not make money on modifications and/or repairs.
The main reason to bi-wire is to eliminate interaction between cables carrying bass and mid/high
There are two main types of bi-wiring: true bi-wiring, and internal bi-wiring.
True bi-wiring is running two separate sets of cables, each of them separate in its own jacket. All cables is this case are individually terminated with a spade or a banana
plug. Internal bi-wiring is splitting the conductors (wires) inside a common jacket into two electrically isolated bundles and terminating each bundle with its own spade or banana plug at one end of a cable, or at both ends. Since the bundles are
electrically isolated, this type of bi-wiring does eliminate the direct electrical (galvanic) interaction between the bundles, but the electro-magnetic interaction still exists (since the bundles are being run in a common jacket, close to each
other). True bi-wiring eliminates both direct and electro-magnetic interaction, while internal bi-wiring still allows for electro-magnetic
interaction. As we can see, only true bi-wiring allows to take full advantage of the bi-wiring
concept. Therefore, in general, true bi-wiring is clearly superior to internal
Thus, while our Dream speaker cables are internally bi-wirable,
and the Cloude Ninety Nine speaker cables are internally bi- and
tri-wirable with very little performance loss, true bi-wiring is
still superior with these cables. With other STEALTH cables
(Hybrid MLT, for example) we only only "true
b-wire" - i.e. bi-wiring with two identical sets of cables, each of them separate in its own jacket.
Yes, it's not as convenient as having the cables in a common jacket, but performance-wise, true
bi-wire is better - because the main reason to bi-wire is to eliminate interaction between cables carrying bass and mid/high frequencies; having bi-wire cables in a
common jacket - i.e. too close to each other - compromises the performance;
Please keep in mind that while bi-wiring is a good idea sound-wise, using higher performance cables in a single-wire configuration is usually better than using inferior cables in bi-wire.
In a true bi-wire configuration, you have 4 binding posts of each speaker; to each of them goes a separate cable; Therefore, you have 4 separate cables per side; It's best for the sound if you keep all four of them separate. But if you do not like the way it looks (4 separate cables), they can be spiraled together and appear as a single thick cable which splits at the
If your amplifier doesn't have four terminals per side (for bi-wire) - we recommend fitting two spade lugs onto a single binding post at the amplifier end. If fitting two spade lugs on a single binding post is not possible - then the option is to order one set of the cables with banana plugs at one end, and the other set with spade lugs (and fit a spade lug and a banana plug on he same binding post). Another option is to order a custom bi-wire set both wires of which are
factory terminated into a single spade lug. Like any custom - i.e. non-standard
- order, such cable set requires extra time to be made, and there is extra charge for this option.
Before developing our own, solid silver banana plugs, we didn’t
not recommend banana plugs - since the solid silver spade lugs
offer superior performance than any available off-the-shelf
Now the situation is different: STEALTH solid silver banana
plugs offer performance truly and realistically comparable (in
all respects, sonically and measurably) to the STEALTH solid
silver spade lugs - i.e. outperforming any other known banana
plugs or spade lugs made of inferior materials (such as plated
brass or copper, no matter what the placing material is - it is
NOT solid silver. And in many installations banana plugs are
easier and more convenient to use.
Why Not Bare Multistranded Wire?
By this term we will mean wire with a number of strands that are not individually insulated, not insulated from each other. Typically, these bare strands are twisted together and insulated as a whole. As a signal travels along such a multistranded wire, there is nothing to keep it from jumping repeatedly from strand to another. While
this feature is often mentioned as a defect, certain manufacturers have built enviable reputations on ignoring it, using only multistranded wire in their prestigious cables. But should the defect be ignored? We can get a better perspective on that if we first look into precisely how the signal-jumping is harmful. In our opinion, shared by other knowledgeable people, the main problem stems from the oxide film which covers every metal surface. When it jumps from one strand to another, the signal crosses two oxide boundaries, and a thin air gap. If one strand barely touches another, the resistance of this point of contact might have some measurable value (especially with copper since copper oxide is not conductive). But the most vital concern is that this point of contact will have semiconductor properties, the same properties that solid state diodes and transistors are built to have: it affects the signal passing through it by partially rectifying that signal. Thus our musical signal, which starts out as symmetrical AC, becomes a little asymmetrical. This effect is subtle-but imagine how many of these “little semiconductors” there are in a run of multistranded wire! With silver, this effect is less pronounced since silver oxide is conductive. But the air gap is still there, and despite being conductive, silver oxide still has different conductive properties from those of silver the pure metal. With individually insulated conductors, these effects can be completely eliminated. Bringing other considerations to bear as well, we arrive at this recipe for a near-ideal wire: very thin conductors, to counter skin effect, individually insulated by an excellent dielectric (to charge and discharge quickly to assure fast signal propagation along the cable): And that's very close to how our cables are made...
About the burn-in process:
Quite often (approximately in 80 or more percent of all installations) our cables sound good right out of the box, but no matter how good they
are initially, there is always an improvement after the cables break in. In our experience - resulting from
hundreds of installations and reinstallations, numerous show installations, and hundreds of customers feedback - 99% of all cables, ours and others, require about TWO
or THREE days of initial break-in after the installation to show their overall, general "sound character"; before that time, some harshness, upper-midrange "brightness" or "glare" (typical not only for pure silver cables "out of the box", but other cables types, too) might be heard.
There is nothing wrong with listening for an hour or so right
away, right after installing the cables into a system, but
please be prepared that for two or three days to follow the
sound will CHANGE - one direction or another, suddenly becoming
too bright, or too dull - i.e. unstable. For approximately 7 to 10 days after the initial break-in, sound becomes progressively smoother and more natural. In general, in two weeks after the installation, cables are ready for critical listening. Sometimes it takes longer. In general, more advanced,
sophisticated and complex cable designs take longer to break in than simpler cables. Please note that in order to perform their best, our cables should be broken-in on the very same system with the very same components used for critical listening! If a cable is disconnected or used with other components, it might be necessary - for the best sound - to let it "settle" in the system again at least for a few hours - before critical listening. According to our point of view on the break-in process in cables, it mostly deals with the "ground potential differences" in the components used - that's why I recommend to break in the cables with the same components that will be used for critical listening. It may sound funny, but cables do break in ( a bit more slowly) with just equipment in "on" position (powered) even with no music or any signal passing through!... So, it's not strictly necessary to play something all the time. Just keep your equipment "on" and play something once in a while... If you wish, you can even leave tubes in "stand by" position (with partial anode voltage applied - if you have this mode...
WARNING! Some commercial "cable cookers" apply too much current and/or voltage and may damage our INTERCONNECT cables! However, not a single STEALTH digital cable, speaker cables or power cord has been damaged so far by such device, and therefore we think that it's perfectly safe to use commercial break-in devices all our cables, but interconnects. In all cases, please remember that it's not our recommendation to use cable
cookers, and you are doing it at your own risk. Using burn-in CDs is possible, but please don't count on a more speedy "break-in" compare to simply installing cables in a system and waiting for them to break in: it is our opinion that cables break in mostly deals with "relaxing" the cables and the "ground potential differences" in the components used - not the current passing through cables or the program material played;
About the AC power cords:
It's interesting that AC power cords' “sound” mostly depend not on the AC carrying wires, but on the ground wire, which NEEDS to be shielded since it's included into the sound SIGNAL PATH (ground path, to be more precise) - that's mostly why different AC power cords sound differently! AC is filtered in the power supplies, but the ground goes in and out just the way it is... Most power conditioners do something to AC, but don't do much,
or nothing at all to the ground, and this most probably why some
AC conditioners offer little, if any at all, improvement to the
DIRECTIONALITY of cables
Until 2012, all STEALTH cables were not-directional, by
design. However, some audiophiles believe that once installed in
a certain direction, cables should be used in the same direction
if installed again. Thus, in respect to their beliefs, the
directionally markers on STEALTH cables, made prior to 2012, are
provided for their convenience, nothing else.
As a technical comment, it’s worth mentioning that at least 99%
of other cables on the market are not directional either,
regardless of “signal direction” marks on them.
However, directional cables do exist, and can be designed as
such. For example, “source-terminated” shielding makes a cable
directional. Or – another example: let’s imagine that we have a
cable, made of flat wire. But the width of that flat wire is
greater at one end of a cable, compare to other end. Such
configuration makes indeed a directional cable, which is
expected to sound different, if reversed.
Several of our current cable models – such as the Sakra V12
(or V16), the
Dream V14 (or V16) speaker cables, and some others – are indeed
directional, by design, and have signal direction marks on them.
If you have a STEALTH cable, and cannot find signal direction
marks on them – the cable is not directional by design, i.e.
this cable is symmetrical, and can be installed in either
STEALTH cables revisions
We continuously improve our cables and connectors, and add
improved and extra features to our products – as we design and
test these improvements. The overall, main, general sonic
character of the improved cable remains the same, it just
becomes progressively more distinct and refined, and
subjectively perceived as “better”.
Eventually, with a number of improvements added, the cumulative
effect of these improvements becomes significant – i.e. a cable
works clearly, considerably better. At this point, we introduce
a new revision to a cable model, which summarizes all
improvements since the initial release of a particular model (or
after the previous revision), making these improvements and
features standard for the latest revision.
It’s worth noting that we keep our research and experimentation
separate from production, i.e. All cable and connector changes
are thoroughly tested before going into production. We never
make changes just for the sake of making changes: All
improvements that we introduce make perfect and clear sense from
the engineering point of view, and are always tested sonically
We make absolutely certain that these changes are an actual
improvement (i.e. NOT a degradation in any area); we pride
ourselves that – since 1999 up to date - no mistakes, errors, or
wrong moves have been made or noted. Before adding any
improvement, and especially releasing a new revision to any of
our products, we always make absolutely certain that the latest
revision is better than the previous in each and every respect –
being it sonics, appearance, reliability or user convenience.