Stager Silver Solids Interconnects by Greg Voth
The 5-week wait for my iMac's return with its new SSD drive brought a sameness to every day as I plodded along on my now ten-year-old MacBook Pro through a long, cold January and well into The following month. The iMac returned with a 4TB SSD internal and new display (I'll spare you that lengthy tale), full of youthful speed it didn't have with the hybrid. Now on to getting taxes wrapped up, clearing the way for my first review of 2022 – Stager Silver Solids Pure Silver Interconnect Cables.
An Understated Delivery
Clement asked that I reach out to Marc Stager, owner of Stager Sound Systems, provider of rental and operation of high fidelity sound reinforcement systems in and around New York City, about his self-made Silver Solids Pure Silver interconnects. Stager and I had an animated conversation shortly after. My Silver Solids review samples arrived in a decidedly understated 7" x 9" bubble envelope, holding all four of my requested pairs of ICs – 2 pairs of balanced and two pairs of unbalanced ICs, .75m and 1.0m lengths. I appreciated the simplicity and lack of packaging – no muss, no fuss, and no strain on my recycling efforts. Each pair of balanced and unbalanced ICs was enclosed in a zip lock bag and four small cable ties for the buyer's use. With the Silver Solids being constructed with solid core silver, I anticipated the terminations would be somewhat heavier for the likely small gauge of the wire (it's 24 gauge).
As an owner of other makes of silver cables (early 1990's Kimber KCAG's among the brands), I handled the new arrivals gingerly, lest a kink in a Silver Solids cables lead to replacement. The Silver Solids wire gauge is noticeably smaller than the KCAG build. Still, the Canare terminations proved quite hefty (the KCAG's original jacks are far lighter), and Stager's construction performed flawlessly. As with the Kimber KCAGs, the twists in a Silver Solids cable reduce the likelihood of nearby electromagnetic interference intruding on the audio signal.
Once my iMac returned and I got things up and running, I installed the Stager Silver Solids ICs across the main system, combined with my Dynamique Audio Tempest 2 power cables constructed from a mix of silver plate and copper cabling. With my amplifiers sitting 19 feet from the main rig, connected via XLR by a supremely well-made and engaging pair of cables, I saw no reason to change this part of the setup (Stager agreed after I gave him the option of providing a 19 foot long pair of balanced Silver Solids for that same purpose). Later, I plan on setting up a smaller rig with only Stager's interconnects.
How It's Done
Stager Sound Systems provides audiophile quality sound reinforcement for concerts and special events in New York City. Marc Stager has also produced pure silver interconnect cables, sold online, over the past 22 years – what he refers to as "high-end quality at sane prices." Quoting from Stager's website,"…simply put, it is not how a cable makes music sound great. It's about how it allows music to sound great by not hindering its transmission in any way […] This is the clear and simple objective of Stager Silver Solids. Every facet of the design and construction of Stager Silver Solids is focused on achieving this goal. […] I have not set out to make audio jewelry, just the very finest performing audio interconnect you can buy, regardless of price." Bolded text, Stager's.
Stager's Silver Solids Pure Silver interconnects are constructed using .999 purity (meaning 99.9%, not 99.999%) soft temper, fine solid core silver wire. Says Stager, "Silver, while only slightly more conductive than copper, will never lose conductivity as it tarnishes with age as is the case with copper. A symmetrical, unshielded, unbalanced pair is the best configuration for maximum bandwidth and musical transparency. Teflon insulation is second only to air in its dielectric properties. Good, tight solder joints solidly bonding silver to gold, not sandwiching the solder, are essential. The gold-plated Canare F-10 RCA connectors are beautifully made and built to last. They have a nice, tight fit, and provide exceptional connectivity. Their one pF capacitance makes any audible difference from overpriced "high-end" connectors entirely imaginary. This combination of attributes makes Stager Silver Solids a true state-of-the-art interconnect cable - at a sane and reasonable price."
During early listening, the Stager Silver Solids showed great promise. I threw myself a curve and reached for EST Live '95 (2021 Act Records)… though I wasn't familiar with this new release at the time, I am quite familiar with much of this Swedish trio's discography. Most jazz lovers will recall that EST's work together was cut short in 2008 when a scuba diving accident tragically took the life of Esbjörn Svensson, the trio's pianist and group's primary composer. Throughout the play of this posthumous release, detail was favorably presented (as silver is known to do), and percussive velocity and dynamic punch developed quickly over the first few hours of burn-in. This unfamiliar release caught me by surprise when unexpected percussion dynamics actually caused me to jump in my chair; it was that lifelike.
The Silver Solids presented nicely through my Tekton Double Impacts, themselves a bit laid back in high frequencies. Aging has its drawbacks: the loss of some higher frequencies; I continued playing files to break the Silver Solids in. Eventually, over the next couple of weeks, I moved the Silver Solid over to a smaller rig, comprised of my CJ PV-5 (itself modified with silver pathways and the like by Music Technology, Inc.), both the LSA Warp 1 and SBS S2 Pro power amps, an HRT MusicStreamer II+ DAC and my laptop at the helm.
Old News from Benedikt Jahnel Trio's 2008's "Modular Concepts" (Material Label), was effervescent, with splashy cymbals, woody taps on a ride cymbal accompanying a solidly recorded upright bass, and emotive piano. The song was alive, breathing, and playful. "Elegia," from the Wolfert Brederode Trio's 2016 Black Ice release (ECM Records GMBH), was quiet, peaceful, and harmonically rich as the piano meandered through its passionate melodic turns, augmented by a deft rhythm section. The piano and bass played together on this and other tracks, while the drummer's accents and fills brought gleeful dimensional impact. The Silver Solids helped deliver a swath of subtly and nuance, dynamics, and musicality.
Cassandra Wilson's version of Strange Fruit from her 1998 release "New Moon Daughter" (Blue Note Records 1995) remains as haunting a cover of the original Billie Holiday song as I've ever heard. A minimalist approach, Wilson's deep, resonant vocal is punctuated by random steel-string acoustic guitar plucks and noise makings (is that a National steel resonator?), accompanying the song's descriptive lyrics with a stylish, uncomfortable accent - which added to this ever-necessary storytelling. The imagery was well defined and dimensional, and the speed of those noise makings quite real. A cover of U2's "Love Is Blindness" followed. In no hurry, the accompanying musicians drew long-languishing strokes of melody and nuance from the song's slow and steady pace. This system, connected with the Stager Silver Solids ICs, emoted well, rendering a relaxed, enveloping performance on an intimate stage.
Voice In The Night, the title track from Charles Lloyd's 1999 ECM Records GMBH "Voice In The Night" release, was a wonderful respite from a hectic day prior; its languishing delivery and effortlessly flowing melody were just what I needed. Lines from the saxophone and guitar wrapped around one another passionately, with the remaining players laying it back. John Abercrombie's work has been part of my music library for decades, as has Lloyd's – hearing them together really makes me genuinely miss Abercrombie's always interesting guitar prowess. Delivering delicacy, warmth, and nuance, the Silver Solids presented this laid-back effort well. Brushes on skins, as organic as they were tactile, emanated from the Double Impacts with grace as Abercrombie's guitar shimmered beneath Lloyd's sax work. Rich and expressive, Lloyd's sax sprung forth with nary a hint of hardness. I can't say that I hear any dramatic differences from my reference ICs…
On Homage, the band stretched out to a nice trot as it pumped up the energy, supporting and embellishing Lloyd's entertaining horn intro. Behind Lloyd's lead phrasing, the shimmer and warmth of Abercrombie's guitar added rich harmonic support, providing additional interest. Abercrombie, at times, "strangled" his instrument, a way to accentuate phrasing, which spoke to me as a player myself. Things were jumpin', with great harmonies and enthusiasm, and Abercrombie delivered one of the best solos I've heard in all these years I've followed his work (1976 to present).
Returning to an oft-played gem, I played Liberty from Annette Askvik's 2011 "Liberty" release on Bird Records. Textures were warm; the sax offered a wealth of tonal interest and harmonic richness. The melodic interplay with underlying low frequency sounds added to the track's subtle dynamic sway, which firmly held my attention. I recently discovered Zara MacFarlane on Tidal. She's special. MacFarlane takes chances with her songwriting, occasionally adding the musical accents of her Jamaican heritage to her work, a cool twist for a jazz/pop singer. Mama Done, a catchy little ditty from 2011's "Until Tomorrow" (Brownwood Recordings), MacFarlane's voice just glowed. The energy in this tune was infectious, with a nice bounce to the beat – the drums helped add nice depth to the stage. Very musical through the Silver Solids. My reference Dynamique Audio cables and the Stager Silver Solids Pure Silver ICs use minimal materials in the construction of their silver interconnects, along with either minimal shielding (Dynamique) or none at all (Stager). Both brands are twisted and both performed admirably.
The Stager Silver Solids Pure Silver ICs made good on the promise to deliver great sound "at a price which is sane and reasonable." I can't say that I heard a big difference between the Silver Solids and Tempest 2's; I can tell you that music flowed and musicality prevailed through each. The Silver Solids may well be on par with Kimber KCAG's, I'll leave that to your ears. For comparison, the cheapest 1-meter pair of KCAG (unbalanced) is currently priced at $1200 (at the time of this review), making Stager Silver Solids a steal.
RCA Stager Silver Solids Pure Silver interconnect cables
.75 meter, $125 / 1.0 meter, $150
XLR Stager Silver Solids Pure Silver interconnect cables
.75 meter, $170 / 1.0 meter, $210
Stager Sound Systems
phone (212) 595-4065
Stager Silver Solids Pure Silver interconnect cables ordering Info:
• Cost per stereo pair, two conductor unshielded •
Canare F-10 RCA connectors:
0.5 meter / 20 inches $ 100.00
0.75 meter / 30 inches $ 125.00
1.0 meter / 40 inches $ 150.00
1.5 meter / 59 inches $ 205.00
2.0 meter / 79 inches $ 245.00
• Cost per stereo pair, three conductor unshielded •
Neutrik silver pin XLR connectors:
0.5 meter / 20 inches $ 130.00
0.75 meter / 30 inches $ 170.00
1.0 meter / 40 inches $ 210.00
1.5 meter / 59 inches $ 270.00
2.0 meter / 79 inches $ 350.00
Custom shop: Other lengths can be made to order.
International order info is available on the Stager Silver Solids Website.
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