Analysis Plus is essentially an engineering firm that has chosen audio manufacturing as one of the areas to focus their resources. What I find interesting is that the fundamental concepts and design geometry that Mark Markel had identified years ago has remained essentially unchanged within their product line. In today’s popular culture, a large cross-section of people are drawn to new, improved, enhanced, or next generation, all of which basically boils down to the concept of different. Now, Analysis Plus has developed refinements to their products over the years, with advancements in conductor materials, terminations, and minor tweaks of the design implementation. However, the basic architecture of the design has remained unchanged, as the foundational engineering principals that AP cables are based on are as technically sound and relevant to audio reproduction today as it was 5,10, or 20 years ago. Yet, Mark Markel is a determined fellow, and one smart cookie to boot, and he has finally developed a revision to his cable design that results in measurable advancements in signal transfer over his original stacked oval recipe. The Silver Apex represents proven engineering solutions that Mark has developed over the years, and combines it with an innovative manufacturing process to create a statement product. So perhaps, in this case, we can say the Analysis cables are new and improved, well, because they really are.
The Silver Apex geometry is essentially a hollow oval cable inside another hollow oval cable, contained in a third hollow oval cable. At first glance this looks like a double shielded design, and it certainly is that. However, there is a bit more going on than what you would first assume. The inner hollow oval is the positive leg and wired to the center pin on the RCA connector. The second layer of wire is the neutral leg and is attached to the outer connector. The final layer of wire is the shield, which is tied to the outer connector also. In the Analysis Plus cables the shield wire is not floated, instead it is soldered to the RCA jacks at both ends. This arrangement is based on the research of Henry Ott, who worked at Bell Labs; and writes that superior shielding in the audio bandwidth occurs with this arrangement. In an XLR cable, the inner leg goes to Pin 1, while the neutral leg attaches to Pin 2, and the shield is terminated on Pin 3. In Mark’s design, the signal travels in the innermost run of wire, while the second leg stabilizes and contains the magnetic field created by the signal traveling through the energized strands. A layer of mylar tape is used to define the chamber between the two conductors and ensure an even spacing. The goal here is to create a uniform and stable magnetic field, which is determined by the interaction between these two runs of wire. Between the neutral conductor and the shield, a layer of Teflon dielectric is used to fine tune the impedance of the cable. In this design impedance is a function of both wire geometry and the interaction of the dielectric. PVC is used for the outer layer of the cable, as it is both flexible and durable, and does not influence signal transfer properties of the cable. As previously mentioned, the Silver Apex is a double shielded design, as this is a function of the second and third layer of wire. With the two sections working in conjunction noise rejection is not an additive process, but rather compounding in function and lowers the noise levels past the 50% threshold.
The wiring used in the Silver Apex contains a copper core for stabilization, which is then coated with high purity silver. The physical demands of the hollow core geometry require a threshold of strength to maintain shape, and this is the function of the copper core. Yet a reasonable degree of flexibility must be maintained for the wire to be easily routed and lay flat. In a home environment, this is often a concern that many audiophiles have, as aesthetics and domestic harmony suffer when cables cannot be unobtrusively located. The concentric architecture results in a smaller cross section and improved flexibility over the traditional Analysis Plus stacked oval design, and I find it to be significantly easier to dress in my system. The RCA ends are a custom design for Analysis Plus that maintain a firm grasp on RCA jacks. Mark has chosen to retire the previous locking RCA ends, as the new design can provide comparable grip, and are easier to install and remove. I believe the new ends are a worthwhile change, for in the past I found the locking ends tended to bind up, and getting them to release was a tedious process.
Historically speaking, Analysis Plus offerings have been considered a high-quality product with a reasonable selling price. The Silver Apex are their top tier offering, and the price tag is not cheap, yet the MSRP of $1106 for a meter pair is not unreasonable given the labor intensive process of manufacturing this cable. The Analysis Plus cables are manufactured in house as they have the tooling, jigs, and guides to assemble their products. Due to the complexity of the design, the longest run of Silver Apex Mark has achieved was under 100 feet without stopping for realignment of the machinery. In contrast, a 700-foot run of Crystal Oval or Silver Oval wire can occur in a single uninterrupted session. Manufacturing the Silver Apex wire has a demanding set of challenges, and this also factors into the final price of the interconnects, as does the high silver content of the raw wire, and the custom parts contained in the cable.