Silver Apex speaker cable from Analysis Plus represents the Michigan-based firm’s most advanced implementation of its unique conductor geometry. Honed and refined over the years, AP-designed conductors aren’t flat, round, or rectangular. Nor are they laid side by side, braided, or stacked one upon each other. They are oval-shaped with a hollow interior, one leg residing within the hollow core of the other leg—not unlike the tubular sections of a telescope each resting inside each other. Why? According to AP’s own research the hollow-oval configuration engages the conductor more uniformly and efficiently—a fact borne out in tests by very low resistance values, even at the upper frequency extremes where increased resistance and sluggish rise-time can roll-off the top end.
AP employs silver-over-copper, nine-gauge conductors in its top-tier cables like Silver Apex. Unique to Silver Apex speaker cable, however, is the addition of a third nine-gauge hollow oval conductor encasing the first and second strands. This outer conductor uses a nickel/copper alloy to further improve shielding. Mylar preserves the oval shape of this sequence of conductors. The dielectric material is polyurethane for the speaker cable (Teflon for the interconnects which I have not reviewed). Yes it’s complicated and tricky to manufacture. The end result is a cable that’s pliable and easy to work with and unexpectedly heavy. The sturdy, short-tooth spade connectors are of AP’s own design.
In look and feel Silver Apex conveys quality construction with robust terminations. Clearly it’s built for the long run, but showy it is not—a more tool-like utility comes to mind. Those desiring cables that look like something out of a Bulgari window display will need to look elsewhere. While some competitors seem to be plying their trade with eye-popping jacketing and glistening terminations, AP has been busy attending to the serious business of transparently reproducing a musical signal. And that the Silver Apex does, with eerie consistency. It conveys the same bold signature that I’m familiar with from my encounters with AP ’s top-performing Micro Golden interconnect (Issue 272) and mid-priced Big Silver Oval speaker cables (Issue 215). Like these cables, Silver Apex is characterized by a ripe, textured midrange and abundant inner detail. Neither romantically warm nor clinically cool in nature, Silver Apex simply goes in the direction of the recording without comment. Treble octaves are unconstricted, expressive, and harmonically colorful. In the bass, these cables add an element of gravitas to low percussion (kettle drums for example), walking the fine line between articulation and control with lusty dynamics and fluttering resonances. Even on highly processed, compression-laden studio tracks that are often lacking in dimension and depth, Silver Apex simply takes the wheel of The Cars’ “Just What I Needed” and delivers a layering of images, a vitality and weight to the beat, bloom to the cymbals, and a deep, throaty overall sound.
Silver Apex also possesses a key quality of Micro Golden that I once described as frictionless—the sense of an utter lack of drag on the signal, a non-stick property that manifested itself as well-oiled speed and clarity during Lew Soloff’s trumpet solo from “Autumn Leaves” [The Manhattan Jazz Quintet]. This trait was equally well expressed during Les Sept Paroles du Christ, a stunning recording engineered by René Laflamme on his Fidelio Music label. It features solo soprano and organ in an uncommon duet that will test the bottom-end backbone as well as the soaring delicacy and resolving power of many systems. Silver Apex captured the wide timbral, transient, and dynamic interplay between soloist and organ with greater contrast and expressiveness than I’d heard before.
What most captured my attention during listening sessions was Silver Apex resolving power. Its skill at eliciting finer and finer gradations of timbral and textural contrasts was of an order that often placed me on the edge of my seat. A typical example was the 12-string guitar accompaniment during KD Lang’s “Love Is Everything.” I could follow the unique, delicately played, softly mixed, and easily overlooked ringing signature of the guitar’s high-pitched octave strings. This cue, which is normally a bit muddled and indistinct, could be heard with a clarity and articulation that only a handful of cables has matched in the past. Silver Apex never lost its composure even during complex passages from Appalachian Journey, where violin, cello, and acoustic bass were partaking in a robust three-part musical exchange. Without fail, I followed each players’ musical path, the unique voice and transient attacks and flowering resonances from each instrument—the sonic images overlapping, yet remaining individually and collectively stable and focused.
Among audiophiles of a certain era (me included), the mere mention of “silver” in the composition of wire conductors is enough to send us running for the exits. I certainly recollect earlier implementations of silver wire that produced upper octaves of fine, heightened detail and brilliance but that also balanced those elements on a knife’s icy edge. Like a multiway loudspeaker with poor interdriver coherence, cables with rising or phasey top octaves act like a hot tweeter—sounding piercing and discontinuous with the rest of the system. Thankfully advances in metallurgy have made these artifacts seem as if they belong to another age. Today, cables with pure silver conductors are vastly more refined. But often as not the silver is also overlaid onto copper. As implemented by Analysis Plus, the character of Silver Apex didn’t call attention to the upper octaves except to provide the focus and bloom that supports and actually seems to reinforce midrange and presence-range resolution.
A primary example is solo piano. During Glinka’s “The Lark,” a piece for solo piano, the impression was of effortless speed and of a soundboard constantly throwing off waves of resonance and harmonic sustain. There was no sense of a silvery tonal rise or any halo-like artifacts. The relationship between each series of notes and the acoustic of the venue could not have been more clearly balanced or expressed. Equally significant, before even the first piano note was struck the ambience of the venue could be heard around the concert grand—a sense of air thickening the atmosphere.
Throughout the evaluation period I was constantly reminded of Silver Apex fluency in reproducing cavernous acoustic spaces—when a cappella vocalist Laurel Massé sings her rendition of the old Quaker hymn “How Can I Keep From Singing,” there was an impression of being able to map the journey of her voice as each note gradually faded into the heights and recesses of New York’s Troy Savings Bank. It was a level of acoustic immersion that approached the segment-leading Tara Air Evolution (review in this issue) but went a step further than other cables I’ve auditioned in the specific way it mined micro-dynamics and low-level minutiae.
Silver Apex’s performance bore more than a passing resemblance to one of my longstanding references, Audience Au24SX. (I haven’t heard Audience’s recently announced flagship FrontRow series cables yet.) The voicing between these wires was similar in the way they expressed broader midrange texture and timbre. Common, too, was the open, artifact-free treble. Nonetheless, Silver Apex had the edge in lower frequency heft and dynamic energy. It was pretty much a dead heat as regards midrange dynamics and refinement. Overall the Audience skewed a bit mellower, a shade warmer, with Silver Apex gaining an advantage in speed and transparency. Both embody sonic values that are consonant with my own listening biases. And naturally, preferences being what they are, not everyone will agree with mine. That’s what makes a ball game.
Not inexpensive but still well within the bounds of high-end sanity, Silver Apex projected one of the most open and natural voices I’ve heard in a cable. It’s deliciously easy to listen to, as it just seems to step out of the signal’s path, clearing the way for a musical performance to commence. Yes, Silver Apex was a loudspeaker cable that made me want to shout, but for all the right reasons—a flagship-level cable that can stand its ground with the best of the best.
Specs & Pricing
Price: $3400/8 ft. spades or banana (add $400 with WBT0681 spade)
106 East Main Street
Flushing MI 48433 USA