Featuring such epic songs as “Jesus Sings the Blues”, “Out of my Head”, “Gimme the Love”, “Stone Horses”, “Big Lake”, “No Way Out of Love”, and “The Buffalo Skinner”, the eclectic use of instruments and sounds captured on this record will test any 2-channel system’s ability to accurately reproduce the PRaT, dynamics, and shaded instrumental timbers.
Skogrand’s Vivaldi ICs and SCs were so accurate that they revealed how flawed the digitized CD version of Strays sounded as a source for reproducing their songs. After listening to both a redbook CD and a 150-weight vinyl record copy, the record sounded far more like real music, with real instruments in real space and time. The true sonic beauty of Strays came straight out of my vinyl rig. So much so that I decided to solely use vinyl for the rest of my listening tests.
For perspective, I took the Vivaldi ICs and SCs over to my friend Allan’s house. Listening to Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs’ new 180 gram 2-record set of Santana’s classic 1970 album Abraxas on his $100K+ level 2-channel vinyl rig, the Vivaldi cables let the stunning amount of inner sonic detail, unstoppable Latin-flavoured rhythms, and the startling dynamics contained on this amazing album flow forth without restriction.
While MFSL’s 2007 re-issue of Abraxas had good sonics, their new Ultra-Disc ‘one step’ plating and pressing process brings a striking new vitality and musicality to one of Santana’s best albums.
Featuring such songs as “Singing Winds, Crying Beasts”, “Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen”, “Oye Como Va”, “Se a Cabo”, “Mother’s Daughter”, and “Sampa Pa Ti”, the 1970 album Abraxas showcases Carlos Santana’s technical mastery of the guitar. The Vivaldi cables let Allan and I hear the amazing PRaT, striking dynamics, and jaw-dropping layering of sounds contained on Abraxas in all of its sonic glory.
Back in 1970, Santana’s ability as a guitarist was (arguably) second only to Jimi Hendrix. A listener should be able to ‘feel’ the subtle sonic textures and striking rhythmic changes in Santana’s playing on Abraxas at an emotional and spiritual level. With Skogrand’s Vivaldi cables, both Allan and I heard the truth of Santana’s musical genius. We happily agreed that this was the best that either of us had ever heard Abraxas sound.
Skogrand’s new entry-level Vivaldi interconnects and speaker cables deliver about 85% of detail, smoothness, and musical coherency of their reference calibre top-level cords; at a fraction of the price.
The Vivaldi line offers a decent sense of space, 3-dimensionality, and precision imaging. The higher frequencies were extended and accurate, without inducing any of the high-band “ringing” which cables in this price range usually create.
The mid-range was neutral and accurate. I’ve heard warmer mids from a few other cables, but this “warmth” was usually accompanied by un-natural sonic colorations and too much emphasis in the lower frequency registers.
Low to mid bass was delicate, textured, and… again… accurate. If a 2-channel system created low-end rhythm, groove, and slam, the Vivaldi cables let it all come forth with an almost unparalleled precision.
Judged within their price bracket, the Vivaldi ICs and SCs offer exceptional accuracy. These are not cables which produce romantic warmth or sonic euphoria. And this precision will, unfortunately, reveal how poor sounding most lower-end and mid-fi 2-channel digital sources truly are.
You wanna hear what your gear really sounds like…? Give Skogrand’s Vivaldi interconnects and speaker cables a listen. Be forewarned though: these cables are hyper-accurate. They will tell you exactly how good your gear is; or… isn’t.
Skogrand Vivaldi Interconnects
Price: $750 US/2m pair
Skogrand Vivaldi Speaker Cables
Price: $850 US/3m pair