Dynamique Audio’s Shadow 2 Cable Review
The game of cable one-upmanship seems to be never ending. Perceived value for money in anything is, of course, a personal thing. While some drooling audio dorks might see a power cable with a $20K USD price as a “bargain”, for most audiophiles, spending $100,000 USD on a cable loom simply isn’t affordable; let alone sane.
Sometimes I wonder if audiophiles have lost sight of what’s truly important, which is enjoying the music. As a reviewer, I’ve spent obscene amounts of my own money on cabling. I’m happiest, however, when I discover great sounding cables at, relatively speaking, sensible prices.
When NOVO asked if I’d review a loom of Dynamique Audio’s Shadow 2 cables, I was more excited than Stormy Daniels at an equestrian center climbing aboard a new stallion. I’d never previously auditioned any of Dynamique’s cables. Their sound was an utter mystery to me and this, ostensibly, made the forthcoming review a curious joy to undertake.
Founded in Britain in 2009, Dynamique’s goals were to build cables that sound “dynamic” while presenting neutral sonics that balance warmth and detail. They also wanted their cabling to be affordable and have a high build quality. Dynamique Audio’s Shadow 2 line of ICs, PCs, and SCs are positioned at the lower-middle end of their product range.
Shadow 2 single-ended RCA + XLR balanced ICs:
Available with single-ended (RCA-to-RCA) or balanced (XLR-to-XLR) plugs, Dynamique’s Shadow 2 interconnects feature a triple-balanced conductor array that uses 6 x 24 AWG solid-core conductors per each channel. These ICs use air-spaced PTFE insulation and Dynamique’s proprietary resonance damper technologies. A 1.0m pair of Shadow 2 interconnects terminated with stock S/E or XLR plugs costs £575 [$990 CAD].
Shadow 2 Power Cords:
A 1.5m Shadow 2 power cord (PC) with 15Amp plugs retails for £680 [$1170 CAD]. This PC incorporates a 6-conductor array that utilizes a mix of pure silver (Ag) and silver-plated copper (Cu) solid core conductors. They also use multi-stranded conductors to achieve what Dynamique describes as a “balanced” sound. The conductors are wound in a helix array and shielded with air-spaced PTFE Teflon insulation. Each PC also comes with a built-in resonance filter.
Shadow 2 Speaker Cables:
Previously known as the Caparo 2 speaker cables (SCs), the Shadow 2 SCs combine 4-nines pure silver (Ag) and 7-nines silver plated copper (Cu) conductors. These SCs use air-spaced PTFE and extruded FEP Teflon insulation, as well as the same ‘distributed gauge’ technology of Dynamique’s higher echelon speaker cables to optimise bandwidth and frequency response.
Each speaker cable incorporates carbon-fibre resonance dampers to reduce mechanically induced distortion. One 2.0m pair of the Shadow 2 speaker cables terminated with banana plugs retails for £795 [$1370 CAD]. WBT Nextgen 0681 Cu spade or 0610 Cu banana connectors are available for a small upcharge.
The entire line of Shadow 2 cables is thin in diameter. This is not by accident. Bucking the current trend of making cables that are as thick and heavy as frozen fire hoses, Dynamique wants their wires to be “invisible” and don’t believe in multiple layers of shielding. So… how do Dynamique Audio’s cables sound?
General Sonic Impressions:
Cable sonics result from a number of different variables. These include: 1), the quality and type of the metals used as conductors; 2), the di-electric materials and shielding used to insulate the conductors; 3), the quality of the connecting plugs; and 4), the quality of the assembly and termination work.
To start, I emptied my main 2-channel SFI tube rig of a mixture of Synergistic Research’s Galileo UEF ICs + PCs, and Stealth’s v16 Dream PCs and SCs. For perspective, I first tried the disposable 39¢ level cables that came with the various components.
Removing $70K USD worth of reference cabling caused a catastrophic collapse of soundstaging and imaging. Poor cables will smother detail, choke PRaT, and strangle a stereo’s dynamics as if an elephant wearing snow pants is sitting on top of the speakers’ drivers. My system instantly went from having layered, 3-dimensional, ‘reach-out-and-touch-it’ holographic sound to flat, edgy, and compressed sonics that any $20 clock radio from Kay-Maart could produce.