This review of Element Signature Apollo speaker cables presented some unusual challenges. What is the inherent sound of this component? Are there any particular characteristics which affect the sound in a positive or a negative way? What is the magnitude of the difference? Every review presents the same challenges, but these questions are usually resolved in fairly short order. As the audition progressed and days turned into weeks turned into months, it was clear that there would be no easy and reliable answers to these questions without extended and extensive auditioning. With this review, I hope to save you that effort.
The Apollo speaker cables are at the top of Element Cable’s Signature product line and sell for $995 for a 4 foot single-wire pair, factory direct. From the Web site:
“Apollo uses 16 individual strands of (99.99+% pure) solid core silver conductors for each cable. The strands are woven in a dual octennial braid and tightly wrapped with FEP Teflon dielectric. When complete, these cables account for over 300 feet of silver wire for an 8 foot pair.
“A large air core runs through the center, used to space out the conductors for minimal interaction; the result is a silent background that highlights Apollo’s extraordinary inner detail retrieval. Presentation is crystal clear, with pin-point imaging and a soundstage that is wide, tall, and deep. Most surprising is how smooth and neutral Apollo is for a pure silver cable, it doesn’t suffer from edginess and glare that plague other silver designs.
“…we’ll just stop here and ask you to audition a pair for yourself.”
Which is exactly what I did, after finding great success with Element’s Stealth “es” power cord. Unlike power cords, speaker cables tend to be less particular about which components offer a synergistic match. A good speaker cable will show its superiority with a wide range of components. For this audition, I used Marantz MA-9S2 Reference Series, Spread Spectrum Ampzilla 2000 and NuForce Reference 9 v2 mono amplifiers, and Marantz SM-11S1 and Wyred4Sound ST-1000 stereo amplifiers. Speakers included Dali Euphonia RS3, Dali Mentor 5, and Merlin TSM-MMe. Due to the length of the audition period there was a wide assortment of preamplifiers and source components including Sonic Frontiers Line 2SE+ and Audio Research LS26 preamplifiers, Manley Steelhead and AQVOX Phono 2Ci phono preamplifiers, SOTA Cosmos IV turntable with TriPlanar VII u2 tonearm, and Apogee Rosetta 200 and Prism Orpheus AD/DA converters. The Prism has the capability to bypass an external preamplifier and drive a power amplifier directly. The comparison speaker cables included the excellent Audience Au24 e, with a couple of others briefly joining the party.
After about 200 hours break-in, the Element Apollo cables presented an immediately addictive sound that was unfettered. This sense of release from the physical constraints of technology and equipment is pervasive. The feeling that all upper frequencies gained a level of natural clarity and resolution was both very welcome and raised a concern that demanded further investigation. I am sure we have all heard a component that, immediately after installation, displays some particular characteristic that is judged to be an improvement over the previous reference. In my experience, a quick “that sounds good” is a danger signal that usually indicates an aberration which is not conducive to long term listening enjoyment. Occasionally, we install a component, and I am including cables into that category because of the large impact they have on the sound we hear, which offers a real overall improvement. This component then becomes a permanent resident in the system. However, cutting edge should not mean bleeding edge.
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• Ultra-Pure 99.99+% solid silver conductors
• Total 32 discrete conductors (each leg 10awg)
• Dual Octennial Braid geometry
• Air-Core technology
• Silver universal spade and banana
• Standard length = 4 ft. (additional length as an option below)
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