General Sonic Impressions:
The Silver Darts reproduced the texture and timbre of different instruments with astonishing clarity and accuracy. The resonance of plucked guitar strings, for example, sounded like the naturally occurring harmonics of a real acoustic guitar.
The Darts created lightning-fast transients, immense soundstaging, and jaw-dropping resolution. And yet, the transients of the ICs and SCs weren’t hyped or exaggerated at all. Notes across the entire frequency range had a natural attack, release, and decay. Harmonics were also reproduced with sublime accuracy.
Zavfino’s cables had greater presence and a more insightful resolution in mid-band, lower midrange, and upper bass than any ICs under the $5K USD retail barrier I’ve yet heard. Male and female voices were mesmerizing with exceptional clarity, precise intonation, and lots of air and space. The lower registers were noticeably textured with superb timbral accuracy.
Overall, the Silver Darts created a dynamic and detailed soundstage. And yet, for all of the detail that’s there, from top to bottom, they’re one of the smoothest sounding pairs of ICs and SCs that I’ve ever heard; at any price. The Darts allow a listener to hear more of the original signal instead of fatiguing distortions induced by the cable itself.
In my 2-channel headphone system, compared to a half dozen other ICs in the $3K to $5K retail price bracket, the Silver Darts consistently created deeper resolution, more bloom, larger soundstaging, superior imaging, and better PRaT than any of the other ICs. Against ICs in the $7K to $12K range, the Darts produced nearly identical sonic characteristics. So much so, that I couldn’t reliably tell the Darts apart from posh cables made by Stealth, Argento Audio, and Tara Labs. And please remember, a 1.5m pair of Silver Dart ICs retails for $1,750 US.
I used my main 2-channel tube stereo system to evaluate the Silver Dart Speaker Cables (SCs). Compared to SCs in the $3K to $5K retail range, the Darts consistently created deeper resolution, superior soundstaging, and better imaging. Tested against SCs costing $10K to $20K from Atlas, Stealth, and Stage III Concepts, the Silver Dart SCs were nearly identical in sound quality. Although there were marginal sonic differences between the various SCs, priced at $2,196 US (for a 2.5m pair), Zavfino’s Darts compared favourably to speaker cables costing 3 to 5 times as much.
Released in 2005 on Chesky Records, Valerie Joyce’s New York Blue has reference calibre sonics. The Silver Dart ICs lowered the noise floor significantly and allowed the individual notes from the piano, bass, drums, and Joyce’s smouldering voice to be heard with a goosebump inducing resolution and insight. Her haunting vocals resonated with a palpable and textured *feel* to them. Hearing Joyce’s voice recreated with such a profound transparency sent shivers down my spine.
Like an injection of adrenaline, the Dart speaker cables added a dynamic muscularity and bloom across the frequency spectrum that was a delight to hear. Sounds in the bass registers were warm, smooth, and taut. Joyce’s midrange vocals were articulate with striking tonal accuracy and stunning resolution. The highs were as pure and natural as I’ve ever heard them. Soundstage height, width, and depth were all noticeably increased. Musical crescendos on Blue startled me with explosive dynamics and palpable energy.
Wanting to try heavier music, I next listened to Rush’s 1981 Moving Pictures. This is (arguably) the last great guitar, bass, and drums record that Rush ever released. They combined their sternum-belting heaviness with monstrously technical playing while still managing to write songs that were accessible; and memorable. Featuring tracks like “Tom Sawyer”, “Red Barchetta”, “YYZ”, “and “Limelight”, this is a perfect album. There isn’t a single dud in the chamber on this masterpiece.
Through the course of 37+ years since its release, I’ve listened to Moving Pictures—literally—thousands of times. I know every note on this album to the core of my being. As such, I was gob-smacked to hear all sorts of new information coming forth from the MoFi UltraDisc 2 gold CD version that I was listening to. I haven’t ever previously heard songs like “The Camera Eye” sound so good.
The Darts reproduced the individual timbres of Alex Lifeson’s electric guitars and the technical fury of his rampaging solos while still delivering all of the tonal shading and harmonic flourishes that his deft fingering creates on these songs. Geddy Lee’s bass and keyboard lines were rock solid with a shiver inducing texture and accuracy. Lee’s vocals had noticeably more air and space around them too. And Neil Peart’s percussive accents and rhythmic drumming were more distinct and purposeful than I’d ever previously noticed.
Yup… goosebumps; they came to me in shivering waves. From one track to the next, I kept hearing sonic details on Moving Pictures which I’d never heard before. I had an enormously strong emotional reaction while listening to this classic album. And this unexpectedly intense emotional response surprised me profoundly.
Is it daft to call a $1,750 US pair of interconnects and a $2,196 US pair of speaker cables “a bargain”…? Sonically speaking, the Silver Darts punch WAY above their asking prices. The Darts brought out the best sound that I’ve ever heard from my components and let me hear the full sonic potential of my different 2-channel stereo rigs.
Instead of feeding the shivering audiophile addiction to continually upgrade my gear, while using Zavfino’s Silver Dart ICs and SCs, I realized that my components are reference calibre. The Darts have temporarily immunized me against the upgrade bug, which seems to bite far too often. From this viewpoint, the Silver Dart ICs and SCs can—and should—be considered an extraordinary bargain.