Until the arrival of the Shunyata Darkfield, I was a cable elevator skeptic. However, with Shunyata in the game for cable elevators, being company whose products are non voodoo science by nature(well at least their "white paper" theories seemed plausible), I figured they must be up to something good. And since I had one product on hand, which coincidentally Sound Precision brought about their latest product, Elite Acoustic MSI, amongst which include a cable elevator.
Since Hifikaki already post earlier about the Shunyata Darkfield in detail, I'll do a little explaining on the Elite Acoustic MSI(Magnetic Shock Isolator). It's elevated by means of two opposing magnets of the same polarity facing each other, not unlike the Clear audio Magix 2 reviewed on 4th March 2009. I must confess that however, the Clear audio Magix 2 is more well thought out in execution and better built. Another area of concern is the Elite Acoustic MSI is non-shielded, which means if you put 2 of the cables elevators close to each other, they'll wanna stick together! Does that also means another possible source of stray magnetic interference?
However I am happy to report that none of those concerns affected the subjective sonic reproduction out come as far as my ears are concerned. So are we ready to start the cable elevator shoot out?
Shunyata Darkfield, lifting Cardas Golden Presence interconnect.
First up, I'll mostly concur to Hifikaki's observation about the sonic observation of the Shunyata Darkfield. I found that placing the Darkfield under speaker cables to give most gentle of intrusions, meaning, it's sonic effect on speaker cables are most minimal compared to, say the power cords and interconnects, in the order of severity. I also found that you can't use too many pieces of Darkfield in your system either! I started with 4 pcs under my Straight wire Maestro II speaker cable, which made the back ground very silent, dark and brought about a new level of imaging focus to the overall sonic picture. I later added one piece at a time, to various power cords and interconnects, as I had a box to play with. With each piece added, the sound was getting darker, and the imaging focus seemed sharper in contrast. It was until the 9th piece, when I noticed the sound coming from the system took on a certain hardness in the high mids. At this point the whole sound stage also took on a rather constricted quality, like as if all the instruments are tied up with strings, just as in a puppet staged musical event. That, I did not like.
I also noticed that during it's time with me, some cables, like the Siltech G5 LS88 Classic speaker cable, did not respond well to the Darkfield. With only 4 pcs of Darkfield supporting both the left and right chanel speaker cables, the sound was already edgy and bright. I just couldn't wait to take the Dark field off! In the end, I found with just 3 pcs under my Cardas Golden Presence interconnect(4 meter in length connecting my pre to power amps) and a piece of Darkfield supporting my JPS Inwall power cord connecting from the Torus Power to my power amps, the sound was most well balanced between the background silence, darkness, and imaging focus.
Elite Acoustic MSI(Magnetic Shock Isolator) supporting the same Cardas Golden Presence interconnect.
Next, I replaced the Shunyata Darkfield with the Elite Acoustic MSI. Just like the I discovered earlier with the Darkfield, you can't use too many of these stuff. I also found the MSI to be weight sensitive, the heavier the cable the more effective it is. To achieve this, one can use less MSIs on a given cable length, that means like if I had use 4 pcs Darkfield earlier, I can now use only 3 pcs of MSIs to support the same cable. Once you dialed in the correct amount of MSIs to use on each cable, now you're rolling.
As per my experience with the Darkfield, 3 pcs of MSIs under the same Cardas Golden Presence interconnect gave excellent results. The MSIs never darkened the back ground like the Darkfields did. Instead, it fills the back ground with audiophile air, if a little hazy translucent like quality(I am trying my best to describe the sonic effect heard in lay man's term, hopefully it makes sense to you as an audiophile). Whatever it is, it's not white noise either. With the MSI, I feel the vocals and voices are projected with more density. This makes voices sound more complete and real, with chest and lungs. However, as you add more and more pcs of MSI, you'd find that the vocal imaging projected a little further and further forward in to the room, making the voice a little detached from the musical instruments in the back ground! I also subjectively found the MSIs more PRAT friendly to the tempo of the music, comparatively to the Darkfield.
In summary, the two cable elevators work in different sonic directions. I would say if your system is looking for a little more back ground silence, better imaging focus, the Darkfield is the more suitable candidate. Should your system crave for a little more audiophile "air" and dimensionality, with increased vocal density projection, then the MSI is a treat. At RM$100/pc, the Shunyata Darkfield is no doubt, the better value option. However, if it clicks with your system, as it did with mine, at RM$256/pc the Elite Acoustic MSI is my preferred cable elevator device, in the context of my system and musical preference.
In the end, your system and musical preference will ultimately sway your purchase decision. Like all tweaks of this nature, try before you buy is the order of the day.
Shunyata is sold by Valve & Vinyl, contact Mr Ng, tel:016-3302049
Elite Acoustic is sold by Sound Precision, contact Mr Chan, tel:019-3825937