OCC Silver Dart Power Cord
During the early 1990s, a ‘Quiet Revolution’ in audio cabling occurred. Audiophiles recognized that insulating cables from Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) and Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI) could lower the noise floor and drastically elevate the sonic performance of their systems. Twenty five years later, cables used in highend 2-channel audio systems are now considered as important—if not more so—than the gear itself.
High quality power cords drop the noise floor waaaay down. Less noise means that more detail, texture, and tone can emerge from the soundstage. This accuracy makes the timbre of instruments ‘feel’ more organic and natural. High-end power cables also increase the amount of energy (read: life) any system has. The results are better pace, rhythm and timing (PRaT), deeper resolution, and a far more lifelike sound to recorded music.
Today, cutting-edge materials and wildly sophisticated manufacturing techniques have ushered in a new ‘Golden Age’ in audio cabling. Older generation cords that were state-of-the-art just five years ago are being beaten by newer and better sounding ones. Zavfino’s new OCC Silver Dart power cable ($800 US for a 1.5m cord) is one fine example.
DESIGN & FEATURES
More Canadian than a Winnipeg Jets fan ordering a double-double while piloting a zamboni through a Timmy’s drive-thru in Flin Flon Manitoba, 1877 Phono has been proudly offering cables, components, and accessories to OEMs and DIY’ers for more than 18 years. Zavfino is one of their registered brand names.
The 1.5m Silver Dart power cord I reviewed had a gorgeous snakeskin-silver outer jacket. The cable’s 1.25 inches thick and it’s as stiff as a Keanu Reeves monologue. Be forewarned: you’ll need at least 18 inches of space behind any component to plug this power cord in. Although it isn’t too heavy, this cord is also difficult to rotate along its torsional axis.
An electrical anomaly known as the “skin effect” occurs when electrons move through any solid core wire. Higher frequencies travel along the outside (the skin) of the
conductor faster than midrange and lower echelon frequencies. This results in hazy PRaT, muddled instrumental timbres, and an unnatural sound.
To negate the skin effect, Zavfino’s patented H-Wound process twists thin silver stranded wire tightly around thicker central OCC copper solid-core conductors. They refer to this construction as a ‘cable within a cable’ and claim that it achieves “perfect pitch” and superior PRaT.
Instead of only using a copper braid or a Mylar wrap as a dielectric shield, Zavfino extrudes a ‘graphene’ layer over a Mylar shield/drain to insulate the Silver Dart from EMI and RFI. Graphene is an allotrope of carbon which, at the molecular level, forms a two dimensional hexagonal lattice in which one atom forms each vertex. It’s the basic structural element of various other allotropes, including graphite and charcoal.
Noise is to audiophiles what toenail fungus is to shoe enthusiasts: a hell-spawned thing to be feared and loathed like the black plague. The Dart’s graphene dielectric shield rejects EMI and RFI noise like an Amish techsupport rep rejects phone calls; it just ain’t gettin’ through.
Graphene is the strongest material ever tested. Its tensile strength is about 200 times greater than that of the strongest known steel. It is also the best conductor of electricity yet known. These physical qualities are what make it so valuable to audio applications.
Most cables using OCC metals take months to burn-in. Zavfino cryo-treats and pre-burns all of their conductors before the insulation is extruded over the conductors. They claim that their patented Ultra Sonic 7 process creates a unique break-in effect that sounds like the cables have had 40 hours of current run through them.
One thing is clear: Zavfino has invested more R&D into the Silver Dart than the US put into their space program in the 1980s. This power cord uses a half-dozen new technologies which, in theory, should improve its sound quality. So… how does it sound?
Released in 1981, U2’s October has phenomenal sonics. With songs like “Gloria”, “I Fall Down”, “Rejoice”, “Tomorrow”, “Stranger in a Strange Land”, and “Is that All…?”, producer Steve Lillywhite layered Bono’s soaring vocals on top of the hauntingly introspective and atmospheric sounds heard on this album.
During the early 1980s, I listened to October on a nearly daily basis. I thought I knew this album to the core of my being. And yet, with one Silver Dart cord plugged into a 10 Amp power regenerator, I discovered all sorts of subtle sonic details which I simply hadn’t heard before.
Examples…? Bono’s pained vocals sounded more desperate and tortured than I remembered. The Edge’s guitar lines echoed with a lonely and distinct isolation that haunted my mind for days. The moody bass and ringing percussive accents had richer harmonics, greater texture, and far more ‘feel’ to them.
No matter what component I plugged it into, the OCC Silver Dart brought an organic warmth, textured resolution, and incisive musical insight into October that raised the listening experience from merely hearing the music, to being thoroughly involved with the songs on an emotional level.
Released in 1980, Saxon’s landmark Wheels of Steel is a new wave of British heavy metal album. If you like Motörhead or Maiden, you’ll love this hard-charging music.
Showcasing roaring songs like “Motorcycle Man”, “747 - Strangers in the Night”, “Freeway Mad”, “See the Light Shining”, “Machine Gun”, and the anthemic title track “Wheels of Steel”, this album kicks like an injection of 100 CCs of nitrous-oxide.
With the Silver Dart, I immediately felt the swaggering command of Biff Byford’s überconfident vocals. The percussive accents from cymbals were detailed without any high-band ringing or artifice. The tone and texture of the twin rhythm guitars was warm and natural sounding. Unlike a lot of posh power cords that make bass notes sound like the modified exhaust of a teenager’s car, the Dart delivered superb timbral accuracy across the lower frequency registers.
The two main things I want to hear from cables are: one, incisive high-frequency resolution that doesn’t induce ringing fatigue; and two, a palpable richness of texture, tone, and timbre that isn’t slow or coloured. While listening to Wheels of Steel, it occurred to me that the OCC Silver Dart does both.
Sorry Suave (my dear editor), but I’m keeping the review samples. Why…? Unlike most OCC cables which take months to burn-in, the Silver Dart created stellar sound in 24 hours. I’m calling this the “5 minute jeans trick” of audio, because getting any OCC power cable to the heights of musical ecstasy after only a day or two—instead of a month or two—is a rare and wonderful thing.
In my audio systems, the Dart consistently created a much deeper emotional connection with the music I love. Even on discs I’ve been listening to for decades, this AC cable unveiled layers of sound which I honestly didn’t know existed.
Yes… $800 USD is a fair bit of money for a single power cord. And yet, in my listening tests, the Silver Dart embarrassed a lot of mains cables that sport $2,500+ USD price tags. The only cords that cleanly beat Zavfino’s monster were ones with conductors made entirely out of OCC Silver; most of which flaunt obscene asking prices north of $5K USD.
Beg, borrow, or steal—whatever it takes— get this cable into your system. With the OCC Silver Dart, Zavfino has unleashed a giant killer.