Cuttin-Edge, On-the-Spot Reporting

Have You Seen?


At 7200 feet above sea level, Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the highest state capital in the US. I’ve experienced higher altitudes, but nothing approaching this in the last 40 years. A couple of hours after arriving in Santa Fe for the launch of Siltech’s new Master Crown series of cables, I ran across the road from my hotel to the gas station to buy a few bottles of water. As I stepped up on the curb, I felt a touch lightheaded and way more out of breath than I expected. That ain’t right, I thought to myself.

In that moment, I recalled my correspondence with Jaclyn Schnirring, marketing coordinator at Monarch Systems Ltd., Siltech’s North American distributor. Schnirring had warned me that I should drink plenty of water (hence this errand) and be conscious of my level of exertion, because altitude sickness is a thing.


I hadn’t been paying attention to the altitude when I made that short sprint, because at that point, I was still processing my drive from the Albuquerque airport to my hotel in Santa Fe. I’d spent that hour with my head nearly out the window, tongue lolling like a big dog, as I hoovered up the austere, magnificent views of the New Mexico desert. To this Southern Ontario boy, that view of the desert with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains rising up in the distance provided a huge dollop of enchantment.

I spent the afternoon settling in and then wandered across the street in search of dinner. The hotel concierge had tentatively recommended the Santa Fe Capitol Grill, and who was I to argue? At the restaurant, I asked my waitress for a recommendation, and without a second’s hesitation she suggested the jalapeño smash burger. I’d come down to New Mexico with the intent of investigating real southwestern food, but this recommendation was immediate and so emphatic that I promptly agreed.


I’m glad I did, because this was the best burger I’d ever had. After dinner I purchased a couple of beers at the gas station, but when I got back to the hotel, the burger was lying on my chest like a pile of bricks and I couldn’t face putting anything else in my stomach.

I woke up the next morning still full. Mid-morning, Jon Baker, cofounder of Monarch Systems, picked me up along with several other journalists, and we headed over to Monarch La Casita, a charming residence in a sparsely populated suburb of Santa Fe. Monarch La Casita is ostensibly a family home, but Monarch Systems purchased it for use as a showroom for some of the lines they distribute. The building itself is lovely. Built in the adobe revival style, it looks like a sand sculpture that’s grown out of the arid desert floor. It’s beautifully appointed, with mission-style furniture and huge, weighty leather sofas.

It was here I met Rich Maez, the other spirit behind Monarch Systems. Maez has deep roots in the Santa Fe area. His family has lived in the region since the late 1500s, and as he showed me around and we stood on the patio looking out over the landscape, I sensed a deep pride in his connection to the land.

RichRich Maez

Besides Siltech, Monarch Systems also distributes Chario and Audio Physic speakers, Alluxity and electronics, AnalogMagik turntable-setup software, and Franc Audio Accessories and Ultra Carbon supports and stands.

Something interesting about Monarch La Casita was, other than the Franc Audio Accessories stands, the absence of Monarch Systems brands in their main system. Here, in this light-filled, comfortably furnished living room, was a pair of YG Acoustics Sonja 3.3 loudspeakers powered by a huge lunk of a Boulder 2160 amplifier. Preamplification and digital source were also courtesy of Boulder.

Full system

The cables, of course, were all from Siltech. As we walked into the house, Gabi Rynveld, global sales marketing director of both Siltech and Crystal Cable, was there to greet us. Gabi and Maez then unspooled their tale of woe—the Siltech Master Crown cables that they were planning to use for the day’s listening had been mis-shipped by DHL and were in either Phoenix or Brussels, depending on which tracking report was to be believed. According to the tracking details, they should be delivered by end of day, or . . . who knows?

Rynveld had prepared for such an eventuality, though. Before her departure from the Netherlands, she slid a Master Crown power cord and a pair of XLR interconnects into her carry-on luggage. According to Rynveld, these emergency cables were prototypes, so there were some blemishes in the finish, but that said, I couldn’t see any flaws.


Siltech has always made premium products. From their Classic Legend series on up, Siltech has employed pure silver conductors in one form or another—either their proprietary silver-gold alloy conductors in the lower lines, or the solid-core monocrystal silver used in the Crown series of cables. I’d never actually handled a Siltech cable, but here I had the opportunity to take a good, close look at a Royal Triple Crown power cord, and it’s an impressive piece of equipment. The jacket is slinky, with the braid perfectly aligned. There’s an obvious feel of luxury to the connectors, all carbon fiber and anodized aluminum. It’s a weighty thing also, the premium price of $19,800 (all prices in USD) buying you lots of actual silver.

In chatting with Gabi, and also with Siltech CEO Edwin Rynveld via a Zoom linkup, I learned that Siltech takes the science behind its metallurgy very seriously. The company has invested significantly in metallurgical expertise and measurement tools, with special emphasis on the influence of magnetic fields on sound quality, and is constantly looking for new technology with which to improve its products.

GabiGabi Rynveld

The Master Crown cables that were playing in this system showcase everything Siltech has learned and are built without compromise. And their prices reflect this. The speaker cables retail for $91,100 for a 1.5m pair, but if you need 2.5m, that’ll bump the price up to a stratospheric $150,900. Would you like power cords and interconnects with that? Right over here, sir: A 2m Master Crown power cord will set you back $51,800 and an XLR interconnect of the same length will dent your black Amex card to the tune of $114,000.

The speaker cables in this system were from the Royal Double Crown line, where a 2.5m pair retails for a still-substantial $43,960.

Speaker cable

There’s a lot going on within a Master Crown cable, which is the company’s first new flagship cable in ten years. Depending on the product, there are either eight or nine different insulators contained within the jacket. Materials include high-grade Teflon, natural silk, air, and Kapton in varying quantities and layers. The natural silk is sealed using a special process so that it remains stable. The XLR interconnects feature a switch that lifts the ground should the cables be used in an unbalanced configuration.

Power cord

Of course, the conductors are all Siltech’s S10 monocrystal silver. According to Siltech, they use sophisticated annealing processes that adjust both the temperature and rate at which the conductors are drawn and how long they take to cool. These processes produce larger and more consistent crystal structures and contribute to the flexibility of the cable. Quality control is of great importance to Siltech. The company performs 135 mechanized checks on each cable before it leaves the factory.

Siltech manufactures its own connectors, and a close look at the Master Crown power cord revealed formidable solidity and attention to detail. There was no question that I was handling a luxury product. And luxury comes with its dangers. According to Gabi, there is a village in China whose sole industry is centered around manufacturing fake Siltech cables. Fake Siltech cables have been turning up at dealers as people attempt to trade them in or verify the provenance of their cables. Each genuine Siltech cable ships with a unique NFC token and serial number, thus providing verification of authenticity at every step from factory to customer.

We spent a while discussing the differences between silver and copper. According to Edwin, pure silver does not tarnish, in stark contrast to copper, which oxidizes quite quickly. For this reason, the company’s monocrystal silver and silver-gold cables are “positive aging,” meaning that they sound better as they age.


Our listening session was shorter than I would have liked, but I wasn’t overly fussed about it. The Rynvelds covered a substantial breadth of information about Siltech, including their foray into microphone modifications and the genesis of their new record label. And besides, a full room and lots of chatting isn’t conducive to determining the sound of a component.

Regardless, we cycled through a couple of hours’ worth of music, including much solo piano—it seemed everyone in the room had a piano track they wanted to hear.

The big YGs were a touch tall for the listening position on the couch, but they opened up nicely with a little more distance. The bass was seriously powerful, although it seemed to be missing a portion of the lowest octave—I think these speakers needed to be back in the corners a bit, which correlates with my experience with YG Acoustics’ Peaks Ascents. Regardless, the system sounded rich and insightful, with a wonderful sense of space and excellent retrieval of detail.

Toward the end of the day, I was talking with Gabi and I remarked, “You know what, I’ve reviewed your Crystal Cables, but I’ve never tried a Siltech cable.”

“We will have to fix that,” Gabi replied.

Jason Thorpe
Senior Editor, SoundStage!