Origin Live Silver Hybrid S2 Interconnect Review

Posted on 28th October, 2022

Origin Live Silver Hybrid S2 Interconnect Review

David Price samples the latest version of a popular and appealing 'affordable high-end' cable alongside its little brother…

Origin Live

Silver Hybrid S2 Interconnect


Not many people know this, but Origin Live's first ever product – way back in the mists of time – was a cable. Of course, the company then went on to make a very good name for itself with tonearms and then turntables – but former naval architect Mark Baker, and Origin Live's founder and boss, has an enduring enthusiasm for the subject…

Of course, some are entirely convinced – without ever having taken the trouble to do any actual listening comparisons, naturally – that a £5 Chinese cable from Amazon Basics sounds the same as the most expensive, telephone-number-price-tag Siltech. This review isn't aimed at these people but rather at those who see cables as an important, if perhaps not entirely fundamental, aspect of improving a system's sound.

Mark's first cable came out at a time when everyone was raving about DNM solid-core cable. If you're as geeky as me, you'll remember this mid and late nineteen eighties craze, where everyone suddenly 'discovered' that solid-core sounded different to multi-strand, and many made the move. But the trouble with fashionable thinking is that it soon goes out of fashion, and many of us realised that it had great clarity but was dynamically flat, especially in the bass. Even via the NAD 3120 amplifier I was running at the time, my own experimentation led me to this conclusion, and I went back to multi-strand.

Since then, all sorts of fads have come and gone, but what really counts when all is said and done is the use of high-quality materials, plus painstaking development using the most sensitive measuring instrument known to humankind – our ears. This is something that Mark Baker is famous for, and it has led him to some interesting and, at times, controversial conclusions that go against the accepted wisdom of the day. It's this intense 'hands-on' R&D that has gone into the new Silver Hybrid cables.


“My goal was for great dynamics, great tonality, great clarity and great timing”, Mark told me. That's a lot of greats and hard to achieve for any cable – especially when different designs tend to be one or the other, not all. “We want lots of texture, and fine dynamics, for the live feel of real musical instruments.” The latest £580 Silver Hybrid 2 and the £1,220 Silver Hybrid S2, he claims, deliver precisely this.

As you would expect, he's a little cagey about the exact make-up of the cables. It is probably best not to give your competitors free advice. But suffice it to say that the copper wire, and the silver used to plate it, are carefully chosen – with Mark having listened to metals from many different suppliers. He tells me that both cables are essentially unscreened versions of Origin Live's tonearm cable and says that for this application, this is what yields the best sound. In addition, a new balanced topology is employed. The result is a neat looking, nicely presented, easy-to-use product.

He's a little less cagey about his choice of Graham Nalty RCA GN-4 phono plugs. “We have tried everything – Furutech, WBT, etc. – and we can't find anything that sounds better than these. It is quite bizarre because the rhodium plate has 2.5 times less conductivity than copper and yet sounds superior. It seems the electrons seem to like its ultra-smooth finish!” The plug has only one single contact point, to reduce eddy currents, and its metal body is completely insulated from the signal. “It's an extremely well-designed thing”, he adds, “but is way more expensive than most others. Sold through retailers, they cost around £160 for a set of four!”

Presentational standards are good these days; the packaging boxes are high-quality items and neat, sturdy and fuss-free. The cables themselves aren't at all chintzy looking and come with subtle black sheathing. The plugs work superbly, too, so the result is a product that feels classy without being flashy or ostentatious – it doesn't seem as if your money is going on gimmicks. Although my main review is of the new Silver Hybrid S2, I tried the cheaper Silver Hybrid 2, for comparison's sake – between my Chord Hugo TT2 DAC and Krell K-300i integrated amplifier, driving Magico M1s loudspeakers.


Starting with the more affordable Silver Hybrid 2, and it sounds open and even with a smooth tonal balance that doesn't get shouty in the upper midband. Indeed, whilst reviewing a pair of loudspeakers that were sounding a bit forward on the upper-range vocals of Supertramp's Roger Hodgson, I had to pull out the cables I was using and introduce this Origin Live design to calm things down. Despite being considerably cheaper, the pace and dynamics of the sound didn't suffer at all – but the tonality was more palatable on the slightly dry, edgy-sounding Crime of the Century. The piano sound also benefited a lot, showing greater body and less tendency to 'ring' on the high notes.

Yet the Silver Hybrid 2 isn't a soft, dull-sounding cable. It's on the subtle side of things, but there's little sense of detail being curtailed or dynamics softened. Bass proved particularly enjoyable. Although not as well resolved as really high-end cables, it was solid, went deep and started and stopped in time with the rest of the music, just as it should. I noticed very little in the way of smear, and there was real get-up and go. Kraftwerk's original 1983 Tour De France was lovely; the system sounded smooth and expansive, with loads of detail and a nice atmospheric feel. The electronic percussion was especially well resolved – with fine attack but a nice texture to the lead synthesiser part.

Moving to the Silver Hybrid S2, it was surprising just how much I'd been missing. I think that in most lower to mid-priced systems, most folk wouldn't notice much of a difference between the two cables, but with a Krell amp driving Magico speakers, there was a good deal more insight. The Kraftwerk track sounded more three-dimensional, with better depth, perspective and a superior sense of space. Vocals, in particular, not especially easy to discern on this track, seemed more tangible and expressive, and the whole song just gelled better. Although the S2 is expensive by most people's standards, I've heard RCA interconnects at twice its price do less well overall.

Indeed, the Silver Hybrid S2 is an extremely natural-sounding design. It's able to get past the slight opacity of many interconnects but without machine-gunning detail at you or having an unpalatable tonal balance. For example, Steely Dan's Doctor Wu is a track that sounds good on so-so hi-fi, is less impressive on good systems, and then really shines with top-flight kit. This cable very much fitted into the latter category, bringing very high levels of detail but not the sort that spoils things – it's not cerebral or analytical in how it performs. Rather, I almost got high on the sheer amount of rich harmonics flooding out of the speakers; those minor key piano cadences were a joy to hear, as was – quite surprisingly – Donald Fagen's voice, which is not exactly famous for its delicate or pleasing timbre.

Even more surprising, perhaps, was how the song just flowed along, like gentle waves lapping at one's feet. I found myself being pulled into a very different musical and emotional time and place relative to where I actually was. Music's power to transport people off to a different world is amazing but rarely realised through hi-fi systems – yet the Silver Hybrid S2 didn't stand in the way, quite the reverse. It offers the unusual combination of organic tonality, plus firecracker dynamics and really good, taut and crisp timing. This is undoubtedly because it's possible to eke deep into the recording without experiencing any sort of overhang in the bass or otherwise.


Thumbs aloft, then, for both the Silver Hybrid 2 and its pricier S2 brother. These Origin Live cables are extremely capable at their respective price points and very much to my taste. You get a welcome lack of tonal colouration, with no hardness or sheen, plus lovely, lilting musicality and bracing dynamics. The more expensive model is considerably better, rather than only slightly so, and thus arguably superior value. Either way, both will get the best out of high-resolution systems that could otherwise spit and hiss at you.

Visit Origin Live for more information


      David Price's avatar

      David Price

      David started his career in 1993 writing for Hi-Fi World and went on to edit the magazine for nearly a decade. He was then made Editor of Hi-Fi Choice and continued to freelance for it and Hi-Fi News until becoming StereoNET’s Editor-in-Chief.

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      Tags: origin live 


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