Its hard to qualify the change. Was I hearing detail that simply wasn’t getting to the speakers before, or was I now hearing the speakers with something bad removed from the upstream electronics? A bit of both I suspect because the cables do what good cables should and let more of everything through, but they’re also focussed on reducing vibration and that has to be a good thing for the overall sonics at a level beyond pure electrical conduction.
A pair of CDs that I’ve been listening to a lot since Gary Steel passed them my way are the discs from Love Is Strange by Jackson Browne and David Lindley. This live acoustic double album is a wealth of textural detail and subtle atmospheric cues; the Vitesse cables lifted a veil and got me deeper into each venue. The performances seemed to be laid out in a space that was bigger and made more sense in terms of spatial placement, thanks to increased background and harmonic information. Vocals were clearer and had more nuance to them, while the smallest touches on guitars and strings were more obvious and there was more of a crisp bite to everything from lightly strummed guitar to percussion.
Antonio Forcione’s Tears Of Joy on the Naim label is a CD that I often fall back to when I want to listen to well recorded and highly detailed instrumental tracks with great levels of micro-dynamics. With the Vitesse cable in place, it sounded exquisite – transparency is a word that comes to mind, but still doesn’t quite do the sound justice. The bite on the strings was better than I’d heard it at home before and the percussion literally popped from the speakers with new life. Insight is a word much bandied about in audio reviewing, but that’s what I was getting, more insight into the recording, more of an understanding of what was on the disc. Not to mention more enjoyment.
The cables seem to disappear, like cables should leaving just the music behind. I’ve got ‘San Andreas Fault’ from Natalie Merchant’s Retrospective 1995-2005 spinning as I type this paragraph, and the hair is up on the back of my neck. I’m literally stunned at how sweet and clear it sounds. The best my system has ever sounded. That’s good enough for me.
The only negative is a personal one. I didn’t get on well with the RCA plugs on the interconnects. They’re high quality locking types and if you install them and then leave them, you’ll never even think about them once they’re in, but if you’re the type who swaps gear in and out like a footballer changing his trophy wives, then they’ll probably annoy you (just like the trophy wives).
In tight spaces, I found them hard to get locked down properly and then tough to release, but this isn’t unique to the Vitesse Audio RCAs; I had the same issue with other cables with similar connectors. Yes, I know that locking plugs make sense and no, I don’t care. I do however, acknowledge that they were chosen by Hardie because they sound best, so I’d live with them,
On the other hand, the upgraded locking WBT Nextgen banana plugs on the speaker cables are utterly superb.
The Vitesse Audio Solid Air Matrix cables made a definite difference in my system. While the change wasn’t as large as moving from the Black Hole of Calcutta to a six star Versace Hotel, it wasn’t vanishingly subtle either.
Wherever I slotted a Vitesse cable in, I noticed the same improvements regardless of the components involved – on my main system or on three different headphone amps or on my Yamaha integrated. As eclectic as it is, I love the way my system sounds, but with these cables, there’s no question in my mind that it sounds better. These cables made for a well- balanced upgrade, certainly larger than some of the other “upgrades” I’ve tried and rejected, such as swapping CD players or preamps, or messing about with different isolation feet.
“Sounds less like hi-fi and way more like music” would be an accurate summary of the effect.
The best cables I’ve ever had at home? Certainly. Worth a try in your system? Absolutely. They’re not budget cables, that’s for damn sure but compared to some of the offerings out there, they’re seriously inexpensive, and their performance is so good that it falls into the “must audition” category in this writer’s opinion. This is only the second product that I’d seriously consider as my Product of the Year so far.
I’ll be figuring out how I can get hold of a set for myself – maybe some really, really short speaker cables and some 12cm interconnects? No? Damn and blast!
With a range of lower-priced copper versions in the works, there’s no excuse for anyone with a serious system not to try the Vitesse Audio cables. They’re Kiwi made too and that has to count for something.
If Peter Hardie ever decides to sell his cables with a 30-day money back guarantee, I’d be surprised if he had to do much refunding of cash. ASHLEY KRAMER