When someone succeeds in something once, we can talk about coincidence, when it is two times, then luck must have had some influence, and when success is on for the third time, then there is something going on, there is no doubt about it. Trying not to come ahead of myself, it is worth keeping in mind, that this text is our in fact third encounter not only with the top Reference line of the Bali manufacturer Vermöuth Audio, but with the brand in general. It just happened, that mid-January we were unexpectedly contacted by Hendry Ramli, the man who is the brand he represents, introduced his company and proposed us to have a listen to his cables, what we gladly accepted. Organic contact, mainly by listening, but also by touching, with the Reference RCA and XLRs quickly made us realize, that we deal here with a very interesting, one could say clinical, or Einsteinian, case. So what am I talking about? Well, about the known statement, that “when everybody knows, something is impossible, someone comes who has no idea about that, and makes it happen”. I think we do not need to explain what High-End is, many times not only technologies from outer space, or at least overhyped marketing, but also very high prices, because quality must, and I underline that, must come at a premium. In short it cannot be done cheap, or at least cheaper than “very expensive”. It just cannot. But then arrives Hendry Ramli, with his cables almost completely white, and shows to the crowd, that it can be done cheaper. But like I mentioned before, you can hit the bulls-eye by chance, what is confirmed by the unlimited list of so called “one-shots”. This is the reason we approached the power cord with a grain of salt, but it turned out to be a killer again. So when the chance came to have a look and a listen of the newest product made by Hendry, the newly introduced in his portfolio, reference loudspeaker cables, we immediately reached out to him and now we can share with you our own, completely subjective, impressions of the Vermöuth Audio Reference Loudspeaker Cable.
The loudspeaker Vermöuth are offered in standard, cardboard boxes, with a certificate of authenticity hand signed by their creator. To avoid any scratches, the cables are packaged in a dedicated, soft sack. Obviously the cables look similar to the interconnects and power cord. So the opalescent white is broken by a single black thread, and the contrasting elements are the silver-black plugs and splitters, as well as the positive signal lead extruding from the splitter – which is red.
The internals of the Reference are not too much of a mystery, as it is hard to expect it to differ much from its brethren, coming from the same product line. So the conductor bundles, made from OCC copper wires of different circumference and with a combined cross-section of 8.7mm2 are covered by a multilayered insulation made from three layers of PTFE tape, which are separating four layers made from spiral, copper braid, which is woven alternately to the direction of the braid. Only this completed “audiophile burrito” is covered with a PVC sheath, and, no, no, this is not the end yet. Within each cable, besides two signal wires, there are also five PVC tubes, and only this package is placed in an external sheath made from fabric. Finally this is the covered with the white PVC braided sheath, characteristic for the brand. Now as the plugs are of special interest for Mr. Ramli, also in this case, instead of some standard, widely available plugs, we find here true jewelry; cold forged, rhodium plated spades from telluric copper, placed in carbon carcasses. Similar attention was given to the splitters, from which the conductors protrude already without the additional protection. Those wires are fairly flexible, what makes attaching them to the terminals in loudspeakers and in the amplifier a breeze. And talking about ergonomics, a small, yet very nice detail is worth noticing – namely the splitters are clearly marked with the appropriate side (left/right), what can be very helpful when connecting the cables to the amplifier.
Now after this short characterization of the looks and internal setup, time has come to assess the sound of the Vermöuth Audio Reference Loudspeaker Cable. However taking into account, that we received a completely new cable from the manufacturer, first two weeks were spent on slow, but thorough burn-in of the cables. The Indonesian loudspeaker cables, being non-stop “under power”, responded with a noticeable evolution of the sound, from a slightly harsh and hardened near the extremes to very resolved and smooth. But in case of the Vermöuth smooth does not mean softened, or rounded, as the sibilants and digital “crackles”, placed in the recording on purpose, on Madonna’s “Ray of Light” could be heard without any masking. Incredible impression was made by the size and swing of the presented stage, which not only reached far beyond the placement of the loudspeakers, but it also reached very far back, underlining the three dimensionality of the spectacle. Of course we are still within the three dimensions created on the sound engineers table and glued together on the computer, but when somebody thought, you cannot get any sounds except those happening in front of us from a conventional stereo setup, then I would warmly recommend to listen to this disc. It is important, that this breath and holography were not the result of any kind of thinning, or moving the tonal balance upwards, but by adding broader perspective, but not the kind with which the listener is observing the spectacle happening on the stage, but a more precise and stable gradation of the individual planes. To back my statement up, I would recommend to closely watch the lower end of the spectrum, which maybe is not stunning with the might of the lowest registers, or better said – it is not artificially boosted, but the amount of information it is able to convey is clearly in the world class, comparable with cables like the Furutech DSS-4.1 or the top Nanoflux, to which the Vermöuth nods not only with its sound, but also the class and aesthetics of manufacturing.
A bit less synthetic, but at the same time much more eclectic “Corpse Flower” by Mike Patton & Jean-Claude Vannier only confirmed the observations I gathered during the test of the power cord and the interconnects regarding the ideal balance between timbre and resolution. The modulation of the voice of Patton smoothly flew from almost Cohen-like warmth to Waits hoarseness did not leave any understatement, similar to the instruments, changing like in a kaleidoscope. I could not catch the tested speaker cables on any trace of averaging or equalizing anything, even once.
The spaciousness of the Vermöuth fares well also in indie-rock climates, like “A Black Mile to the Surface” by Manchester Orchestra, as well as the very difficult to put in any genre “Love & Hate” by Michael Kiwanuka. I could even say, that the tested cable is equally difficult to categorize, as on one hand it can be regarded as a true chameleon, ideally adapting to the sound changing from one disc to another, while on the other, it is a master of transparency, which does not interfere with the reproduced music at all, even in the tiniest detail.
A very obvious question appears now, especially at this level of truthfulness, does this neutrality and transparency not make our library of discs and files, often collected for a long time and with a lot of effort, unsuitable for listening. To be able to assess that I reached out for the live, and not very technically refined, recording, which is otherwise musically masterful “Live With The Plovdiv Psychotic Symphony” by Sons of Apollo and … it played. I mean, to be completely honest, from the first to the last note you can hear, that maybe this is not a rubbish recording, but it leaves a lot to be desired, and it is one of the cases, where I prefer to support the sound with pictures (and it does not matter if this is a DVD or BD) to just listening, but still, the contact with this album did not hurt. The Bali cables play open cards with us, showing clearly, that despite their undeniable abilities in creating a three-dimensional stage, they are not able to brew anything audiophile from those zeros and ones, but when it comes to music, then things are different. We not only get the full set of “Psychotic Symphony”, but also can enjoy virtuoso played covers of hits like “Kashmir”, “Comfortably Numb” or “The Show Must Go On”. This is the typical paradox of your first self-baked cake – it looks as if an 18 wheel truck has run over it, while the taste … is like heaven on earth.
Like we already mentioned during previous reviews, Hendry Ramli honestly admits, that he is not doing everything himself, although in fact he is the Vermöuth Audio brand. But he exactly knows what to outsource to whom, for the final effect to meet his own expectations and fulfill the clearly stated prerequisites. He does not re-brand any foreign ideas, but he concentrates on proprietary details like the plugs, he is making completely himself, quality control, and – this is probably the most important aspect – design work. He does not invest in unproductive activities and does not need to employ any marketing specialists, PR guys or other kind of bureaucrats. Why am I mentioning all this? I do it to make you realize, that you can, at least now, at this moment, purchase a product, which is not only complete, commercialized, in the positive aspect of this word, absolutely brilliant and inevitably high-end, for a fraction of the price it should cost, when looking at the market reality. So if you are searching for a set of cables from the upper shelf, and you have some common sense, to follow your ears, and not the labels, I suggest you to accept the minimal risk of contacting the manufacturer of the tested cables and order a set. How the lower models of Vermöuth Audio stand their own I do not know yet, but the top models from the Reference series are absolutely worth my sincere and full recommendation, which I am enforcing just now.
System used in this test:
– CD/DAC: Ayon CD-35 (Preamp + Signature)
– Network player: Lumin U1 Mini
– Digital source selector: Audio Authority 1177
– Turntable: Kuzma Stabi S + Kuzma Stogi + Dynavector DV-10X5
– Phonostage: Tellurium Q Iridium MM/MC Phono Pre Amp
– Power amplifier: Bryston 4B³
– Loudspeakers: Dynaudio Contour 30
– IC RCA: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond
– IC XLR: Organic Audio; Vermöuth Audio Reference
– Digital IC: Fadel art DigiLitz; Harmonic Technology Cyberlink Copper; Apogee Wyde Eye; Monster Cable Interlink LightSpeed 200
– USB cables: Wireworld Starlight; Goldenote Firenze Silver; Audiomica Laboratory Pebble Consequence USB; Fidata HFU2
– Speaker cables: Signal Projects Hydra
– Power cablese: Furutech FP-3TS762 / FI-28R / FI-E38R; Organic Audio Power + Furutech CF-080 Damping Ring; Acoustic Zen Gargantua II; Furutech Nanoflux Power NCF
– Power distribution board: Furutech e-TP60ER + Furutech FP-3TS762 / Fi-50 NCF(R) /FI-50M NCF(R)
– Wall power socket: Furutech FT-SWS(R)
– Anti-vibration platform: Franc Audio Accessories Wood Block Slim Platform
– Ethernet cables: Neyton CAT7+; Audiomica Laboratory Anort Consequence
– Table: Rogoz Audio 4SM3
Initiating our today’s meeting I have to confess something. When we decided to review audio cables from a very exotic, at least for us, country, a vacation destination rather than a business one, for the first time, I thought, that it will be more of a one time thing, than something ongoing. Why? It did happen before, that a manufacturer wanting to enter a new market for him asked for a contact, promised a fruitful cooperation and after one test, went dead silent. Yet in case of the tested brand we have a consistent effort to remain within the consciousness of the Polish, and through them European music lovers. So after tests of XLR/RCA interconnects and the power cable, which were perceived very positively in absolute terms, and were a killer in the price/performance ratio, we now have a chance to meet the top loudspeaker cables from the Indonesian micro-brand Vermöuth Audio, the Loudspeaker Reference Cable. Are you interested? If yes, then finishing this introduction, I will only mention, that while the manufacturer is engaged in distribution talks in our country, he provided the tested product himself again.
In terms of the internal build of the tested loudspeaker cables, those follow the previously presented setup of the interconnects having a similar, copper conductor inside. The main differences are in the way the copper wires are interwoven inside, using Teflon tubes, what makes it much thicker than the signal cables. The second difference is in the amount of shielding layers, protecting the cable from degrading interference. Talking about the looks – from the outside we see a very nice, snowy white, with single black thread, opalescent braid covering the main part of the cable. On the extremes the plus and minus wires are separated on the run of a few dozen centimeters. This split is not achieved using simple thermal tape splitter, but using carbon fiber barrels, with the company logo on it, which adds extra exclusivity to the already very exquisite cables. The separated signal conductors are terminated with spades, also covered with carbon fiber elements, albeit smaller than the previously described splitters. Finally the whole cable is placed in a bag and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity placed in a nicely looking cardboard box.
Applying the Indonesian white snakes in my system, I was kind of hoping, that they will be at least as good as other products from this series. Of course, they are one series, what should be an indicator, that the sound should be treated the same way, but I had many encounters before, where the quantifier “somewhat similar” was an exaggeration, as reality showed the sound being completely different. Fortunately the constructor did not allow himself to make a disrespectful move and included everything we mentioned during previous encounters with his products also in the tested wiring. So what is it? Plugging the Vermöuth Audio Loudspeaker Reference Cable into my system resulted in the sound being well established in mass and timbre, while still reproducing adequate vitality. This was not done in a way, that would allow the treble to tell their own tale, but in a multicolored fashion, where they were used to reproduce the vivid notes of the multilayered music having all the body it needed. This is really a strong asset of the Bali brand. It escapes the temptation of exposing the extremes of the sound spectrum, while skillfully reproducing the emotions of the signal played between the loudspeakers in our listening rooms. So how does this stand against the neutrality of the sound? In fact very interesting. The sound is vivid, but not bulky, massive, yet agile and quick, not irritating to our ears and still with a nice spark. Translating from mine language to something generally understandable, the music can, depending on the repertoire, at one time emphasize on emotion, warmth and intimacy, just to explode with madness by rock or electronics a few seconds later. But I must give you a warning, even in the most lively pieces the tested cable is far from placing the signal rise speed as its main goal. So if you are looking for a means to wake up, your not so well configured, too slow, systems, then Vermöuth is not the best choice. At the same time I am calming down potentially terrified music lovers, I am talking here about borderline cases of slow, as juicy systems, playing with appropriate swing, will have enough space to find common ground with the tested cables. Do I have any proof for my claims? You do not need to search far, just please look at my daily system. It is made around the statement, that it should be pleasing more for the music lover than a performance system for a never satisfied audiophile. Listening to it will make you acknowledge, that the added grain of mass and density does not kill vitality, but makes our lives nicer by showing, how saturated the music we listen to can be. At least this is how it happened for me. It was denser in the midrange, slightly bigger on the lowest end, but in no way muddy. Any proof? At the end of the test, when I was not sure, if I was not a victim of harmful, for you the readers and potential buyers, infatuation, causing me to write only unsubstantiated positive items about the wires, I started to change the cabling back and forth with their competition. And the result? The sound of the Tellurium Q was placed a tad higher throughout the whole spectrum, but the tested cable, with its darker and denser sound, did not change my positive view of the whole test. And the differences in pricing are quite substantial. This just back up my statement, that the sound of the Reference series of the Vermöuth Audio brand is very good in absolute terms, and the price/performance ratio is just stellar.
I am not sure, that describing the influence of the tested cable on the audio system, I did not put too many positives, but reading the whole before publication, I did not change even one sentence. Those are all fully verifiable impressions, what could not result in anything else, than a very positive result of the test. Are those cables for the everyman? You would need to refer back to what I wrote. If your system is not overly slow, then the tested set of loudspeaker cables from Vermöuth Audio will provide you many nice moments with your beloved music. And it does not matter if you are listening to free jazz or mainstream jazz, because the Indonesian offering will hold its own in quick and more toned down music.
System used in this test:
– CD transport” CEC TL 0 3.0
– DAC: dCS Vivaldi DAC 2.0
– Reference clock: Mutec REF 10
– Reclocker: Mutec MC-3+USB
– Shunyata Research Sigma CLOCK
– Shunyata Sigma NR
– Preamplifier: Robert Koda Takumi K-15
– Power amplifier: Reimyo KAP – 777, Gryphon Antileon EVO Stereo, TAD D1000 MK2-S
– Loudspeakers: Trenner & Friedl “ISIS”
– Speaker Cables: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond
– IC RCA: Hijri „Million”, Vermouth Audio Reference
– IC XLR: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond
– Digital IC: Harmonix HS 102
– Power cables: Harmonix X-DC 350M2R Improved Version, Furutech NanoFlux NCF Furutech DPS-4 + FI-E50 NCF(R)/ FI-50(R), Hijiri Nagomi
– Table: SOLID BASE VI
– Accessories: Harmonix TU 505EX MK II, Stillpoints ULTRA SS, Stillpoints ULTRA MINI, antivibration platform by SOLID TECH, Harmonix AC Enacom Improved for 100-240V, Harmonix Room Tuning Mini Disk RFA-80i
– Power distribution board: POWER BASE HIGH END
– Acoustic treatments by Artnovion
Drive: SME 30/2
Arm: SME V
Cartridge: MIYAJIMA MADAKE
Phonostage: RCM THERIAA
Step-up: Thrax Trajan
Manufacturer: Vermöuth Audio
Price: 2 485 $/ 2 x 1,8 m, + 300$ additional 2 x 30 cm; Jumper Banana to Spade Pair 580 $