Göbel Lacorde Statement USB and Ethernet Cables cost 4500 Euros each for a 1.2m length putting them firmly in the luxury, high-end bracket. Dan Worth has a huge amount of experience with digital cables in Hifi and sees what these bring to the rather exclusive party.

Receiving the ‘Best Sound At The Show’ from Hifi Pig after the Warsaw 2016 event and also given AVShowrooms ‘Best At Show’ award at Munich this year, Gobel High End contacted me to have a look at their latest cable options from the Lacorde Statement range. A USB and Ethernet cable – I think they may have heard through the proverbial grapevine that cables are somewhat of a fascination of mine and I particularly enjoy and employ a digital system.

Finding the perfect cable is like finding the perfect women, you try a few, you may have a short or long-term relationship, but it’s only once in every lifetime where you can find a cable loom that no matter what equipment you introduce it to – the cabling is electrically perfect and ends up being a marriage made in heaven. 

Passion and Commitment Equals Excellence

Music is and always has been a big part of Oliver Gobel’s life, from as early as his memories go back. In fact, his entire family are musicians. For example, his Father played the piano, trumpet and guitar. His Grandfather was a protestant pastor, which is self-explanatory really with music being a huge part of the Church’s way of life.

Oliver himself however was much more fascinated in the best possible playback and reproduction of the music. As a benchmark he always had real music played by his expressive family. Oliver’s passion for Hifi began very early when he was around 12 years old, making him more and more curious as to how the electronics produced sound, even though at the time he had absolutely no idea how it all worked, he would always disassemble equipment and attempt to reassemble it.

This obsession led Oliver Gobel to his first profession – as an electrician in the field of Communication Technologies wherein he also obtained his Masters Degree. After this he worked for Siemens in the field of Electro-Acoustics developing loudspeakers and applications for other manufacturers.

“In parallel I had come across the technology of ‘bending stiff bending wave’ loudspeakers”, said Oliver, “which was extremely fascinating for me – as this technology offers so many advantages in comparison to the common loudspeaker technologies. That’s why I deeply investigated this technology and also researched it during my spare time after work and on weekends. After I made my breakthrough, I applied a patent about my developments on the ‘bending stiff bending wave loudspeaker’. Shortly after I got my patent I canceled my work at Siemens and started my own company and named it Göbel High End. I totally stand behind my products, this is why I can lend my name to the company.”

That was14 years ago now, Oliver as well as heavily investing his time in Göbel High End but also has a secondary company which produces OEM products for other companies such as Grundig’s Home Cinema systems and Audiorama’s statement spherical loudspeakers.

“One great aspect in additionally working as an OEM developer and manufacturer for bigger companies like Grundig is that we learned a lot of the importance of quality control and apply a perfect quality control system in order to really assure reliability of our products.”

The Manufacturing Of Cables

So why are Göbel now manufacturing their own cable line? Actually, it is very simple. Oliver of course was looking for the best possible cables in order to wire his loudspeakers internally. He tested and auditioned many, many cables from many, many different manufacturers and felt he wasn’t obtaining the results he was attempting to pursue.

So, the only real option he told me was to research and investigate even further. Starting with the core wire, different materials, metallurgy and alloys, various cross sections, shapes and sizes of conductor, then dielectrics and dielectric cross sections, differing arrangements and shieldings in order to control the inductance and capacitance along with various heat and cryogenic treatments, connection types between the conductors and the connectors themselves.

Not to mention the thousands of hours of listening; Mr Göbel is an extremely meticulous man who doesn’t do anything by halves, just take a look at the Göbel High End website to discover the intricacies and quality of his designs and finishing touches.

From the initial release of the Lacorde Speaker Cables in 2013 it’s taken until now for Göbel who are incredibly stringent and their own worse critics to produce the USB and Ethernet cables I have here for review, with analogue and digital interconnects coming throughout the three year period as and when the team feel that they are absolutely 100% happy.

This same philosophy is employed to all Göbel products within their development building in Munich, Germany. Oliver Göbel conveyed his thoughts to me, referring to companies who have a tendency to push products through, especially cables, then bring out newer versions of the same products consistently over time. Göbel simply build a product until it is in their eyes ‘perfect’ regardless of how much time and money it takes to get the finished article. Although this isn’t a realistic business plan for everybody, Göbel champion themselves on the ability to be fortunate to do so.

“Our goal is to really bring music alive. That is, and always was the passion behind all our efforts, researches and technologies – to manufacture real statement products which bring the ultimate real music experience!”

A very passionate statement from a very passionate and focused man. So, let’s take a look at these cables and see what all the fuss is…

The Physical Product 

Forget the physical product just now, let’s talk about the bomb proof packaging and beautiful way these cables are presented first. The exterior shipping box has enough reinforcement to make its way across the Middle East on a busy day.

The presentation packaging is gorgeous, a black real leather case with contrasting grey stitching and embossed family coat of arms. Internally the velvet comfortably seats the cable, which looks very elegant and feels sleek and luxurious, luxurious, a cable? Yes, the braided soft cotton mix material finish is plush and the bespoke end caps which also act as strain relief, to two of the worst cables to apply strain relief to, feel absolutely solid. The machining detail and fit on the plugs are second to none, with the companies engraved logo giving grip to installation.

Installation could be a little tricky if the rear of your rack is less than tidy, the overall thickness of this cable is very surprisingly flexible, but things are less bendy towards the ends and the cables overall weight can be a slight strain on lightweight equipment, so ensure you install the cable with as much care as you outdo the associated equipment it’s connecting with.

The Sound

The first thing appreciated when I plugged in the Lacorde Statement USB was a calmness that came over the entire system. An additional dose of smoothness combined with an extra sprinkle of resolution simply left my current very high-end USB in the weeds. I didn’t realise how much I was missing until I connected the LS USB. Going back to the usual reference afterwards was like listening to a piano that was slightly out of tune my cable really is an excellent listen at around £3000 cheaper. imagine a graph plotting the frequency response of what the LS USB was able to offer and then drag a fine toothed comb through the wet ink lines removing fine areas of frequency and detail and at the same time these dragged lines smear across the table – an impression of leaving me with minor amounts of distortion in a fog like mist across the overall sonic picture, that can only be assessed with a comparison such as I have here in the Lacorde Statement.

The Lacord Statement USB was in its earliest stages still really, I decided not to cook it on the Blue Horizon Proburn burning in machine, the LS USB was straight out of the box and was already creating a stir. I wanted to hear the progression of this cable, rather than burn it in on the Blue Horizon, as I was drawn into Oliver’s mantra. Complete burn in took little under one month, so I assume that we are dealing with solid core conductors, most likely of a triple alloy type but as I am not even privy to the contents of the cable, experience makes this assumption.

Once the cable had continued running in for two weeks it became quickly evident that comparing the Lacorde Statement with my previous Chord Sarum T was futile, Chord have produced a cable which makes most other USBs submit before it, but here I was considering a USB cable that was in a completely different league, leaps and bounds ahead of any of the competition that I had heard previously at least, and after around the five week mark the final molecules of haze, which I only realised existed until after they had gone, disappeared. Bass extended a little further and the outer boundaries of the soundstage gained better shape and agility allowing timbre to flourish more naturally.

Listening to Bliss’ ‘Wish You Were Here’ gave me a new look into the structure of the recorded mix. I’ve always obtained a three-dimensional, encapsulating sphere of sound in my listening room, which thrives on tracks recorded like this, but now I was getting a thickness of sound all around me that was now almost as prominent as the front of the stage. Similar to going from an Ordinary CD version to its SACD equivalent.

Drum rolls gained extra extension and solidity with more girth and added control. The tighter leading edges flowed perfectly fluently into the looser extension of the acoustic venue, with a decay that was volumetrically representative.

The vocals were the most liquid I had heard to date on my system and in my room, this track has such a beautiful glow and flow and at the same time also being able to convey so much more information. The Lacorde Statement conveys incredible tone and timbre. The source is incredibly important in the chain of any system and many will state that it’s the most important part, myself I feel each component is just as important as each other –  price relative with an overall attention on synergy of course, the LS USB has given my source the aqueduct required to the DAC that was more crucial a connection than I had previously thought and I haven’t always paid strict attention to my USB cable.

Missing minor undertones gives a perception of a brighter sound and damping the highs with added capacitance for instance warms the sound, stranded cables sound a little spitty because they do not have a linear electron flow. Spittyness can also come from incorrect inductance. Dielectric types and geometries also play a huge part of the whole. There are just so many factors related to building cables which leaves me only imagining how much time and money Gobel have invested in creating the Lacorde Statement range. Being the first and only range of cables from the Munich based company shows how precise and competent they are, as this first and only range has got my full attention.

With a connection as electrically sound and as thoughtfully made as the LS actually makes me wonder whether I should be re-writing previous reviews of the associated electronics as I feel that they are now working to a far greater potential than before. Of course, the influence of other parts of a system effect a new addition in a well-balanced system and vice versa. This is what we know as synergy but imagine if the entire system was coupled together with electrical perfection and the only aspect that required balancing was overall tone, now that would be a dream that many will not achieve but fortunately and currently I’m blessed enough to feel that I have the correct inductance throughout using a full Studio Connections Black Star System (due for review later this year) and with the addition of the Gobel Lacorde Statement USB the act is now more complete and allows me to feel that whatever I place into my system equipment wise will be able to show it’s true potential without any bottlenecking allowing me to  simply forget about the cable loom altogether.

The additional abilities of the soundstage are also reminiscent of installing the Black Star loom, timing is absolutely on the money and placement accuracy within the transparent and effortlessly complex performance again proves electrical compliance to be just so more precise and materials used to be quite exotic in their precise geometry. Air fills the soundstage like water in a fish bowl allowing notes to flow freely around, amongst, in front of and behind a vocalist with absolutely zero smearing of more complex passages which have a confidence that allows for the smallest of transients to be completely appreciable and easy to focus on within the performance.

The only other time I’ve come across a digital cable that performs in a similar manner is the MIT Oracle AES/EBU but then that has a slightly different job to perform. Carrying power and data across a cable is an extremely difficult task to manage in a USB, Go Göbel has had the foresight to split the data and power lines to minimise stray electron interaction and I can only imagine what an incredibly low SNR linear supply would offer in addition to the +5v VCC and ground conductors.

Adding The Lacorde Statement  Ethernet 

In addition to the Lacorde Statement USB, Oliver Göbel had the foresight to send me two of the ranges Ethernet cables in order for me to assess their performance in my streaming setup. If I’m completely honest, conveying the absolute maximum ability of their performance would have possibly more fruitful if I was using them as I2s connections but unfortunately my I2s connections uses the more up to date HDMI protocol. I am able of course to install them between Melco streamer and linear switch and from switch to a linear powered router as well as from the Melco to a Linn Klimax DS which just landed for review and will be backed off of the Melco for its music library due to the Linn having no onboard storage. I also have Tidal and Qobuz streaming services I can use the Lacorde Statement Ethernet cables to support.

I have an existing bundle of ethernet cables from various companies such as Audioquest, Tellurium Q, Meicord, SotM along with some other prototypes which I am testing for companies. I’ve been exploring Ethernet cables since better quality versions hit the market a few years ago with moderate to good effect over the better constructed more standard fair offerings. My most recent acquisition is the Tellurium Q Black Diamond and in comparison, with all other options available to me is a clear step up over the rest in overall bandwidth, background silence and top end control, I’ve been considering trying the AQ Diamond after getting one of their Diamond HDMI cables for I2s duties but in all honesty, I feel that again as mentioned above could well be overkill for a streaming cable rather than I2s.

The implementation of Gobel’s Lacorde Staement Ethernet cable proved that there is still room for improvement in my system when streaming, even over the Black Diamond from TQ which has been an excellent enhancement to my Tidal and Qobuz streaming the Lacorde Statement instantly rained in some timing errors I was not aware of having. The LS over any standard Cat7 cable can be likened to a high-end interconnect change over the throw away ones that come with a cheap CD player, so no need to do any comparisons there. In comparison to the TQ which is less than 1/4 the price performance although not relative is a clear step up again, as it was over all the other Ethernet cables I currently possess.

Overall resolution is enhanced with finer inner details culminating in better micro dynamics especially in the top end where the cleaner presentation makes way for more exposure in the black background. The crowd at the beginning of Fink’s Perfect Darkness sounded as though it had been fed through its own separate speaker and amplifier combination with me able to hear the individual cheers and screams from each of the contributor’s male or female, I could have probably sat there and counted the number of each, there was that much more resolution on hand.

Upper mids too allowed for a smoother and more controlled rendition of female vocals especially and far better balance and cohesiveness of the uppers and midrange, which was already very transparent but now cleaner and more playful in its transient response accompanied with a little more depth than I was used too.

Our Editor here at Hifi Pig Stuart Smith is not a cable enthusiast, appreciating a good well made cable over the pursuit of constantly trying to better what he has or factor them too heavily into his overall plan when building a system. However, the handful of times he has been to shows that Göbel High End have demonstrated at I receive a phone call soon after with emphatic praise for the Gobel Sound. Göbel High End as a company that produce products with real excellence and as stated in my introduction to this review Oliver Göbel and his team have worked over the past couple of years to get this range of cabling just right and previous system setups its other manufacturers cables have just not been able to push their products to their full potential according g to them. What Stuart heard was a combination of the whole, all Göbel’s expertise applied to overall system synergy and being of a similar mindset can really appreciate how important the links between our valued equipment have to be.

To champion a cable as much as I champion what I’ve currently heard from the Lacorde Statement range can be said by some as grave, personally I can understand where all this negativity comes from when it comes to cables? It’s due to insane pricing and the spiel the majority of manufacturers want to influence you with. However, like anything in life you need to trawl through the garbage and build relationships with products and companies that offer excellence, combined with solid engineering techniques, along with vigorous R&D – Göbel are a company who cover all these bases and more. Their attention to the finer final details in all of their products is nothing short of obsessive.

With the Linn Klimax DS having been playing continuously for nearly a week now I feel I have a very good handle on its abilities. It’s a fantastically clean sounding piece of equipment which conveys great timbral qualities and musical tone. At £15,800 it is one of the most expensive streamers on today’s market. This price tag and its lack of inputs – being confined to only one Ethernet input to carry it across a home network and internet based streaming channels, is in fact more relative to the Gobel’s Ethernet price tag of €4500.

My expectations of improvements were thoroughly confirmed when I attached the Lacord Statement Ethernet from the Klimax DS to the Melco. My first observation was an improvement in dynamic dexterity, the Klimax has a very well-constructed soundstage with great timing and with the LS in the front to back projection flared outwards wonderfully, lending its character to much more air and space. My favoured acoustic genre of music benefited wonderfully, with reverbs and acoustic space becoming even more lifelike with a more naturally informed density across the larger picture.

Bass note were given a slightly more elastic bounce as well as a slightly more effortless flow and roll that decayed more appropriately dependent on tempo and beat.

Vocals remained very solid and engaging and I would express my findings to be more openness with the release of the smallest amount of midrange congestion, rather than adjustments of tonality or vocal positioning, allowing them to be more focused and explicitly true to the artist.

Overall, I would say that the Lacorde Statement Ethernet induced an experience into my system every bit as well as the Lacorde Statement USB, with further potential to be had when used in a direct I2s configuration. I favour many many cables at many price points in a market that is flooded with an over-bearing amount of options. This like anything else is simply derived from experience and knowledge.

Conclusion

My opinion, and one that hasn’t changed ever since ever since is that the goal when searching out quality cables and components is to work hard, test whatever you can get your hands on and accept to include cables in your entire system budget. You will then naturally over time find manufacturers that are sincere and capable of building a cable, such as Göbel High End’s Lacorde Statement range (if that’s where your budget lies) that can lend itself to any piece of equipment or system – allowing that component to express itself with more ease conveying its character without the cable being any sort of bottleneck in one’s assessment of the equipment. Rather than being coloured by a link which due to a less than concise electrical match – forcing the character of equipment to be heavily influenced by the cable. The Lacorde Statement cables I have reviewed here have no colour and no influence on the tonal palette of the music, instead they allow every molecule of inhibited information to confidently flow.

On a personal level I’m intrigued to hear what the rest of the Lacorde Statement range will have to offer a system such as my own, which is already connected with expensive cabling that again I believe has been produced extremely critically, from a brand I know and trust for the exact reasons I have gained respect for Gobel High End.

The Lacorde Statement USB and Ethernet cables are very expensive, more so now considering the diminishing value of other world currencies against the Euro, even to those with the thickest of wallets, which is my only criticism. Their performance however, certainly does make a statement – taking my associated equipment to another level of insight, resolution and transparency. So, if this is the price of cable perfection then I leave the justifications down to you the end-user.

AT A GLANCE

Build Quality: One of the finest built pieces of cable I have come in contact with

Sound Quality: Simply the finest sound I have heard by a fair margin in these cable types

Value For Money: Can you put a price on overall musical satisfaction? Well if they are out of your price range then yes you can

Pros

The most Analogue and effortless sound from a digital cable of this type

Dynamically astute and sincere

Timbrely majestic and tonally expressive

Will extract every ounce of resolution

Increased soundstage size and dimensionality

Build quality, packaging and overall attention to detail is absolutely superb

Best cable strain relief system of any USB or Ethernet to date

Cons

The chunky connectors and thick cable require a system to be organised accordingly

Will be considered as very expensive by many

Price: 1.2m USB or Ethernet – €4500

Dan Worth

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