Picture the scene . . . . . . . . You hear a knock at the front door early one morning and you open it to find a person you have not seen for years.  Thankfully, you like this person, so you invite them in without any hesitation and spend hours reminiscing about the great and not so great times you’ve had together in the past with your old pal.

Pretty much the same happened to me when I was given a pair Van Damme Blue Studio speaker cables to evaluate.  Van Damme Blue and I had a glorious time together once long ago and it was just like meeting that old friend once more. But this time I didn’t open the door in my pyjamas.  Silly place to put a door.

Also included in this review is Van Damme’s 6mm model in the UP-LCOFC Hi-Fi speaker cable series.  I sure as heck am not going to type that lot in each time I make reference to it, so for the sake of brevity I will simply call it “Hi Fi” with the clear inference it is the variant aimed at the domestic market listener.

Construction (Blue series cable)

The Van Damme Blue speaker cable under review here is some 6.00mm squared per conductor plus the PVC insulation of the VD4
conductors, plus a substantial rubberoid outer jacket, means we are talking about a seriously built cable at 14mm in diameter.   It has to be, as it’s design brief is to survive being manhandled and abused in the professional music arena, ranging from the recording studio and often out into the tour circuit, set in venues where build up and strip down is not done at all with kid gloves on by the technicians.

Van Damme also manufacture a Tour Grade version of this cable which is even more robust with a more resilient outer sheath, plus a “Hi Fi” variant too, more suited to the gentler home audio environment – more on this cable later in this review.

Van Damme also manufacture the Blue series design of cables with smaller diameter conductors ranging from 0.75mm, to 1.5mm, 2.5mm, 4.00mm and of course the 6.00mm we are discussing here, so the range of gauges caters rather well for various applications.

The cables arrived supplied with 4mm banana plugs supplied by Van Damme, similar in style to Michell screw down banana plugs which easily accepts large gauge cables.  My one reservation about these connectors is the knurled ‘bolt’ works itself loose over time so needs regular checking for tightness.  In fact one plug had worked loose during transit, but soon tightened up again by hand.

Conductor material is said to be high purity copper of 0.20mm per strand, 189 strands per conductor, so there is a lot of metal in there giving a commendably low resistance reading of 3.2 Ohms per kilometre.  No inductance or capacitance measurements are provided.

Sound (Blue series cable)

Taking into account this cable was deemed to be unused and fresh off the reel, it required some running in to let it settle down.  It VAnDamétook what seemed to be an exceptional length of time to become listen-able so I would advise new owners to be a little bit patient when first installed and not to make hasty judgments at first hearing.

Given that the Blue is not considered to be a “hi-fi” cable in a domestic setting and aimed more at being a rugged studio workhorse, it was evident from the sound that refinement is not at the top of this cable’s priorities.  I wish I could point out to you where exactly its strengths and weaknesses lie, because one CD track where I was listening to it would sound fine, another less so and variations in between, so I will try and pick out the reliable consistencies that I experienced.

Midrange was certainly congested sounding, with female vocals having a lack of air and grace that I know is there in the recording.  Treble had a slightly steely edge that was prevalent with cymbals in particular, while bass didn’t have the rich fullness that a cable of this diameter should be delivering with ease in my opinion.  It is a listen-able cable nonetheless and I wouldn’t condemn it out of hand as I know there are many folks out there that own and enjoy the sound it makes for them.

However, the next cable to be evaluated happened to be the Van Damme LC-OFC 6.0mm “Hi Fi” variant, so let’s see how this cable fares . . . . . . . . .

Construction  (Hi Fi variant)

This cable has a completely different geometry to the Blue series, arranged in a parallel “shotgun” arrangement, in a clear slightlyVDHOME tinted outer sheath nicknamed “clear”.

Once again, supplied fitted with the Michell style 4mm banana plugs and I have already stated my reservations about these plugs.

Sound (Hi Fi variant)

As we have black and white, ying and yang, so it was with the Blue and these particular cables.  While the Blue failed to impress on a sonic level, the ‘clear’ cloaked Hi Fi variant certainly was a breath of fresh air by comparison.  I was immediately impressed by the bass, which simply flowed out the speakers in copious amounts that fair took me by complete surprise, it was so unexpected.  That isn’t to say though that the bass was bloated or overbearing, far from it in fact and the best way I can describe it to you is the sonic difference between an eight inch bass driver and a twelve inch bass driver, there was simply MORE of it in a powerful, extended and coherent way with terrific solidity, lushness and texture.  Bass guitar acquired a background ‘growl’ to it, sensed rather than actually heard, instead of just a standalone vanilla bass note, kick drum too had a real “whooomph” to it, underpinned with a firmness and control that I haven’t heard in quite some time, even from some esoteric speaker cable confections. Anyone who has heard a Tannoy fifteen inch driver in full song will know what I am saying here regarding the bass energy level and how it makes it sound ‘bigger’ than it actually is. The icing on the cake for me was that lush full bass I was hearing didn’t intrude further up the frequency band to taint the upper bass/lower midrange region, as some cables are prone to doing. My one concern is how this cable would perform in another hi-fi system with someone else’s hearing acuity, but an audition prior to purchase should answer that query.

Treble too was transformed from an unsophisticated fizzy sound the Blue was providing, to a startling sweetness and clarity that enthralled.  Instrument separation was good rather than exceptional and the mid-band was slightly coloured but not excessively so, manifesting itself on male vocals in particular which tended to slightly lose the innate silky warmth the male voice has. Being picky here so don’t add too much credence to this remark.

To put that into context, I played Fink’s “Biscuits For Breakfast” album on CD and that really did emphasize what this cable was doing.  I like the album because it has a slow precise pace to it and a great frequency palette despite it’s simplicity which I find to be a great analytical tool.  Bass literally filled the listening room and worse luck did excite the awkward corner bass nodes I have, so the volume turned down a notch or two alleviated that problem. I envy the people who can hit number 10 or 11 on the dial with impunity.  I was stunned at just how much tonal texture actually exists with a bass guitar when you listen closely, plus that sound lived in perfect harmony with the percussion from the drums, a defined separation between the two. Cymbal crashes and top hat beats are recreated accurately with a detailed metallic ring so highly convincing and palpable.

I hope you have gathered by now I liked these “Hi Fi” cables because that’s what they are, with one small exception.  Transient attack was not as fast, refined and polished as I would like, with leading edges seemingly having a slower rise time, so losing that keen knife edge excitement and the semblance of muddling at high volumes crept into the sound. For those of you that have read some of my other reviews, you will know this is my own personal hobby horse I am a tad fastidious about and regard as an essential hallmark of cable performance.

Conclusion 

Despite being the long serving darling cable of choice for budget conscious audiophiles, I don’t think the Van Damme Blue speaker cable should any longer be accepted as such.  Correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding of the whole design ethos of the Blue cable is to live in the professional studio environment with all the challenges that location presents.  It’s raison d’être is more about survival in that environment within a given budget being the primary objectives, rather than aimed at absolute sound quality, even though it has a very adequate performance in that role.  Yes there is a budget involvement because wiring an entire studio or concert venue with anything substantially more expensive would result in an installation invoice containing more zeros than the Starship Enterprise’s odometer.  It belongs where it belongs and long may it continue to do so.

However, Van Damme with their Hi-Fi consumer orientated “UP-LCOFC Hi-Fi speaker cable series” certainly have created a speaker cable aimed squarely at the domestic user that performs far better than I had anticipated and at a price that has left me in awe at Van Damme’s accomplishment within that parameter.  A full rich bass, a more than competent midrange and a treble with clarity and fluidity make up an attractive package at an enviable price.  Ignore my remarks about transients that only an obsessive fusspot would even dare to mention.  A recommended buy verdict from me then.

I do have one complaint though, I wish Van Damme would put their thinking heads on and  promulgate a better product designation than “UP-LCOFC Hi-Fi speaker cable series” because acronyms mean something only to the people who know what it means. Even the name “DA KABLE” is a lot easier to remember and so much less of a brain teaser and tongue twister than “UP-LCOFC Hi-Fi speaker cable series”.  If you use my suggested name, Van Damme, then kindly remember who the copyright belongs to!

Dominic Marsh

BLUE 6mm SPEAKER CABLE 

Construction               6.5/10

Sound Quality             7.0/10

Value For Money        6.00/10

OVERALL                    6.5/10 

 

UP-LCOFC Hi-Fi 6mm speaker cable 

Construction                7/10RECOMMENDED LOGO NEW

Sound Quality              8/10

Value For Money          8/10

Overall                          7.6/10 

Recommended for: This cable should have universal appeal and application amongst the audiophile and music lover fraternities.  An audition prior to purchase is advised though regarding bass performance suitability.

1 Comment

  1. It is not very often that I feel the need to comment on this kind of review, as normally I let my ears decide, rather than my eyes. In this case I have to say that I disagree with the reviewer. I have used Van Damme speaker cables for a long time now. Only recently I compared the blue I currently use with a couple of branded cables. The Van Damme are staying in my system.

    On reading the review, it makes me think that the reviewer has allowed Van Dammes nomclature to have more effect on his interpretation of the cables qualitites than its actual performance.

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