The centre conductor LSC is made up of 12,000 individually insulated strands of 7 micron carbon! You thought that sounding tricky in terms of termination? Well, the outer screen of the First Ultimates are made from 6 layers of the same LSC (Linear Structured Carbon) wires, no less than 114,000 separately insulated strands?
The cable is not one the Van Den Hul will offer off the reel as terminating is a little tricky (!) and they state that it’s due to internal reflection issues if not mounted to the plugs correctly. Or course the trademarked Hulliflex outer jacket is the final out finish on these creamy/lightship yellow cable.
I have had experience with pure carbon cabling in the past, namely with speaker cables and I’ve had many VDH cables that also have had a mixture of carbon and silver in their construction but I’ve never heard an all carbon interconnect, so this one should be interesting.
As soon as the VDH’s entered my system between DAC and amp a seductive musicality captivated a soundstage of such remarkable layering in knew I was in for a treat.
At the time of changing over the interconnects I was listening g to Ed Sheeran’s new album ‘Ed Sheeran’ and the fluidity of how the First Ultimates rendered the vocal was pretty stunning. Being fully aware of VDH’s trademark smooth sound after owning many of their cables in the past I didn’t expect a sharp top end at all and Sheeran’s guitar confirmed that the all carbon affair was going to be a musical treat rather than a rush of bandwidth, especially in the top end.
I will convey that the background is so damn quiet that transparency in the midrange and air in the top end felt very present and convincing giving each performance on the album a naturally reflected soundstage, reproducing portions of focus very nicely indeed.
The top end no doubt sounds as if it’s rolled off somewhat, but the overwhelming musicality just outweighed any perceived losses in resolution.
As well as being familiar with VDH cables, I am also familiar with the sound of conductive carbon cabling and in my experience they are very forgiving to certain digital nasties in a system, too much and the sound can get a bit under-emphasised, just the right amount and the effects can be so seductive that hunting for that next cymbal crash becomes a thing of the past and instead it’s “what can I play next?”.
With this more forgiving nature of the all-carbons sonic signature I moved into Spotify world and just started trawling through my own personal playlists , what was hot at the moment around the world and found that the cables did exactly what I expected of them.
The acoustic version of ‘Your Winter’ by Sister Hazel can get a little sharp in its extremities when played loudly from its live venue, the First Ultimates, as expected gave a slightly rounder nature to leading and trailing edges, bass notes were still crisp and the vocal was pretty awesome. The cable seems to begin to do its magic in between the notes first damping and cleaning up background hash and finishing its job just on the leading edge in order not to destroy pronunciation or detail.
Another part of the sound which I really felt was great was the proportions of bass the cables had to offer. The way I feel it’s best describe is that the VDH’s have bags of non-peaky bass, they give a well driven upper- bass/lower-midrange which tackles fast and slower notes equally well They don’t have the ultimate slap, tightness or pace of say the Oriton Symphony Oranges and TQ Black Diamonds that I use, but they have this unmistakable presence that just makes the listener feel that their power is effortless and that turning the volume up further and further just has them smiling and saying “is that all you’ve got for me”.
Extension is deep, long and wide and the fullness never lost its tightness, although not as tight as the other cables mentioned in comparison, but there just aren’t any sort of issues when hearing how well the lower mids integrate right down to the ground. In fact there’s a great deal of respect for how this portion of the frequency range is handled. The amount of information produced at the lower end of the spectrum is also notably remarkable.
These all carbon cables are so musically engrossing that when changing back to any other cable the sound takes a little of a readjustment and the over the top volumes that were being played ten minutes previously need to be wound down just a little to save the ear drums.
The fluid and unforgiving nature of these is unmistakeable, rendering of instrument timbre is a big step up over other VDH cables I have previously heard, with a presence of soundstage layering, midrange depth and quietness of background that simply allows for vocals to shine.
If your digital rig still gives you that edge that has you running for the vinyl, give the First Ultimates a whirl, they will certainly tame all those nasties and present you with some truly seducing sounds.
Build Quality – 8/10
Sound Quality – 8/10
Value For Money – 8.5/10
Overall – 8.1/10
Recommended – For absolutely pure, grainless musicality which never had me crying out for more or felt as if though I was being short changed by it’s beautifully smooth and non fatiguing sound.
Price at point of review – £275 – 1m pair