Vertere, best known for their turntables, has released a range of cables. Here, Ian Ringstead tries out their Redline XLR to XLR balanced interconnect.

Vertere Branded Plugs And A Flexible Design

Vertere Acoustics are best known for their beautiful turntables designed by Touraj Moghaddam who back in the 1980s co-produced the Roksan Xerxes turntable, a rival for the Linn Sondek LP12. Touraj is a gifted engineer and designer and never one to rest on his laurels. For me this is a first reviewing one of his designs, not one of his superb turntables though, rather, a nice balanced XLR interconnect cable.

Cables tend to be taken for granted as necessary bits of wire that carry the electrical signals between the various pieces of electronics and they are not without controversy. – a mere mention of cables on a Facebook is sure to spark a degree of “discussion”. In the early 1980s, Jean Hiraga, the legendary writer and audiophile, dared to declare that all cables weren’t equal, but actually sounded different. The likes of Peter Walker (Quad fame) and other companies of the time were initially somewhat scathing of these claims, but as time has proved over the last thirty-five plus years, things are very different now. Whether you are a firm believer and convert to this notion or a complete naysayer is irrelevant, it is all down to personal opinion and your ears. The non-believers won’t carry on reading this review, but the disciples will.

Vertere Acoustics certainly believe cables are vital in the sound chain and take great care over their product designs. Simplicity is the key, with all designs aiming to preserve the signal as much as possible and without any contamination. The Redline range are the affordable items within the hierarchy of the Pulse series, of which there are four divisions. HB (Hand Built) is the ultimate reference, followed by the R Reference series, the Redline reviewed here, and finally the D-Fi series for portable devices.

CONSTRUCTION

The balanced XLR cables I received come in snazzy packaging and are very well made as you would expect for the price of £595. They have Vertere branded XLR plugs with gold plated pins and a rather attractive red outer sheath for the cable itself. The cable is not too thick and is very flexible, which was a boon when connecting up behind my equipment. I used the cable between my Luxman D-05 SACD player and my Luxman L505UX11 amplifier.

I normally use unbalanced cables with my amp and SACD player (although I have obviously used balanced too) so it was intriguing to see how the Redline would perform in comparison.

Inside the Redline are seven high purity copper conductors consisting of a ground, three hot signal, and three return signal conductors. The signal conductors are silver-plated and are made up of two thin and four thick, whilst the thicker dedicated ground conductor is tin-plated. The insulation is FEP and a special PVC with the shielding consisting of the main braid and an inner wrap. The conductors are arranged in a quasi-balanced configuration to attain a dynamic wideband audio signal. The bespoke connectors look great quality and the gold-plating on the contacts is three times the normal thickness used by some other companies. The PVC outer sheath allows you to have a glimpse of the braiding. 

SOUND

The emphasis on this Redline series is to offer superb value for money and also a lot of what the more expensive series offers by way of performance via trickle-down technology and also ingenuity in design compromises to meet the price-point. I had the cables for a couple of months to evaluate their capabilities against my experience of other balanced models from the likes of Tellurium Q Ultra Black reviewed in the past and against my Way silver unbalanced cables.

My Luxman equipment is my reference at a relatively affordable price for a serious audiophile like myself, but one who doesn’t have oodles of funds to lavish around. I, therefore, saw the Redline as an ideal benchmark for what I would be prepared to pay, whilst still offering excellent performance. I didn’t need a long run-in period to gauge what the Redline was capable of, as straight away it was superb and felt right at home in my system.

My musical tastes vary but I do listen to a lot of female vocals and the human voice is something our ears are highly attuned to, and, as such, a great reference for reality. The Redline was smooth in sound without being dull – there was no metallic harshness to annoy anyone sensitive to top-end tizz. I insist on detail and tonality without the music being pulled apart and artificially recreated, so neutrality is key for me and the Redline did this very well. Of course, the partnering equipment has to play its role, but the Redline is the vital conduit between source and amplification. Inexperienced listeners and “bah humbug” critics may well say they can’t hear a difference and it’s a con. However, it’s my gut instincts and having heard thousands of systems over the last fifty years that are my reference. The Redline allowed me to simply sit down and enjoy my music whatever the genre and without wanting to analyse or feel/search for something that wasn’t quite right.

The best accolade I can give any component is to just sit back and enjoy the music without a care in the world and to escape the harsh reality this world throws at us on a regular basis. Favourite albums or tracks are what I use to assess a component or system’s abilities. Step up Dire Straits’ first album. The Redline didn’t fail on this album one bit, allowing the rhythmic guitar style of Mark Knopfler to be easily followed – his sometimes-laid-back approach is sublimely portrayed with the Redline in situ. Certain tracks are benchmarks and “Six Blade Knife“ is one such gem. Anyone who knows this track will get what I mean because there are audio clues in the mix which not all components pick out very well. As the lilting bass line moves the track along there is a point where very briefly a wooden percussion instrument in the background comes through. It is very subtle but I always listen out for this part as you could easily miss it and it always makes me smile when I hear it. The Redline brought the effect through effortlessly and so passed muster. These musical cues are very important to me and my enjoyment of a product and there are other instances I could relate but I feel you get my gist, I’m sure. Put your favourite music on and if it makes you smile all is good with the world!

Vocals are always a good test so Karen Matheson of Capercaillie fame and a solo artist in her own right was spun in my D-05 CD player. The album “Time to Fall” showcases her beautiful voice which is sublime, and her backing musicians are top-notch too. Anyone who loves Celtic music and folk and has watched Transatlantic sessions on BBC 4 a few years ago will have seen Karen perform along with the best musicians from the UK and North America. The music is infectious and reminds me of when I saw River Dance for the first time on the Eurovision final many years ago, catapulting Irish dancing onto the world stage. Instruments such as the bodhran, Uillean pipes, and harp are captured in all their glory by the Redline. They are harmonically and accurately portrayed in a deep and spacious sound field. I know these instruments well as I have heard them live many times in concerts and you know a system is good when you are concentrating on the musical performance and not the equipment – the Redline produced these instruments in a wholly believable and realistic way. Our ears are tremendous at recognising sounds, just look at how we easily recognise a voice on a mobile phone, even though it is coming out of a micro speaker.

Jon Anderson of Yes fame has just released a new solo album “1000 Hands, Chapter One” and as well as his distinctive voice there are some legendary musicians performing on it. Jean Luc Ponty on violin, Chick Corea on keyboards, Billy Cobham on drums, and Ian Anderson on the flute to name just a few. The whole musical range from top to bottom was clear and dynamic, making the musical enjoyment easy on the ear. Album after album was put on and they all flowed seamlessly like a good wine that slips down your throat too easily and before you know it you need another glassful.

Unlike an electronic piece of equipment that usually sits in front of you so you can’t ignore its presence, a cable is behind all the electronics and just gets on with it. The Redline is like glue holding everything together so it doesn’t fall apart and remains solid and reliable.

CONCLUSION

The Redline cable certainly delivers in spades for the asking price. Obviously, I haven’t heard all of the available cables out there, no one has, but for me, it’s a frontrunner for anyone after a superb cable for a fairly reasonable price. Most dealers will now allow you to try before you buy and cables certainly need to be auditioned to see if they gel with your components and tastes. The Redline range was designed to fit into the category of excellent performance without the high price tags and it does this brilliantly.

Another excellent product to add to your list if you are wanting to upgrade!

AT A GLANCE

Build Quality:  Excellent for the price, smart looking, compact form and flexible.

Sound Quality:  Low noise design that punches way above its weight.

Value for Money:  Superb and well worth auditioning.

Pros:  Highly flexible form expertly executed and superb sound.

Cons:  Nothing.

Price: £595

 

 

 

 

 

Ian Ringstead 

Review Equipment: Luxman Pd151 with Benz Micro Ace cartridge or Audio Technica AT95 SCH, Luxman L505UX ii, Jern 12WS speakers. Cables from TQ Missing Link and Way. (Also, Temple Audio Harmony MM pre and MC phono stages)

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