Image: Hugh Threlfall
December 20 2012
Three thorny questions to deal with this Christmas. Firstly, are expensive audio cables worth having? Secondly, if they are, are they the stuff of gifts, or are they more of a boring-but-important purchase, like a new set of tyres? Thirdly, are these cables, by a new British company, Vertere, with prices that are actually mid-range in this most esoteric of markets, a good option?
Answering the second question first, I’ve given it a lot of thought, and come to the conclusion that even for someone who loves their hi-fi and has invested significantly in a system, cables are the least showy and lowest priority item. Top-quality, premium cables are therefore a classic luxury, and absolutely suitable as a gift. If someone bought me a deluxe set of cables, I would be overjoyed. So if you’re thinking, “Isn’t it a bit like your mother-in-law buying you socks and handkerchiefs?”, it really isn’t.
But are expensive cables nonsense? OK, well in any high-end purchase there’s a law of diminishing returns. A £500 bottle of wine doesn’t taste 50 times better than a £10 bottle; a couture dress might not look a hundred times better than a high-street one. And a £100,000 hi-fi doesn’t sound 200 times better than an off-the-shelf one – as I am sure your more sceptical friends have said when they’ve listened to your fancy player.
In luxury, we’re often talking about marginal, barely quantifiable gains, usually talking about quite subjective perceptions, and always talking about perfection. And even though all a cable has to do is be super-conductive and transmit an audio signal faithfully from amplifier to speaker, there are degrees of effectiveness in that, and it’s my considered (if subjective) opinion that there is a percentage gain to be achieved with quality ones. You may be the only one to hear the extra closeness to perfection that you perceive (which makes it sound quite dodgy and nebulous), but you will truly hear it.
Why Vertere, then? Well, its prices are high but not stupid, and I like the cut of the company founder, Touraj Moghaddam’s, jib. He’s an engineering graduate from Imperial College, London, with vast experience in audio and a passion for cables that’s clearly genuine. His products look really cool, too.