VERMOUTH AUDIO REFERENCE XLR BALANCED INTERCONNECT
Vermouth Audio have just launched their flagship ‘Reference’ range of cables.
This time around, I requested Hendry Ramli (the owner) of Vermouth Audio, Indonesia to send me their Vermouth ‘Reference’ XLR Balanced Interconnect (hereinafter referred to as Vermouth Reference) of 3 metres length (US$1,520.00 per metre pair, US$275 per additional 0.25 metre pair). I intended to connect it to my reference sources, alternating between the Kronos Reference Phono Amplifier (for analogue) and the Vitus Masterpiece Digital to Analogue Convertor (MP-D201, for digital) to the FM Acoustics 268C preamplifier.
After some positive experiences with Vermouth Audio cables over the years, I believe I have an understanding of Hendry’s objectives for his products, the achieved results and performances. In other words, I believe I would not be disappointed.
DO I HAVE THE BEST CONDUIT/CABLE FOR COMPARISON ?!
The priciest cables that I have on hand would be the Skogrand Stravinsky XLR Balanced Interconnect (US$26,000 per 1.5m pair, reviewed here). That is the most transparent conduit that I have the pleasure to experience, thus far!
To answer the above question, I personally believe I do not have the ‘Best Conduit/Cable’, and that I do not believe that there is one to begin with. However, I do believe in a ‘Better Conduit/Cable’ for one’s audio system to achieve certain end results.
Henceforth, I do not need to have the ‘Best Conduit/Cable‘ to do this review. To me, it is the conduit/cable in question’s contribution (or not) to the ultimate sound quality of the audio system. Bear in mind that there is but a pair of the Vermouth Reference interconnect amidst other branded cables at work throughout the audio system (mostly Skogrand Cables).
IN A MILLION DOLLAR AUDIO SYSTEM…
My initial impression with the Vermouth Reference was that ‘I COULD LIVE WITH THEM‘ (to be frank, I have come across cables that were so unsuitable to the ‘desired sound quality’ to my audio system that I have to disconnect them immediately!).
I did not mean that the Vermouth Reference was merely satisfactory. On the contrary, they were as their model name suggested and worthy to be ‘Reference’!
To fully appreciate the Vermouth Audio Reference XLR Balanced Interconnect, I spun my usual (Ms.) Kit Chan (New Century Workshop NCKCLP 001) vinyl record, and the same titled CD (NCKC10141516-2) respectively.
Here, what struck me first was the ’emotional connectivity’ that allowed me to feel the sensuality and the emotionality from the vocal herself. In other words, I was touched by her voice. The Vermouth Reference in question may not be at the Skogrand Stravinsky’s level of detail and transparency. However, the Vermouth Reference did have the minute micro detail that bridged the macro detail to form enough ’emotional content’ that may bring tears from an emotional touching song!
Another well spun CD in my collection would be SKYE Deep…Blue (NANO MUSIC UHQCD AM6037). That recording was not perfectly done, but it has a certain flavour of ‘honesty‘. In a well set up audio system, the listener could easily hear the vocalist’s struggles, the musicians’ slight incoherency, and the engineer’s miscues and mic placement problem.
However, in the same recording, the tonality and recording venue’s space, air and atmosphere (soundscape) were beautifully captured. The Vermouth was able to present all the above mentioned ‘honesty’ or discrepancies with vividness (…how about that for ‘honest’ detail retrieval?!).
At Manuel de Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat, where the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Jesus Lopez-Cobos (Telarc CD-80149), I found that the soundscape of the whole orchestra, it’s energy, emotional flow and bloom were there and weightily presented too.
From my recent visit to the Taiwan Hi End Audio Show 2019, I discovered and purchased a CD Boxset titled, Classic Film Music where Erich Kunzel conducted The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra (Telarc CRO1525). Here, on one of my favourite track, ‘Mission Impossible’ (The Big Picture), I would say that it’s mid range and mid bloom were of the right proportion and amount, as apparently portrayed with the drums.
On Pomp & Pizazz (Telarc CD-80122), the lower bass from those big drums was not disappointing either, as it not only moved air to the sensation and thrill of your feet (with the right musical material as above), but presented the scale and depth to the musical instruments at play.
FIT FOR THE BILL?!
I would reiterate that the Vermouth Audio Reference XLR Balanced Interconnect was truly as its model name suggested and worthy of, ‘Reference’.
As could be expected, there was no “shortage” of (honest) details, scale, soundscape, bloom, weight, dynamic, energy and bass.
The Vermouth Reference were well received in my audio set up and none of my audiophile guests could be a wiser to identify any “shortage” in sound quality. To me, that could only be identified with a direct comparison, and with a much better conduit/cable, which would definitely come at a higher asking price.
In other words, I would recommend them without hesitation, even for a million dollar audio system!