November
2020

Country of Origin

Bali

Reference USB & speaker cables

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Denafrips Terminator+ clock-synced to Soundaware D300Ref SD transport/USB reclocker; Preamp: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with WE VT52/300B or Elrog 50/300B; Power amps: LinnenberG Liszt monos; Headamps: Questyle CMA-800r monos; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Aurai Audio M1 [on loan]; Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, LessLoss C-MARC Entropic cords between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room so no wall behind the listening chairs
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D100Pro SD transport; DAC/pre: Denafrips Terminator or COS Engineering D1; Amplifier: Bakoon AMP-13R or Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers: Acelec Model 1 w. Franck Tchang magnesium super tweeters, sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Zu Submission subwoofer; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan];  Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~4x6m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win7/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headamp: Kinki Studio Vision THR-1; Phones: Audeze LCD-XC on Forza Audio Lab cable; Powered speakers: Fram Audio Midi 120
Upstairs headfi system: Source: Soundaware A280 SD transport; Integrated amplifiers: Schiit Jotunheim R or Bakoon AMP-13R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a, Audeze LCD-2, Final Sonorous X & D8000, HifiMan HE-1000
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; DAC: Kinki Studio; Preamp: Wyred4Sound STP-SE II; Power amp: Pass Labs XA-30.8; Loudspeakers: German Physiks HRS-120; Room: ~6x4m
Review component retail: $2'485/1.8m/pr, add $300/0.3m/pr extra, banana-to-spade jumpers €580/pr; $400 A/B-type USB, add €60/0.35m extra

Cowboys and aliens.
In just three terse words, one movie title said and had it all. Without the 'of Mars' suffix, John Carter had it all too but didn't say so. Is that why a €250 million Disney adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' other hero flopped? Unlike Tarzan, 2012's movie-going public apparently hadn't heard of this character from his pulp fiction rein of the early 1900s. They'd no idea of a hybrid Western/SciFi set on Mars during the time of the American Civil War. They didn't anticipate swords, boots, four-armed green resistance fighters, big white hairy apes and dragonfly sky ships.

With Vermöuth the hifi tale, adding 'of Bali' to the title would do little to manage expectations better even though Denpasar on this garden island is where Hendry Ramli plies his trade. Yet what does that really tell us? Unless we're bigoted about where our hifi kit is from, the world's our oyster. But there's more. A big part of Hendry's export portfolio is cables. Those are assembled from spools sourced to his specs from Tawain's Neotech. His custom-branded Vermöuth socketry is made by a Taiwanese high-end connector manufacturer. Hence top-shelf ingredients and elite handiwork. One-man prices from an Indonesian isle are lower than equivalent goods from the mainlands. How much more could we say to doll up today's cable title?

There are OCC copper conductors, PTFT/mylar insulators, air tubes to maintain geometry, PVC jackets, shiny connectors. Let's go all out. Let's call our movie Vermöuth reference cables of Bali. The audience is still in the dark. What to anticipate once our film starts to roll? One studio's hit is another's flop. If you're Crystal Cable, you have Dreamline, Absolute Dream, Ultimate Dream and—to go to Mars—Future Dream. As the words get more fantastic, buyers wonder. Is such a plot believable? Is the action just hare-brained special effects? Did the studio waste money on flashy CG but lost the story? And who ever heard of this lead actor?

To answer such questions and manage expectations, there's the formal review, informal owner's feedback and forum community. Cables in particular are like cop shows. Everybody does them. Why should we care about another? Let's find out for Hendry Ramli's newest USB and speaker cables. They join analog RCA/XLR cables and a power cord in his Reference range. That means they're dressed in white with crisscrossing black threads.

It means they're the best he knows how to make.

It means spades and bananas of his own design using annealed rhodium plating over tellurium copper to enable hydraulically crimped terminations. Those and the carbon shells of his connectors are fabricated in Taiwan. The USB plugs are from a standard supplier. The copper conductors are again from proven cable OEM giant Wanlung/Neotech.

What one can say just looking is that today's target audience appreciates cosmetics and girth. These cables are dressed to look their high-end price and their fancy connectors with gleaming carbon-fiber barrels ring the bling thing loud. And now the adverts have rolled. It's time for the feature movie.

Break out the popcorn?

… to be continued…