Label: Not On Label (The Amount Of Light We Give Off Self-released) - none • Format: 7x, File MP3 320 kbps • Country: Germany • Genre: Rock • Style: Alternative Rock
The term 'hi-fi accessory' covers a very wide range of products, from something like a green CD pen, to high-quality speaker stands for stand-mount speakers.
The first being of questionable necessity, while the second is almost mandatory. VertexAQ hereafter Vertex supply a range of 'hi-fi accessories' although they don't like to use the term as it really gives the wrong impression of what their products do.
Perhaps we need to find a new phrase to differentiate between the green pen, and the speaker-stand, the 'may do' and the 'will do' if you like. In this review, we will see which category the Vertex products would fall into. Then, they were demonstrating the Vertex range, Dope Beat - Boogie Down Productions - Criminal Minded I popped into their room for a quick listen.
The system was already set up, and it was a hotel bedroom, so other than noting that it didn't sound bad in such circumstances, I couldn't form much of an opinion on their products. Since then the Vertex product range has expanded, and when I was offered a chance to review most of the range, I jumped at the chance.
So it was that John Cheadle arrived at my home with a car-boot full of boxes containing most, but not all, of the Vertex product range. With the boxes unloaded, and unpacked, we were ready to start the demonstration. I had 'prepared' my system for the demonstration by removing my own equipment platforms and one or two other 'devices' that improve its performance.
I even abandoned my dedicated mains supply, instead running a trailing socket from the ring main. Speakers were Hawthorne Audio Duet clones. There is also an active crossover, feeding another amplifier to power the woofer section of the Duets. I had also made up a play list of tracks that I use most in my reviews, one of the great advantages of using a streaming device such as the Transporter or Squeezebox!
The demonstration started with us listening to the system as it was. I went through a few minutes of each track on the play list. After the last track, the first product, a Silver Jaya mains filter was plugged into the trailing socket. The Jaya, a shunt-type mains filter, is designed to clean up the mains by removing radio frequency interference RFI from the mains supply but it also removes some of the wide-band acoustic noise too.
The Silver Jaya works over a wider range of frequencies than the standard version. I had been wondering how easily I would be able to detect any differences with the Vertex products but I needn't have worried. From the moment the first track started playing, it was impossible not to hear the improvement.
Every aspect was improved. The sound stage larger, and timing improved. In fact I thought to myself, it would be a hard act for any of the other Vertex products to make much more improvement. Next up was the Super Kinabalu equipment platform, complete with the standard Vertex coupling system. This went under the Transporter. Once again, the improvement was obvious from the moment I pressed the button on At The Vertex Of Nothing - The Amount Of Light We Give Off - LIST remote control.
Again, the improvement was in every part of the sound. Although every element of the music, the vocals and instruments, were more clearly defined and separated, the coherence of the music was improved as well. The standard 'kettle lead' plugged into the Transporter was then replaced by a Silver Roraima mains lead. The Vertex leads differ from all other hi-fi cables in having a 'noise-blocking' device that prevents the noise in the system moving between equipment via the cables. Once more the improvement was immediately I Got Over Love - Major Harris - Jealousy. At The Vertex Of Nothing - The Amount Of Light We Give Off - LIST sound stage was growing larger with each step.
On some tracks, the singers and instruments were clearly perceived as growing larger too. Bass was clearly deeper and better defined. And by now the sound stage had got deeper, with the elements at the rear of the sound-stage becoming more tangible. A second Super Kinabalu equipment platform and support system was then placed under the Burson amplifier.
Yet again, the improvement was clearly audible! And once again just about every aspect of the sound was improved. It does appear that while some 'tweaks' improve one element of the sound, the Vertex products improve all aspects.
By this stage, I could hardly believe the improvement in the system but there was more to follow. The next item to be replaced was the standard mains lead to the amplifier with a Roraima standard mains lead. Once again, I could easily detect an improvement. By this time I was getting a strange sensation on some tracks where there were short gaps in the music.
At the start At The Vertex Of Nothing - The Amount Of Light We Give Off - LIST track 4, 'Strange Young Men', there is a slow drum beat, a second or two of silence, and then another drum beat. With the noise floor lowered so much, I was getting the illusion that the hi-fi had actually stopped playing. If you have heard a hi-fi with such a low noise floor, you will know what I'm talking about.
Before installing the Silver Solfonns, John Cheadle demonstrated to me, with the aid of a stethoscope, just how effectively the 'noise blocking' on the Vertex cables is. Anybody who experiences this demonstration can be left in no doubt that the Vertex claims are based on hard fact! By now I had abandoned any doubts that I may have started off with and sat back to hear the next stage of improvement.
And I wasn't disappointed. Again it was not something that I had to strain to hear. I didn't need to play the same track three of four times to be sure. There was clearly another general improvement. John Cheadle had warned me that at some stages of the demonstration, I may perceive some aspects to be worse At The Vertex Of Nothing - The Amount Of Light We Give Off - LIST than better.
This situation can be caused by one of the Vertex products 'closing a door' in one part of the system but 'moving the problem' to another part of the system at the same time. I honestly don't think that I heard anything getting 'worse' during my demonstration but I did notice aspects of the sound changing.
For instance, on one track, 'The Trolley Song' by Stacey Kent, there is a saxophone solo and I distinctly heard the location of the saxophone move further away from Ms Kent with the first few 'upgrades'. Then it moved slightly back the other way at one stage, before going even further away from the singer with the next 'upgrade' as the sound stage expanded again. I should make it clear that none of the Vertex products can or will degrade the sound of a system. But they will make improvements depending on where they are used that may show up shortcomings in another part of the system until that part is also 'treated'.
You may have guessed that the next part of the system for treatment was the speaker leads. Out of their box came the Moncayo cables, at first sight, looking like much larger versions of the Vertex interconnects.
As the speakers are biwirable, I was asked to remove the existing links, short lengths of speaker cable, and replace them with the Vertex links that add further noise blocking between each section of At The Vertex Of Nothing - The Amount Of Light We Give Off - LIST crossover.
At the risk of sounding a little boring by now, I have to report that yet again there was an audible improvement in the sound. With the addition of each product, the sound gets better in much the same way, presumably because the products Someday - 6th Borough Project - Find Your Rhythm (Vinyl, Album) all doing the same job, just in different parts of the system.
By now I was noticing specific areas of improvement. The timing was much improved with an almost irresistible urge to tap my foot. Leading edges of notes were much better defined. It was also much easier to discern the attack, sustain, and delay of individual notes.
This was particularly obvious on the track I used from the Dafos album. Gongs for instance sounded more 3D, and the sound they produced was more tangible. It was easier to perceive the location of an instrument in the sound stage. There appeared to be almost more time between notes, almost as though every element of the music had been magnified many times so it was all much easier to 'see' into.
Both top and bottom ends were much improved with the frequency range appearing to be extended. The sound is rock solid, no matter how complex the piece of music. When we started the demonstration, the Tibetan horns on the Dadawa track 'The Turning Scripture' from الاستاذ محمد عبد الوهاب* = Prof. Mohamed Abdel-Wahab* - انا والعذاب وهواك (Shellac) Drum, sounded much like bubbling gas. At the end, each note of each horn, was clearly audible.
Vertex make two coupling systems for use with their equipment platforms, the standard coupling system that I was listening to, and their Hi-Resolution system. So the next step was to replace the standard coupling tripod under the amplifier with the Hi-Resolution one. Quite how something as 'simple' as a piece of metal between the equipment and platform can make a difference is hard to comprehend but there was a clear improvement again with the Hi-Resolution tripod.
Of course, it is not a simple piece of metal as is borne out by listening to the difference that it makes compared to the standard coupler. But we were still not finished. Out came two 'boxes' with a wooden plinth and three wooden feet, named Picos. These are about 13 cm square and 10 cm deep and were placed on top of each speaker. Surely something that was not 'connected' to the system could make any difference. But I only needed to play some music to hear that it did.
Yes, even with these open baffle speakers it was somehow making an improvement. I know it's hard to believe that, and I am not sure that I would have if I had not heard it with my own ears. Apparently the Picos 'draw' vibration out of the speaker structure, and I can confirm that seems to happen as I tested the claim by placing my hand on the top of the speaker with and without the Picos in place.
Finally, out came a second Jaya mains filter, the 'basic' model and we plugged it into a spare socket on the other side of the room. Almost with relief, I didn't notice any difference at this stage although John Cheadle suggested that I could experiment with where it was plugged in.
I later moved the Jaya to a socket adjacent to my music server PC and did notice a very small, but definite improvement. In fact, you can plug the Jayas in adjacent to other equipment like computer monitors and televisions, and actually see an improvement in the picture!
It's a good way to see what the Jaya is doing because with a monitor picture you can actually see that it reduces the grain, just as it Correnta - Devy Erlih, Johann Sebastian Bach - 6 Sonates Et Partitas Pour Violon Seul Vol.
I with the sound in a hi-fi system! If the Vertex products seem to good to be true, they don't leave you in much doubt after you have auditioned them! If you are wondering what is going on when you add Vertex products to your system, most of it can be summed up as a substantial lowering of the noise floor. For those of you who don't understand this concept, I'll use the analogy of light instead of sound.
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