The other day at Vertex Towers, we were discussing again the vital issue of cable dressing in a high-end system. Its a topic that comes up regularly, and users of Vertex cables will know that we describe cable dressing issues in the Systematic Approach, as well as in our instruction leaflets.

One reason why this was a topic of discussion again, was our experience during the Friday setup at the Heathrow Show back in March. At the show we had the new Aletheia dac-1, and the new Kaiser Vivace speakers, fitted with the upgraded Vertex crossovers – so plenty of performance at our disposal. Plus the complete arsenal of Vertex mains leads and conditioners, signal leads (analogue and digital) and Kinabalu platforms for every component too of course.

As is often the case, you get the system up and running half way through Friday evening, you’ve driven for hours and want to eat, the room is never great and the electronics are cold. So you have naturally been rushing a bit, but you know how the system should sound – and its not there yet – but you decide to go and eat then come back later. After some expensive hotel food, you come back. You move the speakers around, put out the chairs to fill the room a bit – and so-on.

After a while, on this particular Friday night, the system sounds good, but not really great. So we sit down and play a few tracks, for a breather – to listen and think. We decide to go right back to basics and check through everything we have planned, and everything in the system – and vitally, how we have set it up. In the rush earlier, all the Vertex mains leads and signal leads had been sort of plonked into place in order to get power on, and the system up and running. But we hadn’t paid that vital attention to detail with the dressing of the cables.

So, we went right through the system, adjusting the placement, layout and routing of all the cables. We made sure that the Taga mains distribution block was in a nice central position behind the system so that all the mains cables could lead from the block to the components without the cables being tightly across each other, or pressing onto legs of the racks and so-on. All the blocks on the Roraima mains leads, and the extra Jaya filters we were using, were either placed to be free standing, or neatly stacked on their rubber isolating feet – but always making sure there was no metal-to-metal contact between the boxes. Digital and analogue interconnects had their acoustic absorption blocks positioned in the best places behind the electronics so that the braided conductors of the cables were barely touching anything as they ran between output and input sockets. Then we paid the same attention to the speaker cable runs, taking particular care to avoid physical contact between the speaker leads and any mains components.

The improvement in sound quality was considerable. The system was more transparent, lively, 3-dimensional and even-handed on all types of music. Bass lumps had vanished and the treble now shimmered as it should. Music was just richer and more emotional, the suspense and drama was in a different league with everything from choral to rock.

So there you have it. Dressing cables is critical to good sound. The Vertex cable designs are superb at reducing microphony, and we have added little decoupling feet so that you can get the best out of the boxes when you place them, or even have to stack them. But remember to go that extra mile and ensure that every little detail is taken care of. Get the routing absolutely as best you can, eliminate any tight bends against back walls or stands and stop one cable pulling down tight on another. As you do these things, we’re pretty sure you are going to hear some real benefits.

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