By Lam Seng Fatt
Now is the time for South-East Asian audiophiles to prove their mettle – after all, the Chinese have already shown that they can manufacture components comparable in quality to those made in the West.
The Thais have also shown that they can make good hi-fi components with their range of Magnet amplifiers. Now comes the turn of the Indonesians and the product is the Vermouth range of cables.
A Malaysian audiophile told me recently that Vermouth products are a labour of love – they are too well made to be sold at such low prices. The owner must have used up a lot of his money and definitely many, many hours of his precious time.
The Vermouth Black Pearl Mk II interconnects for review look very neatly-made indeed and even features Rhodium-plated over Tellurium Copper RCA jacks with carbon shell bodies. At a quick glance, you will be reminded of the expensive Furutech carbon fiber series connectors.
Inside the jacket is what counts – and the ‘stuff’ inside is most impressive. They comprise Ultra-pure Ohno Continuous Casting copper, a blend of solid core and multisize wires, air tube spacer and suspension, Teflon insulation and cold forging terminations.
The Vermouth interconnects are well packaged and come in individual bags inside a large box with a certificate inside signed by the owner himself who lives in the resort island of Bali.
To review the Vermouth, I had to replace the resident WyWires Platinum with something closer to it in terms of price level in the market. I used a pair of Alphacore Micropurl Silver instead – the test chain comprised WyWires Platinum from source to Lamm preamp and the Vermouth/Alphacore to the Bryston power amp.
Much of the listening was done during the Christmas season, so I heard lots of bells jingling and ‘Mummy kissing Santa Claus’…
There was an immediate difference when I switched the Alphacore with the Vermouth – the bass suddenly became much more powerful and full.
Some of the sonic differences were likely due to the different metals used – the Alphacore uses silver ribbons while the Vermouth uses copper wires. The Alphacore sounded more detailed, but was leaner especially in the bass region while the Vermouth sounded fuller overall with – as mentioned earlier – a stronger bass. These differences are likely due to the different metals used.
The differences due to design was the tonal balance – the Alphacore sounded more neutral while the Vermouth was bassier. This resulted in the Vermouth sounding a bit rolled off in the treble region compared with the sparkling highs of the silver Alphacore.
As for the mids, the fuller sound of the Vermouth gave more body to vocals. This improved the imaging too as the images became slightly ’rounder’ and more dense.
Just to make sure that the cause was not due solely to the copper vs silver properties, I had a quick shootout of the resident WyWires Platinum (which uses copper wires) against the Vermouth. The bassy tonal balance of the Vermouth was still evident and while the highs of the WyWires was not as sparklingly clear as the silver Alphacore, the Vermouth sounded a bit too smooth in the treble region.
Thus it is down to matching – the Vermouth Black Pearl Mk II would suit bright and lean-sounding systems, especially those using lower-end solid-state components. It would not match warm and lush tube-based systems. If your system is bass light, then a shot of Vermouth is needed.
Vermouth cables are distributed in Malaysia by Hifi Creations. The Vermouth Black Pearl Mk II costs RM1,600 (1.5m pair).