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mercredi 30 décembre 2015

Van den Hul The Cloud loudspeaker cable

 This is an expensive speaker cable.
To be sure and considering the cost of other high end cables I cannot say it is really expensive but for the ones, the most of us, that are used to buy normal cables this kind of price is serious.
The one I have tried belongs to a friend of mine. I was lucky to have it for about a month because it is really a very difficult cable to test and to come up to its qualities and limits. I was lucky to have it for a month but my friend was lucky to to have in this period exchange my MIT Oracle. And this last is really an expensive cable.

This cable is a Limited Edition version that is     different from the ordinary version just for the outer jacket cover that can be made by VDH of the colour of your choice. Plus you have a certidfication with your name of as proof of authenticity. This was chosen by the friend of mine in a green colour. The pictures unfortunately don't show its true colour but it doesn't matter.

In the past when I was for many years in the Hifi  business as a vendor and as a distributor I have worked also many times with VDH cables and I cannot really say that was a maker I could suggest or that was easy to sell. Other makers where easier seller like Cardas for example. This because when you were a Cardas owner you could predictibly upgrade in the house range keeping the same approach of sound. With VDH this is something impossible to do. It is like a restaurat with a menu that cover every taste.
How can decide from an Integration or an Orchid? they sound absolutely different. And what about the First or the Second? They sound extremely good or poor? It is true that for example in all hifi world in my experience doesn't exist a cable more umpredictable then the First. You have two completely different sistems you try it and after you can assurely say it is bland, slow, or muted, then you put in a third one and you cannot believe it is the same cable such open and fast it is and the exceptional timbric beauty is almost impossible to reach for any cable of any price. So the First is not a good cable is an exceptional cable of difficult application.
Globally for the loudpseaker cables thing is easier since I have never been a global fan of VDH speakers cable since I couldn't end up with no position on VDH proposition. The Clearwater is a great entry level cable, but up in the same disign range I would go for a Linn LK20 or a Naim NAC A5 (being sure to give this last cable about 300hours of use before getting to any conclusion) they both sounded to me more organic and globally satisfying then any of the VDH similar proposition like the Magnum. The LK20 warm (pleasents colorations) and well organised, the NAC A5 urgent, exposing the deep meaning of the music more then its beauty.  Exeption for the CS122 that in combination with the Rock of the 3T serie work a marvel. Not so well with other cables. The Inspiration is an extremely good cable, that works well with almost anything, The Air (3T)  is very special cable and has a magic female vocals reproduction, slightly light on the bass to be absolute reference but for the price extremely good but could be a little bright in the wrong combination,  The Wind is nice and rocks well but too tick sound on the bass, the Revolution I don't understand it and the Revelation is a very nice cable, it has a kind of dynamic freedom that is a reference even today after all these years, but I have never liked the way it portraits the timbre of an instrument. Or better it doesn't portrait it. At the end it sound like a cheap cable on steroids. But I have to say most loudspeaker cables sound like that. But not the Cloud! So after this long prelude we get to this last one.

This is what happens whith the Cloud between your ampli and speakers: nothing really special.
You have spent not an indiffeerent ammount of money and you end up with something not so special. Everything is right there but it doesn't seams it is faster, more dynamic, more timbrically correct, more beautiful, more spacially organized and so on. This is on a first listen. Then few hours later things get better then after few hours things get worse, then terribly worse then start getting better again. When the cable get stable then you start hearing that everything is really OK and not special. You don't miss almost anything. The best thing you have from this cable is its lack of letting you wish something was there or was not there.
This special quality is clear if I write about its smaller brother or sister: the Air.
When you use the Air you have the feeling it is a good cable. It is fast, it is fresh, it has relief, it has very good image focus, females voices becomes so much more delicate, more young. Then after a while you wish the bass could go down more, that what makes the females voices so nice makes them also a little too similar, that there is also a certain silence between the notes that could be more dense.

OK so let's take the Cloud out of the system and lets put on a VDH Revelation and then a Cardas Golden Reference and Kimber 8TC and Naim NAC A5. (No MIT Oracle since way too expensive)
Now it seams the dynamic is freer, the highs go higher. And what happens after few days? You start wishing,you start being inconfortable with small things. It should be better with this and without that and with more of this and so on.
You put the Cloud on and... everything is there again except your whishes on something else..

My coclusion is: the Cloud is for sure a very difficult cable to sell.
For this reason I can state this cable is an act of courage of its maker. It is the courage of assuming its maturity and vision of things given by a long experience.
And this is I think the reason why we don't see many professional review on this cable. How many reviewers have a mature experience? Maybe long but I don't know about mature. If we mix the two things up it is like saying that whoever is old and experienced is as consequence wise. But in my personal experience I have to say that I have seen many old men but one. Surely wiser then an adolescent but not wise in the big term.
To be wise is to reach a point where you understand the limit of your expectations, desires and what reality is. Not to be willing to change the perception of reality with the projections of your fears or ghosts or beautiness. But to be there and live the reality not being in contratidcion or jugment with this last but feeling that this is the reality and at the end it is not this bad as we thought it was even when it is hard.
Saying this is not talking about me but about this cable: this cable is not only an act of courage but the output of a certain wisdom of its maker.
When we have to buy things we compare to something else and most often our comparison bring us to apreciate something that stands out. The problem is that what stands out often wears you or just masks limitations. Or in fewer words: you end up detesting what you have loved in first place.
The Cloud has another strange attitude. It makes you appreciate the music in a differnet way you are used to, and this for me is a very difficult point to explain.
Let's say you are used to like your music with good drive, even if it is baroque you know what I mean; you feel  the mouvement of the rithmic flow. The Cloud doesn't present anything, any particular part of which the music is made of to a leading point. No one is a leader with this cable. For this reason it is an extremely difficult cable to appreciate and to test. Not haveng any leader you will find yourself listening to the music as a whole not apreciating how good is the pich, the rithm or the dynamic or whatever. To be clear the Cloud is very capable in each classic parameter of the music reproduction just no one is its main characteristic.
My conclusion after all this words is:
VDH The Cloud is a masterwork of balance. 
It has everything at the right quantity to suit the reproduction of the musical performance in a way that most of other cables don't have. In a way its qualities don't shine  but you almost can take them for granted. They are so integrated within its musicality that you don't appreciate them as single elements but as a whole.
Togheter with the Silver MKIII is a product for who has already the experience to appreciate the beauty of truth and not the truth of beauty. Since the beauty of truth doesn't wear you out, it changes maintaining a changing connection to your feeling, the truth of beauty is beguilling, it seduces you then you get used to it and then generally you need another fresher beauty to propose you another truth. If you have spent in your hifi journey the money of a nice house with a garden and even more you surely know whant I am talking about. If you are still in the position of wanting to be seduced, I would say you are still in the adolescence of the path of the audiophile, I strongly doubt you are in the position to love these two cables. It is like playing a Stradivari. If you are not at a stratosperic level you would prefer a modern violin. And this experience has been done. But if you are a master you find in a Stradivari more colours to paint the expression of the music you are playing.

On the negative side: it really seams to absorb some more power from your amplifier then another cable. So if you have very small tube amps or very low watt in general or very ineficient loudspeaker you should be careful. (Even though I liked it with my LS3/5a at low volume). Another minus side is its rithmic expression. It is more a contemplative cable then an involving one. Or better it involves you with its composure, with mesure rather then with enthusiasm. The rithmical event of a music doesn't show up and the rest of the music builts around it (like with a Naim NACA5 or in a less proportion with a Straightwire Virtuoso H ), it is not a structural column but a co-partecipant as a derivation of the musical event.

This is a cable for very mature listener. It doesn't mean that being a mature listener is better then not being a mature one, at the end the only goal in all this is to have pleasure with music reproduction. But I strongly feel that all the very high qualities of this cable can be appreciated only from the ones that knows about artificial intrusions in music reproduction and that have come to accept that this intrusions that at the begining are seducting and somehow beautiful are the causes that has made him whishing for change or upgrading.

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