Gekko Cables UK model “Purple Haze” RCA review
Directional, unshielded interconnect cable made of two twisted solid-core pure UK silver conductors RCAs and terminated with the extreme Gekko RCA plugs (patent pending) !
So, a few weeks ago I receive a call from Demos Dravopoulos, the man who runs “hiendnews.gr”. “I have a special cable in my hands that I would like you to check out” were his exact words, “an RCA terminated interconnect with special plugs that is 2 meters long mind you”. “What?” was my first reaction, “2 meters long?” thinking about all the “bad” capacitance and inductance that cable would carry at this length. “ It sounds pretty good and it is quite expensive” were his next remarks. Curious to see and hear what it was all about I agreed to take a listen and if I liked what I heard then I would proceed to do a review of it.
A few words about it…
Information taken from their site: “Gekko Cables was launched in 2012 with the aim to design and create top quality cables for audiophiles, musicians and recording studios. Our product range covers everything from interconnect to speaker, microphone, instrument, mains and digital cables. Gekko Cables is a London based designer of bespoke, handmade, high-end audio cables. Our aim is to make it possible for genuine music lovers to buy high-end cables created to their exact requirements”.
And that’s all you have to know. Or is it? Maybe you should know that the Gekko cable line includes cables that use either pure UK silver (99.99%), UP-OCC (99.9999%) and OFHC copper (99.99%) solid core annealed wires as conductors they claim have selected out of thousands of different wires during a period of over a year of listening tests. And after that they inform us that they also had to select the dielectric to insulate these wires. And they chose cotton as their best sounding choice (all selections were made through intense listening tests). Their words: “Besides being the best dielectric (the dielectric constant of air is 1.2, cotton is 1.3–1.4, Teflon (PTFE) is 2.1–2.2, nylon is 4.0–4.5) cotton also plays an important role as a cushion in reducing unnecessary vibrations therefore preventing a microphony (so called triboelectric noise) effect”. And then, they had to find the proper terminations. In their line of cables (they have five (Purple Haze, Silver Lining, Silver Dream, Attack and Dynamic, plus some special cables for musicians) they use mainly connectors from WireWold, Switchcraft and G&H range with high quality lead free solder containing 4% silver. But on some of their more upscale models use their own proprietary connectors that have some very interesting characteristics. The top of the line Purple Haze that I review here uses such patend-pending devices.
How is it made?
As I have mentioned above the Purple Haze is their top of the line model. It uses this funky looking purple colored, braided cotton sleeve as an outer jacket, without any internal shielding. The conductors are two solid-core pure UK silver (99.99%) AWG26 wires and each conductor is insulated by braided PTFE threads, then by an additional layer of cotton. PTFE braid, according to the designers, results in more open and dynamic sound than cotton while cotton braid plays an important role as a cushion in reducing unnecessary vibrations to secure real sound. This results in a more open and dynamic sound than their Silver Lining, yet retains natural sound perfectly harmonized with the silver conductors. By eliminating the unnecessary vibrations, while securing the original signal, the mix of PTFE and natural cotton dielectric creates transparent and lively music. Hmm, pretty bold statements there. The two conductors are also twisted together with two more cotton threads. Then the cable is covered with a layer of cotton and then a layer of a purple polypropylene (outer jacket) providing an additional mechanical protection to the conductors.
But as we all know, a connecting audio cable is not only wires, insulation and geometry, it is also connectors, and in this department Gekko have done even more homework by designing and building their own RCA connectors. These comprise of special plastic (looks kind of foamy) that includes holes in its body at specified spots that enable the wire conductors to continue from the cable itself and form the contacts of the connector without any extra metal conductor or solder.
That is something I have seen, once more, in the past done in a similar way from the Japanese brand 47 Laboratory, in their own, unique at the time, interconnects. Now, the Gekko plugs use, besides the non-conductive plastic inner body, an outer shell made of solid wood, a nice touch at least in the “looks and feel” department that is also laser engraved with the direction of the cable. Even though the mechanical connection of these RCA plugs does not feel very secure (as does with most regular or super big and heavy metal plugs) it worked (when I got over my skepticism and insecurities) pretty good with every RCA chassis connector I have tried it without ever loosing contact, so I got over it.
And then comes this statement from the manufacturer: “This cable will rival the best and the most expensive interconnects in the world”. Since I have heard a couple of the best cables in the world lately (which were also some of the most expensive) these words, combined with the, let’s say above normal, price of the cable at hand, came as a challenge to me, setting my …naughty reviewer self into “full attack” mode. Or as some of my colleagues would describe as “critical” mode. You choose. And with these things in mind I started listening. But before I did that I checked from the manufacturer’s site its electrical characteristics (which by the way are extremely good) and confirmed its capacitance to be very low indeed, a big plus in my book (for a cable first of all that long –since the capacitance increases with each length unit- and for such an application).
The systems that I heard Purple Haze range from big planar and top tubed electronics set-ups to my own Class-D amplification with medium sized but extremely revealing dynamic speakers. In the latter I also used a few different DACs, plus a Lab12 Gordian AC “clever” filter. The position I used it was usually between the preamp and the source. Also the source I used mostly on my system was based on a fully Audiophile/Fidelized optimized Win10 PC that uses the MusiCHi suite (player and library organizer) and a 3R USB conditioner, all using ultra low noise power supplies.
So is it …“Musical”?
No, it’s definitely not. As it’s definitely not …“Drama”, “Comedy”, “Opera”, “Tragedy” or “Action”, to name a few. Cables are, just like the other links that comprise the chain of audio reproduction, only components that may sound “muddy”, “harsh”, “warm”, “liquid”, “transparent”, “detailed”, “rhythmic” etc., depending on the sound influence they have on the total system sound. And even these terms do not mean a lot to everybody since each one of us have their own definition about what each and every one is all about, because unfortunately that differs too for each person. So what is the sound “character” of the Purple Haze according to my observations, or if you would like, the contribution the components of the systems that I have tested it, to the final sound?
Well, let’s take things form the beginning. In order to properly judge audio cables in general I believe I have to insert them into multiple systems that exhibit different sound “characters” and see what their influence is. These system differences exist, well, because these different systems also have different owners that have different sound tastes and for that they set them up accordingly into different rooms (and that is also a big contributing factor into the final sound). And to tell you the truth I also prefer to test complete sets of cables so that I can understand their creator’s philosophy as a whole, which makes my life easier too. Now, if a piece of cable is part of a set then usually it takes about two to three system …insertions (sic) to get a clear picture of the total set contribution in the sum of the sound character of those systems. If, on the other hand it’s only just an interconnect (as it was the case with the Purple Haze) it takes more to get a proper and clear grasp of its sound character. Now, if the cable in question shows during these multiple insertions a certain bias towards a “sound” character (or direction if you like) then all is good and we have our result (which by the way does not mean that it will exhibit the same character in all the systems, just a general tendency which the user should have in mind while searching). But what happens if the cable does not exhibit such sound direction or preference, name it as you like, but is, for all practical reasons, close to neutral, or transparent if you like, revealing mostly the nature of the connected electronics? This has rarely happened, but if such a thing happens then we end up with a cable that pretty much does its job, which is to connect the electronic components in the system the best way possible and letting things fall into place.
The Purple Haze is for all practical reasons such a cable. Its sound character makes for a very quiet, highly detailed, uncolored (as far as I could tell) and fast outcome. Its sound “hue” is definitely not “fat”, nor “warm” or “cold” for that matter, and it helps the system that is inserted (and capable of) to create a big, bold but also relaxed sound stage that has very big and clearly defined spaces between the instruments plus it helps to present the natural reverberation of each recording (where it exists…). It is also able to help the system (that again already has these abilities) reveal any presentation tendencies of a recording. It, also, illuminates (in a sense) very clearly the rear of the sound stage so that details that lurk there get very easily noticed. But that revealing character also contributes at presenting clearly the mistakes that have been made in the recordings, the mix, the mastering, as it does not cover or mud things up so that “crap” can sound acceptable, if you know what I mean… If I had to pick something that actually stands out (just a little bit, but it was noticeable in the systems that were used in the review) it’s a small tendency to sound a bit more “lighted up” than the majority of the cables that I have used in the recent past, but that’s all. And you have to remember, the cable I had in my hands was 2 meters long, which is way longer than what most of us use in our systems, so maybe that was a factor too.
So there you have it. The Purple Haze is a very flexible, extremely light (as in actual weight) and very faithful (as in the sound that gets in and gets out of it) cable with excellent electrical characteristics, that can deliver pretty much everything that you ask out of a top of the line (as in quite expensive) interconnect with the least amount of fuss. It uses these special RCA connectors that make possible the exclusion of any kind of soldering as the means of connection and because of that (amongst other things), it has a very revealing and neutral sound character. One of the best!
- Conductors: 2x 0.4 high purity (99.99%) annealed UK silver
- Primary dielectric layer: PTFE thread
- Secondary dielectric layer: Cotton
- Lay: Orbital twist, 50mm lay length
- Capacitance: (min) 18pF/m
- Inductance: 1.8 uH/m
- Resistance: 0.2Ohm/m
- Overall jacket: Polypropylene
- Overall diameter: 11.0mm
For more information / details contact:
Official web site: http://gekkocables.com