Review: Verbatim Cable Interconnect Interconnect

Category: Cables

My system begins with my Sonus Faber Grand Piano Home speakers (89dB/6ohm two-ways), which I chose about a year ago on the strong recommendation of fellow member "The Kid." In their price range, these speakers are the warmest, most musical, and resonant for the music I listen to--mainly classical orchestral, Romantic opera, and choral. It has been extremely difficult, however, for me to bring together electronics and cabling adequate to reproduce this music and to fulfill my speakers' need for power and that of the system for clean signal delivery.

My current complement of electronics consists of an Air Tight ATM-2 stereo amp, Thor TA-1000 Mk II pre, and Cary 303/300 CDP. My speaker cables are now Analysis Plus Oval 12s, a relatively modest copper wire, after having had Audience Au24s in the system for about a year. The A+ wire seems to have the least reactive tendencies when changing interconnects among other speaker cables I have recently tried. I have been trying a few interconnects new to me this past month also and will continue for another month or so. In the past, I've tried Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval, Audience Au24, Audience Maestro, van den Hul The Orchid, Harmonic Tech MagicLink Two, and Audioquest Cheetah. Recently, I've tried Cardas Golden Cross and, just this past week, a kind of specialty market cable originally made by former VS marketing director Paul Garner to complement the von Schweikert speaker line.

These are copper foil cables in generic black sleeving of two runs per interconnect and terminated with the very DIY-looking, but well-known Eichmann RCA bullet plugs. As an owner once wrote to me, "These are not glam cables but they work." They are flat, one-inch wide bands of wire that come in lengths made to order. The Verbatim literature is straightforward, claiming low distortion, low resistance, low capacitance, low inductance--a quartet of ideal cable qualities. The claim is that the thin foil minimizes time smear and transmits full bandwidth with exceptional tonal balance. Finally, Verbatim asserts that the foil provides less phase shift from 20Hz beyond 20kHz, resulting in a wider and deeper sound stage, and works equally well with high power SS amplifiers and low power SET amps. In my own trial, I used them only with my Air Tight push-pull tube amp. However, what got me most excited about the Verbatim cables was yet another conspicuous and lengthy claim in the literature: "THE LARGE SURFACE AREA ALLOWS THE SIGNAL TO RETAIN DETAIL, BLOOM, SPEED, AND DECAY WITHOUT THE 'GLASSY EDGE' COMMON IN SILVER CONDUCTORS (ESPECIALLY AT HIGHER SPL), AND REMAINS EQUALLY IMPRESSIVE AT LOWER VOLUME LEVELS."

I'd been having some of these exact problems with treble thinning and edginess and a hard treble top with Audioquest Cheetah interconnects, made from a complex silver alloy. But I'd also had problems with glassy edginess, lack of transient speed and proper decay, diminished detail, and a distinctly crushed blossom of choiring voices with various copper cables I'd tried. I was relating some of this history of failure to ctm_cra, an audiophile friend, when he surprised and delighted me by offering to send me his own spare pair of Verbatim interconnects on loan until we met up at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month.

ctm_cra is extremely discriminating as he is a choral performer himself--a tenor in the San Diego Master Chorale--and belongs to an audiophile club that meets regularly for shootouts, demos, and to A/B various hi fi equipment. He said these Verbatim cables were the most spacious, open, natural, and yet detailed and resolving cables he's tried in over a decade in the hobby. His own system consists of DeHavilland monoblocks (with extensive use of Tenor OTLs), modified Coincident Millennium speakers, First Sound Paramount SE MkII, an APL-Hifi modded Philips SACD1000 CDP with multiple DACs and a tube output stage, a VPI extended Aries with JMW 12.5 and 12.6 arms and Colibri XGW and Miyabi/47 Labs MC cartridges fed through a Wavestream Kinetics MC Phonostage.

As soon as they arrived, I placed ctm_cra's .7m Verbatim cables between the CDP and pre. They immediately improved clarity and transparency to a very pleasant degree, especially on choral music, which had been, prior to the arrival of the Verbatims, exceedingly difficult to render well on my system. I used them alternately with vdH The Orchid and Cardas Golden Cross interconnects running from pre to amp. I also used them running straight from CDP to the amp, which produced a highly resolving sound, but without the body, soundstage, or inner detail in the choir as with the Thor preamp. Whatever the combination, however, I'd say that this one pair of Verbatim ICs had done for resolution of complex harmonies, pure treble extension, and clean dynamics in my system what the Thor preamp had done for improving body, inner detail, and soundstaging. So, from another A'goN member, I bought another 1m pair of my own earlier this month and placed it between the pre and the power amp. Until the placement of TWO Verbatim interconnects in the system, clarity and treble extension and separation of voices had been a chronic problem.

As soon as I placed the SECOND pair of Verbatim interconnects in the system, clarity and transparency took a huge leap forward and yet all the voices and instruments sounded "natural." Playing the new Mozart "Mass in C Minor" by Le Concert D'Astree on Virgin Classics (which features Natalie Dessay and Veronique Gens), the first measures sounded cleaner and much more immediate than when I'd played the CD before. Listening further, I could tell that the two pairs of the Verbatim interconnects created a sound that was astonishingly clear and detailed, but with a slightly hot top-end. There was treble extension to beat the band, but just a little too much top. It wasn't "hard,"per se, but it seemed "overdriven" or perhaps it was due to a resonance or reflection issue.

I then realized the top-end tizz I was hearing might well be caused by the limitation of my budget Lovan rack (which I have been plannning to replace), the problems of a squarish listening room (3m x 4m x 2.5m), or the basic sound of the slightly tipped-up top end of Air Tight amp. But I determined that the Verbatim cables themselves presented sound that was sharp, precise, clear, and wonderfully extended in the trebles. So much so that I can now work on other components in the system to resolve the remaining resonance, reflection, or amplification issues. I can hear the choral singers pronounce the Latin lyrics of "Kyrie" and "Gloria," which were always under a haze before.

Since this first CD, I've played about a dozen different ones ranging from orchestral Beethoven and Mahler, Solti's "La Traviata" with Angela Gheorghiu, recital CDs by Joseph Calleja and Renee Fleming, a three-part mass by Ockeghem, and choral/orchestral works of Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms conducted by von Karajan, Herreweghe, and Abbado. In every case, the Verbatim cables produced a sound that was clear, transparent, highly resolving, and fully musical.

Problems I had previously attributed to what I thought was inadequate power in the Air Tight stereo amp (80W of KT88/6550 power), now seem to have vanished with the use of these Verbatim cables. In a metaphoric sense, then, the Verbatim interconnects are worth about 80 additional watts and make my system sound as though powered by a 150W tube amp or an SS amp that responds to lowered impedance in the treble range with MORE power rather than less.

I can't explain why this is. The response of my system to the Verbatim cables is beyond my scant knowledge of electronics. I can only say that, after having recently heard an 8-valve tube amp like the Conrad Johnson Premier 140 (140W/8ohms) and SS amps like the Conrad Johnson Premier 350 (350W/8ohms) and the CJ CA200 (200W/8ohms) power similar Sonus Faber speakers to mine, the Verbatim cables and Air Tight amp produce, to my ear, a comparable if not superior sonic result.

Verbatim Cable products include two types of speaker cables--a 1" wide version and a 2" wide version, about $900 and $1500 USD per 8' run, respectively. For bi-wiring, Verbatim provides and recommends a jumper cable for a small additional charge. I intend to audition the speaker wires in about six weeks. The interconnects are $750 per meter set, $200 per added stereo foot. Balanced cables are available and terminated with Neutrik plugs. I used the RCA versions terminated with Eichmann bullet plugs.


Paul Garner
Verbatim Cables
3566 Walker Avenue Suite 3
Memphis, TN 38111

Phone: 901-409-7903


Associated gear
Air Tight ATM-2 stereo amp (80W/KT88);
Thor TA-1000 Mk 2 pre;
Cary 303/300 CDP;
Balanced Power Tech Clean Power Center (L-10 PC);
PS Audio xStream Statement PC (amp);
Thor "Red" proprietary PC (pre);
Shunyata Diamondback (CDP);
Oyaide SWO-XX cryo'd duplex and 15a dedicated line;
Lovan rack.

Similar products
Audience Maestro, Audience Au24, van den Hul The Orchid, Audioquest Cheetah, Nordost Red Dawn, Harmonic Tech MagicLink Two.
Thank you for your excellent review. I was under the impression that Paul was no longer making cables. His contact information had been removed from the Von Schweikert web site. I own both the Verbatim interconnects and speaker cables. While they are a very unconventional design, I have yet to here better sound on my VR7 SE's than with his Type II speaker cables w/jumper.
Aloha Arthurp,

Paul Garner informs me his phone number has changed from the one listed in my review. The new one:


I met up with ctm_cra at CES this past week and persuaded him to let me purchase the .7m Verbatim interconnect I mentioned he'd loaned me in my review. I couldn't be more pleased.

In my initial review of the Verbatim interconnects, I mentioned a top-end tizz in choral and opera music that I suspected might be due to resonance in the system that my cheap Lovan rack couldn't control. I've since focused on this.

Two weeks ago, I drove from my home in Eugene an hour up to Salem to visit a friend who owns an Esoteric UX-3SE CDP and also is a designer of audio racks. His platforms are based not on isolation or dampening but on resonance energy transfer. He has an R&D deal with a high-performance rack and stand company.

My friend explained to me that contrary to what most believe, it's air-borne vibrations that cause most of the trouble--more than any other source of vibrations. This is what his racks and tweaks are designed to address. However, it is against the laws of physics to isolate anything from vibration. He explained that vibrations are indeed captured in a moment in time but, in fact, can only dissipate over a PERIOD of time. Thus, a transfer system works better than an isolation system--otherwise, the vibration energy is simply stored in the component or the rack and, eventually, gets sent back around.

"It's like electricity," he said. "Vibrations are always seeking ground. And the best one can do is to expedite the transfer of those vibrations so that they can get away from the component and away from the rack into the subfloor back to ground." Hip-bone connected to the thigh-bone stuff, seems to me.

My friend wanted me to come up to hear the improvements he'd made in his system--NuForce 9.2 SE monoblocks (Class D), NuForce pre, Esoteric UX-3 SE, Aerial Acoustic Model 10T 3-ways (86dB/4ohms)--amazing, elephant-leg sized speakers--Foundation Research line conditioners, and cryo'd wires from Audio Tekne. I went although it was a small bit of hardship, as I'd just returned with my family from a two-week trip to Los Angeles over the holidays.

After the listening session, which went very well, my friend offered to buy me a tank of gas--no small expense, actually. I declined and proposed that I borrow some equipment instead--his prototype stainless steel T-Square rack, a powered line conditioner, and some Audio Points.

I spent half the afternoon the next day setting everything up. But only after having to re-arrange my study/listening room and pull my Chinese rug about 8 more inches from the back wall. I couldn't have the spikes of the rack going through my prize piece of indigo-dyed wool! It was a big job, but I got it mostly done before dinner. Placing the components on the rack is very, very tricky, as the rack's got an open design and the components rest on steel pods that slide side to side on these rods and lock in with Allen-wrench screws. The trouble is, you have to adjust any given pod with an Allen wrench from below it, which means you can't have a component in the rack below or above when you do this. There is measuring and more measuring, and I found myself building phantom templates of spatial arrangements in my mind as I worked. Rudimentary tasks of engineering to predict the alignment of component footer spikes with the pinholes on the surface of the pods--sort of like scripting the oil-rig landing of a helicopter, which is an interesting experience for a non-architect or non-engineer. Several kinds of painstaking work, not the least of which is the blue-collar job of sliding the equipment into the rack. After nearly bashing every piece of componentry more than once (thank god I caught them each time), I got everything in the rack, with the 75 lbs. Air Tight stereo amp on top (as it should NOT be, as it's best for stability placed on the bottom, but I couldn't quickly figure out any other way).

My friend the designer said I wouldn't tell much difference for 7-9 days, as the rack would need to settle and spikes dig into the sub-flooring. He was wrong. There was a difference immediately. Everything was clearer, and the top-end tizz, overdriven trebles, and somewhat hard or harsh top all vanished. I've now got the clearest, cleanest sound I've ever had. My friend speculates the immediate and dramatic improvemenst are most likely the result of switching from a non-performance-oriented racking system to a performance-oriented one. But he continues to prophesy that the biggest gains will occur after everything remains stable and untouched for 7 to 9 days. We'll see.

There is more clarity and an overall a cleaner sound and subtler micro-dynamics. I like what it does for the music. I can only imagine that adding Verbatim speaker cables and having the rack settling will improve things even more. But the sound is presently much clearer and punchier than anything I've yet heard in my system.


I'm playing von Karajan's Mozart "Requiem" and it's never sounded better. Much more resolving and that overdriven top I wrote about in the initial Verbatim cables review is gone now. So there you are! It was resonance all along, as I'd guessed and the Verbatim cables allowed me to discern. No issues with the top being hard, overdriven, or tizzy. Best sound I've had yet out of this system.

TRIANGLES! There's a triangle at the back of the orchestra in "Cum sancto spiritu" I've never heard before. Literally. It's such a cliche of audio, but there you are.

I'm playing a Vivaldi choral hybrid SACD now ("Vespri per l' Assunzione di Maria Vergine" by Concerto Italiano, Naiveclassique) which has always tended to be "hot" and overdriven. No problem. Clarity and dynamics to beat the band.

For speaker wires, I'm using the A+ Oval 12s I bought a year ago (as my 2nd pair of "expensive" speaker cables) and they're doing great. They react much less to interconnect changes than any other speaker cable I've had and preserve the clarity of the Verbatim interconnects. I paid about $300 for this 12' pair of Oval 12s.

My sound is amazing--clear, liquid, without congestion or haze. And, at CES, over a breakfast of crab and asparagas omelettes at the Venetian Hotel, I was able to persuade ctm_cra to sell me his .7m Verbatim ICs--so now the complete set of two I pairs need is mine. The rack I'm using is a prototype and may eventually find its way out on the commercial market.