There is something of a Cold War in audio, between those who think cables sound different, and those who think they don’t, or can’t. Setting aside the militants at either end of the bell-curve, there’s a lot of middle ground. But, what if you have that difficult cognitive dissonance of thinking speaker cables probably don’t make a difference, but aren’t quite willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater and lay down runs of bell-wire? For that, we have Van Damme.
A distinctly pro-oriented brand, Van Damme has been the cable of choice for Abbey Road Studios and the BBC for over 20 years, and has been on the road with the likes of Coldplay, Muse, and Radiohead. This means the company has impeccable credentials when it comes to making robust and reliable wire for audio use. So much so in fact, the brand’s range of studio, tour, and instrument grade cables could be considered overkill; we went for the ‘domestic’ UP-LCOFC speaker cable, specifically the 4mm loudspeaker cables, that use 0.1mm linear pure crystal oxygen-free copper conductors (73 of them per conductor to be specific), all in a flexible clear PVC isolation in the common dumbbell configuration. You can buy off the reel or pre-cut, and the company also supplies no-nonsense gold plated spade or banana plugs. At around £5.82 for a mono metre and £3.47 per banana plug (inc. VAT) from the factory, this costs less than a cable tie from some of the more exotic brands audio speaker cables out there.
In fact, you can almost excise that entire last paragraph, bar the words ‘no-nonsense’. ‘No-nonsense’ is the Alpha and Omega of Van Damme. There’s nothing about this cable that makes claims it cannot achieve. Your life will not be transformed by using this cable, and there’s no recommendations about using wire from the same family, or elaborate power cord advice. Just good, solid speaker cable.
In outright terms, the cable sounds good. It is very much a copper cable, with that distinct rounded and full bass, exciting mid-range and forward top-end. Yes, the bottom end is a bit too full at times; on the one hand, enjoyable ‘phat’ on a good bass line, but also a little too bloomy adding a touch of chestiness to baritones. But nothing to cause excessive handwringing, and only apparent when compared to a lofty all-copper Cardas reference. But in some respects, the idea of cable having an intrinsic sound in and of itself is beyond the Van Damme remit. Instead it’s just wire, used for audio loudspeaker purpose. It’s well-made, fuss-free wire that won’t oxidise two weeks after you bought it, or cause any amplifier to suffer stability issues. This isn’t one of those ‘you could spend more and get less’ cases; you get what you pay for here, but to many that is all you need. It is just good wire.
In fact, UP-LCOFC represents something of a rapprochement in wire. Van Damme is not generic bell-wire, but neither is it exotica. It’s just good, honest cable. That potentially makes it simultaneously the cheapest and most expensive cable option for some. You manage to retain credibility with a cable like this.
Conductor: Bare ultra-pure linear copper
Stranding: 46x 0.1mm per conductor
Manufactured by Van Damme
UK Distribution: VDC Trading
Tel: +44(0) 20 7700 2777