Interconnect cables come and go, but with Redline Vertere is definitely on to something. In fact, this is more a review of Redline as a complete cable family (I still can’t quite bring myself to say ‘loom’, as that was the rusty, oily spider of wires that fell out of my Mini years ago), but expressed through the interconnect, as this is perhaps the prime focus of the system.
With all the (understandable) noise about Vertere’s turntables of late, it’s worth remembering that the first products from Vertere (while Touraj Moghaddam was quietly designing the Reference tonearm in the background) were interconnect cables. These ultimately became the Pulse-HB (Hand-Built) range. This grew into the Pulse-R and D-Fi ranges. The problem here is there is now a significant price difference between the entry-level D-Fi and the Pulse-R, making the jump from one to another a bit too ‘sharp intake of breath’ for most people (there is a similar jump between Pulse-R and Pulse-HB, but the logic is that if you are already spending Pulse-R money, you’ll probably be able to find the ‘folding’ for the Pulse-HB (even if you do so in stages). Redline meets in the middle, taking many of the lessons learned in making Pulse-R, but in a cable system that is an attainable upgrade for existing D-Fi users, and regular music lovers without steroid-fuelled wallets.
This isn’t just a ‘tweener’ cable, however; it’s a complete system in its own right. The fact it draws from existing products doesn’t make it any less relevant. But occupying the point between entry-level and benchmark products doesn’t make for an easy life for Redline. In a way, this grade of cable is the ‘proof of concept’ product line, as it needs to reflect much of what the top models offer while not rendering them unsaleable in the process. It also doesn’t get the ‘soft landing’ of the entry-level products. While generally a little too expensive to fall into the hands of the cable cynics, it’s also affordable enough to be the victim of a spot of negative marketing by rivals (although fortunately, this doesn’t seem to be part of the way most cable brands operate; they are – generally – more likely to consider their rivals as ‘fellow travellers’ than go all Game of Thrones on them). Moreover, this level of cable often ends up in more unpredictable system matches compared to a high-end or low-cost cable; Redline might conceivably be mixing with some very high falutin audio gear, or wired up between a couple of poor quality devices. It’s a tough job.
Redline is a complete range of cables, comprising interconnects of every possible combination (including a lot of Naim-chummy locking DIN-plugs), turntable-specific cables (naturally), loudspeaker cables, power cords/mains cables and USB cables. This is very much a ‘now’ range in that what’s missing from the list are S/PDIF cables or AES/EBU wires. What’s also missing from the list is an Ethernet cable. This last is interesting because Vertere’s only Ethernet cable is in the large Hand-Built family, alongside AES/EBU., while Pulse-R just features analogue interconnects and speaker cables... there’s not even power cords in that line.