Best of the Best - Vertex AQ

Loudspeaker cables
Vertex AQ Hi-Rez Moncayo

A particular personal favourite is the HiRez Moncayo speaker cables, which are unquestionably costly, but also seem to lower the hash and noise level of the system to a significant degree, yet manage to do so without adversely affecting the dynamic expression of the loud bits.

Other devices that I use all the time are the Mini Moncayo Links, which take the place of wire or brass strips in joining together bi- or tri-wire terminals. Once again, these seem to ‘clean up’ the sound of the speakers significantly, expanding the dynamic range by lowering the ‘hash’ floor.

After nearly a decade concentrating on a number of accessory devices aimed at making the most out of any existing hi-fi system, Vertex AQ has begun to extend its activities into complete components, christened Aletheia. Thus far there are just two basic units – the dac-1 digital-to-analogue converter, and a balanced power supply that comes in psu-1 and psu-2 versions.

The LeadingEdge products are being developed in conjunction with a company called Kaiser Acoustics based in the extreme South East of Germany. Stephen Dickenson recently tried some examples and described his experiences in some detail (Hi-Fi+ Nos 96, 97), so I’ll try and avoid too much repetition.

Kaiser makes a modest range of high class loudspeakers, and is also involved in architectural acoustics, thanks in part to the ‘micropore’ technology to manipulate acoustics that it has developed and manufactures.

While the Kaiser speakers do incorporate some Vertex AQ techniques, for example in the crossover networks, the LeadingEdge items currently consist of three components – room acoustic panels, complete equipment support racks, and the new platforms. These incorporate a number of extra performance refinements over the earlier Kinabalu devices that they are replacing, and are available as platforms or incorporated into the racks. Steel inserts ensure better energy transfer between the labyrinth absorption and the couplers, EMI shielding is improved, and the under-surface has micro-pores to avoid interfering acoustically with the unit on the shelf below. The platform is also supported on new and very effective ‘stop-choc’ isolation feet, fashioned from a mesh of fine stainless steel wire.

Partly to provide a neat finish to this article, and partly out of personal interest, I managed to obtain a LeadingEdge platform and was able to compare it with the HiRez Kinabalu supporting my pre-amplifier. The result certainly showed improvements, though they were perhaps a little more subtle than I’d expected. The most obviously audible change was in the stereo imaging, which was clearly better formed than before, with improved focus and especially depth. Background ambience – real or artificial – was now more obvious, and placed well behind the line of the speakers, with instruments themselves more clearly layered in depth terms. After a bit more experience, instruments and voices began to sound a little more ‘real’, and some extra dynamic ‘punch’ together with an expanded overall dynamic range also started to become apparent.

The crucial feature of the Vertex AQ/LeadingEdge approach is that, unlike most hi-fi accessories, it’s both systematic and oriented towards creating the best possible environment to allow the complete hi-fi system to work at its best, whatever the components used. Instead of changing the speakers or amplifier, perhaps for the umpteenth time in an unfulfilled quest for hi-fi nirvana, it might make sense to give the alternative Vertex approach a try.

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