I remember the times when manufacturers would state with apparent confidence and, in some cases, misguided arrogance, that interconnects and cabling does not matter in a musical reproduction system. At that time, as an electronic engineer learning my trade, I felt that this could not be the case.
Thankfully, the industry has moved on significantly since and cables are not considered a necessary evil in a system but something that can aid in lifting performance higher.
As Vertex, we made a number of cable options with the entry level Solfonn interconnects up to our Hi-Rez series. These cables did what we set them out to do but the fundamental issue with them was the inclusion of absorption modules (boxes) that were a necessary part of our design. But feedback from our customers suggested that they were difficult to manage.
With the Quiescent series then, we had to rethink the physics of interconnects and research what propagates from one end of the interconnect to the other and how we can manage this for significant performance increase in the system. The result is an entry level Peak and the higher performance Apex both using highly innovative approaches to minimising the damage that is passed from one component to the next – without the inconvenience of the old inline modules!
As with all our products, we have spent time listening to our cables over long periods of time. After all, this is the most important objective of all our products. That is to say, the physics tells us what we expect but they have to work as we intend.
If you have been following us, you will see that we have had the Peak interconnect available for some time and, in the short time that it has been available, have already received an Audio Excellence Award from Hifi Critic. The Peak leverages the technology deployed in the Peak Speaker Connection System with key technology deployed to allow the system to track the music better and prevent damaging energy being transferred from one system component to the next. The result is a cable that creates a "darker" background to the musical performance achieved by using non-intrusive technology that, as Kevin Fiske observes in his article, does not come at the expense of musicality.
Whilst developing the Peak, we observed some physics that deserved further investigation. During our experiments, we saw a significant opportunity to improve the musical performance further (and still without the need to add the absorption modules to the cable). One of our key design goals was to ensure that the cable would be easy to deploy.
The Apex is the result of 6 month research on how to further improve tracking of the musical signal to bring realism and flow that an audio systems seek to reproduce. By looking at every detail of cable physics, manufacture and deployment, we believe that the Apex sets the new benchmark in musicality, soundstage and clarity.
In my own test system, I have been listening to the Apex from our prototype DAC (based on our own Aletheia) and our prototype preamplifier. Previously, I was using the Peak interconnects. When I first changed the cables over, my instant reaction was one of shock but the smile on my face was bigger than that of a Cheshire Cat! It was as though the cable had suddenly shown up my system (fronted by the soon to be released T-Series streamer using Roon) to be still somewhat held back with the previous cable. Of course, what I was experiencing was a cable that, although based on the Peak, is substantially better with an even "darker" background and lack of apparent presence.
To really understand what was going on here, I listened to a multitude of our usual favourite test pieces from Wynton Marsalis, Genesis, Rush, Antonio Forcione and others but I was entranced when I listened to opera in particular. I was so engaged that I listened to the entire first side of 100 Best Opera Classics released back in 2004 on the EMI label. Der Holle Rache (The Queen of the Night) from Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), opera k was so engaging I could sense the emotion in the performance.
Before launching the product, we also asked some of our consultants to try these out for themselves. Often our biggest critics, we appreciate the candid feedback we receive on all products before they are released as these folks have "been there, done that". It seems we are not alone in our understanding of what this cable does with comments such as "detailed tuneful bass", "musical detail across the frequency range" and "improved timing".
All in all, Apex is a cable that makes you believe in the music more. It's not easy to make but it has certainly been worth the effort!