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Equipment Review
September 2002

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GutWire Audio Basic Interconnects and Speaker Cables

by David Dowdell




 

 

 

Flash back to roughly one year ago. I had a room full of GutWire’s best offering, the Chime series of interconnects and speaker cables. The sound of those cables was wonderful, with the speaker cables leaving an indelible mark on my psyche. I really did miss them when they went back to the manufacturer, particularly their sweet, unfettered upper midrange.

So it was with very little trepidation that I dove into GutWire's entry-level offerings, the aptly named Basic range of cables. Could GutWire bring some of the Chimes’ magic to the real-world price point that the Basic cables inhabit? There certainly is no confusing the Basic visually for the Chime. The entire Basic product lineup is covered in a bright yellow mesh jacket, which is in stark contrast to the black-cloth-sheathed Chime cables. The $219 USD Basic interconnects and $399 Basic speaker cables are fairly stiff to work with, but not so unruly as to cause cursing while trying to install the cables in your system.

The Basic interconnects are, well, basic. They eschew the Chimes' ability to float the outer ground layer, but, at the Basics' price point, something had to go in favor of giving the performance a solid chance. The interconnects require about three inches of clearance behind the gear they connect due to the strain-relief mechanism and locking RCA connectors. This is typical of all the GutWire interconnects, not just something peculiar to the Basics.

The Basic speaker cables use separate runs for positive and negative, one marked with a white collar for easy identification. This allows the user to play around with spacing between runs, which some claim is audible, and easily add a second set to facilitate full biwiring. The Basic speaker cables are composed of 138 conductors of high-purity, oxygen-free copper wire, with either gold-plated spades or banana plugs available as connector options. As is typical with all GutWire products, cold welding to the connectors is used in favor of hot soldering.

Sonically, there is a distinct similarity of the Basics' sound to their upper-crust brethren, albeit without the ultimate level of detail retrieval and spatial resolution that hallmarked the Chimes' performance. The Basic interconnects are the big winners in my books; they offer an extremely neutral portrayal of the music, with great timbral accuracy throughout the midrange and good rendering of treble detail. Spatial characteristics are also very well portrayed, with good front-to-back and lateral perspective. The bass is well articulated and displays decent weight when required.

From what my ears were telling me, the Basic interconnects held their own very nicely against my reference, the Transparent Ultras, which are over six times the price. The Transparent interconnects offer a lot more of what you pay the admission price to the high-end circus for, but in the context of a value-based interconnect, the Basic shines like a diamond, with its sins being those of omission rather than additive in nature. You might not get that last bit of highly prized air up top or pure slam in the lowest octave, but you will get a cable that’s easy to live with over the long haul.

The Basic speaker cable is also a high-value offering. My initial take on it was perhaps not as I was hoping it would be because of the magic of the Chime speaker cables; however, after the Basics saw some current run through them for many hours, I started to believe that there was a touch of the Chimes' sonic abilities in them after all.

After the lengthy break-in period, the sound took on an open, articulate quality, with very good resolution of the acoustic space. Where the Basic falls down is in the bass. It does not possess the ultimate reach and low-end resolving power of the Chime or other pricier cables. Where the Basic does score big points is in its open, neutral midrange and smooth, nicely controlled top end. As with my impressions of the Gutwire MaxCon, I found that there was a reduction in the upper-midrange grain, which was pervasive in all the Basic range of products, yet not at the expense of numbing the performance.

The Basic interconnects are really excellent and capable of passing the music along largely unscathed. In short, this is an interconnect that can take you through several upgrades with little fear of it being the weak link. The Basic speaker cable is also worth having a listen to, particularly if you’ve been smitten with the magic of the Chime speaker cable's upper-frequency prowess.

In the end, the GutWire Basic cables get you in the ballpark at a price that is pretty easy to cope with.

...David Dowdell
davidd@soundstage.com

Gutwire Audio Basic Interconnects and Speaker Cables
Price:
Interconnects, $219 USD per one-meter pair; speaker cables, $399 per eight-foot pair.
Warranty: Lifetime for original owner.

GutWire Audio
9019 Bayview Avenue, Suite 2B-183
Richmond Hill, Ontario
L4B 3M6 Canada
Phone: (416) 930-3118
Fax: (905) 882-6186

E-mail: gutwire@gutwire.com
Website: www.gutwire.com

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