If nothing more, the Hermes S interconnects and speaker cables from Legenburg could be used to conduct a clinic on the art of soundstaging. Of course there is more to the story, but this wire’s ability to reproduce the dimensionality of acoustic spaces is arresting, to put it mildly. Even on a recording as familiar to me as the Rutter Requiem on Reference Recordings, new deep spatial details are revealed. The presentation of the soprano soloist during “Lux Aeterna” is not only defined in relation to the audience and the embrace of the Turtle Creek Chorale and Dallas Women’s Chorus, but in the context of the width, depth and, most astonishingly, height of the venue surrounding her. Her performance also originates further upstage and comes in at a lower level than I’d previously heard, rising incrementally in volume and power, like a locomotive building up steam. Even a studio cut like “Workingman’s Blues #2” from Bob Dylan’s latest CD Modern Times [Columbia] reveals faint details layered amongst multiple planes of sound—not the least of which are the last couple words of a conversation bleeding into the song’s intro. The Legenburg reveals some of the most delicate dynamic gradations I’ve ever heard.
However, as delicate as the sound might be, there’s something defiantly Old School in a cable that specs out at a serpentine 3"+ in diameter. For the record, Hermes S cabling utilizes mono-crystal rectangular copper conductors in a Teflon FEP/Microporous Teflon dielectric. The regal gold outer jacketing is formulated of polyvinyl chloride coated with a high density braided shielding. Connectors are 24K-gold-plated. Buildquality is exquisite—right down to the wooden presentation box the cables arrive in. In many ways the tonal character of the Hermes S tells an even more interesting story than its soundstaging prowess. It’s a richly midrange-weighted cable, and not purely neutral across the spectrum—a trait that also finds expression in a rounded treble and languid transients. It lends most music an almost rose-like complexion. It’s an incredibly flattering sound, even while it gently chamfers off the burrs and edges of recordings. Cellos and doublebasses are beautifully realized, and violin sections have a deeper resonance that rivals the neighboring violas. Even Elton John’s vocal on the ballad “The Bridge” from The Captain and the Kid [Island] seems to drop a little deeper in his chest and soften the middle-age throatiness of his high notes. His trademark piano punctuations grow warmer, with less transient urgency, and the keyboard’s sustained harmonics are a bit softer on top. Mid and low bass is energyfilled and bloomy, but pitch definition could be improved. For example, stand-up bass or a pianist’s thundering left hand playing deep into the keyboard’s bass clef could use a bit more control. Said another way, the middle range of the Hermes S reminds me of the cushiony warmth of moving-magnet phono cartridges. Like the early Grados, the sound is true to the music in spirit, but with a gentle roll-off at the frequency extremes. The Legenburg Hermes S may not be your cup of tea if anvil-flat tonal balance toots your horn. If, however, you’re looking to sweeten up your system or touch and reclaim its soundstaging mojo, then you may want to look no further. TAS