I don’t often mention packaging but this struck me as rather nice, it’s not in the oaken box with silver clasps league, but is a strong card box with a magnetic flap which contains the cable, a brochure and an SACD of Vivaldi violin concertos from Channel Classics, which is a nice touch.
The Rock sits one run up the 3T range, where names seem to have a geographical bent, its between The Valley and The Hill. There would appear to be an altitude theme there too. The 3T speaker cables get the highest, top model being The Cumulus. It’s described as a twin cored, triple screened (balanced) interconnect with linear structured carbon conductors and a silver plated copper screen – I guess the market fluctuation free materials thing doesn’t apply to screens! There are details about the make up which is a single 0.4mm conductor plus 11 0.15mm strands beneath two carbon and one metal screen. It can be terminated with XLRs for balanced use or RCAs which is the way I used it. The Hulliflex jacket is in an attractively eggy yellow and one end is marked as grounded, the end you would normally send from in fact.
The 3T Rock costs about the same as the Townshend Audio Fractal analogue interconnect that I use as a reference so it seemed fair to pit them against one another. The outcome was one of those ‘I wish I could have all of these properties in one cable’ situations; the Rock has excellent low level resolution and is very good at tonal richness – a reflection of the quantity of fine detail that makes up the overall character of voices and instruments. The Fractal on the other hand has a more open and obviously tuneful delivery and deeper bass, but I have to admit it doesn’t deliver the depth of image on offer from the VdH. It makes a good acoustic recording like Gregorio Paniagua’s La Folia sound positively sumptuous in a clear and resolute fashion. The piece has a joie de vivre that some cables clearly miss, it also has a majesty thanks to the composition and richly textured sound of early instruments, all things that the Rock brings out rather effectively.
Next to Vertere’s Pulse C (£286/1m pair) it sounds more open, tonally radiant and dynamic, but lacks the pace and coherence which Vertere cables tend to do well. It’s an easier listen to be frank, but if you want an edge of seat experience you might prefer something with stronger leading edges.
The Rock is a very well rounded cable. It doesn’t highlight any particular aspect of the sound but resolves an awful lot of detail, so that you can choose to listen to any particular element, be it an individual voice or instrument or the overall sense of power and drama or merely the composition and its execution, the music in fact. While it doesn’t emphasise leading edge attack nor trailing edge decay, both of these characteristics are obvious if you choose to seek them out. Timing is not in the front league, but this is rarely the case in high resolution cables; usually examples that are particularly good at timing give up depth of information in the pursuit of that goal. They present an outline sketch rather than a graduated, full colour image.
I suspect that Van den Hul cables went out fashion because they don’t have much character. This is a desirable thing in any audio component but it doesn’t make for exciting demonstrations. This interconnect proves that transparency without colouration gets you closer to the music, and that if you want a flavour to the sound then pick music that has that flavour. This makes it a hard sell in the A/B demonstration world, but as a long term provider of musical enjoyment in the listening room it’s a hard act to beat.
Cable type: Twin cored, triple screened (Balanced)
Conductor material: 3T + HYBRID screen: Linear Structured Carbon® saturated layer + 2 layer screens of silver plated copper
Conductor make-up: 1 core conductor (0.4 mm 3T) + 11 thinner strands (11 x 0.15 mm 3T); 3 screens (2 metal/1 carbon)
External diameter: 8 mm
Jacket colors: Yellow
Insulation: Hulliflex® halogen free / 300Vrms min., Yellow
Connector types: RCA type C-8,0 Rhodium coated or Neutrik XLR Silverplated
Price: £450/1m pair RCA
Manufacturer: Van den Hul
Distributor: Flamingo Audio
Tel: +44 78 33 95 50 14