The splendid speaker and interconnect cables from Göbel Audio I really couldn’t resist. To be on the safe side I therefore listened only briefly to the power cables, but exchanged them before I got used to it. However, the most recent digital cables I cannot deprive from you – and really don’t want to – despite this being a quite dangerous endeavour.
The good thing – or the bad thing, depending on how you see it – is that Oliver Göbel's facilities and my listening room are not very far away from each other. When the system in his demo room undergoes an interesting sonic modification, or when a particularly enthralling test object or a new acquisition enter my premises, both of us quickly can drop by each other’s place. And sometimes, also one or the other component changes place into the colleague’s listening room in order to show its capabilities in the respective chain. Yet some time ago it happened that I got an AES/EBU cable, which is still waiting for a review as I didn’t have a compelling application for this type of digital connection so far. During a comparison test of preamps and NAS systems in Oliver Göbel’s company, nearby located in the Bavarian town Alling, he mentioned that he was currently working on USB and Ethernet cables. And, I couldn’t await listening to these wires in my system – as well as testing them, of course. Eventually, I was able to persuade the designer to hand in a prototype of each of the cables for a first impression, which namely could be different from the serial versions in terms of termination and probably also outer diameter, but not in their sonic characteristics.
The prototypes’ connectors still lacked the characteristic aluminum sleeve with the milled company logo on them, using a simple shrink tube here instead. Also, the USB cable’s parallel running power and data wires are projected to be a good bit thinner in the final version, but – as aforementioned – this is of a purely cosmetic nature. Even if the outer jackets of the Ethernet, USB and AES/EBU cables look almost exactly the same as those of the interconnect cables, they host a different number of conductors in different geometric layouts – in so far as, for example, four shielded conductor pairs are required for the Ethernet connection and 110 Ohms are mandatory as impedance for an AES/EBU application. It is therefore not the case that Oliver Göbel simply transferred the knowledge gained during the development of the speaker and interconnect cables to the new cables, even though some fundamental insights were useful for the new designs. As it happens with most of the cable manufacturers, there is not much more you get to know about the buildup. Oliver Göbel only pointed out that the high price of his cables results mainly from the handcraft required in the production, and is not caused by the processing of exotic materials. The price debate which is so popular with cables, I rather leave open to you and me here: One simply has to know for himself if the few remaining percent on the way to more canorousness will be worth it. Above a certain (high) level, significant improvements are only viable by superimposing extremely increased efforts – whether this is with components or with cables.