Individual images were slightly larger with the Anacondas than with my reference cables, and the distances between them seemed larger and more distinctly portrayed as empty space. This big, expansive nature was particularly captivating with relatively simple arrangements, and particularly with studio recordings, where there truly was empty space real or artificial between the images to portray. In full orchestral crescendos, for example, or wall-of-sound rock records, the images would sometimes run together and tumble on top of one another, as if competing for space at the leading edge of a slightly too forward soundstage. When Laredo was playing alone, or in front of a simple orchestral backdrop, the Anacondas were magical, beautifully describing the instruments and surrounding space.
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AQ calls this Spread Spectrum Technology, the idea being that any size and material of conductor has a distinct sonic signature that occurs over a specific frequency range. Mixing the conductors spreads out this signature over a wider range, preventing the effects from piling up to the point of audibility.
A final bit of wizardry is the use of partially conductive carbon-loaded polyethylene as an insulating material on the negative conductors, which "damps radio frequency garbage from being fed back into the amplifier," according to AudioQuest. Various terminations are available. Use and Listening: Despite their complexity and large overall conductor gauge, the Gibraltars were wonderful to use. Soft and flexible, they were easy to run and accommodated the most extreme bends and crinks.
The terminations were top-quality as well, and made solid connections. The Gibraltars even came with special impregnated gloves for cleaning the silver-plated banana plugs! Anyone expecting the Gibraltars to sound like the Anacondas, perhaps expecting some sort of consistent AudioQuest "house" sound, would be dead wrong. My one-word description of the Gibraltars would be "subtle.
The sound was warm and smooth, the images wonderfully detailed and tangible, but dynamic transients were a little foreshortened, and maybe not quite as fast or precise as they were with my reference cables. Lovely, densely complex, and warm—but slightly muted. There was a subtle but noticeable difference in pace as well: the AQs felt more relaxed, with an easy, liquid kind of flow, instead of the frantic drive of the Nordost Valhallas or Audience Au24s. Remember the question I pondered earlier, whether the Anaconda interconnects were dulling transients and sounding more subtle in the process, or whether the other cables were adding a bit of edge and juicing up the transients a bit.
Well, flip it upside-down for the Gibraltars. Tonally, the AQs were slightly to the warm side of neutral and a bit bigger on the bottom than my other cables. This turned out to be a perfect match for some source material. The Brubeck album, which sounds a little cool and lightweight with other cables, was much more solid and anchored with the AQs.
Similarly, the J. In cases where the source material was to the warm side of neutral, like the Art Davis album, the Gibraltars sounded a bit too big on the bottom end, a bit too smooth, and a little closed-in. Instead of creating a huge soundstage and a forward perspective, their soundstage was a little narrower than that produced by my other cables, with images concentrated between the speakers and, if anything, slightly recessed.
The images and overall stage were well-defined in the lateral plane, but a little two-dimensional compared to what the best cables can do. A particularly telling example was the trumpets in Vienna Blood, from Strauss Waltzes.
With the Au24s, there was an incredible, almost holographic picture of the surrounding space echoing around the notes. With the Mark Levinson No. Whether or not the Gibraltars will work for you will ultimately depend on your system and listening preferences.
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AudioQuest Gibraltar Speaker Cables