pl | en
Interconnect + loudspeaker cable
Vipera Cables XANTHINA

Xanthina Speaker – 280 euro/2 x 3 m
Xanthina RCA – 187 euro/1 m
Xanthina RCA – 227 euro/3 m

Distribution: Vipera

Fruegade 13, st,tv
4200 Slagelse, Denmark


WWW: Vipera

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Pictures: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Krzysztof Kalinkowski

John Irving, one of my favorite writers, pays special attention to the first sentence of his writing. He mentions it each time the writer is the protagonist, what happens quite often, but his first sentence philosophy is exhibited strongest in A Widow For One Year. But not only there – also in Until I Find You he shows, that the last sentence is equally important to him. And in a well constructed story they are “movable”, what means that the first sentence could be the last one and vice versa. Everything is depending on the context. A test in not literature sensu stricto, the main goal is to be informative, what brings it closer to newspaper journalism. However because it has a certain form, and the language in such texts has some literate value, stylistic and rhetorical figures are used, it becomes part of literature in its broad form. This is also the reason, that the stylistic layer in a test is also important. So the sentences follow each other not by pure coincidence (or at least they should not do that), the way the words tie together in a well thought manner, etc. So here it is also important how the text begins and ends. In case of the Danish Vipera Cables it gains a special meaning – because the price of the cables is most important. And this information should be mentioned in the very beginning. Or at the end – depending on the context.

Corresponding with Kenneth Jensen, the owner of Vipera, I forgot to ask for the prices, as usual. After the test, when I had a clear view of the cables in my head, I sent the question. The response got me worried, because I thought, that I received the prices for different cables, than the ones I got. Those were completely separated sets – the cables did not fit the prices, and the prices the cables. So I asked if I tested the right cables (yes I did) and if he did not make an error of omitting the trailing zero (no he did not). I do not want you to understand me – I am the last person who treats the price in a special way, it is irrelevant for me, and I use it only to place the product in a specific segment of the market, having no influence on the description of the sound. The more I try to avoid descriptions, where the price would play a significant role. The Vipera Cables almost broke the rule. Their price is too low, when regarded against their workmanship, packaging and sound. Do cable manufacturers earn on their cables 500% and more?

Selling audio products over the internet is quite a risky business. Or rather buying them… Internet and high end audio do not always go well together. Because the main problem is, that we cannot listen to what we want to buy. We buy – and that’s it. There is a possibility of returning the bought items, but the gear has to be originally packaged and unused, what returns us to the beginning of our journey. This is why the sales policy of the Danish company Vipera seems so interesting to me. This is not the only company of that kind, but it is a fine example to show you what I mean. The Vipera cables are available directly from the manufacturer as well as from its dealers (but not distributors, what means the reduction of the middlemen by one level). But they know, than an audio product MUST be listened to before the buying decision, regardless of the sales channel used – shop or internet. So buying those cables we have some time to listen to them, compare them and the final decision. And they can be bought directly from the manufacturer.

This is what Kenneth writes about his policy:
“I want you to know, that I changed lately the pricing of our products on the web page, but now shipment is free. It means, that buyers from outside Denmark will pay the same price as before. We decided also to start selling through dealers. The reason behind that is the large interest in cables all over the world, and we cannot ignore it. We think, that allowing the clients to see, touch and listen to the cables before purchasing them is incredibly important.”

Vipera Cables is a young company, which came to life in Denmark in the summer of 2008, inspired by Kenneth Jensen. First it was thought to be only internet based – Kenneth wrote then as follows: “In Vipera we try to do something new. Nowadays the security of internet shopping allows for some unique possibilities, like having no middlemen and direct to consumer sales.” As you can see from the fragment cited in the previous paragraph, he modified his plan to some extent, however the cables are still cheaper, than in the case of having a traditional distribution network. This limits their promotion, but this is visibly calculated in the costs. The company offers two series of cables, the tested Xanthina is the more expensive one.


Discs used for the test:

  • Die perfekte Räumlichkeit, Stereoplay 10/10, sampler, CD.
  • Abba, Super Trouper, Polar Music Production/Universal Music K.K. (Japan), UICY-9508, CD.
  • Chet Baker, Peace, Enja/Warld (Japan), TKCW-32153, CD.
  • Clifford Brown, Clifford Brown With Strings, Verve/Universal Music K.K. (Japan), UCCU-9525, gold-CD.
  • Depeche Mode, Hole To Feed/Fragile Tension, Mute, CDBONG42, maxi-SP CD.
  • Derek And The Dominos, The Layla Sessions. 20th Anniversary Edition, Polydor/ Universal Music K.K. (Japan), UICY-93958/60, 3 x SHM-CD.
  • e.s.t., Leucocyte, ACT Music+Vision, ACT 9018-1, 2 x 180 g LP; review HERE.
  • Herb Ellis, Man With The Guitar, Dot Records/Universal Music K.K. (Japan), UCCU-5287, CD.
  • Isao Suzuki, Blow Up 2, Jazz Fine, JFIS-001, XRCD24 + DVD.
  • Portishead, Third, Island/Universal Music K.K. (Japan), UICI-1069, CD/enhanced CD.
  • Tomasz Stańko Quartet, Lontano, ECM Records, ECM 1980, CD.

Japanese versions of the discs available on CD Japan.

The Vipera cables are promoted in a way, that can be summarized as follows: “affordable high-end cables” (ref. “Mono & Stereo” HERE). Each element of this statement can be analyzed, but its sense is hidden in the “price” clashing with “high-end”.

Everyone understands high-end differently, and places its borders in a different place. But when products reproduce natural timbres, dynamics and do not overly modify the frequency response (although that is not as emphasized) and when we get the emotions recorded on the disc, so – we can also assume – present during recording, when the music moves some deep string inside us, then we deal with high end. And the Vipera cables fulfill most of those assumptions. Not all of them, other, very expensive cables are much better, but still they have most of those characteristics.

The Danish interconnect combines many elements in their sound. On one hand, the sound is very intensive and palpable. The performers are shown quite close to the listener, placing a thick “carpet” of event in front of them. The far planes are being brought closer, the stage is not very deep – this is a direct derivative of placing the performers close. But we get lots of emotion, gathered on shallow depth. This is why every disc pulsates with rhythm, has drive and does not leave us indifferent. I started the listening session from the disc of Herb Ellis Man With The Guitar and Chet Baker Peace, to find the overall tonal balance of the cables. Because I got interested in this intensity, I listened to club mixes from the CD single Hole To Feed/Fragile Tension Depeche Mode, which should confirm or rebut my previous observations. And with this strong and difficult to reproduce well material, usually brightened and sanded, I heard something, that is the strength of this interconnect: it gives an incredibly coherent sound. It is not warmed, but it seems fuller than from the reference system, compared to the Acrolink Mexcel 7N-AD6300. The hit of the electronic drums was strong, instantaneous, we could only hear a hint of an rounded attack. It was so small, that it did not compress the sound – the hit was strong, immediate and slightly dry. Interestingly it was not as dry as with my Acrolink, it could be heard, that the Vipera cable added some medium bass, supporting the sound in a stronger way. I do not know if it is better or worse, it is always a matter of context, but this is how I heard it. I received a confirmation of that on the disc Blow Up 2 Isao Suzuki, where the contrabass is large by itself. This instrument became even stronger, it had a more fleshy timbre. This is a slight departure from the norm – of course a subjective one, set by the mentioned Acrolink – but one, which many music lovers, who complain about the dry or technical sound of their systems, will chase – like a hungry cat a fat mouse…

But you should know, that the tested interconnect does not have a super-leveled tonal balance. I do not write that as an accusation, because it will sound perfectly in many systems, but it is just something to be aware of. I mentioned the medium bass already. Also the upper treble is slightly stronger. But not in absolute scale, but when compared to upper midrange, somewhere around 1kHz, which seems a bit to the back. I do not know how this was done. Because the sound is intensive and palpable, and this is usually reached by underlining the midrange. Maybe this was done by the solid bass support and slightly warmed lower midrange? I am not sure, but if I would vote for something, that would be it. At first glance treble, its upper part, seems slightly stronger. And here we can notice, how the technology of cable production has changed, and how different sound their new versions. Because the Vipera does not sound bright. If I would have to decide for something, then I would say, that the sound is slightly damped, like a midrange driver in loudspeakers with a large amount of damping material. Please do not read it verbally, this is just a metaphor. The treble is noble, it has a splendid reverb, an aftertaste of sweetness. Sometimes is not as resolved, not as differentiated as in more expensive cables, but finally we get what we pay for.

After connecting the loudspeaker cables I received an amplification of the elements, about which I wrote with the interconnect. The sound was saturated and strong, quite close to the listener. The midrange became more saturated and the bass got slightly diminished, what resulted in a better tonal balance than before. It could be heard, that the loudspeaker cable also diminished the size of the sound. Those are modifications showing, that both cables are very nice, very attractive, but the interconnect is – in my opinion – slightly better. In a system – besides the connection between the CD and preamplifier, the Vipera interconnect found its place also between the preamplifier and power amp – the Danish cables behave with grace and have manners like a gentleman. The final sound is determined mostly by the loudspeaker cable, slightly less dynamic than the interconnect, but completing the tonal balance of the latter in the proper way. This is a slightly warmed sound, but not by withdrawing the treble, but by rounding off the attack and adding a vivid lower midrange. No one could be harmed by that such sound, and some could even be helped by it. This is a very attractive sound, combining depth with intimacy. The sound stage is in the shade of timbre and saturation, so you should not expect a deep perspective. But if the timbre is most important, then the Vipera system will fulfill its purpose brilliantly.

The cables can be seen

g    a    l    l    e    r    y


  • CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Air (previous it was Prime, tested HERE)
  • Phono preamplifier: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC (tested HERE)
  • Cartridges: Air Tight Supreme, tested HERE, Miyajima Laboratory Waza, tested HERE.
  • Preamplifier: Ayon Audio Polaris III with Re-generator Power Supply; version II tested HERE)
  • Power amplifier: Tenor Audio 175S, tested HERE and Soulution 710
  • Integrated amplifier/headphone amplifier: Leben CS300 XS Custom version (reviewed HERE)
  • Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann (tested HERE)
  • Headphones: Sennheiser HD800, AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, 600 Ω version (reviewed HERE, HERE, and HERE)
  • Interconnect: CD-preamp: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, article HERE), preamp-power amp: Wireworld Platinum Eclipse
  • Speaker cable: Tara Labs Omega Onyx, tested HERE
  • Power cables AC (all equipment): Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9300
  • Power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip (reviewed HERE)
  • Audio stand Base – under all components
  • Resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD (article HERE)
  • Pro Audio Bono platform under CD