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Graham Slee Lautus USB Cable

Rating:
5/5,
  1. YoYo JoKeR
    GSP Audio Lautus: An Excellently Performing USB Cable
    Written by YoYo JoKeR
    Published May 30, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Superior Transparency, Bass depth, Speed, Clarity & Soundstage
    Cons - None


    Me: I am a 21 year old student living in a small town in India. I would like to call myself a music enthusiast, rather than an audiophile. I was inspired by music since childhood, and as the time passed, the passion of music grew in me, and that subsequently led me to join Head-Fi. Eventually, I found the pleasure of listening to music mainly by the HD600 and recently, by the seductive LCD2 headphones, and realized the true components of recorded music. I usually like to listen to Indian Classical Music along with Bollywood songs. My main listening genres include classical, vocal, instrumental, jazz and sometimes pop.  With time, my sonic preferences have very much grown. I avidly admire transparency, accuracy along with neutrality, and currently my favorite headphones are K702, HD800 & K812.
     
    I am an average consumer & a humble enthusiast, I pen down my thoughts, & I love to express my feelings. I do not receive for any sort financial benefits through this review. My articles are a purely my honest writeup aimed for fellow enthusiasts here at Head-Fi community. My profound thanks to GSP Audio, UK for arranging a sample unit of Lautus cable for my evaluation.
     
    I do hear sonic differences between different audio cables. I believe in any well built & performing cable which delivers superior quality sonic characteristics, & which is reasonably priced. Cables are the key behind proper transmission of signals with minimal or no loss in between. Especially when it comes to high fidelity audio, designing performing cables without losing any sonic detail is difficult. Yet, with lot of effort, trial & error and after a intense time interval: we have our cable ready.


     
    Intro:  GSP Audio, a brand of Graham Slee Projects, is a company which manufactures high fidelity headphone & phono amplifiers purely by hand, & is based in Britain. They also make custom audio cables.
     
    Established in 1998, Graham Slee is one of oldest audio brand existing in Europe. They are very well known worldwide for their well made phono's & amplifiers, owing to their cable offerings which have great attention, workmanship & high performance. They also offer customized headphone cables, along with various interconnects. All their products are handmade in the Great Britain.
     
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    Brief History About GSP Audio: 
    Graham Slee Projects audio products are designed, built and tested in the English North-Midlands and South Yorkshire by engineers - they are truly British made!

    Graham Slee, born at Mexborough, England in 1955, apprentice trained engineering craftsman in the 1970s, worked in AV until 1984 when he set up his own electronics and printed circuit design business, working with a number of "blue-chip" technology companies. In 1989 he became senior engineer at Audionics (Sheffield) Ltd, part of the Yorkshire Radio Network (YRN) group, where he designed electronics for broadcast studios - clients included the BBC, and numerous UK commercial broadcasters. 1993 he left YRN to freelance in electronics design with various companies

    In 1998 he established Graham Slee Projects also known as gsp-audio. In 2004, John Cadman - former YRN installation engineer and wireman - joined as production director and in 2008 Leon Kirkbride who had worked for Carlsbro Sound, joined the team as freelance production engineer. Freelance broadcast engineer and Minster FM DJ Paul Godley often joins in with manufacturing too.

    Graham was also involved in 1970s disco: building on-the-road equipment and as a DJ. It was at this time he began developing phono preamps and headphone amps. In 1999 he made his first commercial phono stage then known as the "Basic", it received much praise from Gramophone magazine. However, as the name clashed with another manufacturer, it was changed to Gram Amp after the name broadcasters used for a turntable (the "Gram"). That was followed by another three Gram Amps: the 2, the 2 Special Edition, & the 3 Fanfare (dedicated to moving coil). The phono stages were either dedicated to moving magnet or moving coil sensitivity, and after the launch of the moving magnet sensitivity Era Gold V, an electronic step-up 'transformer' called the Elevator EXP was introduced for anybody wanting to use moving coil with it. None of the phono stages did both moving magnet and moving coil because Graham was of the opinion that one box would never do both justice.



     
    Let us see how this cable performs,
     
    Design and Build: The cable I am writing about is their newly released performance USB cable (A to B), which is an audio cable commonly used to connect DAC to a computer. It is named “Lautus” and is a high fidelity & performance cable, delivering superior sonic qualities.
     
    The Lautus cable has one or more ferrite rings placed at carefully calculated positions. A pair of shielded RCA interconnects using silver Teflon aerospace/ MIL spec wire. These highly conductive, shielded, rugged cables.  The cable is shielded with a copper, silver plated shield.  The cable is terminated with industry standard gold plated connectors. Cardas silver, lead free solder is used to terminate the cables, giving a high quality connection.
     
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    The cable itself is neither too thick nor too thin, & is very flexible. Strain relief on the both terminals are hard & rubberized. Outer jacket is mesh type & is covers the entire length of the cable, and is loosely fitted on the cable. Ferrite bead is present in the beginning of the USB line. Length of the cable is 1.2 meters. USB Connectors have gold plated lines. The cable is used to connect PC (USB A) to DAC’s (USB B)
     
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    Overall the build is simple, practical & without any fancy additions.


     
    Sound:  This is where the Lautus excels. It delivers a very superior & a transparent sonic performance cable, and is one of the USB cables having a good performance aspect. Its performance is well related to its price and has a high price/performance ratio. Infact, there are very few such cables which are performing and yet are affordable.
     
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    Burn in: I could not notice any major audible improvement by burn in. But let’s say a playback of about 20 hours will set in the new cable & provide very few/minor audible improvements.
     
    Improvements observed when graduating from stock Monoprice cables:
     
    1) Bass:  Impressive response seen in bass like never before. Lows now go very deep, and are full bodied & very accurate when heard on K702, I wonder, are these bass shy? & LCD2’s bass go extremely deep, with a great rumble & authority.
     
    2) Speed:  Delays in transmission & receiving are largely eliminated & thus with Lautus, sound can be heard instantaneously, without any ‘lags’ or ‘delays’
     
    3) Transparency & Clarity: The level of details & transparency. The Lautus simply disappears from the chain, simply delivering an extremely clean and very transparent signal to the DAC. Due to this, a lot of power is being saved at volume knob, previously I used listen to my headphones at 12 o’ clock on volume knob, and now I feel same level of loudness is achieved a little earlier.
     
    4) Soundstage: Especially Depth & layering have increased. Increment in imaging, & placements across all frequencies when heard on high end headphones. These improvements are at the margin of about 20-30% more when compared to basic or stock cables.
     
    The Lautus corrects almost all of the base chain problems like, Channel Imbalances, and irregularities are mostly eliminated. EMI Pickup and noise floor level are audibly none. It is like a whole new dimension being discovered. All these improvements are heard on well performing equipments. I have installed this cable on various DAC’s and Amp’s, and in all the setup’s the Lautus cable has performed very well & audibly superior.


     
    Conclusion:  The Lautus USB cable from Graham Slee is a very well performing and well built cable, which serves its objective of delivering the signals from end-to-end with superior transparency. This cable is a great introduction to the sonic upgrades caused by well performing cables.
     
    Superior performance cables are very much appreciable in higher end setup, and I can say it safe to invest an agreeable cost on a good performance cable. The sonic improvements are evident & are clearly audible, and further optimize the full potential of our equipments.
     
    Pros: 
     
    1) Build Quality: Very well built by individual attention by hand using very good quality materials.
     
    2) Sound Quality:  Very well performing cable, sound quality improves by a considerably good margin from inferior cables.
     
    3) Value:  Considering its appreciable sonic performance and at the price tag of 96 pounds, the Lautus has a decent price/performance ratio.

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