I asked Mike to elaborate on the design details of the Grand Illusion cables, specifically why he favours ribbons to traditional round conductors: "The cables are made using cryo-treated high-purity metal foils in a static-free low-loss dielectric. Furthermore, in the power cords we employ rare earth minerals in the IEC plug end for passive noise reduction. We designed Grand Illusion while pushing the boundaries of conventional designs. Round conductors have several physical properties that cause distortion. We decided to overcome this by thinking outside the box rather than just band-aid round wire with a filter box in the middle, batteries on the ends or ten layers of shielding and damping. We wanted something smart, light, flexible, handsome, fairly priced and above all, transparent and revealing. We found the more we put into our designs, the more we could extract from the equipment that was already there. 


"We think that many people upgrade components over and over again, the entire time taking the cable thing with too much of a grain of salt. If their thought process gave more weight to the importance of what carries and preserves the signal integrity between components, then perhaps listeners could prevent costly component upgrades and keep the pieces of equipment they chose in the first place. Our feeling is that cables are so important, they will make or break a hifi system. So here we are, dedicated to music and its accurate high-fidelity representation."


Unpacking the Verastarr cables was pleasure itself as the packaging, presentation and build quality were outstanding. The Grand Illusions, sporting flat copper foils in varying dimensions depending on the specific cable, were encased in a lovely black soft cloth sleeve with leather end caps and snug-fitting connectors. They were obviously hand made with a wonderful attention to the smallest of detail. The cables were flexible and easy to route even if only able to bend in two dimensions. I didn’t experience any issues. They pretty much stayed the way I wanted.


After hooking them up into my system, they sounded great from the start. Still, I tried to ignore them for a few weeks before I started taking notes. As per usual, I used them as a loom and did not mix and match with different brands. Music sounded terrifically alive with these Verastarr cables. There was a dynamic and transient purity that was frankly startling. I can’t think of any other cabling that tracked the gradations from soft to loud as effortlessly as these. There were no signs of dynamic constriction at all. This was readily apparent right across the entire spectrum. Bass transients were spectacularly visceral in depth and articulation. Instruments and voices had a stark sense of realism in that even with familiar recordings, I was consistently surprised by how quickly attacks and decays of notes and nuances would flicker in and out amidst an immersive acoustic, be it real or artificial. Listening to Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s incendiary take on the Boss’ "Born to Run" was exhilarating. Actually, it was more Ian Drury’s backing band and session musicians than Frankie as I understand it. But who cares? This kicked some serious hiney. And I’m pretty sure it’s producer Trevor Horn who laid down those awesome bass lines.