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Loudspeaker cable


Manufacturer: WESTMINSTERLab Ltd.
Price (in Poland): 11 490 EUR/2 x 2,5 m

Contact: Via contact form on the manufacturer’s website


Provided for test by: AUDIO ATELIER


Images: WestminsterLab | Wojciech Pacuła

No 201

February 1, 2021

WestminsterLab is a company founded in London (hence the name), currently headquartered in Hong Kong, run by ANGUS LEUNG. Its offer includes connection cables and amplifiers, forming systems belonging to the top high-end class. We are testing a speaker cable from its top ULTRA series.

HE WestminsterLab COMPANY WAS ESTABLISHED IN 2007, and its founder and designer is Mr. ANGUS LEUNG. Its most famous products are audio cables. It was one of the first companies in the world to offer self-made high-end USB cables back in 2007! Mr. Leung made himself known to a wider group of audiophiles thanks to the fact that he prepared cables for the Lumïn company, connecting their file players with external power supplies. The cooperation had to be satisfactory for both parties, as the head of WestminsterLab was also the chief engineer during the development of the manufacturer's first amplifier (Amp).

The WestminsterLab cables belong to the highest price range on the market. In their development, the most important thing was not only the knowledge, but most of all the experience gained during countless hours of listening and comparisons - it is always the most time-consuming and therefore the most expensive component of audio products development.


ONE OF THE BASIC CHOICES that Mr. Leung and his colleagues made was the choice between cables consisting of twisted wires (so-called "strand") and a single wire ("solid core") - ultimately they selected the latter. The advantage of the former is the flexibility of the cable - it is easy to arrange and does not move around on the device shelves. The problem are the so-called Straying Electric Currents. It comes from the fact that the current, instead of flowing all the time through a given wire, jumps to the adjacent one. And that introduces distortion to the signal, changes it.

Another choice is the one related to the conductor material. The market mainly offers copper, silver, silver-gold and silver-plated copper cables. Each of these types sounds different, what's more, within each of them we have many subgroups, of which - yes, yes - each will "sound" differently (when I say that the cable "sounds", I mean that it modifies the sound) . Each of them has their own distinctive sound, and the boss of WestminsterLab wanted to avoid it.

So he developed his own conductor, which is an alloy of several different metals, and called it Autria Alloy - AUTRIA in Latin means OTHER. Unfortunately, we do not know its composition. It is known, however, that an important element of its production is thermal treatment, known as cryogenic. It is a process of cooling metal elements to a temperature close to absolute zero and slowly, heating them up in an controlled way. As a result of this treatment, the metal's crystal structure reorganizes and resembles the structure of an "old" metal, which is much softer, although chemically identical to the new one. This type of processing is used by many companies, and each of them has its own "recipe" for it.

The next step, after making the alloy, pulling the wires and cryogenic processing in WestminsterLab cables, is manual polishing of the conductors. As you know, the audio signal does not flow through the entire cable cross-section, but tends to flow along its surface - the higher the frequency, the closer it is to the surface. That is why the outer surface of the conductor is so important, as it should be as smooth as possible. This is something that was recognized years ago by Japanese producers and this type of treatment is also used in products from other companies, such as Acrolink and Oyaide, for example.

And so we come to the dielectric, the second important variable, right after choosing the conductor. Mr. Luang's cables are made by hand, which is why he protects the wires with a specially developed epoxy resin-based coating (most often this is done by coating wires with varnish - this is what Acrolink does) and only then inserts the conductor into a PTFE, or Teflon tube. The company shields its cables, not with metal, but with conductive carbon.

Almost always, the speaker cables for a given channel form a single cable, with positive and negative runs in one outer jacket. Sometimes, as is the case of the Chord Company, both runs are separate because each of them is shielded separately, but they are twisted together and fastened on both sides with metal elements. WestminsterLab cables are different.

Each run is separate and delivered in a separate box, so it's best if they are led from the amplifier to the speakers separately, on their own stands. A stereo pair consists of four boxes and four independent cables. You can also twist the positive and negative runs together at different intervals. In interconnects, the company uses the Vari-Twist technique, which relies on just such a solution.

The cables are terminated with spade plugs by Furutech, the FT211G to be specific. On one side of the cable you will also find an aluminum, screw-on element that is used to control vibrations. Just like on Siltech products, the logo, series name and serial number are marked on it. It's high-end, handcrafted, top quality make&finish product.


HOW WE LISTENED WestminsterLab Ultra speaker cables were tested in the HIGH FIDELITY’s reference system and compared to the SILTECH TRIPLE CROWN on the one hand, and to the NOS WESTERN ELECTRIC WE16GA:

Power amplifier: Soulution 710

WestminsterLab ULTRA ↔ Siltech TRIPLE CROWN

Loudspeakers: Harbeth M40.1

All cables rested on the ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCI-3H cable stands.

Recordings used in the test | a selection

⸜ MICHIKO OGAWA, Balluchon, Ultra Art Records ‎UA-1002, Ultimate HQCD (2019)
⸜ DIANA KRALL, This Dream Of You, Verve Records UCCV-1181, SHM-CD (2020)
⸜ MARIO SUZUKI, Masterpiece II: Touching Folklore Music, Master Music XRCD24-NT021, XRCD24 (2018)

⸜ PRIYA DARSHINI, Periphery, Chesky Records JD446, Master CD-R (2020)
⸜ OLIVER NELSON, The Blues and the Abstract Truth, Impulse!/Esoteric ESSI-90136, SACD/CD (1962/2015) w: Impulse! 6 Great Jazz, Impulse!/Esoteric ESSI-9013/8 (2015)
⸜ LAURIE ANDERSON, Homeland, Nonesuch 524055-2, CD + DVD (2010)


RECALLING THE SOUND I heard last month from the WestminsterLab amplification system, consisting of the Quest preamplifier and the Rei power amplifier, as well as full cable loom, it was not difficult for me to notice the similarities between its sound and the sound of the tested cables (more HERE, HF | № 200). So it seems that each of its elements was chosen deliberately and carefully in order to support those elements of the sound that Mr. Angus cares about the most.

And these, anticipating the course of events a bit, are first of all: smoothness, softness, but also communication. Comparing ULTRA speaker cables with the Siltech reference cables, I could not help but notice how similar the idea for their sound is. Despite a completely different design, materials and even reference points, they have a lot in common. And this shows that - ultimately - the goal of the best designers is similar and that we can hear things in a similar way.

The Ultra is all about softness. I am not talking about softening the sound, this phase of development and reaching the top with this type of products passed a long time ago, and about the soft emanation of the sound. There is nothing bright or unpleasant about WestminsterLab's cable presentation. When PRIYA DARSHINI in the track titled Loneliest Star from the Periphery album starts singing the first words, it is as if she is standing in front of us in a medium-sized room, making sounds effortlessly.

It was similar with LAURIE ANDERSON's vocal, which was big, dense, tangible, and yet somehow gentle, endearing. Striking, as soon as the Falling piece started, bell had a very good energy, it was not muted or smoothed, but it also sounded silky rather than bronze - if you know what I mean (the bell goes on the right side, slightly to the rear of the listening position - this is a disc with spatial elements out of phase). All the effects from this disc were reproduced in a very good way, without blurring them, but without artificial emphasis, which - again - resembled the way the top Siltech cable treats them. But the Ultra does it in its own way, mainly bringing the panorama closer to the listener.

On the Darshini disc, the stage is huge, but it's located on the axis in front of us. Mr. Angus' cable brought the instruments and vocals closer, without changing their proportions, or shortening the stage depth too much. The latter was shallower, but not "shallow", and thus it was simply excellent. But the foreground, with the Siltechs quite distant, was more tangible here. It was similar with the sounds recorded on the Homeland by Laurie Anderson - the impression of surrounding the listener with sound was excellent, it was a continuous, dense space. But they too were shown closer to me, closer to the listening position.

It was even more curious to listen to the recordings from the This Dream Of You by DIANA KRALL. Her vocal is close to us on it, has a lot of compression, so it is not too three-dimensional, but it has a very good mass and "body". With the Ultra cable, the singer was not brought closer to us, as could have been expected based on previous albums. It was just the opposite, as if the cable somehow reversed the compressor and put the voice in more natural proportions. It was not as palpable as before, but - to be honest - more enjoyable. The WesminsterLab cable, adding something unique, made all recordings from this disc sound more natural, denser and nicer.

This is partly due to the aforementioned, natural softness with which the Ultra transmits the signal, and partly due to the two band’s modifications - both of these things are related to each other. One of these modifications is that the reviewed speaker cable energizes the midbass. It was audible with all the albums I listened to, but it was best shown by the Anderson album, with low bass in the Falling.

This is a kind of "boost" of a small range, which makes the sound full and dense. The lowest bass is slightly withdrawn, but in a natural, gentle way. But it doesn't really affect the sound. When DIANA KRALL in the But Beautiful sings: "Or it's a problem ...", this 'p' is not extinguished and we have a low "pop" with it (1:19) - cables from Hong Kong showed it without any problems and they didn’t try to hide anything.

The second modification concerns the treble, but not the upper treble - these are also slightly raised. But, again, it's working for the greater good. This is not a brightening - the sibilants in Krall's voice were not raised, and the wind instruments from OLIVER NELSON's excellent album The Blues and the Abstract Truth were not hardened. But thanks to this shape of the sound it was not too soft, and I did not have the impression of calming down the dynamics. The latter is nice and the rhythm is great.

But it's also a cable that doesn't force the momentum, doesn't rush, but rather celebrates music. Like a good tube amplifier, like a nice vinyl. Stronger passages will be played powerfully, no worries. But it will not be "here and now" either. Perhaps that is why selectivity is not a priority here. Resolution - yes, it's a dense, deep sound with lots of information, nothing is missing in it. But it is not a "tool" that would assist in critical listening to records. It encourages us to relax, to let the music flow rather than to listen to the sounds.

| Summary

Mr. ANGUS had his own idea for the ULTRA CABLE. The point was to offer listeners first of all a pleasant, not fatiguing sound. But it was also important that we get all the key information that helps us perceive music with emotions and that we don't have to put it together in our head, choosing small, separated fragments. So there is warmth and density and fluidity, but also clarity, information and energy.

This is a high-end cable that puts everything together into a smoothly working whole - extremely addictive, and you can even say "charming". There is everything in this sound that we love - for example - the re-editions of the Mobile Fidelity company, or the captivating sound of the 300B tubes for. Beautiful high-end sound without a trace of mechanical artifacts - it's really something!

Reference system 2020

1) Loudspeakers: HARBETH M40.1 |REVIEW|
2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

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Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC