Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Virtual Dynamics closes down

Everyone loves to beat up on cable manufacturers, and no doubt Virtual Dynamics fed the fire with uber-expensive lines but I was saddened to learn the company is folding due to economic pressures. In my view, any designer who thinks that applying their skills to improving audio reproduction in the home is important deserves our encouragement. The proof is in the listening but if nobody is willing to try make a better tube, a better cable, a better table or better amp, then we will all be forced to live with what we have. So once someone has developed something new, you can judge it in various ways. You might consider its price relative to others, its parts quality, its claimed benefits, its underlying science, or you might just give it a listen and decide for yourself. It is clear in audio land that just listening is never enough and, in some cases, is not even relevant to forming an opinion.  I heard VD cables and I liked what I heard. If you read around, you'll learn that I was not alone. I did not understand the application of Coulomb Friction that the designer invoked as explanation, but I do know that a set of their lower end David speaker cables made me accept, finally, that cables can make an audible difference.

Few, perhaps none, have copied this principle in their cable designs, preferring instead to work on the metal components, shielding, terminations or some combo of all three in offering their best shot at communicating the signal. What I do know is this company's approach was different, made many people think the designs mattered, and will be missed. On top of this, head honcho Rick Schultz was always a pleasure to deal with and was open to helping. Au revoir, another hi-end company bites the dust.

A footnote -- curiously, a discussion on this topic on A'gon disappeared -- not the first time I've noted this on that forum. Audio Asylum closed one discussion topic on this but left it up for review. Funnily, many people made a big deal of a web review that basically showed the parts in an entry level cable and used it to ridicule the company. I interpreted that whole cable design differently, feeling VD had deliberately put together a cheap cable based on the principles of their more expensive designs as a lure to new customers to try one and see if they would like it, and all at a cost that was entry level (around $100 I think). Well, like everything in audio, interpretation is key. For example, try this review

9 comments:

William said...

That is a shame. I have many specialty cables, and Virtual Dynamics is the best on tubed equipment, mainly their powercords.

PatrickD said...

Yep, I asked Rick for a comment but he said it's all bit too raw at the moment for him

returnstackerror said...

One would have to question how a cable company like VD goes under (in the traditional sense of too much debt verses income)

They build to order and their R&D wouldnt be earth shatteringly expensive and their inventory/payroll costs would be small.

So I guess they shutdown because they couldnt make a decent living?

Anonymous said...

They have shut down because of their inability to LISTEN. They have been advertising for a marketing manager for years and I kept applying for the job repeatedly - having both marketing and cable manufacturer as part of my skill set, so I could have easily guided them through this recession. I have no sympathy at all.

Anonymous said...

Aside from the fact that the principles of CF dont apply to transmition lines carrying frequencies detectible to the human ear, as a previuos VD cable owner and resultant blind tester it can only be deduced that yet another snake oil cable company has met its demise as a result of the drying up of revenue relative to lavish ownership lifestyle changes that were refuted.
Guess its back to the phone company for Ol Rick. (the place were he discovered the principles of CF)

PatrickD said...

I realize opinions differ but 'anonymous' comments of this nature really are questionable.

PatrickD said...

Interview with Rick will be forthcoming in an issue of HiFi'Zine this year, all things being equal, so stay tuned.

PatrickD said...

Interview now live: see http://www.hifizine.com/2012/06/rick-schultz-interview/

Anonymous said...

To hear the news of VD's closure is saddening. As a long time Audiophile, it seems to succeed in the “Audiophile Industry” one must produce a mediocre product, charge an exorbitant price, and thereby creating the illusion, “Because I paid more it must be better”. In my opinion, there are far too many of those companies out there today. My experience with this company included a rare opportunity to complete a blind test of VD cables. (A close friend was reviewing audio cables in his listening room, he allowed me to bring the VD demo cables Rick sent which I included in the review). The review included a similar class of cables from Harmonic Technology, Kimber Kable, Acoustic Zen, Nordost, Audioquest and Transparent Audio. A period of four weeks and 100 hour of listening (after all cables were burned-in of course), I purchased Virtual Dynamics cables. Virtual Dynamics like other startup companies are in one respect pioneers in an industry where giants seemly rule. They are companies who strive to think outside the box; I know of another, Tyler Acoustics, www.tyleracoustics.com a manufacturer of a quality speaker at a valued price. Pricing which doesn’t require one choose between the children’s college fund and audio equipment. Yes, I own a pair of Tyler Acoustics transducers, and yes I compared them with B&W 805 Nautilus, Joseph Audio, Thiel, Vandersteen, Martin Logan and other manufacturers. For the money… (Remember the most bang or quality sound for the buck) Tyler Acoustic speakers are the best value anywhere. Oh, I should mention it is customer focused, friendly and knowledgably. See his reviews on www.Audiogon.com.