The Canadian Luna Cables manufacture became operational not too long ago and showcased its products in two very well sounding rooms during this year’s High End event in Munich. That’s how this reporter’s curiosity arose and several months later Luna Gris has arrived. Enjoy!
The Luna Cables assignment originally kicked off in Munich during this year’s High End show. As per usual, rooms of the highest priority on my go-to list were those handled by the industry people well known to me. Shortly past the event’s gates opened, I landed in a small yet undeniably cozy shack occupied by Reinhard Thöress. The man shed some light on his latest work, introduced me to Carsten of Ictra Design, pointed my attention towards the full loom of nicely looking yellow cables and in general was impressed how these behaved in his setup. Since I consider Reinhard’s ears perfectly capable and he has his both feet on the ground, his opinion is valuable to me. After several minutes of a very easygoing convo with him, two Canucks – Erik Fortier and Danny Labrecque – joined us. These two unusually kind gents respectively responsible for marketing and assembly at their Luna Cables operation got my full attention very shortly after. Then we moved to Grandinote’s room, where they also showcased their products and the rest is history. I was in.
Danny explained that music has always been an integral part of his life, at the age of four he began playing the violin and as a teenager he was very much into technical side of audio hardware. At some point he started making his own cables tailored to fit different setups. His work at Montreal’s Coup de Foudre shop he considers as his next step, yet the true revelation came shortly after his first rodeo with vintage cables. Along with Erik, at that time the employee of the very same place, they started to talk about Danny’s discovery, then early prototypes emerged and their analysis and further reworks led to what today is known as Luna Cables. As Erik explained, this operation’s name isn’t random. Shortly past turning their initial plan into a proper audio business, Danny saw the Luna moth (Acitas luna) up close, the odds of seeing this extremely rare green bug again are realistically non-existent and this experience turned out to be just the sign both gents looked forward to. Luna Cables it is ever since.
The Luna Cables portfolio consists of five differently coloured series in total: Gris, Orange, Mauve, Rogue and Noir. These are occupied by the usual suspects; power cords, speaker cables, interconnects and some digital models. Along with the colour change the price doubles, which makes the offer understandable and transparent. The Gris family is the most affordable one, Noir sits at the other end and the whole range is very wide price wise. This review’s hero can be easily labeled as priced perfectly sanely, whereas the 16 times more expensive black leash of the same type and length is anything but. Yet the wallet shattering experience kicks in rather late and the offer starts gently. That’s smart.
The Luna Cables philosophy isn’t new, though quite concrete and appealing to many enthusiasts out there. In short, synthetic materials used in audio introduce unwanted resonances according to Danny. That’s why i.e. plastic dielectrics are off the menu, on the contrary to natural semi-parts such as wax, cotton and other fabrics based on natural fibers, whereas stranded tinned copper is the key ingredient. This oxidation resistant therefore reliable conductor was used decades ago, though faded away once the digital era happened. Danny exploits this vintage wire not because of its solidity but audio properties. Tinning increases its internal resistance, which limits the skin effect, thus high FR noise reduction is followed by signal quieter and cleaner in the process. All this happens at the cost of slight bandwidth shrinkage upstairs.
All Luna Cables products look minimalistic, modest even and Gris is no exception. It’s obvious that this one stays as far away from the cable jewelry status as possible and was meant to do the job without any hints of stardom, which is perfectly fine in my book. Waxed cotton is used to control resonances, both conductor and shielding are made out of stranded tinned copper and rubberized material damps vibrations. Cotton is also used as outer braiding and the product is finished with easy to use gold-plated BFA plugs. Short sections of heat shrink here and there are the only synthetics used in Luna Gris. The product itself is fairly thin, stiff and quite DIY alike, though made really well. It caused no issues at all, arrived packed in a very nice cotton bag and was made in Canada at the Luna Cables HQ.
In order to review Luna Gris, the Fidata HFAS1-XS20U server/streamer was married to my LampizatOr Pacific (KR Audio 5U4G 2016 Ltd. Ed. + KR Audio T-100), which then sent the signal to either Kinki Audio EX-M1 or Trilogy 925 integrated amps and Boenicke W8 floorstanders sealed the deal as per usual. The Canuck’s opponent was the Amber modded Celes Excellence leash made by the Polish Audiomica Laboratory manufacture.
The short on-site description of Luna Gris might be seen as quite the universal and not really revealing one. This product’s performance described as natural, organic and transparent many people would see as generalized marketing fluff and rightfully so. To follow in this vein, yours truly has nothing against this universal and very much safe route as long as a given product’s performance backs it up to at least a degree. Here’s where things get really interesting as Luna Gris with its character fits the description quite well, though we aren’t there yet. It’s not about what Danny says about his affordable cable but what he doesn’t instead. He’s a modest guy, maybe he simply didn’t want to boast, yet the takeaway is that he delivered something really nice. That’s the most important bit.
This reporter can fully agree with the ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ descriptive measures in case of Luna Gris. After getting familiar with the product, this glossary is nothing short but a spot on with no ifs and buts, yet ‘transparency’ far less so. Here it’s in order to explain that to me this word means clarity, precise insight into both electronics and repertoire and also a given product’s fairly limited own character. I’m far from saying that Gris didn’t showcase with what speakers or amplifiers it performed at my place as it did indeed. But such a dissective approach wasn’t on the pedestal, it merely supported everything else. The Canadian cable turned out to be very audible in my system, though what surprised me the most was its dignified character. This trait I’ve found utterly impressive in the context of its affordable ask.
For a number of reasons Luna Gris sounded very posh at my place. This Canadian leash wasn’t gaish but very smooth instead, not a hint of harshness or grain I’ve heard. It rounded the outcome, took the edge off and had its upstairs slightly trimmed. In comparison, my reference cable by Audiomica Laboratory was more lit up, lighter, it expressed shorter decay and in general was the hotter one on the very top. After several hours of back and forths between the two, not even once the Canadian screamed and its gentler and more suave attitude impressed me very much. The Gris had highs darker, denser, longer and prettier, whereas its rival served these in shinier, more pronounced and informational fashion.
Moving onwards, Luna Gris didn’t penetrate recordings to a deep degree and the same story was with details. It was perfectly in check on these counts, though my attention was focused on the music itself, its utmost beautiful side. Not only this, my reference leash did the very same thing, though both products tackled this matter differently; Celes Excellence via roundness here and there, contours sketched thicker and sound sources a bit larger than usually, whereas Gris had me interested with its crayon alike texturing all across the board, calmness and soft touch with no dilution at all. The Canadian proved itself to be not bluntly warm but very much physiological instead, exceptionally pleasant without any temperature related alterations and generously vivid and organic. Here I mean slightly dimmed top FR, hence tonal balance shifted downwards a bit, yet also ductile, breathing, present, distinctive and sensationally smooth, liquid character. This voicing very quickly reminded me about Burr-Brown’s PCM1704 DAP-s and DAC-s known to me. The Gris sounded similarly resonantly, was pleasantly moist, with not a hint of showiness but high class instead. It simply focused on music and was very much natural at that. All things considered, it doesn’t go unnoticed that on this count in particular Danny scored a bull’s-eye with his product’s description. Bravo.
Luna Gris also did a fantastic soundstage job. It didn’t limit events in front of me in any way and now – after many hours of experiments – I can easily confess that it painted very open and clean picture. As explained above, it sounded sweet, politely, mannerly and on-stage coherence oftentimes is the upshot of such voicing. The sound was always served as the whole thing; without dilution, dissection or fuzziness. Yes, I could isolate single instruments or voices with ease as my hardware’s quite informative in this regard. Though this happened additionally, whereas my attention was locked on this huge wall of sound at work to deliver one commonly crafted and coherent outcome. This teamwork netted utmost beautiful result, especially for the money. That’s what PCM1704 D/A converters did to my ears many times in the past. With these, the space morphed into one metaphorically alive and coherent organism with well-developed lungs and this exactly Luna Gris did too, which led to musical tissue and sheer pleasure boosted in the process. And the cost? Nuances extracted a bit less effectively than usually, but the total balance of my setup was positive and nothing less.
Not only Luna Gris sang majestic, but it also made the outcome surprisingly wide and both left and right borders it slightly pushed forward. Imaging of this sort usually I’d find odd, though Danny’s cable sported strong midband with sensational presence in-between both speakers, which equalized the effect as far as the very first row of musicians and instruments went. On this count his product I fancied far more than my less direct and not as vivid daily driver. Luna Gris also impressed me with its bass; impactful, controlled very well, with sufficient reach, not boosted in its upper parts and always calm. There was no reason for me to complain, for the money not a single one.
To frame Luna Gris in even more understandable context, allow me to invoke the regular hardware I’m familiar with. To my very ears this cable performed similarly to the first La Scala DAC by Italian Aqua Acoustic house, the one with Burr-Brown’s vintage multibit affair on-board. As far as amplifiers and headphones go, the most fitting models are respectively my reference Trilogy 925 and HE-1000v2 cans by HiFiMan. To be perfectly honest, the Brit by Nic Poulson is even thicker, more euphonic and posher. But as far as on-stage presence, structure, textural moisture and calmness go, this one and Danny’s cable have many things in common to my ears.
After the experience above I can safely confess that – along with my DAC, floorstanders and the Chineese EX-M1 integrated – Luna Gris sounded simply spectacular. It was a very synergistic match, which not only sounded differently in comparison to Celes Excellence in it, but on several counts a fair bit better. Once the EX-M1 amp was off the table and the 925 was on the job instead, the outcome wasn’t as good and complete though satisfying nonetheless. Being perfectly aware of how the latter deck fancies agile and clear cables, the initial guess was that with the Canuck the effect would be overly sweetened and sleepy. To my surprise no such thing happened, Luna Gris simply boosted the Brit’s own character. This marriage would’ve probably turned out as very effective remedy for speakers nervous, clear, dehydrated and in general anorexic. Yet with no way of finding this out, let’s leave it at that.
The exercise above led to the following conclusion: because of their Luna Gris, the two Canucks now have my full attention. Dany Labrecque proved efficiently that he knows what he’s doing, does it remarkably well and that’s the clear incentive for yours truly to investigate the Luna Cables case further. Truth be told, this company’s Gris speaker leash left me with more question marks than answers. Since it did so well, are its pricier siblings as surprising performers too? Or any similar at all? If so, which stunts they pull better? And which they do differently? As an enthusiast I’m quite puzzled and from the journo’s perspective I’m very much intrigued and interested to see what happens next.
Luna Gris doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not, pleasing everyone isn’t on the menu as its maker aimed at a very particular voicing. This product not only fitted into my rig perfectly, but also rang all my subjective bells and caught me off guard with its vivid, posh, very much present and well-seasoned attitude. Once its affordable asking price is taken into account, these features are nothing short but outstanding and also the reason perfectly valid to get familiar with Luna Gris at the same time. It’s honestly made, great sounding and doesn’t shy away from expensive hardware, not at all. Only an enthusiast very much into music served in elegant, exquisite fashion could pull this off and past short tête-à-tête with Luna Gris you’ll hear that this was the case this time around indeed. ‘Till next time!
- Amplifiers: Trilogy 925, Kinki Audio EX-M1
- Sources: LampizatOr Pacific (KR Audio T-100 + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.)
- Speakers: Boenicke Audio W8
- Transports: Asus UX305LA
- USB Components: iFi audio iGalvanic3.0, iFi audio micro iUSB3.0, 3 x iFi audio Mercury3.0
- Speaker cables: Audiomica Laboratory Celes Excellence
- Interconnects: Forza AudioWorks Noir, Audiomica Laboratory Erys Excellence
- Power supply: Gigawatt PF-2 + Gigawatt LC-2 MK2 + Forza AudioWorks Noir Concept/Audiomica Laboratory Ness Excellence
- Rack: Franc Audio Accesories Wood Block Rack
- Music: NativeDSD
Retail prices of reviewed components in EU (excl. tax):
- Luna Gris 2/2.5/3m: €412.50/450/525
Manufacturer: Luna Cables