Luna Cables Gris reviewed in September 2018 turned out to be a portfolio opener grand enough to leave me quite puzzled. This affordable and finely voiced product introduced more questions than answers. Now’s the time to finally address some as its far pricier kin – Luna Cables Rouge – has arrived. Enjoy!
The Luna Cables operation established in Canada by Danny Labrecque and Erik Fortier is fairly new, but these two gents have been into cables for years. As a hobbyist, the former assembled his first products purposely tuned to match different hardware, which undoubtedly required skill and capable ears, but the true revelation came with vintage conductors made of tinned copper. The man’s been pursuing material along these lines ever since and never looked back. Qualities it introduced simply proved to be his way. The eye-opening experience with NOS conductors eventually led to Luna Cables as we know it today, whereas exceptionally rare Acitas luna moth encountered up close delivered the company name both gents were after at the very beginning of their commercial effort. A skilled passionate backed by a believer friend sounds almost like a fairy tale. The thing is, stories of the sort don’t put food on one’s table and certainly don’t pay bills, on the contrary to the three aspects our Canadian team is very much aware of; quality goods, reasonable prices and smart marketing.Each year dozens of new cable manufacturers strive to successfully transition from the DIY hobbyist realm to the world occupied by professional audio establishments. Truth told it matters not where one looks, the whole industry is extremely competitive; DACs, amps, speakers, you name it. Everyone wants to play the game, available spots out there on the field are very limited and crowd’s favour almost exclusively goes to top players. Here Danny and Erik already did well; they exhibited in Munich with interesting companions (Thöress, Grandinote and then some) to be quickly viewed as partially responsible for nice results in their respective rooms. Several very positive reviews which followed since then surely spiced things up. All listed actions led to a start we can safely label as solid. However, Luna Gris raised the bar significantly to make this review’s encounter far tougher for the two Canucks. They’re on the right playground and on the ball already, but handling it to score one for the team is a far more difficult task today.I got interested in Danny’s work after meeting him and his business partner Erik in Munich, whereas positive signals about their doings heard from several respected manufacturers sealed the deal. I was in and my investigation eventually led to Luna Gris review published here. Fabulously voiced, made with love and priced to sell, this item impressed me greatly and invoked the desire to know its more kosher kin. The original plan involved any specimen of the Orange family tiered one step above the Gris. However, after the Warsaw’s Audio Video Show in November 2018 I was left with Danny’s Rouge speaker leash. This one is his second best and surely priced accordingly. What Luna Cables Gris did at my place was a terrific and very much stimulating warmup game, though its red sibling seems to be the one after the main space on the podium. Will it thrive? Or does it fit in there to begin with? Ah, I had just the right tools to answer these questions.
Since the red Canadian was snatched form one of Audio Video Show rooms directly, there was no original packaging involved. Wrapped in stretch foil it landed in my backpack and that’s it. But knowing how nicely dressed the Luna Cables Gris was, it’s safe to assume that at least an organic cotton bag or two are the case with all upper echelon products by the same manufacturer. This review’s hero is 2.5 meters long, sold for cool €3’600 and exactly eight times costlier in comparison to the entry level gray speaker cable I grew so fond of.All on-site details available don’t say much about the Rouge family, but Danny kindly shed some light on it nonetheless and via Erik as per usual. He explained that his red speaker cable was many years in the making. Rouge interconnects released far earlier had people impressed enough to create demand for a product of the same tier and meant for speakers. Blunt measures along the lines of simply upping the conductor gauge left Danny unimpressed and the whole task proved to be far trickier and time consuming than originally expected. Many prototypes and countless experiments followed and a satisfying item finally emerged.Luna Cables Rouge meant for speakers is based on this operation’s signature neo-vintage tinned copper conductors. Danny didn’t go after decades old wire in case of his red line, but turned towards topologically the same material yet made currently and accordingly to his needs. Put shortly, the man’s high tier goods are based on old tech delivered via measures of today. I was also told that the red speaker cable’s conductors intersect all the way and their braiding internally complex keeps all interference and resonances in check. Dielectric used is waxed cotton and tinned copper braid shielding is used in order to further decrease environmental contamination.To provide flexibility and supplemental resonance damping, the red’s outer jacket is pure cotton. Hand-engraved anodized aluminum modules are used to stabilize and reinforce crucial junctions; areas where the key wire splits in two to form positive and negative contact points. Each run is then terminated with cryo-treated low-mass BFA plugs for ease of signal transfer. Every step of the manufacturing process is done in-house and by hand. It all starts with cotton jackets dyed over the stovetop, then each individual conductor is carefully measured and cut. Danny’s braiding technique next in line provides constant tension and weave, which is critical to the final electrical and resonant qualities of the cable. At this stage the goal is to pull all conductors (four multi-strand runs per polarity) through the tinned copper braided tube and then apply final cotton jacket tightly over the entirety. Each individual conductor is tested one by one for continuity. Connectors are soldered next followed by heat-shrinks heated and applied. Finished goods are then subject to final QC and listening tests. Each item takes several hours to make.Luna Cables Rouge is fairly stiff though perfectly usable and its diameter I consider as utmost civilized. On this count the Canadian is quite similar to the LessLoss C-MARC exploited in this reporter’s main rig. The Rouge isn’t as slinky as the exceptionally flexy Lithuanian, but well-made and easy to use for sure. The former leash also shows clearly Danny’s attitude towards artificial materials and leaves an impression of a nicely executed cable job able to withstand quite the beating, however of DIY sort. One can easily tell it was not machined but fully handcrafted and its bling factor is low. Personally I couldn’t care less about visuals of such goods, on the contrary to their long-term reliability and performance. On these two specific counts the Rouge delivered. Several months long acquaintance which hundreds of listening hours and countless swaps involved was more than enough to understand this.
In order to review the Luna Cables Rouge, fidata HFAS-S10U handled server/transport duties, then LampizatOr Pacific (KR Audio 5U4G 2016 Ltd. Ed. + KR Audio T-100) took over to pass the signal to either Kinki Studio EX-M1 and then Boenicke W8 or Egg-Shell TanQ/Trilogy 925 integrated machines married to these Swiss floorstanders on rotation with soundkaos Libération dipoles. These were the key connections with the Rouge, but there were several more since its arrival in November 2018. The main opponent of the Canadian was LessLoss C-MARC of the same length.To frame this review’s main item into more understandable context, it’s in order to travel back in time a bit. Luna Cables Gris impressed me very much because of its terrific price-to-performance ratio and very unique voicing usually reserved for far costlier items. Vividness, maturity, serenity, textural generosity and overall seasoning were this product’s key virtues. As a romantic, tuneful and soft-spoken type, the Gris didn’t pull off a perfectly balanced act to please every single individual out there and fit into each setup there is. However, qualities it introduced made music at my place far more enjoyable to listen to with one combination in particular. The gray Canadian in-between my Boenicke W8 and Kinki Studio EX-M1 sounded exceptionally good and this specific trio allowed me to fully grasp what Danny’s work is all about.A bit later Louis Motek sent me two of his LessLoss C-MARC items; power and speaker cables. Both introduced the very same traits; silence, perfect background clarity, order and balance to name just some. The important bit is the key concept behind the whole C-MARC range. Louis wanted to create as evenly sounding, orderly, quiet and universally profiled cable family as possible. After familiarizing myself with two C-MARCs meant to work at different junctions of my rig I can only say that he fully succeeded.The simplest description of the Rouge would be as follows: a performer very similar to the Gris, yet scaled up on the performance count quite significantly. Easy, isn’t it? This observation alone already gives a valid reason to think that the Luna Cables team developed their own voicing and highly likely many people familiar with its portfolio would agree with me here. This implies that, instead of trying to satisfy everyone, Danny and Erik have been following their mutual path without any side moves along the road. The Canadian approach scores high in my privy book and surely is safe from a customer’s perspective; familiarity with one item by Luna Cables stretches all across the board. Well, after knowing two of its products that’s my firm guess at least.It should be now clear that Louis Motek and Danny Labrecque are into two different sound profiles. If the former’s game is insight delivered in clean and utmost even fashion, then the latter plays in the team of moisture and elevated musical expressiveness above all else. That’s chalk and cheese to quite a degree. However, listed items don’t represent two entirely opposite ends of the same spectrum, I’ve found several similarities in both and here’s where things got really interesting.To narrow down this investigation, let me say right away that the Rouge and C-MARC aren’t alike as far as their general profiling goes. That’s what several easygoing comparative listening sessions conducted early on left me with. But the more time passed by, the more clear it became that the two contestants were similarly orderly as far as i.e. background cleanliness or silence in there went. On this specific count things were even-steven and the same story was with smoothness. These specific fundamental aspects in check in both cases led me to a conclusion that maturity and seasoning wise it was a draw.Different numbers on both items’ stickers an unaware enthusiast could view as a clash of classes not alike. The roughly two times costlier Canadian should be twice as good, no? Well, it’s not and such thinking is wishful at best as far as this hobby goes. Money spent in audio simply don’t scale in such an unmeasurable way and the so-called law of diminishing returns can and oftentimes stings painfully; one can pay a lot and get very small quality increase in return. It all comes down to grasping how a product sounds like and figuring out what company will enable its a-game. But significant money gap between the Rouge and C-MARC aside, both introduced similarly tiered groundwork refinement; the same core issues and features were respectively addressed and applied. Figuratively speaking, Dany and Louis had the same goals early on and once these were achieved, the two gents parted ways to move in distinctively different directions.The confession above translated into lingo as straightforward as I can think of goes as follows: even though both contestants are of similar and very high quality, one isn’t capable of doing what the other does and vice versa. All meta shifts which occurred past each swap between the C-MARC and Rouge were quite predictable, however surprisingly intense most of the time, once in a while staggering even. Luna Cables Gris pulled something of the sort with my reference speakers and the EX-M1. This leash on duty instead of Audiomica Laboratory’s Celes Excellence many would view as a rather innocent change of minor importance. Yet it led to things turned upside down and now the Rouge pulled the same stunt, albeit with a far tougher Lithuanian opponent involved.In comparison to the C-MARC, the Rouge had its tonal center of gravity placed lower, it created more opaque and pastel picture and emphasized events directly in front to be viewed as deeper and more intimate. The Canadian was also more suave and had the very top trimmed, whereas the Lithuanian was expressive in a different manner; shinier, airier, spatially grander and quicker. The newcomer was then heftier, darker and more romantic, whereas the LessLoss more even, chiseled, open and insightful. Common denominators we’ve already mapped, though it’s worth taking into account that each of the two introduced impressively rhythmic bass lines free from the usual suspects; boom, insufficient reach or textural poverty. Albeit quite simplified, I believe that this description rather accurately explains which product does what.Truth told, the C-MARC always was the more informative one, whereas the Rouge each time the prettier more humane and moist. But these two distinctive approaches shifted in magnitude accordingly to repertoire served. With finely recorded music, i.e. Björk or Kodo, each cable sported its inherent character in fashion fairly mild, but some tracks sounded significantly better with one of the two. For example, ‘Ran’ song from the ‘Lys’ album by L.E.A.F I had in quality barely listenable. And yes, some of my music is rather poor on this count, guilty as charged. In any case, Kati Rán’s vocals sounded sharp on this track in particular and its upper bass hollow and omnipresent smeared a fair chunk of things above. The C-MARC showed all listed unpleasantries utmost clearly as that’s what this product does really well, but the result was dreadful. The Rouge on the other hand sorted all this mess nicely; it lessened contour, tamed high FR, made Kati’s vocal more explicit and tangible and took no hostages in return. It didn’t reduce the view in any way, be it by veil or on-stage presence shrinkage, nada. To return the favour, the C-MARC showcased palpable, short and swift low FR hits on Hecq’s ‘Steeltongued’ in more impactful, chiseled and raw fashion and the same story was with directness and energy of acoustic guitars found on Rodrigo y Gabriela’s take on ‘Orion’ originally by Metallica, however these instruments done the Lithuanian way weren’t lifeless, dry or unpleasant at all. Yet again there was no clear winner. Perhaps if I was biased towards specific voicing or music type, the result would’ve been any different, I can’t say.Once I became fully aware of each product’s virtues and potential, it was high time to triangulate with available hardware. Long story’s short, as a quality item tailored to be truthful and balanced above all else, the C-MARC was far less forgiving in comparison to the Rouge. The Lithuanian was utmost vocal about connected companions and its message was as harsh as it was clear: “Take it or leave it, I’m fine either way…”. This approach cruel on the surface is very fair to me. As a journo I want to know exactly what my tools bring to the table and having said this, both C-MARC products have been granting me such valuable knowledge since day one. I’m far from saying that the Rouge is not insightful, on the contrary. Its inherent neatness provides knowledge about music and nearby devices, but in this Canadian case said feature has additive value, whereas latest C-MARC goods by LessLoss put it high on the pedestal, way above anything else.With the EX-M1 married to my W8, the Rouge was a clearly better, more synergistic fit and there was no question about it. This trio simply did a superior and subjectively more enjoyable job; nimble, saturated, lively and quick, the whole package was provided. However, when the Trilogy 925 came into play the tide turned in a jiffy. The Brit doesn’t benefit from extra heft or moisture, it needs connections which would reveal its inherently posh, dense and texturally complex aroma and that’s what the C-MARC did exactly via not tinkering with the outcome in any way at all. Egg-Shell TanQ integrated valve deck next in line introduced yet another draw; with Boenicke W8 the Lithuanian proved to be a better match yet again, but Martin Gateley’s dipoles favoured extra slam and more homogeneous sound sources of the Rouge. Truth told, Danny’s cable proved to be a better match each and every time these liberated owls sang regardless of an amp nearby. These speakers in time grew fond of this leash’s amazing tangibility and substance.Let me stress again that LessLoss C-MARC is a far different animal in comparison to the Rouge, but tiered as equally high to my ears. To cherry-pick just one of these without a mistake, awareness of yours and your setup’s needs is key. The Canadian sports tremendous crowd pleasing potential, is beautifully voiced, more intense in comparison to the Gris and gives far more than it takes in return. Far more. With right music and companions, this red specimen is easily potent enough to squeeze tears out of every eyes, this I’m sure of. It was designed and made by a skilled enthusiast very much into music and not sounds served in dissective fashion. Truth told, Danny’s red product will realistically work fabulously with most speakers and amps, only these in need of urgent liposuction and extra light injection are off the table. The C-MARC on the other hand gives nothing other than perfect hush-hush and balance, yet charges nothing for this service; it’ll simply show explicitly how good/bad your music and hardware is. It’s not for me to say whether you might be ready for such knowledge. As a self-styled audio reviewer some people would even label as a professional, I know I was.
Due to sophisticated voicing typical for far costlier goods, the sanely priced Luna Cables Gris not only left me very impressed, but also expressed clearly what its maker Danny Labrecque is into; top tier sonic elegance and tangibility above all else. Just as the Gris, this report’s hero – Luna Cables Rouge speaker cable – delivered the Canadian message in artful and exquisite fashion, but this time around did so unexpectedly intensely.
Luna Cables Rouge scores high on build quality and usability counts to simply do what it’s meant to with no complaints. However, due to yeoman’s exterior its bling factor is minimal at best, hence if you’re after sizeable audio jewelry in the first place, the Canadian address is clearly the wrong one. Subjectively speaking, I honestly couldn’t care less about visuals of such items. As long as they’re as well put-together and resilient to extensive long term exploitation as today’s handcrafted red affair, we’re dandy. But the most valuable thing about this one isn’t something to gush over in front of friends as it can’t be touched, smelled, tasted or seen. Your ears alone will tell you all there is to know and once they do, it’s likely you’ll understand and fully appreciate what Danny does just as I did. What seemed to me like a mild Canadian marketing fluff one year ago, today isn’t and his Rouge is the very reason.
Luna Cables Rouge is undoubtedly costly, that’s not debatable, but surely sings accordingly. What it does with sound in general, does remarkably well. All its key virtues finely blended together go hand in hand with intensity I haven’t heard with its more affordable gray sibling. If such pleasure-centric voicing is the one you might fancy, I encourage you to risk it and audition the red one. Be warned though, highly likely the ‘intense’ bit will arrive as quite the shock. If so, I’m not the one to blame. ‘Till next time!
- Amplifiers: Kinki Audio EX-M1, Trilogy 925, Egg-Shell TanQ
- Sources: LampizatOr Pacific (KR Audio T-100 + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.)
- Speakers: Boenicke Audio W8, soundkaos Libération
- Transports: fidata HFAS-S10U
- Speaker cables: Audiomica Laboratory Celes Excellence, LessLoss C-MARC
- Interconnects: Audiomica Laboratory Erys Excellence
- Power components: Gigawatt PC-3 SE EVO+, Gigawatt PF-2 + Gigawatt LC-2 MK2 + Forza AudioWorks Noir Concept/Audiomica Laboratory Ness Excellence/LessLoss C-MARC
- Rack: Franc Audio Accesories Wood Block Rack
- Music: NativeDSD
Retail prices of reviewed components in EU (excl. tax):
- Luna Cables Rouge speaker cable 2/2.5/3m: €3’330/3’600/4’200
Manufacturer: Luna Cables