In among the signed Eddie Izzard DVDs and Rolex watches of dubious provenance, on-line auction site ebay features a store called uk-cbe. Judging by the ecstatic testimonials on its page, its Gotham Swiss range of interconnects is among the finest money can buy – we've seen similar Gotham-related excitement on the www.whathifi.com forums on occasion.
Even more intriguing is the fact that some of these recommendations come from people who are more often to be found doubting the efficacy of cable upgrades of any kind. So we've decided to hang the expense and treat ourselves to a Gotham GAC-1 stereo pair.
The GAC-1 is available in red as well as black, in case the back of your system is a feature of your front room, but otherwise looks functional and unremarkable. It's terminated with gold-plated Neutrik RCA connections, and ours features directionality arrows applied by hand with marker pen.
Improvement on freebiesHooked into a system, the Gotham Swiss offers fairly obvious pros and cons. On the plus side, it's a significant improvement on the boneless, impoverished sound offered by the ‘freebie' red'n'white connections you've got knocking around from the last time you bought a CD player, PlayStation 3 or something.
That's about it for the good news, though – having the measure of a cable costing £0.00 isn't enough to make the GAC-1 a product worthy of serious consideration.
More after the break
Its biggest problem is a lack of coherence. The soundstage it presents is ill-defined, narrow and cluttered – sounds exist on top of each other, rather than being separated.
This leads, inevitably, to an absence of fine detail and a complete lack of subtlety – stereo imaging is little more than an ambition. High frequencies are hard and unyielding and, at the opposite end of the scale, bass is short of substance. Matter-of-fact is about as accomplished as the GAC-1's presentation gets.
There's not a lot of competition at this sort of price, and that's undoubtedly one of the reasons Gotham Swiss has established a bit of a following. We would categorically recommend spending a bit more money, though - if you've got £17 for the GAC-1 now, then surely you'll have another £17 at some point in the future. Add them together and you'll be able to consider the likes of QED, Chord and Supra.
Or find a reputable source of second-hand cables - there are a few out there. But if you absolutely, positively can't spend a penny more, the Gotham Swiss will do a job for you – in much the same way that a pair of slippers is better for mountaineering than going barefoot.