Publisher Profile

Audio Blast: Clarity Cable Organic and Vortex Series

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Audio-Blast-by-Doug-Schroed

This morning I wandered into the kitchen in no particular rush. I grabbed my glasses and slipped them on, surveying the back yard. The scene caught my attention. Early winter light filtered through the clouds low on the horizon, a birch tree standing in the foreground laden with tiny droplets of water. The glow from the morning sun shone through the droplets like miniature LEDs. Fantastic! I took off my glasses and tried to retain the image; no success – I need them to see anything in the distance without blurriness.

Last night I had a similar experience with my system. I was working with a pair of floorstanding speakers, a precise, exacting speaker to set up. Though it is built to be exacting I wasn’t particularly happy with the performance. I was hearing what I considered indistinct sound and suspected there was room for improvement. At about that time a parcel arrived, two Vortex Power Cables from Clarity Cable. This was a package I had eagerly anticipated. Without delay I slapped them into the rig. I had run out of Clarity Cable power cords with some systems and had to fill in. Now with the entire rig wired with Clarity Cable, the “glasses” had been put on the system and it was glorious! My ears perceived those millions of tiny points of illuminating sound that were indistinct prior.

Here’s an observation that is rarely discussed: The quality of assessment of a system is directly related to the quality of the cabling used. Some reviewers try to downplay the importance of cables. I, on the other hand, admit that with the improvement of a reviewer’s set of reference cables his ability to hear the gear more accurately improves. My cabling has improved over time, and along with it so has my ability to holistically assess a given component. Am I saying that my use of lesser cables in the past influenced my perspective of gear? Yes, as it does any reviewer who later moves up several levels in cable quality. Cables make so much difference that if one has poorer quality wires an amp, source or speakers might be considered poorer than they really are.

I’ll cut to the chase and tell you these are the best I’ve used yet. Have I said that prior? Of course, not out of reviewer puffery, but out of truth. I’ve been testing, comparing and upgrading cables over the past five years, and Clarity Cable is easily the pinnacle to date. I’ve used networked, non-networked, thin conductor, fat conductor, low total gauge and high total gauge, as well as an assortment of geometries. In reviewing, I have regularly used groupings of cables costing from $15-60K. Yet, this is the best by a long shot.

You are not seeing a lot of Clarity Cable in the magazines, and that’s fine with me. I’ll be the one to introduce it to you. I’ve not often said, “Follow me,” with an air of certainty when it comes to cables, knowing that they are chimeras for many. In this particular case I have no problem saying to those who trust my ears, “Do as I do, and gravitate toward this cable company.” If they weren’t clearly better than what I’ve reviewed prior I wouldn’t say it. What’s better about them?

One aspect is their geometry, a closely held secret of Chris and Melissa Owen, the owners. Chris has the cred in terms of his engineering degree in electronics, plus experience in the industry to come up with this design. Ignore the seen-one-you’ve-seen-them-all jacket. This cable is a barnburner. With a big ticket system it’s comparable sonically to the American Express Centurion card. Pull them out, put them to work and let the “stun factor” set in. Whereas other cables might “improve” system sound somewhat, Clarity Cable’s products seem to leverage system performance with each piece inserted. When in the above case two power cables inserted into a rig result in a perceptual change equivalent to a componentswap, there’s something potent happening.

I’ve been running Clarity recently with my new reference speaker, the Legacy Audio Whisper DSW, as well as the Kingsound King full-range ESL. The Organic Speaker Cable and Interconnects are the most incisive, visceral, palpable sounding cables I’ve used. The Organic power cord is not yet available, but the Vortex is a wonderful cord in the meantime. Likewise, I’m impressed by the Organic Digital Cable. At times, I actually get frustrated using other cables, as they can’t come close to the level of sound quality achievable with Clarity Cable. That’s why I was frustrated not having enough of the power cords; I knew what would happen if I had them. I suspect this will also take place for you. If you get your feet wet with them, you’ll likely be frustrated until you can get another piece of it for your rig. Alas, this is the problem of truly great components; if you know what they can do but have to work up incrementally, it is agony!

You’ve heard reviewers and enthusiasts comment that changing cables can sound as profound as changing a component. I’ll go so far as to say that changing to a full suite of Clarity Cable Organic and Vortex wires can be more profound than a component change! If neutral and clean sounding cables are synonymous, then know that these cables are neutral in a big way. The word neutral seems so impersonal, so hypo-allergenic. You’ll not get a skeletonized or brittle sound from Clarity, but a fleshy, blushingly live sound from them. No matter what quality of rig I have assembled, even in plus $75K rigs, I find myself always yearning for more “live performance” feel in music. These cables have the means of conveying a live feel when playing music that isn’t even recorded live but in a studio, a profoundly impressive attribute.

I’m sure that after a few rounds of, “This is the best cable…” people get tired of hearing it. I know I would. Here’s the reality. As reviewers grow in their craft they are subjected, usually at first, to economical systems and then as they have proven themselves work up to the really good stuff. People reading their reviews in their writing infancy may not realize that the reviewer has not heard all that much great gear in their listening room. Consequently, for at least a couple years seemingly everything is better than the last. But finally comes the point when there are more products not besting the reference than besting it. That, at least in terms of equipment used, is when the reviewer has matured and his take on a product is theoretically worth more at that point.

I believe I have now reached that point in terms of cables, or I’m awfully close to it. Between personal research prior to reviewing and in reviewing, I have worked with dozens of individual cables and about ten entire suites of them. There has usually been a fairly clear pathway to improvement in comparison of cables. However, next to the Clarity Cable products there has not been a clear path to improvement, which says to me that this wire is nearer the top than all others I’ve used. Over time technology is bound to change that, but for now my experience says Clarity Cable is “SOTA-worthy” and close to the edge of what’s possible in cable sound.

Notice that I haven’t said a thing about subcategories of “bass”, “midrange” or “treble”. Simply put, they’re better. Better in every way, in every aspect you care to name. They’re more in the areas they need to be more, such as punch, extension, micro-dynamics, etc. They’re less in every respect they had better be less, such as veiling, limited extension, harsh, etc. I wrote recently that 32-bit DAC chips will revolutionize two-channel digital sources for audiophiles. In my experience, these cables equivalently revolutionize cable performance. They have brought as much improvement in my top-end rigs as has putting in a 32-bit DAC.

It had been suggested to me that the floorstanding speaker I mentioned earlier was quite sensitive to amplification, that I’d better run a tube amp with them. I was finding that to be true, until I inserted those last two Clarity Cable power cords. Then the ceramic tweeter which was bleating settled down and opened up for the same time. Solid-state sounded mighty fine with the speakers. The sound from these cables is so good that I emotionally feel I would be irresponsible not to use them for critical listening. Thankfully I can use them not only for critical listening, but also for enjoyment.

If I were not writing publicly and had heard what these cables could do, I would be quietly snatching them up as they became available on the open market. Thankfully I do not have to agonize over that process. You may have to. I’m quite confident, however, that whatever legal means you use to procure them you will be entranced by their performance. I’ll have more to say about them, including more listening impressions, in an upcoming full review.

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