Back in the fall of 2012, when my publisher asked if I would review Rick Schultz’s new CT-1 interconnects, my initial response was to say no. My memory went to some of Rick’s Virtual Dynamics cables I had owned in the past. They were some of the thickest, stiffest, and heaviest cables I had ever seen and I had no desire to fool with cables like that again. When I found out the new cableswere thin and not very stiff, I gave in and said yes. I’ll tell you right now, I am so very glad that I did. It has lead me down the road of discovering the best cables I have ever heard.
I think a lot of people were surprised that Rick didn’t start out with power cords, because Virtual Dynamics was probably best known for their power cords. Now that Rick has brought out High Fidelity Cables power cords. he has kind of started at the top. He has released three versions of his “Magnetic Conduction” power cords: the CT-1 Ultimate Power Cords at $7,575 for a meter and a half, the CT-1 Ultimate Reference Power Cords at $11,575 for a meter and a half, and the CT-1 Ultimate Reference Rhodium Plus Power Cord price at $13,575.00 for a meter and a half.
When reviewing the High Fidelity Cables interconnects and speaker cables I started at the bottom and worked my way up. For some reason Rick chose to send me the top of the line CT-1 Ultimate Reference Rhodium Plus Power Cord to review first. When Rick called me to tell me the power cords were ready to review I told him that they would have to be really something special because I was currently reviewing what was far and away the best power cords I had heard — the Stage III Kraken Power Cables that were reviewed by Fred Crowder for Dagogo.
In the High Fidelity Cables Power Cords Rick Shultz utilizes powerful ‘pre-applied’ magnetic fields to the conductors to reduce noise and distortion in the power cable. Each High Fidelity power cable contains an inline Wave Guide V2 module on the hot, neutral and ground. Wave guides are powerful magnetic systems that enhance the performance of Magnetic Conduction based cables to a high degree.
The CT-1U Reference Rhodium Plus power cable contains a larger inline Wave Guide module on the hot, neutral and ground in a brand new special Helix configuration. It uses an even purer grade of conductor, increasing ferromagnetic permeability to a higher level. What this means is the magnetic wave guides are even more effective. As the name suggest they also use High Fidelity Cables’ custom rhodium connectors. That’s as far as I’m going to go in discussing the technology of these cables. Rick will soon have a video up on his web site to explain and illustrate how his cables work.
I do want to point out how beautiful and easy to work with the High Fidelity Cables are. The cable itself is the same on all of their cables. These are easy to work with and look almost like jewelry. The connectors on these power cords and the magnetic wave guides are also very nice and very expensive looking. I should mention that finding a place to sit the magnetic wave guide is something a little different from other power cords, but I much prefer it to dealing with extremely heavy and thick power cords.
Five years ago, when reviewing the Synergistic Active Power Cords and discussing the most important thing — how my system sounded using those power cords — I quoted from Synergistic’s website. The quote said, “The most important source of one’s music system lurks behind the facings and controls of the audio equipment… Look farther, deeper, back through the tangle of power cords, interconnects, and speaker wire. The source you’re looking for begins at the AC wall socket and beyond. The quality, structure, and efficiency of the AC entering your music play a profound role in the musicality and dimensionality of the music your system can reproduce.”
In talking to Rick Schultz about the importance of AC he is always reminding me that everything in the audio stream of your system in some way rides on the AC signal. I don’t know if I would agree that clean power is the most important part of an audio system, but without any hesitation I can tell you I continue to be amazed at how profound an effect it has on the musicality of an audio system. The new power cords from Audience, Stage III, and WyWires have all made this point at different price points. The power distributor, instead of power conditioners from HB Cable Designs and the WyWires, has brought me to also see at a whole new level just how important clean AC power is to the sound of an audio system.
Let me give you one example. During the time I was reviewing the High Fidelity Cable power cords, I was also reviewing 47 Labs Midnight Blue CD player. With any good power cord this is a really wonderful sounding CD player. Then on a lark I substituted the High Fidelity Cable power cord and I couldn’t believe how good the sound was. In most of the ways that count musically, this was the best digital I’ve had in my system. So, I am a real believer in the importance of clean AC.
I used the High Fidelity Cable power cords in my system exactly the same way I did the Stage III Kraken power cords. Specifically, I used them from the wall to my HB Cable Design PowerSlave Marble and from the HB Marble to my Wavac EC300B. I did not use the them to my turntable as it has a fixed power cable from the power supply to the turntable motor. The SoundSmith Strain Gauge also has its own power supply.
So now that I finally had the High Fidelity Cables power cords in my system how did it sound?
As I mentioned earlier, when Rick called me to tell me the power cords were ready to review, I told him that they would have to be really something special because I was currently listening to by far and away the best power cords I had ever heard; the Stage III Kraken Power Cables. So I’m going to describe the similarities and the differences between the two.
With both the Stage III Krakens and the High Fidelity Cables, my system had a firmer and deeper foundation than I had heard before. This is a quality that is hard to describe if you have not heard it, but I promise you it adds a powerful sense of realism to the sound of a system that is very easy to hear. Also with both power cords the bass is fleshed out beautifully while becoming quicker and more rhythmic at the same time. Nothing else I have done for my system has produced this wonderfully musical affect. With bass instruments it is in the area of air and space around and within the bass instruments that the High Fidelity Cables out class the Krakens.
With both cables the ability of my system to produce realistic scale and power was simply amazing. It’s interesting though the High Fidelity Cables have the ability to produce small scale instruments and sounds better. Again, the High Fidelity Cables are quicker, by this I mean they can move from small scale sounds to large scale sounds more quickly and with greater ease. The overall soundstage could move from small to large, from wide to narrow, from deep to forward, and yet still sound coherent and whole. I had never heard my system sound more powerful and have greater dynamics and especially micro-dynamics than it did when using the High Fidelity Cable power cords.
It is in the midrange and the top-end that the two cables differ. With the High Fidelity Cable power cord the top-end was prettier, and the midrange had more tonal color. Overall the High Fidelity Cable power cords allowed my system to sound more transparent. They also increased the musical flow of my system and significantly augmented the system’s overall PRaT. This needs to be kept in perspective, because I would have never believed anything could have improved on the Krakens. Truth is, I was surprised that both cables were so superior to my Audience AU24 SE power cords, which I still fill are the best power cords under $8,000.
With both cables, voices had a wonderful vitality to them. The sound could go from very quiet to very loud and stay more coherent better than I had heard before. The sound of my system with both of these power cables sounded better and clearer at low volumes. As good as the Krakens were in these area (and they had been by far the best I had ever heard ), the High Fidelity Cable power cords did these very things even better.
I don’t think I have written a power cord review and not talked about how dead quite or black the background is. That’s because these power cords simply made my system sound better in every way. Maybe the one way to sum up this review is to let you know that the High Fidelity Cable power cords allowed my system to have an uncanny sense of realism that was a revelation to this reviewer.
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