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HiDiamond D2 and D7 Interconnect Cable Review

HiDiamond D2 balanced and HiDiamond D7 single-ended interconnects

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Nearly all cable manufacturers will claim to have the design goal of wanting to present music as true to live music as possible. I have not found a single manufacturer with a marketing slogan which says “Our cables will add coloration” to the sound. The reality is that nearly all cables will have their own distinctive sonic characteristics. When properly matched they can be used to complement the sonic traits of a particular system. If there is such a thing as a neutral sounding cable, the word neutral must be taken within the context of a particular system. What sounds neutral in a single ended system driving high efficiency speakers, may become thin, aggressive and bright in a high powered solid state all-digital setup. Neutrality is therefore a relative and not an absolute term in my book. Therefore, I do not believe there is such a thing as a “better” cable in a sense that the word “better” should be replaced with the word “more suitable.” A better cable in a system is only better because it is more suitable for the person’s preference criteria for that particular system.

Even though I listened to lots of music during the course of writing this article, I did go back and forth between a handful of LPs repeatedly. They are recordings I am very familiar with:

• Dvořák Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, From the New Word, Op. 95. Istvan Kertesz conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. [DECCA SXL 2289, ED2]
• Bruch, Scottish Fantasy in E-flat major. Alfred Campoli. Boult conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra. [DECCA SXL 2026, ED1]
• “Mosaics”, the Lost Capital Tapes. Michael Rabin accompanied by Brook Smith on Piano. [EMI Testament Reissue, TSP 8801]
• Carl Orff, Carmina Burana. Robet Shaw conducting the Alanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. [Telarc Digital, DG 10056/57, 1981 Telarc Records]
• Donizetti, L’elisir d’amore, Francesco Molinari-Pradelli conducting the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, [London OSA 1311 ED1]
• Lalo, Symphonie Espagnole, Henryk Szeryng. Walter Hendl conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. [RCA Victor LSC-2456 Shaded Dog]
• Meyer Records Vol. 1, No. 150. [Distributed by Clearaudio] (Courtesy of Bernard Li of Charisma Audio)
• Joan Baez, Diamond and Rust in the Bullring. [Gold Castle Records, VGC-9]

HiDiamond-3

The first word which comes to mind when the system was played with the HiDiamond D2 XLR, is “unrestricted.” By unrestricted, I mean the sonic presentation appears to carry more ambience and extension across the entire frequency spectrum versus the Purist cable which I have on hand. This is very noticeable on violin strings, soprano notes, and high piano keys. The effect is similar to the increase in ambience upon walking into a grand cathedral or walking out of a highly dampened recording studio. It was as if the LPs carried more air and groove noise all of a sudden. This characteristic reminds me of the XLO Unlimited RCA interconnect or the Kimber Select Hyper Silver Interconnects, yet the holographic image is not as sharp, and the pace not as fast sounding as either of these. A cable with the opposite effect would be the Cardas Hexlink 5C, where ambience and top end extension were reduced to the minimum. Yet, the sense of openness associated with the HiDiamond cables did not translate into a sound which was analytical, bright or hard sounding.

The second characteristic of the Diamond D2 cables is an increase in frequency extension at both ends of the frequency spectrum, almost as if someone has physically lifted the part of the frequency curve which rolled off at the extremes. Depending on the sonic trait of your system, this can be an advantage as well as a nuisance. On both the Carmina Burana and the Lalo Symphonie Espagnole recording, in which I find the frequency extremes to be slightly rolled off, the D2 complemented them nicely. It added a touch of top end extension on Szeryng’s violin, and tightened up the double bass of the orchestra, as well as the bass drum on the Carmina Burana recording. But on Dvorak’s New World Symphony, where the frequency extension is already over the top, the effect of the D2 accentuated the already high dynamic contrast of Decca recording even more, the entire presentation became more forward, immediate and direct. The rise time was faster, and the attack more prominent, most evident with percussive instruments. It became too lively for my taste on this particular recording.

The HiDiamond D2 XLRs gave a holographic image with a dramatic extension of three-dimensional space, as if my room became noticeably larger. Each instrument was well defined in space with distinct spatial separation. The edges were sharper, but not to the point of being the most vivid. In quantitative terms, imagine the sharpness setting on your television set, if 5 is the neutral setting then I would rank the Purist Aqueous Auries at 4, and the Diamond D2 XLRs at 6. Cables which sits at either end of the extreme would be the Cardas Hexlink 5C, at a 1, softer focused, whereas Tara Labs’ The One would be closer to an 8 or 9, sharper focused.

The next step was to try something entirely different – vocal presentations. While I was listening to Joan Baez’s Diamond and Rust in the Bull Ring, as well as the Meyer Records Vol. 1, the sonic difference became much more apparent with human voices. The Purist Aqueous XLRs are more full bodied, rounder and carry a softer mid-range presentation. The Diamond D2s are more realistic and accurate, and able to convey Joan Baez’s emotions through her voice, while maintaining her famous vibratos with utmost clarity, yet without overemphasizing on the details. The plucking of the guitar strings sounded crisp, clear, and “metallicky.” It delivered the good with the bad with unmitigated realism, which is precisely how it was supposed to sound with this recording, I think. This increase in realism did not rob the human voices of emotions, nor did it make the recording sound edgy. Her voice became slightly leaner by comparison, but not to the point of being thinned out.

When I swapped the Diamond D2 XLR with the Diamond D7 RCA, it is remarkable how similarly sounding the two cables are. While they both carried the same sonic characteristics, the D7 seemed to amplify the characteristics of the LR2 by making them even more prominent along the same sonic direction. The sonic difference between Purist Aqueous Auries and the Hi Diamond cables became more apparent with the Diamond D7 RCA. If I had to choose a phrase to describe it, I would call it the HiDiamond D2 XLR on a slight dosage of steroid. The Diamond D7 RCA, on the other hand, felt even more unrestricted, more extended, more realistic, with the holographic image one to two notches sharper than the Diamond D2 XLR.

I have often been told by my friends in our local audiophile club that my sonic preference leans towards a sound which is softer, more musical and rounded than usual; hence my preference for tube amplifiers, analog, and McIntosh equipment. In other words, my reference point for neutrality may translate into something less than neutral for other listeners. This may be the reason why I thought that when I had both the Diamond D2 XLR between preamp and power amp, and the Diamond D7 RCA between phono stage and the preamp, it was a little too lively for my taste. Friends of the Greater Toronto Area Audiophile Club (GTAA) thought the sound was noticeably more realistic and “closer to the real thing,” yet most of them encouraged me to keep both cables. At the end, I decided to replace the Purist Aqueous Auries RCAs in between my Audio Research Reference 2 SE phono stage and my preamp with the Diamond D7 RCAs, while leaving the Purist XLRs in place between the preamp and power amp.

A week after I opened the bottle of 1988 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino, I told most of my friends in our audiophile group that I enjoyed the wine as much as I enjoyed the Hi Diamond cables. I managed to arouse enough interest in a couple of Brunello drinkers to seek out this wine, so that we can compare it with two other similar aged bottles, the 1990 Tenuta Caparzo and the 1990 Castello Banfi.

Out of curiosity, we Googled up some tasting notes from the Wine Doctor. The wine was given a score of 16.5 out of 20:

“As for the wine itself, this has a great colour, as although this shows a mature oxblood tinge at the rim there is an absolute stack of red pigment running through the centre of the wine. The nose has an appealing character, mature but in no way soft or gentle; this is clearly not a wine intent on simply fading away. Instead it has a rather firm character, with dusty fruit, softly toned but with a slightly woody undercurrent. An attractively plump flesh at the start, showing good substance backed up by typically Tuscan acidity and a building sense of savoury, meaty fruit which becomes almost mouth-watering towards the finish. An impressive wine, holding up well, with substance and mouth-pleasing body, and for that it deserves credit. Where it falls down is lack of complexity, or perfume, the more fragrant and elegant components that we seek in a mature wine. All the same, a good mouthful.”

When I showed the tasting notes on the wine to a couple of non-drinkers, they said they have absolutely no clue what the writer was talking about. They also said it sounded like my cable review article. I asked them whether they thought the wine reviewer is engaging in some form of market ploy to lure unsuspecting buyers into overpaying for the wine; their answer was “Probably not, we probably just don’t know enough about wine to appreciate the difference.” Of the three Brunello di Montalcinos, you can probably blind test me and I will still be able to pick out my favourite, yet to the ordinary individual the wine review represents nothing other than verbal gymnastics. I believe the same applies to the HiDiamond cables in my system.

The HiDiamond cables instilled onto my system some very admirable sonic characteristics which would otherwise be less prominent. The ambience, the clarity, the realism, and the frequency extension are qualities which I would rather have than be without. After I have experienced it in my system, it was very difficult to let it go. Just like the Argiano Brunello di Montalcino, the HiDiamond D7 RCA interconnects have become a permanent part of my collection.

Associated Components:

Turntable No. 1: TW Raven AC
Cartridge No.1 : LYRA Olympos
Arm No. 1: Schroeder Reference 12” with Ebony Armwand
Phono Stage No.1: Audio Research Reference 2 SE
Cartridge No. 2: Lyra Atlas
Arm N o. 2: Artemis Labs TA-1 12” with Ebony Armwand (Currently under review)
Phono Stage No. 2: Burmester PH100
Turntable No. 2: JC Verdier La Platine Vintage
Turntable Motor: Teres Reference Motor
Cartridge No. 3: Kondo IO-M
Step Up: Kondo KSL-SFz
Phono Stage no. 3: Kondo M7
Arm No. 3: DaVinci Grandezza 12” Ebony Armwand
Cartridge No. 4: My Sonic Lab Ultra Eminent BC
Arm No. 4: Reed 2P 12” Ebony Armwand
Phono Stage No. 4: FM Acoustics FM-122 Mk II
Cables from Phono to Preamp: Purist Aqueous Aureus
CD Player: McIntosh MCD500
Cables from CD to Preamp: Purist Aqueous Aureus
Preamp: McIntosh C1000C + C1000T
Cables from Preamp to Power Amp: Purist Aqueous Aureus XLR
Power Amp No. 1: McIntosh MC2KW Monoblocks
Power Amp No. 2: McIntosh MC3500 Tube Monoblocks
Speaker Cables: Purist Venustas
Speakers: Dynaudio Temptations

North American Distributor’s comment:

HiDiamond SLR would like to thank Dagogo for their honest and thorough review of our signal cable Diamond D7 and our D2 balanced cable.

We enjoy the review and appreciate the amount of time Rick took to complete the review. We also believe that Rick’s comments were very accurate although it will vary slightly from system to system.

In our research we have always tried new approaches when possible and our goal since HiDiamond was founded is to make the best cables in their price range. We believe our top models will surpass many other cables at that same price point because of our unique design and building techniques.

As Mr. Mak stated, every time we plan a new product we want to transmit emotion, dynamics and speed in to our cables without ever making that cable unattainable cost wise by the average person.

Again many thanks to Mr. Mak and Dagogo.

Robert Neil, president
Worldwide Wholesales

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