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High Fidelity Cables – CT-1 Ultimate Cables

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The Sound of Breaking in Magnetic Conduction Products

I want to share this with you because in my years as an audiophile I have never experienced anything that goes through the kind of changes while breaking in, like how the Ultimates and the Power Conditioner I have in to review.  Truth is the CT-1 and CT-1E went through the same thing, but much quicker and much less dramatically.

I have had some equipment that took a long time to break in before.  All Audio Note equipment and speakers come to mind.  Several cables also come to mind, and of course, nothing I know of took longer than Lowther drivers to break in.  Still, there is something very different about breaking in High Fidelity Cable’s Magnetic Conduction Products.  The biggest difference is that you can’t do all the break-in at the same time.  Yes, you can cut down on the time by burning the Ultimate cables in first, but they are still going to go through a significant change when they go into your system.  Rick tried to explain to me why this is true, but I am too technically challenged to understand.  Still, I could clearly hear it.

As I moved from the CT-1 to the E, and finally to the Ultimate I discovered a longer process was required.  Immediately after installation of the cables, I noticed a very clean, but also very closed-down sound.  The sound was a little darker and the soundstage was not as wide as it would later be.  I put an iPod on repeat and let it play for about 30 hours and by then the sound was very open, but still a little thin.  In fact, the Ultimate was pretty thin for a while.  It was this transfer from dark to thin that was significant, because then the sound began to fill in and got fuller without the darkness.  The tonal qualities and the beauty of the music increased during this time.  After 60 to 100 hours the sound was wonderful in my system but it continued to improve for another couple of hundred hours.

It would still take a week or two before I began to hear the potential of these cables, and at least another week or two to hear their full potential.  The Ultimate would continue to grow and relax, the magnetism just works like that.  I suspect at somewhere between 100 and 200 hours they were maybe 70% broken in, the remaining 30% would come with additional time.  These will continue to do things you could not expect them to do.  During the final period, maybe one to two months after you started using the cables, the musical weight and presence would become even more well rounded with a deep, weighty sound, and with even more musical texture and tone.  These were things I have never heard any cables do.

Since I have already reviewed High Fidelity Cable’s CT-1 and CT-1E Enhanced cables, I suggest you read those reviews first for a better understanding of my experiences.  While the step up from the 1 to the 1E Enhanced was very significant, the Ultimate was a whole new ball game.  The step up from other wire technology to the CT-1 was also a game changer, so big in fact that I was shocked at how the Ultimate could do this all over again.

 High Fidelity Cables - CT-1 Ultimate Cables

A complete system of Ultimate interconnects and speaker cables made a bigger difference in my system than changing between the Art Audio Diavolo WE and my Wavac EC-300B power amplifier.  By the way, the difference in the price of those two amps was over $15,000.  Of the few people who have heard a system completely wired with the CT-1 Ultimate in either my system or the one other I know of, all said the same thing along the lines of “I’ve never heard or even knew any system at any price could sound this much like music.”

The High Fidelity Cables Ultimate made my system sound like it had doubled in power,  and was more extended in both frequency extremes.  The Ultimate improved my system in all the ways we talk about in audiophile land.  You know, like it has more information, bigger stage, more immediacy, and so forth; but that’s not nearly all they did.  The sound with the Ultimate was so full of tone, timbre, and harmonics, singers sounded more like real beings, making it easy to hear the difference from one singer to another, even from one performance to another.

Let’s talk about Norah Jones.  If you listen to her debut album Come Away with Me, her voice sounds young, smooth, and beautiful.  Then, listen to Jone’s Live from Austin TX and you will hear some of the same songs, but with a voice that is more mature, has more character, and breath.  By the way, on the live album she talks a lot and it is amazing how much it sounds like a real person is talking; this may be more startling than her singing.  If you listen to her album, The Fall, on some cuts she sings with that rock type voice, almost as gravely as that we hear on her latest album Little Broken Hearts, but on the final cut “Man of the Hour” we hear that smoother, prettier voice with the same character as the live album.

This wasn’t only true of the human voice via the Ultimate; instruments sounded more like themselves than I have ever heard before.  Piano and drums had a timbre and harmonic structure that I had no idea were hidden in the groves of my LPs.  Horn sounded brassier and more full than I have heard before.  They could have real bite and real richness all on the same song if played that way.  I’ve saved the best for last.  Wood winds and string instruments had a great combination of presence, richness, and reverberation that was simply remarkable.  It’s almost like I was fooling myself thinking my system sounded like live music before the Ultimate.  Guitars may be the instrument that it is easiest to hear this improvement on.  The combination of the plucking of the strings, the ease in hearing the difference in guitars and the strings, or the great acoustic decay of a Martin or Gibson was utterly believable.

 High Fidelity Cables - CT-1 Ultimate Cables


One of the most interesting things that anyone has commented on my system since I changed to the Soundsmith Strain Gauge and the High Fidelity CT-1 Ultimate came from a fellow audiophile who came over to listen to my system.  He said somehow all the instruments and voices seemed more separated and more together all at the same time.  I wholeheartedly agree and find it very difficult to describe it much better.

Well, I could ramble on and on, it’s simple: The High Fidelity CT-1 Ultimate cable technology is something truly significant in its ability to play recorded music.  I know of no other cables that can do what even the CT-1 can for music playback, and the Ultimate is just that: Ultimate.


6 Responses to High Fidelity Cables – CT-1 Ultimate Cables

  1. charles says:

    I`ve been following your series of CT-1 reviews and have to say you are simply accurate in your descriptions.As a result I auditioned the CT-1E digital from the Cable Company and was immediately impressed. I purchased the ultimate digital cable and after a few months in my system the sound is “significantly” better(one single cable! transport-DAC). For cost and most improvement in sound quality which do you think is better?
    1)_two pair of the CT-1E for (DAC-PREAMP-AMP) or
    2) One pair of the CT-1U(DAC-PREAMP). roughly the same money spent.
    Thanks for your time.

    • Jack Roberts says:

      Charles, there is no way I can answer this question, but my guess is two pair of Es would be best, unless you plan to add one piece at a time. Even then I would probably try to get the magnetic technology all the way from my source to speakers before I moved up to the ultimates.

      Thanks, for the kind words.

  2. charles says:

    Thanks for your reply,I realize the answer is at best speculation.You`re the only one I know who`s heard all three levels of these cable in the same system (and thus able to render an informed opinion).By the way I really enjoy you SET amp reviews.I went that route 4 years ago and there`s no turning back for me.

  3. dave says:

    jack..i could not agree with you more regarding your views on the HF CT-1U cables and the previous lines of Rick’s cables. calling them ‘game changers’ is very accurate in my opinion too.The music emanating from my speakers has never sounded more lifelike.I am at a point in life that i am very glad i don’t have to look any further for the day to day pleasure of listening to my system without wanting MORE.

  4. Kurt Blake says:

    I would like to know where to purchase these interconnects, and pricing.
    Thanks You, Kurt

  5. Charles Katz says:

    Hi Jack, I’ve got one of those speculative “where should I put it” questions. On my big system I’ve got from DAC to transport a HF CT-1 Enhanced digital interconnect. From transport to pre amp HF CT-1 Enhanced ICs and from pre to amp Virtual Dynamics Master ICs. On a headphone set from CD player to amp I have HF CT-1 Enhanced ICs. Where would you put HF CT-1 Ultimate ICs: upgrade the headphone set or in the big system from DAC to pre or pre to amp. Thanks, Charles

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