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High Fidelity Cables CT-1UR Ultimate Reference Speaker and Interconnect Cables Review

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In my review of the CT-1U Ultimate I said:

“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.  ”

Incredible as it may seem, the difference when moving up to the Ultimate Reference cables is an even more substantial improvement. To the already incredible power, scale, soundstage, transparency, tone, timbre, and harmonics of the CT-1U, the Reference adds a sense of realism and body, combined with an even more musical tone. These differences are very hard to put into words, but are very easy to hear. The reason they are so hard to put into words is I have never heard an audio system that comes close to sounding as real as mine does with these cables. Thus, I’m not sure I have the audiophile vocabulary to really describe their incredible sound.

When talking about how audio systems sound, we often talk about how the speakers seem to disappear. What is most often meant by this is, how the sound doesn’t seem to come from the speakers. Speakers and the rest of the system show themselves in many other ways, though. Certain speakers almost always add extra warmth and often exaggerated crispness or sparkle to the sound. The amplification and source also come into play in a big way. All this comes together to make audio system sound less like the real thing to varying degrees.

There is something about the way the High Fidelity Cables with “magnetic conduction” let the signal flow more easily from source through amplification and then to the speakers. This seems to help your system disappear more than I thought possible. This is true from the entry level CT-1 all the way up the line. With the Ultimate Reference cables in my system, it seemed that the entire system just vanished. Depending on the recording it was as if I was sitting in the venue listening to the performance or as if the singers and musicians were in the room with me.

One of the curses of our hobby is that as our systems get more and more revealing, they also become less and less tolerant of weaknesses, especially those in the recording chain or those of small irritations in the source, amplification or speaker chain. One of the wonderful things about a well broken in system of cables using “magnetic conduction” is that your system will become more real sounding and this results in the listener being more forgiving of these very irritants. Again, I think this is because the signal flows more easily through the system, but I’m just guessing on the why; I am however sure of the fact that it does do this. The Ultimate Reference cables take this to a whole new level. Some of the listening time was just days before Christmas and thus I was playing some of my old favorite Christmas albums. I played a very worn copy of Elvis’ mono Christmas LP, an equally old Bing Crosby, a copy of a Mahalia Jackson’s Christmas album that belonged to my mother, and a couple of old Goodyear Tire promotional Christmas LPs. All of these sounded better with the Ultimate Reference in my system. No, it didn’t get rid of the wear or noise, the system just seemed to play them more musically than I realized was possible.

When I switched to some of my reference LPs I was even more amazed at how the system seem to just vanish away and leave the performance itself there for me to enjoy. Let’s talk about some of those specific LPs.

Rob Wasserman’s Duets

I carried this recording all around the 2013 (4th) California Audio Show and the 2013 RMAF, using it to evaluate systems. I also use side two of the LP to set up my system anytime I change anything. So it’s safe to say I thought I knew how this recording sounded. From the minute I dropped the needle into the groove I knew there had been a fundamental change in my system. The sound was so solid and the system and room seemed to have gotten out of the way and left me with Jennifer Warnes and Dick Hicks singing just for me. I was just amazed that this LP could sound so much more real. The flow of the music and the timbre and harmonics were so natural, and the tonal colors were full and beautiful. All of this while the sound was beyond what I think of when I say transparent; it was just there.

On “Angel Eyes” Bentyne’s voice on a system that can handle the dynamics sounds pure and dynamic. Never before had I heard it sound so beautiful or flow with such ease and then with such power. In another review I described Wasserman’s bass as sounding fast and incredibly visceral. With the Ultimate Reference cables in my system my first thought was how well his bass accompanied her voice and how beautiful they sounded together.

The crowning glory of this LP is when Wasserman teams up with Stephane Grappelli to play “Over the Rainbow.” I have never used this cut to evaluate because it is so wonderful that all I want to do is listen. As I listened I knew that I had never before heard it sound anywhere near this wonderful. The bass was full and played the music with such soul and tone. Grapelli’s violin almost brought me to tears; it was so sweet and so full of emotion.

The Beatles Love

A few years ago my wife Becky and I made a trip to my least favorite city in America, Las Vegas. We flew in on Friday, went to see “Love” that night and flew back on Saturday. I’ve told you I don’t like spend much time in Vegas; which is why you never get a CES show report from me.

Still, “Love” was worth it. It was one of the best events I had ever attended and this includes some pretty incredible SEC football games, the World Series, and hearing Cat Stevens live in his prime. The amazing thing about this is that the music in “Love” is not a live musical event though much of the performing is live. I have always been disappointed that as good as the SACD and LP of “Love” are, the experience always fell way short of hearing it in person in Vegas. Well, with the Ultimate Reference cables hooking up my system that gap has been vastly diminished. The power, the emotion of the Beatle’s voices, and the overall scale are just spectacular. It is much more like being there than I have experienced on any system since and that includes an all-Shindo system with their wonderful speakers.

Miles Davis Someday My Prince Will Come

I’m a big Miles Davis fan, and this is one of my favorites. I listen to both the mono original and the Analogue Productions 45-RPM version. On the stereo versions Miles’ trumpet is always a little pinched sounding compared to the mono versions. I think it was Matt at Pitch Perfect Audio who referred to this sound on the stereo recordings as a kazoo sound. With the Ultimate References in my system the stereo version still sounded pinched by comparison, but much more musical. Mile’s horn was beautifully portrayed with nice and realistic bite, but never with a trace of edginess. Jimmy Cobb’s cymbals came to life in the right corner of my room sounding absolutely beautiful with nice attack, great shimmer and incredible tone. Again these cables help the sound of the system to get out of the way of the music itself.

Joni Mitchell Blue

I’ve been listening to this recording since 1971. I was a freshman at Baylor when I discovered Joni Mitchell, and the album Blue was my first exposure to her beautiful music. Now it’s 42 years later, I’m 59 and I love this album just as much as I did at 17. I’ve listened to this album on KLH 17, on Double Advent, and then on Quad 57 for years. The last few years it has been on my Teresonic Ingenium XR Silver. I know this LP inside and out and I’ve never been as emotionally moved by it as I was listening to it as I was with the combination of the reference cables and the Ingenium speakers.

Joni’s voice sounded right there in the room, warm sometimes, slightly shrilled at other times, and full of different tonal colors; but that’s nothing new. What was new with the High Fidelity Cables CT-1UR in the system was the ease in which this music came to life and at the same time the lack of haze or noise in the recording. I listened to the entire LP and then grabbed “Court and Spark”; I was so into the experience.

I could go on and on talking about different LPs, because I just kept pulling them out to listen to. It was winter and the time of year with no baseball, no important college football bowl games for a couple of weeks, and nobody wanting to work so I just listened. It was magical.

7 Responses to High Fidelity Cables CT-1UR Ultimate Reference Speaker and Interconnect Cables Review

  1. Greg p says:

    We should do a shoot out with the Skogrand!! Best, Greg

  2. Jack Roberts says:

    Well that would be fun!

  3. Bob says:

    I think it’s time for a shoot out between the High Fidelity cables and the Crystal Cable line. First, they’re both thin and silvery-white. If that isn’t enough, there’s another interesting phenomenon they share. Those who use the HF wires go on at length how they are the best wires they’ve heard. Those who use the CC wires say exactly the same thing; best wires ever! But I haven’t seen any direct comparisons between the two lines. Maybe it’s time.

  4. Zach says:

    Agreed, a comparison between the dreamline plus / absolute dream & CT-1UR would be very helpful.

  5. Thomas Smith says:

    i would love to see an electrical explanation of this “technology”
    and maybe some double blind testing with random people.

    • Jack Roberts says:

      Well, you can go to their website and get the patent numbers and look them up and read them. There was also some testing done by a Canadian Company. You can look it all up, but it was way over my head. I have never found blind testing very helpful. I did blind testing years ago between Nordost Valhalla and Audience aU24 in the blind test I picked the Nordost over 75 percent of the time, but in long term listening test I preferred the Audience. In fact it was the very things that wowed me about the Valhalla in the blind test that in the end I found less musical over the long run.

  6. Slick says:

    Everyone always says they have the best cables :).. People love to justify their purchase. Other thing is people with non-representative systems write down all kinds of opinions on forums when they are listening to other weak chain(s) in the system and/or room and not the cables at all…

    I can only say that my friend who has the Absolare/ Rockport/ MSB diamond/ CEC TLX0 reference system (more or less the same which won all those best sound of the show) in an acoustically treated room did a shootout with the top of the line HFC, top of the line Skogrand, top of the line Echole. Each has their own sonic virtues but Echole Omnia came out on top. The Omnia line of Echole is something else.

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