Friday, March 27, 2015

Revisiting High Fidelity Cables: The CT-1 Power Cord

A few months back I wrote a review of my experiences with two power cords. The Bybee Crystal Power Cord, and the High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Ultimate.

My conclusions were that both delivered really high performance for their respective price levels, with the Bybee at $1500 and the High Fidelity at $8500. In retrospect, I don't think I gave the High Fidelity cord enough time in my system to fully blossom, as I have recently found out it takes time, and perhaps a little help from a tweak to really get the High Fidelity power cords to sound their best. I'll tell you why in the paragraphs below.


Rick Introduces A New Power Cord, Lower Price

Rick Schultz contacted me about a month ago and informed me that High Fidelity was coming out with a CT-1 power cord, and it's pricing would be around $2000.  This was great news. Up until now, the least expensive High Fidelity power cord was $6500. Not many audiophiles are going to pony up that kind of money for a component, let alone a power cord without giving it some serious consideration.

I ordered two up, and they arrived a few days later. Packed in foam lined Pelican-Style cases that was commensurate with the cash outlay. The fit and finish, while not as audiophile bling factor of the Ultimates was certainly professional and still quite a step up from the usual black tech-flex we are used to at this price point. Essentially it looked like the same jacketing on the conductors of the Ultimate power cord. Three semi transparent white conductors with the silvery sheen of the shielding visible. All conducters were separate from one another, this made the cable very flexible. The terminations looked identical the Ultimates as well. What was different was that there was no waveguide positioned in the center of the cable. I actually preferred this, especially since I only needed 1.5 meter lengths. The CT-1 Ultimate's waveguide is big and fairly heavy. It needs a platform to rest on, and in many cases that means ordering longer cables because the waveguide would be far too unwieldy hanging free behind your components. It more than likely would pull the cord out of the component. Anyhow, I liked the flexibility and freedom that the CT-1 offerered sans waveguide.

I plugged the CT-1's into my Acoustic Imagery Atsah monoblock amplifiers and made the mistake of listening immediately. I was not impressed. There was a darkness, and not much resolution at first. I knew better, but I still felt a tiny bit disappointed.  I moved on to other activities for the next few hours.

I returned that evening to find the sound had improved considerably. The high frequencies were coming back, as was some of the low level detail. There was hope, but I knew at this point I might have to leave them in my system for a few days in order to really hear what they were about. It wasn't the same level of resolution and ambiance that I was used to.

The sound continued to improve over 3-4 days. I was hearing much more air and detail, microdynamics and distinct harmonics. The great thing was the tone was neutral, and the musical flow was very natural, not electronic. They were not sonic scalpels. They were allowing what my system normaly projects to come through. But now it was cleaner, clearer and even more organic.

At this point, I was really enjoying my system. I could safely say these were the best cords that I have heard on my amps. The Bybee Crystals were a little more forward, a tad bit thinner harmonically.

Then it got crazy good...

I decided on a whim to place a Bybee Quantum Signal Enhancer underneath the IEC connector housing of each CT-1 cord. The Bybee QSE's use the energy in magnetic fields to energize their technology. The CT-1 terminations were chock full o' neodymium magnets. My guess was this would bring out the best in Jack B's tweaks and the CT-1 power cords. BOOM! This opened up the sound in a most unexpected and beautiful way. The sound was even more open and dynamic with gobs of low level resolution and not a hint of etched, unnatural sound. 

This combination took things to a level my system has not performed at before. The cost for 2 1.5 meter cables and 2 QSE's was just under $5000. the total cost of my system is around $60,000. So an investment of around 8% of my system's total value I attained a level of performance I would liken to a serious component upgrade of over $10,000. Not inexpensive, but I think a great value if you have more than $50,000 tied up in your audio system.

In my opinion, the experience these cables helped my system create and the level of emotional engagement I felt when listening to the High Fidelity cables CT-1 Power cords was well worth the expense. I give the new High Fidelity CT-1 power cords my highest recommendation.

What was learned

What I learned about the High Fidelity Cables is that it takes time for them to perform their magic on your system. Plug them in and leave the component they are powering on for 3-4 days in order to really hear what they do for the performance of your system.

I also learned that the Bybee QSE's are an indispensable addition to these cables. The net effect doubles or triples the value I would place on the CT-1 power cords alone. Not bad for a $240f tweak.

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