Creation Ultimate series cables
Another cable review?
"Nope and not interested" was my initial gut response I have to admit. Nearly a year ago, I had completed a comprehensive follow-up review on the outstanding Gobel Lacorde Statement cables that I had proudly placed on my Bucket List. However, the feedback from a few trusted ears within our small circle regarding the performance of the Hemingway cables was so positive that I simply couldn't resist giving them a listen. What a mistake?
In all fairness, my leap of faith came from the review of Hemingway's now discontinued Prime Signature series cables that Dave Thomas wrote back in 2012 (here). In all honesty, I hadn't heard of Hemingway prior to all the hype about their Creation cables reviewed by Clement Perry (here). This forced me to look up their products and lo and behold, it was reviewed by another keen listener in Mike Wright, whom I've grown to trust and admire. "Ok, I said to myself, let’s see what these Hemingway’s are all about." Within the next few weeks after agreeing to an audition only, I received a FedEx box addressed from Hemingway Audio of South Korea. Inside were two pairs of Hemingway Creation Ultimate series speaker cables (10-ft) and four of their Creation Ultimate AC power cords (5 ft). I was also sent a single Creation series digital XLR cable (1.5 meter). The Creation is one model above Creation Ultimate series and unfortunately is twice as expensive too (the Creation digital XLR cable is the only digital cable available as of this writing). I am not one to complain about getting a supposedly superior sounding cable.
After my experience with anaconda-like cables that Oliver Gobel designs, I was expecting a huge shipping crate. Much to my chagrin, all the Creation Ultimate cables were delivered in a medium sized box that weighed no more than 15 lbs. By comparison, a single Gobel AC cord weighs nearly as much. This was quite surprising to me while considering I nearly needed a forklift to hoist four robust Gobel cables into my listening room.
In terms of appearance, the Hemingway Audio cables are very well made and look as good, if not as impressive as the German-made Gobel Lacorde Statement cables. Aside from their impressive build quality, the sheathed black mesh outer jacket is very compliant which thankfully allowed for easy installation of the Creation Ultimate speaker cables. The 5-foot Creation Ultimate AC cords are terminated with high quality silver connectors on both ends while the 1.5 meter Creation XLR digital cable followed suit in ease of connectivity and build quality. Each cable is designed around Hemingway’s patented FMCF (Frequency Modulation Cavity Fundamentals) Technology. Their website explains the story behind FMCF in great detail; I highly recommend taking the time to visiting the entire Hemingway Audio web page as it holds a plethora of information regarding their philosophy, theory, various product lines, etc.
Side by side physical comparisons show the Gobel Speaker cables nearly dwarfs the Hemingway’s Audio Speaker Cables in weight, size and girth. This of course, had me convinced - presuming audio folklore is true about weight and girth equal extra sonic legitimacy. If true, then this is going to be a very short and quick evaluation. I'm not going to lie, my expectations were at an all-time low despite the wonderful claims I heard and read about. All that changed once these two cables were side by side. Once the Hemingway Audio Creation Ultimate cables were installed, I setup a few of my favorite songs into the Laufer Teknik Memory Player64's playlist and prepare for the worst.
They too, like the Gobel, possess a sweet natural earthy sound and though physically challenged, they appear just as dynamic and weighty right out of the box. The Hemingway Cables totally engulfed my system with a quality of sound I have not experienced prior. Period! There are no fancy audiophile adjectives I can muster, nor does Dave Thomas' journals come close to actually revealing what happened in my listening room.
The Hemingway Audio Creation Ultimate cables are heretofore the most natural sounding cables I have ever had the luxury of reviewing and/or listening to. What brings me to this conclusion are these few criterions: Speed; they are without a doubt the fastest cables I have ever heard with regard to stop/start, transient attack and the ability to hear dense spatial cues. Neutrality; tonal shades and colors, that also lends to a frightening level of dynamic prowess. Image Specificity; incredibly detailed imaging that seems to wrap around my listening seat with a sense of focus I have not heard prior. In tandem, these virtues allows me in much closer to the performer's intent by way of an overall improved cohesiveness that's coupled to an upclick in speed that feels free of restriction. This new level of musical stops and starts brings a new sense of realism to strings, cymbal, the wallop of a kick drum and the sexy shrieks and shrills of a saxophone. The Hemingway Creation Ultimate cables relay these instruments as real musicians on a stage rather than the cardboard caricatures that I normally hear in most hi-fi venues. The Creation Ultimate also produced a soundstage that was more reminiscent a big city, multi-lane highway: each musician or sonic passage are confined to their specific lane. The Hemingway Creation Ultimate recreates music as the sum of a whole as opposed to a series of parts. Images are much closer to actual size and scale regardless of volume or recording venue. Amazingly, increasing the volume via the Behold APU-768 preamp appears to only move me closer to the recording's original studio and/or venue rather than just make the music louder. This ability to actually feel closer to each recording is a major feat in my book. For me, it's perhaps the Creation Ultimate's most profound sonic characteristic of all. Something I have not heard from any cable. Ever.
Listening sessions were a joy; as always I pulled out my favorite mellow but masterful recording of Herbie Hancock's "Joni Letters." In my opinion this 2007 Grammy winner has it all from A to Z when it comes to sonic virtues and great musicianship. Court and Spark has been one of my favorite reference recordings while conducting a critical listening sessions. Norah Jones' vocals and Herbie Hancock’s skill on the electric piano are simply awe inspiring. Through the many dozens of times I have played this song in the past, I've never heard Norah's vocals sound, realistically alive and sensitive. Hancock's keystrokes were keenly pronounced with an authority and persuasion that left this very familiar track sounding like a remastered copy. For the first time, I detected the piano peddles being depressed as well as the perfect pounding of piano keys. The realism of this recording with the Hemingway Creation Ultimate was simply remarkable.
Bass notes possess a new sense of authority and tightness: compliments of this cable's inherent speed. However, each bass note revealed greater spatial cues alongside the on-the-dime stops/starts. My personal experience during each listening session created a new level of music engagement, a level of realism that I have not encountered. Not as visceral or as sustaning as the Gobel Statement AC cord, but still somehow as excellent a cable as the Gobel is, in the end, I preferred the ease of flow and natural feel of the Creation Ultimate overall. Blame it on my youth!
Comparing the Hemingway Creation Ultimate cable to everything I have heard previously has me wondering aloud. Wondering what would make my favorite "Bucket List" Gobel appear just a tad slower and less involving? In my opinion, the Gobel is still the best cable I have experienced when it comes to authority, pitch definition and bass control. I absolutely LOVE Gobel's power and finesse, however the naturalness, incredible speed and inner beauty of the Hemingway Audio Creation Ultimate Cables offers up a sound that I've not experienced even from the almighty Gobel Statement cables.
Although expensive even by today’s expensive cable standards, I think the Hemingway Creation Ultimate cables more than make up for their price by virtue of their patented claims that are immediately obvious in their world class performance (Hemingway Audio also designs less expensive models that are also based on the same technology). Surprisngly, the Creation Ultimate are not just lighter and easier to navigate from behind your audio rack, they're also less expensive than the mighty Gobels - which was welcoming news considering how much I liked them.
In the end, the Hemingway Creation Ultimate cable's myriad of sonic strengths are beyond any I have experienced thus far from the confines of my listening room - especially one as physically unassuming as these happen to be. For me, and hopefully, for the passionate music lover in you - those with a desire to reach the ultimate sonic satisfaction - the Hemingway Creation Ultimate cables are a must audition. Highly Highly Recommended.
Hemingway Audio Creation Ultimate Cables
$14,000 per 3m speaker cable
$7,800 per 1m interconnect (XLR/RCA)
$4,800 per 2m AC cord
$5,000 per 1m Creation digital (XLR/RCA)
Sigma Wire Lab, Inc
Sigma Bldg. 224-21, Nonhyeon-dong,
Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea