Hemingway Audio Creation cables
When Jay Bertrand, owner of Bertrand Audio in Nashua, New Hampshire, says something special is coming down the pike, you’d do well to pay attention. Some years ago when he urged me to audition a certain loudspeaker made of glass, insisting it sounded better than anything I’d heard, I laughed. Then at the 2007 CES I got to hear that very loudspeaker, the Perfect 8 Line Source ($350,000!) driven by another of Jay’s favorites, the Bridge Audio Laboratory stereo amplifier. This combination won my Best Sound at Show award four years running!
Of course not everything Jay’s acclaimed over the past two decades drew much popularity, while others disappeared without a trace. In our very infrequent conversations, one of the first things I’m apt to tease him with is, "What was the name of that company you went bananas over a couple of years ago?"
In 2012, Bertrand was very excited over Hemingway Audio cables. His encomium fell on rather deaf ears because at the time I was infatuated with Klee Acoustics' Grand Illusion speaker cables. I had no desire to be auditioning anything other than new music! Jay gave me the "You'll be sorry" speech and turned his attention to Dave Thomas.
As luck would have it, Dave fell in love with the Hemingway Prime Signature (since discontinued). In his March 2012 review (here) he wrote, "The Hemingway cables may well be the best cables I’ve ever had in my system. They gave me so much more of what I like in music playback and enhanced every type of music that I listened to." Then Mike Wright waxed poetic in his June 2012 review of the less-expensive Hemingway Prime Ref Mk II, saying "...they not only made an incremental improvement in the sound of my system, but would make excellent reference tools: they helped me dissect what I was hearing without pressing their own agenda."
Despite the excitement and rhetoric, the Hemingway brand never caught on in America. And neither Dave nor Mike purchased the review cables due to their high cost. Both went back to their old reference cables, wishing they could erase the memory of the Hemingways - compliments of the Men in Black Neuralyzer perhaps?
My world was turned upside down when the Göbel Lacorde Statement series appeared back in 2013. Here was a cable that was as natural sounding and at ease as it was dynamically compelling. The Göbel was as physically imposing as it was well-manufactured. And in the end, I succumbed to its superior performance, added them to my Bucket List, and eventually purchased them. I was, alas, absolutely certain it would be the last cable I would ever need or want.
Enter the Hemingway Audio Creation.
Key Kim had mentioned Hemingway to me after receiving the Audio Creation series for review. But he was inundated and asked me if I’d care to review them. I thought it might prove interesting to hear them in my downstairs system which is now composed of the new Soundkaos 40 loudspeakers and the Audio Frontiers 300B integrated (review in the works). A pair of Hemingway Creation speaker cables made the system sound much more alive and dynamic than the Sharkwire I’d been using. For the first time ever, I felt compelled to switch my audition site upstairs to the big rig.
This required an additional pair of speaker cables since the Sunny Supremes are bi-amped to a pair of Behold BPA768s. I relayed this to the folks at Hemingway and in two weeks a large USPS box arrived with an additional pair of Creation speaker cables, four AC cords and one S/PDIF cable. Hemingway clearly believes as I do: that in order to fully evaluate a cable product, you must audition a complete set.
Hemingway Audio boasts an unusual team of audiophiles that include “an artist, a machinist, an electronics whiz, a political idealist and several audio whizzes” in their design team. They employ a patented technology (Korea 10-1062832) rather than a hodgepodge of metals and multi-coated outer jackets. It’s called Frequency Modulation Cavity Fundamentals or FMCF. FMCF was designed to do the very thing I've devoted an enormous amount of effort to accomplish: removing signal ghosts, resonances, noise and artifacts from the signal chain. The spherical gold-plated network connectors located near each end of the cable is where the FMCF technology actually takes place according to the folks at Hemingway.
These cables are really great looking and are impressively built. In fact, they rival the Göbels for top-flight cosmetics. The Creation is surprisingly flexible and light weight and has a mesh outer jacket. All connectors are finished in highly polished gold with the company logo laser-engraved.
Hemingway’s data sheet shows an impressive array of products and prices. The Indigo series is Hemingway's least expensive and starts off at $2,590 for a pair of speaker cables and $890 for an AC cord. The Creation Signature doubles the price to $6,800 and $2,600. The Creation Ultimate retails for $14,000 and $4,800 respectively, while the Creation (here under review) retails for a whopping $28,000 and $10,000. Their top of the line Creation Advanced has a retail price (brace yourself) of $45,000 and $15,000. Yes indeed, the Hemingways are very expensive, though moderately priced compared to the new MIT designs that begin at $49,000 and max out at $80,000 per pair. Besides, the Hemingway folks have implemented an attractive upgrade policy.
On first blush, one notices how plush sounding the Hemingway Creation cables sound at the frequency extremes. They don't sound nearly as powerful as the Göbel but they certainly do not lack dynamics. In fact, after extended listening, the Creations have a more relaxed dynamic property than the Göbel. They're sweeter, with more treble spark and extension which, in turn, gives the impression the bass may be lacking just a tad. On the other hand, the Göbels offer a more bottom-heavy performance and may sound darker and overall richer - which is where their most desirable strengths are. However, after extended listening sessions, I couldn't believe that I found myself favoring the Hemingways. No, this cannot be!
The other thing the Hemingways seem to possess more than the Göbels—or, for that matter, any other cable I have encountered—is a lack of grit, grain and glare. This had me shaking my head time and time again. The older and more troublesome the recording, the more the Hemingway Creation showed its mettle. It appeared to lift unwanted stuff off the these dated recordings that I thought was always a part of the recording process: a date stamp if you will. A great example, Pharaoh Sanders' powerful and intense You've Got to Have Freedom, from his 1980 recording entitled "Journey to The One."
This remarkable date features the late, great John Hicks’ incredibly fast and wicked piano introduction, which is followed by Pharaoh's famous shrieks and shrills on tenor saxophone. I noticed almost immediately how much clearer and less strident this recording sounded. But not just that, the overall sound now had a certain quality of "aliveness" that had eluded me for decades. This particular track also features the Dr. Eddie Henderson on flugelhorn. What’s surprising to this listener is that Dr. Henderson is playing the flugelhorn. Not trumpet. The sound is more burnished, softer and rounder on the edges. I could never tell this difference prior to the insertion of the Hemingway cables. The recording quality was always blameworthy, but the musicianship always compensated for it. I'm far more appreciative of great performance than great sound. That being said, you cannot imagine the look on my face when this recording suddenly transformed itself into a newly remastered version due simply to new cables.
Switching back to the Göbel revealed once again deeper reaching bass octaves followed by a softer and slightly more recessed high-frequency. Midrange was more expressive through the Göbel, slightly bigger and more forward in the soundstage. This was the sound I had taken such great pride in previously, and yet somehow I always felt like something was missing (just like Dave and Mike had mentioned in their reviews). Returning to the Hemingways and listening for hours only reaffirmed my sense that the upper frequencies possessed more ambience and detail, regardless of the music, genre or date.
Another characteristic of the Hemingway Creation is their remarkable sense of speed and accuracy. Images are perhaps somewhat smaller than the Göbels, but are locked in space, no matter the complexity; one can follow the feintest instrumental outlines as well as the most prominent simultaneously. This increase in speed allows the music to trail off into a three-dimensional space that is as rich as it is vast.
The Göbel gives the listener the sensation of being transported to the actual venue rather than the performers being transported to your listening room. The Hemingway Creation allows you experience the music in much the same way, particularly in terms of size and width. However the Hemingway Creations seem to add an unusual sense of "aliveness" that I have not heard in a cable before.
The FMCF technology may account for this effect; one can never be certain. But I will say this: I would have never believed cables could infuse such radiant life into each and every song I threw its way. If the Hemingways did nothing else, they would bring an ear-to-ear smile to my face. That it could also mysteriously extend the high frequencies with such delicacy is an added measure of their mind-boggling capabilities.
Truth be told, I only listened to these cables to do Key a favor. In my experience things as fortuitous as this never happen when planned. That there is an unknown cable out there that competes with the world-class performance of the Göbel is a revelation for this reviewer and one that I must admit has me going in circles. While I miss the herculean bass impact and the utter immediacy of the Göbel, I simply am amazed by the ease, cleanliness and sense of life these cables have on tap. Oh, what's a music lover to do? I've hereby placed the Hemingway Creation cable onto my Bucket List too!!
Hemingway Audio Creation cables
$28,000 per 3m speaker cable
$14,000 per 1m interconnect (XLR/RCA)
$10,000 per 2m AC cord
$5,000 per 1m digital (XLR/RCA)
Sigma Wire Lab, Inc
Sigma Bldg. 224-21, Nonhyeon-dong,
Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea