High Fidelity Cables “Pro” Series Interconnects
I have already done reviews of the HFC CT-1s as compared with their second series of cables, the Enhanced cables. Later I evaluated the Ultimate cables, and still later, their Ultimate Reference cables. Each series of cables progressively added more magnets, more detail, more realism, lengthier breakin, and more cost. The “Pro” cables are really intended for those on the professional side of audio and for a few crazy audiophiles, such as me. This is not to say, however, that they are yet at another level for HFCables.
I had seen and heard the “Pros” at the RMAF and CES, but never in a good environment for evaluating them. Rick Schultz facilitated my hearing them by coming down with a complete loom and helping me remove my HFC Ultimate Reference cables and installing the Pros one at a time. This is a somewhat cumbersome task as the waveguides are longer. The Pro ICs’ wave-guides are 15 inches long versus 7 inches for the Ultimate References. The speaker wire Pro’s wave-guides are 30 inches versus 17 inches for the URs. The Pro ICs are also in three-sided frames that keep them from rolling. The Pros also weigh more. Two friends also helped us, so we got this done for each piece in about twenty minutes.
Rick also brought four more of their Magnetic Wave Guide MC 0.5s and did a demonstration of their being added to the one I already had. Even though the Pro ICs were brand new, he demonstrated that each additional MC 0.5 installed, even though they were far from my system and on another circuit, immediately revealed its contribution to providing a real sound stage, better capturing the realism of the instruments or voices, and a sense that the performers were there before us. The next day they were even better, and several days later when I got six more this improved even more, especially when they too got settled in.
Listening session #1
I need to organize the listening sessions into three stages. First was when Rick Schultz brought the Pros to me and lasted about five hours plus a quick session early the second day. There were four of us present the first afternoon. We heard each of the ICs from that between the Dac and line stage, another from the phono stage and the line stage, then that from the line stage to the amp. Finally there were the speaker wires. Each pair of cables displaced the HFC Ultimate Reference cables.
The first thing noticed about the Pros ICs is the bass. Much lower frequencies were heard and felt and were quite well defined. Pianos suddenly had deep bass and sounded real. Secondly, there is much more information, such as decay of notes, the ambience of the recording venue, and a much improved top end that makes drum high hat, brass instruments sound more brassy, violins just real sounding. In fact most, if not all, instruments, such as guitars, were what I have heard when close up while recording or in live, small events. Remember, the interconnects had no prior break in.
The resolution of the soundstage has been greatly improved by my new H-Cat X-10 Mk III amp, but with no break-in, the pair of Pro ICs from the DAC to the linestage added more detail, such as decay of notes and ambience in the recording venue. There was life in the recording. This was not limited to digital. Vinyl had more precise imaging, deep and defined bass, and clean top end.
The first day we were listening to Patricia Barber’s “Nardis” on Café Blue [Premonition Records 737] before and after inserting the Pro ICs. What was immediately evident was an eerie sense of everything in the recording room, including who was standing closest to us. The piano became more real sounding.
I suggested that we listen to a second player on my Archiving Vinyl AMS Mk II music server. This is the Signalyst player, which is better for recordings in DSD. But time was getting short and I had trouble getting this player to work. The HFC Pro speaker wires had been at several shows and thus were broken in. What was shocking with these was how much louder they were relative to the Ultimate Reference speaker wires. There is less resistant wire used in the Pro speaker wires.
Listening session #2
Moving on to the more extended listening after about four weeks, it got to the point where I could say where the singer stood and how I could walk past her to talk to the musician behind her. Now with many more days breaking in with six Magnetic Wave Guide MC 0.5s plugged into the HFC’ MC-6 Power Distributor, I thought had reached a zenith that I never thought possible. But note that among all the contributors to the sound are the HFC MC-0.5s, now eleven of them, The H-cat X-10 amp and line stage, the Archiving Vinyl AMS music server and Mytek modified DAC, their Ultra manufactured USB cable, and the new Synergistic Research Black fuses.
All of these are contributed to the following review. I hasten to note that I have no realistic understanding of how many of these would be enough. I can somewhat understand the performance of the HFC power cords, but the current flowing through the MC 0. 5s goes back into the mains.
Perhaps as Rick says, several months from now, I will hear even greater realism.
Listening Impressions overall #3
Finally, I am now into the seventh week on the Pros and almost that on other links to my system. Certain cuts reveal the overall impressions of what I hear. The third cut on Rob Wasserman’s Duets [MCA Records, MCAD-42131] is “brothers.” It takes on strong and well-defined bass and ease from the deepest bass to high hat, brass, and drum skin. Additionally, everything has a very precise place on the sound stage. Singers start on the left and move to the right.
Oscar’s Motet Choir and Enrico Bossi’s Cantate Domino’s first cut of Cantate Domino [FIM, LIMK2HD025] totally involved me in it grander. I was there with the singers, organ, and horns. For a long time I wondered what made for what I was hearing before me. I suspect a picture on YouTube reveals what I was hearing. It is a large church with some forty singers with the horns in the center and the organ around. Unfortunately, mine is the FIM version and is no longer available.
I have since listened to many cuts and have been greatly impressed, especially with pianos and drums and other bass. I have come a long way in terms of the realism of my music reproduction. The sound stage is so real that I can hear which way the piano is faced. Marimbas are interesting, as not only can I hear precisely where the note comes from but also the player moving up and down the length of the instrument.
Now with the HFC MC-6, the eleven HFC MC-0.5s, and the HFC Pros, I hear a highly resolved sound stage, the ease, the heretofore, unrevealed detail of the true timbre of instruments and voice. Much of what I hear is non-musical characteristics, such as lip sounds, decay of notes, vibration of chimes, the raspy noise as the bow scrapes along the violin strings, the pluck of the bass strings, etc. The well-defined bass is another benefit.
I can only remember a few live performances where I could hear the movement of musicians on the stage. What I am hearing now could be heard where the microphones are. But with a singer, they are well defined from an audience perspective.
While I didn’t want to take out the Pros and to go back to the Ultimate Reference cables, I had two instance where I changed between an Ultimate Reference pair of ICs to and Pro set, both to the preamp from the phono stage on vinyl and doing the same for from the DAC to the preamp. In doing this test, I have largely relied on digital sources, as I can step through multiple cuts quickly. But the last several days, I have listened to vinyl. I hesitate to do this as my phono cables from the arm to the phono stage are CT-1 Enhanced, not the Ultimate
References, which is the highest level phono cables that HFC makes. I have ordered them. But I can say that the realistic sound stage is evident also with a vinyl source. Again, I hear a very wide and detailed sound stage. Bass is deep and well defined and again the sound stage is well defined from the extreme left to the extreme right. This is only with the new Star Sound Tech. Platter Ground, which is a record spindle device. It does for vinyl what their Audio Points do for component, namely sharpening the leading edge, giving deeper and well-defined bass, and giving a precise and real sound stage.
Harry Belafonte’s Belafonte Returns to Carnegie Hall, [RCA Victor LSO 6007 remastered] as with the digital sources is most involving. With the singers on the first cut (Jump Down Spin Around) being well resolved and present. Unlike the first issue of this recording, this first cut is not excessively fast. I’ve always loved this recording for its imaging and with the Pros, MC-0.5 and all is now more real also on vinyl. This held up on the many other albums I played. There was far improved resolution with the Pros and MC 0.5s.
Overall, what is most striking is the sound stage. With every ICs, replacing the HFC Ultimate Reference with their Pros counterparts, gave strikingly greater detail and resolution and this was at both ends of the frequency range. I was more and more struck by the sense that the performers were before me rather than a reproduction. Of course, this is an auditory sensation not a visual one, but it is thrilling to be at K. D. Lang’s performance of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (New Version) on Recollection Nonesuch [B002ZTIIXK] is exemplary and like her singing right before me. Also Christopher Hardy’s “Touch” on This is K2 HD Sound [FIM K2HD 078] the performance is of chimes being struck in a large reverberating room with a bongo drum set. The decay of the chimes is just so realistic as it goes up and down the chimes. I am in the room.
It is difficult to convey the sound stage I am getting. Especially with high definition DSD files, I get much detail of the decay of notes in the recording venue and of the humans performing, but there is also a sense that I could walk among them without bumping into them. Also the top end is extended to get the sheen on high hat, the brassy sound on trumpets, the skin sound of drums, accurate sibilance of vocalists. More recently even 44.1 rips played on JRiver MC-21 are also quite realistic. Now vinyl has also proven exceptional. All is well here.
Long ago I used to think I was close to realism, of knowing whether a recorded piano was in my room or the real thing. Now I realize how far short I actually was. But I know that a real piano would be very loud in my room and I might not want such loud of music.
Of course, as you can see, these are very expensive cables given the number of rare earth magnets in them and the time to assemble them, but, if you are a perfectionist, you might want to seek to listen to them. They are truly exceptional. I could not recommend them more highly, if you can afford them.
Even were you not interested in the Pros, you might get some of the HFC MC 0.5s and enjoy their impact on your sound. I did find that the HFC MC-6 Wave Guide with six MC-0.5s plugged in and going to my wall plug was better than having them plugged into two other power strips that I have.
I am where I never expected to be and loving it!
Interconnects: Pro $18,900.00 for 1 m. but the wave-guide is 15 inches long. ($650 per .5 m extra).
Speaker Wires: Pro $34,900.00 for 1 m. but the wave-guide is 30 inches long. ($1,100.00 per .5 m. extra). MC-0.5 Magnetic Wave Guide, $299.00 MC-6 Power Distributor, $999.00
High Fidelity Cables
901 N. McDonald Street, STE 502
McKinney, Texas, 75069
Phone: 1-844 348-6292