Associated Equipment:
Digital Front End
Amplification
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Ultra Systems HiFi-Tuning Supreme Fuses
Fine Tuning For Your System

 

 May 2011

 



   


Back in December of 2007 I wrote my very first review for Stereo Times. It was a review about fuses of all things. It seemed like a fairly unexciting assignment as I remember. After all, how much information can one gather and write concerning a fuse. When given the assignment my mind immediately thought about house fuses and how their only purpose was protection against voltage spikes. However (to make a long story short) after receiving those fuses, called the Ultra Systems HiFi-Tuning Fuses, and installing them in my McIntosh 501 monoblocks, I had the experience of knowing for myself that SWAPPING OUT FUSES CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Fast forward four years and I am now writing about the “new and improved” Ultra Systems HiFi-Tuning Supreme Fuses. But this time I’m doing it, not with reluctance, but as an honor and a distinct pleasure.

Since my first review on the HiFi-Tuning Fuses, my audio life has drastically changed for the better. One of the biggest changes (courtesy of CP [Clement Perry], and Sam Laufer of Laufer Teknik) being the remarkable Behold Audio amplification, Nova Physics Memory Player, and Sunny cable Technology loudspeakers . When I first heard the Behold amps at CP's home, I was all messed up and immediately forgot about my own system. I had never heard such sonic improvements coupled with a naturalness in music presentation and killer resolution; couldn’t get any better than this right? Wrong. Sometime later, I ordered a set of the Ultra Systems HiFi-Tuning Fuses for the Behold amps, and just as with the McIntosh monoblocks, the sonics had taken another step up on the staircase to perfection. The Behold system was able to reveal a natural and concise sound, with a greater upclicks in purity, resolution and clarity. I was absolutely positive at that time, it couldn't get any better.

Since acquiring the Behold amps, preamp, Memory Player and Sunny Speakers, I have concentrated on purchasing a plethora of prominent tweaks and cables to compliment what my main components were putting out. Most of the tweaks have added a most natural and positive reinforcement to my listening environment.

Since my journey into high-end audio began, one thing I’ve learned is nothing comes cheap in this business; not even fuses. However in comparison to most of the other tweaks I’ve purchased, the HiFi-Tuning Fuses were an absolute steal in terms of price/performance.

Déjà vu, has revealed itself, however this time with a bit of a twist. I heard about the new Hi-Fi-Tuning “Supreme” Fuses back in October of 2010. I eagerly anticipated getting a few from Robert Stein of Ultra Systems, Inc. When the fuses finally hit the market I was told I would have to wait because the sizes I needed for the Behold Amps were not in production yet. Patience is not one of my strong points; as a matter of fact it’s a weakness that I’m still working on. I contacted Mr. Stein regularly for almost 5 months when one day finally via email I was informed the sizes I needed for the Behold amps were in and I would receive them within a few days.

 

    

Within three days the HiFi-Tuning Supreme Fuses showed up at my doorstep as promised. All four fuses were housed in a nice 2.5 square inch box set in a nice foam with a transparent lid with the logo on it. By contrast, the previous HiFi-Tuning Fuses, these were constructed different. Although both fuses are offered in .75 and 1.25 lengths, the new smaller sized Supremes have a darker outer casing with silver plated contacts on both ends. In order to improve transmission properties, the addition of a gold/silver mixture was added maximizing electrical conductivity. The wire drawing process results in micro cracks in the conductors surface, while the cooling process further contributes more imperfections in the resultant crystal structures of conductors All in all what distinguishes the HiFi-Tuning Supreme fuse is its choice of conductive material constructed from an alloy of 99% Silver impregnated with 1% 24 Karat Gold

The fuses came with no instructions so I assumed you just popped them in, sit back and enjoy. Upon installing four HiFi-Tuning Supremes into the Behold amps (2 per amp), I sat down to enjoy what I knew these fuses would deliver. After listening to one of my favorite reference CD’s, Herbie Hancock River: The Joni Letters [Verve]. I am very familiar with the excellent sonics and voices of this particular masterpiece. At first listen, I could tell something was different and I was enjoying what I heard. However, as the sessions went longer, I could tell something was different and it wasn’t completely on the positive side.

Clarity and resolution were a bit unbalanced especially in the upper midrange. I could hear that dreaded high frequency etch rendering a hard presentation that I had rid myself of years ago. Transparency was a bit over pronounced but still rendered a promising tone but it was not consistent with each CD. I eventually decided to reinstall the old HiFi-Tuning Fuses and the sound I was in love with was back. I was flabbergasted and needless to say very disappointed. I emailed Mr. Robert Stein the next day to let him know what I was hearing also to let him know how disappointed I was and would be shipping them back for a full refund. I informed him that the sound I experienced with the new Supreme fuses were nowhere in the ball park of the old fuses and that they were unacceptable.

After a few hours I received a reply from Mr. Stein with a question that turned the dance around. He asked if I installed each fuse using the directional arrow shown on the fuse logo. He informed me these fuses are directional and must be installed in that manner to work correctly. I immediately powered down my amps, removed the old fuses, reinstalled the HiFi-Tuning Supreme, sat down for a listen, and what a pleasant slap in the face. Although somewhat subtle, the sonics improved in every aspect. Many things stood out however, the reduction of grain coupled with the lowering of the noise floor is what immediately grabbed my attention the most. With the absence of grain comes the addition of enriched clarity thus allowing the sound to render a crisper sonic presentation across the soundstage.

The overall timbre was a welcome addition; this was particularly evident in the mid-bass to upper midrange. Voices were tuned a bit finer. It was as if I had fine tuned the previous HiFi-Tuning Fuses into a fuller tone across the frequency spectrum, thus enhancing naturalness and dimensionality. Transparency is not to be left out as it improved significantly on the more distinguished recordings. Both micro and macro dynamics revealed an unleashing of enhanced detail that I have never experienced in my listening room. I immediately got on the phone to announce what I was experiencing to my audiophile compardres. Needless to say I was in emotional and musical bliss.

After sitting down and listening to the Herbie Hancock River disc again, I was immediately reminded of why this CD was selected for a Grammy. Hancock is relentless towards the pursuit of excellence. Norah Jones’ singing on the first cut “Court and Spark” starts you off at a level of excellence which permeates the entire CD from beginning to end. I have listened to this CD numerous times; however with the HiFi-Tuning Supreme Fuses installed the CD took on a more relaxed flow. They sucked out every last breath, key note, drum note and bass rhythm, all tied together with saxophone notes saturated with emotion and feeling.

Kirk Whalum’s, Gospel According to Jazz Chapter 2 [Word Entertainment], is another amazing live recording by some top-notch contemporary jazz talents. All throughout each recording I listened to, I could easily feel the warmth of the music, especially with the background choir. It was evident where the tenor, alto and sopranos stood and sang their hearts out. The Supreme Fuses allowed this CD to reveal even more micro and macro details projecting that, “I am there” experience. The accuracy, details, clarity and transparency were improved to the point I found myself clapping and dancing along with the musicians and singers. Jonathan Butler’s enthralling solo on track five, “Falling In Love With Jesus,” is captivating. This cut is one of my favorites and it will grab you both spiritually and emotionally. The Supreme Fuses took everything to another sonic level.

I listened to quite a few CD’s over the span of a few days; all were wonderful, including Shirley Horn’s, Here’s to Life [Polygram]. This is the classic of all classics; Horn’s smooth rendition of this famous song is the absolute best I’ve ever heard. She draws you into her hypnotic world of perfect tones and lyrics, with such a smooth captivating embrace, it makes you forget all about your present worldly cares and woes. The Supreme Fuses allowed me to hear things on that cut I’ve never heard before. I was mesmerized and had to do a double take to ensure what I heard was real. If you don’t have this CD as part of your collection then your collection is not complete.

Conclusion
My time spent with both, the Ultra Systems HiFi-Tuning Fuses and Supreme Fusses over the years has equated to a audio life-changing experience. It’s impossible to tell if you will experience the same effects that I have since all systems are different, and my taste in music may be different from yours. However, I have not heard of anyone who’s tried these fuses utter anything but high praise. All I have heard were accolades expressing pure amazement as to how their systems have transformed with more focus, clarity, enhanced soundstage and transparency to die for.

Personally, I would compare their installation to making a major component change. In other words, before you decide to change or upgrade a component, I highly recommend you give the Supreme Fuses an audition. I’m serious. Give Mr. Robert Stein of Ultra Systems a call. Have your fuse sizes handy and I’m sure he will hook you up. Highly recommended.



Specifications:
3AG = 1.25” (6.3 x 32mm)
Retail $85 USD
GMA = 0.75” (5 x 20 mm)
Retail $55 USD

Address:
Ultra Systems
127 Union Square
New Hope, PA 18938
800-724-3305 or 215-862-6570
Fax 215-862-4871
Web address: www.ultrasystem.com



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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