The Harmonic Technology Cables

The Enemy of Mediocrity is Excellence

Clement Perry

1 January 1999

Specifications

Pro-9 Plus Bi-Wire Speaker Cable- $ 888 /pr
Pro-11 Plus Speaker Cable- $ 475 /pr
Pro-Silway Silver Interconnects- $ 359 /pr
Cyberlink Silver digital cable- $ 199 ea.
Truth-Link Copper Interconnects- $ 200 /pr
Pro-11 CL3 AC Power Cord- $ 180 /six ft.

Description: audio/video speaker and interconnect cables
Price (US retail): $80.00 to $900.00 depending on model and length

Manufacturer Info:
Harmonic Technology
12781 Legacy Place
San Diego, CA 92131 USA
Tel: 858.486.6633
Fax: 858.586.7918
Web: www.harmonictech.com/

A New Breakthrough in Wire?

Date: Dec 7, 1998. The Smart Bomb was dropped over High Endís ultra-expensive cable manufacturing plants by a secret fighter/reviewer team known only as planethifi.com. Harmonic Technology Corporation has finally brought an end to a very grueling ten-year war. The casualties were in the thousands, mostly honest law abiding audiophiles found with their pockets torn inside out, lying in the streets near audio specialty shops.

If youíve been following the High End Cable Wars, you have read reports of skirmishes between $1,000/m interconnects versus $5,000/m interconnects, black boxes that supposedly "repair" the poor phase response of innocent wires, and maybe even reports that $0.10/ft zip cord is equivalent to $15,000 speaker cables in double blind listening tests. Well, if you are as weary of this war as I am- sometimes even wondering if the entire wire business is some kind of scam making a few people very wealthy- join the club. Last month you might have read my views on the wire pricing insanity that has shaken the credibility of our industry. I found a bargain priced wire by Custom House, which sounded great for very low bucks, and is quite well matched for low-to medium-cost systems. Many of you have called to say "Amen, brother. Tell it like it is!"

Well, today I am here to say that I, (along with a few other well-known reviewers I will mention shortly have gotten lucky again) and have made another new discovery. I may have even found The Ultimate Cable! Yes, thatís right, and this appears to be The Real Thing, not just B.S. passing as pseudo-science. The guys at Harmonic Tech are scientists, not snake oil salesmen working out of a garage. And their discovery, along with their scientific explanations of how it works, appears to be right on the money. Since I wanted to be certain that this discovery is not a fig-newton of my imagination, I had asked several other reviewers, through a network of friends in the industry, to try the same cables in their systems. What we found electrified us! Well, many of you, including moi, suspected that the insane pricing of cables (running up to the Mercedes price level) has no direct bearing on the actual construction costs, and youíre right. Could there be a "best cable" for everyone, even though every system is different? Could this cable also be affordable?

Robert Lee, an audio engineer now with Harmonic Technology, had been shown electron microscope photographs taken of crystalline barriers inherent in copper after being "forced" through a die and allowed to cool quickly. Wondering if these crystalline barriers could be destroying the integrity of a complex musical signal, Mr. Lee contracted with one of the largest foundries in the world to design a process to inexpensively eliminate these crystalline barriers. (If you are interested, Harmonic Technology has a White Paper for the asking, complete with copies of the original electron microscope studies to quell the inadvertent cries of "bullshit!" See their website at, www.harmonictech.com.) Essentially, what Harmonic Technology is offering is a new type of purification, which allows a signal path-free of mechanical and electrical distortion.

I know, I know, engineers claim that electrons donít know what they are flowing through, but isnít that kinda like saying that pouring Scotch on a dirt floor wonít affect the taste? You know, since the Scotch doesnít know what itís poured on? Try lapping that up, non-believer, and tell me it still tastes the same!

To really understand why this cable claims to be scientifically superior to standard cables--meaning all the rest-you must first understand the process that separates Harmonic Technologies from the pack. Robert Lee took the high road when designing this cable and started with a clean slate. The first, and most significant, thing he explains in his white paper:

"When copper slugs are forced through a small die hole to "draw" wire, the copper undergoes a molecular change due to the stress and rapid cool-down of the metal. A cross section of the wire seen through an electron microscope shows that thousands of crystals have been inadvertently formed in the copper. Approximately 500 crystal boundaries per foot are found in high grade oxygen-free copper, with as many as 1500 crystal boundaries occurring in normal wire. The barriers formed by the crystals become another impediment to the natural flow of electrons in the wire, adding harshness and brightness to the sound as well as changing the harmonic structure drastically, altering both image precision and sound stage focus. Indeed, the crystalline barriers add distortion to the signal, making their removal extremely important if clarity and smoothness are desired

Harmonic Technology has a new method wherein a special process is used to "cast" a single crystal, eliminating the crystal barriers. Since the stress of forcing the copper slug through the cold die creates the crystal barriers upon the cool-down phase, the new patented Single Crystal (TM) wire is done at a very slow rate, thus eliminating the unwanted stress crystallization. This casting process is code-named "OCC" technology (Ohno Continuous Casting)."

After hearing about these new cables from Stu McCreary and Albert Von Schweikert, along with a handful of other guys in the industry, I immediately ordered a complete set for review. The H-T cables arrived on Saturday at 11AM, the same day Riccardo and Eunice Kron, President/ Designer of KR Enterprise amplifiers, were scheduled to visit. Now understand, I had them over the night before listening to the system. They thought the sound was from another world and gave it great praise, even admitting they never heard better. I was flattered. But, here was this cable that just arrived, what was I to do? The Kronís were due back again in one hour. However, this time theyíre coming with fellow planethifi staff writer Lew "Left Channel" Lanese. Harmonic Technology says their cable doesnít require much break in, "so what the hell," I said, pulled out the Custom House and Electra Glide cables in the system, all ofíem, and popped in the Harmonic Tech wires.

When Riccardo and Eunice finally did arrive, along with tour guide Lew "Left Channel" Lanese, I went straight to the Burmester Sampler CD--which Eunice and I got at HiFi 98 in Los Angeles and cued up track 12 entitled "Mariengesange." When the music came on, I just sat there and watched Riccardo cracked the biggest, brightest smile since knowing him. "Clement, how you make such change? This for me is ridiculous! The sound is so, so musical, so clean, so much better than yesterday. What do you do, Clement?" (Now, if it sounds like Riccardo is linguistically challenged, remember he is from Prague.)

I realized I hadnít lost my mind. Riccardo hears a difference too. To eliminate the suspense, I merely stated "I changed the cables." "Left Channel" Lanese, blurted "You must be kidding, I donít think Iíve ever heard midrange like this. That wire is absolutely incredible...whatís their number, I better check this stuff out myself." To assess the impact of his statement, please realize that Lew isnít into wire all that much. Riccardo immediately ordered a complete set of Harmonic Cables as well.

When I last spoke to Riccardo, I found heís also using it now as his reference wire. All his other expensive designer cables went back in the closet. Now, since this guy has designed the finest tubes in the world along with the finest amplifiers to grace my system-the KR 800 MK SE-his validation as to what I heard in this wire makes me believe that Iím not delusional (at least this time.)

All scientific facts aside, I must admit that this cable has brought me far closer to making my system sound like real instruments playing in my room. Quantum leaps were made when I bought Albert Von Schweikertís VR-6 loudspeaker system, since itís clarity, transparency, dynamics, and image focus are as close to live as any other speaker system Iíve heard, including $75,000 systems. (By the way, Riccardo also has purchased a set of VR-6 speakers to demonstrate his amplifiers with, since he is enamored of their very high efficiency, transparency and musicality heard in this system.) Of course, the KR Enterprises VT-800 MK SEís monoblock amps simply defy description. If these arenít among the best amps available, Iíll eat their tubes. Next, handling all the zeroís and oneís is the BiDat dac and transport by Ed Meitner; this combo is nothing short of remarkable, although is now sadly discontinued. The HRS/TDS harmonic enhancement devices I reviewed last month add to the drama, while my Z-systems RDP-1 digital EQ/preamp allows me to fine-tune the sound to my room and listening tastes. Black Diamond Products focus the system immensely, as well as add more bloom and ambiance. As for Shatki Stones and Onlines, ditto. Osiris Giza Bases and Aerial pneumatic component stands perform their "solid foundation" magic. The room itself is treated with Mike Kochman's Echo Busters, toning down reflections and greatly reducing smearing while providing "Iron Ball Chained to the Ankle" focus.

Thatís my system, so on to the cables. Jim Wang of Harmonic Technology provided me with two 1 meter Cyber-Link Silver digital cables, used from the Meitner transport directly to the Z-systems digital preamp, and out of the Z into the Meitner Dac. One 1 meter pair of Pro-Silway Silver interconnects was used out of the Meitner BiDat. The HRS/TDS combo required only one-meter Truth-Link interconnect cables (copper), while a three-meter of the same was used out of the TDS directly to the KR VT- 800 amps. Two ten foot pairs of Pro-11 Plus speaker cables (copper) were used to bi-wire the VR-6ís since Albert, itís designer, highly recommends biwiring for maximum performance. Four Pro-11 CL3 AC Power Cords were used to power the KR VT-800ís, the Meitner BiDat and the Z-system preamp. Robert Lee of Harmonic told me that only systems needing extra detail should use the Pro-Silway silver interconnects. He feels that neutral systems would benefit from the copper versions called Truth-Links, since the extra detail of the silver wire might tip the overall sound towards the treble range. (Pssst keep this a secret but Iíve found that the lower priced interconnects at $129/meter, are quite good too.)

After the Kronís left for Prague, I settled in for the weekend to evaluate these cables.

I was thrilled to be in the discovery mode, so you know I pulled out the stops, all of Ďem. Patricia Barberís Cafe Blue, for ambiance. Keith Jarrettís Live at the Bluenote, for proper tonality and quietness. Reference Recordingís Fiesta! for bass tautness, explosivensess and dynamics. But it didnít stop there: the DSD recording of "Just Jobim" for excellent piano speed and delicacy. Cyrus Chestnutís trio provided the transient attack and proper decay on his excellently recorded CD entitled Earth Stories.

First up, Cafť Blue. After a few cuts, I just sat there with my mouth agape. For the first time in my listening experience, I was experiencing cables that seemed to intensify the entire sound quality, without trade-offs. Now, we have all experienced the euphoria that comes from hearing a new product for the first time, and we all come to realize, a short while later, that there are trade-offs in most of these sonic shoot outs. Yep, new cables might have better bass, but possibly a restricted sound stage. Or maybe the cables have very smooth highs, but donít have enough detail. You know the drill. However, these Harmonic Tech single crystal wires seem to have an incredibly balanced sound overall, allowing you to hear more of everything equally. The increased sense of clarity, bass tightness, and image focus are just the beginning. These wires magically remove grain from the sound as well! Exorcised is a better word. The added presence of Patriciaís voice in my room was indisputable. Clearly more sultry, sweet and suave is the only way to describe it. The emotional content of her delivery transfixed me in my listening seat. Her voice had more character, perhaps palpability, and was locked firmly in the sounstage. Many other wires Iíve tried in the past added a slight veil to the voice, obscuring detail, by comparison. The H-T wires also made me aware that the exact location and size of voices had not been as precise previously, although I have always attributed this to CDís imperfections. Image focus in my system is now better than ever. Instruments are better focused, supplying greater detail and wider soundstage. The improved images make the musicians appear as though their standing directly in front of me. Who would have guessed that mere wire upgrade could have anything to do with image specificity?

I had been playing Cyrus Chestnutís Earth Stories cut for months, using it to fine tune my system. (thereís no harder tool than vocals and the piano) I had previously noticed a slight upper treble hardness in his piano performance. Was it in the recording? I had changed cables several times, borrowing very high dollar designer wires costing up to $35,000 (for the entire set). Although several of these brands did mitigate the upper midrange hardness on this recording, they seemed to accomplish this by rolling off the upper detail. I sensed a loss of air and life in the sound, which to me was unacceptable in my quest for the Holy Grail of Live Music In My Home. However, the Harmonic wire had cured the upper midrange hardness instantly with no burn-in, becoming even smoother and yet more transparent with each passing hour. I really could not believe what was happening: although I was hearing even more detail and harmonic richness in her voice, the edge had disappeared. However, once youíve heard this hardness eliminated (must be the reduction of the crystalline barriers), you can never go back. Instantly, upper treble hardness, glare, and ringing are replaced by harmonic richness and fullness, as if my 16/44 digital front end was magically transformed to DSD quality. Most other cables Iíve tried with smooth upper mids and top ends accomplish this by simply rolling off the high treble and air. The Harmonic Tech cables do this by eliminating the distortion and leaving only the music intact. Itís that simple! My (hard earned) Audiophile Belief System began to crack under Harmonic Techís portrayal of harmonic integrity the more I listened. Fleshed out images, seemingly from wall to wall, began to appear in rapid succession in the newly created soundspace produced by these cables. I began to hear much more inner detail, both macro and micro, the system only hinted at in all-too-familiar recordings. A first for me was the HT cables ability to make music sound both elegantly soft and delicate at once. Listening to Keith Jarretís box set Live At The Blue Note, CD 4, track 5, DeJohnnetts rhythmic foot pedal work demonstrated this unmistakably. Dispite the successive fury of low frequency notes being heard, I never lost sight or feel of the extremely delicate cymbal tones. On the other hand, Keith Jarrettís piano sounded full-bodied, and weighty, with the right amount of upper treble or plinkity sound in the piano registers. Most other cables Iíve tried allowed one or the other, but never both of these attributes simultaneously: they either mellow the notes due to a loss of upper treble harmonics, or theyíre too detailed, causing a overall thinner sound.

Clearly these cables are simply the very best Iíve heard and owned. If my words are not strong enough just read what my peers, as well as the scientist himself, Albert Von Schweikert has to say regarding Harmonic Technologyís greatest achievement to the music lover.....especially the one on a budget!

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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