Harmonic Technology Power Cords

Jim Merod

3 January 1999

I HAVE HAD FOUR WEEKS or so to evaluate interconnects and power cords from Harmonic Technology. One thing has emerged with full clarity as I have tested them in a variety of domestic and "on location" field activities. They are among the best available at any price.

After a three-day break-in period, I took a 1.5 meter balanced run of Harmonic Technology "Truth Link" out onto a recording date. It served as the connection between my mixing console and an Apogee 500e A/D converter that, in turn, connects directly to a Sony "Super Bit Mapping" DAT deck. In this configuration, the Apogee supplants the Sony "SBM" process - which is a surprisingly useful and decent internal digital signal shaping process in its own right. The Apogee was linked to the Sony PCM 3600 with a 0.5 meter of Wire World AES/EBU digital cable (itself a splendid cable, about which I will say much more in the future).

I used a Harmonic Technology power cord on the SONY DAT deck and another on the mixing console. This live recording session of an acoustic jazz trio (piano, bass, and drums) featured extraordinary musicians and extraordinary instruments. The sound of the well-tuned Steinway was charming with just a touch of upper-end brightness . . . but not so much that one could not control it with the right microphone and placement. The one-hundred and eighty year old bass on the date has a "spring" and lower-spectrum authority that captures your ear. Both the sensitivity of the percussionist and his very "musical" drumkit added nuances of accent and color that deserve to be captured accurately.

Since I am very familiar with the tube microphones that captured the piano and the bass, as well as the dynamic cardiod microphone that fully met its percussion challenge - and since I am familiar with the musicians who made glorious mischief the evening that I first put the Harmonic Technology gear into play - the variables (including room acoustics) were minimal.

This is the first of what will surely be further writing by this writer on the remarkable Harmonic Technology gear. Thus, I will get to the heart of my observations. That first evening's live recording session, in tandem with many hours of listening subsequently (in the studio and, again, out on field "location" recordings elsewhere), convinces me that Harmonic Technology power cords open up the dynamic range of whatever recording electronics they feed. I have discovered superior "punch" in music captured with these power cords hooked up at important places in the signal path.

In order to verify that, I swapped cables in the midst of a recording session and later listened to compare the difference between music recorded with Harmonic Technology cords and without. The first substitution, with generic power cords, revealed a significant collapse of sound stage depth and transient length. The next replacement, with relatively expensive power cords, created a slight (but undismissable) hardness and haze to the entire sound field. The expensive cord created a more dynamically engaging recording than the one with a cheap over-the-counter Brand X power cord. And both of these recordings are quite appealing on the own merits. The diminishment of depth and the brittleness that appear with those cords would not be easily perceived unless you had, as a reference to illuminate the depreciation, a power cord as revealing as the Harmonic Technology truly is. I can imagine some instances of recording -- in very reflective acoustic spaces, for example -- where someone may prefer not to use a cord that is as dynamically alive as is this one.

By no means have I done an exhaustive swap-out to determine the full gamut of differences available among the wide-range of high-end cords. There are other cords on the market that are quite good. Cost is not an accurate correlation with their sonic results (alas!). But, within the scope of this comparison, the Harmonic Technology power cords stand out in ways that are not subtle. The difference is vivid.

It is always hard to find words adequate to summarize sonic differences. If one were to choose a number, perhaps something on the order of 5% greater resolution of signal transients and small sonic details has emerged in the comparative listening I have done here. That is not a huge difference, but it is significant. The contrast I am alluding to is startling not merely because it is vivid upon hearing it, but because the delicacy and detail of information that is enhanced by added dynamic quickness lends a greater degree of relaxation to music captured on tape when these cords are support the signal path.

As I allow Harmonic Technology power cords to continue their work out in the field, I will also gather more information about their interconnects at work on the other side of the sound chain - the reproduction of recorded music. I am clear about this already. The balanced interconnect that I have used to link my mixing board with the Apogee A/D converter is in no way a disappointment. In fact, it seems to carry many of the same qualities -- signal clarity and transient delicacy - at work with Harmonic Technology power cords.

Discoveries at this level of micro-signal capture are curious because they are extremely subtle and almost wholly elusive. They are, equally, difficult to determine with full confidence because the labor of duplicating exact conditions for comparison can in themselves be daunting. And, on occasion, virtually impossible. Nonetheless, I have great admiration for this pair of power cords. These now constant companions of my field recording work are very good indeed. My inclination, based on limited but positive experience with them, is to believe that the balanced and unbalanced interconnects from Harmonic Technology are also candidates for best-within-their-class.

The pleasure of working closely with sound is finding gear like these pieces crafted by Harmonic Technology. It allows one to record with deeper insight and results. It allows us all to hear that depth and beauty more perfectly.