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First Listen: High Fidelity CT-1 Interconnects

When Rick Schultz of High Fidelity Cables sent me a bunch of his new interconnects, I have to confess, I was pretty psyched -- bespoke kit is always fun. And believe me, the CT-1 interconnect is very pretty. I like pretty. Pretty is good. Obviously, if your philosophy holds that cables can't make a difference, then the $1,600/pair entry fee will not make any sense. Feel free to skip to the next post as I'm not going to argue this here -- I already did that over here. Anyway, if you do happen to be in the market for wire that looks as good as it sounds -- well, hello there. How you doin'?

So, aside from the thin, semi-flexible silver-white cable itself, there’s this giant metal barrel connector. It was the first thing I saw. The thing is elegantly shaped, but huge, shiny and mirrored — and looks not a little bit like a rifle round. Or maybe an exotic tranquilizer dart. I think maybe I’ve been watching too much TV. Hmm.

Little metal rings, either of silver or brass, let you keep track of which channel you plugged it into. The whole has the finely crafted feel of jewelry. The casings are a substantial, comfortable weight in your hand — but, that said, the cable has a robust and workably light feel to it. A set of these is not going to tip your component over, but when clamped in place, it has the best grip I’ve ever even heard of. Not that I’d recommend it, but the cables grip your terminals so snugly, I suspect that you could use the cables to swing the component around your head like a lasso. Okay, no, not really but the are snug and no that’s not a joke — the connection is incredibly firm. Have a care removing them or you’ll take a terminal right off of your connected gear — ask me how I know. Whoops. My bad! Anyway, their gripping system is called “PinLock”, which makes a sort of sense, and the goal is to “improve signal transfer and help overcome the weakest link in the audio system — the mechanical connection where the signal must migrate from the female sleeve to the male pin of the RCA.” Yeah, I think they pretty much nailed this.

Obviously, there’s more going on than pretty looks. Which is good, because it’s not like we’re shallow or anything. As if we could be swayed just by a pretty face. As if, pshaw.

The main technology that these cables bring to the table is actually pretty simple: they’re magnetized. More specifically, the conductor is magnetized. Magnetizing actually alters structure, and in this case, what they’re saying is that this is a good thing as signal transfer (more specifically, electron transfer) is enhanced. The result of this magnetically “optimized” path, according to the High Fidelity Cables folks, is that you get a measurably lower signal loss than is otherwise possible. Look — I’m not an physicist, so I can’t vouch for the beneficial impact of magnetism, or it’s lack, but I should note that it also means that they’ll yank dust right out the air. Given the absurdly high-level of fit and finish on those connectors — which are big, heavy, and gorgeous — you’ll notice the dust. You’ll be tempted to wipe them off before use — don’t. The connectors are coated with a contact-enhancer, so grab that can of compressed air if you find your connectors getting fuzzy.

I should note that I do not have any matching speaker cables from High Fidelity, so apples to apples comparisons (i.e., end-to-end) were impossible, and any final impressions will have to defer until that point. But I do feel confident in saying this — the interconnects are excellent. They’re natural, fast, extended and carry a deep tonality that equals my reference cables in every way. Run-in seems to help, but it isn’t necessary to hear most of what they’ll bring to the table.

Last note — they’re single-ended only at this point, but I seem to recall Rick mentioning that balanced cables were being looked at. Speaker cables are also on the way from the team, hitting the market perhaps as early as this month, though the official launch will most likely be CES.

More soon ….

9 Comments on First Listen: High Fidelity CT-1 Interconnects

  1. I have no doubt as to what you are hearing PTA but that can be said of hundreds of ICs that don’t employ some sort of magnetic-voodoo nonsense. Rick Schultz, bless his heart, is no scientist and whatever “discoveries” he can claim are serendipitous at best. If you look his videos up on youtube this will become immediately apparent. His original company folded when he decided to test the ultra expensive PC waters and apparently failed to move product. Now he reappears under a different company name and is hawking yet another version of cable snake oil. Caveat emptor ladies and gentlemen, caveat emptor..

    • Part-Time Audiophile // December 12, 2012 at 7:29 PM //

      Let’s keep it civil ….

      And as for the voodoo, that’s hard to judge and harsh to say. There is significant disagreement on what makes a cable good, and what various improvements actually accomplish — or fail to. I’m not interested in back-dooring yet another go-around between the so-called Objectivist and Subjectivist camps.

      Is it voodoo? I have no idea. I think that if structure matters, processes that alter structure are viable candidates for audible contribution. Cryo treatments, high-voltage blowouts, or simple magnetism — all purportedly alter structure. Will that be the contributing factor that improves the performance of a given component? Will it be a contributing factor? Seems moot to me.

  2. Gavin is right, that’s pure snake oil. Not to say it can’t be a nice sounding interconnect, but “magnetizing the conductor” didn’t make it sound any better. Or warrant any more expense than a similarly constructed cable.

    • Part-Time Audiophile // December 12, 2012 at 7:30 PM //

      I think the come-back to that is: “says you”. Again, if structure matters, processes that alter structure are viable candidates for audible contribution. Cryo treatments, high-voltage blowouts, or simple magnetism — all purportedly alter structure. Will that be the contributing factor that improves the performance of a given component? Will it be a contributing factor? Seems moot to me.

  3. “Magnetizing actually alters structure, and in this case, that’s a good thing — the idea is that signal transfer (more specifically, electron transfer) — is enhanced”.

    Kidding right? This is utter nonsense.

    • Part-Time Audiophile // December 12, 2012 at 4:07 PM //

      I’ve actually read about a couple of different companies, Synergistic Research for example, that use some kind of process to alter the electrical properties of the cable. HFC uses magnets. SRT uses insanely high voltage. Both, arguably, change the structure of the conductors. Whether or not this helps, or is responsible for any audible contribution, is beyond my pay grade. All I can tell you is that the cables are quiet (and helped me lower my noise floor — they’re shielded and my references are not), easy to use, look great, and the system sounds great with them in.

  4. Would you buy a cable from this guy? Not me pal..

  5. Kemper Holt // December 12, 2012 at 11:22 AM //

    It’s snowing on your site.

    • dave smith // December 12, 2012 at 3:50 PM //

      as good as the CT-1’s are, and they are great, their more expensive CT-1E brothers are much better.i am not sure what the previous poster is trying to say in his rather obscure post but it is obvious by the post that he has not tried Rick’s cables..it’s so easy to be an ‘arm chair quarterback’….i am sure when you next post your opinion of the CT-1s, after they break in some, that your findings will only get better.

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