Random Noise

33

WA Supreme Cable Chips

 



I love the smell of tweaks in the morning!

Pour yourself a nice, stiff drink and settle in for a hi-fi report. Today’s object of desire – I really should say objects – are WA Supreme Cable Chips. I earlier commented on the German company’s speaker chips (here). The American distributor has followed up with cable chips I’ve applied incrementally to my speaker cables, interconnects, and power cords. What I hear them doing I’ll get to in a moment.

Meanwhile, a preface I can in no way call illuminating. I have tweaks in operation that, in my ignorance, I refer to as voodoo. These are, in the order of their appearance in the Noble Pile’s listening room, an Acoustic Revive RR-77 Schumann Resonance Generator sitting high on a book tower in a corner of the listening room; a quartet of Stein Music H2 Harmonizers along with their accompaniments of Black Stones and Blue Diamonds, also reported on; and these WA chips.

The voodoo tweaks lay claim to a commonality: quantum mechanics, which, among certain products in Audiophilia, is becoming a household word. Whatever, here in my head I set voodoo apart from accoutrements that pay the term no mind: an Acoustic Revive disc demagnetizer, an Acoustic Revive negative ion generator, three Acoustic Revive ground conditioners (a.k.a. virtual grounds), Acoustic Revive dummy plugs in vacant Oyaide duplex outlets, four wall-hung Acoustic Revive room-tuning panels, Acoustic Revive shorting plugs, and a pair of BlackNoise line conditioners, elegant Italian products NuForce (the company I work for) distributes. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. And I’m likewise sure you’ll grit your teeth if I belabor you further.

As to effectiveness, when I turn off the RR-77, or H2 Harmonizers, or remove these adhesive-backed WA pieces, the soundfield suffers. To varying degrees of listener unhappiness, it shrinks, recedes, and surrenders a bit of the texture that brings recordings to life. In order of potency, the RR-77 and Stein Music Harmonizers take precedence over the WA chips, which is only appropriate, given their heftier MSRPs.

In contrast to the voodoo goods, if I remove the three virtual grounds, the soundfield remains as is, but with a trace of grain. I should mention that the virtual grounds are connected to my NuForce Reference 18 mono amps and the Integris CDP I recently reinstated (AurumAcoustics.com).

In the way of scientifically indefensible testing, I removed the chips in reverse increments without disturbing anything else in the system. I heard evidence of the differences I mention above. Mind-blowing, no, but perceptible withal.

If you’re curious enough to part with long green, begin with the speaker chips. If you experience something akin to my good impression, try a pair of the less expensive cable chips on your speaker cables. I don’t think it matters if you apply them to the amplifier or speaker sides. (Mine are at the speakers.) If the good impressions persist, next would be the interconnects, and finally the power cords. Poco a poco el pájaro hace su nido – Little by little the bird makes its nest. (And little by little depart the bucks.)

UltraSystems.com, the US distributor, offers this statement:

“WA-Quantum GmbH is a manufacturer of high technology products. Among their products are this line of ‘Chips’ operating at a sub-atomic Quantum level, which improve the efficiency of current flow and signal transmission in audio devices including fuses, capacitors, phono cartridges and tonearms, transformers, transducers, and audio cabling.

“Special chips are also available for use with both electronic and acoustic musical instruments.

“In each case the chip is mounted on an adhesive backing which can be attached to the device. The chips are ‘programmed’ for their specified applications.”

The speaker chips are $129.95 / pair. The cable chips are $54 each or $199 for a package of five.

An extraordinary recording

A while back an attractively packaged two-CD set arrived by mail. I don’t remember requesting it, but then, my memory’s a disaster. In the event, Franz Joseph Haydn’s Die Schöpfung (The Creation) is here – to my everlasting gratitude.

On the one-to-ten scale, this release earns a nine and nine-plus. The nine: the performance is by Martin Perlman’s excellent Boston Baroque, with chorus and soloists, likewise excellent. As a New Englander by adoption, I take pride in a first-rate, Boston-based, original-instrument band. (Adieu, Yankees, go Red Sox!) As to the nine-plus: the release appears under the Linn label.
Ivor Tiefenbrun’s Glasgow-based Linn Audio staked its claim in Audiophilia with the Sondek LP12 turntable in 1973 – an icon with a long and loyal following. Having sold off my vinyl in the ’80s, I took little interest in Linn’s comings and goings but have since heard a Linn CD or two. It’s been too long a while to comment. What does require comment, indeed, what struck me as rather odd, is the Boston Baroque’s recording team: rather than a British crew, the project was engineered by Five/Four Productions, an all-American enterprise that emerged from Telarc’s dwindling embers. According to a 2009 Stereophile news item, Telarc’s Michael Bishop, Robert Friedrich, Bill McKinney and Thomas Moore, all former Telarc people, comprise Five/Four’s core.

Of the gents above identified, Thomas Moore produced The Creation, which was recorded and mixed by Robert Friedrich and mastered by Michael Bishop. The sessions took place in 2011 at Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The oratorio opens with “The Representation of Chaos,” for its time a daring tone-poem. As omens go, I knew that the overall performance promised to be remarkably good. Haydn’s Classical-period orchestra is not nearly as large or variously provisioned as a modern symphony orchestra. As compared to latter-day ensembles, these original-instrument bands, at least when recorded, tend to sound wiry.

In mouth-watering contrast, “Chaos” possesses weight and texture. Yes! This is what a superior recording is capable of sounding like! The following bass recitative with chorus reinforced the impression of a far above average production. No one listening on a good audio system could possibly ask “Where’s the beef?” Actually, the first question that came to mind was “Why is sound of this caliber the exception?”

A brief diversion

Quality resides in the message, not in the medium. Lousy-to-indifferent CDs, like lousy-to-indifferent vinyl, have everything to do with lousy-to-indifferent production values. These points – this argument – go back dog-years. A recent consideration flavors the stew. Several audio companies, including the one I work for, no longer make CD players because their suppliers have stopped making CD-only transports. The move is from tangible, in-hand media to the Internet. Even DVDs and SACDs are imperiled.

The CD’s advent foretold vinyl’s doom. This has long since proven to be wrong. You can buy a house – well, a modular – for what people pay for high-end turntables and arms, and as we all know, LPs are still being pressed. I hope that folks with large CD collections are motivation enough to keep the hardware viable. We may all have to settle for universal players when our CD-only gizmos go south. As everything does inevitably.