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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 1
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walker audio

Ultimate High Definition Links

as reviewed by Dave Clark

 

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DAVE CLARK'S SYSTEM:

LOUDSPEAKERS
Reimer Speaker Systems Tetons.

ELECTRONICS
Clayton Audio M100 monoblock amplifiers. E.A.R. 834P phono stage. Blue Circle BC3000 preamp w/Tunsgram tubes, and BCG3.1 power supply.

SOURCES
EAD T1000 transport and EVS Millenium II DAC with Audient Technologies’ Tactic and Audit, and Taddeo Digital Antidote Two. Linn Axiss turntable with K9 cartridge and Basik Plus arm.

CABLES
JPS Superconductor+ and Silver Sonic Revelation interconnects, and JPS digital and NC speaker cables. Sahuaro Slipstream and Slipstream XP (digital and Taddeo), Blue Circle BC63 (preamp and phonostage), and JPS Kaptovator AC cables (amps and Stealth).

ACCESSORIES
Audio Magic Stealth Power Purifier (sources except BC3000 preamp), Blue Circle BC86 Noise Hound (amp circuit) and Audio Prism QuietLines (throughout the house). Dedicated 20 and 15 amp AC circuits with Jena Lab cyroed outlets. Tons of Shakti Stones and On-Lines, and Original Cable Jackets (frig's AC and on DSL phone line). Various Marigo VTS Dots used extensively throughout the system and room (window behind listening seat). Echo Buster acoustical treatments and Shakti Hallographs. BDR cones and board, Blue Circle Cones, DH Jumbo cones, Aurios MIBs, Vibrapods, Mondo racks and stands, and Townshend Audio 2D (speakers) and 3D Seismic Sinks (transport and preamp). Walker Audio Ultimate High Definition Links. Various hard woods placed here and there along with numerous Peter Belt treatments.

 

There are some things in audio that defy reason. Small things can cost a lot, yet big things that do much more cost about the same; or, small things that do a lot more cost less, and big (or small) things that do nothing at all cost even more, but rarely ever less. Why so? Well, sometimes it's an honest reflection of the manufacturing costs, though there are other times where it is simply a matter of what the market will bear with no regard to the real cost to manufacture. Not to suggest that people are out to rip the audio consumer off, but geesh, I know we frequently ask ourselves, “Should this or that really cost THAT much?” “It’s nothing more than a piece of plastic, metal or whatever!” "Come-on give me a break!"

Then there are the products that just make you scratch your head. We have all experienced this with cones, cables, and other doodads. You place something that looks innocent enough in your system and are shocked, first by what it does or doesn't do, and of course, then by the price. You know the drill—a set of rubber feet that costs the same as a set of new tires, yet when you place them under a component, the music goes flat as opposed to getting it down the proverbial street! Then you try a different product that uses the same idea but costs less, and whoa—your system is off to the PRAT races! This brings me to Walker Audio’s Ultimate High Definition Links. Here we have the consummate audio dangle. It doesn't look like much, is priced at a point that defies its appearance, and yet, when properly utilized, makes you sit up and listen, ignoring the number of greenbacks Walker is charging.

These things work, in spades (or greenbacks), and based on what Carol and I heard, the price—$650 a pair—is reasonable (well, more on that later). The HDLs are small devices, intended to prevent RFI and very high-frequency electronic noises (which are emitted from all electronics) from being transmitted to your loudspeakers and hence out into the room via mixed in with your music. The idea is that when the electronic glare, grain, grit, grunge, yadda, yadda is eliminated, music becomes more natural sounding. The soundstage opens up, becoming better focused and more transparent. Harmonics become cleaner and clearer, and dynamics faster and sharper, without harshness. The music emerges from a blacker background. In the end, the greatest effect is that one enjoys the music more. With HDLs, you get a sense of all of this. Simply the music reminded me of a crystal-clear stream of cool and refreshing water. Nice to wash over oneself after a day of wrangling with 30 eleven-year olds with IQs higher than a kite!

Okay, much of what the HDLs do is subtle and yes we heard what is said above, but in absolute terms the overall effect on music is not easily put into words. Smoother, cleaner, more “natural” with no loss of detail or dynamics. Okay that’s a good description, but truth is, it is more an issue of “feeling” or reacting to the music, than a clear cut list of descriptors. What I can say is that our system just sounds better with them than without. We relate better to what we are playing regardless of format—analog or digital. What you get is more music by making it easier to get into the music!

When the HDLs are fresh out of the box, you can expect a brighter, more up-front sound, but after a few days of break-in, the HDLs show their stuff. I can’t say much about system dependency, though I do see it as a potential issue. They did work here. But no doubt the HDLs will have different effects in different systems. In mine, they won hands down over the similar, yet way less expensive ($99 a pair) Enacom units I had been using to good effect. With the Enacoms, I heard less of the effect of the HDLs, plus a certain amount of dynamic compression.

All of the parts in the High Definition Links are designed and built to proprietary specifications for Walker Audio. The wiring and the spade connectors are ultra-pure silver (I had to remove the spades as these plus the spades on my speaker cables exceeded the space in my binding posts). These are rather "tweaky" things, and despite being so simple, they clearly are not just thrown together off a parts shelf. The units I had—the Ultimate Links—come with hand, no make that ear, matched parts and also benefit from cryogenics. What that means, I cannot say. I can say that where the HDLs are placed does make a difference. No laughing, now! Placing them between the speaker spades and the nut on the binding post was better than between the speaker spades and the speaker end of the posts. Carol was able to identify this point each time I moved them around. I know that this was a bit anal, but we had to find out! People would stay awake all night tossing and turning, wondering if they should be placed this way as opposed to that way. Just follow the directions and be happy—they sounded best when placed as suggested. Elsewhere, the results were less than stellar. They worked, but just not as well. Get a life. Buy a dog. Play fetch.

Naturally, the question you want an answer to is, “At $650 these are not cheap Dave and since you do not have to pay full price, are they worth the money?” "I mean, would you buy them?" Yes and no. Yes if you have deep pockets and want the ultimate. But no because for $350 you can the get the Mk II versions that get you really, really close to the Ultimate HDLs and for a lot less. This makes the Mk IIs a bargain by comparison. The Walker Audio Ultimate High Definition Links are the next step in realizing the potential of your system—not a tweak, but the next step. Highly recommended. Oh, and we bought the Ultimate HDLs. Dave Clark

 

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Ultimate HDL used with a Shakti On-Line

 

 

Ultimate High Definition Links
Retail $650 a pair

Walker Audio
TEL:
610. 666. 6087
web address: www.walkeraudio.com

 

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