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CyberLight P2A and Wave interconnects
as reviewed by Robert H. Levi
Revolutionary is the only word to describe these state-of-the-art interconnects from Harmonic Technology. This first use of fiber optics and laser technology within the audio band is a winner! Your first listen to these metal-less cables will be somewhere between startling and shocking. There are two models, CyberLight P2A for use between preamplifier and amp and CyberLight Wave for use between sources and preamplifier. They come with a wall wart power supply that's very good, but are also available with a Cyber Power Pack battery supply that powers three pairs. That is the best way to go. Even one length of CyberLight in your system will rock your world.
I can extol the virtues of these cables all day. They will conduct HDTV, internet data, telephony, and 500 channels of television around the world simultaneously, without loss or distortion, at the speed of light. Signals of gigahertz size are a piece of cake, kilohertz a walk in the park. Why hasn't someone done this before? Television and telephony long ago abandoned twisted copper and rare earth metals, yet cable manufacturers continue to tweak copper and other metals with fancy turns and coaxial designs, for what? The laws of physics are immutable. Metal has resistance, capacitance, inductance, RFI, EMI, and just plain loss. Fiber doesn't.
Enter Harmonic Technology, makers of four different metal interconnects which sound very good to excellent. The inventor, Jim Wang, President of Harmonic Technology, is due our thanks and congratulations. He has invented cable that breaks the ground between components and enhances quiet and blackness. He has eliminated EMI and RFI. He has invented a cable flat from 5Hz to 30mHz. Runs may be up to 200 meters without loss. He has maximized impedance at ideal ratios. The audio signal is changed to laser light at the head of the cable and back to audio at the tail, within the cable itself. Only the battery supply is external. Plus, the cable is flexible.
How do they sound? Like you took your front-end components and placed them within your preamplifier, and took your preamplifier and placed it within your amp. End of story, but since I'm supposed to be a reviewer, I'll give you a bit more. I had only single-ended cables to work with, so I used them wherever I could, in two systems. First, I placed them between my Sony ModWright 999 and Pass X-1 preamplifier, replacing my cherished Kimber Select interconnects. I also use Acoustic Zen, SoundString Alpha, Kimber KTCG, and have recently tested the best Cardas, Crystal Cable, and Eichmann cables. None of these prepared me for what I heard. The music leapt out at me from the blackest of backgrounds, with definition exceeding that of my Stax headphones. I had no idea my Avalon Eidolons could perform so well, and this was with the wall wart power supply. I hooked up the battery pack—a rather large, ungainly affair—and presto, things got even better, with stronger dynamics and better pacing. I recommend the battery pack unconditionally if you want the best that these cables can offer.
Since my amp has balanced connections, I could not experiment with the long run in my Avalon system, so I installed the three-meter run in my SET system, between my passive preamplifier and Cary SET amp. The result was the stuff of audiophile dreams. There was music and detail to die for. Improvement was, again, substantially better than that of the best cables in the house.
I would say that the CyberLights have 50 percent more definition than my reference cables, but this could be a little conservative. I've never heard such detail without signal corruption, compression, or treble boost. Listen to Howard Hanson's Song of Democracy (Mercury Living Presence SACD 4756181), and be prepared to be thrilled. You will clearly hear the vocal parts and positioning in space. Listen to the sweep tone on track seven of the XLO Reference CD RX1000, and you'll hear another sweep tone in back of the main tone. I never heard that before. There are more violins in the violin section on the Mercury SACD of Suppe Overtures (4706382). There's more, more, more, and it's very, very, good.
Because the background is blacker than it is with other cables, depth is enhanced and ambient cues are clarified. Distortion and fuzziness, halos around instruments, fluffiness, anything that obscures depth is gone—not lower, gone. Hovanness' Mysterious Mountain on Telarc (SACD 60604) was renewed and alive. Instruments floated in space, with delicacy and detail. There was no compression at all. There is a sweeping magnificence to the music that transcends the disc, and suggests that you are attending a performance in real time. That's also true of SuperBass2 (Telarc SACD 63483), where voices from the crowd make you believe you are there—not to mention great bass.
These are the quietest cables on the planet. Colorations are reduced, and may be eliminated. Problems I attributed to software, amps, humidity, indigestion, transistors, and tubes nearly vanished. Could metal cables be that noisy and corrupting? Music is more musical—a lot more. This is not a subtle phenomenon, but a big-time improvement. Edginess and brittleness on many recordings just went away. The benefit is not one of subtraction. It's more like going from acoustic recording to electric recording. You get more sound, and it's a lot better.
The CyberLights have more output than metal cables, say 2dB or so. I turned down my preamplifier just a bit. Otherwise, they behave just like normal cables. Harmonic Technology does recommend that you use theWave between sources and preamplifier, but I tried it between the preamplifier and amp, and while it sounded exactly like the WP2A, it's best to take the manufacturer's suggestion.
I loved the highs. There was no brightness or etch at all. The CyberLights sounded so real up top that they just amazed me. They are the best interconnects I've heard at reproducing cymbals and the like. Bells and triangles are perfection. You just have to play Chick Corea's Rendevous in NY (SACD 90412), and hear that air and snap on the top end. All sense of strain is gone, and the music just floats and sings. The ringing and zing I thought inherent in the disc completely disappeared, enhancing listenability and reducing fatigue.
I have no criticisms to offer. I guess something will emerge, but nothing has so far. These cables have the best midrange definition possible in the here and now, outranking any other cable I've heard. Try Miles Davis' "So What" on Kind of Blue (Columbia SACD 64935), and glory in the trumpet of the century and Coltrane's sax. The micro- and macrodynamics are shocking. Sound pops out at you like you just bought an extra 100 watts per channel, plus the smoothness is astoundingly real. As I write this, I am listening to a Gary Burton Trio CD, and am shocked at what I'm hearing. I've listened to this disc fifty times, and it's never sounded this alive.
The bass reproduction is superb and without limit. Bass drums have more ambience and texture than ever before, with much lower distortion. It's the most realistic mid and deep bass yet. The improved definition at low frequencies is amazing. You are not going to believe what you hear when there's a drum thwack.
There is a lot of talk these days of neutrality and continuousness. The CyberLights have no equal when it comes to these virtues. The result is dramatic imaging, more pinpoint than ever before, and a sense of aliveness. Just put one length in your system's front end and be prepared for a startling improvement. Put it between amp and preamplifier and improve your front end. I was only able to put it in the front end of my Avalon system, but was stunned anyway. I wired my SET system up completely, and got perhaps 75 percent of the improvement from the front end and an extra 25 percent from the long run. The front end is the place to start.
I have often talked of cables being equalizers. They have musical and amusical properties that can fix components and rooms. The CyberLights cannot be used this way. They are so neutral that they don't seem to be in the circuit. I got fantastic results from them in both systems. The cables aren't cheap. A 1.5-meter length is $1499 and the power supply is $399 (you could use the supplied wall wart, but don't). Glory has its price. Though I recently auditioned cables costing twice as much as the CyberLights, they were not anywhere near as good. I have not heard every cable on the market, but common sense tells me that fiber optics, done right, are unbeatable. When I get the balanced CyberLights, I'll do an update to this review. Harmonic Technology is also working on an improved battery pack that won't have to be disconnected to be charged. The current one works perfectly, however, and is recommended. Inconvenience never bothered audiophile perfectionists a bit.
Harmonic Technology, a company specializing in very fine copper and silver interconnects, has eclipsed their own technology and leapfrogged into something brand new. They have opened Pandora's Box and let out the cable "laser light" genie, who will not stop until all metal cables are banished to the scrap heap of history. The CyberLight interconnects are the best I've ever heard. Just one length up front will revolutionize a great component and an added length after the preamplifier makes everything sound dramatically better. Try the CyberLights before you buy your next component. I don't care if you spent $3000 or more on your last set of cables—these will sound better. In fact, you'd better sell off those expensive beasts before your audio buddies hear about the CyberLights. If you lust after state-of-the-art sound, buy them. Robert H. Levi
We will have several more takes on these new cables in the coming months, so stay tuned - Dave Clark
P2A or Wave interconnects
Cyber Power Pack