- About Us
Expensive digital leads are not an easy sell. We hear so often the term "bits is bits", or "noughts and ones are noughts and ones", and so on. And this is an absolute truth in one sense - nothing is going to work after all, if we don't get the data to the other end of the cable. But the conclusion that if you do get the data to the other end, the job is done, and absolutely nothing else can affect sound quality, is not true in our experience.
But let's leave the bits for a moment and consider some broader aspects of system interaction issues.
First, what about vibration in the electronics - in the transport and DAC? Well yes, most people accept that such devices are microphonic, and if you put them on acoustic supports (like the Vertex AQ Kinabalu) you are going to hear an improvement in performance. The electronics in our DACs and transport are microphonic - the actual chips, capacitors, resistors and so on in the digital transmission and digital receiver circuits, the rest of the processing circuits, the analogue circuits and all the power supplies, are microphonic. So the Vertex digital leads (like all our leads in fact) deliberately use the conductors within the lead to form a low-impedance acoustic route to an acoustic absorption labyrinth - that is what's in the boxes on the leads. This arrangement drains away acoustic energy from these sensitive circuits. Think of it this way - we know that supports make a big difference, but we also have direct access to a critical part of the circuits and the processing - through the sockets! So we are just taking another opportunity to reduce acoustic energy within the digital circuits, by using the interconnect itself.
Next, what about the effects of Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) within our digital equipment? Again if you stand back and look what we have learned from system building experience, we know digital equipment is susceptible to RFI through the mains. And also that digital equipment can pollute other parts of the systems through the mains. So the the electronics in our DACs and transports is susceptible to RFI, and again we have an extra opportunity, with the interconnect, to do something about it. So, in the HiRez digital leads, as well as having the acoustic absorption technology, we also apply a considerable amount of anti-RFI techniques to the lead. Just consider here for a moment, the Earth connection alone through the digital lead joins up the earth wiring in our separate transport and DAC (or even worse, a PC and DAC) - the noise on the Earth on one box can pollute the Earth in the other box (particularly the analogue sections of the DAC output). But put some EM absorptive tubing on the lead, and other RF suppression techniques like we do in the boxes, and you massively reduce the levels of interference in the Earth circuits of both boxes. Take that logic even further, what about USB with its +5V supply line, sharing noise between the power supplies in both boxes - again we reduce that noise with our absorptive techniques.
With regard to RFI and EMI effects by the way, the audio world seems strangely blind to these problems, but just google some OEMs, such as 'Vivid Inc' or 'arc-tech', and you will see a vast array of anti RFI and EMI products that are used absolutely everywhere in defence, telecoms, digital camera design, automotive industries and so-on.
The result of all this is that the digital and analogue circuits at either end of the lead get to work in a much quieter environment, both in terms of vibration and electrical noise, and any opportunity for one box to feed pollution to another is significantly reduced. The result is quite simply a big improvement in performance.
Oh, and of course, we still make sure the bits get to the other end of the lead safely!
Here is an extract from a customer testimonial, describing his experiences with a pair of long HiRez illimani digital leads feeding data from a transport, direct to a pair of active digital Meridian speakers.
'By Friday night, things were much better. By Sunday night I was thinking this had been a very good way of spending money. Biggest change is that there's a gorgeous, completely natural 'thereness' in voices now. It's completely, utterly un-digital and its what my ears have been craving ever since I got into serious hi-fi. At first it feels like something is missing, as the sound is so un-forced - as if the cables have rolled off the top end. Turns out the opposite is the case - there is oodles more detail, but its not about previously quiet detail being louder - more about new bits of the music being there.
That's the bit I really love, but there are other good things. Timing has gone from crap to sublime - very bouncy and infectious now, and the imaging is back on form and more. There is much more space and sense of the place where the music is being played. Reverb, notes holding on. Soundstage is up higher, wider, deeper etc. Bass is deeper, more tuneful and, I think, a bit stronger, but bouncier at the same time. And there's a big improvement in how the system plays the difference between quiet and loud. This crept up on me, but its fundamental when you spot it. Piano is so much more expressive, vibrato in voices is so clear and lovely now. There's more scale now from the dynamics - nothing to do with soundstage, the sound is just bigger, as if the speakers can now play with scale and really go very quickly from delicate and gentle, to big wallop. Reviewers call this dynamics, but the music just sounds more real and there to me.'
See more of this and other testimonials here.