Jim Wang, president of Harmonic Technology Cable Company called a few weeks ago. He explained that his company had been hard at work designing prototypes and testing as well as listening to them over a period of time. He felt that they are completely ready now and have started full production. He used an analogy about young car buyers looking to purchase a new vehicle. I forget his exact words, but it was akin to, "well, they really want a new 5 series BMW, but will settle for the Mini Cooper for now". The BMW company is happy to make a sale, any sale in reality, and when the young person can afford his heart's desire, hopefully brand loyalty will kick in and help complete a more expensive sale someday in the not too distant future. I could guess where he was headed but I was ultimately surprised because Harmonic Technology's best and most expensive products are typically a fraction of the price of most of their competitors. Yet they are extremely competitive with the best of them.
I really have wondered how they can do that but simply don't know. My guess, pure guess as nobody has ever given me a hint is as follows. Their bare copper wires features a patented single crystal technology. Briefly, the innumerable tiny particles (crystals) are much larger than the norm. As a result, in a given length of wire there are thousands, if not millions, of fewer crystal interfaces or contacts which evidently affects the signal transmission by the wire. I believe Hitachi had a similar technology called long crystal. In any event, they have this unique type of wire going for them and then they very possibly use mainly time tested cable construction techniques rather than a great deal of research and experimentation to keep those extra costs down.
Anyway, I was certain that the main pitch or promotion of these new products was toward home theater use. "Not so" Jim replied. "They are for fine performance anywhere and for any purpose with essentially any equipment in any price range". I've heard remarks such as that many times over the years from many people. More often than not they are the result of wishful thinking. Still having trouble completely believing him, I asked him to send quantities and lengths for my modest home theater system, (you call that a home theater system, I'm asked at times) basically a work in process - a slow process it seems. That turned out to be a bit of a mistake. I had not heeded Jim Wang's comments. He had reason to be boastful of his new products.
These new products are the Harmony Link Interconnects, available single ended (RCA plugs) or balanced (XLR) for an additional $16. The cost for the one-meter length of a stereo pair is only $79, that includes locking RCA type plugs! If that is not a bargain price, I don't know what is. These interconnects have a very classy appearance as far as I am concerned. I have trouble describing the overall color; somehow it seems to be almost a cross between an off white and silvery. Classy, neutral and unobtrusive enough to blend in with white or off-white walls or base boards or very light carpeting.
This is a good place to mention some identical things and some complementary things before I specifically talk about the new speaker cables. The new loudspeaker cables (Harmony Wave) look exactly like the Harmony Link Interconnects! Neat idea, and certainly not common in my experience. I can certainly see where in some home theater installations that have various cables and wires at least partially exposed, for all of them to visually match would be more esthetically pleasing. These match and are esthetically pleasing, identically so. The complementary items are the audible sound quality of both. The background for all of these things is home theater and specifically home theater for HT's president. Seems as though problems arose using their top-of-the-line speaker cables in his new to him home. The cables did not want to make it through small openings and around sharp bends, etcetera. Since we all know that "necessity is the mother of invention", so these new products were invented/designed.
Now home theater installations can go more smoothly and quickly and the jacket of the speaker cable is code compliant UL/CL-3 grade PVC and can be used for in-wall or through-wall applications in most states. Because of the physical limitations imposed on the loudspeaker cables, slight audible or performance limitations probably resulted. Therefore the interconnect development project (Harmony Link) had to be particularly good to mate well or complement the Harmony Wave Speaker Cable. They are designed to be used together! That is exactly how I reviewed and listened to them. At one point I did substitute HT's outstanding Pro Silway Mk II interconnects at only one position, between the CD player and the preamplifier and not between the preamplifier and power amplifiers. In that short time period, casually listening, I was not made aware of any lack of compatibility.
The Harmony Wave Speaker Cable also uses HT's well-known single crystal copper wires as does their other speaker cables. Termination choices are spades or regular banana plugs. It is available in bi-wire for $10 additional; regular mono wiring is $129 for an 8-foot pair. Visually matching Harmony Link Interconnect and designed to be used together there is not much I can tell you about it separately. Given the heft of the loudspeaker cable as well as its relatively narrow diameter would lead most traditionalists to believe it might have a relatively lean or tight bass range, which I did not try to check out independently.
The third new item received from Harmonic Technology was their Harmony Rainbow Multi-Channel cables. That is designed for use with multi-channel DVD, SACD or CD players and home theater processors. The unit I received consists of six individual cables, each one extremely clearly and plainly colored red, black, blue, green, yellow and white. It would be almost impossible to mix up or misidentify these colored cables. The RCA connectors are also plainly colored, are not the locking type, but are very good ones. Except for about ten to twelve inches at both ends, the remainder of the individual cables are tightly and neatly covered by a tight fitting black mesh. The overall size was smaller than I would have guessed, about the size of a man's middle finger. The development of this product was in response to demand for less cable clutter in, around and behind home theater components. Because of the greater demands in the video arena with high definition video, these copper cables are coated with high purity silver. So all is clear to you, this unit would replace three pairs of interconnect cables for a cost of $310 for a 1-meter length.
Editor Steven R. Rochlin asks his writers to always try to give our readers comparisons with competing products when reviewing cable products. However that wouldn't work out very well in this case for two reasons. First, my present resemblance of a home theater is a mixture of various cabling and interconnects from different sources. The new Harmonic Technology products are designed as a complementary package not to be really compared one on one. The HT products are superior overall to everything presently in my home theater system (which is a very moderately priced collection). Secondly, the interconnects and loudspeaker cabling in my main system cost at least a dozen times as much as the Harmonic Link/Harmony Wave duo. That is where I wound up doing most of the listening with this outstanding bargain priced duo. I should also mention, as I did in the Musical Fidelity review, the MF system resided in my bedroom for many days and nights while burning in. The last few days of that time were with the new HT products being reviewed. That system with those old Siefert speakers has never sounded better. At least some of the credit goes to HT's bargain priced interconnect and speaker cables.
Keep in mind that I had been intensely listening to CD players for comparative evaluation for days right up to and including the first hour after inserting HT's new duo into my main system. They replaced outstandingly good and expensive interconnects and cables. Another slight disadvantage of the use of the Harmonic Technology's bargain priced line in my main system was that I had Jim Wang send lengths appropriate for my home theater system. Therefore the one meter length interconnect was replaced by a three meter length of Harmony Link. As you probably know, substantially longer lengths of most cables tend to slightly emphasize unique or less than ideal properties of the cables a bit of a handicap for HT here. Fortunately I did not have to use the thirty-two foot length of the Harmony Wave speaker cable, which was meant for the home theater setup for the surround speakers. What a handicap that would have been.
I again used recordings that I had been using almost constantly for days previously. Their sound was almost etched into my sometimes failing memory banks. There were time stretches when I was unaware of any obvious changes!
On Telarc's Iberia [SACD 60574] there was very little change in the character of the bass drum. Either the tuning of the drum, hall influences or microphone placement was responsible. Sometimes the deep bass range was affected to a noticeable extent and other times not. It was only noticeable to someone intimately familiar with the particular recording. There were times that I felt that a tiny bit of high frequency response/detail might be missing and minutes later convinced that was not true. Once in awhile the sensation of a bit of congestion in the lower mid-range was apparent in very loud passages; then that sensation might disappear in an even louder passage. The slightly lean sensation in certain passages was the most commonly heard change noted.
An interesting final "test" that I gave Harmonic Technology's bargain duo of Harmony Link and Harmony Wave was to pull out a "showpiece" recording that I had not listened to in a long time. In other words, its sound quality was not etched into my memory. I picked out the RCA High Performance series recording of the Bizet/Shchedin Carmen Ballet, [09026-63308-2]. I listened intently. I listened again. What a superb performance I thought and what excellent sound quality. HT's new duo had done nothing in any way or manner to diminish my listening pleasure. All this from products designed mainly for the usually less demanding home theater market and at a bargain price. In the value rating, the number 100+ would have to be used.