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Reviewer: Edgar Kramer
Source Digital: Sony XA-5ES as transport; Bel Canto Design DAC 2
Preamp/Integrated: Supratek Sauvignon with NOS RCA and Sylvania tubes
Amplifier: Pass Labs X 250.5; NuForce Reference 9 monoblocks
Speakers: Wilson Audio WATT/Puppy System 6
Cables: Cerious Technologies Interconnects [in for review]); Harmonic Technology Magic Digital; Cerious Technologies digital interconnect [in for review]; Harmonic Technology Magic and Truthlink Silver; DanA Digital Reference Silver; Eichmann eXpress 6 Series 2; Bocchino Audio Morning Glory interconnect cable [in for review]; PSC Audio Pristine R30 Ribbon [on loan]; Cerious Technologies analog interconnects [in for review]) and Harmonic Technology PRO-9+ loudspeaker cables; Cerious Technologies AC cords[in for review]); Harmonic Technology Fantasy AC; Shunyata Research Diamondback power cords, Eichmann eXpress AC power cable; PSC Gold Power MKII AC cable [on loan]
Stands: Lush 4-tier, partly sand filled
Powerline conditioning: PS Audio P-300 Power Plant (digital equipment only), dedicated 20 amp circuit
Sundry accessories: Bright Star Audio IsoRock Reference 3, Bright Star Audio IsoRock 4 isolation platforms and BSA IsoNode feet; Bocchino Audio Mecado isolation diodes; Black Diamond Racing cones; Stillpoints ERS paper in strategic positions around DAC, Shakti On Lines; Densen CD demagnetizer; Auric Illuminator CD Treatment; ASC Tube Traps
Room size: 16' w x 21' d x 10'/11' h [stepped ceiling] in short wall setup, opens to adjoining office room
Review component retail: Cerious Technologies power cord $495 for 5' length; digital $495/1m; analog interconnect $750/1m/pr; loudspeaker cable $995/8'/pr
Only that in you which is me can hear what I'm saying - Baba Das
For those of you paying attention, I recently reviewed the Cerious Technologies Liquid Ceramic interconnect and loudspeaker cables. The synergy between these cables and my other components was absolute magic. It was not just their superlative sound quality that I was impressed with. Even more so, it was the emotionally charged listening experience I was left with. So impressed was I that I unreservedly awarded the Cerious Technologies interconnect and speaker cables the coveted Blue Moon award for Innovative Cable Technology under $1000 for Price-No-Object Performance.
Head mooner Srajan Ebaen shortly followed with a review pitting against each other the Cerious interconnects, the Zu Varial and the venerable benchmark from Stealth, the Indra. It made for an interesting comparison as all of these cables are considered to be innovative state of the art products from designers thinking outside the square. Srajan's findings caused quite a stir -- or should I say wholesome debate -- within the major audiophile forums. Of course that information is available on the airwaves of the worldwide web for your ingestion and digestion so I won't necessarily belabor the issues in question other than to juxtapose his findings within the context of his system with their counterparts in mine. Hooray for diversity!
Whilst the Cerious topic and my ears were still burning hot, I thought I'd better fast-track my scheduled follow-up of the full CT cable harness. So, in came the CT power cords and digital cable to join the interconnects and loudspeaker brethren. The Kramer rig was ready to roulez.
No object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly - Oscar Wilde
A development that has come to light is that a minority -- actually only about 2% of all present Cerious owners -- have encountered some noise issues in their systems. Robert Grost of Cerious Technologies is aware of this rare problem and -- as I have been advised -- has invented a fix. 6moons approached a prominent audio engineer for his expert take on one possible cause of hum in cables [which does not mean we know whether it's the pertinent one for these designs - Ed]:
"Ground currents are always present in equipment and circulate in complex patterns unique to any given arrangement of components. So long as the ground path approximates zero ohms, there is no voltage drop and therefore no noise voltage to appear at the equipment's inputs. But, add a few ohms of resistance to a cable ground and suddenly you have noise (typically AC-line-related fundamentals and harmonics) appearing. Or maybe appearing... Remember that each arrangement of equipment is unique and creates its own pattern of circulating ground currents.
Depending on the specifics and where the resistance appears in the ground path, you may or may not create audible noise. That is why a balanced cable is definitely preferred in these situations - the signal conductors can be symmetrical (and may even have high resistance) and the shield is completely separate from the signal paths."
Should you be one of the few to experience the buzz, Cerious Technologies will generously offer your money back or send you the optional shielded version instead. Can't ask for more than that! Best advice I can give you? Trial it in your system, use your ears. Every system synergizes uniquely as illustrated by the differences found between the Ebaen and Kramer rigs.
The construction ideologies and methods used on the previously described interconnect and speaker cables are again used in the digital and power stable mates. Construction has been described at length by Srajan in his comparison review and so to put it simply: Non-metallic 'micro fiber' conductors are encased in Teflon, WBT crimped and terminated to the superb Xhadow XLR or an inferior no-name RCA and suspended in a liquid ceramic insulator. The same or very similar attractive outer jackets are used for the digital cable and power cords so as to maintain the Cerious Technologies family identity and consistent cosmetic look.
In speaking to numerous Ceriousphiles, it is anecdotally evident that the Cerious cables don't like being moved after their settling-in period which some say can be as much as 3 days. I would guess this is due to the liquid ceramic insulator seeking the path of least resistance. In other words, the ceramic fills out the nooks and crannies within the tubular jacket and around the conductors, damping the whole construction as it settles into place in its natural due course. This settling-in period is required every time the cables are moved. In my previous review I wrote: "... the running-in process is a thing of the past aside for a sonically inconsequential settling-in period...". It just so happened that my earlier review and sonic assessments were conducted several days after settling-in. Phew! I made certain similar time spans were afforded to this new round of evaluations.
With the CT interconnect and speaker cable in place and settled, I first introduced only the power cords as I wanted to get a handle on the sound of one change at a time. To obtain a more accurate impression of the newly added cables, I initially visited the same recordings used in my original review, moving on to numerous other recordings only after establishing firm impressions on how the CTs performed.
I think and feel in sounds - Maurice Ravel
With the Cerious ACs in the rig, the Jack Johnson, Tom Waits and Ricky Lee Jones tracks sounded just as spectacular but with a very subtle increase in the midrange perspective. The CTs marginally fleshed out the midrange, pulling in a smidge more detail and instrumental and vocal layering. However, when I say subtle, I mean it. This was hard detective work! I found it a little difficult to discern sonic differences between the CTs and my reference AC cables. So really, that summarizes the distinctions between the Cerious power cords and my very good Harmonic Technologies Fantasy AC and the Eichmann AC.
Introducing the digital cable between my Sony transport and the superb Bel Canto DAC 2 reaped much more obvious results although the first few minutes with the CT digital cable threw me for a wobbly. So deep was the silence and so natural the music that it took a little acclimatization to become accustomed to the presentation.
Firstly, the background became scarily black hole quiet. This newfound depth of ultra quietness allowed for the serving up of a platter of micro detail and macro dynamic contrasts that made for a realistic and detailed presentation above that of any other digital cable I've used. Paradoxically, given all that extra detail and dynamics, the music sounded noticeably smoother, as if the last remnants of digital grain and hardness, minor as they may have been, were exorcised. You just don't know it 'til it's gone. There was an increased sense of ease and unforced detail to all my listening. A further upshot of the increased quietness was a truer impression of timbre to instruments, a fuller sense of harmonic content and extension. Yes, this digital cable is quite special and, dare I say it, analogue-ish.
And with the inclusion of the full Cerious cable harness in place? Ditto for all of the above. The full CT cable rig elevated my system to a level of clarity, detail, speed and dynamics hereto unattained. From orchestral to jazz to rock to blues, all music was splendidly reproduced and therefore utterly enjoyed.
Ride cymbals for example won't ever become the highlight of the presentation unlike with other cables that enhance the treble information and thrust it forward so as to render the presentation a Hi-Fisimile, a cartoon of reality. Rather, they take the correct perspective and dimensionality within the depth of the very large soundstage created by these cables. The natural and balanced perspective I describe also allows for the impression of a deeper than usual soundstage, recording permitting. The sense of stage depth however does not create a distant, overly mellow presentation but a present and immediate one. Again, layered, natural and involving.
At no stage do I feel as though detail and resolution is MIA. What I do notice is a more natural and less forced presentation of detail that blends into a holistic framework of the music being played. More music, less Hi-Fi.
One of Srajan's concerns was with the leading edge or initial micro transient attack. Interestingly, in my system I found micro transient attack to be lightning fast, with some notes possessing a jump factor that could sometimes startle. The speed of the transient however in no way deprived the notes of the harmonic content and natural decay.
With the CTs, resolution, detail, micro and macro dynamics are top-notch. The WATT/Puppies, as audiophiles well know, are ultimate resolution and detail fiends and if any component up the line is slacking off in those areas, the Wilsons will snitch on them like the proverbial prison rat.
In addition, with the Cerious cables in place, emotive transparency is increased. Unlike transparency as an audiophile description -- the Cerious has plenty of that too -- I mean it in the sense by how these cables allow emotional involvement with the music being played. Sure, listen up critically and it's all there for you, but if you prefer to just enjoy the experience and allow the senses to overtake, then the CTs can certainly deliver. After all, you don't want to morph into a reviewer, do you now?
As much as the interconnects and speaker cables significantly enhanced the sonic quality of my system, the inclusion of the AC and digital leads upped that enhancement even further. I repeat, with the full Cerious Technologies cable lineup, it's not long before critical defragmentation stops and music's grandeur embraces one's soul. This, to me, makes for a tremendously satisfying experience.
And by the way, talk about bloody good value for any money.
We would like to thank all at 6moons for the attention we have received and for helping us spread the word about Cerious Technologies and its cable products. Cerious, as a company, was founded on the concept of the real time world of the internet, and we enthusiastically support sites such as 6moons. Obviously, our products are different from the norm and radical in nature. This, inherently, will generate interest and passionate opinions, both for and against. We welcome this, for audio (in our opinion) has moved to a design goal to not offend - often at the cost of personality and soul. How many Ferraris would be sold if their goal was for the driver to get out of the car and think “Well it didn’t do anything really wrong…?”
It is amusing to think that Cerious and its products are actually controversial, spawning lively debate across the web, even across 6moons itself. It brings us joy to see passion about the product, as we have some of the most loyal customers around. Passion comes from an emotional connection, not from an induced state of sonic indifference. Music must have soul. Without it we would only have…Techno?
Thank you to Edgar for his in-depth look into our products, his stunning insights, his incredible system, his glorious prose and gift of word, and to Srajan for making us want to work even harder to earn your business. We are truly humbled by the response.
Robert L. Grost