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This review first appeared in the September 2007 issue of and can be read in its original German version here. It is herewith translated and presented to an English-only audience through a mutual syndication arrangement with whereby they will translate and publish select reviews of ours while we reciprocate with one or two of theirs each month. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end auto-links to his e-mail should you have questions or feedback you wish to send. All images contained in this review are the property of - Ed.

Reviewer: Ralph Werner
Source: audiolab 8000CD
DAC: Benchmark DAC1, East Sound CD-E5 SE-PV [on review]
Amplification: Dussun V8i, Jungson JA88 D
Loudspeaker: Zu Druid mk4, Volent Paragon VL2 [on review]
Cabling: Interconnects - fis BF Studioline, Funk BS-2, van den Hul Integration Hybrid, Zaolla Reinsilber NF; loudspeaker cables Fast Audio Compact M6, Ixos 6006 Gamma, Zu Audio Libtec
Review component retail: €36 Ultimate fuse (AC) incl. mount (€21 for fuse); €16 Ultimate fuse (component); €99 Noise Destroyer

Pimp your AC
Some of this HiFi voodoo mixture of pedantry, occultism and salesman's tricks really ticks me off. I dislike being peddled obscurities under the guise of a Zen Roshi's benign blessings. A few years ago, I was looking to protect my parquet flooring plus woo sonic gains for my spike-equipped Dynaudio Audience 80s. Monsignor dealer presented me with a strange gizmo which for all I knew looked like the lowest end of a brass candle stick. It would absorb and cancel resonance. "Fine," I recovered, "but at €80 per, you're suggesting about 1/3rd the worth of the speakers I wish to support..." This instantly prompted the suggestive grin that moi, le
petit novice, was clueless. Well, let's borrow his crap then and get down to it. Since a building supply sat between dealer and home, I dropped in to pick up two concrete walkway tiles, very substantial thingies but only €2,45 each. Boy was I ready for a shoot-out...

Fortunes smiled on me indeed and the concrete tiles crushed the Eso footers (and they see duty even today). Needless to say, I didn't pass up the opportunity to inform the dealer point for point on how my solution beat his. His placid protest of creating a "resonance jam" was parried and annihilated with my "yeah, but it works for me". How sweet vengeance can be.

Today, I view hifi tweaks with less rancor. Some work, others don't. And that's all she said. Plus, different turns for different tunes. The audio interface is far too complex to allow predictive diagnostics. Borrow and listen -- that shouldn't be a problem most of the time -- and then acquire. Or not. If the tweak tanks, at least you've spent a few hours with your system. That's a good thing.

This by way of segueing into luxo fuses and a line filter from Berlin's HiFi Tuning firm: Ultimate pure silver component fuses; Ultimate pure silver power distribution fuses (for your home's fuse box); and a Noise Destroyer.

My imagination admittedly failed to conjure up plausible audible effects on the subject of fuses. After shoving their lame asses through miles of wire to finally wrangle the ancient house wiring from basement to upper story, perhaps electrons are boosted and revitalized by the sight of a few centimeters of pure fine silver? Possibly - though that reeks of voodoo rather than Physics. Yet it is quasi established that quality hookup wiring improves the sonics of components. Why not fuses
then? They do contain wire after all. But the power distribution box? We're told that contact resistance drops and with it, impedance. Ahoi. How about the preceding 500 kilometers? Bah, enough of Doubting Thomases. Some of this stuff works, others is smelly shit. On to truth and consequence then...

The installation in your home's fuse box is best left to an electrician since treble airiness gets blocked six feet under. Even the component fuses can entail deliberation. What if your piece gives up its ghost a month later and your dealer informs you that removing the cover voided the warranty? Having a dealer install the fuses could be the smart thing despite the hassle. It's not even certain you'll readily find the mains fuse on your own. (If you're determined, be sure to disconnect from the wall and allow capacitor banks to discharge.)

I wasn't amused by the dextral skills involved with my home's fuse box since I had to also
wire an additional outlet into the Noise Destroyer. Replacing the fuse on the audiolab 8000cd meanwhile was child's play and readily accessible. (Why five fuses is another subject.) Dussun's integrated involved some sleuthing to find the darn thing while the pro roots of Benchmark's DAC-1 meant external fuse bay integrated with the IEC power inlet, fuse values kindly silk-screened on the enclosure. Yeah!

While I couldn't buy the whole theory on fuse audibility, I now could clap my actual ears on perhaps a handful of nuances. Nuances? Wrong, my whole system sounded better, faster and more accurate across the line. Forget isolated qualities as beneficiaries such as much improved dynamics but everything else untouched. Shockingly, all aspects took the same small forward step which added up to an appreciable advance. True, dynamics gained and transients won energy. But inter-note separation improved as well and a rapidly plucked bass seemed simultaneously faster and darker without sacrificing definition. That was clearly way up my alley and much appreciated.

I know, you're thinking "Impossible, gimme a break!" I thought the same and rushed back and forth to the bloody mains box swapping out fuses. The fact remains that Nik Bärtsch's Ronin Modul 27 had more rebound and seemed faster while also less bright when the fuses were installed. I'm clueless as to why but there it was. The component fuses pointed in the same direction, effects greater on the amp than source. Here too all sonic aspects advanced a tick and the composite performance became more authentic and fresher.

The pure silver fuses by Herr Ahne, the man behind HiFi Tuning, are pretty trick little sticks: To improve resonant behavior, the body is ceramic rather than glass. The end caps are silver layered with copper and gold, the intermediate copper purportedly preventing interactions between silver and gold. The actual wire is raw silver even for the slo-blow variants (they are usually silver clad at best), a world exclusive according to a proud Herr Ahne.

Since tweakers never tire, it wasn't lost on him that competing products use a sand filler to suppress resonances further. Since thermal behavior of his pure silver wire didn't
make sand ideal, a resonance specialist was called in who initially added micro glass spheres which turned out to be a production nightmare. This gave eventual way to dressing the silver lead in a Polyoelefin tube whereby future Ultimate fuses will wear a mini jacket inside.

"Which they'll sorely need" I chuckled in view of their -196ºC cryogenic immersion bath, a popular process in the US said to stabilize materials on the molecular level. Since even conductive qualities can be so improved, certain audio makers have applied cryogenics to cables, valves, connectors and such even though these applications in Germany remain in their infancy. Alas, Herr Ahne seems poised to jump-start the process, having invested in a rather voluminous cryo tank himself to warrant a different dress code for his new Ultimates in the future...

(Incidentally, whoever wishes to send his cable loom to the Arctic can contact HiFi Tuning for a fair charge.)

Which brings us to the Noise Destroyer, a parallel filter said to shunt HF distortion in the AC wiring without dulling dynamics. HiFi Tuning recommends that the first filter be installed directly at your electrical counter where the majority of distortions will be handily addressed. Subsequent filters may not be necessary, otherwise additional ones can be employed on an outlet multiplier or adjacent to a noise source.

To identify such sources, HiFi Tuning developed the Noise Detector, a gizmo which modulates the noise to make it audible as hum or surf. Once a noise fiend is pinned, there are two solutions: Out of the chain or, in parallel, in with the killer. This is so effective that I cried foul at first: Detector into the outlet multiplier, gain cranked - terrible noise. Killer inserted, silence. "No way," thought I. This game had to be rigged like a bad Carnival stand.

Was I in for a surprise when I removed the filter to search for dirty culprits. I honed in on a light dimmer but the noise persisted. The printer? Bingo. The noise diminished to not completely eliminated but a lot lower. Now I heard voices though. Radio voices. Seems my AC wiring doubles neatly as a radio antenna. The return of the killer meant a return to silence. (Sadly, the detector is not commercially available, merely on loan to dealers to optimize installations.)

What does the little black box sound like? It doesn't, at least not in a dynamically detrimental way. Dynamics are as they were before, no less, no more. But something's up: The background is calmer and blacker, enhancing the contrast of individual sounds. There's less grating, less nervousness on strings, less outline blur on instruments. Sounds become more dimensionally tactile. Beyond improved 3D-ness, the depth perception increases and virtual space grows backwards.

Needless to say, the exact effect and degree will vary with AC and
system. My colleague Jörg didn't experience improved depth but his more tacit dimensionality was similar to mine, with sounds better differentiated, less clumped together. Again: borrow, experiment - and buy, perhaps. As for me, these are keepers.

Out with the old calculator: The mains fuse including mount is €36, add five component fuses for source and amplification and another €80. The noise killer clocks in at €99 for a grand total of €215. What else would net such improvements for so modest a sum? A good speaker cable? Perhaps but depending on your rig, this might barely buy you a mono lead. Room acoustics? More gains for sure but two close-out corner traps won't get you far - and more money you haven't got to spend. Hmm, I come up short on options. Considering the sonic improvements, the money HiFi Tuning charges for its products (especially the fuses) seems more than fair, even cheap considering certain criminal crap which litters this sector.

Hey, just four lousy Eso footers cost more for crying out loud...
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