Glen Wagenknecht
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: Audio Space CDP 8A CD Player
Wyred 4 Sound Music Server
DACs: Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2, Grant Fidelity Tube DAC 11, Ideon Ayazi
Preamplifier: Audio Space Reference 2S, Tortuga Audio LDR6 Passive
Amplifier:Bel Canto 200.4 Tapping TP22
AV Receiver: Pioneer Elite SC-25
Main Speakers: Apogee Duetta Signature, Paradigm Servo 15 subwoofer
Audio Space AS-3/5A, Mark Daniel Maximus Mini Monitor
Rack: Codia Acoustic Design Stage 3000 BAB
Stands: Charisma Audio Function,Target
AV Speakers: JohnBlue M3s Axiom M22 v3s, VP160 & QS8s
AV Subwoofer: Paradigm PW-2200
Desktop Audio Speakers: Swans M200 MkIII
Desktop DAC/Pre Headphone Amp: DA&T U-2
Cables: Arkana Physical Research Loom, Audio Art SE and Classic cable looms, JPS Labs Ultraconductor 2 speaker cables, Madison Audio Lab E3 Extreme 1 Interconnects/Extreme 2 speaker cables, Signal Cable Silver Reference interconnects and speaker cables, digital optical and coax cable, Audio Sensibility Impact SE balanced interconnects, Statement S/PDIF and Impact USB digital cables, DH Lab Power Plus AC cable.
Resonance Control: KAT Audio Terminator 1 Feet, Solid Tech Feet, EquaRack Footers, Weizhi Precision Gold Glory footers, Boston Audio TuneBlock2 footers, Audio Exklusiv Silent Plugs, Audio Exklusiv d.C.d. Base and d.C.d. Footers, Superspikes, CA Electronics Standard Cones, Feet, Cable Clamps, Isoacoustics L8R130, Aperta and L8R200 SUB speaker stands
Powerline conditioning: Exact Power EP15A, Noise Destroyer power filtration
USB conditioners: Ideon 3R Renaissance
Accessories: TrueHarmonix Black Magic CD mat, Herbie's Super Black Hole CD mat
Main Room size: 12' x 17'
Home Theatre: 10.5' x 16.5'
Review Component Retail: $339/499 Canadian for 6' Perfect Ground/Ultimate Ground

Grounds for a friendship?
Whilst making the rounds of my local high-end dealers, I stopped by Toronto Home of the Audiophile. Although I was chiefly interested in listening to some of their high-ticket setups, owner Francis Chung persuaded me to stay a little longer and check out a new support cable from GutWire named 'The Perfect Ground'. There followed a listening session comprised of insertion and removal of the product in both single and paired cable configurations. The results were intriguing enough to pique my interest. When the prospect of a review arose, out went the e-mails and shortly thereafter the Perfect Ground and the slightly more expensive Ultimate Ground arrived. GutWire are a Canadian company whose efforts centre around an extensive cable lineup as well as power conditioners and a vibration control device. Since 1999, owners Herbert Wong and Alex Yeung have established a solid reputation for quality product across a wide range of price points and their efforts have garnered universally positive press. They use the more traditional retail sales model with some limited Internet direct availability and have pretty much worldwide distribution through an extensive dealer network. Their foray into the universe of grounding cables marks a unique and different methodology from what has been offered before. The relatively low cost of entry has the potential to open the field to a much broader range of audiophiles.

The big question for the vast majority will be, why would anyone need or want a grounding cable? Arguments against it are simple. The power cord should take care of that. If you don't have hum, there's no grounding problem. Right? Unfortunately the answer is wrong. The truth is surprisingly nasty. If you explore grounding in the most fundamental electrical terms, the rather shocking discovery is that that the average dwelling is poorly grounded. Your practical application is almost invariably done to minimal standards and misconceptions on how things should versus how they do work—by both consumer and audio manufacturer—means there's a very deep rabbit hole of wrong assumptions with, unfortunately, quite audible consequences. There's a wealth of detailed documentation but I'll give you a simplification. From a layman's standpoint, the issue comes down to noise. In the 1970s, the situation may have been relatively inconsequential but this is now the age of wireless communication. Satellite, microwave, cell phones, wireless television, Internet and streaming are the electrically charged reality. RFI and EMI wind up contaminating both analog and digital signal paths and corrupted information gets processed and amplified in the chain. From the onset, the accuracy of our system has been compromised literally from the ground up. The best your system can achieve is to be faithfully wrong. The recognition of the problem in recent years has led to some extremely effective solutions. Grounding boxes in passive or active form have emerged to garner universal praise but price wise, were aimed at more privileged tiers out of reach for the average audiophile. The fine folks at GutWire closely examined what was out there in terms of pros and cons and carefully developed their own alternate approach. They wanted to match or better established choices but hit squarely at a price which the average music lover would consider. Lofty goals. They prompted a quick chat with GutWire's Herbert Wong.

Q: How did the grounding problem get missed for so long?
A: I wouldn't say it has been missed. We've just assumed that power cables took care of the problem
Q: How does your grounding cable work and why is it necessary?
A: Our ground cable provides the shortest path to ground from the circuit board. Why do you need extra grounding when the ground already exists between your equipment and the wall? If you open up the chassis of any equipment, you'll notice that the circuit board ground may not be directly connected to the ground of the IEC inlet. Our ground cable directly grounds circuit board to earth ground. It drains away any noise the circuit board may have.