By David Hicks
Although the turnout for Rick Schultz’ presentation of his High Fidelity Cables was not as robust as usual for a SFAS event, that was a loss only to those who didn’t make the show. And what a show it was.
Rick Schultz, owner and founder of High Fidelity Cables came to Leslie’s Audio Science Center in Orinda on Saturday September 26th 2015 and brought with him all that was needed to explain the science behind his products. Mostly. There were cables. There were magnets. There were copper tubes, and cathode ray tubes. There were warnings about the danger of magnets to one’s credit cards ($$$). There was a dry erase board that became filled with diagrams of electrons and magnetic fields. There was even some talk of quantum physics. Parallel universes were mentioned. And there was Rick summing it all up and relating it all to the technology that went into his cables and the patents granted regarding said technology. Mostly.
No one really understands exactly how magnetism works – but what is known is that electrons respond to magnets. Electrons have a negative magnetic charge that is attracted to a positive electrical charge, and repelled by a negative electrical charge. In a way, electrons are tiny magnets, probably due to the electron’s spin, though in truth, no one really knows how magnetism works. You can look this up.
What we do know, is that magnetism exists and it has a relationship to electrons. Explaining how this attraction and repulsion works can get you a lot of “we don’t knowisms.” We had a bit of that from Rick. That’s all well and good, but how does that relate to music in your stereo? Well, the flow of electrons makes up the power that runs your electronics and drives your speakers. According to Rick, using magnets on the interconnects, speaker cables and power cords helps organize the electrons in those wires such that they take more direct paths to their destinations. You should go and check out the High Fidelity Cables web site (http://www.highfidelitycables.com/), there are some cool videos there, and an explanation or two that might give you a sense of what Rick tried to explain. I say tried, because even if you had a doctorate in magnetic engineering, it wouldn’t be easy. And though Rick doesn’t have such a degree, he does hold patents on the technology used in his cables and power conditioners. The problem was, we only had a couple of hours to cover everything known, and everything that’s not known about Magnetic Conduction.
I actually remember meeting Rick a few years ago at CAS. He was displaying cables with magnets. He wasn’t giving out a hard sell, or giving much in the way of a detailed explanation of how the magnets made his cables better than anyone else’s cables, he just let myself and other visitors in the room listen to the cables through whatever the system was that they were attached to, and he casually mentioned that whoever reviewed the cables ended up buying them. Fair enough, but you know how audio shows are. Sometimes great equipment sounds great, but you don’t know how something might sound in your own system, and sometimes room acoustics or other limiting factors don’t give you a clear idea of a product’s potential impact.
Personally, I have long thought that interconnects and power cords can make a difference in how a stereo system can sound. Some people don’t believe this (some I talked to after this event still don’t believe this), but I’ve been to cable demos and heard the differences, though I’d previously thought the differences were system dependent. Some cables might brighten up your system, other might provide better bass, it all depended on system synergy and what kind of sound you wanted to achieve. After hearing and seeing Rick’s demonstration at Leslie’s, I’m convinced that his cables should improve the quality of sound in any system. I say this partly based on Rick’s explanation and demonstration of electron management, but also because of the improvement in the sound emanating from Leslie’s speakers. Her system had never sounded this good before. That the improved sound quality was due to just the insertion of over ten thousand dollars of High Fidelity Cables products is something I can’t actually attest to though, as Rick also brought along a prototype of his solid state magnetically enhanced amplifier (suggested retail price is around $60,000), so it’s possible that much of the improvement was due to the change in amplification? You won’t find the amplifier listed on Rick’s web site yet, but the list prices for the equipment at the top of his line, may, like a magnet, damage (or blow up) your credit card:
$8,900 for a 1 meter pair of RCA interconnects or a 1 meter phono cable.
$20,900 for a 1 meter power cord.
$12,900 for a 1 meter pair of speaker cable.
And the power conditioner comes in at $16,900 for eight outlets.
There were a couple of interesting things that Rick said during the demo about AB-ing his equipment against competitor’s gear. One was the standard required break in time. Most manufacturers say that their cables take time to break in. What Rick said along with that was that the benefits in sound quality after breaking in his cables could remain for one to four hours after removing his cables, so that if you swapped in another brand of cables after removing his cables you wouldn’t be able to notice the decrease in sound quality for some time, making A/B comparisons difficult.
After the event, Leslie purchased Rick’s reference level cables (as has Alón) and she says that inserting other brands now sound like dirt. This would seem to contradict Rick’s statement, but again, Rick’s prior claim that whoever revues his cables ends up buying them seems to hold true.
So, did you miss the magnetic magic show featuring High Fidelity Cable products? If so, you also missed Leslie’s outstanding Pumpkin Curry Chicken. It was so good I asked for the recipe. Rick’s cables were so good I may ask for some to demo. I came prepared to be unimpressed, and was surprised to find I was most impressed. Then again, I’ve always loved a good magic show.
If you haven’t heard the High Fidelity Cables before, I think you need to come to the next event at Leslie’s in Orinda and check them out. Rick is offering SFAS members a generous discount on his products, as well as an in-home trial so you can experience them in your own system.