We became fans of the Furutech GT40 some months ago. It seems to us that anyone interested in listening to high quality music from a computer would inevitably want to squeeze the maximum quality and detail from their music. This means avoiding use of the onboard DAC and taking the output to a dedicated DAC using a high quality USB cable. But since many users will want to listen using premium headphones the best way to get optimum results means also using a headphone amplifier. The Furutech GT40 makes this easy by combining both within a single unit.
The reason we rate the Furutech GT40 is that it offers a superb headphone listening experience with the minimum of clutter at a realistic price.
It is important when using the GT40 to use a high quality USB cable. We are aware that many people think that because the cable is digital it must be error free and thus all cables will sound the same. But we have performed our own audio test with digital coaxial and digital USB cables and confirmed that quality cables have a noticeably better sound that cheap ones.
The GT40 has another trick up it’s sleeve that is of great use to someone who is digitising their vinyl collection. It incorporates a high quality MM and MC cartridge input that digitises analogue audio. So it works superbly if you are ripping your vinyl collection and wanting high quality results.
What Hi-Fi must agree with us because they have awarded the GT40 the prestigious title of product of the year in the 2011 awards. A well deserved win for Furutech.
To learn more click Furutech GT40.
Connecting Kit, Films, General, hdmi, Product Reviews, technical
We recently wrote about Chord bringing out a more affordable HDMI cable, the new Chord HDMI supershield. Well they have now followed quickly with a new premium HDMI cable that replaces the Silver Plus and takes them even more upmarket with a higher price.
The new Chord Active Silver Plus has an RRP of £155.00 wheras the previous Silver Plus was £85.00. This takes the new cable into definite premium territory for the home cinema enthusiast who has high standards and is willing to pay a significant price to achieve them.
Chord HDMI Silver Plus Active
As you can see from the picture the Active has a filter built into all lengths of the cable which is designed to improve the subjective quality of audio signals transmitted by the cable. Early feedback from customers confirms this to be true. It will be interesting to see an in depth review in one of the magazines.
Click here to see the new Chord cable: Chord HDMI Silver Active Plus
Films, hdmi, Product Reviews, technical
There have always been debates about the differences that cables make and whether more expensive cables offer significant tangible benefits. In the days of analogue audio cables we have always reverted to the “trust your ears” approach. In our experience good analogue cables justify their existance by what they deliver and this is something that cannot be measured by analytical equipment.
If anything the debate over high price HDMI cables is even stronger. But it is interesting that with HDMI cables the differences are quantifiable and measurable.
The biggest problem with an HDMI cable is that when it’s bandwidth limitations are exceeded it simply stops working. This is because the receiving equipment is no longer able to accurately detect the 1′s and 0′s in the digital signal and gives up. Equipment does have error detection circuity that can detect bad data and to some extent recover the lost data but this is only effective up to a point.
Any given HDMI cable will have a maximum bandwidth or data rate that it can successfully work at. Exceed this and the cable fails to communicate. The longer the cable the lower this bandwidth is. So a 1.0M HDMI cable may be quite happy sending a 1080P video signal but a 10.0M HDMI cable of the same construction may not.
When HDMI cables are tested to see whether they work the results are presented as an “eye pattern”.
Here is an example of an eye pattern for a Wireworld Chroma 9.0M cable.
||The purple pattern shows the signal being transmitted by the cable. The red lozenge outline shows an area that this signal needs to stay out of if the digital 1′s and 0′s are to be transmited successfully. If the purple pattern crosses the red line the cable fails. Equally the further the purple pattern stays away from the red line the greater the margin of success. A cable usually fails due to the red being crossed on the left side or the lozenge rather than the right side.
This cable passes but only just. But to be fair to Wireworld it is the second least expensive HDMI cable in the range and in addition Wireworld only claim that the Chroma will handle 1080P up to 9.0M.
But what we would like to see is tangible evidence that a more expensive Wireworld HDMI cable can do better. So lets look at the Wireworld Ultraviolet HDMI.
||Here is a longer (and higher priced) 13.0M Wireworld Ultraviolet tested at the same bandwidth.
Two things are imediately apparent.
Firstly the purple pattern is much thinner showing reduced variation in the way the signal is transmitted.
But most importantly the gap between the purple pattern and red lozenge has increased considerably. So this cable could be made up to longer than 13.0M and still be expected to pass. Actually Wireworld are very cautious and only guarantee the cable will do 1080P up to 12.0M.
So the superior performance of the Ultraviolet over the Chroma can quite clearly be measured. What about the relative cost? Well a 9.0M Wireworld Chroma is £140.00 and a 9.0M Wireworld Ultraviolet is £270.00.
One other issue that should be born in mind is that over time the bandwidth that you send over your HDMI cables may increase. So for example, you may
upgarde your screen from 720P to 1080P. But equally you may only be sending video over the HDMI but then start sending both the video and audio via an AV amplifier. So you may have an HDMI cable that works (but only just) and after the change the increased bandwidth exceeds its capabilities and it fails. The message here is that it is a good idea to get a better HDMI cable than you need today to build in some contigency for future upgrades.
We are grateful to Wireworld for publishing this data. It is quite rare for manufacturers to give access to their eye patterns.
Cabling, General, hdmi, Product Reviews
Qed came up with a new speaker cable recently called Genesis Revelation. Up till now QED have been incredibly successful at the budget end of the market with Silver Anniversary and more recently Silver Anniversary XT. These are £5/ metre cables that are ideally suited to entry level hifi systems and mid level home cinema systems. They both do their job well and offer great value for money but in common with other £5/metre cables their limitations become clear quite quickly when compared on a serious system with cables costing £15 and upwards.
They make all the right sounds but lack the spine tingling illusion of reality that high end systems are capable of delivering. But then they only cost £5/metre and are not intended to be used on high end systems.
Qed Revelation has an RRP of £15/metre and typically sells for £12.75/metre. So it cost a fair bit more but is hardly in the price bracket of high end speaker cables. So how does it perform and is it good value compared to QED’s £5/metre cable?
We tried both on our main test system with components well above the quality that you would normally put a £15/M cable on:
- Resolution Audio CD player directly connected to
- 2 x Roxsan Series-1 mono blocks
- Linn Kan speakers
- Tannoy supertweeters
- Chord Indigo interconnect
- Various high-end power cables
It worth saying that when we test cables we worry little about trying to dissect the performance of the cable in terms of bass, mid-range or treble capability. We concern ourselves with:
- how well the sound creates the illusion of real instruments in the room
- how well the subtle characteristics of those instruments and how they are being played is portrayed
- whether the music is engaging and maintains our interest
Given that we usually run Chord Signature speaker cable on this system, the first impression with Silver Anniversary XT is what a credible job it does and that the end result is quite acceptable. The sound is clear, bright and dynamic and you can still hear what all the musicians and up to without straining to pick them out. But it is a bit on the boring side and comes no where near to making the spine tingle.
When the Revelation was hooked up we were genuinely surprised at the results. Judged on three criteria above the Revelation was in another league. The sound started to sound like a real bunch of musicians rather than a hifi system. And this happened across the range whether you listened to drums, bass, guitar or vocals. They all simply became more convincing and motivated you to keep listening. This is level of performance which we haven’t experienced before that this price level. It says a lot about the Revelation that when the Chord Signature went back on there was less difference between these two than between the Revelation and the XT. Considering Chord Signature is £125/M this is quite some achievement.
The Chord Signature will be staying on for everyday listening because it still does things the Revelation cannot. But if you can afford £12.75/M and buy the Revelation you can be confident it will be deliver well beyond it’s price. And in terms of whether it is worth the premium over XT? Unequivacably yes, if you can afford it and have a reasonable system then go for it.
You can buy Revelation HERE