Author: Karsten Hein
Category: Gear & Review
The HBS4 is the final contender in our range of solid core silver cables. These interconnects are all based on the same base cable, using a 4N solid core silver conductor that is surrounded by a high-purity copper mesh shielding, a circumstance that leaves the audible differences between the range of interconnects to the choice of plug termination. And, since this is the point where most readers will grunt in disbelief and turn on their heels, all we can do is ask those skeptics to leave quietly and begin our next paragraph without them.
To those who are still reading, it will be important to know that material transitions, differences of mass ratios in the signal path, and the general layout of the plugs have a marked influence on how electricity travels through them, thus creating a signature that is specific to this cable and plug combination. If you have set your HiFi system up well, i.e. in keeping with some of the items listed in the High Fidelity section of this blog, your system should be able to highlight the difference between cables to you in a swift A-B comparison.
The HSB4 was added to the list at a later stage and therefore has a higher number, although it probably deserves a greater priority than this. The plugs are manufactured by Elecaudio on a tellurium-copper basis and have been silver plated. Since the cable itself is made of silver and copper, these plugs make good sense in combination with the cable in terms of minimising material transitions. On my vintage equipment, the Elecaudio plugs are a little too tight and need to be pressed on quite firmly, even if the outer barrel is turned back. Later, in taking them off, I even needed to use a knife edge as lever. Other than these minor mechanical issues, I have no complaints about this interconnect.
Running mostly non-gold-plated vintage equipment, I love the fact that the plugs are silver rather than gold-plated. This has the advantage of reducing material transitions. And, while the HSB4 has all the sonic merits of a silver solid core cable: crystal clear treble, superb transients, a sweet and compelling midrange, musical authority, and thunderously deep bass when needed, it does not emphasise a particular spectrum, as some of the other contenders in this range do. Depending on the setup of your system this may or may not be an advantage, but it is definitely good to know.
Your own choice of cable will most likely depend on the requirements of your current setup and your budget. The HBPS, for instance, costs more than twice as much as the HBS2, but if your system has the potential for it, and if you enjoy being entertained, the KLEI Absolute Harmony plugs make the HBPS engaging on a level that the other configurations simply cannot reach. For less revealing systems, the HBS2 can bring that extra momentum into the music, perhaps at the cost of lessening some of the lower end of the spectrum.
The HBS1 on the other hand will serve well in places where your music sounded a little thin and where a slight dampening of the treble is to be desired. All considered, the HBS4 is perhaps the most neutral of the range. It plays all frequencies well and provides sufficient detail in the music, however, it does not reach so deeply into each recording. In direct comparison with the HBPS you would notice the difference and perhaps feel that you are missing something, but in longer listening sessions, the HBS4 might just be more pleasant to listen to, because too much detail can be exhausting.
In our own setup, we are running the HBS4 between our preamplifier and power amplifier with very positive results. On the same system, we are running a HBPS from the CD player to the pre-amp. This is an amazing combination in many ways and has since made many a listener wonder in disbelief. When paired with a turntable, the low capacitance of all cables can serve as a low-pass filter. This can be fixed with an additional capacitor but is something to keep in mind and, at this time, the reason for us running a higher apacitance FastAudio Black Science cable from the turntable to our preamplifier, instead of introducing yet another low capacitance silver cable.