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REVIEW: VH Audio Pulsar Interconnect Cable

Model: Pulsar Interconnect
Category: Cable
Suggested Retail Price: $134.99
Description: Fine wire shielded interconnect for digital, analog and video
Manufacturer URL: VH Audio
Manufacturer URL: VH Audio

Review by mdconnelly (A) on July 30, 2004 at 09:15:43
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About 4 months ago I got the itch to compare interconnects to my resident JPS ICs. I did try a couple pair I picked up on Audiogon but a) they were cheap and b) my JPS easily bested them even after a couple weeks of burnin. Fortunately, they had evaluation periods so back they went.

Listening to wire kinda makes you crazy, know what I mean? But in the search for the perfect ICs, I did accomplish three things: 1) I started critically listening to my stereo again, 2) I got the itch. You know the itch, the one that says you can't leave it alone. You have to keep digging, tinkering, learning, listening until you make it better. If you're reading this, then you've probably got it too, and 3) I learned of Chris VenHaus. While routing around AA, Audiogon and AudioCircle I noted many, *many* positive posts about Chris VenHaus @ VH Audio and his Pulsar ICs. Given their excellent price, great feedback and 60 day evaluation period, I just had to give them a try. (but like some self-deluding addict, I swore it would be my last ;-).

First let me say this about Chris VenHaus... EXCEPTIONAL CUSTOMER SERVICE - that's what I'm talkin' about! I don't know how he finds the time to run his business and babysit the likes of me, but he does an amazing job of it. No matter how often I emailed him with questions or comments, Chris was there to help.

OK, to the Pulsars. I ordered two 1 meter RCA pairs to go between CDP-preamp and preamp-amp. I'll say this, Chris warned me that a lengthy burnin period was needed. Many posts here and elsewhere said the same thing. But who listens to that drivel. I mean, hey, I just got a new toy and I want to play! I ripped open the box, plugged them in, powered things up, dropped in my favorite music, found that sweet spot ... knowing... knowing that this would be the time. THIS TIME, I would be dazzled and amazed, confident in the knowledge that I had finally stumbled across a truly magical product!

Not quite...

OK, I did actually hear a difference right from the start. Compared to my resident ICs, the top end seemed more open with a nice sense of balance and space. But, after checking out a few CDs and a bit of vinyl, I knew that magical moment wasn't happening tonight. Top end had a bit of an electronic edge and the soundstage, while plenty wide and tall, lost some of the 3rd dimension. I also felt that my resident JPS cables had a better sense of blackness behind the music. Overcoming yet another foreboding sense of audio despair, I pulled out my XLO burnin disc (thanks much to ChrisVH for great explanation of why burnin is needed). I even took a one week vacation leaving my system playing 24x7. I promised Chris no more critical listening until 200+ hours.

Two weeks later, I was ready... and so were the Pulsars. A marked improvement! Smooth yet detailed, open, neutral and balanced. Stage depth had returned and I swear my toes were tapping far more than before. The music was just more engaging. Also, after a series of cable swappings, I realized that what I had been identifying as a blacker background with my old cables was, in part, a bit of top-end rolloff. The Pulsars made it easy to hear further into the music.

While top-end glare was substantially reduced from my initial listen of the Pulsars two weeks earlier, I felt some still lingered. On a whim, I swapped out a powercord that I'd been trying on my preamp with a Shunyata Sidewinder in its stead. Whoa, that made a difference. Suddenly, there was more definition, faster transients, and a quieter background. After touching base with Chris on this, I cheerfully chalked it up to system synergy, happy that I'd found a combination that worked.

Skip on down that 60-day-evaluation-road and 500+ hours on the ICs... I gotta tell you, I am totally loving these things! Glare has fully left the room. Smooth, natural, balanced top to bottom, well defined bass, rich voices and instruments separate and distinct in space and yet all part of the same performance stage. Simply put, more music. Truthfully, I think they are highly revealing ICs that allow the strengths of my system to shine through. To confirm that, I started swapping various powercords I had around. Each and every time I could hear the effects of these changes far better than I ever could before. (Damn, I just know this is gonna get me tweaking everything).

Bottom line: Chris ain't gettin' these ICs back and I am currently burning in one of his Flavor 4 powercords. Haven't figure out just where that's going just yet, but one thing's for certain ... I'll be able to hear where it works best thanks to the Pulsars.

Product Weakness: None once fully burned in
Product Strengths: See above but IMO, the single most important strength is that they just get out of the way. Very neutral and revealing.

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Levinson 331
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): ARC SP9 (w/ref mod from Great Northern Sound)
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Wadia 830 (w/ref mod from Great Northern Sound), Kuzma Stabi S/Stogi S/Benz M2 cartridge
Speakers: Aerial 10Ts
Cables/Interconnects: VH Audio Pulsar ICs, JPS SC+ and SC2 ICs, JPS SC+ biwire speaker cable
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Lots but favorites include CDs: Here's To Ben/Jacintha (XRCD2), Companion/Patricia Barber, Girl In The Other Room/Diana Krall, Hyms of the 49th Parallel/K.D.Lang Vinyl: Winelight/Grover Washington, Jr. (Nautilus), Abraxas/Santana (Columbia), Meet Me In London/Antonio Forcione & Sabina Scuibba (Naim), Blue/Joni Mitchell
Room Size (LxWxH): 22 x 12 x 8
Time Period/Length of Audition: 60 days
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): Shunyata Hydra, Shunyata Sidewinder PC, JPS Digital and Power PCs
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: VH Audio Pulsar Interconnect Cable - mdconnelly 09:15:43 07/30/04 (1)

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