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REVIEW: Mad Scientist Audio Heretical Digital Cable (HDC) Cable

Model: Heretical Digital Cable (HDC)
Category: Cable
Suggested Retail Price: $169
Description: Digital SPDIF carbon fiber cable, 1 meter, with KLE Copper Harmony connectors
Manufacturer URL: Mad Scientist Audio
Model Picture: View

Review by paco on December 18, 2016 at 00:53:54
IP Address: 31.221.222.39
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for the Heretical Digital Cable (HDC)


This is not the only manufacturer using carbon fiber for audio cables; Van den Hul, Audioquest, and Xindac make some models as well. So the "heretical" name do not come from the materials: it comes from the fact that the impedance of their digital SPDIF cables do not have 75 ohms (the present, untouchable "dogma"); its "characteristic impedance", a technical concept, is 37 ohms, because of the sort of carbon fiber and the construction techniques used, hence the "heresy".

According to Bob Prangell, the designer and manufacturer, this is not a problem to get good results: it seems that the nature of carbon fiber used makes the probable "reflections", which take place during the digital transmission, to be somehow absorbed very quickly by that fiber, so making them unable to harm the quality of the sound (please see their website for full details).

What about the sound of this cable? Well, I started using SPDIF cables when I decided to try some USB/SPDIF convertor, since I was not satisfied with my USB only sound. Once I recently bought my present Breeze Audio XMOS U8 I immediately noticed a big improvement in realism, dynamics, soundstage size (especially depth) and low level detail, so I thought a good SPDIF cable should help me to get still more improvements.

I started using an entry level Inakustik copper and I did the break in of the convertor with this cable. After about 200 hours I replaced it by a Audioquest Forest (copper), to get little improvement; I even thought the Inakustik might sound better, so I returned the Audioquest. Then I ordered an Oyaide DST-75R V2, highest quality copper with silver/rhodium connectors. It was better than my former attempts, but at the end I was dissapointed with the overall sound: especially not enough warmness, detail nor convincig soundstage, so I returned it too.

Then after some research on the AA and other internet resources, I decided to build a better one myself. My choice was the Oyaide FTVS-510, solid silver plus multiple screenings; after some thought I was for the KLE copper harmony connectors. My first reaction was a clear wow! what a dynamics, bass, soundstage and detail!! The only con was some listening fatigue caused by a little on my face general sound. Unfortunately, after a good burn in, that overall character didn't change much. Still a great cable, especially for jazz, pop and rock, but not so much for classical music.

In the meantime I was reading about the Mad Scientist cables and was curious about their coax cables, so I ordered the one reviewed here. At first I was a little dissapointed as well, because I didn't have any wow reaction, but Bob Prangell told me to relax and give it time to little by little discover its high sonic qualities, so I did it. After about 150 hours I started serious critical listening sessions, in comparison with the Oyaide solid silver.

My results: the HDC clearly beats the Oyaide in most sonic parameters: more musicality, realism, warmness, and no less soundstage size, allowing you very long listening sessions without any listening fatigue. Also, the emotions of the music are very well conveyed by the HDC, and not so much by the Oyaide. The Oyaide may beat the HDC only because it has a little better dynamics and bass, though at a price, as I said. Also apparently, only apparently, the Oyaide has a little better transparency and detail, but if you listen carefully this impression is only superficial because the HDC sounds more organic, which is indeed much better.

Finally, I decided to compare it with some Toslink cables. A plastic one I had around sounded smoother, but rather flat and uninteresting. A glass one (Profigold) sounded much better than the plastic. At first I even thought it might beat the HDC, but I was wrong again, a little taken by some superficial qualities: organic, but with little detail, presence and less body; good soundstage, but not so deep as the HDC: still a little flat; good overall sound, but not conveying the emotion of the music in so clear, delicate way as the HDC.

So, the HDC is very highly recommended!! I wonder how good the HDC+ may sound!... :)

Disclaimer: my results have to be regarded as always depending upon my ears and musical taste, on my system and room, and for my favourite music.


Product Weakness: could have a little better integration of upper bass and midrange
Product Strengths: musicality, presence, realism, no listening fatigue, conveys very well the emotions of the music


Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: included in the speakers (2 each)
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): included on the DAC
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Breeze Audio USB/SPDIF convertor, then M2tech Young DSD DAC
Speakers: Focal CMS 65, active
Cables/Interconnects: various DIY (see below system link)
Music Used (Genre/Selections): all genres
Time Period/Length of Audition: 3 weeks
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner
Your System (if other than home audition): http://cgi.audioasylum.com/systems/521.html




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Topic - REVIEW: Mad Scientist Audio Heretical Digital Cable (HDC) Cable - paco 00:53:53 12/18/16 (1)

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