I have to confess that I waited to write this article until we published the review of the ultra-high-end Gauder Berlina RC9. Why? First of all, I wanted to show you the level of resolution we are talking about, and secondly, as a point of reference. But for what reason? To make it absolutely clear, once and for all, that each, and I mean each, element of your audio gear, whether it be a cable, an amplifier, a source or a loudspeaker, does not add anything to the sound, nor does it improve anything, but only degrades and hides information, so it reduces the amount of information going forward. And the whole game of Hi-Fi and High-End is nothing less than a game of minimizing this loss. Putting this in layman’s terms, audiophiles are not trying to achieve the best sound in their systems, but to achieve the least degradation. Madness and heresy, you say? Not really. If we take the non-amplified human voice as the master, or alternatively, the “virgin” live sound of instruments, and then take into account the complication of the recording and post-production processes and finally reproduction in our secluded rooms, then often, if I may use a culinary analogy, from a beautiful piece of Kobe meat the end user only receives a meatloaf or mince of unknown origin. And, at this moment, the question is – what do you want? A steak from the happiest, daily-massaged Wagyu cows, or, to put it more simply, meat-like products? If you are looking for the former, then I will attempt to treat you with something similarly refined, but if you prefer the latter, then I wish you a nice day and, I will confess, you should not waste your time reading further.
Returning for a moment to the Berlinas, it is all about the diamond tweeter and midrange driver used, which are characterized by such resolution and holography, that only after hearing them, do we realize how many details, nuances and reverbs escape our ears on a daily basis. You can hear more and better, and with an intensity that can even surprise a seasoned music lover. But I will immediately warn you that you cannot hear more than is recorded on the carrier, as this is physically impossible. And we are talking about the €100,000 price level here. Fortunately, audio is not an extreme sport, and if you do not feel brave enough to participate in the Scottish Celtman! (one of the most difficult triathlons), you can proceed in small steps, which still leads us to our desired summit. And talking of small steps, then the country which seems unreachable in this aspect is, of course, Japan, the country from which our tested cables came – the USB HFU2 and Ethernet HFLC under the Fidata name – a brand name from I-O Data.
There is one thing I should mention at the beginning – Fidata is not a group of Voodoo followers and shamans, living far away from civilization, mining copper, silver and other raw materials only at the full moon or during an eclipse. They are not reinventing the wheel, they are not announcing that the wood they use is not a conductor (as one cable manufacturer once claimed). Here, we are dealing with a very down-to-earth group of engineers, who are designing peripherals, including items such as external computer drives, where nothing new can be imagined; everything must work as specified in terms of data correctness and reliability. This is the reason why each cable is accompanied not only with a warranty card, but also with a report from its final test, including the exact time and date of the test. This is Swiss, er, pardon me, Japanese precision at its best.
However, this is just a minor point about the product, which presents itself modestly, but still elegant. Minimalist white boxes somewhat resembling boxes of exquisite chocolates, but instead of chocolates, inside we discover the abovementioned cables, resting on a blue velvet cloth. In addition, those cables are so common looking that we might think that they are some kind of demo cables from a pre-production run, which will be fitted into a fancy looking braid coil later on. But this is the pragmatic and clearly engineering point of view of the Japanese at work – a cotton, or any other material for that matter, sheath does not influence the measurable parameters of the cables, so there is no reason to use it. On the other hand, the confectioned plugs, used by Fidata, are true audiophile golden jewelry, and the carcasses of the USB plugs are massive aluminum cylinders, giving protection not only from vibration, but also from all kinds of “noise”, due to a slit in their sides. The Ethernet plugs are the gold plated and shielded MFP8 RJ45 connectors from Telegartner.
When we talk about a deeper vivisection, then the HFU2 is made from four bundles of seven conductors of silver coated OFC copper, where the two bundles designed to transfer data are separately shielded, and the two bundles dedicated to transferring power also has its own shield. And it has a 24 AWG diameter. The HFLC is based on four pairs of shielded conductors made from silver plated OFC copper, the whole is additionally shielded and has a diameter of 26 AWG.
But leaving aside the insides of the Japanese cables, in my experience and from common sense, I must tell you that a much more important aspect, which has an impact on the final effect, is not the usage of a certain component, raw material or circuit, but how it was applied and implemented. So how did the Fidata team handle that?
Before moving on to that part, I should just mention that the listening session was identical to that for a similar set of cables provided by Audiomica Laboratory, the Anort & Pebble Consequence, and again, similar to the Anort from Audiomica, the HFLC in the last part of the tests connected the reference CD/SACD Accuphase DP-950/DC-950 and the Avantgarde Trio supported by Short Basshorns, which were the end element of the audio setup.
Now, both Japanese cables, and regardless of the point of application, were surprisingly unanimous in doing one thing – they ensured that everything was not only audibly better, but there was also more of everything. And, additionally, this effect was absolutely comparable to the one described by me while testing the “diamond” Gauder RC9. So the increase in the amount of information came not from it being magically duplicated, but from the unclogging of an existing bottleneck. The Fidata interconnects not only worked exactly like the German speakers, but also worked like the Japanese power cord Furutech DPS-4, named “pink candy” by us. I mean the incredible proximity of the resolution offered by them to that offered on the carrier – what was really recorded there. Without guessing, interpolation, artificial enhancement and without any attempt to cover possible errors.
Do you understand what I am saying? If not, then please allow me to use a photography analogy by calling upon a technology often used, especially in product photography, called HDR (High Dynamic Range), which means enhanced dynamics, extended tonal balance of a given photo, made from multiple exposures of the same frame. This makes it possible to approximate the spectrum of visibility of the human eye. And, as in photography, this takes time, not mentioning the abilities of the photographer, as both of the Fidata cables bring the information hidden in the shadows and in the light to the fore, immediately. We plug them into the system, we play a recording we think we know by heart, so nothing should surprise us and … we are surprised. It appears that until now, we were just scratching the surface of the vast deep, without any possibility of looking down there. It is like having an opinion of snorkelling and diving based only on the experience gained in the cold and shallow Baltic sea, and then suddenly being able to swim in the much more comfortable, at least in terms of water transparency, coral reefs of the Red Sea. If you have not experienced any such thing, then please believe me if you wish, the effect is similar to experiencing the difference between tasting a black pudding and caviar served on toast.
However, the improvement, or rather we should talk about the quality jump, is not only about the amount of micro-details present in the reproduced recordings and in the precision of their imaging, but also in the attention of how the acoustics are reproduced, the space contained in the different recordings. It is enough to mention that the, beloved by me, Scandinavian reference, the minimalist “Tartini secondo natura” by the trio Sigurd Imsen, Tormod Dalen, Hans Knut Sveen, the fairytale-like “Kristin Lavransdatter” by Arild Andersen, or, to bring some balance, something much more “sunny”, “Monteverdi: A Trace of Grace” by Michel Godard. We are using a small chapel, an artificially created three dimensional sound stage, changing from piece to piece, and an old Cistercian abbey. All those recordings are completely different, but you cannot clearly decide which one is the best, and the Fidata cables do not judge , they “just” show us all of the information contained there. Now you can enjoy the decays right up to the end … the slow smooth fading of the final notes among the nooks and crannies of the ceiling, the chemistry felt between the musicians and the whole magic aura are present when all of the jigsaw pieces fit together perfectly. At the same time, please do not worry that the tested pair, or just one of those cables, will reveal the eventual masked vocal or technical shortcomings of a less refined repertoire. As I mentioned earlier, those cables absolutely do not evaluate, even less stigmatize , so you should not fear reaching for mainstream items such as “Sweetener” by Ariana Grande, as after listening you can only think philosophically why this fine performer is losing her evident talent for such recordings.
So how do the HFU2 and HFLC Fidata sound? If I respond to this question by saying that they do not – then, on the one hand, I will put you in dismay, and on the other hand, I will not be telling the truth. The truth is that, for sure, they have some kind of character, and they have a company signature, but the case is that these are the least audible wires I have ever come across. Irrespective of whether you think that this is an asset or a liability, I will leave it for you to decide. But if on the way to absolute perfection, you have chosen the way of eliminating unwanted elements that might mask the sound of the source material instead of coloring them, then please listen to the Fidata cables in your system, because I can confidently claim that you will not return them to the distributor.
System used in this test:
– CD/DAC: Ayon CD-35 (Preamp + Signature)
– Network player: Lenovo Z70-80 i7/16GB RAM/240GB SSD + JRiver Media Center 22 + TIDAL HiFi + JPLA; Lumin U1 Mini
– All’in’One: Naim Uniti Nova
– Digital sources selector: Audio Authority 1177
– Turntable: Kuzma Stabi S + Kuzma Stogi + Shelter 201
– Phonostage: Tellurium Q Iridium MM/MC Phono Pre Amp
– Power amplifier: Bryston 4B³
– Loudspeakers: Gauder Akustik Arcona 80 + spike extenders
– IC RCA: Tellurium Q Silver Diamond
– IC XLR: LessLoss Anchorwave; Organic Audio; Amare Musica
– Digital IC: Fadel art DigiLitz; Harmonic Technology Cyberlink Copper; Apogee Wyde Eye; Monster Cable Interlink LightSpeed 200
– USB cables: Wireworld Starlight; Goldenote Firenze Silver; Audiomica Laboratory Pebble Consequence USB
– Speaker cables: Signal Projects Hydra
– Power cables: Furutech FP-3TS762 / FI-28R / FI-E38R; Organic Audio Power; Acoustic Zen Gargantua II; Furutech Nanoflux Power NCF
– Power distribution board: Furutech e-TP60ER + Furutech FP-3TS762 / Fi-50 NCF(R) /FI-50M NCF(R)
– Wall power socket: Furutech FT-SWS(R)
– Anti-vibration platform: Franc Audio Accessories Wood Block Slim Platform
– Ethernet cables: Neyton CAT7+; Audiomica Laboratory Anort Consequence
– Table: Rogoz Audio 4SM3
– Accessories: Sevenrods Dust-caps; Furutech CF-080 Damping Ring; Albat Revolution Loudspeaker Chips
Distributor: Moje Audio
HFU2: 1 499 PLN/1m, 1 649 PLN/2m, 1 799 PLN/3m
HFLC: 3 799 PLN/1,5m, 4 899 PLN/3m , 11 399 PLN/10m