I don't have any yet (ordering soon) but in conversations with Chris, think these will be excellent cables.
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Chris sent me a 1.5 digital interconnect for my evaluation and review. I had him ship them directly to Sean, who already received them and is giving them a special 30 day burn-in on two different cable cookers. When I get them I will write a review. By then I should have my belt drive transport back from Modwright.
I've been using his Pulsar ICs for over a month now. Although I only have about 75 hours on them, from the start I couldn't believe the clarity of these wires. Like most of us, I did the IC & speaker cable carousel using brands like Audience and Acoustic Zen. I then tried several "low cost/high performance" cables seen advertised and talked about on Agon with a 30 day return plan. The instant I hooked up the Pulsars, I knew it was what I wanted. Although the other cables I tried were good, I couldn't distinguish between them very much. I'd pull my wife in for a sanity check while I jumped around behind the equipment swapping wires. The first 5 seconds of the first track with the Pulsars, we both knew the clarity was clearly better than any of the others. I'm also using his star-quad bulk wire for speaker cables. Additionally to the product, Chris is a pleasure to do business with.
I have recently added cryo'd VHAudio AC power cords to my DVI DVD player and my 300U front projector and immediately noticed a nice improvement in the video picture. I have to say I had never tried upgrading power cords and was dubious, but now I am glad I did. I would imagine his audio cables are just as good. Any other cables I upgrade will come from the same source, I don't feel the need to shop around.
I just received a pair of PULSAR IC's and a PULSAR digital cable from Chris VenHaus. While I have had them in my system for less than one day, I was immediately impressed with increased dynamics and very clean sound, this running from my CDP directly into my amp.
A longer length of IC's, run from my preamp to amp, is making its way via UPS. I'll be sure to post some additional impressions when I have Chris's IC's throughout my system.
Here is a follow-up on my Pulsar interconnects, posted on Audio Circle. I thought you might be interested.
"I swapped out my Audience Conductor IC's for Chris VanHaus (VH Audio) Pulsars about two weeks ago. A 1M pair between my Pioneer PD-65 and Eastern Electric MiniMax tube preamp and a 4M pair between my MiniMax and modified DNA solid state amp.
I was impressed enough with the initial results that I put my Audience cables up for sale on Audiogon immediately.
Since then, I have replace my 2M Audience Conductor bi-wire speaker cable with a run of Chris's star quad cable. This cable has 4 conductors of 12 AWG multi-stranded bare copper, twisted in a star quad geometry. This arrangement provides a total equivalent of a 9 AWG (pretty thick but you can bend it slightly). Chris has the cable cyrogenically treated by American Cryogenics.
I thought the "grunge" in my system was gone before inserting the Pulsars. Well the Pulsar IC's and VH Audio star quad wire has brought a whole new level of clarity to my system. I don't have a cable cooker, so I am planning to put at least 100 hours on the cables before posting any formal reviews.
I will be doing some A-B comparisons with IC offerings from Gregg Straley (DIY) and Aural Thrills, after the Pulsars bested the Audience Conductors by a significant margin."
Roger, I have the exact same s/u as you with the Pulsar ICs and Starquad wire from Chris (see my system). I A/B compared these wires with many wires you mentioned and Chris' came out on top for me. I'm curious to see what you conclude. I terminated the Starquad with some Fututech Rhodium spades from Chris, high quality stuff. I'm glad to hear from other folks, like you who have found similar performance in VH Audio products. For me right now, I'm thrilled with the performance of these cables and the support I get from Chris.
I'm impressed with the Pulsars. They look simple and elegant and flexible. The quality is there and I prefer the connectors over the locking metal ones. Nice and snug and no messing around with tightening them. I will not rehash what has already been said and I am completely satisfied with the Pulsars.
I'd be curious to see what Driver thinks of these cables now that he's probably had them a while. Personally, i think that they are a great buy. You can read some of my further comments here as posted over at AA's Cable Asylum. As i've mentioned before, my thoughts are that interconnects are more system dependent than speaker cables. As such, results and opinions are bound to vary. If they didn't, the item being discussed must be the best that money can buy : ) Sean
Hi Sean-well, a few things have changed in the system, most notably I went back to an active balanced pre (kept the Ayre), so put the passive away. I just hooked up the Pulsar's in addition to the XLR's & listened on another input w/o having to disconnect anything, although I have plans for the Pulsar's in the not too distant future.
Offhand I would say the Pulsar's compare very favorably with my Silver Ref cables that cost almost 5 times the amount and the biggest difference I hear might be due to the balanced circuitry utilized by the Silver Refs. I didn't perform long term listening tests but started out going back & forth with a few songs from different CD's then played the entire CD. The Silver Ref had a tad bit more imaging precision & slightly bigger soundstage, along with somewhat better bass response but I've done this before with other SE vs. XLR cables & the XLR always win, as I'm running a fully balanced system. I have done the XLR/SE comparison with the exact same cables, so I'm confident in the systems ability in regards to its balanced operation vs. SE.
When I had the Pulsar's hooked to the passive, it was a different sound, as I not only changed both sets of IC's but the pre itself, so I couldn't really ascertain where the biggest change came from.
As for deciding on keeping a cable, if I like it, I'll use it somewhere & I'm definitely keeping the Pulsar's. My future projects include a TT I'm rebuilding, which should be ready by the end of the summer & there's also a DAC in the future, so the Pulsar's will either go the way of the phono or digital link.
As for the Pulsar itself, it has a very good over all balanced characteristic, which is smooth yet detailed in the upper freqs/mids. It is a well made & good sounding IC & reaching back into my memory, it has the smoothness of the Truthlink, which I really liked, except the Truthlink was rolled off on top, whereas the Pulsar is not rolled off at all. I've found cables that are smooth on top usually sacrifice the extension & conversely, those that have the extension tend to be brighter, which incidentally, I can't take. The Pulsar strikes a very good balance here & I feel like they could do well in a variety of applications. With the extreme top end smoothness, the nod goes to the Pulsar over the Silver Ref & I can only guess it's because of my long term bias against silver in favor of copper, although the Silver Ref. is the only Silver cable I've owned that has stayed in my system for more than a month. When you factor in the price, the Pulsar becomes an even better deal.
I have the balanced Pulsars who the Rhodium Furutech xlr connectors. Below are my thoughts that I posted on Audio Circle (here is the whole thread: http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/viewtopic.php?t=11486&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0) .
BTW, I did extensive comparisons of the Argent Audio Jaden Signatures (model below the Pursangs that I compared the Pulsars to) vs. the AZ Silver Ref I and II.
All my comments are in direct comparison to the Argent Audio Pursang (my reference ic's)
Here is the system:
VMPS RM 40s w/ FST, TRT caps, and Analysis Plus wire
Jeff Rowland 201 Mono Blocks (Flavor 4 - gold option)
Electrocompaniet EC 4.7 Balanced preamp (Argent Audio Brujo power cord)
Electrocompaniet ECD-1 DAC (Sonoran Plateau)
Empirical Audio modified Sony S-7700 (transport only)
Argent Audio Pursang digital ic
BPT 3.5 Signature Power Conditioner
Argent Audio Pursang speaker cable on mid/treble
Sonoran Plateau speaker cable on woofers
I used the following music:
Rusted Root When I Woke (bongos, drums, gourds, layered vocals, male vocals, soundstage (l/r and f/b)
Ben Harper Fight for Your Mind (male vocals, acoustic guitar, cymbals, percussion)
Tori Amos Boys for Pele (female vocals, piano, harpsichord)
Harry Connick Jr. She (male vocals, piano, percussion, stand up bass)
Here are some notes I took as I listened. Reading back through them, I see consistency throughout the various cds.
Drum Trip This is an instrumental track that is mostly percussion with some background vocals
With the Pulsars the drums had more drive and slam than the Pursang. When a snare drum is hit, you feel the whack and its aftershock. The Pursang is more delicate and refined in its presentation. I can hear more small or low level details with the Pursang (all though not by much). The Pulsar does a very good job of separating out the various instruments and not getting confused or muddied, just not quite as good as the Pursang (again very close). The only real negative with the Pulsar is that there is a sheen to the high end (especially on cymbals). No matter what I tried, I couldnt get rid of it. In all fairness, the Pursang is still the most natural sounding ic I have ever heard. Its highs are full of detail and spatial cues without being the least bit harsh.
Laugh as the Sun lots of percussion (drums, bongos, gourds, tambourine, bass), layered vocals, guitar
The Pulsars again do a very good job. Imaging is excellent from side to side and front to back. Voices of the various singers are easy to place and have the correct tone. I can easily hear the breathy qualities in the female voice and raw power in the male singers voice. The Pulsars did a very good job conveying the rhythm and pace of the music. Detail was also very good. At the start of the song there is a strong bass line in the center with percussive instruments to the right and left. Everything is very clear and easy to identify. In fact, I feel like I can count the number of beans in the gourd!
I have seen this band half a dozen times live and I can say the Pulsar nails it. I preferred the Pulsar over the Pursang b/c this song is all about pure emotion and raw power. I had the system cranked up to 100+db peaks and the Pulsars continued to shine!
Another Lonely Day male vocals, acoustic guitar
Pulsars allowed in a great amount of detail (can easily hear Bens hand work on the guitar) and made it sound like Ben was in the room playing. The guitar notes has texture and depth to them. They seemed to hang in the air, but not in a way that each note overlapped the previous one. Bens voice was a little deeper with the Pulsars and the notes maybe a tad richer.
Gold to Me male vocals, cymbals, bass, triangle, tambourine, acoustic guitar
Pretty much the same results as with Rusted Root songs. Excellent drive and dynamics. A more forward and aggressive presentation than the Pursang (but not in a bad way). Since this song has lots of treble energy, the Pursang really shined.
God Fearing Man male vocals, slide guitar, bass, percussion
Opening slide guitar just pulled me in and grabbed my attention. Pulsars again let you hear the finger work and the better bass gives a more solid foundation to the music. This might have been my best experience with this song and I have listened to it probably 1000s of times!! Only area that holds it back from being the 100% champ is the top end again.
Horses female vocal, piano
The Pulsars presented piano very well and gave it the weight and heft it should have. Notes were delicate/powerful when they should be. Toris sings in a breathy, sultry style at times and the Pulsars did a good job portraying this. You could easily hear her intake for breath and little shudders as she sang. Very enjoyable.
Way Down vocals, piano
Tori sings dead center and the piano plays off to the side. The chorus is behind her. With the Pulsars I can hear the individual members of the chorus and they arent just one big blob of sound.
In the Springtime of his Voodoo vocals, drum track, piano, percussion, harpsichord
Very big sounding with the Pulsars. Images are more lifelike in size when compared to the Pursang. Midrange and bass are well balanced and articulate. East to identify the various instruments and their placement on the soundstage. Harpsichord has the appropriate bite and presence. First attack on the notes is excellent.
Harry Connick Jr.
She stand up bass, percussion, male vocal, guitar
WOW!! The stand up bass is sooooo good. I can clearly hear the individual notes and there is such weight and body. Drums are tight and clearly defined. Bongos are very musical. Harrys voice is clear and powerful. Cymbals are good but have that little bit of sheen.
That Party/Booker male vocals, percussion, piano, guitar
Great dynamics with such a big image! Underlying bass line is well defined and creates a solid foundation for the rest of the instruments. Very good imaging. Music just jumped out at me and said Listen Up!! Piano is crisp and clear.
Chris, outside of the slight treble glare these are outstanding!! In terms of macro dynamics, they are the best ic have heard in my system. They produce a large image that is a little forward and aggressive (in comparison to the Pursang), but in a good way. I found myself tapping my foot and really getting into the music when the Pulsars were in the system. They have lots of detail without being too obvious about it. They are well balanced and very clean.
I know the Gallos very well and they have a very extended treble, do you notice any issues there in your system? Since I havent heard your ics in other systems, I cant be 100% certain it is the ics, but since I have heard the Pursang in multiple systems, I can say that the top end of the Pursang is the best I have heard.
As things stand right now, you have made an excellent ic that will compete (and beat) against much more costly competition. If you can somehow refine the treble a bit (less glare and maybe get it slightly more extended) you will have a world beater IMHO.
I hope this helps give you an idea of what I think.
For me personally, I can't ignore price (the Pursang is more than double the price of the Pulsars). The Pulsars are staying in the system.
Hi Zybar-I read your review & your comments about the high end glare duplicate the results I've experienced when using rhodium connectors, so would venture a guess that this is where it comes from.
With the excellent results from the Pulsar's I'll have to put the XLR's w/gold connectors on my short list.
I noticed just a wee bit of upper midrange "hardness" ( some would call it "glare" ) with the Pulsar's initially, but it was quickly and easily subdued via my cable burner. Having said that, this is a cable that seems to repond to burn-in relatively quickly as compared to some other silver or silver / copper hybrids that i've tried. There are some phenomenally well reviewed silver cables that i've tried that i could never get to sound "smooth" or "full bodied" no matter what i tried. For a point of reference, all of my experience with the Pulsar's has been with RCA based connections. Quite honestly, i have no idea how the coaxial design of Pulsar could be used / configured in a true balanced / xlr type design. Maybe the XLR based cables are actually using a slightly different design / conductor geometry. Sean
I will let you know the difference between the gold Furutech xlr connectors and the rhodium. I have both types in my house right now.
As for the high end glare...I was able to get rid of it my some tweaking of my speakers (VMPS RM 40's).
I highly recommend the balanced Pulsars regardless of the budget.
For what it's worth, I've had two pair of the Pulsars (RCAs) for a little over two months and struggled a bit early on with the top end as well. I don't have a cable burner so I just left the ICs on the system using tuner or XLO burn-in disk (putting the amp in standby when I did).
For me, it took well past 200 hours for the top-end to settle in. But once they did, WOW - they are truely exceptional! Clean, balanced, neutral from top to bottom! I find the music just more engaging. Do they do a better job of PRAT or are they just getting out of the way and letting the equipment do it's best? Beats me but whatever they do, it's definitely working for me! I'm keeping them and now burning in one of Chris's Flavor 4 PCs.
Yup, they do take a very long time to break in (300-400 hrs). But they are the most balanced ic I have had in my system (I have had products from AZ, Cardas, Nordost, WireWorld, Argent Audio, Coincident, Empirical Audio, Kimber, Purist Audio, Audience, and others that I can't remember right now).
I also use Chris' Flavor 4 w/ gold option power cords (on my Rowland 201 amps).
On top of the incredible value for the money, Chris is great to deal with and his customer service is some of the best on the business.
Couldn't be happier!!
No type of burn in disc will ever achieve what a cable burner can. That's because the line level components in your system are basically limited to 2 volts of output at the max. If running them between your preamp and power amp, they probably won't ever see even 2 volts. That's why cables that have thousands of hours of actual use on them still sound "different" ( one way or the other ) after being cooked on a cable burner. Sean
PS... Interconnects will vary quite a bit from system to system due to impedance interactions from component to component. On top of that, personal preference, listening ability and system resolution all come into play. That's why one really has to try interconnects within the confines of their own system.
Tvad, to answer your question:
Pulsar sound louder because of the thicker wire used when compared to Au24.
Pulsar sound glare: this is depend on your system. It could be that your system is a little bright to begin with. Aside from that, the eichman copper bullet plug does sound a little glare compared to their Silver bullet plug version. There are other factors which have to do with cable geometry/insulation and material choice.
Wider sound stage: Smearing of mids does not give you wider sound stage. It is not an illusion rather you're used to the Au-24 smaller sound stage. IMHO, a better cable useually gives you wider sound stage. Look for a pair of used NBS classic lines like King Serpent through Statement RCA cables (aside from its super expensive retail price) and you'll understand why better cables are much better. Even though I've heard NBS over 2 dozen systems and got similar result, it still has to match your system.
Throw them in the mail to me with funds for return shipping. I have no problems doing this for you. Send me an email and i'll forward my shipping info. Figure 5 - 7 days on the burner with 2 - 3 days transit each way and you'll still have 25+ days to listen to them. Priority mail is by far the best deal for something like this. Sean
Hang in there. IMHO, the Audience are nice, but the Pulsar will retrieve more information, be better balanced from top to bottom, and produce a bigger, more lifelike image.
The Pulsars take 300-400 hours before I stopped hearing improvements. One of the last things to change was the top end (finally smoothes out).
I have noticed this with the singled ended Pulsar I use as a digital ic and the balanced Pulsars I use as analog ic's.
Ok, wanted to post an update on the balanced Pulsars (both Rhodium and Gold Furutechs).
I am happy to report that the little bit of HF grain or glare I initial reported is all gone! It turned out that most of what I was hearing was removed by doing a little bit of tweaking to my RM 40's. I also think getting more hours on the Pulsars helped as well.
So I can now safely say that the balanced Pulsars with Furutech XLR are the all-around best ic I have had in my system.
I can heartily recommend this ic, without reservation and regardess of the price point you are at.
As for the gold vs. rhodium... I preferred the Rhodium in my system. Here is why:
The rhodium had better initial attack and was a more lively in a good way.
The leading edge on an acoustic guitar had more definition and was easier to hear.
The drums and bass seemed to jump out at me and had slightly better definition.
The gold was more polite and laid back.
With the rhodium the soundstage is more forward and slightly deeper.
The biggest difference was in the highs. The gold by comparison sounds a little rolled off and slow. Cymbals seem to hit faster and decay a little longer with the rhodium.
The differences weren't huge, but I didn't have to strain to hear them. Although I preffered the Rhodium, the Gold was excellent as well.
I think it just comes down to personal tastes and proper system matching.
I just shipped out TVAD's Pulsars to him after cooking them on a Mobie for about 5 days or so. As i told him, my experience is that "cooked" cables should be installed into the system and then have music played through them for 24 hours prior to judgment. This has been pretty consistent with most cables that i've done this with, so i would have to assume that it applies to these too.
I don't know if jossling them about during removal from the burner, moving them around when hooking them up, etc... "lessens" the effects of the cooking, but the extra 24 hours of actual system use really seems to help. Given that i've noticed that here, where i can pull the cables off of the burner and install them directly into one of my systems, and i had to somewhat "coil" these up to ship them back to him, i'm sure that some time in his system will also help. None the less, the effects of "burning" should be audible from what i've experienced.
As a side note, i typically like to "burn" cables longer than this, but the Pulsar's seem to "cook" a little faster than other cables for some reason. I've done a few sets of these now for several different people and an extended burn doesn't seem to be quite as necessary as it with some other cables. I'm not going to name names, but there are some silver based cables that i've "cooked" until the meat was falling off of the bones and they still sounded bright, lean and edgy. My guess is that they are simply using a lower grade of silver as i've got some silver cables that are smooth as silk. The Pulsar itself is a hybrid cable with a copper hot lead and silver plated copper ground.
Tvad should have them in a couple of days. If he gets them Thursday, he should have enough time to throw them into the system, let them "play-in" till he gets home from work on Friday and have everthing ready for the weekend. Needless to say, i'm curious to see what he thinks, both initially and after a 24 - 48 hour settling time. Sean
HaHaHa... I probably shouldn't have done / said what i did. Nothing like dumping a "project" on someone that's not expecting it, huh ??? Sorry 'bout dat Tvad... : )
As the other guys said, take your time and don't feel rushed. While i am of the belief that initial impressions DO count, i also know that a high "wow" factor can be deceiving in the short term. As such, you have to balance initial observations & "gut feelings" with long term observations and becoming familiar with the product. Given our private emails, i know that you're capable of being quite articulate and a great communicator. You proved this to me when i asked for feedback in a "brutally honest" fashion. Boy, did you deliver... : ) Sean
KP: You crack me up : )
Tvad: Thanks for taking the time to offer up your initial thoughts. I would only add that changing the location of each interconnect i.e. the components that they interphase together could very well change the observed results. As mentioned, interconnects act as impedance transformers / buffers, so finding what cable works best where is half the battle.
Other than that, i'm glad that you felt that "burning" was beneficial. I do agree with a lot of your primary assessments of this cable i.e. it may not be the world's best in any given category, but it surely offers extremely solid performance for the money involved. I'll refrain from making any other statements as i'd like to see what you think after listening to them in your system for a while.
I would suggest tinkering with all Pulsars, Pulsar's in one place but not another, etc... to see what works best in your system. As mentioned, my thoughts are that cables do require some "settling time" with actual music playing through them once moved about, so give each configuration some time before passing judgment. We appreciate the effort and the amount of detail that you're offering here. Sean
Tvad my impression after reading your review between
Au24 and the VH Pulsar,I have a feeling the Au24 is
better between the two,because I am very familiar
with Au24,it is truly exceptional ic,no glare,just
music,maybe for the price the Pulsar is the way to
go for the price,I think VH is selling them 50% off, at
this time.Which is more dynamic between the two.
Some of you seem to think that there can be a "best" interconnect. There can't be. There isn't an interconnect made that can act as a perfect link / impedance transformer between the multitudes of different input and output impedances that each different combo of gear presents. When you realize that, you'll be a lot better off, both system-wise and financially.
Now if all gear had the same nominal input & output impedances, that would be a different story. By this, i mean that either the input impedance was identical to the output impedance ( how it should be ) OR that the input impedance on all gear was a set value and the output impedance on all gear was a set value. In either case, you could design a cable to work with those specifics, but until that is the case, interconnects will remain a matter of guesswork due to the individual component to component interphase and personal preferences. Sean
Yes, I use the balanced Pulsars (in fact, I am the one that begged Chris to make them in the first place).
They are much more primarily b/c the xlr connectors are very expensive (Furutech Rhodium are $150/pair and you obviously need 2 pairs per set of ic's). Additionally, it is a double run of wire.
How long is really long? Just contact Chris and see what he can do for you.
Well said Tvad. I am still stunned at the performance/value ratio on the Pulsar.
Although I do think there is some value in giving details such as which is more dynamic, better HF extension, etc... IF it is done on the proper context.
If you say how each compared in your own system, that can help a person get an idea of the "flavor" of each ic/cable.
Just added a 1 meter Pulsar with NextGen RCA plugs from my cd player to preamp. The results bested my reference VdH Ultimate First - a very nice IC in its right, with great microdynamics and clarity of sound.
The Pulsars brought their own qualities to the mix (I also have 3m of Au24 between preamp and amp). The most notable were a large, volumous stage free from the speakers, a well balanced vocal sound with a nicely layered soundstage bringing up the backing instruments behind the vocals. Macro dynamics are excellent and supported by a tight, and well balanced bass (acoustic bass sounds very nice). I loved the way the IC seems to just let the music flow, never drawing attention to itself. Coherent, layered sound with just the right amount of warmth.
Burned them in with Cable Cooker for 48 hours and never looked back. Highly recommended IC for anyone looking for an insert and enjoy kind of IC. Others seem to highlight the sound in ways that eventually bring fatigue or buyer's regret. Very few products in this category that I've found in 10+ years.