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17 Dec

Ultimate I & Ultimate II Charlin Interconnects to go a bit further in perfect musicality

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Charlin Ultimate I Interconnect Cables

Finally, here is the second part of my Charlin interconnects cable tests, which were lent to me by Olivier Robert, CEO of Roboli Design, creator of Charlin electronics and cables. In fact, a long time of listening passed between I placed the Ultimate I on my High Fidelity System, the listening and the test of the Ultimate II, the Top the Range of Charlin modulation cables.

I spent more than two weeks listening to the musical results of each cable before moving on to the next. Then, I plugged in another modulation cable before replacing the Ultimate I and finally, the Charlin Ultimate II. It is only after this break-in time that I could fully appreciate the exceptional quality of these two modulation cables, with the unique Charlin Signature…

Already impressed by the Blue Charlin cable for its transparency and naturalness, I’m convinced that it is certainly a multi-stranded modulation cable that would suit most discerning audiophiles, already possessing a very good high fidelity system. The Black, the first cable of the range, had already left me a very good souvenir. It was a perfectly comfortable cable with high fidelity systems where low frequencies need to express themselves better. Cables to be proposed with a good high fidelity system ending on bookshelf speakers for the Black or bigger loudspeakers for the Blue Charlin interconnect cables, Black and Blue Charlin cables have in common to present the music in a very natural aspect in timbres, a quality often difficult to find in others brands. Here, the stereophonic space unfolds very naturally, without question, depending on what your amplifier is able to render in terms of sound space.

Neutrality and musicality are sometimes hard to find in the same cable…

Charlin-Ultimate-I-Interconnects-CablesIn fact, most brands that I have tested have a particular sound or a specific frequency range expressed when you listen. For example, I often noticed that Van den Hul, directly plugged out of their box, tended to favour the low medium frequencies, a particular sound signature that gradually faded over time. For me, Van den Hul is a talented cable maker but their cables will flatter your ear a little bit. More pleasant, Synergistic Research presents a beautiful and very large medium, also easily recognizable. This American brand probably flatters a little more than Van den Hul but they have nothing neutral. On the other hand, Shunyata will be more neutral and very fast while being also musical but I sometimes had the impression that they lacked something that I never really knew how to define. Always in the US, I really liked JPS Labs with their Superconductor, and I can not live without this brand of cables today. They are among the few cables that you don’t hear but prefer to let the music go without adding anything, more or less. The Inakustik cables are also very pleasant to listen, nervous with a slightly fruity side in the medium range that reminds me a bit of the sound of my tube guitar amps when I get a fluid and warm distortion.

When the Audio quest and the Wires of the World come to wrap your ears with plastic

For lack of time, I will not speak to you about these beautiful “American” cable sheaths made in China while you just have to turn the box to realize the deception (in English language, Made in Taiwan). With a completely clogged sound that is not natural at all, some well-intentioned resellers will even still sell them to you at a very high price!

Just try to sell ​​a piece of copper surrounded by a beautiful sheath, saying that it is a cable made in the USA and you’re ready to wire big systems with mono blocks, preamp and CD/DAC/streaming players and a few others, built like blocks of aluminium. They will make an illusion in the listening room the first 30 seconds before you realize the problem and the discomfort that suddenly settles… No doubt that these cables will make the pleasure of some “box pushers” and so-called “specialists” of our small world of High Fidelity but they will have trouble convincing you if you had other serious cables in the ear recently…

The naturalness of the timbres will be my first listening criterion in test condition…

Charlin-Ultimate-I-Interconnects-CablesTo talk about more serious cables, Charlin Ultimate I and Ultimate II cables surprised me again while going even further than the Blue which had already very natural timbres, near reality of what you really hear in live condition. So I tested them one after the other for several weeks with several speaker cables, Inakustik Atmos Air 309, my Superconductor + and Synergistic Research Tesla Quad.

During the tests, I also changed the power cable of my Eera Tentation, from an Audio PS to an Accoustic Zen Tsunami. The level of transparency and naturalness of Charlin’s Ultimate cables makes it possible to hear these changes very clearly, even when it is a mains cable. It is all the more surprising that I had never enjoyed such a quality of listening until then. The very singular character of the Tesla Quad, even if it is an entry-level at Synergistic Research, is perfectly in tune. In the same way, the Charlin Ultimate modulation cables allowed me to enjoy even more the musical neutrality of my Superconductor +, with even more pleasure in listening.

The transparency and naturalness of music still surpasses the high level reached by the Blue Charlin Cable

Let’s say that I quickly noticed the superiority of the Charlin Ultimate I and II on the Charlin Bleu from the first hour of listening. The naturalness of the timbres is even better that it really let me appreciate the body, heat and fluidity of a perfectly saturated tube amp or to accurately differentiate the difference of body and timbre of two crash cymbals on a set of drums, the two cymbals being perfectly positioned in space. Each drum is a pleasure to listen to, a drummer would recognize his drum set very easily. The Ultimate Charlin gives the impression of a listening totally devoid of the slightest blur, the perfect diction on the voices is hallucinating. Nothing is then simpler than to perfectly follow the voice of the singer. Each voice inflection is nicely transcribed, as well as the distance that separates the lips from the microphone.

Charlin-Ultimate-II-Interconnects-Cables

Charlin Ultimate II Interconnect Cables

In parallel to this crystalline transparency, the fluidity of the musical message is perfectly transcribed, to the point where you realize that you had never really listened to an album as it had been recorded. The naturalness and musical veracity of the listening is even more troubling that the absence of the slightest distortion gives you a feeling of reality and proximity with the piece of work rarely to be obtained with other interconnect cables. Here, the noise level goes down very deep to only release the music, a bit like if the signal to noise ratio of your electronics had improved.

Transparency, naturalness, and fluidity rarely reached to this level, the softness is also surprising with the Charlin Ultimate cables. No tightness will tarnish the listening, each cymbal is perfectly reproduced, with an unusual softness despite the rising in the high frequencies. Listening to your favourite albums is no longer tiring and can continue until late into the night… To tell the truth, if a lot of manufacturers have one day boasted of offering you a listening as if you were there, this is the first time that the bet is actually held. Nothing prevents you from raising the volume to very high levels; no sinking of the musical message is heard. On the contrary, music is still open and the listening pleasure becomes more intense, especially with the Charlin Ultimate II.

The Charlin interconnects cable Ultimate II opens the sound space with a naturalness yet never heard by my ears

Charlin-Ultimate-II-Interconnects-CablesObviously, I found the same listening qualities with the Charlin Ultimate II as with the Ultimate I. Transparency is equally advanced with an ideal positioning of the various instruments in the sound space. The difference also occurs in the bandwidth that seems even wider than from the Ultimate I, especially in the low frequencies. This characteristic is welcome because it astonishes widely. I realized more easily the potential of my small speakers in the bass and the astonishing diversity of timbres that could be appreciated in this frequency range. You will notice that on some albums of rock or heavy metal, the sound of the bass sometimes tends to be confused with the bass drum; a detail easily audible in concert but already much less obvious to hear in a differentiated way on an album. It is this kind of characteristic that the Charlin Ultimate II relays you effortlessly. The slightest resonance is heard, the slightest inflection of voice or the slightest gap of microdynamics is heard without any auditory effort. On classical music, the orchestral masses unfold without the slightest approximation on the placement of the musicians. Each detail of the reproduced work is easily perceptible while blending perfectly with the orchestra and the symphony.

At the same time, the Charlin Ultimate II will not forgive any flaw of your system. An imbalance will be heard quickly, as will a good marriage with your speaker cables. If you have a CD source or a good DAC and if you really want to get the quintessence from your electronic devices, the Ultimate I or II will allow you to go to the end of the possibilities of your high fidelity system. On jazz, I enjoyed listening to the differences of timbres from one snare drum to another or the often truncated richness of sound of a piano note with all the resonance of the instrument, from the key to the depths of the body’s instrument.

And what about the break-in period for theses cables?

When I connected the Ultimate cables, I thought that the running-in time would probably be quite small because the listening was already very satisfactory, superior to the Charlin Blue interconnects while going even further in terms of naturalness of timbres. Several hours had gone by without I noticed great changes when listening. After a little more than two weeks, I connected the Charlin Ultimate II with the same observation. The listening was excellent, with a wider stereo opening than for the Ultimate I and a better perceptible bandwidth with always this impressive crystal transparency. Then, I removed the Charlin Ultimate cables to reconnect a Van den Hul interconnect. Although very good but in budget terms, it had nothing to do with Charlin Ultimate modulations.

I therefore reconnected the Ultimate I before starting to write this article. After two hours of listening, I heard no change in sound. I turn off my system, working on the computer as usual and finally I went to bed like any other night. The next day, I decided to listen the last and excellent album of Leave’s Eyes King of King. With astonishment, I noticed something had changed. The natural restitution reached a new limit as if the sensation of live performance with the music and the musicians was total. After a few albums, I replaced the Charlin Ultimate II and again, the naturalness was slowly increasing with time. Olivier Robert had warned me that the specific welding of the cable and its manufacturing complexity itself was requiring a fairly long running-in period, which could exceed 10 to 20 hours initially and still last up to 100 hours after the first break-in period.

Exceptional cables to combine with an exceptional High Fidelity System

To conclude, I must confess that these are exceptional cables, especially since their sale price reserves them to systems just as exceptional as they are. However, if you decide to invest a large sum of money for a CD player or a DAC of the latest generation, also think of joining a cable that will allow it to express itself to the maximum of its possibilities. For my part, I would place the Charlin Ultimate, with the Aluminata of JPS Labs, in the very closed range of exceptional cables, reserved for systems just as exceptional in their musicality.

I only have to thank Olivier Robert for the loan of his creations, which allowed me to spend moments of musical emotion, quite out of the ordinary…

Eric Mallet

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