The Clearview Balanced Excalibur Ribbon Interconnects are some of the fastest, most transparent, most detailed and least colored balanced interconnects available at any price. These new super-minimalist Balanced Excaliburs beat balanced interconnects up to $19,000, including top of the line models from Nordost, Audioquest, Acoustic Zen, DH Labs, Goertz, Audio Note, Kimber, MIT, Cardas, Transparent, Harmonic Technology, Straightwire, TARA, XLO, and Synergistic.
The basic design principles that make the Balanced Excaliburs sound much more unsmeared and revealing are:
• Our conductors are high purity, proprietary metallurgy copper ribbon, custom rolled and heat treated to our specification. They are far thinner than the conductors of any other high end interconnects (including competing flat-wire designs); thus, they have far less of the skin effect that causes such disastrous bass and treble smearing in standard garden hose interconnects.
• We have eliminated the remarkably bad-sounding standard XLR connector, a connector whose relatively huge mass of high dielectric absorption plastic (that is, the central pin-anchoring slug of insulation inside the XLR's outer shell) cripples the sound of every conventional balanced interconnect. Instead of the sound-degrading three pin XLR plug, we simply provide three separate male pins (at the downstream end) and three separate female jacks (at the upstream or music source end). These are of extremely thin wall brass construction (to greatly reduce skin effect) and unplated, since gold, rhodium and silver termination plating invariably degrade sound.
• The insulation is a handmade polymer sheath, super thin for lowest possible dielectric absorption (twice as much insulation means twice as much dielectric absorption). Our polymer formulation is a major sonic upgrade over Teflon.
• Each interconnect is given three separate treatments: chemical, thermal and electromagnetic.
Installation Tips For Max Performance
Install the interconnects, matching the pin number on each ribbon to the pin number embossed on the XLR connectors mounted in the two components being connected. Make sure you use the end marked "Source" (this is the female end of the interconnect) to slip over the pins projecting from the music source (upstream) component. Make sure that you grip each interconnect ribbon by the pin, not the ribbon, when installing or removing interconnects. If for any reason the female or the male pins are a little loose, squeeze them GENTLY with needle-nose pliers to make them slightly oval.
• NEVER bundle wires and never run the interconnects parallel to AC or speaker wires. They can cross other wires and even touch them, as long as you make sure they cross at a steep angle, 45 degrees or more. Keep the interconnects away from any plastic; in particular, keep them at least 8" away from artificial fiber rugs and plastic wall moldings.
• Install the interconnects in such a way that the sleeves lay flat and are not twisted. Then take the three sleeves that make up each channel and separate them as far apart (over their entire length) as possible. We normally keep the sleeves apart by fastening them to stands or walls or shelves with thread or with .001” polypropylene, minimum dielectric absorption tape that you can order from us.
• You will get a very satisfying upgrade if you treat all the interconnect pins and jacks with SilClear before connecting.
The PLUS Option - Another Step Up
All Clearview wires are available in a PLUS version, using conductors with our new stress-relieved metallurgy. The PLUS Option yields two primary upgrades:
• Decreases brightness and grain in high frequencies, reducing edginess in the upper treble without sacrificing detail; this is particularly noticeable with music coming from a digital source (i.e. CD players, computers, and iPods). The breathiness of singers and flutes, the metallic ring of cymbals is better articulated and less abrasive.PLUS is especially beneficial for digital interconnects sources, significantly reducing listening fatigue.
• PLUS lowers the soundstage noise floor, resulting in a quieter, more blacker background. This makes the most difference in quiet passages: held guitar or piano chords sustain longer and resonate more clearly as they fade into silence. Newly discovered details and nuances emerge from the negative space of the music on good recordings.
For fans of well-recorded acoustic music, small group jazz, or chamber music, I recommend PLUS without hesitation. Listening to typically over-processed commercial studio recording, the improvements will be audible but much more subtle.