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Guest report: Comparing High Fidelity Cables MC-1 PRO and MC-1 PRO Helix+

Guest report: Comparing High Fidelity Cables MC-1 PRO and MC-1 PRO Helix+
Guest report: Comparing High Fidelity Cables MC-1 PRO and MC-1 PRO Helix+

High Fidelity Cables released their MC-1 Pro ($1599) parallel line conditioner late in 2018. Early this year they sent us a sample of an enhanced version called MC-1 Pro Helix+ ($2699). Requiring significantly longer burn in time (at least 400 hours), the designer promised even more of what we were hearing from the "Base" MC-1 Pro.

As we like to do from time to time to verify and expand on our own testing, we sent both the MC-1 Pro and the new Helix+ version to one of our reliable listeners, a long term customer with a very high end and well-tuned music system, who, as it happens, I (Robert) have actually known since we both got interested in audio in high school more than a few years ago. His listening notes follow:

"After another week of burn-in I think I can get a read on the Helix, but first some thoughts on the Base MC-1 Pro.

For me, the MC-1 effect was easiest to hear if the MC-1 was plugged into a high quality AC extension strip with the component(s) plugged in alongside. Whether the power strip was plugged directly into the wall or into a power conditioner I could still hear the effect of the MC-1. The benefit of an MC-1 was probably a bit less obvious if the power strip was plugged into a good power conditioner.

What did the MC-1 effect sound like? Whether the AC was powering an analog component like an amplifier, or a digital component like a PC or a router, an MC-1 seems to “coalesce” the music, improving the phase reproduction. This improved the imaging and sound staging and, by “bringing the music together”, the sound was more lifelike. 

I even heard this effect when I put an MC-1 on the AC line powering just a computer and a router. I’ve never heard a powerline improvement make such a difference on those kinds of components.

MC-1 vs. Helix version:

As for the MC-1 vs the MC-1 Helix, the difference I hear between those two is one of magnitude, not kind. With the MC-1 Helix, the coalescing/ordering of the music occurs to a greater degree. 

I think you might be most interested in some estimate from me on how much more effective the Helix model is compared to the Base MC-1. Well, I would say it depends on where the MC-1 is placed. Placed optimally next to a component whose AC source is not already highly conditioned, I would say the Helix has 2X the effect of the Base MC-1. 

One example for me was using the MC-1 on the wall outlet where the Integrated amp (D’Agostino) for my system was plugged. Without any MC-1, the lack of any power conditioning caused good recordings to sound flat, diffuse and poorly differentiated. Adding a Base MC-1 causes the individual images within the music to coalesce, but it was the MC-1 Helix+ which caused the sound stage to really expand three dimensionally. The separation of the musical elements also delivered cleaner more powerful bass and dynamics."

- Michael M.

"P.S. I can tell you my listening partner is honestly amazed that she could consistently hear such changes in her favorite recordings from only the insertion of these strangle little devices."

Available for in-home audition through The Cable Library.

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