Product Review (January 2003)
Ultralink - High Performance
Audio and Video Cables

Platinum Series
Ultima Mk II Audio Cable (4m)
Videophile Pro Composite Video Cable (3m)
Videophile Pro Component Video Cables (3m)

Advanced Performance Series
S-Video Cable (4m)

 

Any audio or home theater system depends heavily on the type of the cables used in the system. While many may argue about a significance difference between high-end cables and mainstream cables, few would disagree that quality engineered materials, solid connections, good shielding and proper impedance matching affect the quality of the signal, whether it's for audio or video. Apparently that's exactly how the Canadian-based company Ultralink approaches their cable design. They engineer their cables with a common sense approach and follow the basic laws of physics. As a result, the company produces affordable cables that perform extremely well. Although Ultralink products are manufactured and assembled in Ontario, Canada, they have a full distribution facility right here in Southern California.

Ultralink provided us with a wide range of products for review. They included both audio and video cables in the Platinum and Advanced Performance Series. The design of the Ultralink cables is impressive. The RCA style barrel has a unique design that grips the mate exceptionally well preventing a bad connection. Moreover, 24K gold-plated contacts are used throughout. The large backshell is convenient to grab with your fingers making it easy to disconnect the cable from the unit. The cable is large in diameter yet still has adequate flexibility to route through cabinetry. My previous experience with some overly rigid high-end cables that are difficult to connect to components had left me frustrated. The Ultralink design appears to be practical and well built while still providing great performance.


Audio Cables (ULTI-4M)
We tested the Platinum Series® ULTIMA® Audio Interconnect Cables provided to us straight from the factory. The design uses a dual balanced audio interconnect cable with Time-Aligned™ multiple gauge 6N OFHC copper conductors. The two-conductor twisted-pair construction uses a proprietary winding geometry comprised of three precisely wound wire networks with a single large conductor for deep bass along with six intermediate sized conductors. The ultra-low capacitance nitrogen-injected polyethylene insulation is said to provide a faster signal transfer. The doubled shielded design with full aluminum mylar foil coverage and 95% braid 6N OFHC copper shield is grounded at the source end making this a unidirectional cable design for optimal performance. This high-performance cable is terminated with precision machined, Teflon® insulated RCA connectors with exclusive patented Vacuum Spring-Lock® technology for a solid connection.

We installed five separate four meter cables between our Parasound AVC-2500U Processor and Parasound HCA-2205AT Five-channel Amplifier. This was a great test to see just how well they perform over long runs, especially because unbalanced cables are suceptible to picking up hum. We were pleasantly surprised with the results of our setup and noticed very little hum even with our ear close to the speaker. The sonic performance was excellent. The imaging was as accurate as we've heard in our system and the soundstage was wonderfully large. We also used some shorter two meter Ultima Mk II cables for our multi-channel SACD player during some of our listening tests.

Video Cables
UltraLink also supplied us with their composite, s-video and component video cables for review. It was nice to see such well built cables connected to our video equipment. Video bandwidths are becoming increasingly high these days especially with the abundant supply of high-definition products entering the market. Ultralink's unique designs are ready for the challenges ahead with excellent performance with uncompromised build quality.

Composite Cable (VPR-3M)
We auditioned the Ultralink Platinum Series VIDEOPHILE PRO® Composite Video Cable. This cable uses a proprietary winding geometry and encompasses multiple gauge 6N OFHC copper center conductors. The ultra-low capacitance nitrogen-injected Teflon® dielectric insulation is said to provide the most accurate signal transfer. The design is doubled shielded with full aluminum mylar foil coverage and high density braid 6N OFHC copper shielding. The precision machined, Teflon® insulated 75 Ohm RCA connectors with exclusive patented Vacuum Spring-Lock® technology and Ultralink® 24K mil-spec direct gold-plating not only looks good, but provides a truly solid connection for the antiquated RCA connectors that exist on all consumer products.

We tested the composite video cable with our Sony DVP-NS900V DVD player. While this is not an optimal way to connect up to a DVD player, we wanted to use a good high resolution video source. We also tried it with our now outdated, but still loved Pioneer CLD-D704 laserdisc player. The performance was excellent with both sources using our iScan Ultra deinterlacer. The Vacuum Spring-Lock® design works amazingly well and made it easy to mate and de-mate the cables to our units.

S-Video Cable (ULVS-4M)
The S-Video cable provided to us is called the Ultralink Advanced Performance Series VIDEOPHILE® S-Video Cable. This design features an ultra low-loss, high performance 75 ohm S-Video interconnect cable with precision machined S-video connectors. The design uses 24K gold-plated contacts throughout. In addition, the cables are triple shielded with 100% aluminum mylar foil and separate 6N OFHC copper braid. The low capacitance dielectric insulation is said to allow high velocity signal transfer for maximum signal strength. The multi-stranded 6N OFHC copper conductors offer true 75 ohm impedance to minimize signal reflections.

The results we experienced with this S-Video cable design were excellent. Solid build quality along with exceptional video performance made this cable highly desirable in our system. We tested the signal integrity over the long 4 meter (over 13 feet) distance and with our Sencore VSA794 Video Signal Analyzer to observe any changes in the chroma and luminance signals. We measured very little loss in the luminance and virtually no change in the phase of the chroma signal. This result was a near perfect signal transfer with superb picture fidelity and color accuracy. The ULVS cable is also available with a CL3 jacket for in-wall use at no additional cost and comes in lengths of up to 30 meters (98.40 feet).

Component Video Cables (CVP-3M)
The VIDEOPHILE PRO® Component Video Cables were connected to our new JVC HM-DH30000U High Definition D-VHD D-Theater VCR and Pioneer Elite PRO-610HD HDTV. The video resolution of this high definition D-VHS machine is truly amazing and the UltraLink video cables delivered high-bandwidth performance producing a reference quality image. We sampled HDNet's Bikini Destinations on Location in Lake Powell to see the accuracy of flesh tones and there's plenty of flesh to see in this video. The performance of this setup impressed all of those who had the opportunitty to see it. Next, we played a review sample of U-571 and Fight Club. Deep blacks, with high resolution and excellent color fidelity were maintained with these cables.

All of the cables we received from UltraLink had excellent build quality. We found that the backshells could even be removed to see just how well these cables are put together. Few competitors offer this level of quality and performance for the dollar. I was thoroughly impressed with the design, quality and performance and would highly recommend them to anyone in need of A/V cables for their audio or home theater system. We'll be reviewing two of their 15-pin VGA-style high definition video cables in an upcoming review, so stay tuned.
- Kevin Nakano

Review System

Display: Pioneer Elite PRO-610HD 58-inch HD-Ready TV (ISF calibrated)
Preamplifier/Processor: Parasound AVC-2500U THX-Ultra DTS/DD Preamp/Processor
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier
Front Speakers: Miller & Kreisel S-150THX (L+R) and S-150AC (Center) Speakers
Rear Speakers: Miller & Kreisel SS-250 Tripole® Surround Speakers
Subwoofer: Two Miller & Kreisel MX-350THX MkII THX-Ultra Push-pull Subwoofers
Room Treatments: Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers
Set-top Box: RCA DTC100 HDTV/DSS Satellite Receiver
DVD/CD/SACD Player: Sony DVP-NS900V DVD/CD/SACD Player
Laserdisc Player : Pioneer Elite CLD-99 and CLD-D704 Laserdisc Players
D-VHS VCR: JVC HM-DH30000U D-VHS High-Definition D-Theater VCR
Video Analyzer: Sencore VSA794 Video Signal Analyzer
Video Generator: Sencore VP300 SDTV/HDTV Video Pattern Generator
Color Analyzer: Sencore CP288 ISF Certified Color Analyzer

Review at a glance
Ultralink High Performance Audio/Video Cables

PLATINUM Series® ULTIMA® Audio Interconnect Cable

  • Dual balanced cable with Time-Aligned™ multiple gauge 6N OFHC copper conductors
  • Two conductor twisted pair construction with proprietary winding geometry
  • Ultra-low capacitance nitrogen-injected polyethylene insulation for faster signal transfer
  • Doubled shielded with full aluminum Mylar foil coverage
  • 95% braid 6N OFHC copper shield grounded at the source
  • Terminated with precision machined, Teflon® insulated RCA connectors
  • Vacuum Spring-Lock® technology
  • Available in 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 meter lengths

    PLATINUM Series® VIDEOPHILE PRO® Composite Video Cables
  • Proprietary winding geometry encompasses multiple gauge 6N OFHC copper center conductors
  • Ultra-low capacitance nitrogen-injected Teflon® dielectric insulation
  • Doubled shielded with full aluminum Mylar foil coverage
  • High density braid 6N OFHC copper shield
  • Precision machined, Teflon® insulated 75 Ohm RCA connectors
  • Vacuum Spring-Lock® technology
  • Ultralink® 24K mil-spec direct gold-plating on all contact surfaces
  • Available in 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 4 and 6 meter lengths

    ADVANCED PERFORMANCE Series VIDEOPHILE® S-Video Cable

  • Ultra low-loss, high performance 75 Ohm S-Video interconnect cable
  • Precision machined S-video connectors
  • Ultralink® 24K gold-plated contacts throughout
  • Triple shielded with 100% aluminum Mylar foil
  • Separate 6N OFHC copper braid
  • Low capacitance dielectric insulation allows high velocity signal transfer
  • Multi-stranded 6N OFHC copper conductors for true 75 Ohm impedance
  • Available in 1, 2, 4, 6, 10, 15, 20 and 30 meter lengths

    PLATINUM Series VIDEOPHILE PRO Component Video Cable

  • Three 75 Ohm impedance matched cables for separating the component video signals
  • Color-coded connectors for proper Y, Cr and Cb connections
  • Proprietary winding geometry encompasses multiple gauge 6N OFHC copper center conductors
  • Ultra-low capacitance nitrogen-injected Teflon dielectric insulation
  • Double shielded with full aluminum Mylar foil coverage
  • High density braid 6N OFHC copper shield
  • Precision machined, Teflon® insulated 75 Ohm RCA connectors
  • Vacuum Spring-Lock® technology
  • Ultralink®24K mil-spec direct gold-plating on all contact surfaces
  • Available in 2, ,3, 6, 8 and 10 meter lengths

    Company Information
    International Headquarters:
    Ultralink Products Inc.
    161 Alden Road, Markham
    Ontario CANADA
    Phone: 905-479-2831
    Fax: 905-479-9347

    U.S. Office:
    Ultralink Products Inc.
    2030 South Carlos Avenue
    Ontario, California U.S.A.
    Phone: 909-947-6960
    Fax: 909-947-6970

    Source: Manufacture loan
    URL: www.ultralinkcables.com

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