Mapleshade Vivilink HDMI Cable with Plus Upgrade

by | Jul 8, 2012 | Component Reviews

Mapleshade Vivilink HDMI Cable with Plus Upgrade
SRP: $165, 2 meter length

871 North Howard St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
Well, I have to retract my previous advice on this site that with HDMI cables there is one of the few cable areas where you are getting fleeced if you pay high prices for premium high-end HDMI cables instead of getting the $10 ones online, which I said are just fine. I haven’t A/B’ed the $10 ones with the premium cables from the cable biggies—perhaps there’s little difference. But the difference with Mapleshade’s new high-end HDMI cable was easily seen.
I’ve had some very bad luck with HDMI cables recently. Two of them went out simultaneously, and I was thinking it was my equipment rather than the cables. One was even what seemed to be the excellent short HDMI cable Oppo furnishes with their players. At the same time I have a video display of greater resolution and detail than my previous RPTV, and I’m following the advice of Pierre Sprey at Mapleshade to run the Oppo BPS-95 directly into my Panasonic plasma display rather than thru my Integra 80.3 multichannel preamp. (By the way, I hope none of you are using the audio channel of your HDMI cable. Sure, it was nice for the industry to provide both the video and audio on one simple cable (that often doesn’t work) instead of multiple cables, but I discovered long ago that the sonics are greatly improved running separate audio cables to and from the TV.)
I didn’t have the $1500 Audioquest Diamond HDMI to compare with, but I did have an expensive Monster Cable HDMI cable I’ve been using for some time. The instructions say to keep the HDMI cable away from anything plastic and to have it cross other cables only at 45 degrees of more, never bundled with other cables—especially power or speaker cables. One end of the Mapleshade HDMI cable is banded in red and that end goes into your video display. Mapleshade has a standard model at $125 as well as the Plus which they provided. The break-in time for the Plus version is double that of the standard: 100 to 200 hours, so I supposedly will be seeing even further slight improvements over time. I can see no visible interference from any other signals.
I had just completed most of the video tests on both the Spears & Munsil and HQV Silicon Optix Blu-ray Test Video Discs on my new Panasonic display. The first disc had some hi-def clips shot in the vicinity of Astoria, Oregon. I immediately saw that the struts on the long bridge across the Columbia River connecting Astoria with Washington State were fuzzy and indistinct with the Monster Cable HDMI. With the Mapleshade HDMI everything snapped into perfect focus, and at the same time the shadow detail improved considerably and the colors seemed to sing more. Although the Panasonic display has enhanced the black levels greatly over what was possible with my old Samsung RPTV, the Mapleshade HDMI cable offered up even blacker blacks. I had to do over again the Spears & Munsil evaluation patterns for black levels, contrast and brightness, which all affect one another and require lots of going back and forth.
Although Mapleshade’s Pierre Sprey is far from a videophile, he finds that the plastic insulation on all the other HDMI cables is too thick and the copper wires too fat. This distorts video data streams, so his design uses thinner conductors, less insulation, and better dialectic materials than the other high-end video cables. He then adds the same chemical and thermal treatment that they do on the Mapleshade audio cables, and that took it up another notch to the Plus version.
All I say is that when I’m now watching a superb Criterion restoration of a classic film, I’m viewing nearly as good an image as I could get in Portland’s best theatrical room, plus sound that probably beats it handily.
—John Sunier

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