Judging from the package and its looks, this seems to be a very serious cable. And it is. There are solid core silver conductors inside, individually insulated by what looks like teflon. As you'd expect, the sound is very direct. Rhythm is very strong, as are speed and dynamics. But for my tastes, this cable is too dry and too lean. A comparison with a personal favorite from the netkabels.nl webshop made clear that you can have the same transparency, speed and dynamics and yet not be punished with dryness, leanness or a lack of fluidity. Overall this is an impressive sounding cable that can work very well in setups that need some extra zip but you can do better for less.
Cardas Golden Reference powercable
Slightly less neutral I'd say than the interconnect but not at all coloured. It is however a cable that really has to match the component to which it's mated. It is certainly not the proper cable for most amplifiers, although it works pretty well with Jeff Rowland preamps. Ultimately this cable has very airy and fluid highs and is high on detailing and focus but it is more synthetic sounding than many others and its bass, however very nimble and detailed, is thin and lacks power.
MIT Z-cord powercable
This well-known cable really is nothing but a Belden cable with two ferrite rings attached. You read that correct: there's nothing special in those big plastic boxes but ferrite rings and a lot of glue. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the cable sounds like a Belden too. But the ferrite rings do seem to have an effect as the transients are slightly softened and the highs and a tad more fluid than standard Belden. This gives the MIT a more friendly character at the cost of some attack. Do replace the standard melted-on plugs, this can make a lot of difference.
ASI Liveline powercable
In standardform with Yarbo connectors this is a fast, lively and open sounding cable. But it is too dry, edgy rough in the treble. Substitute the Tarbo connectors for IeGO 24k Gold ones and you're in for a surprise. All of a sudden the cable loses most of its roughness and gains some air and a lot of refinement at the same time. Still, compared to the CP-audio Ultimate Clarity there is more to be had, at less than half the price.
Very good and neutral basic cable that is much more open, dynamic, tight and focussed than ordinairy cable. But the Belden is also slightly edgy in the treble and can sound dry and too controlled. It lacks some "meat on the bones". But it can work wonders in setups that need some livening up. This cable was also compared to the thicker 3x4mm Belden, see review below.
A cable with a very strong character, sounding creamy, full and loudness-like with lots of drive in the bass and a big dip in the mids. With its deviating character this cable can work really well when matched carefully, where you could compensate for defects elsewhere in the chain but keep in mind that it is not neutral and not universally applicable.
Transparent Powerlink XL 15A power cable
This cable is very different from the Transparent sound that I'm used to. It simply doesn't sound like a Transparent. This is probably so because of the configuration of the cable: Solid core conductors and Teflon insulation. The first thing you notice when hearing this cable is the livelyness and dynamics. Until now, Belden was at the top of my list for dynamics but this Transparent simply slashes Belden on all accounts. It even manages to add some fluidity to all the action. But it's not the luxuirous creaminess that I know from the Transparent interlinks, rather a civilised feel to an otherwise very dynamic and forward cable. The one downside is its treble; it is darker and drier than most other cables I have lying around. It's not grainy at all, just not that airy. All in all you could compare its sound signature to that of the Cardas Hexlink Golden 5C.
NBS Dragon Fly powercable (original Dragon Fly I)
This has to be the most open and airy cable I've ever heard. Maybe Siltech SPX10 beats it in ultimate delicacy, but the NBS has an altogether more fluid and organic sound, whereas the Siltech is more technically perfect and more dry. The NBS may even have a little bit too much HF, but is is never, and I mean NEVER agressive, glassy or brittle. It's just very, well, airy! It helps that the mid frequencies are, in the best sense of the word, neutral. Neither retracted nor shouting out, thereby helping the natural balance that this cable has. The Dragon Fly also has ample bass, only slightly short of what Lapp achieves. But the NBS is more fluid, airy and more agile than Lapp. It is also quicker and airier than Harmonic Technology Pro ACII. All in all, especially at this price level an amazing achievement even though this is NBS' entry cable.
NBS Dragon Fly III powercable
A follow-up to the original Dragon Fly, this cable has similar appearance with the same connectors but uses solid core instead of litze. This translates directly to the sound, which is more focused, has tighter end slightly sronger bass but is also less airy and, to my ears at least, too controlled and too dry. I suspect that this cable is now closer to the sound of the more expensive NBS cables and if you're looking for more detail and value precision over fluidity in a powercable then this may be the one for you. It is still very affordable.
This thicker Belden cable (bottom cable on picture) sounds very different from the thinner 3x2,5mm version. It has more bass and less of the thinness and grain in the treble but the price paid for this is a much darker sound and compressed dynamics. This cable is so lacklustre that it doesn't even sound like a Belden anymore.
This cable reminds strongly of the Harmonic Technology Pro AC II cables: lush, sweet, fluid and refined. But it is not in the same league, sounding somewhat restrained dynamically and simply too relaxed in the bass. Although really subtly detailed yet smooth and therefore very seductive, you need to apply this cable carefully. It could be just what you needed to get rid of that digititis or it could be the toe-tap-killer. (listened to with various connectors and on various components)
Essential Audiotools powercable
This cable is said to give great results at an entrylevel price. Indeed, at its admission price of only 99 euro you're getting a neutral sounding, basic cable that's a lot better than the standard "packed in the box" powercords. Overall I'd rate it more or less on par with the most affordable Kemp and well thought out home-made Belden/Lapp cables. Its resolution is moderate and its treble could be more open but it's not aggressive and enjoyable enough. I suspect that this is a Lapp cable with custom print but compared to some Lapp types it still comes out short with respect to colour and fluidity. Then again, at 99 euro I haven't heard better commercial powercords.
please note: this review had originally been written with a price of 200 euro in mind. In this light I had less sympathy for the cable. I have now heard of the real price of 99 euro which changes things quite a bit. Hence the amendment of this review.
Crystal Reference Powercord
This cable has caused quite a stir in the highend world. And rightfully so. It has its roots at Siltech and it shares some sonic similarities indeed, like its resolution and openness combined with a relaxed fluidity. This is a combination that you don't find very often. There are differences though, as a comparison with a Siltech SPX20 made clear. Where the Siltech can be pushy in the mids and slightly overemphasized, the Crystal is more relaxed and more natural. Upon looking at the cable you'd expect a lean bass but this is not so, in fact its bass is excellent. No, it is not as full as Harmonic Technology's Pro AC II but I would say it is just right. Tonal balance is neutral but the mids are every so gently laidback. A comparison with the best cable from netkabels.nl, the Ultimate, made clear that the Crystal really makes music at the highest level. And bear in mind that it comes with bog-standard connectors... imagine what the replacement with high end connectors would do! Comparing the two cables I would say that they each have their specific strengths: the Ultimate having more harmonic richness and body; the Crystal having higher resolution in the treble. The choice comes down to taste and preference.
Oyaide Tunami powercord with Oyaide 037 connectors, later also with IeGO connectors
This is probably the best cable to show off your system with when friends come along: it is extremely lively and dynamic and very finely resolved at the same time. It is not grainy or harsh but its enthusiasm simply is too much for me. My system has Magnepan 3.6 magnetostats and because they are already so very open, the addition of the Tunami was imply too much of a good thing. I can imagine though that this cable could do very well in less open systems. Recently (2011) I tried this cable again, this time with IeGO gold connectors. Same result but I even liked it less than before: way too technical, dry and unemotional, even in a friend's Jadis system this cable failed to stir the soul. This cable reminds me of how the IeGO powercable sounded.
Somewhat similar to Harmonic Technology Pro ACII (which is fluid, round and full and slightly laidback) but less subtle, less finely detailed and with considerably less PRAT (less speed). Overall, for the outlay it is not a bad cable but your system really needs to be able to facilitate it. If your sound is very open and perhaps harsh or shouty, these PS cable may be for you. In already warm systems it may be too much.
IeGO L 70530 copper/silver powercable
A lively, fast and detailed sounding cable that has excellent midrange clarity. For all its openness and detail, it is never harsh or grainy at all. It is however very much balanced to the forward/analytical side of things, leaving little in the way of fluidity, creamyness or relaxation. It sounds very focussed, the soundstage being less wide and "outside the speakers" than is possible with other cables. This cable is all about detail. If you crave it, this cable will deliver, sounding easily as open and detailed as a Siltech SPX-20. In fact it sounds much like it but is less airy. This is a very good cable but an extreme one so handle with care.
Just like the interlink: extremely fluid, smooth and relaxed sound with incredible resolution. Voices are entirely natural and float freely between the speakers. Additionally, this may well be the most neutral and well-balanced powercable I heard. Its frequency response is ruler-flat, but the cable doesn't sound devoid of colour, like would usually be the case. Nevertheless, just like with the interlink, all isn't perfect. Dynamically this cable can sound restrained and there can be a lack of drive and attack at times. Best combined with characterful components.
Just like the interlink: extremely fluid, smooth and relaxed sound with incredible resolution. Voices are entirely natural and float freely between the speakers. Additionally, this may well be the most neutral and well-balanced powercable I heard. Its frequency response is ruler-flat, but the cable doesn't sound gray or devoid of colour, like would often be the case. Compared to its earlier incarnation there is much improved bass, drive, PRAT and dynamics, al the while retaining all previous good qualities, making this pretty much an unbeatable cable. Nevertheless, just like with the new interlink, there's still a hint of woolyness in the bass, making the cable the less than perfect choice in already smooth sounding setups. With many setups however, this cable can achieve magical results, forever spoiling you for lesser cables.
A more lively, more incisive and more dynamic version of the regular Obsession powercord. This one still has all the usual Echole qualities, but is more neutral in balance, slightly shifting the comfort zone from cosy/luxuriousness to impressive/dynamic. Combined with my Levinson 390S cd player, this cable performed incredibly well, with the PS Audio PWD however, the regular Obsession was the better match for its more forgiving nature.
Cable with an interesting build: thick but very supple and also a lot lighter than it appears to be. The conductors are braided in a counter rotating geometry, around what seems to be an air tube core, then surrounded by what seems to be light rubber, most likely for damping purposes. It does look impressive. Soundwise, connected to a Wadia 861 CD player, the cable is very different to what you might expect: articulate but a bit thin in the bass and lacking some body and fullness that many other cables do offer. Shunyata cables are supposed to exell in micro dynamic contrasts but for me this wasn't so exceptional. The cable was however very precise and fast in the bass, having no overhang, and as a result also some dryness at times. Surprisingly, soundstaging and focus were its weak points.
First I need to be clear that this cable is manufactured by CP-Audio, affiliated to this website. So, even though I would never endorse a product that I don't like or not tell things exactly like they are, feel free to draw your own conclusions. The CP Ultimate Reference wasn't originally part of the review but since we were testing anyway I figured why not test this one too. Surprisingly it held up really well even in this exotic company: compared to the Shunyata it was much more powerful, with deeper, more solid bass and a more colourful midrange. In fact, we preferred it to the Shunyata on all accounts. Compared to the Lapp is is of course less forgiving and creamy but never in an analytical or shouty manner. Comparing to the Kemp was very interesting: the Kemp had better focus and projection, and also its treble was slightly more extended, but it had this shoutyness in the midrange that we couldn't get used to. Also its focus and razor-sharp projection seemed to come at the expense of a wide and deep soundstage, at which the CP excells. Ultimately though mostly its ill-defined bass made us prefer the CP over the Kemp. It was just more foot-tappingly musical. The CP Ultimate Ref is, as becomes clearer and clearer everytime I compare it to new contestents, a very neutral yet lively and above all musical cable that just doesn't put a foot wrong. It can only be beaten in ultimate treble extension and air.
Not compared directly to Harmonic Tech Pro ACII yet, but seems even better at fine detail and transparency. This is a neutral and natural cable that nevertheless sounds smooth and forgiving. It is never harsh or agresssive yet very detailed and even fast and precise. One of my favourites.
This review is for the current version with Furutech connectors. This cable preserves all strong sides of the first generation Pro-AC II but adds excitement and pace to the mix. The result is a smooth sounding cable with a forgiving nature that still maintains good speed and dynamics. At its price it is unbeatable but it should't be used in very warm or overly relaxed setups.
This cable was bought after repeated endorsements of readers of this site. Personally I always thought that it was simply a Lapp cable with a coloured sleeve instead of transparent and with Isotek writing on its sleeve. So, finally I decided to make a comparison to a real Lapp cable that matched its looks quite closely: comparable connectors, screening and geometry. Even though it looks much like a Lapp (even its conductors inside), still it sounds lots different. There was no Lapp-typical smooth, big, fat sound but instead an upbeat, lively and confident sound. The Isotek has very good bass solidity, speed and articulation yet isn't the most nimble cable of this test. Its midrange is ok: not shut in nor shouty but also lacking a little in resolution and smoothness. Finally its treble is also fine at the price: not exactly coarse, but many cables sound more more fluid and refined. Compared to a Lapp 110CY it has a more communicative quality but also more dryness and of coarse less creamy mids and treble. It probably does a nice job of opening up the sound in many midrange systems. Overall, at the price, still recommended, but not for me (and my open system).
This is a very neat looking cable: sturdy, heavy, a bit stiff, but still supple enough to use easily. Soundwise, connected to a Wadia 861 CD player, the Kemp initially impresses with a very clean and open, yet fluid midrange and a high level of transparency and detail. All this resolution does not come with hard edges or brittleness. This is a highly communicative cable that lets you hear deep into the mix. Much, much different from the simpler LO and HI powercords from Kemp's early days. Still, after a few tracks I start to notice some tendencies that make the cable deviate from neutrality. First, the bass is strangely imprecise: it swaggers and is ill-defined and also lacks punch, especially compared to the very open and lively midrange. Second, there is a persistend shoutyness in the higher midrange that, while making for a very open and communicative sound, can also make for some listening fatigue. Still, this cable was liked a lot, and if ignoring the midrange (also a matter of taste and system synergy) only loses out to the other cables in the test in terms of bass solidity and articulation.
There are many variants in Lapp's repetoire. Some cables are merely good while others are extremely good value for money. IMHO, the best Lapps (some versions of 191CY and 110CY) produce a very full sound, with a deep bass that's very tuneful, a rich and creamy midband that is also very well detailed and focussed and a treble that is very fluid and absolutely never harsh. There are quicker and fresher cables around, Belden for example, but Belden sounds thin and dry in comparison.
It is evident from my comparisons: the TTL process massively improves the cable and connectors, and no matter which component I tried it on, the Gold Label was always the clear winner, comfortably sounding better than the Harmonic Technology Pro ACII, Siltech SPX10 and the Furutech Alpha 3. It's that I don't have any other reference-grade powercord in the system, but from memory I'd say that the Gold Label powercord is more musical, more harmonically complete and more goosebump-inducing than any other cables I have tested thus far. In fact, I like it so much that I have decided to order two of them, and to make the Gold Label my new reference for power cables. Additionally, Reference Tweaks and CP-audio have now merged.
Very seductive cable at moderate cost: smooth and creamy-rich, very forgiving and natural sounding. But it lags a little in the speed department. Dynamics are good but transients seem a little soft. Nevertheless this is still a very enjoyable cable, but it is not a neutral cable and it must fit in the setup. Finally, after comparing to the Signature there was simply no way back so if you can't afford the dearer one, don't make the comparison because you will be spoiled!