A Fabulous Variety Of Furutech Reviewed
This review features Furutech's PowerFlux NCF 1.8 Power Cables, GTO-2 R
NCF Passive Power Distributors, FI-50M R NCF And FI-50 R NCF Power Cable Plugs, FA-Alpha S21 Balanced Interconnect, FA-Alpha S22 Balanced Interconnect, FT-111R RCA Connectors, FP-601R Male XLR Connectors, FP-602R Female XLR Connectors, DSS-4.1 Speaker Cable, Speaker Cable Splitters, FP-201R Spade Lugs, And FB-200B (R) Banana Plugs.
The focus of this review is a lineup of Furutech products. It includes interconnects, speaker cables, and power cords assembled with their bulk cable lines, along with the PowerFlux-NCF 18 factory-made power cords, the GTO-D2 NCF(R) Power Distributor with custom-designed NFC duplex outlets. The premise of the bulk cables is to offer a more economical approach for the DIY assembly of Furutech cables using their wire designs with Furutech termination plugs of your own selection. Scot Markwell, President of Elite AV Distribution assembled the cables for this review to the lengths needed for my stereo.
While every audio system needs cables to connect components and power supplies, it can be a complicated range of choices based on cost, design, and various product lines from the many cable manufacturers in the market today. If you are not comfortable assembling DIY cables yourself, there are several Furutech dealers such as Douglas Connection and Dennis Barish who can assemble any combination of Furutech parts for audio cables to your specs. (Contact information is at the end).
The Furutech company has been in business for several decades with a reputation of quality and persistence to investigate details in the development and refinements for their products. Their parts for cable terminations are used by other manufacturers and DIY fans. Many companies and cable designers have their own statements about wire purity and sources, crystallization, and molecular directions while forming the wire, wire material, and coatings, as well as quality materials for types of insulation along with the stranding and gauge types. The Furutech website provides extensive details about their engineering and technological approaches for resolving their design ideas for the needs and musical interests of audiophiles.
The Powerful Team Of Furutech Power Source
I decided to begin the Furutech evaluation with power cords, power distributors, and their special wall outlets. Scot Markwell supplied eight DIY power cords made from Furutech's DPS-4.1 Alpha bulk cable assembled to various lengths with their FI-50M R NCF and FI-50 R NCF IEC connectors, two GTO-D2 R NCF power distributors, two GTX-D R NCF duplex outlets with the GTX Wall Frames and 106-D NCF high-end carbon fiber and NCF cover plates. The PowerFlux-NCF power cords were used to connect the distributors to the newly installed wall outlets.
A licensed electrician installed two new dedicated 20-Ampere lines using 10-gauge Romex to the listening room. I was able to use the two main PowerFlux-NCF cords on the distributors that link all the other power cords going to the equipment instead of the usual setup of eight Kubala-Sosna power cords that went directly into the existing dedicated 20-Ampere lines with four duplex outlets. The existing dedicated lines were installed five years ago with a new 200-Ampere 40 circuit Siemens main breaker panel along with replacement ground lines using copper rods. The breaker box had unused slots to install more lines to accommodate the new circuits.
The GTO-D2 R NCF power distributor utilizes two of the Furutech custom-designed NFC duplex outlets with the GTX frames and 106 D NCF outlet covers mounted into a heavy, dense, specially treated rectangular CNC-optimized aluminum chassis that is lined with their special Formula GC 303 material for optimum RFI/EMI rejection. This special proprietary material has excellent electrical and mechanical damping properties. The aluminum chassis also shields against RFI/EMI with fluoropolymer damping foil. AC resistance is kept to a minimum by using the passive Furutech material designs instead of passing the power through circuits with filters with caps and transformers as do many other companies' power conditioners and distributors.
I heard refinements and improvements when using the power distributors as the source for plugging in the eight DSS-4.1 power cords compared to going directly into the wall outlets. This would make sense since all the cords would benefit from the sound neutralizing, enhancing designs, and stable outlets of the complex GTO-D2 R NCF power distributor. There were increased levels of resolution and transparency with a better balance to the music in the perception of details and delivery while also seeming more neutral, quiet, and relaxed. The more natural sound of the music enhanced the timbre of instruments. Vocals had more clearly articulated words. The essential sense of space around instruments and performers was easier to perceive, as if the recreation of the sound seemed less artificial and more real. There was a greater sense of tonal colors with a perception of more density, depth, and saturation to the sound.
I switched out the more expensive factory assembled PowerFlux-NCF cords and tried plugging them into the two amplifiers while using the similar-looking DSS-4.1 bulk cable power cords on the two distributors. The sound shifted in ways that were a bit less satisfying. Overall it was still quite good, but just not with the same balance and magical air of presentation as before. The bulk cables enable DIY types and dealers to assemble custom-length cables with high-quality Furutech materials. Scot Markwell, the Furutech USA distributor/representative and President of Elite AV, said the bulk cables were an effort to provide a more economical way for audiophiles to buy and own Furutech products.
Although the assembly and performance of the DIY cables will not reach the full sound of the impeccably and superbly made factory cords, the custom DIY cables can deliver results close to it for a lot less money. This way a person can achieve perhaps 85 to 90% of the sound quality of the more expensive factory cables for less money. The factory-assembled PowerFlux-NCF cords also have a special EMI / RFI filter in a mid-mounted module on the cables to create additional filtration properties against noise.
Furutech has been designing power cords for many years, and the DPS-4.1 is the culmination of their use of special materials and treatments in the manufacturing process for DIY cables. I found their sophisticated and specialized plugs to be effective and quite pleasing to the eye with a strong tactile feel. I appreciate cables that install properly and stay in place, so they have secure connections and look as good as they sound.
The Importance Of The Outlet's Distinctive
The GTX-D R NCF outlet has multiple design features that consider every manufacturing detail to justify its cost as it creates a better connection to the power cords. Furutech has a specially designed and patent-pending internal conductor pressure plate for the power plug blades that is tensioned by an internal stainless-steel spring to increase contact area and smooth gripping power. The outlet is made with rhodium plated nonmagnetic pure copper conductors. It has a nonmagnetic 2mm thick stainless brace plate and 4mm set screws for wires and will accommodate 10AWG wire.
The NCF body is composed of a nylon fiberglass material with special anti-resonance nano-sized crystalline piezo ceramic particles and carbon damping materials that have two active properties: they generate negative ions to eliminate static, and they convert thermal energy into far-infrared. The GTX Wall Frame is a beautifully made special grade aluminum CNC-finished piece, which also helps to shield against EMI/RFI. The non-resonant black coating exposed on the outside of the plate and edge of the wall looks exceptionally clean and precise for a perfect fit and finish. This secure frame reduces excess vibration and movement that would otherwise be transmitted to the power cord. That is a great idea for stability and helps address concerns about heavy cables sagging, flexing, or not fitting into the outlet tightly.
The final triumphant flourish of detail in the Furutech GTX-D R NCF outlet is the 106-D NCF carbon fiber faceplate. This is not just fake "plastic" carbon fiber material. Furutech did a multitude of tests on various damping materials, and then incorporated their special proprietary NCF material in combination with real carbon fiber layered onto a stainless-steel base plate to offer a faceplate that is the final part for their three-part AC outlet system.
Speaker And Interconnect Cables
Furutech's Pure Transmission PCOCC bulk cable is the result of further processing with their Alpha Super Cryogenic and Demagnetizing treatment. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries designed their new conductor to optimally align the copper crystal grain structure in addition to reducing crystal grain boundaries. As a result, the DUCC wire is somewhat less sensitive to directionality than PCOCC. The secret sauce of the DSS-4.1 is the combination of these two technologies.
The advantage of Furutech's DIY/bulk line of interconnects is that it allows customers to order custom lengths and connectors. Furutech's bulk RCA type interconnects made from the FA-Alpha S22 balanced cables were reasonably light in weight and flexible and easy to install. The shielded cable from the turntable to the phono stage was exceptionally quiet and avoided hum issues. Happily, the Furutech cables do not add weight strain to the equipment input and output plugs.
The cumulative results of the Furutech dedicated AC outlets, power cords, power distributors, interconnects, and speaker cables combined to my system performance levels to increased musical heights compared to my usual setup. During the past years of Covid restrictions and changes, I devoted an extraordinary amount of time to refining and improving my stereo system so it could more closely reach the parameters and experiences of the live music performances I have missed attending. The Furutech lineup of products allowed me to listen comfortably at high concert hall levels whenever I was in the mood for such 90 to 100 dB thrills with the Magnepan 20.7 speakers and REL 212 SX subwoofers, yet they also had all the resolution and clarity to sound musical and engaging at moderate and lower sound pressure levels.
Serving Up The Musical Experience
My stereo system setup now includes all of these varied and accomplished Furutech products. They all built upon a theme of details for design and variations for the elimination of interference along with the utmost skill in manufacturing technology. The new variations of Furutech products compared to the old assortment of cables with dedicated outlets made me eager to hear the kind of orchestral works that build upon a theme to reach a fulfilling and exciting ending.
I put on the LP of Riccardo Muti's 1982 Philadelphia Orchestra EMI DS-37885 recording of Ravel's "Bolero". Ravel is an amazingly skillful composer who carefully crafted varied instrument combinations known as orchestrations on the "Bolero" theme. I wanted to hear all the myriad details and accumulating crescendos and complexities of this piece starting from the opening snare drum motif played by my colleague and friend Mickey Bookspan. I was at this recording session and heard the master tapes in the playback room. It is a coincidence my wife's cousin, John Kurlander, was the recording engineer for EMI at many of these Muti recording sessions. I have heard this record many times.
The Furutech products allowed the musical tones and sounds for players that I personally know to be easily recognized. The culminating final chorus of the orchestra at triple fortissimo was as realistic as being at the studio since I was able to turn the music up loudly without distortion. The Ravel orchestration, consisting of distinctive individuals and blended instrumental textures, sounds, and timbres was communicated flawlessly via the Furutech cables with clean, unrestricted power from the GTO-D2 NCF distributors.
Another favorite theme and variations piece I often play is Elgar's "Enigma Variation". I put on the George Solti and Chicago Symphony 1976 London CS 6984 LP. I am always fascinated with the beautiful and mysterious theme. The orchestrations and ingenious variations allow a sublime listening experience that expresses Elgar's characterizations of his friends. The Furutech cables allowed the music to flow with artistry and emotion as my stereo sounded balanced, natural, and unstrained. There seems to be a natural musical comfort level with these Furutech products. Their contributions to the stereo presentation eliminated distractions from electrical distortions. Their character is very neutral while letting the music sing and be clearly heard. On the one hand, the cables lacked imbalances from offering too much warmth and lushness, and on the other hand, were not too etched and overly detailed.
I next played Basie and Ellington. The Columbia LP CS 8515 First Time has the two bands in a "Battle Royale" as they were recorded together by Columbia side by side in the studio on July 6, 1961. This momentous occasion with the two bands meeting for a summit of Duke Ellington and Count Basie was a memorable presentation, allowing them to share their mutual admiration for each other while featuring the attributes and performers of their bands. It was amazing to hear the players of both great bands trading solos and choruses back and forth, and eventually in combination. As a demo, it is a real test for most systems: while presenting one big band is already a challenge for any stereo, hearing the massive impact of the double band would possibly overwhelm the ability of many fine stereo systems. With the Furutech cables and power delivery equipment providing clean sound and EMI/RFI and vibration control, I was able to hear all the music with proper definition and depth, savoring all the flavors and excitement their music performance offered.
I changed the PrimaLuna CD player, Rogue PR 7 and 9 preamplifiers, and Rogue Apollo monoblocks during my evaluation. The Furutech interconnects and speaker cables had the ability to partner, facilitate and work well with the introduction into the system of the Ayon CD35II, USA Labs RS9 Music Server, and conrad-johnson Premier 8 monoblock amplifiers. The qualities of the cables were excellent and helped reveal the sound changes made by the new components so those improvements could be enjoyed.
After conducting this review, I have a new appreciation for the importance of the power source as the beginning of the sound that is heard. The advances in cable designs, power delivery systems of outlets, and power distributors with new manufacturing materials provided real improvements and gains for the sound and were not just marketing PR hype. I have come to believe that cabling is every bit of an important purchase decision equivalent to upgrading a component. Innovative ideas in areas beyond the components and speakers can be just as important for reaching and maximizing the performance levels of a stereo system.
The cable industry has developed and matured over the years to offer new product lines and pricing structures. Furutech has a variety of innovative products that contributed to new musical gains in my stereo system that I appreciated. The qualities and performance levels of their expensive and exquisite factory cable products can now be approached with the more economically priced bulk cable lines. I highly recommend checking out these products even if you did not think a cable and power distributor upgrade was needed.
If you are beginning a new system, then I suggest that you consider these items as equally important in comparison to any other component. Even if you already have good cables, outlets, and power distributors, you should check out and consider these Furutech products for your system. Do not be surprised when you hear improvements with very pleasing results.