In the June 2001 issue of Enjoy the Music.com my review of interconnect cables resulted from my requesting products from various interconnect cable manufacturers. All of them sent two different models of their cables, all of which were mentioned in the review, featuring models retailing for about five hundred dollars per one-meter pair. Review can be seen by clicking on to our archives section. There was one exception, David Salz of Wireworld. In addition to his impressive Eclipse III+ interconnect cables, instead of another of his cable models, he included three Silver Electra III A.C. power cords that he requested I review. I've finally gotten around to fulfilling his request.
I've never had any interest in listening to or reviewing A.C. power cords. Why bother with something that should have no or miniscule effect on overall sound quality? I could vaguely rationalize that the special or hospital connectors on both ends could make better contract and allow a better or more efficient transmission from the wall outlet to the equipment. There also seemed to be a bit of logic to having low gauge (very thick) wires going to powerful amplifiers so they aren't "starving" for more incoming A.C. power, but what manufacturer would do that do his new "pride and joy"? Anyway what would that have to do with the relatively low power demands for CD players, pre-amplifiers etcetera? Also I wondered very seriously about the A.C. line before it got to my wall outlet receptacles and what about the "continuation" of the power cord inside the equipment - don't those areas matter too? So, I'd left that subject area alone and deliberately so. Until a little more than two years ago that is, and I'll return to this subject at this point, after the following paragraph.
After opening the three impressive boxes, each with a nice design/logo combination on the cover, I connected two of the Wireworld Silver Electra III A.C. power cords to my two Herron amplifiers. I connected the PS Audio 300 Power Plant to the wall outlet with the third power cord. The Power Plant in turn powers my turntable, HDCD player both the Herron preamplifier and step up phono preamplifier. The Silver Electra's appearance almost instantly reminded me of Bob Fulton's largest speaker cables of yesteryear fame. However the Electras were very attractive and certainly looked like all silver heavy-duty auto battery jumper cables. They had what appeared to be an outer layer of a silver-appearing shield covered by a thin clear plastic protective layer - very classy looking to my mind's eye. I turned everything on and left the system playing at a moderate level for a couple of hours. Who knows, maybe even A.C. power cords benefit from at least a couple hours of break/burn-in time. Upon returning and listening at my usual sound level, it was instantly apparent that the sound quality had changed. No golden ear was needed to verify it. The overall sound had become brighter and depending on which recording was playing, it was also a bit on the etched side at times. Since my system has no need for a dose of added brightness, the Silver Electra III power cords did not complement my system particularly well. There are assuredly plenty of systems out there that can use a small dose of brightness and in all other respects, I feel comfortable recommending these attractive and well-constructed A.C. power cords.
As Paul Harvey Has Often
PART ONE - When I talked to Paul McGowen about this at CES in Vegas he offered a brief and simple explanation using just signal to noise ratio as an example. "Assume that the Power Plant reduces S/N ratio by 40+ decibels. If the A.C. power cord feeding the Power Plant reduces the S/N ratio by 12 decibels then the resulting S/N ratio will be at least 52+ decibels. That and its effect on the signal and interactions are very audible on a good audio system". Such interactions can cause brightness and/or smearing. On the last day of the Las Vegas show PS Audio's new optional cord arrived.
PART TWO - More than two years ago Jim Aud of Purist Audio fame air freighted the heaviest box of various cables and wires I've ever received.
These were destined for review in The Audiophile Voice magazine and eventually appeared in issue #5 of volume #6. Anywhere there was wire or cables in my system, he had sent his best replacements, the Dominus series. Total retail price was very expensive. The only stipulation Jim requested was that all the wires and cables were to be reviewed together, in other words as a system of cables. I did exactly as requested. A fascinating aside to this tale is that the short, but thick interconnects leading from the lightweight player I had at that time were so stiff that the player actually was suspended in air; its feet never touched the shelf. This cost-no-factor series of cables from Purist Audio sounded gloriously superb as well they should. Eventually I had to return the cables and packed them into the original shipping crate. There was some space left over. "Impossible", I said to myself, I had gone through and disconnected every wire and cable from all my components. Yes, except for a new addition, the P.S. Audio Power Plant that I had just finished reviewing when the Purist Audio cables had arrived. Hooked up to the Power Plant was the Dominus model A.C. power cord just staring at me; I had overlooked the recent addition. The review had been written and sent to Gene Pitts and I was sure Jim would not mind a little comparison with just one power cable. Hey, what harm could there be and no reason for me to bring up the subject. I tried an excerpt of a large-scale classical selection and then one song by Diana Krall, all was fine. Then I replaced the "forgotten Purist Audio" A.C. power cord with PS Audio's original power cord and uh-uh, not so fine! I double-checked and repeated the switch and triple checked and so on. The result was always the same, with the Purist Audio A.C. power cord the sound was always a bit smoother and sweeter and sibilants always cleaner and seemingly not exaggerated plus not having an extended "time-tail" added.
By now, it was late at night and I called to my wife Pat to come in and listen for just a couple of minutes. Of course I gave her no idea of what I was doing or what to expect. I repeated what I had been doing and asked if she happened to hear any difference between the 'A' session and the same selections for the 'B' comparison. She said, "Yes, of course - what did you do"? She then described, using different words, exactly what I had heard. That was just with one power cord, for the PS Audio Power Plant. I wound up with Purist Audio A.C. power cords on my power amplifiers also. I've never regretted my decision to use three Dominus A.C. power cords in my system and until now I've never compared them with any others nor had I intended to. I'm just disappointed that my listening sessions and resulting review of the Wireworld A.C. power cords wound up seemingly negative. In a review of A.C. power cords by Michael Fremer in the July issue of Stereophile magazine, the Wireworld Silver Electra III was noted as, "somewhat softer and richly relaxing" compared to most of the power cords he compared it to. Relativity again is important if not paramount.
I did not have quick access to the other power cords he tried and he did not have the Purist Audio's for comparison. Where are you and your system's starting point? As often is the case different systems may create different results. Just exactly what's going on with A.C. power cords? I called Jim Aud to discuss the subject. I told him my results without mentioning product names. He believes that what was happening in my system was either RF interference or radiated interference such as from other components in my system (or nearby appliances) or a combination of both. I asked why it evidently did not bother or was not picked up by his Dominus model power cords. He replied that he had worked particularly hard on that problem and did not just rely on theoretical cures.
He stated that he keeps up with what his competitors do and that as of the last time he checked, the Dominus model had more shielding than any other
A.C. power cord he had inspected. He has not claimed that fact because he said that if he were to make that claim, someone would assuredly come along and add more shielding to their power cord to "shoot down his claim". All of his Dominus series have very complicated "all out effort" designs, including the
A.C. power cord. I spotted one difference in that the braided shield used in his interconnects is replaced by a foil shield in the
A.C. power cord. A diagram that I still had on hand shows many different types of conductors and ground wires; at least three different insulations are used individually for different conductors. Around the entire group of conductors and wires I counted at least six different overall wraps or shielding including a "magnetic field control" plus Purist Audio's thick famous fluid shield layer that contains a proprietary mix of metallic ions that almost certainly must both shield and absorb interferences. To top it all off, materials are cryogenically treated. No wonder they are very expensive and in my system very effective.
Conductors: 48 polymer-coated, grain optimized