Nobody will ever question one´s decision to invest one thousand euro in an amplifier. Investing the same amount into cables connecting the amplifier to other components may already cause some eyebrows to be risen. But putting the very same money in an power cord immediately raises questions about your sanity.

POWER UP! Lessloss DFPC original


I always had a neutral attitude towards power cables. If manufacturers are not including other than ordinary power cord with their equipment (not even the most reputable ones), there must be reason. Either they just leave the extra options open to you or they do not believe in the real sound impact of after-market cords. Despite this, there are numerous reviews out there that swear into tremendous sonic changes happening when a standard power cables were replaced by the specialized ones. On the other hand, there are also some reports from experienced and very knowledgeable folks ending with conclusions that listeners were not able reliably tell the difference between the ´lamp´cord and the reference one (one such a case will be discussed further).

For me the annual Munich high-end audio exhibition became the point of no return. Sitting in the Nordost´s room I wittnessed quite significant sonic progression when a standard power cord and their entry-level Wirewyzard Magus had been swapped. The seed has been planted.

The snakes

Being aware of the fact that in the world of high-end audio the performance is not necessarily proportional to price it was clear that venturing into power cord testing we could not exclude the entry-level cables. Sometimes one is able to find diamonds among rocks and some look-alike diamonds may be just fakes on the contrary. It was also clear that with too much wires we could go crazy very soon and even if not, the selection would not be ultimate as there were many other combinations always possible. So please – this is not the shopping guide to power cables; rather consider this article as an initiation to the exciting topic and, as usual, let your ears to decide.

With this review we aimed to find answers to the following questions:

  • Different manufacturers do have different approaches to cables’ design, they use different materials and geometries. So, is there any approach (i.e. brand) which is consistently better than the others?
  • It was also suggested on many occassions that greater lengths perform better than the shorter of the same which is exactly the opposite what we normally believe in. In our lives, the length of any cable is always dictated by rather practical aspects. Ray Kimber once nicely summarized that: A cable should be long enough to make the connection between two components. This holds true here as well – after all, you need to reach the wall socket, don’t you? But the question remains can you benefit from greater than necessary lengths of a power cable?
  • And finally, how much sonic improvement you get with an extra amount of money paid?

So, the invitations to the party had been sent out and the following guests arrived (listed in alphabetical order):

AUDIOQUEST NRG-5 (0.9m + 1.8m) No need to say that Audioquest supplied the product of audioquestian build quality (though assembled in China today). The cable uses three PSC+ (Perfect Surface Copper) solid conductors shielded by counter-spiral Hyperlitz maintaining a fixed low-inductance relationship between positive and negative. It is not surprising to see EMI filters attached to the outer sheath (Noise-Stoppers in audioquestian language). The NRG-5 comes in attractive red-gray fabric design and represents the company’s flagship model.

CARDAS Golden Reference (1.5m + 1.5m) Traditionally Cardas, the terminations offer ultra-grip when connecting male and female together, so a certain level of cautiousness is required when unplugging. Should you want to know from where George Cardas sources those massive rubber-coated IEC plugs, look at Furutech’s catalogue at number FI-15 (the same as Furutech Absolute Power-18). It is not surprise that the power cord uses pure copper wires arranged and twisted in the Golden Ratio fashion to minimize strand/wire interactions and micro-resonances. Coming in matt-black finish the surface of the Golden Reference is very soft on touch and the cable itself is pretty unique in manner how the flexibility changes along the wire – try to imagine two bricks connected with a piece of rope to get the idea. The cables were factory-assembled in the U.S. and surprisingly they change the phase from plug to IEC so the attention is needed.

FURUTECH ABSOLUTE POWER-18 and FURUTECH POWERFLUX (1.8m + 1.8m) The portfolio of Furutech offers vast choice of anything that you would ever need to build any high-end cable. The quality of parts is exemplary and attention to detail almost obssessive. For example, the plugs and IEC connectors of their power cords address such issues like induction of current flows and subsequent magnetic fields in the small screws that hold the connector’s halves together, by patented star grounding of all the metal parts of the connectors. Both cables are cryogenically treated and then demagnetized. Both use OCC copper conductors that are rather strands (56 strands in the Absolute and 68 strands in the Powerflux) than single wires. The Absolute uses FI-15 connectors, the Powerflux top-of-the-line FI-50 Piezo Ceramic Series terminations. In Furutech they know how to sell technology so tons of details can be found in specs on their website.

GIGAWATT LC-1 a GIGAWATT LC-2 (1.5m + 1.5m) The LC-1 power cord was developed as a standard complement of the line conditioning products from GigaWatt. Its tin coated copper shield is covered by PVC jacket that is further reinforced with abrasion resistant braiding and gives the cable attractive top-end look. LC-2 improves on LC-1 with doubled cross-section of conductors, slightly different geometry and better terminations that are manufactured to the company’s strict specifications. We recommend checking our review of the GigaWatt’s PF-2 power strip to learn more.

ISOTEK Elite (1.5m) The UK based company enjoys reputation of being on the top when it comes to power filtering. No surprise that they provide power cords as well, though only 3 models. The Elite is the middle one, providing the favorable pricing of the Premium cord and high-quality components of the Optimum. Its design utilizes three core annealed OFC conductors, braided RFI/EMI shielding and beautiful violet terminations manufactured according IsoTek’s specifications. Through the transparent outer PVC layer you can enjoy satin-like sky-blue core.

KRAUTWIRE Orbit PA II / Orbit C (1.5m + 1.5m) Some may be familiar with Omega, the entry-level Krautwire’s cable for the source components. Orbit C is the successor of Omega and the hot addition to the company’s catalogue. Rather than an improvement the Orbit C is a complete redesign of the Omega: it replaces Omega’s four silver plated copper wires with six strands of copper wires and on top of that increases the cross-section surface. Orbit II is the new version of ex-Orbit and it is using silver-plated copper wires (16x0.5mm2). Both cords are terminated with Wattgate IEC and Hifi Tuning plugs, none of them is shielded – in Krautwire they prefer braided geometry to minimize RF borne noise.

LESSLOSS DFPC Mini / Original / Signature (1.5 + 3.0m of each model) Well, if you think of a power cord as of necessary evil to bridge the gap between your rack and the wall socket, then please take a look at the LessLoss’ DFPCs. Any of their power cord would not seem to be out of place in a contemporary art exhibition. Though the braided design has no (probably) sound impact, it brings stunning visuals as well as some practicalities in terms of easy bending. However, Lithuanian LessLoss is more than passionate about the engineering as well – the aim of the ‘dynamic filtering’ (Dynamic Filtering Power Cord is what the initials stand for) is to keep the cable as conductive as possible for all transferred frequencies with the exception of RFI. With the exploitation of the skin effect theory DFPCs attenuate undesired interference and noise leaving the power energy cycling around 50Hz untouched. The models essentially differ with conductors’ cross-section area, however the Signature and Original are also terminated with gold-plated Oyaide 079 ruby-case plugs.

NEOTECH NP-3PS52 (1.2m) It sells as a bulk wire. The set that was available had not been produced by the factory but assembled locally, using quality terminations - that is the plug and the IEC. That’s perhaps why the phase changes along their length (similarly to the Cardas Golden Reference). The cross-section of the three OCC copper conductors is 3x2,5mm2, shielding is twofold – alumium/mylar foil and tinned OFC braiding. The cable comes in white sheath and is rather stiff, though reasonably thick.

NORDOST Brahma and NORDOST Valhalla (2m + 2m + 2m) It would be a sin to organize any serious testing of reference cabling without Valhalla’s participation. Throughout the years Nordost set apart from competitors not only by mono-filament technology but especially with competent sonic capabilities of their products. No wonder that each of seven solid conductors of the Valhalla Reference Power Cord is suspended in dual micro mono-filament matrix to use the best of the air as an ideal dielectric. The OFC copper of wires (silver plated afterwards) is born in lengthy extrusion process to get the desired crystallization and so is the extruded FEP insulation. Elimination of EM/RF interference is ensured by winding the conductors in a special configuration. Terminations are custom-made and gold plated. Nordost Brahma is second to Valhalla - it uses five conductors of Valhalla grade, however, there is just single filament winding around each wire and also the ratio of silver to copper is said to be lower.

OYAIDE Tunami GPX (1.8m + 1.8m)  The latest incarnation of the already classical power cord from Japanese manufacturer. Its 3 copper strands are outsourced from Furukawa (PCOCC-A with long crystals and high purity), the last OFC one is used for shielding. The shielding is in fact tripled, one layer screening off the electro-magnetic interference, another controlling the accumulation of energy in dielectrics and the necessary copper foil with a drain wire filters out the RFI. Terminals are the proprietary red 046e/c-046 (one of the best available in the industry today) and are directly gold-silver-rhodium plated. Black cable contrasts with the bright red plugs in a luxurious Ferrari fashion.

SHUNYATA RESEARCH Diamondback (1.5m) All transparent Diamondback represents what Shunyata calls ‘cost-effective AC cable’. With the Shunyata cable we are receiving their proprietary cryogenical treatment, contact soldering (instead of bolting) and contacts generously plated with copper/gold alloy. Though we regret that only Diamondback was available at the time of review (we’d rather see some of the Shunyata’s top models plugged in) it gives taste of the Shunyata Research house flavor anyway.

SUPRA LoRad 2.5 (1.5m) The Swedish manufacturer is synonymous with with high quality entry-level cables and accessories and could be recommended to anyone who is building his first serious audio system. LoRad stands for Low Radiation which means that the cable is well shielded against incoming RFI and is not radiating electric or magnetic fields by itself. Supra employs one interesting tweak – the screen foil is ground connected via semi-conductive PE on the earth conductor. The solution requires an extra isolation of other cable’s parts from the earth wire as this is basicaly live. Quite unusual is also the tin-plating of OFC wires that are used throughout the design.

TELOS Golden Reference (1.5m +1.5m) Telos Audio Design is run by Jeff Lin in Taiwan and his cables may be the answer to many audiophile dreams. At least as it comes to the design that is offering generous gold plating, cryogenic treatment, precisely machined elements and overall heavy construction. According to the manufacturer, adding extra weight to the power cords should help to control microresonances of conductors with positive impact on the sound. Also Cardas, Furutech and Acrolink designs (to name a few) are living proofs that resonances on different levels should be not underrated. However, judging just by appearance Telos should be clear winner.

VAN DEN HUL The Mainsserver (1.8m) The entry-level company’s power cord is supplied in the typical VDH sealed paper box that says “The Link Between Technique and Emotion” and that’s what it really is. The Dutch master claims that unlike conventional designs The Mainsserver is not using any components in series with AC line and as such it should fast in response and no current limiting. However, it contains some sort of built-in filters to surpress incoming power contamination. In the EU version the golden-jacket cable comes with oversized Schuko terminal of white color - this does not cause any problems as the cord itself is quite flexible so you will not need more space than usual. On the contrary, when changing the power cords I had to appreciate the ease of grip associated with the unusual ergonomics of the plug. Inner conductors are silver plated as is the heavy shielding and the anti-corrosive PETE insulation is applied throughout the design.

VINCENT POWER (1.5m + 3.0m) What we know about Vincent power cable? Not a lot, do we? The German-Chinese corporation is not sharing any information on the construction. At the price I do not expect any hyper-technologies inside but despite the low price the cord looks glorious. It is one of the thickest cables of the test, though it is quite easy to handle and you should have no problem to make bends if necessary. What could be the problem are the terminations, that are super-sealed so you have to absorb the fact that the last 15cm or so on both ends are flexible like a 1’’ metal stick.

WIREWORLD Silver Electra 52 (2.0m) The new power cable series of Wireworld are recognizable easily even from a 10m distance: their unique geometric structure results in dual-flat design that is claimed to effectively absorb power line noise through maximizing inductive and capacitive filtering. There is five 52 models and they differ only in their conductor material (and color of the plastic sheath). The silver Silver Electra is using silver-plated OCC copper and as such is inferior to the pure silver Gold Electra flagship power cord. Despite generous use of ‘silver’ Electras do not exhibit any symptoms usually associated with the metal.

All the contenders, piled up:

POWER UP! Audiodrom

The method

Well, this was the tough part. First, to throw more light on the longer vs shorter issue, we requested two different lengths of each cable – one shorter (1-1.5m) and one longer (2-3m). As the power cords are not really one’s standard stock item the availability was very limited, so only some contenders arrived in pairs. The respective length of each cable is indicated in the listening tests part.

Second, to work well, the cables should be connected with correct phase. For ensuring this we used both off-shelf electronic tester and built-in controls of GigaWatt PF-2 power strip. Still, with different components in the audio chain, there remained some uncertainty whether the whole electrical path respected the correct polarity. The correct phasing was not also facilitated by some designs that unfortunately reverted the phase on the way from the plug to the IEC connector. Cardas, Furutech and Neotech were such examples. Situation was tricky with Nordost, where only some of the cords were reverting the phase – this raises questions about the workmanship control. When in doubt we simply used our ears to judge the plug position that sounded better.

Third, the price range of the products under the test was enormous, ranging from 10 to 1000 EUR per meter. We decided to put the cords in groups therefore, so that the similarly priced products would be comparable at least to some extent and would give you the idea of the budget you’d need. Please note that the prices are not usually proportional with lengths as the terminations are mostly quite expensive - means that with greater lengths the price per meter goes down - which was not considered in the list below. Pricing often differs from country to country, moreover, due to logistic costs and margins applied, so please consider this grouping as purely indicative:

GROUP A: 200 EUR and less

Supra LoRad 60 EUR/m
Neotech NP-3PS52 80 EUR/m
Vincent Power 80 EUR/m
IsoTek Elite 100 EUR/m
VDH The Mainsserver 130 EUR/m
GigaWatt LC-1 130 EUR/m
LessLoss DFPC Mini 160 EUR/m
Krautwire Orbit C 200 EUR/m
Oyaide Tunami GPX 200 EUR/m

GROUP B: 200 to 400 EUR

Furutech Absolute 220 EUR/m
LessLoss DFPC Original 240 EUR/m
Shunyata Diamondback 240 EUR/m
GigaWatt LC-2 350 EUR/m
Audioquest NRG-5 350 EUR/m
Cardas Golden Reference 400 EUR/m
Wireworld Silver Electra 400 EUR/m

GROUP C: over 400 EUR

LessLoss DFPC Signature 480 EUR/m
Telos Golden Reference 530 EUR/m
Nordost Brahma 560 EUR/m
Krautwire Orbit PA II 570 EUR/m
Furutech Powerflux 1150 EUR/m
Nordost Valhalla 1200 EUR/m

Some may consider this division to be unfair as still within any group there are differences of 300% or more, but it was the best we managed to do. As a REFERENCE ushering all the listening sessions the most known power cord in the world was used. Yes, it is your ordinary supermarket PC cord. For detail hunters here you are with the batch numbers of what was used: 3x0.75mm2 Leoni F 227IEC53, 3x0.75mm2 I-Sheng IS-14 and 3x1.0mm2 Longwell-P LS60L.

Due to number of the contenders it was impossible to write a separate in-depth review for each power cord. On top of that, with 22 different wires on hand and 3 components used (the power distribution unit, the CD player and the amplifier) one would arrive at the total of 10,648 combinations in just one single system. Yes, over ten thousand combinations. This is absolutely not manageable at all even if the tests had taken 2 years. Therefore it became clear soon that some elimination would be needed.


Take no prisoners

The whole reviewing process was shared between Petr Wolf (PW) and myself and we agreed to use the same procedure throughout all sessions including the basic music selections:

All the power cords were properly burnt-in before any serious listening. In case the provider did not assure us that no further burning-in was necessary we allowed minimum 70hrs to each power cord for settling down. Despite powering up whatever was possible around the house it took quite serious amount of time (we have not received the electricity bills yet).

The PC power cord was always used as the first reference in the listening session for each group. Only the cords of the power amplifier were to be replaced at this stage to evaluate the contribution of just single cord to be heard. So after listening to PC cord it was replaced with a (supposedly) better one. If there was not an improvement in sound, the newcomer was eliminated. If the sonics did improved, the newcomer was taken as the new reference and so forth. By repeating this procedure over and over again we tried to make sure that the risk of error had been minimized. Next, the very same procedure was repeated with the CD player and later on the cumulative effect of single-brand wiring on the system was investigated into.
From time to time we made a downgrading exercise (i.e. using the cord that was already eliminated), especially when crossing the category borders, to ensure that we were not listening to something illusional. At the end we could draw a chart of winners. We decided to grant the review to the winning products in each category. The decision to write about other sonically interesting power cords was purely subjective, but welcome of course.

Men and machines

The following 2 set-ups were called to arms:

Set-up One: Linn Unidisk 1.1 universal player feeded directly into Spectral DMA-150, MIT MA-X interconnects and MIT MA speaker cables, Wilson Audio WATT/Puppy 8 (BMW-composite platforms under the speakers), everything plugged directly to the wall or via GigaWatt PF-2 power strip equipped with LC-2 power cord.

Set-up Two: Accuphase DP-78 feeded directly into Accuphase A-60, Homegrown Audio DNA interconnects, Krautwire Fractal speaker cables, Audio Physic Virgo V speakers, everything plugged into Nierika Precise Power Firmament (Nordost Thor modification) equipped with Nordost Valhalla power cord or to GigaWatt PF-2/LC-2 combination alternatively.

Hopefully both systems were transparent enough to bring out differences in the cords. However, the cords may (and probably will) interact differently with other equipment so we encourage experimentation.

Each of the reviewers was free to select the music tracks, however, we decided to select couple of pieces that were obligatory for every single power cord in the test. Means, that CDs and SACDs travelled together with the cables.

Here you are with the list of the chosen ones:

Something Cool (Jacintha, taken from The Best of Groove Note SACD sampler, GRV1036-3, mastered by David Glasser at Airshow Mastering) is one of our favorites for testing any wire. It’s got reverberant grand piano, closely miked voice of Jacintha, moody sax...simply everything. If sibilants are too prominent in the mix there is something wrong with your system. Check it for impurities. The track is extremely well recorded and the SACD layer just blooms and opens up in the listening room.

Hurt (Johnny Cash, taken from American IV: The Man Comes Around, American 440 063 339-2, mastered by Vlado Meller at Sony Mastering) is the Nine Inch Nails classic from Downwards The Spiral as it was reworked for Johnny Cash’s Grammy winning album. The textures and colors of the voice are incredible and if you ever need a torture test for articulation, here it is. Actually, Trent Reznor of NIN made the following comment to the piece: “I pop the video in, and wow... Tears welling, silence, goose-bumps... Wow. I felt like I just lost my girlfriend, because that song isn't mine anymore... It really made me think about how powerful music is as a medium and art form.”

Spanish Harlem (Rebecca Pidgeon, taken from Audiophile Vocal Recordings, Chesky SACD 323, mastered by Bob Katz) is another long term favorite of us. One of the best mixes that Bob Katz of Chesky Records fame has ever made. It is abouth intimacy, seduction, warmth, radiance and probably the best recorded double bass ever. A crucial recording for the overall frequency balance and the real showcase of midrange capabilities of any system.

Surrender (Elvis Presley, taken from Elv1s 30 #1 Hits, BMG/RCA RCA07863 68079-2, mastered by George Marino at Sterling Sound) does not require any comments. Beautifully reengineered by David Bendeth & Ray Bardani it is a 50-year old sonic masterpiece.

Tracks Circa Mea Pectora/Si Puer Cum Puellula (Carl Orff, taken from Carmina Burana, TELARC CD-80056) represent massed choral music at its best. You may know the tunes of Carmina Burana even if you do not think so. It is often quoted in movie scores (Excalibur movie is one example) and it has found its way even to speed metal genre (Blind Guardian). The opus is recorded Pure Digital in Telarc fashion on Soundstream/Threshold equipment without additional equalization and is very revealing in terms of any issues, that your system may have with soundstaging and spatial information. If the system is perfect, you can start counting members of individual choirs

Allegro 9 January (Dmitri Shostakovich, Symphony #11, The Year 1905, SACD LSO 0535, DSD mastering Classic Sound Ltd.) is a musical depiction of events of the first Russian revolution. With soldiers attacking the Winter Palace, the symphony’s 2nd movement represents all the drama Shostakovich is capable of. Fear inducing machine-like drums sequences and a threatening fugato in strings lead into sonic mayhem at its best. Very complex piece with huge dynamic sweeps, natural acoustics and rich color palletes was recorded live by Mstislav Rostropovich and London Symphony Orchestra at Barbican Center.

Grandmother’s Song (Vienna Teng, taken from Inland Territory, Zoe Records 01143-1125-2, mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound) was used complementary as it contains very natural sounds we all are familiar with: vocals, hands clapping, feet stomping and fiddle. And it is a nice little piece of music too.


POWER UP! Audiodrom

Eyes wide open

The reason why we are so descriptive about the methods we used is that because there is one nice report from J.V. Serinus who together with BAAS conducted ABX blind tests of power cords in December 2004 for the Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity magazine (full text can be found on their website). Briefly said, the experienced and not so experienced testers were trying to tell the difference in sound between the system powered through generic power cords and the one powered through Nordost Valhalla cords in the carefully prepared and supervised blind test procedure. Conclusion? The listeners failed to hear a difference between the two to any statistically significant degree. Ooops, with 22 cords in our hands it sounds challenging!

We were not blind testing. In fact, we were staring at the cables all the time and, yes, we were even touching them and travelling with them. Hopefully the visual clues we had did not lead to any prejudice – the victory of visually not attractive Van Den Hul could be the proof.

As described in the lengthy introduction, we always started listening with a reference, represented by standard PC cords. The entry-level group ‘A‘ was quite an interesting one and perhaps also the easiest one – we did not need weeks to identify the strengths or weaknesses of the individual power cords. Let’s proceed from the cheapest (LoRad) to the most expensive (Tunami GPX).

Supra LoRad is generally considered a good buy for any home audio or video application. Indeed, it is a good buy – the improvements with this PC cord are not huge, but they are there. The music has a better snap, it is more focused, more relaxed. It’s got quite a nice extension in lower registers, however, its bass also tends to be veiled and muffled a bit. We cannot recommend using it on power amplifiers, however, with the CD player it performed well, though the improvements were far more subtle (as were the drawbacks). With the Spectral gear the sound sometimes had a ´transistor-like´ quality, i.e.it was one-dimensional and lacked naturalness.

Inserting Neotech NP-3PS52 into the system had no positive effect. Not only did it not outperform the Supra, but it did not outperform the standard PC cord either. On Surrender Elvis‘ voice became unnatural, midrange was compressed and virtually missing from the mix, the bass (though deep) was loose and unfocused. The cable did bring the deep black background, as heard on Spanish Harlem, however it also erased all the ambient clues to the point of their non-existence. The resulting sound was fuzzy and in fact worse than with the standard PC cable. In my opinion there must have been some defect made during the assembly of the cable (please remember it was the only cable that was not a factory kit and also remember the issue with phase reversal).

Vincent Power was the first power cord that was really worth the money. It was quite convincing on amplifiers being able to organize the soundstage; it locked musicians in correct positions laterally and did not spoil the natural frequency balance of a recording. On Carmina Burana I noticed that the soundstage was moved a bit backwards – not necessarily deeper, just moved a bit. It created a greater distance between the listener and the performers as if you were sitting couple of rows further in the audience. Also it tended to make the bass a tad softer and the dynamics a tad flatter than necessary. What we appreciated was the background that was silent without deleting the important spatial information, not robbing the recordings of their natural ambience. The very same cable performed flawlessly with both Accuphase DP-78 and Linn Unidisk players and in fact was the only one in Group A that really improved the sound of the source components to a significant degree. Reading from PW’s notes: ´The music has got grip, it´s free and fast, Elvis´s voice radiates energy and does not sound flat as with most cables in this category´. I can only confirm the positive impression – in Hurt you can really hear Johnny Cash sing ´my sweetest friend´ instead of ´sweetesh´ like normally heard.


IsoTek Elite


IsoTek Elite was one of my favorites in the group. Maybe it was because of how it looked (a nice sky-blue piece of cable it is), maybe because the company really knows how to build excellent line conditioners – the competence in power cables is assumed automatically, isn´t it. So you see that I had some prejudices.
It was a surprise therefore that the Elite was just good rather than excellent. PW noticed that it compressed the soundstage a bit towards the center and despite the musicians on Surrender improved in terms of separation and focus, the soundstage was narrower than it should be. Not only did it compress the soundstage but the dynamic extension was flatter too, resulting in a rather one-dimensional experience. These attributes removed the texture and plasticity from Johnny Cash´s voice on Hurt. With CD players most of the negative comments are irrelevant and those who would like to invest in the Elite powering their source component may do so with peace of mind.

As outlined in the introduction, there are moments of suprise here and there in a reviewer’s life. None of us was expecting that such a surprise would arrive with Van Den Hul The Mainsserver when it was used with the amplifiers. The Mainsserver delivered delicate yet detailed and punchy sound that worked very well with Surrender. The rich tonality of Elvis’ voice just jumped out of the speakers with such a natural ease that turned the previously used cords into a crowd of onlookers. It was very refreshing to hear that there is a cable for such a low price which is able to keep pace with our picky power amplifiers. Emotionally the Van Den Hul was the best so far, drawing the intimate fragility of both Rebecca Pidgeon and Jacintha’s voices in such a good manner, that it was difficult to concentrate on testing. The overall sound of The Mainsserver is on the sweeter, darker and soothing side but don’t be mistaken: those analogue-like qualities are hand in hand with precise imaging, good to great ambience (though it is not apparent right away and you have to listen for it) and capability of delivering textures of voices and instruments. The midrange is where the VDH is very good and despite the soloists being a bit recessed in the soundstage their voices were always delicately hovering in our listening rooms with great palpability. The gap between other cords in the Group A and the Van Den Hul increased even more when listening to male and female choirs of Carl Orff that were exchanging their parts over a wide and deep soundstage (reaching far away beyond right or left speaker) and it was for the first time (in this power cable test) that we were able to pick out individual voices from the choirs.
Used on CD players, the Mainsstream provided us with decent result, easily among the best in the Group A, however, Vincent outperformed it with its openness and clarity. With Vincent on a CD player and the VDH on an amplifier we may have a winning combination.

At a similar price level, the GigaWatt LC-1 is positioned. Though it is a decent piece of cable, it encountered tough competitors. On the positive side is the overall neutral and balanced sound with plenty of detail, which was a clear improvement over the stock cords. What we missed was richer tonality and harmonies (something that the LC-2 already can deliver) as some voices and instruments were thinner than they should be. This has nothing to do with dynamics, which is fine, but rather with fullness of its sound. The LC-1 power cord comes as standard accessory of Gigawatt’s excellent-performing PF-2 power strip so you are welcome to read more here.

LessLoss DFPC Mini is a strange kind of animal. We had to wait longer until it settled-in than with other cables and then we had to work harder with component combinations to fully utilize its proclaimed dynamic qualities (it is a Dynamic Filtering Power Cord, isn’t it?). It also yielded different results on different gear – it was not really the finest match for my Accuphase but worked well with PW’s Linn, as far as source components are concerned. In general, it had a bit more spark than the others. Not necessarily being brighter in highs, which were fine, but rather in the upper midrange and the presence bandwidth. This contributed to tons of details that were heard, but it also affected the overall sound balance with less weight and plasticity in favor of more presence. Though the effect was ameliorated a bit after it had settled-in, it was still there. However, as indicated, a remedy was found. LessLoss’s DFPCs are basically cords with build-in filtration (dynamic filtration, that it is) so they apparently do not need any additional filtration elements in their power path. Once removed from the line conditioners and filters and being plugged directly to the wall socket, the performance of the DFCP Mini made a sonic progression (the same point is valid with other LessLoss DFPC power cords as well, at least on the equipment we used). Still, if you need a LessLoss, then go for the DFPC Original or DFPC Signature – these are more balanced, more ‘adult’. The DFPC Mini also did not really benefit from its greater length, the opposite was true – 1.5m seemed to be the better performer out of the two lengths we had on hand.



The all new Krautwire Orbit C was another surprise with lightning-fast portrayal and sharp imaging. It was not possible to mistake the Orbit C for any other cord in the Group A - transparency, openness, speed and articulation are the things that describe it the best. When feeding CD players it was a serious contender to the Vincent Power and in certain areas (like transient attack) was even better. This was clearly heard on Surrender, where the jingle bells rang with excellent clarity and definition and there was nothing to slow down the sound. On the very same track, however, Elvis’ voice seemed to be tonally flatter as was the bass foundation of the recording. Also the double-bass on Spanish Harlem, though nicely defined, lacked weight and the strokes of the grand piano did not indicate the ‘grandness’ of the instrument. PW observed the same with Vienna Teng where the transients of clapping hands were as rapid-fire, however, his Wilson Audio WATT/Puppys suffered from the malnutrition in the low registers. This is where the Vincent Power finally made its victory.
The Krautwire Orbit C is not the best match for power amplifiers, though it is not bad either. Recommended.

There were moments when we got a bit scared. One such moment was when we inserted the Oyaide Tunami GPX power cord into the system. The Tunami is a legend already. The GPX is claimed to be even better. Should we be intimidated? Well, we said we would take the ‘no prisoners approach‘, so here you are.
In the final chart (it will be published at the very end of this article) the Oyaide Tunami GPX was placed at the same position as the Krautwire Orbit C (when used on amplifiers), perhaps slightly below it. The Tunami GPX is above all a very polite cable. Instead of being hyperdetailed or superresolving it is very musical and forgiving. Actually, we liked a lot its smooth presentation and silky body, shown nicely on Shostakovich’s Symphony #11 with violin washes and sound pertuberances. We also liked the bottom end extension that contributed to the weight of violent martial rhythms of the Allegro. The rhythms lacked the punch, however, and the attacks were missing the transient firmness of the Krautwire and the Vincent. For our ears, the Oyaide Tunami GPX was far too relaxed and tidy and promoted an enjoyment rather than accuracy. If your system is overly bright and you need to correct it towards silkiness it could be achieved with the help of the Tunami GPX power cord. Quite a nice performer with only minor flaws.

With Oyaide we are now moving one level up, to the Group B, to the power cords with their price tag between 200 and 400 euros per 1 meter . Let me summarize, that so far, our favorites are the Van Den Hul The Mainsstream for the amplifier application and the Vincent Power for the source, followed by a close margin by the LessLoss DFPC Mini and the Orbit C.

The separate reviews of the Vincent Power and the Van Den Hul The Mainsserver can be found in the POWER CABLES section of Audiodrom.


Nordost Brahma


The entry-level power cords of Group A were pretty consistent as to their performance to price ratio – the more you pay the more you get with rare exceptions. As you will see in a moment, this assumption is not valid at all in Group B.

We will start from the most expensive one: Wireworld Silver Electra 52. Doubling the price tag does not necessarily mean doubling the performance. Actually, the difference between the Van Den Hul and the Wireworld is not a heaven & hell difference. As expected, the things are better and when you listen to the Silver Electra over a prolonged period it becomes difficult to downgrade to the VDH. In what sense are they better? The sound of the Wireworld is more sophisticated than that of the Tunami GPX, for example. It goes a bit deeper, a bit higher, gives a bit more contours to details, its midrange is more refined and the overall sound is a bit more organized. On Something Cool we get jazz intimacy in abundance. There are no harsh elements to the voice, and sibilants are nicely treated without blurring or smearing. The song is very liquid. This is the right word to characerize the Wireworld Silver Electra: liquidity, smoothness, fineness. The sound tries to seduce you and the tracks like that of Jacintha or the other of Rebecca are the perfect match for the Wireworld. Once it comes to dynamics, the demanding tracks, like when the London Symphony Orchestra is led by Rostropovich into a sonic revolution, show a limited dynamic range of the Wireworld. Here, the LessLoss DFPC Original or the Cardas Golden Reference power cords were better. The Wireworld Silver Electra is just too creamy in nature for amplifiers and so it is for CD players. However, everything is relative, so please keep in mind that it is definitely better than both the Van Den Hul and the Vincent Power.

Now things start to get interesting: Cardas Golden Reference power cord is stunning. Difficult to judge if it is due to George Cardas‘ golden ratio geometry or thanks to Furutech terminations but it introduces easily discernible improvements, which brings me to a question: how it is possible, that the test panel of J.V. Serinus and members of the Bay Area Audio Society was not able to reliably tell a difference between a PC cord and the Nordost Valhalla. Personally I think that a problem may be in the selection of components - the Parasound Halo’s that were used are generally thought not to be that sensitive to line conditioning. Also the selection of recordings and stressful conditions of the ABX test procedure do not contribute to the result. Perhaps and maybe. However, with the Cardas Golden Reference in both our systems, the change was profound. On the opportunity of the review of their interconnects and speaker cables we noticed that all the Cardas cables do have a very positive attitude toward natural sounds like voices, percussive sounds (irrespective if they come from hitting the animal skin on drums or clashing steel sticks) and instruments used in acoustic jazz and classical music. They were always extremely natural (not to say neutral) and so they are with the Golden Reference cords. Wooden blocks hit in Surrender or the jingle bells you can here on your left do not sound like a reproduced sound at all – they just materialize in your listening room so that you want to reach out and touch them. A piano is usually considered as the crucial test for the component’s capabilities – the Cardas got the grand in Something Cool right, both tonnally and in terms of imaging and its size. Because the Cardas is receiving a separate review of the Cardas Golden Reference) I will stop raving at this point.

Audioquest NRG-5 would be a very good choice when in doubt about a power cable selection. Above all, it is exquisitely quiet – one of the quietest cords in this test. The sonic events are drawn against a very dark background which subjectively increases the sense of dynamic and the musical enjoyment. However, the Audioquest does not surpress the ambient information; neither the precious detail. In Hurt you may hear less fingers on the guitar’s neck, but...wait a moment...what was the sound at the 0’21 mark in the left channel? You can simply hear much better into the mix than with some other cords – once the track is getting busier the NRG-5 doesn’t lose control and the voice, guitar and other elements remain nicely delineated. The cable does not work with such rich color palettes as the Cardas, so its sound may tend to be too controlled (too neutral?) here and there, resulting in a certain carefulness of the voice of Vienna Teng or Elvis. Things are simply too tidy, similarly to the Oyaide, and they lack the ultimate sense of unbridled energy. Actually, the problem of the Audioquest NRG-5 is not in its performance, but in the asking price which is rather high.

Shunyata Research’s Diamondback fits soundwise somewhere in between the Wireworld Silver Electra and the Audioquest NRG-5, which means that it offers better value (that is the performance/price ratio) than both of them. The cable is definitely an improvement over the Audioquest in terms of overall firmness of definition – where the NRG-5 was perhaps a bit ´hesitant´ and ´careful,´ the Shunyata is much more straightforward and immediate which results into a more lively presentation. On the other hand it lacks the refinement and richer tonal palletes of the Wireworld Silver Electra and cannot challenge the LessLoss DFPC Original in terms of dynamic expression. Plugged into CD players those differences become nuances and we recommend a personal auditioning so that you could draw your own conclusion.


Telos Gold reference power cord


One meter of the LessLoss DFPC Original is almost 50% cheaper than Cardas, however it still manages to maintain 80% of its performance. Which is not to say the latter is necessarily better in everything than the LessLoss. We would say that the LessLoss is ´tuned´towards a firm, dynamic and open sound (in the way of Nordost or Krautwire) as opposite to being lush, warm and embracing. And that´s where the polarity of opinions comes from. One would expect that the openness of the DFPC Original would balance nicely the natural sweetness of Accuphase gear. But it did not happen. Then we were assuming that the Spectral powered system would not need the added precision. But it needed it. That is what makes the high end audio so beautiful: expect the unexpected. So PW found the LessLoss DFPC Original to be quite a good match within his system and he also got excited about the fact that the Original was able to perform well without the help of stand-alone power filters. The important fact is that it needs quite a lengthy settling-in and it lets you observe (I mean hear) the changes day by day. Let´s not reveal more, but rather delve into a separate review of the LessLoss DFPC Original.

The GigaWatt LC-2 power cord is a completely different kind of beast than its cheaper sibling LC-1. I do suspect that there is not a lot of additional technology in the cable; however it somehow manages to outperform most of the competitors in Group B. Similarly to the LessLoss DFPC Original, the LC-2 is also on the ´colder´side of neutral, though not that much. In direct comparison with the Cardas Golden Reference there were some moments on some recordings when it was difficult to distinguish between the two. On up-tempo tracks like Surrender we preferred the LC-2: it was a bit firmer, more vibrant, the sound had a bigger ´slam´ quality. The Cardas managed to better sort out the members of the choirs in Orff´s Veni Veni Venias, LC-2 was a tad more congested in that sense. The reason why the GigaWatt LC-2 will be positioned below the Cardas in terms of the final sound quality lies in lower threshold of emotional involvement (as wittnessed on Something Cool) and textural magic (Hurt) that makes the Golden Reference so exceptional. We can highly recommend to use the LC-2 with the GigaWatt PF-2 power strip to replace the supplied power cord as there is a perfect synergy between the two.

Furutech Absolute Power-18 was the least expensive cord in the second group. In a certain sense it sounds like a hybrid between the DFPC Original´s firmness and openness and textural artistry of the Cardas Golden Reference. Which could be a nice breed, after all. Well, things are not that simple. First, the Absolute Power is sonically a very clean piece of a cable that lets you hear deeply in the mix and manages to keep solid level of separation between the voices and instruments. As to the bottom end extension and articulation the Furutech is at the same level as the Cardas. From the macro point of view the only readily apparent difference that sets the Absolute Power apart from the Golden Reference, is the golden aura of the Cardas that makes the Furutech sound more ´neutral´ (that is, less expressive). In that sense it is by the slightest bit outperformed by the LC-2 of GigaWatt. The resolving power and microdynamics were also where the Cardas and the GigaWatt cords scored better in the end - choir microevents in Carmina Burana were better depicted by the two latter as was the ultimate ´thump´ feeling as heard on timpani in Shostakovich´s Eleventh. Anyway, we liked its fast and taut sound on Hurt where the Furutech moved Mr. Cash´s voice a bit forward making it more present in the room. It might have been caused by a slight peak in the presence region – it is difficult to judge if that element would be removed with the help of additional burn-in.


Furutech Absolute Power 18


So, to sum up the listening impressions after the sessions of Group B, we have a winner (yet subjective) of the category: the Cardas Golden Reference power cord. You have your right to disagree and you´ll be correct. If we should dissect all individual sonic elements, there may be perhaps 5 out of 10 where the Cardas would not be the winner. For instance, in the context of this test the Golden Reference is still pretty fuzzy in the background and softer and dynamically flatter when compared to the absolute references. However, within the given price limits and considering its high entertaining factor the Cardas made perfect match in our systems.
Please check the separate reviews of the Cardas Golden Reference, the GigaWatt PF-2/LC-2 and the LessLoss DFPC Original.

Let´s move now to the very best!

We are entering the last stretch of our big power cord game. After exploring what sound one can get for less than 400 EUR per meter of a power cord we find ourselves at the gates of the power cable elite. But wait, didn’t we say right in the beginning that a high price tag does not automatically guarantee top performance? Well, it is shown here. Some of these Group C cables are not that much better than their Group B siblings than their price differences would suggest. Moreover, we have no upper price limit to the C category, which means that the priciest (Furutech Powerflux and Nordost Valhalla) are outrageously expensive when compared to their cheaper but also good cable-mates and this puts their subjective value into question. I mean the value, not their sound quality. Sad but true is that there are even more expensive power cord designs out there, like Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100, BMI Audio Oceanic or Nordost Odin, all of whose price tags are over 11,000 EUR each. Though we believe they cross the limits of the impossible, we remain skeptical about their sonic contribution until we audition them.

LessLoss DFPC Signature should presumably be better than the DFPC Original, its higher price not being the only reason. Apart from the fact that the DFPC Signature live conductor’s cross-section area is enhanced, there is much more technology behind this LessLoss’s flagship model and LessLoss can be proud of such an achievement. Anyway, we were expecting a sound that would not be essentially different but a more sophisticated version of the already experienced sonics of the Original. To keep it short, it is. To learn more about our impressions of the LessLoss performance, please refer to the separate review of the LessLoss DFPC Original. The areas of improvement can be nicely wrapped up by saying a bit more of everything. In our audiophile world, ‘a bit more of everything’ can be a holy grail for many and reason enough to take a mortgage to buy the DFPC Signature. The most significant change is its bottom end extension – the cable goes deeper and is more convincing, which was gratefully observed in the raging Allegro 9 January where the weight was simply needed to feel the drama. The Signature did not disappoint and thuds of timpani were convincingly delineated within the orchestral canvas. The ability to better delineate and sort out musical events is also improved upon comparing to the DFPC Original, resulting in a more organized soundstage and better musical insight. Surprisingly, we liked the DFPC Signature especially on source components (i.e. our CD players) where it was consistently better than most similarly priced competitors when it came to effortlessness and ease of musical flow. Still, the performance gap is not huge compared to the DFPC Original which we see as the cable with the best price to performance ratio, not confined to LessLoss’s range. We would also like to bring to a potential user’s attention that with one additional wire in the phase bundle it is absolutely necessary to make sure that the polarities of the wall output and your componet’s IEC input are correct. Only then will you be able to fully appreciate what the LessLoss DFPC Signature does for you.

The Telos Golden Reference power cord is by far the heaviest and the most robust cable in this test. Its fit and finish is outstanding. Terminals are milled from massive copper billets as are the anti-resonant rings embracing the cable’s diameter. Though it may seem unnecessary, it should have a positive effect on internal resonances of the conductors (i.e. dampening them) with an increased sound purity as the result. Not only are its connectors heavy but they are also generously gold-plated and so are the rings. The craftsmanship screams of quality and we should appreciate the country of origin (Taiwan) as if they were produced somewhere on the British Isles, where the cable would cost a small fortune. Nothing prepares you for quite an essential change in sound when the Telos is inserted in an audio system. The first impression is that everything is louder. As if you turned up the volume knob of your amplifier. There is no slow down effect, the music flows out of speakers free of any congestion or stress. Johnny Cash’s voice shows wonderful textural qualities, both guitars and piano shine with colours and especially the latter is so vibrant that you forget to breathe for a moment. Also the female vocal of Jacintha on Something Cool is very real, very extended and very clean. The bass weight and articulation are also areas where the cable excels. There was only one other cord that was better when it came to the bottom end extension and that was the Powerflux from Furutech. When I listened to Spanish Harlem the Telos induced a state of awe in me. I liked the aura that surrounded the voice and the instruments so much - it was so liquid and virtually analog-like... but after a while I started to miss something: the instruments’ sonic envelopes were very similar to those on Something Cool. Then I realized that the GigaWatt LC-2 (which was in my system before the Telos) was a bit noisier, that its background was not of the dead-silent quality of the Telos. And I started to miss the ‘noise’ as it obviously contained a lot of ambient information (like trailing off, reverberations and studio noises). Through the Telos, however, most recordings sounded as if they were all taken in a similar recording venue: that is in a studio with rather dead acoustics. I also felt a slight discomfort listening to the awesome separation of the instruments achieved by the Telos – although it was really top notch I missed the communication between the instruments and the musical coherence of the whole picture. I used Chesky’s test disc with an acoustic clicker, live drums and a double-bass tracks to reveal the truth: unfortunately, the Telos showed a sort of absorbing quality for quiet background sounds, as if you covered the walls of your listening room with a felt layer. Therefore decays were shorter (you know, I am talking about that wonderful lingering sound of brushed cymbals trailing off into silence) and the recording ambience suppressed. Then you have to make your choice – either enjoy the double bass’s fullness and warmth through the Telos or go for another cable that will let you hear the reflections of a sound from a recording venue’s walls. We prefer a balanced approach and that’s why the Telos in the end did not score as high as it could. The other reason, more practical, is the cable’s resistance to turns, especially in its axis. It is extremely difficult to work with the Telos and with its weight it puts a lot of stress on the equipment’s IEC connectors too.

The spirit of the performance of Krautwire Orbit PA II is very similar to that of the GigaWatt LC-2, though it is not the same. It is the firmness and resolute decisiveness that both do have in common. Sometimes as if a cable could not decide if it should play a note hard or soft, fast or slow - the Orbit PA II is able to make fast decisions in a very convincing manner. It is important to know that the PA II is designed especially for power amplifiers – this fact should not prevent it to be used with source components but during our tests it gave consistently better results with amplifiers. As we also had the Orbit II available at the same length it was easy to compare these two; let me say right away that the PA II is much better. Starting from the bottom the PA II does not perhaps have a better bass extension but the bass’s quality is improved in a sense of its focus and grip. The middle region exhibits better transparency, the music starts to breathe and the voices do have better plasticity, they are more alive. The PA II is also a bit more refined on its top end, it has more sparkle and drive. I also liked its dynamic swings when rendering Grandmother´s Song of Vienna Teng. What would prevent the Orbit PA II to join the best was a sense of overcontrol – its grip on music was perhaps too firm, it did not let the sound flow and we wished it had been more relaxed. Anyway, it is a decent power cord that easily makes its presence in a ´power cable top ten´ of this test. We also noticed that the Krautwire Orbit PA II used the very same terminations as much more expensive Nordost Valhalla – the Wattgate plug for IEC and the Hi-Fi Tuning plug on the other end. The sample of Krautwire Orbit PA II was not in its final version and the cable will be finalized yet; that´s why we refrain from showing it in the final evaluation chart - let’s wait for the final product.

Nordost Brahma is basically a small Valhalla, at least when it comes to its design. And soundwise there is a strong resemblance to the rest of Nordost family too. Actually, it is easy to get Nordost’s flavour already with their entry-level cables like Wyrewizard: the family sound is all about cleanliness, air, ambience, definition, attack and speed. But you may also miss the ultimate low-level kick with their entry-level constructions. The Brahma is adult in that sense and proved its competency right from the beginning. With the Brahma in place and the Hurt spinning we immediately noticed extra doses of spatial information we were getting from the recording and also the focus and detail delineation grew up to another level. Especially when compared to the Telos Golden Reference cable there was a very significant difference. For the first time in this test, with the Brahma we were able to hear the consonant of ´t´ at the end of ´sweetest´when Johnny Cash was singing ´...my sweetest friend´. The overall sound was a bit tilted towards the top end which brought an abundance of detail and other audiophile elements we all love, but for a newcomer such a balance may actually sound as if the cable was missing some of the body, especially in a direct comparison with the designs like the Telos. This is a matter of preference, as we are rewarded by exceptional cleanliness, openness and dynamic freedom in exchange, the effect that causes any other cable to sound blurred or congested. The Brahma is also a direct opposite to the Telos in ambience recreation – where the latter dampens down recorded reverberations and spatial clues, the former lets them develop and trail off in a natural way. For instance, when in the Spanish Harlem the piano strings are hit by the felt on the hammers, not only you can feel it, but also track it until the very last moment until the sound decays into silence. The physical feeling of a kick drum in the Grandmother´s Song leaves no doubt about serious bottom line extension and punch. Switching back to the Cardas Golden Reference, we were getting a tad more veiled voice of Vienna Teng and a slight hint of dynamic compression on transients. The Cardas was able to compete in macrodynamics, however, when it came to microdynamic contrast and multileveled shading, the Brahma was clearly superior. Listening to Shostakovich´s Eleventh we enjoyed the thumping big drums drivings the massive sweeps of violins and horns with the Cardas. It was really an involving and passionate experience. On the same track, with the Brahma behind the wheel, every piece of the sound mosaic became cleanly delineated, structured and properly positioned in the soundscape. Only now the horns were blazing and violins shifted to violent dynamic attacks. Yet on timpani we still preferred the Cardas as it was more thunderous and fleshy.


Furutech Powerflux


When climbing up the quality ladder and with months spent in the company of superb after-market power cords there was one thing that became very apparent: a listener was less and less tolerant to any deviations from the already achieved referential point of quality. Once you upgrade to a new level of sound quality you will have no mercy for artifacts of blurring, veiling, frequency imbalance, congestion or compression, and you would do anything possible to keep the already achieved soundstaging perfection and precise imaging.
Beginning at a level of 500 EUR per meter of a power cord, there were some cables that were great and that were able to open the gates of audio nirvana, but still it was possible (although difficult and after some adaptation) to return to the generic power cords that were used in the system before. As said, difficult, but possible.

Doubling the budget leads us to the last two power cords in this test: the Furutech Powerflux and the Nordost Valhalla. If you like integrity and coherence, efortlessness and cleanliness, spatial reality, an abundance of details and supreme resolving power, natural tonal palletes or an unrestricted dynamic range, then you may have all these if your audio system is either powerfluxed or valhallized. Both the Furutech Powerflux and the Nordost Valhalla cross the magic border with the point of no return. Once you experience them in your system there is no way back. We are not going to reveal more here, please proceed to the separate reviews of those two.


After months, we reach the finale. The summary could be easily wrapped up in the sentence ´yes, power cords do make an audible difference´. It is perhaps natural that the biggest sonic impact was experienced when feeding power demanding devices like amplifiers. Less obvious changes were experienced with source components, which is in contrast with some reports that claim the opposite. One can also expect more audible differences with more modest audio gear – a five hundred Euro CD player is pretty sensitive to anything whereas more sophisticated units are already designed to be more resistant against poor power quality. We already made our point – the world of power cables is more about interaction than about anything else, so there is nothing like an absolute truth here.
An interesting fact is that, in ideal circumstances, one would not expect significant changes when a power cord was used to feed a power filtering unit (like the GigaWatt PF-2 or the Nordost Thor we used) and definitely no change was assumed to occur with active gear like the Accuphase PS-510 power supply that arrived during the last month of this test (it should be completely insensitive to the incoming voltage as it builds its own clean voltage from scratch, doesn´t it?). However, the opposite was true: replacing power cords connecting those devices to the wall socket had tremendous impact on the sound.
In our case, the Linn and Spectral system was more sensitive than the Accuphase one. Out of all the machines that were used, the SACD Accuphase DP-78 was the least sensitive device, and in fact only two power cords did really make a difference that was worth spending some extra money on here – the Vincent Power and the Furutech Powerflux. But the Linn was also pretty okay with anything good connected to its IEC socket. The most sensitive part of our audio chains was the GigaWatt PF-2 power strip that worked best with its stable mates (LC-1 and LC-2) and rejected anything else with the exception of the Vincent Power, the DFPCs by LessLoss and the two top references. This indicates the general component-friendliness of the aforementioned cables.

Now, to formulate a conclusion and to answer the questions we asked ourselves at the beginning of this test:

Is there any approach (i.e. brand) which is consistently better than the others? Not really. In terms of significance we may conclude that the geometry is not the most relevant factor. Although we had wires with a flat, braided or straight design and wires that were multi-shielded or completely unshielded, we could not draw any conclusion on preference. On the contrary, the terminations were where we felt the logic was. The cords with the same connectors tended to show sonic similarities. Anyway, there were not a lot of different brands of connectors to be found on the test participants: Wattgate, Furutech, Oyaide or their copies were the most frequent. Of course, when we start talking about brands, you can expect a family resemblance with many of them – the liquidity of Van Den Hul, the warmth of Cardas, the speed of Nordost or the firmness of Krautwire, to name a few.

Can you benefit from greater than necessary lengths of a power cable? To put it simply, yes, the quality of sound seemed to be better with the greater lengths. This may be due to a better filtration effect of the cable. Normally most producers even do not recommend using less than 1.5m of a power cable, however, if you have 1.0m installed, the difference is in nuancees as it is when you have 3.0m. Considering the prices of after-market power cords it does not really pay to have redundant lengths for improvements that are only marginal. However, if you insist and are wealthy enough, then you may add an extra finishing touch to your system by using extra lengths. The producers will not protest, that’s for sure.

How much sonic improvement do you get against the extra amount of money paid? The answer is: it depends on your audio system. Different components = different contributions. With increasing amount of money you can expect better quality. Although we managed to find some semi-precious stones in the assortment, a miracle, that is, a star-performer at a very low price, did not happen.

We tried, however, and made charts showing the performance/price ratio of individual cords - you can find them hereunder. One is for the cord – amplifier combo, the other for the source component (CD player).

GROUP A: 200 EUR/m and less
1-Supra LoRad
2-Neotech NP-3PS52
3-Vincent Power
4-IsoTek Elite
5-VDH The Mainsserver
6-GigaWatt LC-1
7-LessLoss DFPC Mini
8-Krautwire Orbit C
9-Oyaide Tunami GPX

GROUP B: from 200 to 400 EUR/m
1-Furutech Absolute
2-LessLoss DFPC Original
3-Shunyata Diamondback
4-GigaWatt LC-2
5-Audioquest NRG-5
6-Cardas Golden Reference
7-Wireworld Silver Electra

GROUP C: over 400 EUR/m
1-LessLoss DFPC Signature
2-Telos Golden Reference
3-Nordost Brahma
4-Krautwire Orbit PA II
5-Furutech Powerflux
6-Nordost Valhalla

In an ideal world, the ratio between the performance (the sound quality) and the price should be linear, i.e. by paying twice as much we should receive twice as much performance and so forth. Therefore you can find orange and green areas in the charts which we call ´the consistency corridor´. If anything escapes the corridor upwards, it brings a fabulous performance at a lower-than-expected price (those are the diamonds). Vice versa, if anything escapes the corridor downwards, it is simply overpriced and you can get similar sound quality somewhere else at a lower budget. Please read the charts carefully as they were set up upon the results from only our systems and cannot be generalized for any piece of equipment in the world. However, it is interesting to see the power cords in the amplifier chart that more or less keep within the consistency corridor, unlike the CD chart, where with significant amount of money paid we often get less profound sonic improvements. For some, those extra nuancees in performance may easily justify the extra cost, and for others, it will seem a waste of good money. High End is very subjective, indeed.


CD players


No matter what conclusion you will make for yourselves, let us make one final note: power cords should be considered a very valid element of any good audio system, and the likes of Nordost Valhalla or Furutech Powerflux will easily defend their prices, because the contribution they make cannot be achieved by other means. Our recommendation for building a top performing audio system is therefore very simple: start with the acoustics of your listening room and then make sure that the power distribution is the best you can afford. Only then will you be sure that you’re listening to your components and not to problematic acoustics or electric distortions.