BIG. FAT. WIRES. AND, A SHOCKING ANNOUNCEMENT…

Hi, Everybody –

Glad to have some time to post! It’s been awhile…

Like many of you (I’m guessing) I don’t have endless thousands of dollars to throw at this delightful hobby – there is that little matter of having a family to clothe and feed, bills to pay and so on. This means that – again, like some of you – I have to think carefully about my audio purchases and be on the lookout for products that offer very high value at their price.

I consider the vintage RCA 6SN7 driver tube that I blogged about last time and the time before to be just such a purchase. For around $50, it’s made a huge and very pleasurable difference in the musicality of my stereo rig.

But what about power cords?

In all the years I’ve been involved in this hobby, I’ve never bought a fancy, aftermarket power cord for any of my components. I hasten to add that I do believe that different cables can have differing sonic properties. I’ve heard pronounced differences between different speaker cables, for example.

But when it comes to power cords, I’ve been a bit of a skeptic. “Power cables aren’t even part of the signal path! How can they make a difference?”

(This reminds me of one snarky fellow on an Internet forum, who wrote that he knows power cords make a difference, because his amp won’t play music without one.)

But let’s just allow the possibility for a moment that the power cord can have an effect on how well current is delivered to your component from the wall socket, and that this can affect your music. If that’s so, then it might justify paying extra for a “better” power cord.

I started to reconsider power cords because the ANK Kit 1 doesn’t’ come with a power cord at all. Presumably this is because Brian Smith figures that most Kit 1 builders will add a boutique power cord, anyway, so why not let the customer choose the one they want?

Since building the Kit 1, I’ve been running the amp with – drumroll – a cheap cord cannibalized from an old PC. This has been received by my Internet audio forum buddies with the gnashing of teeth, the rolling of eyes and much tsk-tsk-ing. “An amp at that level deserves a good power cord,” they all said. But which one?

As you know, you can spend thousands of dollars on a power cord alone, which just wasn’t going to happen in my case.

Then, the incredibly helpful and upstanding Audiogon citizen known as “Almarg” suggested I try a power cord from Signal Cable. Their MagicPower power cord starts at $69, which, in The World Of High End, is almost giving them away.

As you’ll read in my next post, I’ve made a new pal named Jeff, who lives here in Austin and lent me a pair of Tekton Lore Reference speakers to try out in my room with my rig. He also took one look at my crappy power cords and said, “I think I can help you out.” Turns out he was looking to sell some nicely broken in Signal Cable Magic Power cords! How serendipitous! (I’ve been waiting to use that word for months.)

I now have a Magic Power Cord (10 AWG, which translates into “thick and beefy”) connected to my amp and a Magic Power Digital Reference (12 AWG, which means, “not quite as thick and a little more supple but it still shouts ‘heavy duty'”) connected to my Bottlehead Seduction phono preamp. (I had hoped to connect one of these cords to my DAC but can’t thread the large connector through the smallish hole provided in my equipment cabinet for cable routing. Bummer!)

Here are some comparison shots of my cheapo PC power cord alongside the Magic Power Cord from Signal Cable:

IMG_0538

IMG_0539

IMG_0540

And here are a couple of pics of the two cords installed in my gear:

IMG_0553

IMG_0556

How does the Magic Power Cord sound? Great… really great! Soundstage is wider, presentation is more relaxed, there’s greater air and separation between instruments and – delightfully – the low end is more authoritative. All this from a power cord!

I can highly recommend the Magic Power Cord (and by extension, assuming the same value proposition, other Signal Cable products). If you are trying to put together a great system on a budget – or even if you have a lot more than I do to spend – they are a terrific bargain! I am delighted!

And now for a shocking announcement:

My Reference 3A De Capo’s are for sale!

Yes, as much as I have adored and often been awed by these speakers for the past three years, my experience with the Tekton Lore Reference convinced me, if not to buy a pair of Tektons (I’m not quite there yet) then at least to dive into the world of VERY efficient, SET-friendly speakers.

More on that, and on some of the choices I’m considering, next post.

By the way, here’s a shameless plug. If you’re in the USA and would like to purchase a very beautiful pair of Reference 3A De Capo’s, check this out!

de-capo (3)

Until next time, enjoy your music!

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “BIG. FAT. WIRES. AND, A SHOCKING ANNOUNCEMENT…

  1. Steve,
    Very nice post. Glad you are enjoying the Signal cable. If you’d like similar result/upgrade with your interconnect I’d be happy to loan you the Belden 8402, one meter, as I have some spares. Just email me and let me know. You should really read the Jeff Day blog at his WordPress site. Just Google. Best Rob.

  2. Hi, Rob,
    I did read the Jeff Day post, thank you! In fact, I’ve kept the window open on my browser. Haven’t had time to follow up but July should be quiet at work so I may get to play with interconnects. 😀
    I’ll let you know if I can take you up on the offer to borrow… thanks.

    1. Great! Knowledge is power. Due to your inspiring AN Kit-1 blog I’ve decided that when my wife and I build the AN Kit we are also going to diy upgrade my Coincident Dynamo SE34. Another Audiogon member who is a diy expert turned me on to a group of folks that have modified/upgraded the Coincident Dynamo by upgrading capacitors to either Arizona or Jupiter, power capacitors, fuse, IEC connector from cheap to Furutech, tube sockets to Woo type, plus, if really ambitious new volume control. Thank G-d my brother, a diy expert since high school, his motto, Have Solder Gun Will Travel, will be with us for a couple of weeks to guide us through the projects. His main speakers are Harbeth SHL5 driven by Leben CS600. This is the brother that lent me his DeCapo Ref 3a (2nd system) for comparison to Tekton. Oh, while at this other stuff we’ll additionally upgrade the Tekton capacitors. Again, all the best with your audio adventure. Rob

  3. Hi, Rob,
    The Dynamo modification project sounds like loads of fun. It’s cool that people are discovering that amplifier as a platform for modifications.
    Enjoy!

  4. Respectfully, I believe you are selling the component with the most potential. You seem to have forgotten how good that speaker is because your new amp clearly isn’t up to driving them. Save your money for a more capable SET.

    1. Steve,
      With a name like that you must be a great guy. 🙂
      I appreciate your comment.
      Maybe I am a big doofus.
      Maybe this is a huge mistake that I’ll regret forever.
      Maybe I should shut down this blog and stick to my day job.
      But I’ll explain my reasons for making a move in the next post.
      The De Capo’s are great; no doubt about that.
      And I know just where you can get a beautiful pair if you’re in the market. 😉
      Thanks for posting!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s