Picture this: I was feeling my ‘Next round’ of updates were best served making sure my big tube mono blocs were getting all the juice they needed to perform their best so I discussed it with my cable adviser (and all around great guy) Pete G. owner/operator/originator of the highly regarded cable manufacturer: Triode Wire Labs. I told him I wanted “High value” big bang for the buck and he did not disappoint. I told him my favorite tube amps would probably appreciate more than a pair of stock power cords so we agreed a pair of “Ten Plus American” would be terrific. I am also a big believer in serious “Contact” enhancement so I decided a pair of FURUTECH FI33G IEC Connectors were exactly what the doctor ordered as well, and Pete concurred. Fast forward after the minor surgery of IEC connections and delivery of the custom built cords I had high expectations but I honestly could not believe how much of an improvement I heard right off the bat.
And it was just the beginning! Pete had partially broken them in for me initially but I knew it was bound to get better with a good 150 or more hours on the whole combination so I powered up the amps every day for variations of about 4 to 10 hours each day for the next several weeks and kept my curiosity at bay. This meant not testing a sample of how they were coming along until I arrived at just about the 200 [more] hour mark.
Finally it was time. In my mind it was time and in reality it was time too. The stage was set: I picked an evening where I could have plenty of undisturbed time. No room or patience for distractions or possible interruptions. I left the amps on all day... and my tube dac on standby all day... My tube preamp? Always on standby and ready to play.
So I stacked up my usual favorite assessment CDs. Favorite assessments? Yes. You know. Songs from any time throughout the years of more and more different tracks. Tracks that I either ‘Instantly admired’ or even “eventually grew on me” but all with the same underlying denominator they were “Well recorded”. That’s right, something that ‘Connects’ in any number of wonderful ways but each one exhibiting some particular aspect or aspects that immediately placed our ‘audible sensors’ on “High notice”. Something about them almost in a magnetic way pulling you right in. So I stage the event... The listening ritual so ingrained into the loan listener. He who is one with the thrill of the chase as tangible as a hunter with the prey in his sights or the fisherman as his rod and reel suddenly become the physical link about to bring success to that elusive conquest.
I’ll load the disc. Set the volume. Grab the remote. Adjust my listening chair. Take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. Consciously note: my ‘expectation factor’ is dialed way up to “Very high“ on the meter. One more pause though barely a long instant... then press PLAY.
Immersion. The first few notes are an out right surprise. I instinctively begin my instantaneous assessment but my mind eases to consciously override thought... in trade, for FEELING. I pause to catch my breath just for another moment but not due to fear...but to sheer astonishment.
What I’m hearing is a wonder, in fact a collection of wonders all occupying the same space and time.
A wonder of the presence of instruments portraying themselves in their limpid personal space.
A wonder of the atmosphere being generated as the sound ebbs and flows through that space.
A wonder of the “Tangibility factor” that conjures up the “reach out and touch motivation” so palpable, so believable.
And I wonder at the gestalt... The collection of all these wonders in one place all striving to make these factors greater than their total as they strive as a whole to bring the performance to life in your room.
On a personal note for all those who wonder how anyone can spend hours on end listening...often in solitude as he or she pours over selection after selection while the heartbeat often skips and jumps its beats with each new selection...I say “hang in there... one day you’ll cross an invisible line”. One day you will come home with some new audio artifact purchase whether it be a major component you may have always lusted after or maybe just a ‘lucky tweak’ that really made an unexpectedly significant improvement or maybe something like a new cable be it a power cord, interconnect, USB or whatever, that simply “Opened it all up” (like my TWL!) It can cross you “Over the line”.
Triode Wire Labs is a winning ingredient for my system... it has been for years... but this combination in particular was simply “over-the-top“ for me. Check it out, you have nothing to lose except hours and hours enjoying the reason you chose this awesome hobby...: Fantastic Music!