Mini Power Cable Shootout. . .

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Mini Power Cable Shootout. . .
« on: 6 Jan 2003, 07:54 pm »

I thought I’d post the results of my mini power cable shootout.  This may help you figure out which cords to listen to.  

I was shopping for a cord for my new integrated amp which is an Audio Note Soro SE w/ Phono, and I had several to consider.  At current, I am using an Asylum Cable which I built a year or two ago from that Bob Crump design with the 19364.  It had been a heavyweight contender for a while!  It bested the Cardas Twinlink, and the Stealth HAC that I listened to.  But I knew there were so many cords to choose from, and thought why not try some.  

So, Wayne was kind enough to send me some cords to try.  I met Wayne at Kimber Summer Vacation #1, and he is one cool guy.  I knew how serious he was back then, and I have watched his progress with great interest, so I was anxious to hear some of his new product.  I can’t afford a Palladian, so I didn’t even listen to it.  Hehe

Anyhow, Wayne sent me a Bolder Type 2, which is what I was interested in, but he also sent me one of the new power cords from his Nitro series.  I knew how people had responded to the Nitro interconnects, so I was excited that he was willing to let me try the Nitro cord.

I listened to the cords when I first got them, and greatly preferred the Type 2 to all the others.  Wayne told me to listen to the Nitro for a while and then switch back to the Type 2.  So I listened to the Nitro for about 2 weeks, and last night I decided to shoot them out.  I had to make a decision.  

The power cords I had on hand for the shootout were:

Cardas Twinlink
Crump/Asylum cord
Bolder Type 2 w/ gold Furutech’s
Bolder Nitro

My system at the time of the shootout was:

Audio Note Soro SE w/ Phono
Audio Analogue Paganini CDP
Scott Nixon Tube DAC
Michael Green Classic Chameleon speakers
Bolder M-80 interconnects
47 Laboratory speaker cables
Quantum Symphony, and 3 Electro Clears
MG deluxe amp stands for racks
MG Pressure Zone controllers for my corners

I only had to use 2 discs for the shootout.  The differences were not subtle, but I didn’t want to do just one disc.  I used Johnny Cash’s new one called The Man Comes Around, and Beppe Gambetta’s Blu Di Genova.  This disc is Beppe’s magnum opus, and his best work to date.  Both are great real world non-audiophile recordings.  I used track 1, 3, and 10 on the Cash disc, and track 8 on the Beppe disc.

Here are my impressions of these cords in order of preference:

Cardas Twinlink

The Cardas in my opinion is a very sterile cord.  It is sterile, but it doesn’t have the detail that one would expect from such a dry presentation.  I did not like the Cardas much, although it did best the Crump cord for detail.  It was not musical at all, and didn’t have much cohesiveness to its presentation.

Crump’s Asylum Cord

This has long been the reference cord in my many setups.  It is a sweet cord, and one that cannot be beaten for the price.  The Crump has a way with midrange smoothness but it is also exaggerated in the midrange.  Midrange is emphasized, leaving the rest of the frequencies behind.  So, it is not the most accurate cord, but very pleasing to listen to, especially on vocals.  So, unless you have heard these other two cords, the Crump is awesome!  Track 3 on the Cash disc was not as convincing.  This is a very real track where Johnny is in your room, and he is playing a Gibson.  I know it’s not a Martin, and that’s how real it is.  But the Crump did a worse job of convincing me that Johnny was in my room, than the other cords did.  At 1:48 on the Beppe Gambetta track, many more instruments join in, and the Crump sort of sounded more confused on this.  But not if you haven’t heard a better cord.

Bolder Type 2 with gold connectors

The Bolder was very clean, and right off the bat I noticed how much more soundstage I had than with the Crump.  Vocals were very accurate, but not as forward as the Crump.  They had much more air, but almost to the point where the vocalists seemed a bit hoarse.  Bass was way tighter, and way deeper than the Crump.  The guitar was sweet on this, b/c I heard more detail.  But it was also more compressed than with the Nitro.  It sounded a bit flat by comparison.  Just a bit two dimensional.  It was much more believable than the Crump, but less than the Nitro.  

The soundstage was a bit less cohesive than the Type 2, and I think it had a bit less bass as well.  There was a lot more information there than with the Crump, and at 1:48 Beppe did not seem to get lost in a haze of music as with the previous cord.  More ambience, and more accurate attack, and string buzz was present on the Type 2.  Overall a great cord.  Until you hear the Nitro.  Against the Nitro, the Type 2 is much less listenable, and more fatiguing.  Not harsh, but borderline compared to the Nitro and the Crump.

Bolder Nitro Power Cord

As you may have guessed by this point in the review, this cord was the cream of the crop.  It took some convincing though.  At first, I preferred the crazy detail of the Type 2 over the Nitro.  I think because that was what I missed most with the Crump cable.  But once I had the Nitro in the system for a few days, and went back, I realized that all the detail was still there with the Nitro, it was just cleaner, and smoother, and more accurate.  The Nitro seemed more like music.

On the Cash disc, Johnny’s voice was as natural as I had heard it.  The piano goes very deep on this track, and it sounded sweet with the Nitro.  The bass is more together with this cable.  The soundstage was at the perfect height, but that didn’t really change throughout swapping the cables.  This cord is very spatial, and there is a point at 3:00 where the separation of instruments within the depth of the soundstage becomes very apparent.  

The Nitro had some of the Crump’s midrange sweetness, but none of the bloat, and without exaggerating any frequencies.  Every bit as detailed as the Type 2, but way better in every other way.  At :40 in the Beppe track, I could hear his voice trying to break up.  I had not heard that with either of the other cords.  This was a lush cable that is seductive, but very accurate at the same time.  Very listenable, and not tiring to listen to.  

I am not returning this cable, or the M-80’s to Wayne.

Combined with the M-80’s, this is magical!  The best sound I have had in my system.  I’d like to hear some Bybeed Nitros, and some speaker cables, but for right now, I am very happy with the sound.  As good as the M-80’s sounded over the 47 Labs, I’d like to hear the speaker cables.  The 47 interconnects sound a bit forward, and bright compared to the M-80’s.




Mini Power Cable Shootout. . .
« Reply #1 on: 6 Jan 2003, 08:13 pm »
Nice review, in fact, excellent review!  I haven't heard the new Nitro cord, but I do not doubt your experiences one bit.  I have heard the M80's, and they are an incredible bargain.  The only things that are better in the Bybee'd Nitro are more air, better soundstage, and more macro/micro dynamics, more detail, and a smoother sound.  Sounds like a lot, but the M80 gets you maybe 75% of the way there for a lot less money.

The Nitro speaker wire is very nice as well.  I need to do more comparisons to get more of a frame of reference, but in my system it is at least as good as the Zu Wax was, and the Wax is darn good.

It's funny, I was telling Jason the other day that I wish other companies made stuff that sounded as good as Wayne's for a similar price.  I know I sound like a walking commercial for a lot of his stuff, but dammit, it really is that good.  I'd be careful if I were you Hantra - don't order or listen to any more Bolder cables gear, as you'll end up sounding the same way :-D


Mini Power Cable Shootout. . .
« Reply #2 on: 6 Jan 2003, 08:47 pm »
I sound a lot the same way too....

My experience with the Bolder chords is very similar to yours.  I too think the Nitro chord kicks major butt!  I got one of my two nitro chords cryo'd but have yet to A/B them.  The M80's I got with silver bullets and cryo'd are quite stellar so far, and a great match for the rest of the nitro based cables in my system. I haven't A/B'd them with anything but from memory they are the best IC's apart from my bybee Nitro's I have heard in my system.


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Mini Power Cable Shootout. . .
« Reply #3 on: 6 Jan 2003, 09:27 pm »
Yes, great review. I don't see the Nitro power cord at the Bolder Cables web site, though. Based on your review, I'm sure that Wayne will get some questions about it and put it up. What's the price?

A question for you on the review, though... can you describe how you changed power cords in the short term testing? I assume that the amp was switched off. Then, is warm-up time required for the power cord and/or amp after the swap? I'd guess that not much is needed, but, Hantra and others, please advise.

I'm asking because I'm planning to play around with different power cords for my amp and DAC. And, I'd like to make sure that I'm following proper obsessive practice.


Mini Power Cable Shootout. . .
« Reply #4 on: 6 Jan 2003, 09:27 pm »
Well, I was going to go Silver Bullet on the M-80, but rather than do that, I figure I'll save up in case I can't live without the Bybee Nitros. .

I am going to throw my KKSV back in tonight.  Haven't listened to that in the new house, so I'll see how it does up against the 47 Labs.

As far as my methodology, I had the amp on all day long.  I listened, then I turned it off, and quickly changed cords.  I waited about 5 mins. before hitting play again.  The tubes had no time to cool off.

I just asked Wayne the same question on pricing, so I will let you know when he lets me know.

BTW, I love your sig!!!




Mini Power Cable Shootout. . .
« Reply #5 on: 7 Jan 2003, 12:21 am »
The power cords and the speaker cable will be added to the website after CES.

I sent Brandon a prototype of the NITRO 14 power cable to get his thoughts on it. The same reason I sent one to Josh.

It seems I have done something right with this design as both of them bought the cable after trying it :)

The ball park figure for the NITRO 14 power cable will be around $200.00 with the Rhodium Plated Furutech connectors.

It will also be available with a Wattgate/Marinco combination for roughly $140.00.


Mini Power Cable Shootout. . .
« Reply #6 on: 7 Jan 2003, 03:22 am »
I am going to throw my KKSV back in tonight. Haven't listened to that in the new house, so I'll see how it does up against the 47 Labs.

Ohh, by the way. . . Tonight, I threw the KKSV1, some 4TC, and some MIT Music Hose 750 up against the 47 Laboratory speaker cable.  Don't even waste time doing that.  The 47 is really good stuff, and I can't wait to hear the Bolder b/c the M-80's sound better than the 47 for interconnects. . . .  Not different leagues or anything, but more listenable, without the startling detail of the 47's being lost.  The 47's have heart pounding attack on the bass.  That was the first thing I noticed a few weeks ago when I put them in.  

IMO, the MIT was smoother by far, but it lost detail.  The KKSV1 was smoother, and quieter, but it was almost too laid back up against the 47's.  Much much better than the MIT though.  The 4TC is startlingly close to KKSV1.  I am back with 47's.




Mini Power Cable Shootout. . .
« Reply #7 on: 8 Jan 2003, 05:24 am »
Just an observation to add to this review regarding Power cables. In the last year I and another reviewer tested many different (14 total) power cables on many different types of amplifiers, 3 tube, 6 SS and 1 digital amplfier. What we found was quite an eye opener. :o  Initially, one particular cable seemed to have better bass than the others yet another seemed to have a better souding (less forward) midrange on another type of amplifier THENNNNN these two cables sounded absolutely perfect (spectrally) on another other type of amp. Then we tested another cable on one amp (thinking it had bloated bass based on the other amp we tried it) only to find that it had damn near perfect bass on that amp! The same kind of quandry happened for the high frequencies between each of our different amplifiers we had on hand. One cable seemed too bright on one amp only to sound perfect on another :?:  

We specualated that the reason that none of the really good cables managed to sound the best on any one amplifier was because of the unique interaction of each amp's power supply circuitry and/or potential inherent filtering. Perhaps this is why we couldn't pick one definitive cable as "the best" for all the different amplifiers we had on hand.  

Note: There were some cables in our tests that we found to be not as quiet. clean or dynamic (regardless of which amplifier we tried them on). Therefore, we labeled these particular cables the "lesser cables" (as compared to the others). But, when it came to choosing which cable(s) were supreme (the ones that were very quiet and ultra dynamic) it all boiled down to which amp we were using!  :nono: NO ONE POWER CABLE COULD BE LABELED THE ABSOLUTE BEST IN OUR TESTS, it all came down to amplifier synergy. That's my experience with power cords in a nutshell :?


Mini Power Cable Shootout. . .
« Reply #8 on: 11 Apr 2003, 06:28 am »
Any opinions about Chris VenHaus designs which are raved about on Audio Asylum?   He supposedly come out with a newer design that improves on the old.

What's the verdict here on these?.........


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Rhodium plating?
« Reply #9 on: 12 Apr 2003, 01:25 pm »
What does it do for improving anything?  Besides saying it is there?  Can I get some plated ckt breakers for the service panel, that feeds  wall devices, that seem to effect the sound so much?  Why does just repaciong the AC cord at the piece of equipment, matter, when the entire rest of the AC line is just , you know NM wire, with no audio qualitys?  My service panel does not have audio quailty breakers or panel, should I be concerned with this?


Mini Power Cable Shootout. . .
« Reply #10 on: 12 Apr 2003, 02:25 pm »
I just completed 2 pair of Chris's flavour 2 pcs for my dual mono. First impressions are cleaner, more present highs and a larger sound stage. Didn't notice much in the bottom end, but they had only been in service for an hour when I listened. Will post more later if you are interested.