There are some things that just stick in your memory, like the first time someone suggested that I should pay for speaker cables. If you’re like me and you’re over 50, you remember when you purchased your speakers the dealer would ask you how much wire you would need. He would then pull out a big spool of “zip cord”, otherwise known as 18-gauge lamp cord, cut two pieces and give it to you for free. It was one day in the early eighties that Mike Shots told me I had to hear what Bob Fulton’s speaker wire would do for the sound of my system. Bob had introduced two cables, “Fulton Brown” and “Fulton Gold”, they cost real money and as they say the rest is history.
Well, I have a similar memory about power cords making any difference in the sound of an audio system. My long time audio-bud, Steve Woolsey, called me one day. He was very excited about the difference that replacing his stock power cords with Powersnakes from Shunyata Research had made in his system. I think they were called Black Mambas and cost around $400. What was even more unbelievable was that they made a power cord called the King Cobra that was $1,000. I drove a couple of hours to Steve’s house to hear if they made any difference. I couldn’t believe it, they made a very significant difference, and for the better I might add.
Well, nearly thirty years have passed and people are still making different sounding cables and like everything else, they have gotten a lot more expensive. I’ve spent a lot of time over those thirty years trying different interconnects, speaker cables, and a little later in the game even power cords. Almost all of them sounded considerably better than stock cords, and they all sounded different from each other.
Once I tried out some power cords that were so thick and inflexible that the power cord actually raised my preamp up in the air. Next, the cord came out and the preamp fell back down and the tubes came out and blew the fuse. That was enough for me, I quit trying out power cords. At that time, I have already been using Audience Au24 cables so I called and talked to them about their power cord they called the powerChord. They assured me they weren’t too stiff and they seemed like a bargain, so I purchased them from someone with a thirty-day return policy. I didn’t return them; they seemed to sound as good as anything I had heard and I didn’t even try a different power cord for the next five years. When I switched to the Shindo preamp and Wavac amp they didn’t like three-prong plugs so I switched to their deluxe power cords which were even cheaper, thinner, more flexible, didn’t hum and sounded about the same. So I have been using them for the last three years.
So after reading all of the above, I guess the fact that I seldom review any cables and have never reviewed a power cord shouldn’t come as any surprise. I’ve talked about them in reviews of power conditioners, and even in reviews of other equipment, but I’ve never reviewed just a power cord. I was especially impressed with the power cords form Synergistic Research, but being active and thus requiring all those little power supplies and all those little glowing LEDs was just more stuff than I wanted in my system. I enjoyed them and they were the best I had ever heard, but when the Audience aR6-T came in for review, I had to experiment with the synergy with different cable designs all over again.
Just as I finished the aR6-T review, John from Audience called to tell me they had developed the Au24 powerChord. My first thought was, “well, John, I thought your regular powerChord was world class”, but instead I said, “does it make much difference from the wall to the aR6-T.” Of course he thought it made a significant difference, but he didn’t have enough of the new Au24 powerChords to send me for my whole system, although he said he would send me one just to go from the wall to the aR6-T.
Well, now I have enough of the Au24 powerChords for my whole system. Still when I consider how much I like the regular Audience powerChords, and the fact that Au24 powerChords cost nearly $1,600 more, these new cables have a lot to prove. So let’s get on with the review of these new power cords.
Audience makes a point that the Au24 powerChord is an all new undertaking for them. The first thing I noticed of the design made me very happy, they weren’t too thick, 10 AWG in fact, and they were even more flexible than their original powerChords. By the way, flexible cables should have longer service life with minimum damage to the conductors.
The next thing I noticed was their unusual color. It’s kind of red, well, more a mixture of red and black. The Au24 powerChord is named Au24 because it’s made using 684 strands of high purity OHNO (mono crystal) copper strands, the same copper used in a their Au24 interconnect and loudspeaker cables. They also come standard with Wattgate IEC and Marinco plugs.
Audience says that the mono crystal copper allows for greater passage of low-level information and ultra high resolution. They are also a high-current, low impedance design for fast response, and widest possible bandwidth for instantaneous response to the program signal. Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that they come with a lifetime unconditional repair-or-replace warranty.
Listening to the Au24 powerChords
The cables sounded pretty darn good right out of the box, and considerably better the next day. The real improvement in their sound began after about 50 hours of use, and continued for about the first week they were in use.
We all know you can’t listen to a power cord, but of course you can listen to how your system sounds with different power cords. So from now on when I talk about how the Au24 powerChord sounds, you should know I’m really talking about how it affects the sound of my system.
In the addendum to the Audience aR6-T power conditioner review I said:
“What I can tell you is that the addition of the Au24 powerChord completes the aR6-T. The addition of the new power cord gives you more. I know that’s not a very audiophile thing to say, but it’s exactly what you get. In my reviews of the different Shindo preamps I talked about this same effect. As you move up the Shindo line, each preamp gives you more information and with greater resolution. This is exactly the same effect I heard in my system when I added the Au24 powerChord to the aR6-T. The one other thing I clearly hear with the addition of this single cable into my system is an increase in soundstage and spatial information. “
The truth is, that statement is even a more accurate description now that I have the new Au24 powerChords throughout the system. The first thing I noticed upon putting them into the system was the difference in the bass and mid-bass. The deep bass was even more solid and the mid-bass had a nice touch of warmth while still being quicker and more articulate than before.
The Au24 powerChords also expanded my system’s overall dynamics, and micro-dynamics. These two things of course make recorded music sound more like real music. To add to this, you even get a little lower background noise, an aspect I didn’t think was possible in my system after the addition of the aR6-T power conditioner.
The way the addition of the Au24 powerChords and the aR6-T improves imaging and soundstaging is simply astonishing. My system produced the deepest, widest, tallest, and most coherent soundstage I had ever heard. By coherent soundstage, I mean one that is whole, a soundstage that is more like you are at the event than the event is in your room. I’m not talking about the kind of soundstage you get with mini-monitors pulled way out into the room. That sound is quite intriguing, but nothing like the lifelike scale and solid dimensionality my system with the large Teresonic Ingenium Silver now produces. As I mentioned in the review of the aR6-T, what really makes this soundstage so unbelievably real-sounding is the way it handles the vertical dimension of a soundstage. It’s not just how tall the soundstage is but how it images at different heights within the soundstage.
The last thing I want to say about the sound with the Au24 powerChords in the system is just how much more listenable my system has become. With all the added detail and dynamics I have talked about, it still seems to present music in a more relaxed way. It’s as if the system doesn’t have to work as hard to produce this great sound, and the result is it sounds more like live music.
Wrapping Things Up
I feel compelled to talk about priorities a little bit here at the end of the review. First, the aR6-T cost $4,600, and with the new Au24 powerChord, $6,150. The Au24 powerChords are $2,200 each. So to equip a simple system like mine with an aR6-T and Au24 powerChord, and three more Au24 powerChords for my amp, preamp, and turntable, it adds up to $12,750. If you can afford all of this at once go for it; you won’t be disappointed; but if you can’t, I want to make it clear where I would start.
I would start with the aR6-T with the standard powerChord “e”. Then when I could afford it I would get the Au24 powerChord for the aR6-T. Then as I could afford more I would start with one for the source, then the preamp, and last the power amp. Of course, if you buy one Au24 powerChord you can try it and see where it makes the biggest difference in your system. As I pulled them out one by one, to my surprise, it was actually the one on the turntable that made the biggest difference. As big a difference as the Au24 powerChords makes, and it is a very significant difference indeed, the bigger contributor of all is still the aR6-T.
In my review of the aR6-T I said, “I don’t know of anything at anywhere near the price that has improved my system like this power conditioner.” I stand by that statement and that’s why I say get it first, but these wonderful Au24 powerChords give you more bang for the buck than any other power cords I have ever heard. Heck, you may even have some very expensive power cords you can sell for enough to pay for these.
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