The WyWires Exogal Umbilical is a $199 upgrade I strongly suggest any owner of the Exogal Comet DAC pursue. The upgraded power supply of the Exogal Comet is outboard necessitating an umbilical to supply power to the DAC. Improvement in the quality of power cable is instrumental in the elevation of performance of the Comet. Just as power cords influence a component, so an umbilical influences the Comet, and consequently the system.
I have discussed at length the merits of the Comet, a highly refined sounding DAC at an affordable price. When I say “affordable,” I am taking into account the fact that the preamp section of the Comet is capable enough to replace a dedicated preamp and set of cables associated with it. Considering that preamps alone may cost several thousand, an integrated DAC, in which digital signal treatment and preamplification are handled in one nifty package at a cost potentially far less than a premium preamp, is tempting.
In my review of the Exogal, I strongly recommended upgrading the power supply for the Comet as a necessity for those seeking optimum performance. In addition, the WyWyres Exogal Umbilical lends an added boost. The change out of the umbilical is straightforward; instructions are downloaded from the Exogal site. No soldering is required, but you will need a small flat head screwdriver – really small, of a scale for working on jewelry, watches or fine electronics.
The stock umbilical from Exogal has black and white leads, which is intuitive as negative and positive respectively. However, the suitably flexible WyWires umbilical arrived without instructions, and has red and green leads. The ends of the wires were stripped in preparation for connection to the DAC. I guessed that green was positive and red negative, and I was right. It is nice when one does not blow up the component when making an improvement! WyWires needs to have at least a brief page on their umbilical to give guidance, as there are some audiophiles who would freeze with terror at that point. I’m sure neither WyWires, nor Exogal wish to have a customer guess wrong and mis-wire the Comet!
Alex Sventitsky of WyWires described the umbilical thus, “The construction of the cable is as follows. Fully shielded with the shield as the negative conductor. The positive conductor is pure copper Litz wire wrapped in two layers of cotton and inside of a PTFE tube. There is an air dielectric between the positive conductor and the negative since the shield is outside of the PTFE.” It took me only moments to capture the difference in my notes after inserting the WyWires umbilical, “Instantaneous change, easily discerned improvements across the board. Especially exciting is the depth and cleanness of the bass. Highs have become more gentle, with extended decay.” The perception was of the system brightening ever so slightly, nearly as incrementally as one might watch a sunrise, turning away for only a minute or two, then returning to it and sensing that it had become a bit brighter. Since it is a very refined and controlled brightening I do not believe it will cause irritation. The most pleasing aspect of performance improvement was the cleanness across the board, especially notable in the bass.
The speaker I was hearing the conversion of the umbilical through was the Vapor Audio Joule White 3, an exquisitely sensitive speaker to upstream changes. In my review of that speaker I wrote that it is possible, given a perfect balance of gear and cables, to eschew the foam deflection pads of the RAAL 140-15D tweeter. It does not take much to tip the tweeter’s response away from that perfect balance. With the uptick in high-end energy after switching to the WyWire umbilical I found it necessary to use one of the deflection pads to cover about .5” of the ribbon’s length on each tweeter. It was enough to dampen the output so that the treble was kept in proportion to the midrange and bass. Now the full benefit of the upgrade was available to me without calling attention to it.
One should not expect an earth shaking difference in swapping out only one cable, however insertion of several or an entire loom can yield a profound change. I’m not sure how I would react to filling my entire system with WyWire cables, but the result is entirely positive with the Exogal Umbilical. When a single cable, especially a power-related one, confers a distinctly discernible improvement and is affordable it should not be bypassed.
To recommend a product I insist it perform to satisfaction immediately. If not, changes can be made to the rest of the system in order to accommodate the new product. If at that point it is still unimpressive, or worse negative, then I deem it unable to satisfy in the long term. The WyWires Exogal Umbilical left a positive impression instantly, and aside from my quick foam deflection pad tweak I did not have to make changes to the system to accommodate it. That makes it a superb upgrade, easy and effective at an attractive price.
There are numerous layers of grunge to be removed, and an equally large number of elusive soundstage improvements in all audio systems, even exceptional ones. Upgrades to every cable related to the audio system are considered under the purview of the audiophile. I discussed in the review of the Comet how critical the USB cable from the file server was to the outcome. Similarly, the WyWires Exogal Umbilical improves the cleanness and refinement of an already notable DAC at a price far less than some spend on insipid tweaks outside the signal path. I encourage owners of the Comet to obtain not only the upgraded power supply, but also the Exogal Umbilical to upgrade their experience.
Copy editor: Laurence A. Borden
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