Many pioneers of the audio industry have borne the brunt of a reluctant and skeptical customer base, and have faced the risk of rejection bravely. If lucky, they also stand to reap their trailblazing visions. In those days, unlike the vastly advanced iterations in today’s cable products, high-end audio cables were just beginning to replace the chicken wires and were understandably crude in concept, design and implementation by today’s standard.
In today’s world, cable design has become a field where advanced fabrication facilities matter profoundly more than a technician’s mere technical competency, as designing cables of originality and superiority in the present day calls for not only talents with disciplines in electronics engineering and metallurgy, but also the resources as provided by precision, automated manufacturing facility.
Out of a universe of cable companies, Furutech is among the very few with in-house manufacturing capability which has also developed its own cable design processes and technologies, as well as establishing itself as a complete solution provider in cable accessories, offering everything from 96% lead-free “High Performance” solder to complete cable products, and from 20-ampere “High End Peformance” duplex receptacles to complete AC Power Distributor products. Combined with the sheer expertise, quality and scope of its product offering, Furutech distinguishes itself from other cable sellers in the world.
For the reader who has read my recent review of Furutech’s High End Performance Reference Series cables, you would have an idea on the extent of efforts to which Furutech dedicated in pushing the envelope in cable design and manufacture. Now, we shall discuss two other significant product offering from Furutech: the $980, e-TP 609 15-ampere AC Power Distributor, and the $1,045, 1.8-meter Power Reference III power cable.
Not incorporating an isolation transformer and the attendant circuitry, the six-receptacle e-TP 609’s chassis is constructed from a single solid aluminum block via CNC machining, and is among the most diminutive and exquisite-looking AC filter I’ve seen, weighing only around 6lb and not much larger than a box of Kleenex.
Furutech’s top AC filter is the $1,500 e-TP4+4 Twin Power Distributor, which is equipped with four 20-ampere duplex receptacles and four 15-ampere duplex receptacles. The e-TP 609 is Furutech’s top 15-ampere Power Distributor.
Furutech identifies numerous elements as detrimental to the preservation of the musical AC waveform, such as high frequency power supply noise from other audio equipment, radiated high frequency digital noise from DACs and digital cables, distortions at the extremes of the AC waveform as created by switch-mode power supplies, and ground noise, voltage spikes, etc. Furutech is of the opinion that such myriad of noise can render audio reproduction of high frequencies to become “flat, hard and grainy”, with “a thick and bloated midrange, fat uncontrolled bass, and loss of air and soundstage stability…” The e-TP 609 was created as a measure in countering the contaminants before they could get into the audio system.
Whereas the predominant approach to noise elimination as adopted by many high-end audio companies is via transformer-coupled filtration and isolation, Furutech takes a fundamentally different approach using an exceeding abundance of exclusive technologies to achieve the goal of AC waveform preservation.
First, the e-TP 609 Power Distributor’s special-grade aluminum chassis provides the first shield against Radio Frequency Interference (RFI), which is augmented further by Furutech’s proprietary, Electromagnetic Interference(EMI)-blocking Formula GC-303. Formula GC-303 is a 3M compound that Furutech adopted for bonding to the “interior bottom-plate of the chassis that absorbs EMI generated by the internal fittings of the unit.” AC resistance is further kept to a minimum with no additional filtering, allowing for the reproduction of “a more resolving, powerful, dynamic and colorful performance from your components.”
Second, the e-TP 609 is wired with Furutech’s 12-gauge α-22. Then, three of the 0.8mm phosphor bronze α-Conductor “Furutech Hyper Quality” FP-20A[R] High End Performance Duplex Receptacles are independently wired to the High End Performance FI-09[R] IEC Inlet.
The third and most ingenious and remarkable feature of the e-TP 609 is undoubtedly Furutech’s own, patent-pending Axial Locking System, which comprises an auxiliary spinal support underneath the six FP-20A[R] duplex receptacles to counter and withstand the downward force created by insertions. Then, the duplex outlets are further dampened individually with a special 3M substance. Per Furutech, “Each Axial Lock is torqued to perfection to work with the 3M resonance control material, with 4 spikes provided to mount the entire unit.”
A fourth, unique technology applied to the e-TP 609 is Furutech’s exclusive Alpha 2-Stage Cryogenic and Demagnetizing Process, which uses the liquid N2 high-end refrigerant at its first stage to remove stress from all metal parts by freezing them cryogenically, resulting in a re-alignment of their molecular structure. Sekiguchi Machine Sales Co., Ltd’s patented Ring Demagnetization treatment is then employed in the second stage to maximize the treated metal parts’ conductivity by way of a thorough demagnetization.
Furutech Axial Locking System & Without Furutech Axial Locking System
Power Reference III
Furutech’s top AC cable, the Power Reference III, incorporates the same Formula GC-303 compound for blocking electromagnetic interferences, only this time the technology is manifested in an encapsulated, modular form over a certain point of the cable.
The Power Reference III’s conductor is made of 49 strands of cores of three 0.32mm-thick α (Alpha) conductors braided together, each core then measuring 2.5mm thick, which are then insulated with polyethylene PE for capacitance reduction, while doubly shielded from radiated noise by two layers of flexible PVC sheaths, which are then wrapped in Nylon-yarn, braided jacket.
The Furutech FI-25(R) IEC and FI-25M(R) power connectors fitted to the AC cable’s ends are both rhodium-plated to counter magnetic interference, whereas the female connector is of the phosphor bronze material, and the male connector is of pure copper.
Finally, Furutech’s exclusive wire clamping mechanism eliminates the soldering process and provides supposedly for firmer contacts to facilitate pure and stable transmission.
Standard length of the Power Reference III is 1.8 meters.
The Working System
CD transports that were experimented with the Furutech e-TP 609 Power Distributor included the $7,500 Audio Note CDT-Three, the $9,995 Wadia 270se, the $9,380 Oracle CD 2500 which Ed Momkus reviewed, and finally, the $26,800 47 Laboratory PiTracer. DACs rotated with the e-TP 609 were Audio Note’s $59,00 DAC5 Signature and the $29,000 DAC5 Special, as well as Wadia’s $9,995 27ix v3.0. Preamplifiers observed with the e-TP609 included Audio Note’s $50,000, 3-chassis M10 linestage, the $10,000 M5 phono and Nagra’s $8,995 NL-L linestage.
Initially, the e-TP 609 was plugged via a generic AC cable into a standard household AC outlet located on the side wall , which is adjacent to the front wall adorned with 4 Isoclean ICP-003G 2-position wall outlets. This generic power cable is the kind of standard issue provided by all equipment manufacturers in their product packaging. I assume no Dagogo reader is still using the old chicken wire power cords for his/her audio system.
In this initial stage of auditioning, the generic power cables were first employed to power the associated equipment directly from the standard household AC outlet, contrasting sonic variances obtained when running from the e-TP 609 to the associated equipment.
For CD transports, the Audio Note displayed the highest consistency in improved tonal contrasts while drawing AC from the Furutech Power Distributor. With the e-TP 609, the exquisite tonal clarity of instrument groups from Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab’s Holst – The Planets Ultradisc UHR™ multichannel SACD was at once more clearly defined with a reduction in timbre irresolution. Brass sections of this hybrid SACD/CD sounded more real with a more intense sense of dimensionality and presence.
Substituting the two generic AC cables with two of Furutech’s Power Reference III highlighted the brass sections of Saint Louis Symphony with an immaculate bite and sheen that was devoid of an otherwise disconcerting, mechanical artificiality.
JVC’s year-2004 XRCD24 treatment of the 1960 RCA’s Living Stereo LSC-2369 Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 is another prize to behold. The enhanced spatiality as reproduced via the Furutech e-TP 609 and Power Reference III served as much a testimonial toward the monumental efforts of the original RCA producer John Pfeiffer and recording engineer John Crawford, as much as it is toward the modern Japanese JVC team of producer Kazuie Sugimoto and mastering engineer Hiromichi Takiguchi.
The acutely recreated spatiality became the cornerstone for displaying the Boston Symphony Hall’s beautiful acoustics, in addition to a demonstration of delicate instrument texturing captured by RCA’s continuingly relevant recording technology of the 60’s. If only we could also have Deutsche Grammophon’s same-period recordings go through the JVC XRCD24 treatment, as opposed to the German label’s own Original-Image Bit-Processing technique.
The same Japanese JVC team also produced the RCA Living Stereo LSC-2545 Beethoven “Appassionata” & “Funeral March” Sonatas, performed by the legendary pianist, Sviatoslav Richter. The sound of piano as captured by RCA’s studio of the 1960’s is not as clear, layered and vibrant as what the company’s German SWR-Studio of Freiburg can achieve in Evgeny Kissin’s present day piano recordings. Yet, the Furutech technology allowed more intrinsic sonic properties of the 1960 recording to emerge from the Audio Note CDT- Three CD transport, validating the viability of similarly archived music.
Effectiveness of the e-TP 609 and Power Reference III was also dependent on individual component’s power management scheme. While Audio Note’s CD transport exhibited the most sonic improvements with the Furutech system, 47 Lab’s PiTracer and Oracle’s CD2500 yielded relatively miniscule level of improvement to the presence of the Furutech.
Both the 47 Lab CD transport and Oracle CD player/transport employed outboard power supplies, with two Humpty’s on the PiTracer and one outboard unit on the Oracle. As my personal experience on these fine units suggests that they are fundamentally immune to AC irregularities, it remains a curiosity that if the isolation as accorded by the substantial power supplies also would neutralize changes in AC properties as effected by the Furutech system.
The Wadia 27ix v3.0 Decoding Computer responded to the Power Reference III with a slightly more energetic top-end, conducive to reproduction of orchestras, and yet showed no reaction to the inclusion of the e-TP 609. Audio Note’s two DACs which are extravagantly equipped with a multitude of inter-stage transformers and radiometal C-core output transformers persisted in their respective performance envelope regardless if it was the Furutech or the Harmonix Studio Master power cables transfusing power from the AC. My concession here is that I couldn’t bring myself to plug a generic power cord into any of the Audio Note’s, and I suspect neither can anyone of us bring himself/herself to do that, when even the lesser AN DAC costs $30k, although Peter uses generic power cords on his products at every show. How ludicrous.
Similar findings were also prevalent on preamplifiers with outboard power supplies, such as the Audio Note M10 and the Nagra NL-L.
Power amplifiers, on the other hand, exhibited less gratifying results with the Furutech system, with subdued dynamics being the sole aberration. With that said, the Furutech e-TP 609 and Power Reference III system was the only AC treatment accessories I’ve encountered that did not introduce sonic artifacts. In fact, whether the Furutech system was powering the $25k Harmonix Reimyo PAT-777 SET, the $9k Linn Klimax Chakra 500 Twin, the $10k Audia Flight 100, the $3k Luminance Audio KST-150, or the Accuphase E-550 and Krell KAV-400xi integrated amplifiers, there were consistently more spatial and tonal cues coming forth in the interaction.
The only exception emerged when the $12.5k MaxxHorn Immersion horn loudspeakers continued to produce bold and majestic dynamics as driven by the Furutech-coupled PAT-777, Klimax Chakra 500 Twin, KST-150 and E-550 respectively. This speaker’s 100dB/8Ω-sensitivity might have constituted the one necessary condition in a mutually complimentary treatment of the amplifiers with the Furutech devices. Based on this observation, if speaker efficiency is indeed a determinant, then massively more robust AC cables running between the AC outlet and the e-TP 609 may be the solution for all Furutech-coupled amplifiers to amplify the signals with full dynamics through in increased number of speakers of various efficiencies.
This latter prospect may also contribute to another aspect of the Furutech technology, as I discerned a diminished benefit whenever more than two power cables of different makes were plugged into the Power Distributor. In addition, although power cables from other makes did yield various sonic properties with the Furutech Power Distributor, it becomes a choice of priorities at this point, of whether a Furutech customer wants to preserve the consistent advantage of a purely Furutech experience, or to obtain a new kind of sound through a coop of the Furutech Power Distributor and other company’s AC cables.
No less than 3 active power management systems had graced my home since 2005, and to varying degrees they all introduced sonic characters of sorts while enhancing certain aspects of the audio experience.
The Furutech e-TP 609 Power Distributor and Power Reference III AC cables represent a revolutionarily passive approach to realizing our system’s potentials, striking a sharp contrast to other companies’ goal of system enhancement via active conditioning. In short, the e-TP 609 acts as a gravitational core for the absorption of EMI, and once in action, its ability to captivate rampant interferences was revelatory.
Concurrent application of the company’s own Power Reference III throughout with the e-TP 609 on most equipment with onboard power supplies represented a compounded sonic dividend for a superbly refined sonic experience. The combined strengths of the e-TP 609 and Power Reference III yielded colossal sonic gains in the form of less-fatiguing spectral presentation with no loss in tonal intensity, more exposed low-level details in higher micro- and macrodynamics contrasts, higher level of ambience retrieval and spatial recreation, and finer textural presentation.
The Furutech power management system of e-TP 609 and Power Reference III are the only sonically non-invasive AC augmentation devices I’ve used, constituting a new standard in signal refinement. That, in my opinion, is likely to induce a love/hate state of mind from audiophiles because of its non-invasive nature.
Depending on the needs of respective Dagogo readers, if your goal is an enhancement of your system’s capability via active means, then the market is in huge abundance of what you need to help you reach that goal. Yet, if you have never experienced the Furutech system, chances are you have probably never heard the true sound of your equipment.
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