I’ll start this review with two confessions. First, when I first saw the HB Cable Design PowerSlave distributors, I thought these have to be the most expensive, best looking power bars I had ever seen. To be honest, they seemed a little ridiculous; I mean there is no traditional kind of power conditioning going on here. There is nothing to help keep the voltage stable; they are simply “power strips on super steroids.” The only reason I was interested in reviewing them was because they were being imported to the U.S. by Brian Ackerman of Aaudio Imports and my experience had taught me that he has quite an ear for finding great sounding gear.
So I agreed to review HB Cable Design’s three passive power distributors, starting with the their entry level PowerStar Horizon ($3,995) which I reviewed in January of this year. I ended that review by saying, “I’ve tried so many power conditioners that I won’t try to list all of them. In the end, I am a firm believer in the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle when it comes to audio design. Just look at my system, it only has three power cords, and one pair of interconnects plus the tonearm cable. The HB Designs PowerStar Horizon fits right into that principle. I can’t wait to get the Acrylic and the Marble in for a listen.”
Then, in April I reviewed the PowerSlave Acrylic ($6,995) which remained in my system until August when I finally got to hear the PowerSlave Marble, the subject of this review. I ended the review of the Acrylic by saying, “I know this review is short, but it’s simple: this thing works! Brian will be sending the PowerSlave Marble to me; I can’t wait!”
Well, I had to wait a little longer than had been planning to review the reference, PowerSlave Marble. Why? Simple, because they have been selling faster than Brian could get them. This leads me to my second confession: After listening to only two LPs I knew this was the best my system had ever sounded. Since the one I had for review already had a lot of hours of use on it, I didn’t have to deal with break-in. Nothing prepared me for how much and in what ways the HB Marble would improve my system; I was in love with this unit from the very first couple of LPs I listened to with it in my system. Now with that out of the way let’s get on with the review.
My system is extremely simple, truth is I only have four things to plug in, but two of them are the wall warts for the Soundsmith SG-220 Strain Gauge cartridge system and its preamp. These take up the space of two so it’s really convenient the way the receptacles on the PowerSlave Marble are laid out in a long straight strip instead of being duplex receptacles. I plugged my system in and then I ran an Audience au24 power cable from both the Wavac EC-300B and the AMG V12 turntable to the HB Marble. I also used an AU-24 from the wall to the HB Marble. Since the HB Marble is completely passive there is not any kind of switch or anything to turn on, in today’s vernacular it is truly plug-and-play.
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