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HB Cable Design PowerSlave Marble Review

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Which Power Cable to Use

HB Cable Design PowerSlave Marble

As I mentioned in my review of the HB PowerStar Horizon, the power cable you use from the wall outlet to the HB unit makes a significant difference. I chose to use the new Audience au24 SE powerChords. They expand my system’s overall dynamics, and micro-dynamics. These two things, of course, make recorded music sound more like real music. My system also has a lower level of background noise with theses power cords. Other power cords can give me much of this, but the au24SE powerChord combined with the HB Marble allows my system to have such a firm foundation that all kinds of music sound better.

For example, the HB’s own PowerDragon cable does all of the above things, but in my system it’s just not as natural sounding. The wonderful Sablon Gran Corona power cables also have this wonderful, natural sound that makes my system so listenable, but not the speed and transients detail I get with the Audience. The only power cord I have heard that can compare cost four times as much and I wasn’t sure if it was better or not. So for these reasons I used the au24SE powerChords throughout my system.

First impression & extended listening

In my earlier years, my mother seemed to have an obsession with what kind of impression I made. She often reminded me how important it was to make a good first impression. Well, as I have already said the HB Marble made a significant first impression on me. It was like “Wow! Where did that come from?” As I have mentioned in other reviews, I am often disappointed later on with audio components that wow me right off the bat. With extended listening, I discover there is just too much wow and it becomes irritating. That never happened with the HB Marble.

Like I said, my initial gut reaction was, “Wow, where did that come from.” Then I had to ask myself what “that” was. Well the “that” that made such a great first impression gave music a firmer and deeper foundation. There was more body to bass instruments without any bloat whatsoever, there was a deeper and more coherent soundstage, and maybe most of all there was a more relaxed sound without any compromise in immediacy or transparency. Overall there was a fundamental foundation to the music, a substantial substance, and an overall rightness to the sound.

Let me be honest: After all the great and some not-so-great power conditioning products I have owned and/or reviewed, I simply was stunned by the improvement the HB Marble made in the sound of my system. After the time I had just spent with the Audience aR6-T, the Synergistic Research Tesla PowerCell with active power cords, the HB Acrylic, and the new Audience aR-6TSS (by the way, all incredibly good units) I just wasn’t prepared for how much better my system sounded with the HB Marble in the system.

With the HB Marble the bass was full and fast at the same time. It also had outstanding attack and equally good decay. The bass had more weight, and depth to it; it actually seemed to occupy a more realistic space. The best thing of all was how the bass seemed to undergird the entire sound.

During my time with the HB Acrylic, transparency was one of the first words that came to mind when describing how my system sounded. With the Marble, my system sounded just as transparent, but that was not the first thing that came to mind. It seemed to sound more balanced from top to bottom. It’s a kind of transparency that allowed my system to let voices come to life right there in my room and at the same time to have really nice body and power. I was able to hear more inner detail than I have with other power devices. This detail comes through by allowing instruments to sound more like the real things with an actual decrease in edginess or brightness.

My system simply sounded more fundamentally right with the HB Marble in the system. I’m sitting here as I write, listening to an old mono Chet Baker LP, and I have never heard his horn sound better, nor have I ever heard the piano have such natural decay. Likewise, the standup bass lays a beautiful and strong foundation for the music. It is neither too fast or too romantic. It is also relaxed sounding in that the horn hits certain notes with nice bite to it.

Conclusion

That last paragraph sums up the way my system sounds with the HB Marble in it. As I said earlier, from the very first notes I knew I didn’t want to let this thing go and I’m not. It seems to become more obvious year after year that two areas where you should get the best you can afford are room treatments and clean power. If you don’t take care of these two things you will never really hear your system. By the way when I hear people say they live somewhere that has clean power, I just shake my head. Unless you use all batteries I don’t believe this is very likely, if possible at all.

I know $9,000 for a glorified power bar sounds insane, but I can’t imagine listening to music without it —  so it stays. I’m not saying you have to spend this much on powering conditioning, but at the cost of my entire system this doesn’t seem all that out of line to me. I don’t use one of these on my digital/video system upstairs, but I do use some power conditioning. By the way if you haven’t plugged your HD/TV into a good power conditioner you have no idea how good your picture really could be. I’m not saying that you can’t enjoy music without the HB Marble, but you do need some decent power conditioning. If you can afford the HB Marble and your system is at the place that this could be your next big step, then go for it. You won’t be disappointed!

5 Responses to HB Cable Design PowerSlave Marble Review


  1. old school says:

    Well, this just more evidence that Jack is in the full grip of audio nervosa. I lived with many true beatnicks, and they all questioned the materialism of the dominant culture. I have heard almost everything out there, all the “new” and “vastly” improved audio components, and, truth be told, the very best of the new systems don’t match the bloody realism of systems based on decades old components. And, yes, those components cost a tiny fraction of the new, improved, and horribly expensive ones. Truth be told, nothing I have heard, either at an audio show, or at an audio store, has matched my humble system, based on the decades old Fulton J speakers and Audio SP 8 preamp and D70 amp. Yes, of course, IMO.

  2. Jack Roberts says:

    Having owned an SP8 and D70 with Vandersteens at one point and a close friend with Fulton Js all I can say is to each his own. I’ll keep my Lowthers and 300B tubes with a turntable. Still I will admit that this product is much more than over the top.

    • old school says:

      The Fulton Js sound nothing like the Vandersteens. Of the speakers you have owned (yes, there seem to have been dozens), the only ones that came even close to my Fultons are the Quad 57 and the Teresonic. Yes, those two only come close to my mighty AND accurate Fultons in the midrange at moderate volume. Yes, of course, IMO.

  3. Jack Roberts says:

    Well your comment about my having owned dozens of speaker got me thinking. In the order I can remember here’s the list. I bought the KLH17S when I was 17, that would be 42 years ago. I owned the Quads the longest. And I have owned the Teresonics for over five years ago. As you can see it doesn’t come close to dozens and it spread over a 40 year period of time. I have been in the industry in a part time way since I was 17 when I cleaned a shop for the privileged of buying at discounted prices. Over that time I have had lots of speakers in my home for audition and I have reviewed a lot also. Anyway here’s the list, hope I didn’t leave out any.
    KLH 17s
    Double Advents
    Quad 57s
    Lin Kans in a second system
    Vandersteens in a second system
    Spica Angeles in a second system
    Clestion SL700s
    Klipsch Fortes in a video system
    Audio Note AN-Es
    Ikonoklast HO-3s
    Teresonic Ingenium and their Magus in my second system.

  4. John Fro says:

    Any outlet strip that uses enough copper to create a valid bus bar, like electronics of old before the age of circuit boards and chassis grounds will help out your system simply because the reference voltages will line-up better. The trick then is to compare devices in this category to see how they scale with price.

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