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Stage III Kraken Power Cable & HB Cable Design Marble PowerSlave Power Distributor Review

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HB Cable Design Marble PowerSlave Power Distributor

The PowerSlave has an extremely natural sound, with top end extension and detail much like that of a fine silver cable, but without the negative artifacts normally associated with silver. This manifests as enhanced extension and low level detail in the upper registers; however, there is also an extension to the bass, not so much a quantitative change as one in quality.

While the level of bass energy remains relatively constant, it is deeper with better control and more ability to energize the air of the room. I use Halcyonics isolation bases under both my Esoteric P-02 and D-02 digital front-end. Each Halcyonics unit has a set of bright blue LED’s which flash when the isolation mechanism is activated by low frequency energy. Normally, you would never know that the lights exist, however, the evening when I was playing the Kurt Rosenwinkel jazz disc, the LED’s were dancing almost continuously, apparently charged by the greater energy in the bass, manifested in palpable but tight bass drum, in particular. The only change in the system from before was the HB Systems Marble PowerSlave/ Stage III Kraken.

Gains with a superior component are often at the frequency extremes and not in the midrange; however, in this case, the improvement was much farther reaching. The evening described, and since, I’ve been noticing fine detail in the midrange and lower that had not previously been there. While I generally have associated depth and recreation of the sound space more with the ability of a system to produce the bottom octave, my impression in this instance is that the increased depth is inextricably related to the increase in midrange detail and energy. Particularly on the Sibelius, the recording space was huge with nice depth and a very real delineation of back and side walls of the venue. This is normally not the case except with vinyl and then only on rare occasions — never with redbook digital.

The Stage III Kraken/ HB Systems Marble PowerSlave in my rig has also helped in palpably lowering the noise floor, darkening backgrounds and substantially increasing the tonal complexity of the music. I do detect a drop in comparative dB levels, meaning higher gain is required for comparative listening levels, perhaps as a result of the overkill shielding employed. I wonder if the grounding is part of the secret. I am hearing great things about system grounding from companies like Tripoint and Entreq. Contacts have employed them with significant gains to the musical message. It is something I surely will investigate in the near future. With the Stage III Kraken/ HB Systems Marble PowerSlave, low level detail is superb, possibly related to the subterranean noise floor. Imaging is consistent at all frequencies, not just in the mids.

HB Cable Design Marble PowerSlave Power Distributor close up shot of connection and feet

Very preliminary listening to the HB Systems PowerSlave led me to question whether it softened the leading edge and rolled off the top end a bit, but further break-in alleviated that problem.

One might well ask where the Kraken fits within the Stage III family of power cords. In direct comparisons with the Minotaur, the Kraken was even less dark and more open. The Kraken significantly bettered the Minotaur in every conceivable area of comparison, as well it should given the price differential. At the end of the reviewer loan, I opted to purchase both the HB Systems Marble PowerSlave and the Stage III Kraken. Given the improvement to my listening enjoyment, they were well worth the price.

Since employing the use of the Stage III, HB Systems, I cannot think of a single instance when I have become really irritated at engineering or re-mastering issues. In the past, I would sometimes reject records or CDs five minutes into the listening because I found them so annoying. Now, I feel like I’m more able to listen past the imperfections, and hear the music. The music is more… there.”

6 Responses to Stage III Kraken Power Cable & HB Cable Design Marble PowerSlave Power Distributor Review

  1. Jack Roberts says:

    They are great aren’t they. You’ll probably get call nuts too, I did after my review, but then I am nuts. They are so good that they have trouble keeping them in stock.

  2. fred crowder says:

    I suspect that you are right and that I am viewed by some readers as lunatic fringe; however, the real shame is those most likely to be critical will never get the opportunity to hear these in their own systems. In this case, hearing is believing.

  3. Tom says:

    Fred, You are a bad read for me. I bought the X-01/D2, which I purchased after your review. Then I bought the K-01, which I was very happy with, then an oppurtunity to trade up to the D-01/P-02… Read your review and pulled the trigger. I am very happy with the latest Esoteric pair, and again after your review , bought the Minotaurs. I thought that would be it!
    This is a tough hobby, I recently heard a system with the Krakens, HB Powerslave and Ypsilon front end and amps. It is possibly the best system I will ever hear… The Ypsilon equipment is truly amazing.
    My Esoteric rig sounds a bit lean in the lower mid and upper bass comparitivly. I am now leaning toward the HB Powerslave and Triton PC purchase. I would love to fatten up that lower mid upper bass. I wouldn’t call the Esoteric pair lean, but after that Ypsilon audition, I know there’s room for improvement. I’m sure a lot of that is the equipment itself, but how much do think the Powerslave and Krakens would contribute to taking the Esoterics up a notch? Look forward to hearing back – Tom

  4. Fred Crowder says:


    Sorry that I have been a “bad read” for you. I was really hoping that the Kraken and the Marble Powerslave would be nothing special. Unfortunately, the combination is quite special in many ways as I have attempted to described in the review. At least in my system, the addition of the Kraken and Powerslave had a rather dramatic effect on the digital and did “take the Esoteric up a notch” and I have to think that the same would be true in your system. I do have two suggestions, 1) try to audition the Powerslave/ Triton in your system prior to making a purchase and 2) if possible, try to Acrylic Powerslave in your sytem. I have heard that it is somewhat less detailed but a bit warmer. I will have a pair of the Tritons to review in about a week. I am hopeful that they will deliver much of the benefits of the Kraken at a lower cost point. The cable geometry is exactly the same, but the Triton used only 75% of the copper used in the Kraken. I hope that this helps.

  5. Tom says:

    Hey Fred, Thanks again for your thorough review. I have indeed auditioned the powerslave and Krakens, and once again will be purchasing your review products… Ahhh, another half year longer to retirement. You are very good at putting your positive audio experiences to print… too good!

  6. fred crowder says:


    First, thank you for your kind comments.

    It is very difficult to write a review that successfully communicates what it is about a piece of equipment that makes it truly exceptional. We live in a time when there are many very good, but few exceptional products out there. When I do come across something which is exceptional, I try to communicate that to the reader. I should also say many thanks to Jack Roberts whose review here in Dagogo lead me to request a review sample.


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