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Stage III Proteus power cable Review

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This review is unique in any number of ways. Normally, a reviewer contacts a manufacturer or distributor to request a review sample, which is then either returned to the manufacturer or purchased at the end of the review period. In most instances, it works well for all parties, except when the reviewer requests changes to the standard product that would make it difficult or impossible to resell, particularly when the product in question is rare and/or costly.

About five years ago I purchased a pair of EMM Labs MTRX amplifiers. Each requires a 220-volt electrical connection and each uses an industrial connector, what I refer to as the big blue toilet plunger given its shape and color on the rear, which is about as non-standard as it gets in audio. EMM Labs provided Kimber power cables, which were properly terminated and quite honestly more than acceptable, but over time I found myself increasingly wondering what additional improvements, if any, might be had if I substituted what I felt might be a much superior power cable. After almost five years of wondering, I finally decided to bite the bullet and purchase a pair of Stage III Proteus power cables in 3 meter and 4 meter lengths, having purchased various Stage III power cables in the past. While I realized that this might not turn out well, I ordered and paid for the cables, which were terminated for 220 volts with the industrial connectors for the MTRX amps. They arrived in about two weeks, in two boxes, one weighing 30 pounds, the other almost 40. They resemble black fire hoses, are difficult to deal with logistically, extremely heavy, and really do not bend easily. The remainder of this article focuses on how they affected the sound of my system after the initial 300-hour break-in period.



At this stage of the review, I would normally attempt to describe the construction of the power cable under review; however, that is available with excellent illustrations at In lieu of that, I asked the designer to comment on what he felt made the Proteus special. His comments follow:

“All Stage III cables are hand built in-house utilizing dozens of custom-made parts: 3D printed housing designs, RTV silicone rubber molds, custom formulated polymer blends, carbon and glass fibers, nylon and ceramic fillers. No industrial machinery is used in the assembly/production of our cables. Ribbon conductors are custom fabricated to our exact specifications, hand treated and polished.

“The design of the Proteus has evolved from early experimentation with conductor geometries and the effects of extreme mechanical damping as well as a heavily protected ground wire, which showed great results and a dramatically reduced noise floor. In addition to the proprietary components and materials, each Proteus requires many hours of highly skilled labor.

“The inspiration for the PROTEUS design came from our very popular KRAKEN power cable. Thinking about what was possible to take the KRAKEN technology to the next level by focusing on several key elements that made the KRAKEN so special and advancing these key elements to the highest level possible plus adding a new level of mechanical damping. Our PROTEUS power cable brings out the full potential of your components in ways that you never thought possible.”

Nuts and Bolts

The more complex the geometry and the more exotic the materials used, the longer break-in takes with cables. Brian Ackerman, the proprietor of Aaudio Imports, recommends a minimum break-in time of 300 hours but says that the cables will continue to improve for a long time thereafter. In practice the Proteus sounded quite good after five hours, but after twenty-four, sounded a bit recessed in the highs. The mid bass and midrange began to fill in after 150-200 hours with the highs being the last thing to open up.


Listening Impressions

Frank Sinatra, Only the Lonely, Capitol CDP 7 48471 2. While this CD is an early transfer, it sounds quite good. I hear very little of anything that sounds particularly digital. Indeed, Sinatra’s voice sounds bigger and richer than I had noticed in previous playings. The lower midrange and bass are once again impressive; this CD sounds like a different, richer mix than I’m used to. Much of this I would attribute to the Proteus cables. The sound is rather remarkable for a 25+ year old CD.

Miles Davis, Miles Ahead, Sony Music SICJ 12. This is a Japanese reissue of Miles’ first Columbia collaboration with Gil Evans from 1957. It is in exceptionally good mono. The detail of the arrangements is terrific. While there is a slight edge to the trumpet section, and I’ve never heard it any other way, I love the way I can hear some of the unusual instrument combinations favored by Evans. He seems to have been particularly fond of the bass clarinet. The dense chording is as clean as I’ve heard it and, as with some other of the best monos, I can hear space around the instruments and placement on the sound field. I’ve never heard this recording sound this rich.

Albert Rousseau, Le Festin De L’Araignee, Orchestra National Des Pays De La Loire, Pascal Rophé, BIS 2432 SACD. This is an outstanding recording of a lesser known French ballet from the early part of the 20th Century. Roussel, the composer, clearly echoes aspects of Ravel and Debussy, but was also firmly developed in his own voice, such that Feast is no pale imitation. This recording, conducted by Pascal Rophé, brings out all of the subtleties of the score without losing track of the forward motion and rhythmic thrust of the dance. As with many of the discs I’ve heard on the system since the introduction of the Proteus power cables, I’ve never heard it sound better.

5 Responses to Stage III Proteus power cable Review

  1. Ken Basar says:

    I think you should get your amp modified so a regular IEC connector can be used. If done right it should improve resale value.

  2. Dean Gale says:

    Great review I like how your saw felt or heard how the cables filled in areas you thought you missed previously .

  3. Fred Crowder says:

    Ken, thanks for the suggestion, but given that the amp requires a 220 volt feed, it is unlikely that a normal IEC connector would work. It does however limit my ability to use the cords with other products.

    Dean, many thanks for your comments. Living with a product over a much longer period than a review requires does sometimes result in further insights.

  4. R. Aker says:

    In Europe, all equipment runs on 230 VAC with IEC connectors, without any problems!

  5. Fred Crowder says:

    In this instance, the connector which the manufacturer has chosen at the amp end is non-standard. On the other hand, I chose to use a Schuko connector at the wall to prevent my maid from inadvertently plugging a vacuum cleaner into a 220 volt outlet. The EMM MTRX amps are capable of producing 1500 watts. I have no idea what the actual power draw is normally, probably 12-15 watts so you are correct that an IEC would probably have worked.

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