Except for my two amps, earlier in the year I upgraded all my stock power cords to Pangea AC14SE, and the power conditioner to Pangea AC9. I did not do the amps because they (Cambridge-Audio 840W in bridged mono mode) have IEC19 (20 amp) connectors, and Pangea does not offer that type of cable.
Last week I received a new catalog from Music Direct, and they had a Shunyata Research Venom 3 cable with a 20 amp connector for $125. So, I ordered two. Incidentally, the December 2010 issue of the absolute sound reviewed 13 power cables under $500, and said the Venom 3 was “the ringer” in the group by performing at nearly the same level as the more expensive cables.
When I installed the Pangea cables each one made a positive improvement in the sound. I expected this because the cables went onto the source gear, and that is where a small change can become a big change down the line. On the other hand, I was really not expecting much from upgrading the amps.
The Venom 3 power cables on the amps are great. The quiet passages are ‘darker’, while everthing else is clearer, more precise, detailed, etc. It is hard to put into words, but the improvement is very audible. For $125 a cable, this is a good ROI in sound quality.
To be honest, I am constantly amazed how the little tweaks done to the gear have made such a huge improvement in sound quality. The Mapleshade brass footers for vibration elimination, the MIT interconnects, and the Omega-Mikro Planar V speaker cables reviewed last week have all allowed me to get more music from my gear.
Now instead of thinking of upgrading the gear I think in terms of upgrading the cables. That is how big a difference cable upgrades have been. I have come to feel that anyone who ignores the obvious benefits of cable upgrades is depriving themselves of really hearing how good the music can be. Of course, they are saving a few dollars, but, for me, the benefits have been worth every penny.