Those of you who have been reading me for a few years know that I am a huge advocate of modest tweaks and modifications that provide moderate to huge gains in sonic performance.
I have been meaning to order some parts and material from Parts Express and build some upgrade power cords for my power amplifiers. However, it was one of those things that was never a priority because I thought the performance gains would be noticeable, but small. Well, I was WRONG! The sonic changes I heard were more akin to an amplifier modification than a power cord change.
I ordered two custom length (eight foot) Signal Cable (www.signalcable.com) Magic Power cords on 4/10/05 and received them on 4/21/05. I will not discuss the construction and performance parameters of the Magic power cord since that information can be found on the Signal Cable website. One Magic power cord replaced the wimpy 16 AWG stock power cord of the Adcom GFA-5802 power amp in my two channel rig. I did a double upgrade in my home office rig. I replaced the GFA-5400 power amp with a GFA-5500 power amp. I got tired of hearing my SDA CRS+'s snicker and laugh at the GFA-5400's less than 200 watt/channel output. I then replaced the GFA-5500's stock 14 AWG power cord. I thought it odd that the 200 watt/channel GFA-5500 came with a heavier gauge power cord than the 300 watt/channel GFA-5802.
In general, the improvements I heard were:
1. Bass performance was more detailed and articulate with greater impact.
2. The SDA effect was more holographic, solid, and three dimensional.
3. Clarity overall was improved.
I will now discuss specific differences in performance while auditioning three reference recordings on the two channel system. Similar results were realized on the home office system, therefore, to avoid repeating myself, I will only discuss the two channel system audition here.
George Howard-"The Very Best of George Howard", track 5-"Diane's Blues".
This track has a hard-driving electric bass line and lush background percussion. George Howard's soprano saxophone soars above it all. With the Magic Power cord, George's saxophone moved two feet in front of the drum kit directly behind him. The percussion instruments became more defined, articulate, and had more "sparkle. The electric bass had more impact, more sharply defined transients and more articulation. The bass notes also had a little more sharply defined "growl" to them, which caused more tactile vibrations to come through the floor and through the couch I was sitting on. No change was noticed in the soundstage width. Soundstage depth was increased. There was more front to back separation between players.
Miles Davis-"Kind of Blue", track 1-"So What".
The Magic Power cord povided more resolution which means I heard more tape hiss at the beginning of the track when just the piano and acoustic bass were playing. The hiss was obscured once the other players join in. When Miles' began his first trumpet solo, he was two feet forward of the upright bass, whereas with the stock power cord, he was standing immediately in front of the bass. I heard more reverberation in the wood body of the acoustic bass. The drum kit high-hat had more metallic reverberation and shimmer. No change was noticed in the soundstage width. However, the same spacial effects I heard with the stock power cord were still there, just more defined. For example, Bill Evans' piano was about three feet to the left of the left speaker. When Coltrane came in with his tenor sax solo, he sounded like he was three feet to the left of and about a foot behind the left speaker. Soundstage depth was increased. There was more front to back separation between players.
Dave Brubeck Quartet-"Time Out", track 1-"Take Five".
Now I can hear Paul Desmond's tongue on the tip of his alto sax reed. He also came two feet further out in front of Eugene Wright's bass. Again, soundstage depth was increased overall. There was more front to back separation between players. No change was noticed in the soundstage width. Joe Morello's snare drum attacks had more "bite" . His cymbol strokes had more shimmer and sizzle. Dave Brubeck's piano notes had more overhang and the "woody" reverberations of the piano body were more evident.
Of course, individual experience with this power cord will vary according to associated equipment. In my experiece, the "Magic" power cord delivered on its promise and far exceeded my expectations.
Adcom GCD-750 CD player
Adcom GFP-750 Preamp
Adcom GFA-5802 Power Amp
Signal Cable Premium XLR V2 interconnects
Monster Cable Z3 speaker cable
Polk Audio SDA SRS 1.2TL speakers (modified)