As I am in the middle of looking for some new affordable power cables for my system, I decided to give Robert Fritz at Audio Art Cables a call since he has just recently started to sell power cables. I am no stranger to Rob as I use his wonderful IC-3 interconnects as one of my reference cables and have a pair of his SC-5 speaker cables in my second system.
Without delay Rob dispatched a 1.5m cord with Watt gate 5266i/IEC 32 plugs (Retail $165/ Intro price $125), you can also get upgraded Furutech FI-11 plugs, Retail $215/Intro price $165.
Here are the cable specs and features per Audio Art's site:
1) Kari Bremnes – My Heart Is Pounding Like A Hammer
2) Katie Melua – Piece By Piece
3) Andre’ Previn – Stars Fell On Alabama (Old Friends – Telarc)
4) Vienna Teng – Eric’s Song
5) 1st Pirates Of The Caribbean soundtrack – Barbossa is Hungry
6) Brian Bromberg – Freedom Jazz Dance
7) Art Pepper – Over the Rainbow
8) Amos Lee – Dreamin'
Right out the box, HOLY COW!!!, stop playing with the turbo boost button. Think of the Stargate on “Stargate SG-1” when it is first activated, how it looks like a whirlpool of water is shot out into the room and then it settles down into a calm glistening pool of water. At first listening the bass and midrange is thrust out into the room overpowering the listener. Good build quality and while the looks are not “blow you away”, it also does not draw attention to itself and blended in quite nicely with my decor. The cable is pretty flexible so you won't have trouble routing it in your room.
In this review I am going to try something new, a new reviewing technique known as the “Bottle of Wine Technique”. Simply put, I listen to all of my review cuts starting by opening a bottle of wine and as I progress through the songs and wine I take notes, great idea...eh. It's not new, Marvin. In the old days it was just called "The Wino Technique". It is credited as being initiated at The Absolute Sound - publisher
After giving the Audio Art Power 1 AC power cord ample time to settle in, my initial impressions are that the cable has excellent pace,natural tonality, and is well balanced throughout the frequency range, also the power 1 ac has a nice quiet background that complements the other cables in the Audio Art lineup.
To begin I had a few questions for Robert. (MB) Marvin Bolden RF (Robert Fritz)
MB: Did you have help from DH Labs with this cable?
RF: DH has done all of my design work for me, including power 1
MB: What goals were you aiming for when designing the power 1?
RF: As with previous Audio Art products, audiophile quality & performance at a budget price. I also was hoping to offer a level of parts quality at this price level that was previously unheard of. I know there are other power cable models that use the Furutech FI-11G. I may stand to be corrected, but none that I know of that offers a 12ga, fully shielded cable at ONLY $145! To boot, the FI-11G is frequently regarded as one of the best bangs for the buck in the high end audio industry. And the more affordable WattGate 5266i / IEC320 combo is used on high end name brand cables into the $500 range. Also, rather than offer different PC flavors for different component applications, and complicating the consumers choices, I wanted to market a power cable that provided an excellent all-around performance enhancing solution for front ends, dacs, pre and power amps & power supply devices alike. Other than the “heavy” factor with lighter chassis cd’s and dacs, I think power 1 succeeds here. Next up will be a step up power cable—usable for all component applications as well.
MB: What price range do you think the Power 1 compares with?
RF: You can get some of this from my answer to #2, but from a standpoint of performance only, judging from consumers feedback and my own testing, I’d say power 1 is comfortable with most competition into the $400-500 range, as an upper end.
MB: How much of a difference in sound does the Furutech connectors make?
RF: It is just a better built plug. Nylon housing, better contacts internally, copper plugs, and it fits better into receptacles.. And it does sound different. It’s warmer and smoother than WattGate, for sure. We should get you one for comparison at some point.
Comparisons were done with the power cables being exchanged on the power amp. Listening sessions were also done with the Audio Art on my preamp with similar improvements in sound, but I preferred the sound with the cord on the power amp.
To start in comparison to my reference Xindak pc-03 power cord the Audio Art has:
The wine is a white zinfandel by Crane Lake of California that was on special purchase at a local store.
I sit down, relax into my chair, take my first sip of wine and cue up “My Heart Is Pounding Like A Hammer” by Kari Bremnes.
Cymbals in the background are nice and crisp. I can feel the bass, it was (new term) soul solid. The bass sort of warmed me up (along with the wine). Kari's voice is nice and mellow. Soundstage is quite good with voices and instruments being heard in layers.
Next up is “Piece BY Piece” by Katie Melva.
The guitar intro followed by Katie's voice is sort of weird as Katie's voice borders on being a little shrill but it's never harsh sounding. I can tell the drum sticks are real wood. All in all Katie is real nice sounding in an in the room sort of way.
As I transition from Katie's sweet voice to the easy flowing piano of Andre Previn on “Stars Fell On Alabama” I hear the echoes of the applause giving a good sense of the size of the venue. The piano and bass playing together is so smooth and yet each is a distinct unit, no smearing of sound here. I just close my eyes and move my head to the music. There is no feeling from the wine yet just a nice refreshing taste.
I sit here and think to myself, this is what music is all about.
“Eric's Song” by Vienna Teng. I can hear the little things like every time she depresses the piano pedals. In an interview Vienna says she does not think she sings very well, but it's good enough to make me go crazy.
Now I get to the heavy hitters, on “Barbossa Is Hungry”, bass goes low with plenty of punch.
Into the third glass of wine (no sipping here), time to turn the volume up. Yea baby!! that driving beat just keeps pounding my chest. Very wide soundstage and very dynamic!!
“Freedom Jazz Dance” by Brian Bromberg, the attack on the strings is outstanding with the bass starting to make thins vibrate in the room. After I track down the rattle sources and tie them down, the sound of the bass is ooh so woody and I can feel the strings on my finger tips.
“Over The Rainbow” by Art Pepper. The wine bottle is getting pretty low. The sax is “so live”
The cymbal in the background is so organic sounding. I sit here and just close my eyes in pure delight.
Well, the last song and the last of the wine, “Dreamin'” by Amos Lee, Amos is in the room!!!
This is music!! Unabated, natural, sweet, tear jerker music!!
All in all, this is a very good power cable for the money that provides you with great sound, looks that do not stick out in your room and sold by a great company at a price that will not break the bank. This is one bargain cable that I would be happy to keep in my system.
News flash!! I just got in the Power1 AC with the Furutech connectors. My first comparison was the Furutech to the Wattgate on the Usher.
The Furutech's highs are smoother, bass cleaner and tighter. The midrange is a little more forward. At first I thought I liked the extra sizzle in the highs of the Wattgate. But after further listening, the smoothness of the Furutechs just gently take you to another place.
I then tried the Furutechs on the Belles. In this configuration I much preferred the Clarity cord on the power amp to the Xindac. The Furutech was much smoother and not as hissy (if that's a word).
It's the Furutechs on the power amp with the Clarity on the preamp. In both cases (Wattgate/Furutech), I much preferred the VH Flavor 1 on my cdp.
If you have not tried aftermarket power cables, believing that they are voodoo or overpriced gimmicks, do yourself a favor and try these. You just might find yourself falling in love with your system all over again. I will repeat; both these cables are a great bargain at their price points and with the trial listening period you would be doing yourself an injustice if you did not give these cables a chance in your system.
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