Both the Terminator and Stealth Power Cords have an MSRP of $720 for a 3ft. length.
Stereomojo forges new, different and better concepts in audio journalism.
Cable Conversations puts you in the room as these Stereomojo Reviewers
discuss their individual findings after evaluation in their own systems - Publisher
Power cords can be a divisive subject in the world of audio, split into those who firmly believe in the difference they make and those who argue the science that says any audible difference is nearly impossible. Whichever side of that argument you fall on, expect nothing here by way of that debate. We respect the thought process and arguments of those opposed, but in fact we do hear differences caused by cables, and these articles are an attempt to articulate only what we heard, not to convert others.
Katie Melua – Nine Million Bicycles, I Cried For You, I Do Believe In Love
John Mayer – Gravity, Dreaming With A Broken Heart
Rebecca Pidgeon – Spanish Harlem (Ken only)
Iron & Wine – The Trapeze Swinger (Art only)
Ryan Adams – Where the Stars Go Blue (Art only)
Element Cable is a boutique cable manufacturer based in Grand Prairie, Texas that was started by Anthony Wynn in 2003. Anthony’s original offering has now become his Standard Line of IC’s, Power Cords, Speaker Cables, and a variety of video cables. His lines quickly became well regarded for their price/value equation and the solid build that Anthony did, more often than not with his own two hands.
In 2007 Anthony introduced his Signature line of cables, clearly targeting an elevated level of system and audiophile. “I had learned so much about building cables and how to improve them,” Anthony shared with me from his Grand Prairie office. “I have so much passion for music and audio, and that has always translated into my cable lines,” Wynn said, “Well I still had an intense passion to expand my line, to push things further in terms of design, build, and sonic offerings.” It was that passion that drove him to the Signature Line, and to the objects of this discussion.
Ken Yuan and I received two of Anthony’s Power Cord offerings, the Terminator and the Stealth. We decided for consistency to use them on our digital sources for this discussion, and to try and talk in terms of the overall approach Element takes, as well as an armchair comparison of the two cables sonically. What follows is our dialogue about these two cords and what we found as we took them out for a drive in each of our systems.
Product Information (provided by Anthony Wynn)
"The Terminator Cord features 17 conductors braided in our Helix Cross-Weave geometry. Braiding is computer controlled for precision and ensures consistency from one cord to another; much of the sonic character of the Terminator is due to this unique braiding technique. The selection for dielectric and conductor also assist in the overall tonal characteristic of the cable. The braided conductors are enclosed in 2 layers of vibration dampening material and fitted with Wattgate Silver connectors. Terminator's connectors and conductors benefit from deep Cryogenic processing.
My design goal for the Terminator was to design a cord that is very smooth and musical, a product that highlights the organic qualities in instruments and vocals.
We wanted to offer a cable that remind audiophiles of the classic tube sound; full- bodied, rich, and natural sounding. In a nutshell, the Terminator sounds more analog than digital."
"Stealth Cord utilizes our newly developed "Agculoy" conductors; it is a combination of silver and copper alloy wound in a Triple-Helix design. The use of DAS Teflon™ dielectric, Agculoy conductors, and Wattgate Silver connectors enables Stealth to be transparent, and highly detailed. An overall copper shield is added to eliminate EM/RF noises. Internals are enclosed in 2 layers of vibration dampening material and also benefit from deep Cryogenic processing.
Our goal for Stealth was to develop a neutral sounding cord that is transparent, offers high resolution, high level of detail, and unlimited dynamics. The use of “Agculoy” conductors allows Stealth to be full sounding, detailed, and neutral, without the lit-up, overaggressive top end that silver cables can have.Stealth is not designed to add a tonal character to a system; it is designed to bring the listener closer to the performance by improving transparency and resolution.
I would also like to add that these power cords could yield improvement anywhere in a system, they are not specifically designed for use with any certain components."
KY: I found both cables to be very flexible and easy to work with when snaking through my system setup.
AS: I was actually quite surprised at how easy they were to coil or flex in and around my system as I used them. It’s definitely unusual in my experience to find cords of this gauge that are this flexible.
AS: I also really liked the sheathing and overall look, very classy and sophisticated.
KY: The sheath is very soft and smooth, a nice change of pace and as you said, very classy looking. The Wattgate connectors always add class to things as well -- an indication of quality.
AS: Nothing flimsy about these cables, very solid construction, clean and strong connections and terminations. One more thing, these are heavy and solid feeling in your hand, but do not pull equipment off the shelf or fall out of connections either. Anthony seems to have found the right connectors and weight for heft but not for heaviness, if that makes sense.
KY: The Terminator seems to have a bit wider soundstage than that of Stealth when in my system; and both appear to have nominally wider soundstage than my Analysis Plus Power Oval Cord. For example, John Mayer’s “Gravity” has several sequences of drumstick hitting the crash cymbals – with the Terminator in the system, the sound sounded to be about 6”-8” wider than with the Stealth.
AS: I found the same thing, but found the difference between the two to be more around 4-6” difference, and heard this on Ryan Adams “When The Stars Go Blue.” The placement of the two guitars on the outside of the soundstage has always been a marker for width and depth in my system. My reference power cord, the DCCA Source, throws a soundstage that is equal to the Terminator in my system, if not a touch wider and deeper.
KY: Regardless, they both present a wide stage and both appear to have a mid-stage presentation.
AS: Imaging remained pretty consistent between the two cables in my system. They placed performers in their own space with good separation. All the players were where I expected them. The Flute and whistle near the beginning of “9 Million Bicycles” were layered properly and in the correct position relative to the other instruments.
KY: Both cords have the ability to project vocal just above the speaker height; whereas, my resident Analysis Plus cord projects vocal at the speaker height.
AS: I didn’t find any height difference in the image, either between these two, or with either of them and my DCCA.
KY: I did and also think both have a really solid center image.
AS: I agree here, center image was rock solid and very consistent with the normal center image of my system. I also have to add that at the beginning of “The Trapeze Swinger” there are a number of ambient instruments and sound that are a good indicator for me of any cords ability. Both of these cords did a commendable job of working with my system to add some extra space and dimension I don’t typically hear with my DCCA. Gave me a chill while I was listening to the Terminator cord it was so real sounding.
Overall tonality and quiet factor (for a Power Cable)
KY: The overall tonality for both Terminator and Stealth seemed similar in that it is very coherent and smooth across the spectrum. Both cables produce a very dark background, which provided a good backdrop for the music flow.
AS: Here’s an area where I began to hear some separation between these two cables. Both offer a very quiet background, but they part ways there for me. I felt like the Terminator was a much more palpable sounding cord, fuller bodied with more velvety texture, like a Merlot; while the Stealth was in fact more…well, stealth, as in transparent…a cleaner and neutral cord that really didn’t add anything tonally to what I was hearing. The Stealth was more similar to my DCCA Cord, whereas the Terminator brought a luxurious richness to things that I quite enjoyed.
KY: I didn’t feel as though either cable overemphasized any particular frequency.
AS: I agree there was not any overemphasis, but found they both did add some weight to the low end.
KY: I agree they both have a very solid low-end. I found that the Stealth appears to provide a touch more presence to the bass. Specifically, its bass seemed a bit more palpable to me, a slim margin more, but more. The nice part is that the cord seems to do this without changing the overall tonality. John Mayer’s Gravity track contains some very nice upper bass frequencies, which really highlighted both power cords’ ability to reproduce clean, tight bass.
AS: I agree completely and would add that this is all done without over-emphasizing the lower frequencies, at least not in any way that I could detect. Well done.
KY: Both power cords have similarly smooth presentation; however, to me, the Terminator seems to have a bit more air to vocals. On Rebecca Pidgeon’s Spanish Harlem you could hear the clarity of her tone. While both cords sounded very smooth, the Terminator’s presentation just sounded more airy to me, a step closer to seeing the space around her.
AS: I also preferred the Terminator here, although both were quite good. I liked the touch of warmth the Terminator adds, and was surprised that it doesn’t sound rolled off at all while adding it.
AS: I found both cords to have good extension on the top-end without any audible graininess or etching. I did find the Terminator to be a bit smoother than the Stealth, as the Stealth again sounded quite a bit like my current DCCA cord.
KY: Both power cords did not seem to constrict the high frequencies at all. Nor was there any emphasis on any particular frequency. On Katie Melua’s “I Do Believe In Love” track, her highs came through clear and unrestricted.
How they sounded in your system compared to your usual cables
KY: Overall, I would say both the Terminator and the Stealth presented more bass and more bass definition than my Analysis Plus. In addition, the mid-range also sounded smoother.
AS: I found the Stealth to be very similar to DCCA cord, which I consider to be an excellent cable. The Terminator, for me, adds a layer of sonic density and had more sparkle or air than either the Stealth or DCCA, I really felt like it added something to my system.
Overall Impression of each – contrasts between the two cables
KY: Again, I think the Terminator and the Stealth are more alike than they are different. Other than the noted differences above, which are nominal -- and may be trivial to some -- these two cables are clearly neck-to-neck on performance.
Given the power cords’ high built quality, flexibility, and overall sound reproduction, I would take either power cord without any hesitation.
AS: I found subtle differences in them as outlined above, but think both are excellent. I would rate the Stealth as on par with my DCCA and the Terminator just a hair ahead with the body, weight and smoothness it brings to the table.
KY: I would highly recommend both power cords. Art, going back to your earlier point of the two power cord camps, I don’t really subscribe to either one. I try to keep things simple. If I hear a difference, and I like that difference, then I would consider it. In our little misguided world of “audiophile,” the marginal value-to-cost ratio appears to have an ever-declining curve – at least to these old ears. That said, these two cords from Element do seem to provide a solid value-to-cost offering. Of course, my caveat emptor – only “you” can make that determination. Anthony has a 30-day money back guarantee.
AS: I would recommend both, but with some additional guidance. The Stealth is perfect for a neutral and balanced system, it ads a bit of low end and is smooth but beyond that I don’t feel it adds much. If you have a thin or etched sounding system, or just want to add more weight and warmth, I think the Terminator is the right cord for you. Build quality is first class, and Anthony is a true gentleman with which to deal.