Friday, November 10, 2006

Absolute Power!

I finally got around to changing out the power cords on my DAC, Transport, Preamp, Amp, and Power conditioner. I went with the Transparent Power Link Plus. For a brief moment I tried to kid myself that I’d be happy with the High Performance Power Link cords also from Transparent. This was mostly because they were less than half the price, but the performance gap between the PLP’s and the HPPL’s is undeniable.

The breaking in of power cords seems to occur much faster than interconnects and speaker cable. Perhaps a major contributing factor is that I leave all the components in the system on at all times. Out of the box with zero break-in they edged out the stock cords. After about three hours the difference was more audible than that. After a number of days of beak in it began to sound as if there was a bottle neck in the sound of my system. The obvious culprit was the new power cords. Quickly a theory emerged that the power cords on the amp and power conditioner must be breaking in faster than the cords used on the other components because they had so much more electricity flowing through them. So I removed those two cords and switched them with the cords on the DAC and Transport. The system’s performance improved in some areas and slightly worsened in others for a net gain. After a night of the power cords that had previously been hooked up to the DAC and Transport being burned in on the Power Conditioner and the Amp it was a different story. The new level of accuracy of timbre that the system is exhibiting is startling.

Preliminary results indicate an elimination of a certain hardness that could inhabit the midrange of female vocals. Bass has more tonality and more body, yet is still tight and articulate. Cymbals have taken on a more metallic quality and the subtle differences between different cymbals are much more easily recognized. Gone is the slightly whitish coloration that had overlaid them in the past. There is an increase in sound staging width and depth as well.

Also impressive is the change in stringed instruments, particularly acoustic guitars, hollow body electric guitars, and mandolins. Differences between different electric guitars have become even more obvious. The sound of the body of the instruments is much more integrated with the sound of the strings. A lowering of the noise floor also creates the impression that notes hang in space a little longer. Violin bows sound as if they are being drawn across the strings more slowly and lovingly. For whatever reason this upgrade also made the sweet spot for the Logans much larger, I have no explanation for that one.

An increase in the micro dynamics of vocal performance has made listening to female vocalists beguiling. It’s got me grabbing for Tori Amos, Diana Krall, Sheryl Crow, and Natalie Merchant albums. On my copy of Robinella and the CC Stringband when she flubs a line during “Marie Laveaux” the smile that creeps onto her face is very audible in her voice and is just plain sexy!

The CLS’s disappearing act is impressive under normal conditions, now it’s just plain unnerving. Left/Right imaging is way outside of the speakers when that information is present on the recording. What would happen if I replaced the Martin Logan’s power cords? I don’t want to think about it. The CLS’s aren’t the end goal so spending money on power cords would be silly, or would it? Somebody stop me!

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