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powerChord AC cord
as reviewed by Fown-Ming Tien
From the folks who brought us the fantastic rejuvenation treatment for digital discs known as Auric Illuminator comes another fine, musical product—the Audience powerChord. The powerChord ($449 for a six-foot length) is made of multi-stranded copper wire. It is extremely flexible, making it easy to deal with in the limited space behind an equipment rack. Unlike many power cords, the Audience cord is unshielded, and the insulation used is low-dielectric. It is wrapped in vinyl mesh and terminated with a Marinco plug on one end and a Wattgate IEC socket on the other. It is devoid of shielding because a shield can absorb energy and release it back into the cable. While this makes sense in theory, the truth is always revealed during listening. What did my listening reveal? Hallelujah, glorious music!
Unlike some power cords that dazzle with detail that just won't quit, or others that draw attention with bass so overdone that it can clear clogged sinuses, the powerChord does not do any one thing spectacularly well. What it does, with graceful and accomplished aplomb, is allow each note to flow with ease and musicality.
Audience President John McDonald and designer Richard Smith loaded me up with enough powerChords to completely outfit my system. I first attacked the weakest link, the stock power cord on my Rowland Model 10 amplifier. With the first powerChord in place, backgrounds were noticeably blacker. Bass was more extended and articulated. Highs had greater clarity, and texture increased throughout the midrange. Dynamics were also better, but there was something else that I could not immediately place my finger upon. I continued to play music until it dawned on me that the pace and rhythm was more relaxed, allowing the music to flow.
Impressed with what I heard from the addition of one powerChord, I replaced the cord on my Aragon Aurum preamp. I was greeted with similar improvements, but the effect was heightened. I forged ahead, and replaced the cord on the CD transport. I was already using the excellent Eichmann eXpress6 series 2 cord in that position, so the improvements were not dramatic, but by then, the overall presentation was quite different. The Eichmann delivers detail and speed, while the Audience relaxes the pace. With the powerChords, I found myself getting lost in the music instead of getting caught up in its details.
I installed the final powerChord on my Perpetual Tech P-3/A digital-to-analog converter, and the music suddenly turned to mush. That wonderfully relaxed pace and timing slowed to molasses, and everything sounded sluggish and constricted. When I mentioned this to Richard Smith, he was surprised, but my comments got him thinking. A few weeks later, Richard asked me to try a new powerChord that he had specifically designed for digital applications. The new powerChord was the same as the old one, with the addition of filters at both ends. With the new cord powering the DAC, the pace, rhythm, and timing returned.
I listen critically to every piece of equipment I place in my system, and the powerChord is the only one that has made me forget about the details and let the music take me along for the ride. If you are looking for a power cord that accentuates a specific part of the frequency range, the powerChord may not be for you, but if you are looking for the low-hanging-fruit type of upgrade that will bring out the seductive qualities of music, you must hear the Audience powerChord. You, too, might find yourself jumping up and exclaiming, "Hallelujah, glorious music!" Fown-Ming Tien