You know how you can tell in 10 seconds if a component has it? Alas, it doesn't happen all that often—the good ones are few and far between. Just like the players in this industry—those who know real sound are few and far between. Most think it is synonymous with the Audiophile Report Card, the stuff reviewers write about. Do not confuse the two: The truth is that's just a starting point, a convenient check list for how well a piece of gear does particular things. Excellent grades on the report card do not guarantee a component can play music.
As I glance around mi sistema, I see mucho Aaudio Imports gear: wires, audio furniture, footers. It is beginning to resemble the east coast branch of that importer-distributor. What can I say? When Brian Ackerman of Aaudio brings in a line, more often than not, it gets thumbs up. He knows.
Our current, ongoing project involves surveying the revised product line from Stage III Concepts, a boutique wire manufacturer of high repute.
A short time ago, I leveled with him about my experience with the Stage III Kraken, a beautifully-made, statement level, power cord (MSRP $8400). This is one powerful AC cord. With massive conductor gauge supporting huge current capacity, it aptly services the biggest power amplifiers. Back when I reviewed it, I noted:
…how your amps will get all charged up and excitable. The Kraken boosts your amp's dynamic energy level such that they act like they're on a high protein diet…
There was nothing subtle when I installed a Kraken on the Soulution 710 or the Luxman M-800A stereo amplifiers.
Too Much of a Good Thing
The Kraken recently came back for a return visit, only now my situation has changed. I'm running the CH Precision M1 Monoblocks and they use a 20 amp power input receptacle, so the single Kraken he sent over would have to go elsewhere. I looked around for another location. The CH X1 External Power Supply that powers both the CH L1 Preamp and CH C1 DAC beckoned.
Again, the system got all charged up. Soundstage boundaries pushed outward, dynamics were empowered, and there was a massive weight gain. Only now it was too much: a surfeit of riches resulted that went beyond realism. Pairing your amp with a Kraken is a no-brainer. Using it on a front-end component didn't work, although Brian says he uses it with front-end components all the time. Depends on the situation.
That's how I came to have this Stage III Concepts Triton Power Cord (MSRP $6000/1.5m). When I related this narrative to Brian he immediately suggested the one down Triton model would be a better fit. The Kraken was sidelined and the Triton went on the CH Precision X1 External Power Supply.
a Jewel Box
It clicked in a big way. The whole cluster of virtues I've been writing about in these Stage III reviews were present, just proportionally less than you get with their higher model PCs. Want to pick up the pace? Want some high octane fuel for your engine? Want to boost the presence quotient?
With that single Triton on the CH X1, one visitor compared my listening room to a jewelry box. Like an ornamental box with compartments for rings, brooches, bracelets, and watches, so the soundstage was neatly organized and filled with exquisite, precious sounds. Everything was in its place, cut to the right size in proportion to the rest.
The instruments are rendered larger and have more flesh, but because stage dimensions have expanded they don't appear cramped. And the flesh is taut, so nothing is soft or flabby. Nothing is ill defined or vague. It doesn't matter where you place your gaze, every nook and cranny deep on the sides and rear of the hall potentially reveals some buried treasure.
You could tell how each CD was engineered and gather location information: this one was recorded in a concert hall; this one was done in a church; and this one is so immersive I can't relate it to a real space. The Triton clears the haze and exposes these things.
Truthfully, this level of transparency is not that uncommon, but here it is done the right way. It is not overly hyped with artificial, etched borders, like a badly adjusted HDTV presentation. It mimics what I hear in the concert hall, where nothing is obscure yet you never hear sharply defined, hard edged borders.
So you might say the soundstage veers from the jewel box analogy in that the instruments don't have sharp facets or glisten like jewels—they are not highlighted. The deep resolution is naturally presented and doesn't trigger my analytical radar. That's the beautiful thing about the Triton. It strikes a nearly ideal balance between the analytical and musical aspects.
Note that when I installed the Kraken or Leviathan, it was necessary to lighten up the system's tonal balance to compensate for a downwards shift. That was not needed with the Triton. Tonal balance did not shift when it replaced the K-S Elation! power cord.
The Allnic H-3000V Power Supply
All of the effects transferred when I moved the Triton over to the Allnic H-3000V phono stage. Then, one day on a whim, I thought of plugging the Triton into the motor of my Kronos Sparta turntable. Cheech! This doesn't make any sense—it ain't logical—but again nearly all of the benefits accrued. You would think a motor is either on or off. It's not even in the signal path. Go figure.
An Odd Complaint
I had a bunch of Stage III signal wires in line—the Analord Master Phono Cable, the Gorgon interconnects, the Medusa speaker wire—but only the single Triton power cord for most of my listening
The sound was immensely enjoyable. With a reference caliber source—like Pentatone SACDs or anything Harmonia Mundi—this rig was the ticket to ultra-high orbit, that tenuous never-never land at the outer reaches of the High End. I dig space travel and pushing the system to ever higher altitude.
But if I played average commercial source material the spacecraft was liable to abruptly crash land. There was no hiding. Ach! It was the old dilemma: Do you voice the system for ultimate resolution and play only the finest source material? Or is it better to back off so you can enjoy average stuff? I tell you it's not easy to come down once you've tasted the outer limits. On the other hand, if you back off you'll never realize what the gear is capable of.
Build Quality and Construction
As you can see in the photo, the Triton is a reduced version of the Kraken. Cosmetically, both PCs are constructed like the finest audio jewelry: there is no compromise in quality or materials. It employs the same conductor metals and geometry, shielding materials, mechanical damping and proprietary HYPERION connectors.
From the website:
A.S.P. TRITON POWER CORD power cables employ 4 large-gauge Cryo-treated, custom slow-extruded silver/palladium AeroStrand Ultra™ ribbon conductors. Air dielectric with FEP Teflon air-tubes.
H.D.A. 100% radiation invulnerable foil. Each conductor + 2 plated silver ground wires individually shielded with silver plated braid. Multi-layer construction with silica/ceramic/ferrite mechanical damping/shielding layer.
Custom handmade polymer-filled, carbon fiber plug housings help eliminate external vibrations. Exclusive Hyperion Ceramic plugs with Silver/Copper alloy electrical contacts, Palladium plated and Cryo-treated (custom made by Stage III Concepts).
It may be a reduced version of the Kraken, but it is still one of the bulkiest I've encountered. I had concerns about its weight and stubborn refusal to bend around corners. The idea of running it to the top shelf of my rack made me nervous: I feared it would stress the IEC jack of the component.
It ain't often I find myself preferring the one-down model of anything. This is that rare occasion.
As the saying goes, all things in their place. The Stage III Concepts Kraken and the statement Leviathan power cords are excellent on amplifiers. On my front-end gear, however, I found their effects too much. But the Triton, the third down in the line, fit the bill perfectly.
The Triton is a reduced version of the Kraken, both in appearance and performance: it brings proportionally less of all the Stage III bennies. That means it will satisfy both the analytical enthusiast and the music lovers among us. That was just right for my front-end.
The addition of a single Triton transformed my sound in startling ways. Singlehandedly, it took the system from very good to outstanding.
The Triton is another A+ power product from Stage III and recommended without reservation.
Triton Power Cord
Retail: $6000 1.5 meter
Stage III Concepts
Parker, CO 80134