eXpress™ Power AC Enhancing Cable
|eXpress™ Power AC Enhancing Cable|
Power To The People
8 August 2003
11 AWG (Australian) OFC copper conductors
Proprietary IEC plug, hospital grade mains plug
Proprietary aluminum alloy resonance control device
$299.95/2 meter cord
$329.95/3 meter cord
Audiophile Systems Limited
8709 Castle Park Dr
Indianapolis, IN 46256
Phone: (317) 849-5880
Fax: (317) 841-4107
Manufacturer website: www.eichmanncables.com
Power, Power, Who’s Got The Power?
Power cables have become one of the more arcane tools of the audio alchemist. Take some wire, add eye of newt, two grams of ground rhinoceros horn, three drops of deadly nightshade potion and cover with six feet of whatever is happening now. Simply name it, put it out there and hope it turns to gold. As with interconnects and speaker cable, sound and pricing of power cords varies widely. As for performance, synergy is arguably more variable with power cords than with any other wire prod-uct.
Having spent some time earlier this year with Keith Eichmann’s very nice eXpress 6 interconnects terminated with Silver Bullet Plugs® and liking them enough to add them to our second system, I took Rob Woodland of Eichmann Technologies up on his offer to review the aptly named eXpress Power AC Enhancing Cable, the one with what looks like a blue cucumber in the middle. The plastic vegetable close to the IEC plug holds the cord’s resonance control system, one of Eichmann Technologies’ con-tributions to improved audio reproduction.
The cucumber contains an aluminum shell, the shape of which was refined for more than a year before the Pullenvale team (in Brisbane, Australia) was satisfied with its performance. Inside the shell is eye of newt, ground rhino … err … I mean the En-hancing Cable contains no capacitors or other electronica found in some power cords and conditioners that can adversely affect the sound of your system. And unlike some of the fire hose cables that throw you to the floor when you attempt to bend them, the Enhancers are very flexible, as well as light in weight, so they won’t drag themselves out of components.
According to Woodland, the specially shaped aluminum shell is designed to interact with the positive conductor to break up and attenuate resonance transmitted to components through house mains, a major contributor to sonic degradation. The cur-rent carrying capability of the resonance control device is limited only by the current carrying capacity of the cable itself — some 30 amps. This means large amplifiers benefit as well as equipment with more modest power demands.
Woodland says in-house testing and customer feedback indicate that amplifier re-sponse to the Enhancer varies widely, while components such as preamps, CD play-ers, DACs, etc., tend to improve across the board. This seems common to power cords, regardless of brand or construction. What you should hear with the Enhancer, sayeth he, is “improved clarity and detail, reduced grain and background noise, and greater rhythmical drive and bass control.” All this without adding the deadly night-shade poison.
As for what’s happening now in Eichmann AC Power Enhancing Cable’s covering, it’s a darker shade of pale; blue, in this case. While you may not find these cords blend-ing into the linoleum in your listening area, they should do wonders for your audio system.
Something Old, Something New
The usual shambles ensued as I changed out the Vipers, plugged the new power cables into the amp, the preamp and the CD player sans Hydra and powered up the system.
Starting through the stack of The Usual Suspects reference discs, I recalled the six main attributes of the Enhancer and what I should expect to hear. As Introducing Ruben Gonzalez [World Circuit/ Nonesuch 79477-2] came through the Avalons, it was apparent that, at my usual volume setting, gain was up about three notches on
the c-j Premier 14—an increase of approximately 2 dB over the Viper/Hydra combination—with just a light burn-in of the Enhancers at the factory prior to shipping. This difference in gain increased a bit after about 100 hours of use.
As I listened through each cut, it was obvious that the noise floor had dropped. The Enhancers also bested the Vipers in PRAT, scoring big numbers in the “makes me wanna boogie” category. The cables had a greater sense of drive and immediacy, bass was more articulate and was rendered with greater authority and presence—more air moved. I played the jazz-funk Tourist [Blue Note 7243 5 25114 2 6] by St. Germaine, and Jesse Cook’s guitar nirvana disc,Gravity [Narada ND-63037], in addition to another spin of the Gonzalez CD. There was simply more in the lower registers with the Aussie power cable. Reinserting the Vipers verified my conclusion.
Back to the Enhancers, I went on the hunt for “greater clarity and detail,” two of the four remaining benchmarks for the cable. Grabbing Suba’s São Paulo Confessions [Six Degrees 657036 1019-2] and One Second by Yello [Mercury 832 675-2], I added Flightpath[Miramar MPCD2002], John Serrie’s spacey tribute to the pioneering efforts of many pre-astronauts. Each of these are well-recorded CDs, containing bits and pieces of detail easily lost in playback.
Flightpath is notable for extreme depth and width of the soundscape, as jet aircraft move through the music panorama. It’s a highly listenable reference disc, as is One Second — a complex techno-pop mix from the 80’s (it’s still available). São Paulo is a personal favorite in constant rotation. Best labeled Brazilian jazz-techno-dance with vocals, this is the second—Tanto Tempo by Bibel Gilberto was Suba’s initial offering—and last creation by the very talented, young Brazilian musician/producer who died in a fire soon after this disc came out.
While there wasn’t a big gap between the Vipers and the Enhancers, the cable from Oz was a tad better in retrieving low level detail and maintaining excellent dynamic contrast. Score two more for the Enhancers.
As for “reduced grain,” the Eichmann offerings were without a hint of brightness, edginess or hardness, a definite plus where listening fatigue is concerned. Here, there was little to choose between the two cables.
I moved on to vocals and strings, including piano, to check out midrange and higher registers. Reference material ranged from Kendra Shank’s Afterglow [Mapleshade 02121], to Book of Secrets[Warner Bros. 946719-2], the great Loreena McKennitt effort, toHere’s To Life [Verve 314 511 879-2] by Shirley Horn, a disc containing many of Shirley’s personal favorites.
Female vocals were natural and warm, with dimensionality that bespoke a human body rather than a cardboard cutout. Clarity of phrasing against instrumental backgrounds was excellent with either cable, and inner detail through the Enhancers gave nothing to the Vipers. Intelligibility of individual words is particularly important in the McKennitt album, where, in some selections, the combination of instruments, Loreena’s voice and the arrangements conspire against absolute clarity. The conspiracy failed.
Wincing, I pulled out Romanza [Philips 114539207-2] by Andrea Bocelli, a particularly edgy production and a good example of why vinyl adherents continue to adhere, to see just what the Enhancer would do with this CD containing a number of favorite Italian melodies. Surprisingly, the cable from Oz softened the ear-bleeding hardness; the disc was now listenable at high volume without driving one from the room. The Eichmann resonance control system was doing its job. A number of other male vocals also came through with flying colors. The Vipers also performed well, but the Enhancers again performed more dynamically, with more body and air, and sounded just that bit more like real vocalists performing in a real space.
To sample the piano, I once again chose Copland/Gershwin etc.,Chandos [CHAN 9210], featuring the Netherlands Wind Ensemble. Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and Gershwin’sRhapsody In Blue are very well recorded on this disc. A lack of congestion is apparent when the orchestra plays en masse in either selec-tion; the promised clarity was there. The piano and clarinet virtuosity of Louis Lortie and Harmen de Boer illuminate the heart and soul of these instruments, each rich with the sense of a real instrument playing in real space. Timbre, transients and de-cay are correct, quick and lingering as one would expect in a live concert
setting. The venue was wide and deep.
Looking back over my notes, I had jotted the word “smooth” and circled it as one of the six Enhancer attributes extolled by Rob Woodland. Yes, they were smooth, but not rolled off; each note was satisfyingly there. What’s more, the Enhancers were satisfyingly neutral, lending no colorations of their own to the music.
Comparing the cable from Down Under ($299.95) with the Shunyata
($1000), the Eichmann eXpress Power AC Enhancing Cable (try that on a T-shirt) exceeded expectations by a wide margin, particularly at its price point, and bettered the domestic wire in a number of areas. Kudos to audio alchemist Keith Eichmann, aka The Wizard of Oz.
Blue Is In
If you have been looking for an excellent power cord that returns outstanding bang for the buck, you should audition the Eichmann eXpress AC Power Enhancing Cable. The savings over many of the more pricey power cords could be the start of that Down Under vacation fund. Regardless, fine listening is yours in the bargain.
For those wishing to add multiple Enhancers to their system but having budget for just one, consider the Eichmann eXpress Power Strip at $39.95 — a six-plug, high quality distribution source that is not to be used as a surge protector. Plugged into a single Enhancer, the combination provides an audible step up in system performance.
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