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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 18
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dynamic design

Akasha AC cable

as reviewed by Clay Swartz

 

 

 

 

CLAY SWARTZ'S SYSTEM

LOUDSPEAKERS
Main speakers are heavily modified Koss Model 1A, center channel speaker are Radio Shack with Linaeum tweeters, side channel speakers are Goodman mini monitors, and the rear speakers are Radio Shack with Linaeum tweeters.

ELECTRONICS
Main amplifier is a modified Crown Macro Reference, center channel amplifier is a Parasound HCA-600 bridged to mono, side channel amplifier is a Sumo, and the rear channel amplifier is an Adcom GFA 565. Preamplifier is a modified by Andy Bartha, and an Outlaw 950.

SOURCES
A modified Marantz 8300 omni-player, a Monarchy DT 40A LD-CD player, a modified MSB 196-24 DAC, a JVC HR S5500U VHS player, a Teac X-2000R reel-to-reel, a Panasonic HDTV satellite receiver, Lumagen Vision Pro and a Mitsubishi Platinum Plus 55" television (HDTV capable).

CABLES
Cardes Golden Hex speaker and interconnect cables and Jena Labs interconnects, digital, and video cables.

ACCESSORIES
Lead bricks, lead sheets, Bright Star Big Feet, Shakti Stones, Sonic Hallographs and On-Lines, Tekna Sonic speaker dampeners, ebony and mpingo feet, 2 dedicated 20 and 30 amp circuits, Bright Star Airbase. The room is 20' x 19'. Room and is treated with custom Tube Traps, wall treatments, panels, and Corner Tunes.

 

After-market power cords have become integral to getting the best from one's high-end audio system. Even so, the job of a power cord is to simply deliver power from the wall (or power conditioner) to a component. On the other hand, it should be large enough in gauge to not slow the current delivered to the component during periods of high demand. It also must limit the pickup of electromagnetic noise from electronic fields generated by components, or from the air-borne electromagnetic fields that are almost everywhere. There are many things that affect the ability of a power cable to do these things properly. One is the quality of the wire and its manufacture. There is also the orientation of the wires in the chord, and the termination of the wire into the connectors. The best termination is a fusion of the metal of the wire with the metal in the connector, but this is almost never used because the heat needed to accomplish it would destroy other parts of the plug. A soldered termination is the next best, but the most common method is to use a screw-down connector.

Then there is the quality of the connectors and receptacles. Only high-quality prongs and receptacles will give the best contact. The smaller the contact area, the less the flow of current. Air and air-borne contaminants between connections can have a capacitive effect. Corrosion of the wires or contacts over time will also affect the quality of the current passed. Shielding from outside electronic fields is also important, as are the dielectrics used to cover the wires. The electromagnetic field around the wire flows through the dielectric, and is affected by it. The stock power cords that typically come with components are 14 to 16 gauge, and are made of standard stranded wire with cheap plugs and no shielding. There is no special orientation or dielectric.

A good power chord can make a very cost-effective improvement in a system. A lower-end audiophile power cord costing $100 to $200 can make a component sound like you spent a lot more money on it. A power amplifier can sound like you spent an additional $1000. This is assuming that the components are of good quality, and are properly set up. Spending more money on a power cord brings you brings better sound, but at less improvement per dollar. Dynamic Designsí $1200 Platinum Analog power cord is the best I have heard, but it is out of most peopleís price range, so I thought I should try the more modestly priced Akasha.

The Akasha cord appears to be very well built, with high quality connectors. It is about five-eighths of an inch in diameter, and has a black mesh cover with large yellow plugs on each end. It is fairly stiff, so requires some room behind the equipment. The stiffness may also cause problems with equipment placed on floating-type isolation bases. The company claims that the insulation is high-temperature and low-storage in character, and that it offers very low dielectric absorption, high tensile strength, and high current capacity. The cords have High Purity Bi-Metal (HPBM) conductors, which makes for high conductivity and minimal distortion. HPBM conductors are also used in the shielding material, giving immunity from all forms of noise and interference. Moisture resistant, dust tight, hospital-grade plugs give good signal transfer and excellent resistance to corrosion. The outer jacket is a combination of polyethylene mesh and PVC. This provides environmental protection and resistance to damage.

I broke the Akasha power cord in for about thirty hours before I evaluated it. As expected, it sounded much better than a standard power cord. The background was quieter. There was more inner detail. The soundstage was bigger, and better defined. Dynamics, both micro and macro, were better. The more important question is: How did the Akasha compare to other audiophile power cords? It sounded slightly better than a $200 API power cord, with a blacker background and slightly more detail. It sounded fairly close to a $500 Marigo cord, but the Marigo was slightly more dynamic. To the best of my recollection, none of these cords is in the same league as the $1200 Dynamic Designs Platinum Analog cord.

But, letís put things into the proper perspective. The improvement in sound quality between a standard power cord and the API class of cords is much greater than the differences between any audiophile power cords. The old saying that you get what you pay for applies here. You will need to decide whether the sonic improvements justify the expense of the higher-priced cords. You must also decide which components should have upgraded cords. Your CD player, preamp, and amp are a good idea. Mono amps, DACs, and other components require more cords. You can of course buy higher-priced cords over a period of time, or buy cheaper ones all at once. Like any audio component, power cords should be auditioned in your system. It is probably best to try cords in different price ranges. It is a real bummer to buy cheaper cords, then to find out that you want the performance of more expensive cords. The Akasha is well worth auditioning. Clay Swartz

Akasha
Retail: $300

Dynamic Design
5341 N. Sawyer Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
TEL: 773. 583. 3205

 

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