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X Stream Power Punch AC Cable
as reviewed by Francisco Duran
I have been using a Pioneer DV- 414 CD/DVD player as my main CD spinner ever since the departure of the Nohr CD-1 player earlier this year. Some time back, the top modification by John Hillig of Musical Concepts transformed this pedestrian player into the musical machine it is today, and it has fended off attacks from some much more expensive players. A review unit would surpass the modified Pioneer in one aspect or another, but none of these pricier players ever aced it in overall performance, and the gains in performance never justified the increase in price.
It was only after a brief listen to the excellent little Benchmark DAC One (see that review here) that I began to suspect that the performance of this multi-purpose player could be improved. The DAC One sounded cleaner and more open, and it let more musical information through. I was not ready to sell the Pioneer off, but I realized that its top end could be a little more liquid, its midrange a tad more organic, and its overall performance a bit more clear.
When your car won't start, check the simplest things first. Is it out of gas? Check it and go from there. Tweaks were the easiest and cheapest way to improve the Pioneer player, so in went a Gingko Cloud 10 isolation platform (see that review here), and it hasn't come out since. The next thing I wanted to change was the power cord, but my quest for an audiophile-grade cord with the appropriate C-7 connector came up short. Then one day, as I was thumbing through the latest Audio Advisor catalog while visiting the privy, my prayers were answered by our old friends at PS Audio. It seems that they make a power cord with a C-7 female connector that could replace the dreadful stock one. Simply by looking at the picture, I could tell that the price for a 1.5-meter cord was justified by its materials and build quality. I made a quick call to Audio Advisor, and the friendly UPS man soon dropped a small box off in the breezeway between my house and garage.
The X Stream Power Punch is PS Audio's most affordable cord, at a very reasonable $49 a meter. The Power Punch has connectors machined from solid billet, a braided shield, polished nickel plating, hermetically shielded connectors, a removable ground pin, hot and cold welded connections, and 12-gauge multi-strand wire. It is available with an IEC or a C-7 connector. A heck of a lot more craftsmanship goes into this cord than the freebie that comes with most DVD players.
Would this well built entry-level power cord be worthy of inclusion in the Duran music and movie system? Hey, the manual says that it improves the performance of anything. I put over a hundred hours on the Power Punch before doing any serious note taking or cord swapping. Even on initial installation, the PS Audio cord provided a noticeable change for the better. After the hundred hours, the most easily recognizable improvement was much better resolution. On the soundtrack to The Emerald Forest, I could hear further into the music than ever before. I was in the forest. The many percussion instruments were effortlessly fleshed out, as were the bass singers on Barber's Agnus Dei on a Telarc CD. Suddenly there were bass singers sprinkled in with the tenors. These details created a more realistic spacial relationship among the chorus. Upon further listening, I realized that those bass singers weren't sprinkled in the chorus, but had their own section. One positive attribute of the Power Punch cord seemed to merge into anotheródetail into space and space into timbre. Anything and everything sounded more realistic and natural, and just think, all of this from an inexpensive power cord!
In addition to this cord's heightened resolution, I noticed that a slight amount of glare also disappeared, along with a very slight layer of grunge in the background. With those things gone, I noticed that a degree of haze that had been hanging on the soundstage had disappeared, and that the Power Punch cord brought an improvement in dynamic authority. This was great! Suddenly my speakers sounded faster, cleaner, and punchier. Movies had more slam, and music had a tautness and dynamic authority it had not had before.
I have had high-quality power cords in my system for many years, from companies like Balanced Power Technologies, Soundstring, and Monarchy, to name a few. They all made a difference, but the thing about the Power Punch is the degree to which it raised the performance of my CD/DVD player. That had not been the case with any other power cord. This is what my player had needed all along. If you have a component that is having its performance strangled by a stock C-7 cord, you owe it to yourself to try the PS Audio X Stream Power Punch. Francisco Duran
X Stream Power Punch