Double Pandora AC cord
as reviewed by Larry Cox, Bryan Gladstone, and Sherman Hong
This is a review of a really crazy thinga "tuneable" power cord, a power cord that not only has a sound, but has several sounds. You choose the one you want. The VansEvers Double Pandora Power Cord surprised the heck out of me, so much so that I recommend you test one in your own system.
The sound changes according to where you place "acoustic bridges" on the cord, and also by tightening a nut (or changing the type of nut) on the IEC connector. Youll need to read the 22 (thats right, 22) page manual. It is a little frightening to think that you need to read a manual to use a power cord, but the manual is very instructive.
Tightening the nut at the IEC end of the cord, I heard overtones extended in time by a factor of perhaps two. On track eight, "Song of the Black Lizard," on Pink Martinis CD Sympathique, the first thirty seconds is female acapella vocal. Just before the singer starts to drop in volume, a trombone enters and begins to match tones with her. As the two tones match, an overtone is created. Hearing the singer and the trombone occupying the same tone at the same moment conveys a very high level of excitement and engagement, at least to me. With the Double Pandora, that overtone seems to last nearly twice as long. You could call this a parlor trick, and it may be, but let me offer another example of what the Double Pandora can do.
The Double Pandora has two "bridge supports." These look somewhat like the ferrite cores that AudioQuest sells, except that they are longer, and are permanently attached. By sliding them along the power cord, you can affect the bass response as much as you can with an active equalizer. Yes, it is pretty bizarre! (My non-audiophile friends Kathy and Doug were my guinea pigs, and were able to discern virtually all of the changes with their eyes closed.) The bridge closest to the IEC connection affects the bass range the most. The second bridge affects the midrange, and its proper location is dependent upon its distance from the first bridge.
The sound of the Double Pandora changes depending upon where it is located in relation to your equipment stand, other power cords, etc. If you are wondering what the Double Pandora sounds like, let me ask you, what do you want it to sound like? Moving the bridges around changes the sound in more ways than are describable. Frankly, this is a product that could take a year to pin down. After a little while, I became convinced that it provides most of what is claimed in VansEvers manual, although I didnt try all of his suggestions.
If you are intrigued by what Ive written here and determine to listen for yourself, do yourself a big favor and follow the directions. I didnt, got frustrated, and for a while thought that Mike was really full of it. He wasnt. He has a ton of ideas that sound so obvious when explained that youre amazed no one has spoken of them before. As a starter, he writes: "... it is our belief that audio systems are in a real sense, acoustic stringed instruments. The resonating plates, panels, and enclosures of this musical instrument are the resonating plates, panels and enclosures of the audio components (including stands). The wire and cables in the audio system (and beyond) are the strings of this (hopefully) musical instrument . The electron fields that move through wire (audio signals) are aided by the mechanical energy of resonance so that notes and overtones that coincide with the frequencies of these mechanical resonances seem louder."
The Double Pandora Power Cord is an expression of what Mike VansEvers perceives as the "mechanically tuneable nature of wire." He argues that where you place the bridges will amplify or reduce the resonance that passes through the cord. Thus, you may use or not use the edge of your equipment stand in "tuning" the wire. The edge, and the adjustable bridges, are like fingers on a guitar string. As you move them around you change the effective length of the string, thereby changing the pitch.
Whether my distillation of Mikes ideas is correctly stated or
not, the bridge mechanism does work. The same is true of the nut on the IEC connector. The
round nut sounded different than the wing nut, just as he said it would. He also suggests
that tightening or loosening the nuts as little as ¼ turn is discernible. In my
experience, it required much more gross turns. You should read this entry as an invitation
to experiment on your own.
Cablesany cablesare very personal items. Choosing them is not only based on ones tastes, but also on the interactions between the cables and your electronics. Even if a cable has a certain character in most systems, that doesnt guarantee it will sound that way in yours. This makes the idea of an adjustable cable very attractive. The VansEvers Double Pandora is a beautifully constructed power cord, as it should be for $450, but its tunability makes it unique.
There are three adjustments on the cord. Two are "non- ferrous decoupling weights," which slide up and down the length of the cord, and the third is a thumbscrew through the IEC connector, which increases pressure on the two halves as it is tightened. One weight is said to tune the midrange, the other the low end, and the thumbscrew the high frequencies. The weights, it is claimed, shorten or lengthen the resonances between them according to their placement. The thumbscrew is said to raise the resonant frequency of the connector as it is tightened.
Wait. I was wrong, the truly unique part of this product is the 100-page white paper included with the cable in addition to the 22-page manual. Yes, you heard me right, thats 122 pages of manual for a power cord. Now, Ive heard about a lot of tweaks that appear to defy science. Ive never heard any explanation for them that didnt sound like a circus act, and VansEvers white paper is no exception. Full of sentences like "All acoustic and electric instruments are physically constructed from materials," the paper only hints at concrete scientific proof, and then only infrequently. It also spends many pages on step-by-step instructions for listening to tweaks, i.e., Step 1: Insert cord and listen, Step 2: Remove cord and listen. Now, do most folks who plunk down $450 on a power cord really need this? The point is, sometimes less is more, and that might be the right tack to take with the manual for the Pandora.
Although VansEvers literature raised my skepticism to an all-time high, I found that the Pandora works, and the changes it makes are not subtle. The manual (okay, parts of it are useful) gives starting positions for the adjustable weights, and I used these to begin my listening. After listening with the weights in the suggested positions, I started to move them, at first keeping the distance between them constant to keep the resonance the same, then fine-tuning by moving each weight individually. Moving the midrange weight seemed to tame a frequency peak around 1-2000Hz, causing voices to go from in-your-face forward to laid back and lucid. The low-end weight seemed to have a similar effect, manipulating a bump in the midbass around 600-800Hz (its hard to say whether it was retarding or creating the bump with my bass-challenged ProAcs). Tightening the thumbscrew caused the high end to go in and out of focus, and changed the sound from smooth and nicely laid back to painfully, unlistenably forward. The screw seemed to affect not the ultra-high frequencies, but those around 10-12k.
On each piece of equipment, it seemed pretty obvious how to set the weights, and after finding the sweet spots for each component, I found myself moving the weights only about an inch up or back. If I got very far outside those spots, the cable sounded clearly wrong. Each adjustment seemed to center on a certain frequency, and either made it louder or softer while bringing it forward or back in the soundstage. The frequencies being adjusted differed on different components, though they remained the same on each. You dont change the frequency that you are adjusting with the weights; you change its prominence. With each piece of gear, the Pandora, once optimized, created a wider and deeper soundstage and a marked improvement in smoothness, liquidity, and bloom, but no definite increase in detail, dynamics, etc. The Pandora flattened a few peaks that I didnt even know were there until they were gone. It tended to work on the subtleties that make a system sound less electronic, more relaxed and musical, more alive, and therefore more enjoyable to listen to.
If I were
spending this kind of money on power cords, I would surely try as many as I could get my
hands on in each position in my system. My experience with power cords is that, like
speaker cables or interconnects, results vary depending on the application. The Pandora is
rare in seeming to work in every application I tried it in, albeit with some effort
required for optimization. It consistently made a marked improvement over my standard
cords. It did not allow me to tune the sound of my components. Rather, the tuning process
simply seemed to make the cord work with each piece of gear. I have a closet full of
cables purchased for particular applications, which dont work in my present system.
The VansEvers Double Pandora will never get added to this pile.
An ominous warning covers the box of the Pandora power cord: "Beware all who would open this box... For it contains knowledge. Some will consider this good. Others will consider this evil. Because once released, it can never be contained!". Suitably alarmed, I read the white paper and manual for the cord with skepticism. With this at issue, I utilized my Accuphase DP-75 CD player as the experimental platform.
Following the exceptionally good directions, I exchanged my LAT power cord for the Pandora. At first, I completely released the screw on the IEC plug. The treble became more striking. A texture analogous to that of unpolished marble appeared, along with a slight trace of sibilance on vocals and stringed instruments. Increasing the pressure on the connector, the high frequencies became smooth and precise, while the vestiges of sibilance vanished. For my taste, I set the tension at its highest setting.
Next I moved the first sliding block to the recommended position of ten inches from the IEC plug. Midrange vocals regressed a few feet, an overall sense of leisure saturated the stage, and the upper bass intensified. After I moved the block closer to the connector, Holly Coles voice loomed stunningly, with an alluring vividness. The upper bass rounded, along with an inkling of buoyancy that was musically pleasing. I settled with the #1 sliding block at six inches from the IEC.
Finally I positioned the second block at 20 inches from the IEC. At this position, the low frequencies were taunt and thunderous, though a little less elemental than with my reference power cord. Moving the block closer caused the bass extension to subside while the airiness rejuvenated. The alteration produced an enhanced sense of authority and proportion, along with an easing off in boldness. I concluded with the #2 sliding block at 14 inches from the connector.
a result, I utterly concur with VansEvers assertion of a tunable power cord. While
at first the idea seemed fictitious mumbo jumbo, my experience demonstrates otherwise.
This power cord cleverly adjusts detailed increments to harmonize ones system. While
individual changes may have been slight, the final accomplishment was consummate. The
Pandora should be a dream tool for the audiophile tweakers among us. Good luck, as the
opening of this package can be more than you bargained for.
VansEvers Audio Double
Pandora "Tuneable" AC cord