Much to my surprise, most of my setup expenditures are on cables rather than the equipments. Many do not believe in such approach, and would rather part the dough on much substantial equipments, substantial in size and substantial in weight. Time after time, it has been substantially proven to me that the same dough might not reap the same rewards, depending on either you choose to get more the substantially sized up equipments, or the less substantial in physical sense cables.

I am glad that I have limited technical know-how in fully understanding the technical aspect of conductors, hence, the less likelihood of me getting a hard nite's sleep over the money parted on cables. And time after time, it is proven to me that with cable upgrades, the improvements are much greater!

There are a few camps on cable designs, one of the brands which I always wanted to own, Synergistic Research, believes in the interaction between the inductance, capacitance and resistance of the conductors. Brands like Siltech, Stealth Audio Cable, AudioQuest and Stage III put high priority on the quality of the conductors and take great effort in putting the best insulation methods. While Synergistic Research and AudioQuest employ ahead-of-the-rest shielding implementations, Siltech, Stealth Audio Cable and Stage III took extra step in designing ingenious cable geometries.

All these contributed in great cable technology advancements never witnessed before for the past decades ever since the discovery of better “lamp cords”! While the results seem debatable to many, let’s not get bogged down by this matter as I wish to share with you some cables, 2 power cords actually, that I tested recently and strongly believe in its effects.

Incidentally, both Stealth and Stage III employ similar geometry in their cables, only differing in the scale of their implementations. While both use flat twisted high purity silver conductors fitted in insulating tubes and spirally winding all the tubes to form the bigger cables, Stealth chose a bigger width for the ribbons while Stage III went on having more smaller ribbons.

Silver is potent and very intoxicating. However, one must realize that unless they are designed for hi-powered purposes, DO NOT use them on power hungry equipments. This brings us to the first power cord, the Stage III FE power cord. I have to apologize for not being able to take picture of it as somehow it just slipped my mind.

Stage III has never failed in amazing me with their persistency and consistency in maintaining the house sound. When I was first exposed to their Magnus interconnects, I was awed with the beauty in their presentation in tonal colors, harmonic textures and velvety smooth tops.

They have the uncanny ability to reproduce the rich harmonic textures of pianos, violins and saxophones. When dealing with percussion instruments, it is very important to vividly see the “action” from the impact of string/skin/metal to the vibration of string/skin/metal to the resonance of air and to the excitement of instrument body if there is.

Stage III is not only able to follow the action from the initial hit of keys to the vibrating strings within the piano, but also the resonating air interacting with body of the piano. This is very important in rendering the complete harmonic structure of the scale of a piano. Not only this, Stage III is also excellent in portraying the bite of bow on the violin strings. You could simply see the “jumping” action of violin when the bow changes direction.

Although Stage III and Stealth employ similar cable geometry, unlike Stealth, Stage III is less sparkling. With more bloom in the mids, there is certain darkness towards the musical presentation. This does not mean that Stage III is overly warm and mellow. It is just that when comparing the highs of Stealth and Stage III, Stealth is just lighter and go slightly farther; whereas with Stage III, the bloom in upper mids helps in giving more weights to Stage III’s velvety sweet highs.

From power cord to interconnect to speaker jumpers, Stage III is so consistent in this.

Without the mumbo jumbo technicalities, Richard Gray’s approach in power is direct, simple and does not involve any black magic. Amongst the companies above, Richard Gray is the last to venture into power cord business. Very little technical info can be found in their power cords.

When I first grabbed this cable, it feels dull and unsophisticated. The cable is wrapped in black cloth just like those found in electric kettle, iron and rice cooker, except that those are more colorful than RG’s boring black. And unlike other cables, the High Tension Wire, as it is named, does not induce tension on you to wrestle them around. They remain in whatever angle you twist them in. DULL!

Inside the cable itself are many more solid core coppers with no particular geometry I could feel when caressing the cables. Hmmm, is there a better word? With such simple build, would this bring miracles to the setup? Read on.

As suggested by Richard Gray, I put the cord from wall to my RGPC, replacing my Harmonic Tech Fantasy. Unlike popular beliefs, RG suggest to put the cords closer to wall first, then on higher powered equipments, subsequently to pre/processors. Surprisingly, source equipments are placed last.

Upon firing up, the imaging just tightens up! Everything seems to be better defined and get a more significant body. The instruments and singers have got a better contrast from the acoustic canvas that they are portrayed in. With images better carved out from the recording space, the sense of hearing the actual instruments/singers is even more stunning!

When listening to Susan Wong’s A Night at the Movies, you can sense her voice traveling and hitting the wall, then embracing you with rich reverbs. However, the echo does not overlap upon the acoustical space where Susan is occupying, can you imagine that?! The other eerie effect is to witness how the sound emancipates from the xylophone bars. When the bars were hit, you could sense how the bars vibrate the surrounding air, and sound expanding dynamically around the bars! Wah lau!

With my Harmonic Tech Fantasy cord, which is half the price of High Tension Wire, everything seems bigger and less defined. There is so much less “action” in the musical presentation!

OK, you might think I am a sound sucker rather than music lover. You have read me many times describing the sound rather than music. Taking the prowess of the cables in reproducing sound might not mean anything significant, but elevating yourself to a higher perspective, wouldn’t you get all the micro details and “action” from live performances?!

Under the holistic music reproduction context, you need great sound reproduction to reward yourself with great musical enjoyment! This is what I called the essence of HI-END!

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