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‘Whale’ of a time with the new Soundfoundations Power cables!

Rega

SachinChavan

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Hi guys,

After my positive experiences with the Roller blocks (equipment isolation) from Soundfoundations (shared in a separate thread earlier), I was wondering what next for me in the penchant for sound enhancement? Recent threads that I read on power cables has piqued my interest and it was one accessory I had never ever given a thought to.

Long story short and I was sent two new power cables (from the top end of their collection) that Soundfoundations is launching for my trial and review. i didn’t know what to expect when I received the parcel. So I was kind of surprised to find the thick cables with heavy connectors in the box! One of the cables was black, with similar to Furutech connectors and the other blue, with Krell connectors. While their names weren’t finalised yet, eventually the black got christened ‘Orca’ and the blue ‘Mysticeti’. While Orca is the scientific name for the (black) killer whale, Mysticeti is the systematic name for baleen whales order which contains the magnificient blue whale. Let me heretofore refer to them with these names.

A92231BE-0035-4281-B064-F4463597E827.jpeg

Overall (common) impression
Let me first state what I found common across both these cables. The moment I introduced them one after another in my chain, first at the power amplifier (Audiolab 8200A, I use only the power stage). There was very obvious unmistakable change in sound I felt with both as compared to the stock cable that came with the amplifier. The detail had gone up and I was hearing more modulations in the vocals and texture of the instruments than before. My system had always had a treble roll off, and this was an area that improved with both these cables. Also the overall noise/distortion level went down ensuring I could raise volume more if desired before it starts getting distorted and lower the volume further down before it starts losing details and immediacy.

What followed was then a critical listening of each of these cables one by one, first with the power amplifier, and then with the tube pre (Lyrita DHT). Let me now review each cable separately.


The Dynamic Killer - Orca (Black)
First in was the Orca. This cable simply shines with its dynamic capability and rhythm. If you are the kind of kinesthetic listener who plays their music loud and cannot help tapping your feet and nodding your head, or worse, getting up and dancing to it, the Orca is for you!

0112C930-CA4D-4B56-900D-A93669F6BDD4.jpeg

The sound with the Orca will immediately attract your attention and impress you like say an Amitabh Bachchan would with his performance. It projects the sound closer to the listener and has more airy treble. It also does better with rhythm and timing, leading to the subconscious foot tapping.


The Accurate Pied Piper - Mysticeti (Blue)
Next, I tried the Mysticeti. Now, I like the color blue, so I was careful not to let that affect my objectivity. I need not have been. This was the cable I’d have fallen in love with even blindfolded. Right after trying both these within hours of receiving them, I communicated to Magma of Soundfoundations that I liked the blue one (wasn’t named till then), and this choice remained constant during the entire 3 days of the trial.

52490A23-0F4E-4744-8CAA-7D974BB9797F.jpeg

While the Mysticeti doesn’t match the dynamism and the rhythm of the Orca, the areas where it excels are the ones that are dearer to me. Firstly, the tonality, it is spot on with the Mysticeti. For the first time I heard the tabla tone just right (the right combination of leather and wood) in my system! The same applied to pakhwaj, santoor, sitar, or just about any instrument one has heard live and can compare. Am I saying my system gave exact tonality with the Mysticeti? No. Am I saying its tonality was far improved and much closer to the actual tone with the Mysticeti than without? Yes! The next big change with the Mysticeti was how well the microtones were coming through. When it comes to genres with more competent and intricate singing such as Hindustani classical, ghazal, country or blues, a lot of detail is in the microtones. You know a perfect glissando when you hear it. And the Mysticeti brought it to me. It also makes the music more soothing and immersive, you can get lost in it (the pied piper effect). Since I likened the impressive Orca with Amitabh Bachchan, I’d say the immersive Mysticeti is like Sanjeev Kumar. :)

With the Lyrita DHT Preamp
Next I tried each cable with the Lyrita preamp (reverting to the stock cable with the power amp). I found almost similar benefits from each cable with the Lyrita pre as with the Audiolab power. If at all, the improvements were slightly more prominent with the preamp (perhaps because it is upstream in the chain, unfortunately my vintage CD player doesn’t have detachable cable so couldn’t try further up and the steamer‘s placement in my cabinet makes it impossible to fit the big connector of these cables behind it). I found another surprise benefit with both the cables - they got considerably rid of the bloom in my tube’s sound - a problem I was contending with for a long time without solution).

Combination or Pureplay?
Next I tried the Orca and Mysticeti in combination, interchanging them between the pre and the power. I realised that these two whales do not like coexisting. The sound with the combination of the two cables sounded kind of mixed up and lost on some of the benefits when only one of them was used in isolation. So I did the next logical thing. I requested Soundfoundations to send me another Mysticeti, so I could use Mysticeti on both pre and the power. And my hunch was right! The improvements added coherently in this case and what I got was the best sound that my system has produced till now, by far!

Conclusion and Disclosure
Eventually I returned the Orca and purchased the two Mysticeti. They are serving me over a week now and I am eagerly relistening to all my favourite CDs. In each case I am hearing more, and better music. Along with the vintage Yamaha CD player (with TD1541A) and the Roller blocks isolations, I rate these power cables among the best additions to my system.

Or course I know that some of you are skeptic about improvements a power cable can bring. I cannot argue with that, but I’d trust my ears (and that of my wife and a close audiophile friend who both listen to my system regularly) than theories. And some of you believe that they bring more improvements in cheaper/budget equipment than high end ones which have better in built power supply. May be that’s true - my system is a budget one and the ROI with these cables is therefore better than costlier upgrades. And in no way am I concluding or suggesting that similar improvements would accrue in everyone’s system or with each equipment. If any of you do try any of these two cables, do add your experience in a comment to this thread.

Finally, the cables were provided to me for my testing and review without any compulsion to buy them. But eventually when I liked them, I bought them off at the quoted price.
 

Jayant_S

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Sachin, I love reading your detailed and articulate reviews. I'm another sceptic with the effect of power cables but am willing to convert! Could you also post pictures of what the end connectors of the two whales look like? I'm wondering where in my audio chain to try them out. @magma has converted me into an IC believer and I'm on the cusp of making a decision on power connector upgrades.
 

Love4sound

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Can this be used in Denon4500? And do you think it will bring Atleast a subtle difference compared to the stock chord?
 

SachinChavan

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Sachin, I love reading your detailed and articulate reviews. I'm another sceptic with the effect of power cables but am willing to convert! Could you also post pictures of what the end connectors of the two whales look like? I'm wondering where in my audio chain to try them out. @magma has converted me into an IC believer and I'm on the cusp of making a decision on power connector upgrades.
Jayant, thanks. The connector that goes into the equipment is the standard one that I guess fits in all/most equipment. Here’s a closer look (I don’t have the Orca with me now, but it has similar connector).

87B0EA05-CA79-49B6-A50C-40C53596AEE3.jpeg

The other end is the US plug which may need an adaptor depending upon what socket your wall wart or power strip has. I have a standard Belkin power strip which it easily fits in.

0BBDE18E-4669-429E-B552-0628D4B47DE0.jpeg

Can this be used in Denon4500? And do you think it will bring Atleast a subtle difference compared to the stock chord?
Love4sound, Please have a look at the connector above and check if it can fit your Denon. You can also check the same with @magma. As I said in the review, I cannot generalise the benefits I got with my equipment.
 

ONEMANARMY

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Can this be used in Denon4500? And do you think it will bring Atleast a subtle difference compared to the stock chord?
I am using a Lessloss Signature cable in my Marantz SR6013 and it has had a profound effect on the entire sound spectrum, so I think a good quality cable like the ones reviewed here, should benefit the Denon.
 

Love4sound

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I am using a Lessloss Signature cable in my Marantz SR6013 and it has had a profound effect on the entire sound spectrum, so I think a good quality cable like the ones reviewed here, should benefit the Denon.
Ok if it suits ur marantz it should go well with my 4500 as well. Where can I get that cable?
 

Jayant_S

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The other end is the US plug which may need an adaptor depending upon what socket your wall wart or power strip has. I have a standard Belkin power strip which it easily fits
Very helpful, thanks! Brings another question I was wondering about. In your trial, did it make a difference how close you were connected to incoming power? ie directly to the 5amp socket in the wall, with or without ups/stabilizer, to a power strip..? In my setup I have two amplifiers connected to a power switcher which goes into the wall socket - another layer before the original source. I could lose my mind over thinking this o_O
 

SachinChavan

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Very helpful, thanks! Brings another question I was wondering about. In your trial, did it make a difference how close you were connected to incoming power? ie directly to the 5amp socket in the wall, with or without ups/stabilizer, to a power strip..? In my setup I have two amplifiers connected to a power switcher which goes into the wall socket - another layer before the original source. I could lose my mind over thinking this o_O
Jayant, :). I have limited wall sockets so cannot try connecting directly. Though I’ve read recently one FM advised in another thread to have each equipment have its own wall connection. Reducing the number of intermediates should ideally improve sound. May be some day when I repaint the house I’d get additional wiring and sockets. But as of now it’s an imperative for me to use the power strip.
 

Jayant_S

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Jayant, :). I have limited wall sockets so cannot try connecting directly. Though I’ve read recently one FM advised in another thread to have each equipment have its own wall connection. Reducing the number of intermediates should ideally improve sound. May be some day when I repaint the house I’d get additional wiring and sockets. But as of now it’s an imperative for me to use the power strip.
And even with the regular Belkin power strip you had a noticeable improvement. That is valuable real world feedback. Thank Sachin :)
Will dive in with the whales soon
 

G401fan

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What price are these cables sold for, and from where can they be bought?
 

rikhav

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Sachin great write up and @magma has made some good power cables.
I am glad many are ready to experiment with an open mind

Sachin , if possible put a small wood block under the IEC connector of the power cable. The connector which goes on the equipment side.

Keep the height of the wood block such that it touches the IEC connector and the connector sort of rests on it.

That way you will have much more secure connection and less stress on the cable and connector
 

Hari Iyer

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Sachin, you have a mastery on English language writing skills I would say. I will be keen on listening these cables may be tomorrow or on the weekend if time permits for you.

Ironically I also DIY ed a power cable 2 days ago using solid copper wire in golden ratio combination between line, neutral, earth in 0.6:1:1.6 ratio Earlier my cable had silver plated copper wire )teflon insulated) with 1:1:1 ratio. With the new solid copper cable the sound was fuller and flatter. Earlier cable was more liquid and had more low end response but I liked them better to solid copper wire.

I had a discussion with FM Jousha and after our conversation he told me some kind of masala cable would work better in my case. So I did some math and added some silver with more copper and this hybrid approach worked for my setup.

Reason I detailed was cable geometry like conductors, insulators, dielectric, terminations has an overall impact on the outcome and the same cable would work better or worse in other setup. So to identify the best suited one for ones setup is always a discovery.

If you wish, I can carry my cable for double blind test. Please confirm.
 

SachinChavan

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What price are these cables sold for, and from where can they be bought?
You can contact @magma of SoundFoundations. He is a forum member. Just PM him.


Sachin great write up and @magma has made some good power cables.
I am glad many are ready to experiment with an open mind

Sachin , if possible put a small wood block under the IEC connector of the power cable. The connector which goes on the equipment side.

Keep the height of the wood block such that it touches the IEC connector and the connector sort of rests on it.

That way you will have much more secure connection and less stress on the cable and connector
@rikhav, thanks. And that’s a useful suggestion. I was wondering myself how to support the weight of the connector. Would foam support be as good? It will also have some give as compared to wood.


Sachin, you have a mastery on English language writing skills I would say. I will be keen on listening these cables may be tomorrow or on the weekend if time permits for you.

Ironically I also DIY ed a power cable 2 days ago using solid copper wire in golden ratio combination between line, neutral, earth in 0.6:1:1.6 ratio Earlier my cable had silver plated copper wire )teflon insulated) with 1:1:1 ratio. With the new solid copper cable the sound was fuller and flatter. Earlier cable was more liquid and had more low end response but I liked them better to solid copper wire.

I had a discussion with FM Jousha and after our conversation he told me some kind of masala cable would work better in my case. So I did some math and added some silver with more copper and this hybrid approach worked for my setup.

Reason I detailed was cable geometry like conductors, insulators, dielectric, terminations has an overall impact on the outcome and the same cable would work better or worse in other setup. So to identify the best suited one for ones setup is always a discovery.

If you wish, I can carry my cable for double blind test. Please confirm.
Hari, thanks. You are always welcome to come and listen. Rest over WhatsApp.
 

prem

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Sachin, nice write up. Use wood. Avoid foam. Try Jenga blocks

Jayant, if you are using stock cords, run 1- 2 layers of normal electrical insulation tape or plumbing tape on the connectors. In stock cords, the connectors are normally the weak link. The tape will reduce the vibrations.
 

Jayant_S

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Jayant, if you are using stock cords, run 1- 2 layers of normal electrical insulation tape or plumbing tape on the connectors. In stock cords, the connectors are normally the weak link. The tape will reduce the vibrations.
Thanks Prem. Yes all stock cables. Are you using such a hack? You mean cover up the ends all around the socket with tape? Please share a picture if possible
 

prem

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My power cables are hardwired at the ac end. You’ll find pictures on Audiogon or audio asylum. You can search there. They normally use plumbing tape. But electrical insulation tape works equally fine.

You don’t cover up the entire connector. Just 1-2 rounds at the end of the connector.
 
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