The Voodoo combo conveys a more midrangy character, with good extension at the frequency extremes, a drier top but with an emphasis on the wider acoustic environment of the venue rather than specific and isolated images. To my ear this is often the way real music sounds. Certainly image definition and focus is very good, just not overly individuated—a trait I noted during the Ricki Lee Jones’ track “I’ll Be Seeing You” where the clarinet, classical guitar, and acoustic bass seemed bathed in a warmer, more diffuse ambient atmosphere. In the case of orchestral music, the musicians assume positions on stage but don’t so much stand apart from the orchestra as become fully integrated within it and the ambient space that surrounds the performers.
Low-level detailing and transient textures were very persuasive. So much so that during the “Nublado” track the Voodoo tandem captured the low-level cymbal cues without smearing the finely grained metallic timbre of the instrument. Plus the delicate bell cues that ring forth at the four-minute mark were startlingly clean and sustained. During Holly Cole’s cover of “I Can See Clearly” the Voodoo pair reproduced the punch and rhythmic pace of the opening bass vamp with assurance, and Cole’s torchy delivery had all the texture and come-hither nuance I’ve come to expect from this track.
In soundstaging, these cords reproduced the lush ambient space and immersive qualities of the Rutter Requiem although, again, they didn’t quite illuminate individual choristers quite as clearly as the reference. As an aside, and in light of its strong performance driving the Parasound JC 3+ phonostage (review this issue), I found the Electra the more musically open and revealing power cord of the two that Voodoo supplied.
Conclusion: Balanced and immersive big-buck performance for half the price of the Big Boys.
Audience Au24 SE powerChord
The original Audience Au24 power cords have been a part of my reference systems for sometime now, but Audience recently introduced an upgraded SE line that offers improved rhodium-plated copper plugs and IEC connectors, higher-quality metallurgy, lower mass, and improved terminations. The Audience SE is a low DC resistance, low-impedance design that uses multi-strand conductors of high-purity mono-crystal copper. Jacketing is quite flexible, which will be welcome to anyone who has wrestled with the implacably stiff stuff. Note: Existing Audience Au24 cords are upgradable to SE status for $275.
The signature of the Au24 is sophisticated—complex, controlled, detailed, with a neutral-to-cool character. The Audience established the widest, cleanest soundspace, broadening the proscenium to the boundaries of the loudspeakers and inflating the ambience of immersive acoustic recordings like the Elgar and the Rutter with flurries of soft air and top-end extension. Most markedly, Au24 SE has a light, delicate touch, an insider’s touch, that illuminates transient and low-level information like few power cords I’ve encountered. Music seems to emerge from a quieter space and exhibit wider dynamic contrasts. During the intro to the Ricki Lee Jones, for example, the Audience brought out the very articulate and agile acoustic bass and the organic snap and string rattle from the classical guitar. But this higher resolution came at the cost of some of the bloom of the Dynamic Design.
The bandaleon theme during the “Nublado” was the most specifically focused in soundspace of all three contenders, though the Audience also held tight to the reverberant information from the menagerie of other regional instruments. Layering and dynamic contrasts and tonal-color rendering were excellent. During the finale of The Wasps the timbral and harmonic intricacies of the flute line dancing around the accompanying harp motif were riveting in their pastoral beauty and articulation.
The Audience’s portrayal of Rutter’s Lux Aeterna track was impressive in the energy it gathered from the large men’s and women’s chorus and the weight of the pipe organ expanding and contracting in the immense acoustic space. The Audience made it a breeze to picture the soaring height and scale of the auditorium, and the diminished size of the musicians within it. It’s a terrifically balanced power cord. Some cords, the Dynamic Design for one, will nose it out in ultimate bass extension, but not a cord surpasses its pitch precision or its charms when it comes to illuminating dimensional space.
Conclusion: Well balanced, and a knack for detail spells reference-level sonics that reveal the entire musical picture.
SPECS & PRICING
DYNAMIC DESIGN CORP.
Price: AE15 Lotus Analog power cord, $1200/1.5m; AE15 Challenger Digital power cord, $3500/1.5m
Price: Black Diamond, $1100/6ft; Electra, $1500/6ft
Price: Au24 SE powerChord, $2420/6ft