The highly regarded Japanese manufacturer Furutech doesn’t just build and market factory-made cables. In fact, you won’t find the subject of this review, its DPS-4.1 power cords, on any conventional price list. You will, however, find them on a parts list—specifically, Furutech’s vast parts catalog, which ranges from bulk cable to connectors, inlets, receptacles, and, yes, solder. Everything that goes into DPS-4.1 can be had direct-online or through Furutech’s dealer network and is available to home users who are interested in building their own custom lengths and terminations, and are handy enough with a crimping tool and a soldering iron to complete the tasks.
Always on alert to save a few dollars wherever possible, I thought I would give these power cords a go. Because I didn’t have the tools on hand (though I know many of you do), my review pair were hand-terminated by Furutech’s Los Angeles-based U.S. distributor Elite AV Distribution, exactly as a consumer might do at home. Upon presentation, there appeared to be no discernable differences between them and the slick factory-finished models I’ve seen from Furutech—they looked exactly the same. And at $1685 per two-meter cord, they were at the lower end of the Furutech price range.
The DPS-4.1 are made from Furutech’s top-quality, bulk, power-cable wire. Its eleven-gauge conductors are a hybrid of DUCC Ultra Crystallized High Purity Copper and Furutech’s Pure Transmission (Alpha) OCC, whereby the three cores are twisted together. They are heavily insulated and shielded with a combination of audio-grade FEP (fluoropolymer) and polyethylene, with a flexible purple PVC jacketing on the outside. Using a process designed by Mitsubishi Materials, the copper crystal grain structure of the conductors is optimally aligned, and crystal grain boundaries are reduced for lower resistance. The premium connectors are sheathed in non-magnetic stainless-steel and carbon-fiber. The body of these connectors combines nano-sized ceramic particles and powdered carbon with nylon and fiberglass, forming an effective, well-damped, mechanically and electrically non-resonant connector. The connectors should look familiar because other manufacturers use them on many of their own models. (Note: A selection of connectors and jacketing is available to the prospective buyer.)
For this review, Elite AV supplied a pair of DPS-4.1 power cords, which I auditioned in different ways—first, with my active tri-amplified ATCSCM50s; then, with the ATCs partnered with my REL S/812 subwoofers; and finally, on a Pass Labs preamp and dCS Bartók DAC.
I’m often asked, what is the first thing I listen for? Actually, the answer is “nothing.” Or, more precisely, freedom from background noise. Power cords, like all cables, are subject to incoming noise from radio frequencies, electro-magnetic disturbances from within the house, even problems from the outside electric-utility transformers. And noise, at any amplitude or frequency, is anathema to resolution and transparency. We’ve all noticed how an audio system sounds perkier on evenings when the power grid is less burdened by industrial machinery that puts noise back onto the grid. Isolation from these extraneous sources of noise means cleaner, smoother sound across the frequency spectrum. While power cords are not conditioners per se, the good ones play a role in rejecting some of these noise factors.
As I listened to the DPS-4.1, I found myself leaning into the moments of stillness and calm from a symphony orchestra, the measured pauses, the breaks between movements, the low-level passages, the sustain and decay of soloists, the shimmer and resonances from piano soundboards (a personal favorite), and the delicacy of a concert harp during Vaughn-Williams’ The Wasps Overture. The Furutechs added a sense of acoustic openness to all these things. They firmed up the bass and plumped up the body of the midrange, adding gravitas to the resonances of stand-up acoustic bass, imparting a bigger, wider image of the bell of a trombone.
Generally speaking, high-end power cords like the Furutech do not address specific frequency ranges, and true enough, the DPS-4.1 was a neutral arbiter in that respect. Its sonic effects were more globally presentational and were heard and sometimes felt throughout the system. They didn’t disrupt my system’s balance; rather, they removed veiling and in so doing enhanced the recovery of micro-information. The Furutech’s stock in trade was expressing the dimensional boundaries of an acoustic venue. A good example was the vast Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, the site of singer Laurel Massé’s spare a capella tracks from Feather And Bone. As with an infusion of warm moist air, the Troy soundstage seemingly filled out, exhibiting a wider, deeper, more authentic sense of spatial bloom and dimensionality. Such dimensionality is key to evoking a sense of real players making music in real space. Along those same lines, I was reminded of Joni Mitchell’s rendition of “Woodstock” from her 1970 Ladies of the Canyon album. Unlike the heavier CSN rock version, JM’s is acoustic simplicity on a heavenly scale. Accompanied by soft analog tape hiss, the soundstage appears bifurcated, Joni’s voice in one space and the tremolo-effects wafting from the electric piano in another. Your ear can trace the outlines of both acoustic spaces, where one begins and the other ends, and sense the isolation of the sound booth.
When I introduced the REL subs and the DPS-4.1, I felt the power cords tightened the low-end spine of the system—not by an order of magnitude, mind you, but in a musically noteworthy way. There was a newly exposed, seat-of-the-pants energy from the Hans Zimmer soundtrack to The Thin Red Line, specifically on the brain-rattling Kodo drumming of “Air,” which added greater harmonic complexity and texture than before.
I acknowledge that the home-assembly approach of the DPS-4.1 is not for everyone, but for those who possess some DIY chops, Furutech just might have the power cord for you. All it takes is a little elbow grease, and you’ll be rewarded with a cord that performs on a par with some of the top contenders, at a considerable cost savings. Unreservedly recommended.
Specs & Pricing
FURUTECH CO., LTD
ELITE AUDIO VIDEO DISTRIBUTION (U.S. Distributor)
PO Box 93896
Los Angeles, CA 90093
(323) 466-9694 x 22
Price: DPS-4.1, $1680/2m (as assembled, cable, $481 per meter; connector model FI-50/50M R NCF, $368 per connector)
By Neil Gader
My love of music largely predates my enthusiasm for audio. I grew up Los Angeles in a house where music was constantly playing on the stereo (Altecs, if you’re interested). It ranged from my mom listening to hit Broadway musicals to my sister’s early Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Beatles, and Stones LPs, and dad’s constant companions, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. With the British Invasion, I immediately picked up a guitar and took piano lessons and have been playing ever since. Following graduation from UCLA I became a writing member of the Lehman Engel’s BMI Musical Theater Workshops in New York–working in advertising to pay the bills. I’ve co-written bunches of songs, some published, some recorded. In 1995 I co-produced an award-winning short fiction movie that did well on the international film-festival circuit. I was introduced to Harry Pearson in the early 70s by a mutual friend. At that time Harry was still working full-time for Long Island’s Newsday even as he was writing Issue 1 of TAS during his off hours. We struck up a decades-long friendship that ultimately turned into a writing gig that has proved both stimulating and rewarding. In terms of music reproduction, I find myself listening more than ever for the “little” things. Low-level resolving power, dynamic gradients, shadings, timbral color and contrasts. Listening to a lot of vocals and solo piano has always helped me recalibrate and nail down what I’m hearing. Tonal neutrality and presence are important to me but small deviations are not disqualifying. But I am quite sensitive to treble over-reach, and find dry, hyper-detailed systems intriguing but inauthentic compared with the concert-going experience. For me, true musicality conveys the cozy warmth of a room with a fireplace not the icy cold of an igloo. Currently I split my time between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Studio City, California with my wife Judi Dickerson, an acting, voice, and dialect coach, along with border collies Ivy and Alfie.More articles from this editor
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