"Further to your question regarding our cable colour, I thought some background on our power cords may be useful. To make an audible improvement over flimsy low conductor-gauge throwaway mains cables with poor attention to contact design is not so difficult. However, the diminishing returns of this aspect of hifi tweaking are to be considered. We manufacture extremely competent cables which are innovative in many respects but which we supply at real-world prices. If an installation has 5 or 6 items requiring mains cables; several hundreds of pounds per cable adds up to the equivalent cost of a significant upgrade to another component in the chain that could have much more impact.

"We use 20A conductors to balance heavy current carrying with the need for flexibility/floppiness. The insulation over the conductors and for the sheath over these are both in a very soft grade of unfilled silicone to provide floppiness hence damping (also great for ease of use). For screening, rather than use a metal braid and/or stiff tapes which add rigidity, we use a layer of elasticized carbon to provide a resistive screen. Resistivity in the screen has benefits of not just blocking but actually absorbing interferences plus the elasticity maintains the overall floppiness of the cable. The outer 'sock'  for which we listened to customer demands to add a black and a white option are of soft fabric and loosely fitted to provide the final layer of vibration control in the cable's construction by isolating and avoiding vibration pickup. For the connectors we select the most competently manufactured standard types that we can identify, paying particular attention to the contact assemblies. The IEC C13 and C19 connectors are from the top of the German-manufactured Schurter range and the UK plugs for instance are by MK DuraPlug.

Soundaware D100Ref as SD card transport ⇒ Jay's Audio DAC2-SE ⇒ Bakoon AMP-13R ⇒ Davis Acoustics Courbet N°5

"On the importance of vibration control, a rigid cable will pick up, fail to absorb and hence transmit vibrations along its length and into the plug and connector at each end. Where these plugs and connectors meet their contact assemblies in their respective sockets, there will be a mating surface. The vibrations will minutely rub, oscillating the mating surfaces with the potential to generate micro disturbance currents. Plating contacts, whilst superficially seeming to be a good idea, in fact throw another variable into the mix. Unplated, the brass plug pin and the bronze contact assembly are of very similar metals, i.e. mainly copper. By plating for example a plug pin which will go into a wall socket with bronze contacts, you will have two dissimilar metals rubbing, oscillating together. Dissimilar metals in contact with each other are electrical generators. Add the vibration and potentially you can pay for a negative benefit. All of which said, it is often hard to avoid mixing bronze contacts and nickel-plated pins when matching plugs and receptacles. Nickel though is thankfully galvanically very close to bronze unlike gold and rhodium which are not. On balance, although many are convinced they need it and it makes good marketing copy, the end user cost that plating would add to our leads and the real potential for a negative benefit led us to steer away from plating to maintain the very best sonic value and integrity for our customers."

The first test station pitted Puritan against passive Furutech RTP-6 power block. That's our usual plug-into box for this system since, as usual, there aren't enough wall sockets in the hifi's vicinity. To make Puritan's power cord reach, I had to place their deck upright and belly forward to situate the IEC to the right. The power cords to the three components were by Crystal Cable, that into the Furutech a long Zu Event plugged into the same wall duplex. Then it was time to plug 'n' play for as long as it took. Which, as it turned out, didn't. Take long. At all. When things are this obvious, the inner critic quickly hangs himself on the hat rack. Now one wears the just-listen-and-enjoy cap. That's always a far comfier fit when you consider why any of us buy a hifi in the first place. It's not for taking notes. It's to play 'em.

From caste to communism. Consider the ancient Hindu caste system's pyramid topped by the brahmins and religious academics. One rung below came the worldly rulers, administrators and warriors. Below those the artisans, trades people, farmers and merchants went about their productive livelihoods. Finally the sudras or untouchables occupied the lowest broadest base of manual laborers. On pain of death, their very shadows weren't even allowed to touch a brahmin's lest the first-class citizens risked defilement. How pure can your holy soul be if a mortal shadow will blemish it? In hifi terms we deal with primary, secondary, tertiary and lower sonic aspects. Swapping between passive Furutech and active PSM156 made the denizens of the lower realms just as wholesome—full, complete, resolved, rendered as important and materially dense—as the… well, noisy politicians behind the main microphone; our lead singers or instrumentalists.

It's really not too far-fetched to think of aural equality between biggest and smallest data as a kind of democratization of our playback. Now lo-fi's unequal treatment seems based on an outdated very primitive caste system. Usually the more things recede into the background, the fainter, thinner and paler their diminishment. They don't just get quieter. They actually wash out. They're malnourished. In digital terms, they live in the less to least significant bits. With the British conditioner in the loop, those lesser bits came up to flesh out. It's what led to the effect of apparently hearing more. It's not that those lower-class constituents didn't show up earlier. They did. They were not inaudible or absent. They simply received that lesser treatment of slaves, not royalty. The Puritan instead fed them the same diet. This rendered them more equal on substance. It accorded them more of the same respect hence importance regardless of size which in hifi primarily means relative loudness. When quiet stuff acts louder, it gains precedence. And that, to round out, is hifi communism in action. Everything on your recordings matters more. A related effect was higher contrast ratio. Nothingness or silence grows more nothing and silent. That puts more distance between itself and the sundry somethings. As a result, those behave more different, thus in higher contrast from and to nothing. That meant being more substantial. Finally a small degree of metallic edginess or grit retreated. These differences were plug'n'play repeatable.

Purist versus puritan. Seventeen years ago, the passive Furutech wanted €800. It still represents a purist approach as one which prefers zero filter parts between wall and power supplies of connected gear. It's the passive preamp of the power sector. And just like premium active linestages often outperform their purist passive brethren, so did the active Puritan Audio Labs go beyond the Furutech. Same deal, different drawer. With the RTP-6 still a quality sample of its breed, the no-nonsense newcomer's active win was an upset. It didn't just sound better but then threw comprehensive protection onto the counter. "Sign here." My next comparison was bound to insert even more distance. What hides behind my Raal Requisite headphone rig when not used in a review is a cheap Chinese molded plastic strip with universal socketry. With eight active systems of various ambitions in the house, our inventory of quality AC conditioners or strips hasn't kept up. Certain less busy secondary setups make do with far less bespoke or outright 'unmentionable' power solutions. LWYRUP.