I had the Maestros and powerChords for a long-enough period to try them with several components. The results were fairly consistent and indicated synergy should be attainable with a wide range of equipment. While I am not inclined to mix and match differing brands of interconnects and speaker cables, I thought the sonic characteristics of the interconnects matched those of the speaker cables.

After the Maestros burned in --or if you prefer, after their dielectrics had fully polarized -- my overriding reaction was subdued. Apart from a slight rounding off around the edges, I was just not aware of the Maestros. Most cables I have used displayed a sonic 'character' - some good, others not so good, but always easily noticeable. With the Maestros, no unnatural highlighting or other non-musical effects distracted me. I was able to simply kick back and enjoy my recordings. Which is what we really want in a cable, right?

Via the Maestros, music was coherent in a laid-back, pleasant manner. I was not aware of any tonal aberrations. These wires did not disassemble music with vivisectionist zeal but the Maestros did not exactly bury minute musical information either. Instruments were naturally balanced and not projected forward or spot lit. The forward momentum of music was neither impeded nor hyped. The Maestros simply sounded right to me. This was a good sign in my book as many cables seem designed for hifi histrionics. Several encourage a warm, lush, weighty sonic landscape. Others offer a faster, lighter and more detailed presentation. The Maestros were somewhere in the middle.

Lower frequencies seemed slightly less full than with other cables. However and upon closer listening, the extension was still there but just without excessive bloat or boom. I became convinced that the bottom end was more natural and musical with the Maestros. Perhaps this was the lack of smearing artifacts that Audience claims?

However, I did note slightly less upper midband and treble detail. Cymbals or instruments with considerable top end energy displayed a wee bit less bite and shimmer. While the upper midrange and treble frequencies were a little subdued, it was not readily apparent unless I swapped cables.

The subtle spatial clues that fool your brain into believing instruments and voices are placed in specific areas within the soundstage were exceptionally well realized. Previously, I have noticed drum kits whose cymbals seem to leap from the speakers while the rest of the drum kit was set further back. Woodwinds and horns have also appeared to lunge forward more than they should on occasion. With the Maestros, performers were naturally balanced in a believable dimensional soundstage. I'm not sure how several feet of wire can do this, but that's what I heard.

The inevitable question is how the cheaper Maestros compare against the more expensive Au24. I cannot say for certain as I haven't heard the Au24s in my system. My guess is that the Maestros exhibit a slightly more filtered impression and come quite close sonically to the Au24, yet possibly miss the same degree of ultimate resolution and bandwidth. Perhaps the Au24 acts less like a filter than the Maestro and will offer greater resolution and frequency extension? On the other hand, the Maestro's beguiling smoothness is probably more forgiving and might be a more copasetic match in many systems, especially those that may be a little too analytical or tipped up on top. I certainly could not find any mismatches with the equipment I had on hand. In fact, I could live quite comfortably with the Maestro.

With my DH Labs Q10/Air Matrix setup, I noticed greater treble energy, detail and weight. The DH Labs have a way of delineating upper band detail and ambiance that is intoxicating in its own way without sounding tipped up or overly analytical. However, I could see how this upper treble energy could result in a slightly bright and relentless sound. Poor recordings have little space to hide. However, the DH Labs offer a weightier, meatier effect that many might prefer.

The wall of distortion that opens the track "Misunderstood' on Wilco's homage to Rock & Roll, Being There [Reprise 46236], was more explicit via the DH Labs cables. The Maestros certainly did not round too much off the edges but they did not underline it as much as their silver-coated copper competitors either. The same goes for the opening acoustic guitar on "Sunken Treasure", which incidentally contains one of my favorite lyrics; "Music is my savior. And I was maimed by rock and roll. I was tamed by rock in roll. I got my name from rock in roll." Sure beats the piss out of anything Bon Jovi has ever written.

Canadian baroque ensemble Tafelmusik is an institution here in Toronto and while I have enjoyed seeing them perform, their recordings on Sony have generally disappointed due to overly close miking. This highlights the leading edge yet robs authentic instruments of their unique sound making them sound far brighter and astringent than they do live. I still take pleasure in Tafelmusik's wondrous performances of their Brandenburg Concertos [Sony SM2K89985] and Haydn Symphonies [Sony SK53986], but Sony's unnatural brightness and anemic sonics have consistently bothered me. With the DH Labs cables plus most other cable lines I have sampled, these imperfections have been all too apparent and sometimes impeded the interpretations. With the Maestros, I listened without cringing, but this did not come at the expense of obscuring vital musical information. The Sony recordings still sounded lousy but curiously nowhere near as annoying.

The powerChords had a different effect on my system's sonics. While doing all the cool things a decent aftermarket AC cable can do such as rejecting line hash and grunge, the Audience cable enhanced overall speed, dynamics and resolution without appearing to manipulate or filter sonics. They were simply allowing components to be all they can be without that irritating layer of sonic scum, which seems to pollute all AC lines to get in the way of music. Guitars for example had greater bite and sting, while climaxes were more visceral and let go more freely.

However, some may find the powerChord a little too much of a good thing in systems which already excel in speed and resolution. For example, I thought the Audio Zone AMP-1, DH Labs Q10/Air Matrix combo plus the powerChord were not an ideal match and resulted in overly zippy sonics. Some audiophiles may prefer a warmer, more filtered effect. Conversely, on the Unico and Stingray integrateds, the Audience performed as good if not better than the more expensive GutWire Power Clef and offered a faster, more open and airier presentation coupled to exceptional dynamic drive. The Power Clef, while offering a little less leading-edge attack, delivered greater weight, smoothness and scale. Keep in mind that I do not think there is anything wrong with either of these power cables. They both are far better than stock cords and I could easily live with either one depending on the partnering equipment. Take your pick, but do exercise due diligence to ensure a proper match with your system and taste.

When I put the Maestros and powerChords together, synergy resulted. Since both cables had distinct effects, they managed to balance each other out and create something greater than the sum of their individual parts. I have long believed that there is a complex electrical relationship between all the cables used in a system. Mixing different brands can lead to a less-than-coherent presentation and to considerable cable-induced anxiety among audiophiles. I am not suggesting synergies can never exist. I am simply stating by sticking with one brand, results will be more predictable - minus the nail biting.

The Maestros sat in the happy middle ground between head and heart without swaying into the analytical, detailed camp or the warm, euphonic one. They offered an affordable alternative to the oversized, expensive cables we all know of and excelled in portraying spatial clues in a hash-free, three-dimensional soundstage while majoring in musical coherence. The Maestros had a natural, unforced ease about them that resulted in many enjoyable tension-free listening sessions regardless of the recorded sound quality. While maybe not offering the last word in resolution and bandwidth, the Maestros were certainly forgiving and smooth. They are not cables to blow your socks off but simply ones through which to enjoy your music.

The powerChords allowed components to perform at their best and offered grunge-free, dynamic clarity, with little or no overt manipulative effects. The powerChords worked synergistically with the Maestro and were compatible with a broad range of equipment and offered a fast, transparent, resolute personality. For the price, the powerChord is one of my favorites and maybe the least filtered-sounding power cable I've tried to date. Both the Audience Maestro and powerChord are highly recommended for further investigation by audiophiles who are searching for affordable but really good cables.

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