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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: APL HiFi NWO 3.0-GO; Ancient Audio Lektor Prime
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright LS-36.5 with PS 36.5

Amp: 2 x Audiosector Patek SE; First Watt F5; Yamamoto A-09S
Speakers: Neeper Acoustics Perfection One [on review]; Acoustic System International Tango
Cables: Acoustic System International Liveline interconnects; Crystal Cable Ultra and Reference power cords; Acoustic System International Liveline power cord [on loan]
Stands: 2 x Ikea Molger, with re-purposed assorted Ikea butcher block platforms
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S
Sundry accessories: Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; Nanotech Nespa Pro; extensive Acoustic System resonator tuning throughout the house
Room size: Sound platform 3 x 4.5m with 2-story slanted ceiling; four steps below continues into 8m long open kitchen, dining room and office which widen to 5.2m with 2.8m ceiling; sound platform space is open to 2nd story landing and 3rd-floor studio; concrete floor, concrete and brick walls, converted barn with no parallel walls nor perfect right angles; short-wall setup with speaker backs facing the 8-meter expanse
Review Component Retail: $1,800

Power cords get little love from perfectly rational people. Yet if power supplies make/break component sound; and if power cords activate said power supplies with the power utility company; then power cords are a direct extension of the power supplies they connect to and music signal becomes modulated power supply action. AC wires ought to be more
important than the throwaway wires with molded plugs that came with your gear then. There's current delivery, pickup and transmission of noise from either end of the cord - from your AC wiring and with it, all your electrical appliances. Plus what's connected to your grid outside your dwelling. Plus what the particular component on that cord dumps back into the line. There's AC polarity, AC phase shift, harmonic distortion and mechanical resonance. In short, the subject is rife with real -- and likely also made-up -- challenges. Those attract real engineers, bona fide dilettantes and the majority middle ground occupants. We've seen ultra skinny and extremely beefy power cords. Flexible draping jobs and unwieldy springs. Hand-wide ribbons. We've seen inbuilt powerline conditioning and claims for quantum tunnel effects. But few are the companies which manufacture their own connectors. Furutech from Japan is one of them.

For their top-line Powerflux cord, Furutech lists as ingredients piezo-ceramic connectors made from carbon fiber layers, an acetal polymer dielectric, nonmagnetic stainless steel, Nylon, fiberglass and two active materials - nano ceramic particles and powdered carbon. The connector conductors run pure copper treated with Furutech's so-called Alpha process which is a combination of cryogenics and demagnetization. The 0.12mm shield too is α treated. The jacket includes PVC and "high-grade PE insulation for reduced capacitance" and is finished in a 17.5mm diameter Nylon braid. The α- treated OCC copper conductors are 0.127mm x 7 x 3 cores for 2.8mm diameter per leg. Luxuriously finished to standards not expected in this sector, Furutech's $1,800 Powerflux more than looks the part which its sticker implies. Whether that crosses the line of necessity into obscene material worship cannot be determined. You'd have to strategically alter parts of the recipe to determine what's window dressing and what's substance. Since we can't, we won't speculate. We simply confess that such reactions are quite normal when faced with this type of product.*

Explains Furutech: "Each plug contains six cross layers of carbon fiber embedded in a highly damping insulating acetal copolymer. The carbon powder mixed into the connector body exhibits thermal conduction characteristics to interact with the mechanical-to-electrical characteristics of the charged ferro-ceramic particles, converting their energy into heat. These carefully balanced interactive elements mechanically and electrically damp the connector as they interconvert thermal, mechanical and electrical energy. Controlling noise and vibration is vital in achieving stable, minimal-loss AC power transfer. Most audiophiles and video enthusiasts assume plugging a power cord into a wall receptacle is the point at which electrical disturbances or potentials are generated. Everyone has created a small spark when plugging in a device that should have been switched off. But research has shown many elements in a connector capable of creating stray electrical potentials like cable clamps, screws and other magnetic parts. Current flowing through a cable and its connector creates magnetic (and electrostatic) fields building and collapsing 60 times per second in 120VAC systems. The magnetic field induces current flow -- electrical potential -- in small parts like the screws holding the connector halves together, which must be metal for tight clamping. The current flow in these small parts creates multiple 'floating' magnetic fields that interfere with the cable/connector's larger magnetic field, resulting in noise and distortion. Furutech's Floating Field Damper star grounds the parts in which floating magnetic fields are created by current flow. A precisely engineered, sprung metal bridge ties the various parts together and shunts the potential to ground, significantly reducing distortion for ultra clean and stable power transfer. Furutech recommends using grounded receptacles -- preferably from Furutech's own line -- as the benefits of the Floating Field Damper are further improved with a lower impedance path to ground for even lower noise and distortion."

Furutech won a Best Of 2009 Innovations Award from the International CES for its FI-50 series connectors.

Furutech's reputation in the audio connector sector is rock solid as it is for their apparently science-driven approach to even unconventional solutions like CD and LP demagnetizers. Naturally, the mystique of the Oriental inventor hermit (think Kondo-San) plays into the Japan connection whenever we see extreme attention lavished on audio items we previously regarded with only mild interest if at all - here AC connector housings or the precise spring load, metallurgical composition and surface plating and polishing of an IEC plug.

If the devil truly is in the details, we ought to be thrilled that someone like Furutech has assigned themselves the thankless task of attending this squarely non-glam sector. Amplifiers, speakers and turntable, they all embody a lot more sex appeal than measly power cords. But Furutech clearly believes that measly in this context is short-hand for 'misunderstood' and 'underrated'. In fact, they bank on it. They sent me three 1.8-meter specimens of their finest, enough to wire up a 3-box system to my resident Walker Audio Velocitor S passive outlet multiplier. I hadn't dabbled in power cord comparisons for a few years, thus Graeme Coley's review solicitation seemed opportune. I did know that better power cords make quite a difference over generics. What required a reminder was, how much and would it be categorically improved or just different - if one already had something like Crystal Cable Ultra or ASI Liveline? Then the DHL man rang the door. "Please sign here on the dotted line." So I did. Snake time or snake eyes?

For the auditions, I mated the Peychev-rebuilt Esoteric UX-1 with its twenty paralleled 32-bit AKM converters per channel to a Bel Canto PRe2 into a First Watt F5 stereo amp. Speakers were Acoustic System Int. Tango Rs, interconnects Zu Audio Varial, speaker cables Crystal Cable Ultra.

In use, Powerflux girth requires elbow room. Unlike the already twisted Crystal Cable Ultra which adapts over a few inches to up, down and sideways IEC orientations, the axially far more twist-resistant Powerflux must be deliberately coiled from the wall or power bar such that its end meets your component's. Put differently, you need to work out the required twist over considerable distance. This makes negotiation of tighter quarters rather more awkward than necessary. In my usual get-up with Ikea Molger racks along and close to the long wall for example, making the IEC ends come out at just the right angle was tricky. I thus cheated and placed the review gear between the speakers to scare up the necessary real estate. If you power flux, provide sufficient space to maneuver.

To get right to the point, there were differences between upscale cords like the Crystals and Furutechs but at least in this instance, they were far from drastic and more along the order of a lateral move from one amplifier to another. Essentially, the Powerflux trio was weightier in the bottom, less lit up in the treble and as a subjective consequence thereof, a bit warmer and softer. The Ultra retaliated with more upper harmonic sheen and extension on metallic decays but left-handed fistfuls of piano notes had less impact and sonority. On high-ambient albums with lots of depth, the Ultra occasionally had the advantage in hall sound recreation whereas cuts with strong bass power favored the Powerflux presentation.

While the full story is reserved for Marja & Henk's feature review, the Acoustic System Int. Liveline cord -- I had one sample only and put it on the amp -- had/made a bigger impact/difference than alternating three cords between the other two brands. Even with just the one cord, the difference to the two complete sets by Crystal and Furutech was akin to going from a superior no-feedback triode amp to the transistor F5. The SET sounds cozier, fuzzier, with less articulated distinction. Likewise, the Liveline 'cleaned out cobwebs' between and around the notes as though the presentation's phase fidelity was superior. The process involved subtraction of coloration effects. While bass amplitude was akin to the Powerflux, the character was more streamlined and lithe. The uppermost treble had the sparkle of the Ultras but decay extension was superior.

Once I knew what to listen for, I stripped down the system to the variable-output Ancient Audio Lektor Prime and F5 and merely alternated cords on the power amp. Speakers this time were the Neeper Acoustics Perfection One from Denmark.
The verdict was simple now. The Furutech effect reminded me of balanced power line isolation transformers as I've used previously from BPT. There's higher damping of the sound and in particular bass heft increases. But the damping also undermines harmonic freedom at the very top similar to how shielding on interconnects does where it isn't required. The Crystal effect was similar to the Furutech but the increase of bass energy shifted into the treble instead. The Liveline effect was like a blood thinner or accelerator. Ring-outs lengthened and removal of that damper which the other two cords inserted created a more potent sense of musical swagger 'n' swing; that temporal feel of riding on the breath which is suggestive of loosening constraints. To revert to a concept I first heard expressed by Shunyata's Caelin Gabriel, the Furutech and Crystal Cable cords acted like noise killers. Belonging in the same category, the minor differences between them operated like Quad-style tilt controls. They shifted subjective tonal balance by a few degrees.

The ASI cord acted as a pace setter to operate in a different category from the others - musical gestalt. To my perception, that's the senior domain if you're after liveliness and emotional energy transmission. Energy here isn't brightness, forwardness or attack happiness. It's not a tonal balance result nor a function of sharpening transients. It sounds like greater liquidity of movement. It's a fluttering flag, not a tied-down tent. Of course it's baffling to the extreme to imagine just what measurable parameters might be responsible for that.

So yes, power cords do make a difference. Equally affirmative, you can spend considerable amounts of money outfitting a system of separate transport and converter, preamp and mono amps with power cables alone. At the Powerflux level, that's considerable. For just $700 more than a single run of Furutech's finest, you could get yourself a terrific amp like the F5 for example. There's no doubt that Furutech's new plugs are engineered to the hilt. They're possibly the most radical implementation of hi-tech materials anyone in this sector has attempted yet. Naturally, what of the Powerflux cable sound goes to the connector, what to shielding, geometry and conductor is conjecture. Only Furutech's engineers know and they've made their choices. Personally, I wish the cable was thinner and lighter to put less strain on component power sockets; and twisted more readily around its central axis to accommodate diverse IEC orientations with more ease.

Unlike additive power cords which clearly attempt to highlight specific audiophile aspects, Furutech's Powerflux doesn't. It chases not extremes but plays from the middle of the field. Based on its noise killer damping action, I'd expect good results in systems which need greater organization, control and noise floor skills. Though far from cheap, Furutech's construction, ingredients and fit 'n' finish are top shelf. That makes certain rather more expensive offerings look like crazy home-brew or unduly funky efforts. In the end, whether flexing your buying power on Powerflux cables is appropriate; and where exactly your available audio upgrade funds would reap the greatest dividends ... that all depends on the individual, the relative maturity and balance of their systems; and just how much they listen every day to justify a given investment in core and ancillary hardware...
Quality of packing: Very stout.
Reusability of packing: Multiple times.
Ease of unpacking/repacking: Easy.
Condition of component received: Perfect.
Website comments: Perfectly informative and easy to navigate.
Human interactions: Prompt and forthcoming on all info.
Pricing: Definitely upper crust but fit & finish and proprietary plugs are commensurate against current market practices
Final comments: A relatively heavy cable with a bigger turn radius and resistance to axial twisting that requires sufficient component clearance and whose weight will place a certain strain on the component's power inlet.

Furutech website