Reviewer: Joel Chevassus
Financial interests: click here
Sources: Esoteric K-02, Lumin A1 [on loan], Apple iMac Lion OSX/Audirvana, Trends UD-10.1, MacBook Lion OSX w. HiFace USB bridge
Preamp(amp: Coincident Technology Statement, SPL Voluome2, Luxman M800a x 2 (bridged), SPEC [on loan], Trends TA-10.2
Speakers: Vivid Audio K1, Magnepan 20.7 [on loan], Lawrence Audio Double Bass [on review]
Cables: Skywire Audio 2020 digital cable, Naturelle Audio interconnects Live 8 Mk2, Grimm Audio TPM interconnects, High Fidelity Cables CT1-E speaker cable
Power cords: Audio Art Power 1 SE, Furutech, Supra
Stands & room treatments: Alica Music Tools rack & stands, Stillpoints stands, PYT panels, Acustica Applicata DAAD4, Microsorber insulation
Review components retail: €349 10+ power cord up to 5'; $499 7+ power cord up to 5'; $849 american speaker cable 9'; $399 Spirit XLR interconnect up to 1m

My Triode Wire Labs review made for an exhaustive test of power cables, XLR interconnects and speaker cables. My last cable review predating it was on the High Fidelity cables (speaker and interconnects) to target unapologetically expensive products from Rick Schultz, ex owner of Virtual Dynamics.

This time I decided to add power cords whilst going after far more reasonable prices. Which begs the obvious question. What’s a reasonable price for ‘audiophile-grade’ wires? That’s a difficult query. The answer will vary according to our beliefs and priorities; the electrical properties of our hifi equipment; the budget available to spend on non-essential goods; and of course any discounts on the published retail price.

Another variable to add to the wire game is the unpredictability of reviews. Cables can sound completely different depending on the component and system involved. Cable reviewers can go crazy with this plug ‘n’ unplug action and its perceptional shifts.  Since cables usually require a solid adaptation and stabilization period before revealing their true nature or performing their best, this merely adds to the challenge to establish a precise hierarchy amongst several competitors with a quick A-B comparison. To whoever believes that there’s no middle ground, just good and bad cables, I’d say that my personal cable experience has been far less about amazing or disappointing and far more about 50 shades of grey.

Now let’s take a quick look at the Triode Wire Labs Company. This American cable firm was founded by Peter Grzybowski, a graduate engineer who had worked for over 24 years in the power generation industry. After many years of audiophile experimentation on various conductors, grounding and shielding techniques, he decided to use a particular kind of copper wire that was designed a few decades ago by Western Electric and specified for use in the construction of theater amplifiers including 300B designs and Westrex recording equipment. The name of the company derives from this.

With a conductor that wasn’t the latest element to be added to our periodic table, Peter keeps his prices to a range most of us should be able to afford. Finally the Triode Wire Labs concept is simply to offer within a full range of power cords and signal wires the same exceptional musical fidelity of the best direct-heated power triodes. After finding the ideal conductor that would reconcile manufacturing efficiency and effectiveness both at reasonable costs, Grzybowski decided that the best assembly technique for AC power transmission would be Litz braiding.

As it is well known, Litz wire consists of multiple thin twisted or braided strands with individual dielectric to reduce skin effect and proximity losses. For alternating currents, skin effect increases resistance with rising frequency. This Litz technique is said to offer very wide bandwidth and good phase performance especially for audio signal transmission.