February 20, 2010

Perfection? PS Audio Perfect Wave 10.

PS Audio Perfect Wave 10 power cable. Note the new oval shaped plug with rubber grip pads for easier handling of the thick and rather heavy 10 AWG gauged cable.

I've always been a fan of PS Audio power cables, since the xStream series. In my personal experience with PS Audio power cables is that they always effectively lower system noise floor, enhance bass performance and in general, offer good value to money performance ratio. I also however know, that many will disagree with my above statement. These folks would claim that PS Audio power cables tend to fattened images and makes bass bloat, some even say the PS Audio power cables will introduce veiling(blur, or in cantonese speak, "mung cha cha") to a system's performance! See, how different horses for different courses do apply in power cable reviews as well. The attractive packaging, just like before.

If you've experienced PS Audio power cables like I did, then read on!
The new gold plated contact points.

The latest series of the PS Audio power cables are called Perfect Wave. I am assuming they(PS Audio) are referring to the delivery of the perfect sine wave in A/C power to one's hifi system? The model on review here is the second top, Perfect Wave 10, which supersedes the well received Statement SC. Build quality is up to usual PS Audio high standards, with multi core braided internal construction using single crystal copper stock. The biggest improved area must be at both ends of the termination. The A/C plugs are now oval shape with rubber grip pads for improved handling of the cables(it's not easy wrestling snake like stubborn cables in to place!). The connector pins on the input plug and contact points on the IEC end are now gold plated for smoother high frequencies presentation. Many users have suggested that the previous series of PS Audio Statement SC's contact points are nickel coated which resulted in less than pristine high frequency reproduction.
Another look at the attractive and purposefully designed plug.

The PS Audio Perfect Wave 10 took a long time to burn in. I had to kable kook it for a full week before beginning it's formal review. The un kooked cable sounded bass sluggish, had rough mids and grainy highs. With the Perfect Wave 10 well kooked, time to start some serious listening.

Upon installing the Perfect Wave 10 in to my Pass Labs X2.5 pre amp, replacing my older series PS Audio Plus power cable, the sonic improvements were clearly apparent if both came from the same sonic DNA. The bass performance to the latest Perfect Wave 10 is very similar to the older Plus model(this cable has some of the most robust bass response), except that the bass lines are notably more well defined and bass note to note transfer is easier to follow. The mids are just as full bodied as before. The main improvements I feel, lie in the high mids onwards. The high mids are smoother and more flowing, the highs are definitely airier, more detailed and nounced, on the latest cable. I than switched the Perfect Wave 10 over to power my Marantz CD player, which I heard all the same qualities as when used in the pre amp, except only to sound more musically flowing too. Compared to the AOR Reference 003 that I have been using in the past year, I found the Perfect Wave 10 to offer substantially lower noise floor, resulting in blacker musical back grounds, allowing imaging stability to improve somewhat.
Comparing 3 generations of PS Audio power cords side by side! From left, Perfect Wave 10, Statement SC and Plus. Sonic comparison would show the latest Perfect Wave to be the most neutrally inclined PS Audio yet, the Statement SC to be some what darker and less sparkle by comparison and the oldest Plus to be the darkest and bass heavy sounding cable. Along the PS Audio cable evolution, the sound has gone from rather bass tilted to rather neutral tonality(but still warmer by the standard of most neutral). Let me try to make some sense by saying if Siltech is Yin, than PS Audio is Yang(but getting less Yang by each evolution).

For the sake of those using the previous series of PS Audio Statement SC, and curious how much improvements could be gained by switching to the Perfect Wave 10, I borrowed an example from a buddy whom have just upgraded to another power cable. Comparing to the Statement SC, the Perfect Wave does a few things better, if only just a little. Again, the main improvement are from the high mid frequencies and above. The Perfect Wave 10 does give better high extension, that bit airier, and slightly tidier separations on the high frequencies. High hats and cymbals sound a bit more open by comparison. All other prized sonic attributes of the "older" Statement SC is retained. I would go as far as putting the numeral indicator to the sonic improvements going from the Statement SC to the latest Perfect Wave 10 to be between 5-10%. This result is again system dependent and the usual YMMV caveat must be absolutely applied here.

Retailing at a little more than RM$3k, I'll again leave those already using the PS Audio Statement SC to make their own up grade calls. However, if one is looking to splurge up to RM$5K on a power cable, be sure to give the PS Audio Perfect Wave 10 an audition, as I am very sure it is one of the top contenders, for power cables within this price range.

PS Audio is sold by A&L Audio Station, contact Yap(Wah Chai), tel: 03-79582884

4 comments:

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Big E,

That is one heck of a beefy cable!!!

From your experience so far, what do you think of the old "big vs slim" cable debate?

Or...any cable topology for that matter. Would be grateful if you could share your experiences.

PuchongWong said...

Level five

Big E said...

Felix,

From my cable DIY ing experience, I can generalised 5 factors that'll effect the sonic out come of the cable in question(but that may not always be the case if viewed in isolation).

1) Cable thickness: Thick/fat cables are likely to carry more current than their thinner counter parts. But they tend to be noisier and slower sounding too. However some cables may appear thick just because the use an air hose or insulation as dielectric.

2) Cable stock purity: The purity of cable stock, like 6N or 8N for example(and possibilly SC too), will effect the transparency factor and sound articulation of the cable. This is most likely to manifest it self most audibly on the high frequencies. The higher grade the cable stock, the more refined and tidier the high frequency reproduction.

3) Cable shielding: Many cable brands like Shunyata, PS Audio and Kimber use X braiding technique to cancel out noise within a cable. This type of construction allows the cable to be quiet, yet not suffer the down sides of shielding, a.k.a. compression of musical timing. However X braiding, if not done right will introduce timing errors between the cable cores.

4) Dielectric: Though dielectric stray voltage measures only 0.00... mv, it's a factor that effects inter connects the most. IMO, Audioquest dbs system is one of the more effective ways to reduce stray dielectric within a cable construction.

5) Connectors and soldering: These are often the most over looked aspects of cable construction. A good quality connector with secure soldering can make or break a cables final sound. Just an example to note: cheap cable with good quality connectors and soldering is better than having expensive cable with poor quality solder and connectors.

There's my cable DIYers thoughts for you to ponder over. He!He!

Capernaum Creative Solutions Inc. said...

Wow...thanks Big E. Appreciate your insight into cables. Invaluable. I agree with you on most things, esp. the "over" shielding part. I notice that too...I will have to catch up on listening with more high end cables .... :-)

Thanks again.