Alex Sventitsky, CEO of WyWires, sent me a nifty little box a little while ago. Have I told you about it? Of course I have! The Power Broker took a bow back at CES/T.H.E. Show in Las Vegas, appearing in several rooms. The new power distribution device is completely passive, and other than the proprietary wiring and unique case work, there’s absolutely nothing being done to the current at all. No regeneration. No filtering, magnetizing, de-magnetizing, scrubbing, or quantum teleporting involved. It’s just about the delivery.
You’d be surprised how far that takes you.
Okay, maybe you won’t.
First off, let’s talk about the price. I know it’s gonna hang up quite a few of you, so might as well take it head on. Yes, $2,495 is expensive. Roger that. I hear you. It’s not for everyone. Roger that one, too. $2,495 is really expensive — for what appears to be “just” an extension cord for your audio rack. But before you get all the villagers rounded up, put your pitchforks down for a second. One, is the price for this product all that odd? Do you remember B-P-T? This was one of the first near-DIY product I remember that was offered commercially and came with a plethora of upgrade options. Fully kitted out, the result was a rather boring-looking but robustly priced finished product. Now, think about some of the other non-reasonably priced but hand-made pieces of audio gear that leverage what many consider to be top-shelf internal bits. I bet you can think of some. I can. Why are they so expensive? Because! Just because. If you like, we can argue about the economic models for selling boutique audio gear, but I’ve already done that. Two, there are a host of products out there that not “just” an extension cord — take, for example, the Shunyata Hydra Triton that I’ve been using for years. That’s $5,000. And the PS Audio Power Plant P10 sitting over in yonder rack also happens to match that price. Yeah, they’re both really expensive. Of course, both of these are “conditioners” — apparently, they “do something” to the current. Is that a good thing? I guess “it depends” — on what that manipulation actually does to the system’s sound. Right? Take the Triton — it runs the power through a series of magic widgets. The P10, on the other hand, is actually an honest-to-God regenerator. Both work admirably, by the way, and by that I mean, current passes through to the other end and the system that gets connected to them ends up working quite well. Whether or not they actually clean up the resulting sound is moot, but to my ears and in my system, they do add their own character to the overall presentation — but that’s some subtle alchemy, there. The question is, do you want that? Or will your system actually benefit from it? Harder to answer that. I know that most gear tends to benefit from a good ol’ fashioned power massage, but not all … think “high-power amplifiers” or over-built gear with their own, integral, heavy-duty power filtering schemes — power conditioners, for them, are a no-no. For them, it’s either the wall-direct, or … what, exactly? We’ll come back to that. The point I was making is that, yes, nearly all these solutions are pricey. I for one am truly sorry about that. For the sake of argument, assume that if I had a magic pricing wand I could wave, things would be different. But do realize that there are cheaper solutions awaiting you — go forth and conquer! Next, also realize that wanting a thing to be cheap is a far cry from someone actually being able to deliver it cheaply. Again, the economics are whatever they are. Said another way, just because it’s expensive doesn’t mean someone is out to get you. So, with all that said, specific to the other expensive power “thingies” I happen to have on hand, the Power Broker is a relative bargain.
It’s also the best looking — by far. Does that matter to you? Well, fine — you can pretend you’re not shallow but we both know you squealed like a little girl when you unwrapped your latest audio confection. Uh huh. Anyway, the case work here is done by Daedalus Audio‘s Lou Hinkley, a master craftsman with a gift for truly beautiful wood. You can imagine, like I can imagine, that this casework doesn’t exactly come cheap and no doubt goes a long way to explain the final cost of the end-product here. Well, at least some of it. Would the Power Broker be cheaper with a plastic box? Probably. So, why choose wood? Well, Lou is — not surprisingly, if you’ve met him or seen his loudspeakers — a huge believer in natural wood. According to Lou, wood — real wood — has a definite and positive sonic contribution to make. Why? Well, Lou’s best guess is, for one thing, it’s a natural resonance control — and one that just sounds better than a glued-up “medium-density” one. He also notes that wood is something of an EM shield, with high concentrations of carbon and iron. But whatever the reason, wood seems to matter — take that wood away and put all those bits in an MDF or metal box and the character changes, he says. And not for the better. This is why he builds all of his speaker cabinets out of real, solid, wood.
But it’s not the only thing going on in the Power Broker. From WyWires:
- The box itself, constructed of 3/4″ solid hardwood (walnut or maple) with its natural resonance damping properties is non conductive and non magnetic.
- The receptacles are custom designed for WyWires and include contact materials that are highly conductive, resistant to corrosion, and have great tensile strength to maintain high contact pressure on the blades of AC input plugs.
- The internal wiring is the same Asymmetrical Litz wire we use in our popular Juice II power cord. The wire itself which is pure copper Litz wrapped in two layers of cotton and enveloped in PTFE has very low inductance, contributing to the unrestricted delivery of current. The asymmetrical geometry with differing signal propagation properties between the hot and neutral poles aids in correcting the phase angle of the incoming AC signal from your electric utility.
- Included is a high current version of our power cord called the Juice HC. This cord is hard-wired to the internal wiring to eliminate any contact resistance typical of IEC input jacks. The Juice HC cord itself is 10 AWG per pole (7 AWG total) of pure copper Litz wire that is wrapped in cotton and housed in a sealed PTFE tube. This type of construction enables the Juice HC as well as the Juice II power cords to display very low inductance and capacitance, again aiding in the delivery of pure, unrestricted energy.
- Each of the four duplex NEMA receptacles is wired independently from the others. Additionally, each half of each duplex receptacle is connected with the same cotton wrapped, asymmetrical Litz wire.
- The Power Broker also includes a base constructed of pressure laminated walnut and maple with brass spikes. The base adds an additional layer of resonance absorption along with vibration isolation.
You might have noticed that I play an audio reviewer on TV. Which means that I do tend to get a lot of odd-ball gear floating through. Including things with less than ideal power supply implementations. Things that might make anything with a transformer, like, say a transformer-based power conditioner, buzz like an angry beehive. I’m not going to name names, but let’s just say that switch-mode PSUs may well be the wave of the future but that future is still a long way off. Yeah. Anyway, the Power Broker came very handily to the rescue here, delivering max current for an unadulterated and fully saturated sound — with no bleach, no steel, no whitening. And that 12′ attached power cord on the demo unit was far more useful than I would have thought (six feet is standard).
Sometimes, I feel that power products are attempting to get one over on Nature, attempting to better reality in some meaningful, if artificial, way. With a fully end-to-end WyWires Gold and Silver loom in place, the sonic character of my system was completely preserved. With the Power Broker, I don’t get any extras — but I also don’t lose anything, either, and that’s worth a lot. No, there was no “added sparkle” or “airiness” to the music, whatever that means. But there was no floor to the bass, either — if it was in the music and my speakers and room could handle it, it was there. Ka-pow! I hung the Power Broker directly off a dedicated 20 amp circuit, the cleanest run in my house, pumped 1200 watts through it, and promptly opened a hole in the space-time continuum. Doctor Who says “hi”, by the way. Look — it’s a fact that many power delivery tools claim to be non-current limiting. Most of them lie. Like rugs. I beat the piss out of this little wood box for months and the only complaints I got were from my wife, looking over the electric bill. Whoops.
The Power Broker is a fantastic tool, utterly neutral, and as such, it’s insanely handy. With the captured power cord, you’re not going to need another expensive cord in order to connect it to anything. This is a very nice feature, by the way — kinda wish Shunyata would have done that, would have saved me a couple hundred bucks — and therefore saves you both on needing that aftermarket cord and by eliminating the urge to tinker. Again, this is not a power conditioner. It’s a distribution system. You can wire it off the wall, off your other conditioner, off your whatever and it will just deliver the goods. It’ll also be better looking than most of your audio gear, which may be a good thing … or may just be embarrassing.
There is an option, which will make the Power Broker something a bit more than a pure distribution system — $3,899 will get you the Gold version, which includes a pair of Bybee high-current Purifiers, mounted in a separate, second, box somewhere along the trapped power cord. If you’re a fan of Bybee, then this may be a no-brainer. Me, I’d really like to try the two versions side-by-side … but that’s for another day. What I would have loved to see would have been a cheaper model (duh), even if had to fly without the fancy case or wonder-widgets, offered at or below $1,000. That said, I’m not sure I’d have bought such a one over the current “base” model as I am a vain little bitch and I actually am quite taken with the wooden case. But the option would have been nice.
So, if you have the wallet and the interest — the WyWires Power Broker is a nicely made, nicely turned out piece of kit that’s easy to recommend.