The Best Cables and Power Management | Buyers Guide Summer 2022







Welcome to the Best Cables and Power section of the Part-Time Audiophile Buyers Guide for Summer 2022.

The Guide is more than “We heartily endorse this [fill in the blank].” This collection represents our enthusiasm. Every product listed in this guide is beloved by at least one team member. These products have elicited responses such as “I was gobsmacked every minute I spent with this” or “The shipping box was wet with the tears of my lost innocence” or, too often, just “Take my money!” In other words, this isn’t about high-end audio products that we merely like. These are the products we love — and we think you will, too.

No list like this can ever be complete since we’re bound to forget something that has duly impressed the heck out of us. We’ve attempted to capture a moment in time — one year — and collect together, in one place, all of those products that we want to have and hold and use in our own systems right now.

If you’re looking for our list of “the best stuff to check out right now” — the best loudspeakers, CD players, amplifiers, turntables, cartridges, preamplifiers, DACs and more — this is it.

Enjoy!

The Best Cables and Power Management

Speaker Cables

Atlas Cables Hyper ($395 3m pr USD)

Inexpensive cable line from the UK company that also makes the game-changing Grun earthing system, the Hyper speaker cables offer a lot of performance for a relatively low price.

Atlas Cables Mavros ($2,995 3m pr USD)

Innovative flagship cable from the UK integrates with the Grun earthing system that grounds every connection you make in your system. Also fantastic for lowering the noise floor as reducing RF interference and other types of distortion.

AudioQuest Rocket 33 ($279 3m pr USD)

We use this affordable speaker cable from AQ as a review workhorse–it’s affordable, easy to use and it sounds really nice for the money. The perfect speaker cable for audiophiles who haven’t succumbed to cable madness but still want their systems to sound their best.

Cardas Audio Clear Light/Clear/Clear Beyond (prices vary)

Many of our writers are using Cardas Clear as we speak, and they’re amazed at how much their systems have improved. Perfectly balanced and musical. Managing Editor, Eric Franklin Shook swears by them.

Core Power Technologies Defiant Diamond ($995 8 ft pr USD)

Most of the attention in the cable market is drawn to the hyper-expensive stuff or the stuff that is claimed to be just as good as the hyper-expensive stuff but at a tiny fraction of the price. Enter the Defiant Diamond, priced right in the middle of the market, but good enough to find its way into a few lofty systems.

Furutech Speakerflux ($3,650 3m pr USD)

Along with Cardas Audio Clear, this has been the reference cable for the Vinyl Anachronist for the last decade. Sounds great, looks sexy. Yeah, we said it.

Luminous Audio Technology Prestige III ($188 8 ft pr USD)

Yep, that’s the right price. For less than $200 you can buy cable with a nice fit and finish that uses a modified helix array inside a polyurethane jacket to improve performance. At this price, the Prestige III could be a game-changer–especially for second systems and those new to the hobby.

Purist Audio Design Poseidon ($1,649 3.5m pr USD)

These fluid-filled cables from Jim Aud have been around for a number of years, but they still continue to impress with their ability to create a fuller overall sound in your system.

Raven Audio Soniquil ($149 8 ft pr USD)

If you think the prices of the best cables in high-end audio are out of whack, check out these well-built, attractive and extremely affordable cables from this Texas-based company known previously for their outstanding tube amps.

Siltech Classic Legend 880L ($7,176 3m pr USD)

These speaker cables sounded downright luxurious to our “big system” reviewers: “If they have any major sonic signature it’s the same as all my other favorite components: large, complex, dynamically revealing, yet smooth.”

Interconnects

Atlas Cables Mavros ($1,400 1.5m pr USD)

Innovative flagship cable line from the UK integrates the Grun earthing system which grounds every connection you make in your system. Also fantastic for lowering the noise floor as reducing RF interference and other types of distortion.

AudioQuest Elements Series Fire ($3,750 1m pr USD))
Back at PTA headquarters, talk around the water cooler has been all about “AQ Fire.” There is a sweet spot in every cable line up, and for AudioQuest it’s the new Element Series Fire interconnects and speaker cable. Taking cues from their older siblings, these cables can hang in any system. We used them recently in our reference room vs. the best in the business and we had no reason to swap them out.
AudioQuest Mythical Creatures Firebird ($5,150 pr USD) and Thunderbird ($3,100 pr USD)
The “big guns” as far as XLRs go, these Mythical Creatures flagships from AQ are a perfect fit for the most demanding systems. Review forthcoming.

Cardas Audio Clear Beyond ($6,500 3m pr USD)

A run of Cardas Audio Clear Beyond XLR cables ($6,500 pr) has been a secret weapon for us in evaluating amplifiers and CD players. Along with Furutech Speakerflux and Lineflux, the reference cables for the Vinyl Anachronist for the last decade. An indispensable tool.

Darwin Cable Company “The Enlightenment” ($1,995 1m pr USD)

Nearly bespoke, these interconnects “value sonic truth, accuracy, and overall transparency.” While a bit pricy and a little plain in appearance, you probably won’t do much better at any price.

Furutech Lineflux ($2,650 1.5m pr USD)

Along with Cardas Audio Clear, this has been the reference cable for the Vinyl Anachronist for the last decade. Unusually easy to work with and route behind crowded equipment racks.

Van den Hul D501 Hybrid ($330 1m pr USD)

This thin, flexible and beautifully made halogen-free interconnect is ideal for use in tight places–such as that recessed well in the back of the Technics SL-1200G. (It was, after all, first designed for mixing consoles and tonearm cables.)

Power Cables


AudioQuest NRG ($49-249 USD)

The AQ NRG is our go-to entry power cable. Low cost, huge impact. If you don’t want to make a big investment, start here, and you will still hear an obvious difference from stock power cords.

AudioQuest Storm Series ($625-$1,995 USD)

We’re currently using the Blizzard power cords for use with the AudioQuest Niagaras. While this line is square in the middle of AQ power cords options, you can hear many of benefits that we see in their top power cables at a much lower price. Building on advances that were made during the development of the AudioQuest 7000 power conditioner, Garth Powell and team at AudioQuest developed their new reference power cord. Our own Mohammed Samji tested them for months and purchased all the review samples–an army of Dragons are now a permanent fixture in his reference room.

Cardas Audio Clear (starting at $749 USD)

A longtime reference for many of us here at PTA.

Core Power Technologies Valiant (starting at $179 USD)

Initial testing reveals these power cords, which use Furutech connectors, to be unusually versatile and an excellent value.

Furutech Powerflux (starting at $1,850 USD)

Another longtime reference–fantastic performance, great looks for a cable and some of the most intriguing innovations in the industry.

Lab12 Knack Mk. 2 (starting at $490)

Lab12 designed this power cord along with their Gordian power conditioner, and it’s recommended for use with their excellent tube amplifiers.

Raven Audio Soniquil (starting at $149 USD)

If you think the prices of the best cables in high-end audio are out of whack, check out these well-built, attractive and extremely affordable cables from this Texas-based company known previously for their outstanding tube amps.

Signal Projects Golden Sequence ($4,675 USD)

Our own Dr. Panagiotis Karavitas has used these in his system for quite a while–when he revamped his entire system last year, Signal Projects was one of the few holdovers.

Digital Cables


AudioQuest Cinnamon USB (starting at $89.95 USD)

Affordable and one of the best cables for casual USB connections–we use a 20′ run from DAC to laptop to stream from the listening position.

AudioQuest Vodka Ethernet ($379 USD)

An easy and relatively affordable way to prove to yourself that an audiophile network cable can improve the overall quality of your streaming.

Purist Audio Design Diamond Revision 30th Anniversary USB ($2,000 USD)

The USB cable the boss retrieves when he’s got some of that crazy state-of-the-art digital to enjoy. Expensive, but you’ll change your mind once you listen.

Skogrand Beethoven USB ($11,000 USD)

Crazy expensive, but a beautiful work of art. It seems strange to say that about a USB cable, but Knut Skogrand makes some of the best cables in the world.

Snake River Audio Boomslang ($595-$695 USD)

A whole line of digital cables with vibrant colors and serious cred among enthusiasts. Handmade cables, made in Idaho about “a three hour drive” from the nearest McDonald’s or Walmart.

We have tested different 75 ohm digital cables using a full dCS Vivaldi stack to compare differences. Yes, the 0s and 1s are same, but different digital cables increase jitter (or clocking errors).  Using an instrument as precise as the dCS Vivaldi Master Clock, we determined that our favorite digital cable for clock signals is Transparent Reference XL Gen 5 Digital cable.

Power Conditioners and Filters


[Editor’s Note: Power management products such as powerline conditioners, filters and surge protectors are both system-dependent and house-dependent, so instead of offering long descriptions of these products we’ll simply say that we have experienced tremendous success with each one, especially when you use the best cables.]

 

AudioQuest Niagara 1200 power conditioner ($999 USD)

The official replacement for the wildly popular Niagara 1000, the seven-outlet 1200 has a more substantial wedge shape that makes it easy to fit into tight places. “Everything is designed for improved linearity, superior noise dissipation and minimized distortion.”

AudioQuest Niagara 3000 ($3,000 USD)

The latest Niagara features technology that was first developed in the flagship 7000, so the 3000 is impressive in its ability to be used with power amps. (This, of course, will fuel more debates about plugging amps directly into walls.) “The Niagara 3000 is designed to suppress noise across the frequency band consistently. More importantly, the 3000 has a current reservoir of 55 amps, which makes it suitable for high-current power amplifiers.”

Furutech NCF Clear Line Power Supply Optimizer ($249 USD)

Furutech’s NCF (Nano Crystal² Formula) might seem a little on the tweaky side, but this material has science on its side–“it generates negative ions that eliminate static, and it converts thermal energy into far infrared. This results in “piezoelectric effect damping’ properties.” Simply plug the Clear Line into the nearest AC outlet to your system–a spare outlet on a power conditioner is ideal–and you’ll hear a very audible reduction in noise.

Gigawatt PF-2 Power Strip w/LC-2 power cord ($1,500 USD)

PF-2 EVO is the improved version of the advanced filtering power strip designed to power and protect Hi-Fi audio and video systems. The strip is made using high quality components. The distortion is filtered in a RLC filtering block. It is built using metalized polyester capacitors with low inductance and an IP (Iron Powder) filtering core. The EVO version uses the highest quality capacitors manufactured by Miflex according to Gigawatt specifications. All components of the filters, are mounted with silver solder on a massive, double-sided printed circuit board with very large cross-sections.

Purist Audio Design AC Extension LE ($2,000 USD)

You may not expect a power conditioner to be aesthetically beautiful, but here’s one that will probably be more attractive than your power amp. Plus Jim Aud pays extra attention to damping materials in this gorgeous box, making it truly functional.

Complete Cable Loom Recommendations

[Editor’s Note: We’re pushing forward the idea of a cable “loom”–an entire complement of one brand of high-end audio cables, enough to wire an audio system–as the easiest way to determine differences between cables. These are the cable looms we have used in our systems and recommend to our readers.]

AudioQuest (prices vary)

Almost everyone at Part-Time Audiophile uses at least one AudioQuest cable in their systems, and this legendary company offers so many products at so many price levels that AQ is our first choice when we need a certain cable in a certain place. Graig Neville recently reviewed an assortment of AQ which you can read in the link above.

Triode Wire Labs ($399-$1,399 USD)

Again, if you’ve been in one of those amazing Volti Audio and BorderPatrol rooms at the high end audio shows, that magical combo is hooked up with Triode Wire Labs. Great cables and fabulously underpriced, too.

Raven Audio Soniquil (starting at $99 USD)

If you think the prices of quality high-end cabling are out of whack, check out these well-built, attractive and extremely affordable cables from this Texas-based company known for their outstanding tube amps.


Grounding and Earthing Devices

AudioQuest GroundGoody Saturn and Jupiter ($30 and $300 USD, respectively)

An easy and inexpensive way to hear how proper grounding can improve the sound of your system, just swap out your turntable’s stock ground cable with either the Saturn (copper) or Jupiter (silver). In addition to a lowered noise floor, you’ll hear less distortion.

Atlas Cables Grun Earthing System (prices vary according to options)

This grounding system from this UK company works through your runs of speaker cables and interconnects, with the earthing distribution block located in the power strip. You’ll have wires going everywhere, so your cable dressing skills will come into play. But this is an effective solution for grounding–with a superb set of cables thrown in!

Nordost QKORE grounding units and QWIRE grounding wire (QKORE starting at $2495 USD, QWIRE $350 USD ea.)

The Nordost QKORE grounding hubs–you can use one of the three models or all–provide an artificial earth for your components. The QWIREs are simply grounding wires that have been engineered to reduce distortion and noise. Expensive, but made for the finest systems–we found the QKORE made our listening rooms quieter than anywhere else in the house.


To read more of Buyers Guide Summer 2022, click here!