Welcome to the Best Power Management and Cables section of the Part-Time Audiophile Buyers Guide for 2023.
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, of course, the best power management and cables — this is it.
The Best Power Management and Cables
Ansuz Speakz C2 ($9,200 USD per 2M PAIR)
Used in conjunction with the Borresen Z1 Cryo two-way monitors, the cryogenically treated Speakz C2 brought forth an enormous amount of detail thanks to sophisticated noise reduction technologies. Expensive, but a very important part of the Audio Group Denmark puzzle. Review forthcoming.
Atlas Cables Hyper ($395 USD 3m pr)
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. (Yeah, even the guy who once told us he didn’t hear differences in cable.) Perfectly balanced and musical.
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. Core Power Technologies also creates some of the best power management solutions available.
Furutech Speakerflux ($3,650 USD 3m pr)
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 USD 8 ft pr)
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 USD 3.5m pr)
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.
Siltech Classic Legend 880L ($7,176 USD 3m pr)
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.”
Allnic Audio ZL Mu-8R ($4,000 USD 1.5m pr)
When used with the Allnic Audio H-6500 phono preamplifier, the Zero Loss Technology Mu-8Rs delivered a supreme amount of detail without sacrificing the 6500’s beauty and mystique. Review forthcoming.
Atlas Cables Mavros ($1,400 USD 1.5m pr)
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.
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 NCF ($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, but now it uses Furutech’s advanced nano-carbon formula. Unusually easy to work with and route behind crowded equipment racks, revelatory with the best power management.
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.)
The Best Power Management: Power Cables
Ansuz Mainz C2 ($4,300 USD per 1M)
If you want to see if power cords can make a difference in your system, merely place one Ansuz Mainz power cable from the wall to the first destination in the system chain and you’ll hear a well-defined drop in the noise floor. If you’re looking for the best power management, start here. Review forthcoming.
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.
Cardas Audio Clear (starting at $749 USD)
A longtime reference for many of us here at PTA, especially when you’re using the best power management solutions.
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.
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.
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.
The Best Power Management: Conditioners and Filters
[Editor’s Note: The best 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.]
Ansuz Mainz8 D-TC3 ($26,000 USD)
Sure, the price is high–even though there are two higher models in the Ansuz Mainz8 line that go up to $64K–and this isn’t even a conditioner but a passive distribution box. But through materials selection and Tesla coil technology, the D-TC3 lowers inductance (and noise) while assuring a confident ground throughout the system. It’s an incredible foundation for everything that gets plugged into it. The best power management available? Review forthcoming.
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’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.
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.]
Ansuz (prices vary)
This Danish company has lines of cables at all price points, with MSRPs being set for materials such as silver and gold. Each step up the ladder yields gains in clarity and the lowering of the noise floor. Review forthcoming.
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.
The Best Power Management: 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 when used with the best power management products.
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.
If you would like to hear even more on our choices for the 2023 Buyers Guide, check out our tips, picks and highlights in our audiophile-oriented show The Occasional Podcast. You can stream the episode direct from the embed below, or from your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, Android, Google, Deezer, Spotify, iHeartRadio and more.