Signature Power Cable
By Ari-Martti Pohtola
All well in Audiophilia Nirvana La-La land?
Situation in the beginning: I was very happy with my existing setup: Audio Aero Capitole Reference SE player/preamp (includes Philips JAN tubes equipped with Herbie´s tube dampers) placed on Harmonic Resolution System Nimbuses and Granite plates, upgraded Audionet AMP II Max power amps and my Wilson Audio Maxx 2 Speakers.
All of my interconnect and speaker cables are Analysis Plus Solo Chrystal Copper cables. I have had Transparent Reference cables as well, but I still prefer Analysis plus Solo Chrystal cables. To be honest, I do not have enough spare money to buy the best Transparent Opus cables for my set.
Disease called upgrade-itis
So, I thought that my setup was well balanced. What happens to an Audiophile when he has a well-balanced sound and setup? Obviously, he becomes very restless, and starts staring at his amplifiers, devices and cabling for possible upgrades.
There is a rule in which money should go first to the primary components (acoustics, speakers, source, preamp and power amps, in my opinion in this order). Then and only then come the secondary components and tweaks, and believe me, I have had my fair share of tweaks and secondary components. Actually, over the years I've had so many that I won't even start listing them here.
From a power cable perspective, I had settled on several Nordost power cables, custom made Supra LoRAD PCs with Furutech power plugs, PS Audio Ultimate outlet, star grounding scheme and a dedicated mains power line for my audio system. I managed to put this power and grounding setup together based on several direct tests and component approval/disapproval processes over the years.
What continued to bug me was that I had come to be sure that there is no perfect power cable in the market. Either the power cable sound is fast and lean (some Nordost cables, which I still preferred on some components), or the sound is too fat in the bass, or too silky on the top end, or the power cable manages to mask everything.
So, I was pretty sure that NO manufacturer has managed to tune up their power cable sound such that it has good resolution through the bandwidth, a tactile bass, a fast and neutral midrange, and finally a shining top end. Of course this kind of cable must have exhibit excellent noise cancellation at the same time.
During my Christmas holidays I found an article by Louis Motek (the founder of LessLoss). What caught my attention was that he was referring to the same phenomena I myself had been referring to in my own previous power related articles and reviews. Mr. Motek said in his article that he aims to create a power cable that sounds at all times like a sound system typically sounds at the quietest 2 a.m. hours of the night. So, I became very interested.
At the same time, I did not believe that one could get that kind of sound just by using one measly power cable. To save some time for the skeptic readers among you, I have to tell you straight away that, now, I am very much convinced and converted to the LessLoss power cables, although my journey to audiophile nirvana with the LessLoss cables has been very bumpy. The following describes some unpleasant moments and mistakes I made during the journey. So, if you are an Audiophile with firmly fixed beliefs, continued reading is not advised. However, if you continue, you may learn not to make the same four big mistakes I made.
Over time, I noticed many good reviews of the LessLoss DFPC series power cables. So, during the Christmas holidays, I ordered a DFPC Original power cable directly from LessLoss, costing me 595 USD, which covered the courier delivery as well. Besides the fair pricing, the company has an exemplary personal service attitude, including an informative website with streamlined ordering possibilities and a very fast delivery service. I received the cable within three days from the order!
Some mistakes and findings
Mr. Motek is an interesting person. He co-owns a recording studio and is also a talented musician. As a musician myself, I always appreciate fellow audiophiles who play some instruments. Louis and his team of technicians have created some very unique technology, and they have an excellent customer service attitude. LessLoss really takes care of their customers. THINK about it, a High End manufacturer who has an excellent attitude towards their customers! This kind of attitude is an alien in today´s High End audio scene, really!
So, I got the cable, connected it, and my first reaction was actually that of disappointment. At the same time, I was very surprised by some of the cable's sound characteristics. I also noticed that the bass was a bit weaker compared to the earlier Nordost PCs/PS Audio Ultimate Outlet filter and the Supra PCs (with Furutech plugs) setup. Immediately, I started whining to Louis Motek (Whining: Mistake #1, still many more to come). He answered back to me in a matter-of-fact way and quickly arrived to my level, understanding my frustration.
I told him I wasn't convinced by the bass response. He replied stating that their Signature and Reference cables have stronger bass response, but asked me to give the cable some time to settle in and reveal more of its characteristics. Learning that LessLoss has a good upgrade/buyer’s remorse program, I immediately ordered the DFPC Signature to replace the DFPC Original (prejudice: mistake #2, impatience: mistake #3). Anyway, ordering the Signature power cable turned out to be one of the best moves I made during my 25 years of audiophile experience.
What I did not tell Mr. Motek was that I was very pleasantly surprised with the speed of the DFPC Original, its midrange clarity and top notch high frequencies. Even the bass was getting better after one week of burning in (the DFPC really deserves some serious burn-in time for best results). The DFPC Original power cable had the same speed of the Nordost power cables, but it was not as glassy/mildly aggressive as some of the Nordost power cables are in my setup. To overcome the mild aggressiveness in my setup I had tamed my Nordost midrange aggressiveness with some custom made Supra LoRad power cables with Furutech plugs in front of my PS Audio Ultimate Outlet filter device.
I was pretty happy with the speed, clarity and bass tightness with my Nordost cables on my power amps, but I am seriously considering replacing them with DFPC Originals.
Probably beneficial to LessLoss would be to include with the cable package a small instruction for orienting the phase correctly and to warn the customers to be prepared for a minimum of 5-7 days burn-in time.
When the burn-in time was done, the sound of the DFPC Original was giving me very good results, so altogether the DFPC Original turns out to be a very good and solid performer, especially considering the price of the cable.
Stop the press: LessLoss DFPC Signature power cables
I have always adhered to the principle that if the sound difference is not substantially large, I won't change the component. But in this case, we are really speaking about a major difference in sound, and it is well worth talking about the DFPC Signature and its sonic effectiveness.
The DFPC Signature power cable also arrived within three days of the order. I always tell vendors not to send us audio reviewers fresh devices or cables, because some reviewers are impatient with burn-in effects, at least I am. So this time I specifically asked Mr. Motek to send me a Signature cable that had already been broken in. Even the used Signature I received needed some 5 days burn-in time to fully reveal its virtues.
The sonic virtues of the DFPC Signature seemed to be mostly the same as the ones of the Original, except that these virtues were some 20% more obvious. The bass was obviously stronger with the Signature cable as well. I try to avoid the lure of thinking about how the DFPC Reference cable sounds, just because I do not want to put so much money down on 'mere' power cables. Still, after this experience, the idea of purchasing the
Reference cable teases me badly.
The sonic effectiveness of the Signature PC is something I really do not understand. How were the LessLoss guys able to achieve this kind of performance in power cable? Really, I think it is the only power cable at this price level that combines all of these virtues within one solution: speed (as fast as Nordost, but at the same time more relaxed), a beautiful midrange (better than my old Siltechs), excellent top end (better than any other power cable I have tested) and as quiet as the best power cables I have tested.
With the DFPC Signature you really achieve this synergy of smoothness, relaxedness, and even more vividness into the sound. Actually, not a hint of aggressiveness was noticed. Of course, bad records still sound bad, but they no longer sound over-aggressive.
Some reviewers have stated that the dimensionality of the soundstage was increased with DFPC Signatures, but I did not find this especially obvious. Of course, when the background is cleaner and quieter, it is possible to hear the recorded ambiance information more easily. I would add that the placement of instruments was more stable and pinpointed.
LessLoss claims that their customers have been getting very good results merely by plugging their LessLoss DFPC power cords directly into the wall outlet, without any additional power filtering devices. So here comes my last mistake (the stubborn reviewer: mistake #4). The skeptic inside me was advising: “do not be so stupid as to believe that a cable alone can reduce noise, and do this in all frequencies”. So, I continued to use my excellent PS Audio Ultimate Outlet with the LessLoss Signature PC, just because the bass had always been even louder with the Ultimate Outlet. My PS Audio Balun-based (i.e. choke-based) Ultimate Outlet reduces common mode noise by up to 40 dB, and it also handles differential noise. PS Audio states that with this solution the cleaning should happen at all frequencies, not only at the very high frequencies addressed by typical power filters or conditioners. I was pretty convinced that I would still get the best sound with the PS Audio Ultimate Outlet connected into the power chain. I was wrong. Again.
Finally, I made an agreement with myself that I would set aside 2 full days, testing all possible combinations. The tests consisted of all the power cords listed here, different kinds of plugs and plug metal coatings, and the PS Audio Ultimate Outlet. After the testing, I was tired, sore and very, very confused. From all of the combinations, the Signature connected directly to the wall gave the best sonic results.
I was embarrassed, and tried to analyze this finding, but came up only with these assumptions. Firstly, LessLoss has achieved a serious effectiveness through the Skin-filtering technology found in their power cables. Secondly, it is a well-known fact that twisting enables effective noise cancellation. LessLoss also states on their website that the plug coating material has a noticeable sonic effect. This was a surprise to me, and I just have to confirm this after carrying out my own tests. I tested my setup with different plugs, plug coatings and power distributors (Furutech plugs, plain copper plugs and coating, nickel plugs and coating, Furutech e-TP60). After testing, I confirm that I agree with LessLoss about the sound differences with different plug coatings. I never thought that the material you have as a coating in your power cable plugs can have such a large sonic signature.
The DFPC Signature cable on my Preamp/Source device had the following (impossible?) effect: By itself it did remove even more noise, and the result was overall better resolution. The mid-band became very relaxed and pretty, the highs were the most natural I have heard with any other power cables, and gone was the aggressiveness some of the other 'fast' sounding power cables introduced to my system earlier.
I cannot say that the sound of the Signature Power cable in my setup sounds like Continuous Cast Copper technology does, i.e. like my speaker and interconnect cables sound, but somehow the Signature power cable´s natural sonic character reminds me somewhat of the sonic of the CCC technology, natural and just right.
This DFPC Signature power cable is really something special.
I am frustrated because I do not understand how LessLoss managed to produce such a balanced and effective power cable. The hard fact is that if you are buying ANY High End power cable, give this LessLoss Signature a fair chance first. Perhaps this cable is just the one you have been looking for this whole time.
Thank you, Louis & Co., for making exceptional products that really help the serious audiophile achieve the best their systems are capable of.
I want to close my review with a killer last line from Mr. Motek´s email to me while I was whining to him: “No worries, in this day and age, there is no excuse for any company to maintain bad communication with their customers”.
Spot On, Louis, Spot On!