I have to confess that I’ve never been tempted to invest heavily in AC power cables. I do own some Merlin Tarantula Mk6 power cables which I bought several years ago (without audition) for a modest investment and found it to be difficult to quantify much of an improvement above the standard supplied cables. I’ve swapped them in and out of production over the years tending to favour whatever cable was (gasp) most easily manoeuvrable behind my cabinet! While there seems to be more debate on the effectiveness of AC cables than signal cables, I’ve always been intrigued and wondered what a serious quality type of AC power cable could make. Enter the EGM Emerald…
The Emerald is the new top of the line AC power cable from EGM, an Australian business dedicated to manufacturing audiophile quality audio cables and connectors. So yes, the Emerald cables, like all of the company’s AC power products, are designed and hand-built in Australia.
The Emerald is a 10AWG three-core cable using 99.999% OFC pure electrolytic copper conductors, EMI/ RFI protective screening and offering Copper/Tellurium pins within the plug. Interestingly, EGM Audio recommends an ideal length of 2m for best performance.
The samples I received were so incredibly built and robust – they felt like what I would imagine even a military-spec cable would aspire to be... not surprisingly EGM provides a Limited Lifetime Warranty. Aesthetically, the Emerald really looks the business with a bright emerald coloured sheath and black stitching and a girth which all combined, make it look a little like some exotic species of snake.
In my opinion, the most impressive part of the cable is the plugs. I have never experienced such a snug fit into the AC receptacle. In the past, this has been one of my biggest frustrations – having to crawl around behind my cabinet wiggling cables and trying to make them stay in the AC socket securely. I’ve employed various workarounds for this, including cable ties and, umm... a few other fixes which I won’t mention here for fear of them not being entirely safe to recommend!
As with all cables I like to give them a few days to settle-in before attempting any critical listening. There are many opinions as to why this makes, or does not make, a difference and I can’t pretend to understand the physics behind it, but I have found that it helps. In a way, that tends to remove or reduce what I call ‘anticipation bias’, where you believe you’re experiencing an improvement because you want to experience an improvement.
So, I installed the Emeralds, the first between the wall and the input of my IsoTek Sirius power bar and the second between the wall and my amplifier. Normally I run my amplifier through the Sirius but I wanted to run-in the two cables simultaneously, and then play around with different configurations.
After a week of running-in and some casual background listening, I already suspected that I could hear some difference. Time to sit down for a proper audition.
I selected the title track from Bruce Springsteen’s latest album Only the Strong Survive. The initial impression was that through the Emerald, the bass from the kick drum was more clearly defined, and the overall soundstage seemed a little larger and livelier. Bruce’s voice seemed to stand out a little more clearly rather than feeling etched within the soundstage – as did the cool sounding guitar licks emerging from my right speaker. It wasn’t an order of magnitude difference, it was subtle, but then as an audiophile in pursuit of excellence, every small improvement is a step in the right direction.
The next track “Soul Days” confirmed my findings – and then on “Nightshift” the drums and percussion were audibly crisper and more articulate. Bruce’s vocals again seemed a little more three dimensional. I was left with the feeling that through my usual cables the vocals were slightly smoother – maybe a little too smooth as I really enjoyed the liveliness and rough edges which are part of The Boss’s signature.
Moving on from The Boss, I played Mahler’s Symphony No.1 in D Minor “Titan”. It’s a masterpiece of which I never tire, and an important choice since it was still relatively fresh in my mind after hearing it played by the WASO (Western Australian Symphony Orchestra) here at the Perth Concert Hall last month. I chose the Telarc version with Yoel Levi conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and it confirmed my impressions. In the finale, the bass drum was simply more visceral and the horns had a sense of immediacy which was lacking through the Tarantula. This was certainly true to my experience at the concert, where I was seated three rows from the stage.
Like any good component the Emerald had more resolving power than my Merlin Tarantula cable when feeding my IsoTek Sirius power board. When using two cables I found the effect was magnified. In my case the second cable, which I fed into my amplifier, bypassed the Sirius as it is configured for UK plugs.
On the website, EGM Audio states that the Emerald cable provides “the most bass extension in the EGM Audio range…There is no bloom or uneven attention given to the bass, but it’s very well balanced, with fullness, texture and definition”. I would wholeheartedly agree with that.
Short of replacing components, investing in high quality signal cables and power cables such as the emerald can, in most cases, provide a worthwhile improvement and ensure that the components you already have are able to perform at their absolute best.
Over the years I’ve heard mixed opinions on the potential effect of AC Power cables, however, power conditioning products are generally acknowledged to provide tangible benefits, so I have to wonder why anything you do on the input side of your equipment’s power supply wouldn’t have potential to make an improvement by making more efficient for the components on the other side of the power supply to perform and co-exist. It could be perhaps that some components can benefit more than others, which is why the best advice is to try before you buy and preferably within the actual listening environment.
Considering the first class build quality, audible performance and über cool appearance, the EGM Audio Emerald cables are relatively inexpensive upgrades and easy to recommend.
… Barry Jones
- Speakers — Sonus faber Amati Homage
- Amplifier — Perreaux e250i 40th Anniversary Edition integrated amplifier
- Sources — Digital: Lumin T1, Oppo BDP-105D Analogue: Rega RP6 turntable, Rega Exact-2 cartridge, Rega Aria phono stage & Rega Couple interconnects
- Processor — DEQX HDP-5
- DAC/Headphone Amplifier — Chord Mojo DAC
- Headphones — AudioQuest Nighthawk
- Cables — Nordost White Lightning, Kimber Cable Timbre balanced and Van den Hul D-300III unbalanced interconnects, Atlas Compass Digital Coaxial Audio Cable, QED Performance Graphite USB, Merlin Tarantula Mk6 AC Power Cables.
- Miscellaneous — Isotek Sirius Power Conditioner, 8 x Auralex SA8600 bass traps in front wall corners, 12 x Sound Acoustics MP700-40 ceiling acoustic panels
EGM Audio Emerald AC Power Cables
Price: AU$599 for 1m, AU$749 for 2m
Australian Distributor: EGM Audio direct
+61 7 3841 3718
EGM Audio c/o QSR
9 Lindeman Place
Eight Mile Plains QLD 4113
+61 7 3841 3718