The other day, AudioQuest’s Shane Buettner and Stephen Mejias came to the Barn to hang out and listen to music. To my surprise, Stephen was carrying the PowerQuest 3, the company’s new “Non-Sacrificial Surge Protector / Ultra-Linear Filter” power strip ($299).
Let me backtrack—a few weeks ago, I realized (d’oh!) that the power cords that came with all of the active speakers I have in for review were too short! In the barn, speakers sound their best nearly 7′ from the back wall and the outlets behind them are another 3.5′ up the wall. Having had very good experiences with AudioQuest’s power products in the past, especially those designed by Garth Powell (in Garth I trust)—I use their Niagara 1000 and an assortment of power cords (details)—I reached out to AudioQuest for some help.
I was sent two sets of 4.5m cords—the NRG-Z3 ($439.95/4.5M) and the Blizzard ($1074.95/4.5M)—the idea being I’d try the NRG on the lower priced speakers and the Blizzard on the higher priced speakers. Reason being, power products can make a difference and different power products can provide varying levels of improvements. Yes, plural.
I happened to be listening to the Manger S1 Active Loudspeakers with the NRG-Z3 cords when the guys arrived because I was using these cords with the Dali Callisto 6 C, which are next in line for the full review treatment. After some time listening and enjoying, Stephen suggested trying the Blizzard cords and the new PowerQuest 3 since it offers 2 high-current outlets. “Sure” was my response.
The first change was to insert the Blizzard in place of the NRG-Z3 and listen. We used Aldous Harding’s new single, “The Barrel”, as the music reference.
Great song, isn’t it.
The improvements were obvious and immediate—all of the elements that make up this song were more clearly defined in terms of location and voice. It was as if someone turned the focus knob on the sound image. These improvements along with a better sense of micro-detail allowed me to hear into the music more deeply because everything sounded more fully formed. Nice. We went back and forth between the 2 cords but it wasn’t really necessary seeing as these changes were obvious and simply put, the Blizzard clearly made music sound better.
Next up was the PowerQuest 3 which was inserted in between the Mangers and the wall outlets (the PowerQuest 3 comes with its own power cord). The improvements were obvious and immediate, again. With the full AQ Monty handling power, it sounded as if we were listening to a better recording. Perhaps it’s easier to explain it this way—without the PowerQuest 3, “The Barrel” sounded over damped and kinda closed in. With the PowerQuest, everything opened up as if the music was set free to roam wherever the hell it wanted. The entire barn became its playground [footnote 1]. These changes were dramatic in the sense that the music sounded more immediate, better defined, and more compelling. Nice. Very nice.
I admit I did a lot of head shaking during these changes because I still get surprised by the degree to which power products can radically improve the sound of a system. I really shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. Call me old fashioned.
1. When listening to an unfamiliar system in an unfamiliar room, it is nigh on impossible to attribute sonic characteristics to any single aspect of the reproduction chain.
AudioQuest NRG-Z3 Power Cord
AudioQuest Blizzard Power Cord
AudioQuest PowerQuest 3
2621 White Rd.
Irvine, CA 92614