One of the first major discoveries that an audiophile comes across as they attempt to upgrade the quality of their system is how a high-end power cable can significantly increase sound quality as compared to a cheap stock cord; and what a surprise it is. I say surprise, because on the face of it, it appears to make no sense when you think about it logically/scientifically. But, when you start listening, it can be truly startling. The soundstage can become higher, longer and wider in sometimes dramatic ways. Bass can become fuller and tighter, and imaging can improve. This can be so when using such cables for sources, such as a DAC, CD player, or transport, or for power amplifiers and power supplies/conditioners. The history of high-end power cables goes back to the late 1970s and early 1980s with the company Monster, Inc. playing a leading PR role.
The reasons for such a change in sound quality is not fully understood scientifically and various theories abound (some very sensible and some downright ridiculous). A particularly entertaining and credible read on this topic is the series of 3-4 articles written in the last year by PS Audio CEO Paul McGowan in his daily ‘Paul’s Posts’ in which he gives you a blow-by-blow account of how he first noticed the increase in sound quality himself, was so baffled that he went out and drank a beer, experimented further and eventually started manufacturing high-end audio power cables for sale. Today, 30 years later, as I write, there are hundreds of companies manufacturing ‘high-end’ audio power cables; some so expensive that one could possibly buy a decent pair of speakers instead.
The Chattin Technology CR-1 cables, as reviewed here, are made by Daniel A. Chattin, the owner, based in Massachusetts, USA and I was introduced to him through a friend who owns a stereo shop that sells these cables. Chattin’s genuine enthusiasm and insistence on having produced something new and worthy of consideration impressed me; so I arranged for him to send me three of his standard 2-meter length to check out. I can’t claim to understand his theory of how they work and I won’t even try to explain it here (some odd things involving wide band electron flow, the intricacy of electrons and non-dependence upon Ohm’s Law….). But, I was pleasantly surprised right away at the cables themselves because they were elegant looking, very thin and flexible with black covers, slick velcro straps to keep them tied up when not in use and black ends with a line of silver writing. Unlike some cables that have different models for (say) source versus high current amps, one could use the CR-1 for any component with a standard IEC connector. Mr Chattin supplied me with some further specs: The cables are grounded. All conductors are 10 AWG equivalent copper and are clamped into the plug and IEC connector. The internal wide band construction is unique. A silver compound is used to enhance conduction. The IEC connector has a much higher than standard contact pressure. The AC plug is hospital grade.
I mentioned flexibility in the physical description of them above because many fine cables I have come across can look like elephant trunks or python snakes in girth and can be very difficult to manipulate—as rigid as if they are frozen. Not the CR-1; they are thin and easy to twist about. But when it comes to power cords (unlike other audio components including interconnects): looks, girth and so on are irrelevant to me—I only pay attention to sound. So I did, and there too I was pleasantly surprised.
The first thing I did was to replace my DAC’s current reference cable (Waveform Fidelity GSIII — formerly known as Kaplan Cable) with a CR-1. I then put back my original cable, and instead replaced only the two for my two mono amps with CR-1 cables. Finally I replaced all three at once. In general: The CR-1 cables offered an excellent sound stage, but without as much height as my reference and without as much increase in fullness and bass. But, that is not a criticism per se; some people might prefer this less dominant style, they might view it as more elegant, particularly with classical music. The sound was very clean and transparent too; and they were relatively insensitive to burn in: an hour or so was all that they seemed to need; that is a good thing after all. To be sure, I used each of them for 1 solid week for powering power strips for all my daily electronics (iPhone, iPad, computers, etc.), and I found no difference at the end in sound quality from the initial 1-hour burn in.
I do recommend checking these excellent CR-1 out for yourselves; given their flexibility, sound quality and ease of use, they are a high-end power cable worthy of consideration–even if I can’t make heads or tails of the science behind them.
Chattin Technology CR-1 Power Cable
Manufactured by Chattin Technology
P.O. Box 680
Otis, MA 01253
Price: $1475 for a 2 meter length pair.
Source: Manufacturer loan.
Associated Reference Equipment
Music Server: Mojo Audio upgraded Mac-Mini with Joule III Power supply and powerless
DAC: PS Audio DirectStream
Amplifiers: 2 Hephaestus Audio Harpocrates Monoblocks (Special Edition)
Speakers: Alta Audio FRM-2
Speaker cables (with jumpers), and all power cords: Waveform Fidelity GSIII
(formerly known as Kaplan Cable)
Interconnect cables from DAC to Amps: Waveform Fidelity GSIII,
Morrow Audio MA7 Grand Reference, Mojo Audio Lucent SE (Signature Edition)