by Martin Appel
I was introduced to Paul Kaplan by my good friend and colleague, Wes Bender. Wes has been associated with some of the top high end audio firms in a marketing capacity. I’ve known Wes for many years and he is a person whose opinions I respect [me, too - Ed]. When he started touting the Kaplan products (Wes does not work for Paul) I had to investigate. So I invited Paul and Wes over to the house for a listening session. After several hours of listening we broke for lunch at a neighborhood Cuban restaurant. Paul left me with a number of his GS power cords and wanted me to put them through their paces and give him my opinion. I felt a review would be in order and after many weeks of evaluation and comparisons I’m now ready to let the results speak for themselves.
First, for you remaining skeptics out there, it has been my experience that power cords and all things AC have a major effect on the sound quality of a system. Power cords, in particular, can alter the sound of your equipment in a meaningful and dramatic way. Get the initial signal right and life becomes easier. I’ve found that experimenting with power cords at the source of a sound system offers the most concrete evidence of their impact. It also goes hand in hand that the greater a system’s resolution, the more one will notice the effects of the piece being evaluated. Adding more of the same power cords to the remaining pieces in the chain further corroborates the initial effects on the final sonic picture. The review was achieved using my Marantz SA-7s1 as the platform for evaluating the power cords. Later I introduced more power cords on other equipment in the chain to obtain as complete a picture as possible.
I started off with burning in the GS power cord for about 100 hours on various kinds of music as well as my trusty XLO Burn-in disc. All power cords were plugged into my PS Audio Power Plant Premier power conditioner. I must note that this is a heavy, thick and fairly stiff power cord that requires plenty of room behind your equipment rack to wrestle into place. It could be a concern.
A brief word before I start with the evaluation. Kaplan makes two versions of the GS Power cord. One is with copper plugs and the other is with rhodium plated plugs. Each is designed to produce a different sonic result. You can check his website or just read on. I started with the copper plugged version and was immediately struck by the character of this power cord. It produced a truly black velvet- like background with wonderful separation of instruments and full soundstage development. If anything, this was the quietest cord I’ve ever had in my system. Images were three dimensional and weighty and any edginess remaining in my system was ameliorated by the GS cord. Violins were lush and brass was burnished but not overly romantic. It was almost reminiscent of tubes. Performance of the lower registers of the orchestra was powerful and dynamic with very good definition, not quite as taught as my reference (Acoustic Zen’s Absolute) but equally enjoyable. Voices were rich, robust and full bodied. In terms of that quest for neutrality, I’d say that the GS veered slightly towards the warmer side of neutral. The highs, while not quite as extended as AZ’s, were sweet and up there with some of the best power cords I’ve used. Depending on your system and preferences the GS could be advantageous in reducing, somewhat, the etched quality of analytical sounding systems.
The sound grew seductive and many hours of listening pleasure were had. When I kept adding more GS cords onto the system’s other components, the sound changed to where there was too much of a good thing (my preference). How many you use, again, will be based on your taste and equipment.
The rhodium version had a similar but cooler effect on the sound. It seemed to provide a little more extension at the extremes, which I did appreciate. Yet I did miss some of the aforementioned warmth of the copper version. It’s never black or white. Perhaps in an overly warm system the rhodium might work to get the sound closer towards the neutral. How much you want to cool down or warm up your system depends entirely on your equipment and preferences.
In my system, which has nine power cords, I settled on three of the copper power cord versions; one for my DEQX processor, one for my AQVOX Phono 2 Ci Mk II phono stage and still experimenting with one for my cd player. I found that the combination of power cords, the AZ Absolute with its full range, detail and transparency and the GS, with its weight, fullness, warmth and dimensionality gave me just the right blend of sonic attributes. After all, that’s what assembling a system is all about, blending components to create your idea of the ‘absolute sound’.
Kaplan’s passion for quality sound reminds me of the way the Industry’s founders started in the late 50s and early 60s. In those days of yesteryear it was individuals working on their own with the drive and passion to bring forth products that would eventually create the hi-end audio industry. Paul is such a person continuing in that great tradition. Only time will tell if he is successful, especially in these days of economic hard times. It’s good to see that the entrepreneurial spirit is still alive and well.
In conclusion, I applaud Mr. Kaplan for designing such a desirable, quality product with so many excellent sonic characteristics. At $1,495.00USD, roughly a $1,000.00USD less than my reference, the AZ Absolute, the GS power cord offers quite a bargain (in the crazy world of hi-end audio) and its performance places it in the top tier of power cords. Highly recommended. As such, I purchased two. So far. Your move.
I feel that his GS (‘Gob Smacked’) power cords must be included in the AUDIOPHILIA ‘STAR’ class. Thanks Wes for bringing Paul and his GS power cords to my attention. These are the kinds of discoveries that make the hobby so much fun and keeps us in the hunt for the ’absolute sound’. Paul is working on a new power conditioner that I look forward to reviewing. I heard a prototype and it sounds like he’s on to something. Stay tuned.
[It is with great pleasure that we award The Audiophilia Star Component Award to the Kaplan Cable GS AC Power Cord. Congratulations! - Ed]
The Kaplan Cable GS AC Power Cord
Manufactured by Kaplan Cable
933 President Street, Brooklyn, NY 11215
Amplifiers: 4-Nuforce 9V2 SE’s monoblocks upgraded to 9V3-SE Status
Speakers: Wasatch Acoustics MUSINA (out of production)
Preamplifier: Marantz SC-7S2
Phono Preamplifier: AQVOX 2 Ci Mk II, PS AUDIO GCPH CD source: Marantz SA-7S1
Analogue source: Avid Volvere / SME IV arm.
Cartridge: Shelter 7000
Speaker cables: Acoustic Zen’s Absolute, Wasatch’s Ultama (no longer being produced)
Power Cords: Acoustic Zen’s Absolute.
Interconnects: Acoustic Zen’s Absolute (xlr)
Accessories: Herbie’s Audio Lab Tenderfeet, Black Diamond Racing Cones, Soundcare products, Acme Audio Labs wall outlets.
Surge Protection: Brick Wall 2R and 8R Surge Protectors
Power Conditioning: PS AUDIO Power Plant Premier Processor: DEQX 2.6P Modified
JVC JM-XR24013 TCHAIKOVSKY: CAPRICCIO ITALIEN and RIMSKY-KORSAKOV: CAPRICCIO ESPAGNOL-Kiril Kondrashin and RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
25264-1 Warner Bros. Records DIRE STRAITS-BROTHER IN ARMS
TRIP JAZZ TLP-5530 BROWN/ROACH INC.-STUDY IN BROWN (mono)
CS 8192 Columbia- Dave Brubeck Quartet / TIME OUT-MQ 30443
Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra, Bernstein / NY Philharmonic (SQ Quadraphonic)
LSC-2471-200 gram CLASSIC RECORDS reissue-RCA LIVING STEREO, RHAPSODIES with Stokowski and RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
Napua Davoy-ALL I WANT, www.napuadavoy.com
Thank you so much for an honest and useful review. It’s rare to see a review that addresses the context of where a given component/accessory is best used as well as the how those characteristics, both qualitatively and quantitatively interact within a given system. The GS cords are actually quite flexible; you can coil them to a 9″ diameter, but you do need about 6″ behind your component.
While I understand your comment on the copper GS cables lacking ultimate detail and extension, I’d posit that the perceived lack could be attributed to a power conditioner, or even the choice of outlets. It’s all so damn system dependent….
Again, many thanks,