Included in my December 2012 review of Audio Art's Interconnect, speaker, and power cables was a segment devoted to their Statement II, one model below their Statement I, Audio Art's top-of-the-line power cable, and the subject of this review. In my review of the Audio Art products I stressed the importance of substituting the cabling of one's entire audio system with a single brand of a different cable to provide the best overall results in attaining a clear representation of what a particular brand's effect on the audio system, be that positive, negative, or somewhere in between. It will also reveal the particular "sound" of a brand of cable, that is, if it has one, and how far these cables veer from perfectly transparent, that is, performing as if no cable at all exists between the components, and in the case with power cables, the wall receptacle. And since no cable that you or I know of fits this paradigm of a perfect cable, the characteristics of the cables will reveal themselves to a much greater extent than simply replacing one cable in the system with a different brand or model of cable.
In this review of Audio Art's Statement I, I did not replace all the power cables in my system with this new cable as I would have liked, but agreed to merely switch out one of the power cables for the Audio Art Statement I. I feel confident that the combination of not only having been familiar with the character of Audio Art cable, but also auditioning this cable with as many components as I could, I could discover the cable's affects to the sound of the system, especially when used to connect the power amplifier directly to the wall receptacle. I also auditioned the cable between a PS Audio Power Plant P600 and the wall receptacle that feed the digital front end, either a M2Tech Vaughn, Wadia 121, or Benchmark DAC1USB digital-to-analog converter, and the phono preamplifier, a Pass Labs XP-15. I also used the Statement I to power a Basis Debut V turntable connected to a PS Audio Power Plant P300. Lastly, I used it to connect various components to the PS Audio or the directly to the wall. Conclusions are based on comparisons to both my MIT and Virtual Dynamics references, and the power cable that is the subject of my last Audio Art review, the less costly Statement II (but not by that much, really, $650 a meter for the Statement II, vs. $890 a meter for the Statement I, both cables cost $100 for each additional meter). The power amplifier is the Pass Laboratories X350.5, the wall receptacles are manufactured by Virtual Dynamics, the AC arrives via one of two dedicated 20 amp lines, and I usually have some granola with fresh fruit for breakfast.
Audio Art states that this new Statement power cord "is more than just another new power cord...that was designed exclusively for maximizing the performance potential of the finest audio components and video displays available today". Fine words, but I'm sure I've read that before. They go on to say that this power cable is manufactured from three 10-gauge conductors, 1,386 individual strands of exceptionally pure, silver-coated oxygen-free copper. These "ultra-high performance" conductors are arrayed in a "super low" inductance, double-shielded construction, and Audio Art says they provide "total immunity to noise, both low and high frequency alike".
Audio Art encases the cable's conductors with a co-polymer dialectic that that is said to reduce incoming differential-mode noise, which is noise that is usually present in the higher frequencies. This differential-mode noise enters power cords through the power line, usually originating from the electric company’s power station, or even a neighbor’s air-conditioner, microwave, or other household appliances. Over the dialectic are two shields that reduce external noise such as airborne interference radio frequency (RFI) which may be radiated into power cords from adjacent cables. These shields are made from a dense braid of tin and copper, and the other a layer of conductive foil and a drain wire. What Audio Art calls TechFlex makes up the outer coating of the cable, which surrounds the binder wrap and a PVC layer. The TechFlex coating is not only used to enhance the cosmetics, but as a protective layer. Additionally, the Statement I power cable is said to be built "to deliver instantaneous current on demand, with absolutely no time domain hesitation". The Statement I is terminated with Furutech’s top-of-the-line FI-50(R), which is a Piezo Ceramic Series IEC Connector, featuring nonmagnetic Rhodium-Plated Conductors. Nice stuff. This is a relatively pricey cable; Audio Art definitely seems to give it their all to justify its asking price in as far as its construction, that's for sure.
My comments regarding the sound of the Audio Art Statement I power cable are pretty much a combination of all the experimenting I did with the cable connected to different components in the system. I did not read any of the literature available online before receiving this power cable or before hooking it up to my system. I hooked it up the day it arrived, the cable already burned-in by Audio Art. Audio Art provides this service for a mere $12.50 per cable. I really wish all cable companies, heck, I wish all audio manufacturers regardless of what type of equipment they make, burn-in their equipment beforehand. Though I understand, with the larger companies, this just might not be possible given the scale of their enterprise.
The positive effects of this newly blacker than
black background on the sound of the entire system cannot be understated. This
background silence increased the perceived dynamic range of the material. But
not only those sounds that arose from this blackness were effected, but all the
material was now laid upon this cushion of nothingness that was below it. I have
a habit of listening to an artist's earlier albums when awaiting a newly
announced release, and this was the case when first connecting the Audio Art
Statement I to my system. Nick Cave And The Bad Seed's newest Push
The Sky Away was about to be delivered on vinyl, so I went into the
vaults (my record shelves) and pulled out the Japanese pressing of his second
solo album, The Firstborn Is Dead,
from 1985. My goal wasn't to compare this all-analog pressing with the new
album, but more of a celebration, really.
The Firstborn has been called the most blues influenced of his early solo work. As far as I'm concerned he can quote John Lee Hooker and Lead Belly all he wants, but when filtered through Nick Cave and his cohorts very fertile musical and poetic imagination, it sounds closer to post-punk than any blues I've ever heard. Influenced by the blues, yes.The blues, no. Nevertheless, the sound quality of this album recorded in Berlin's Hansa Studios just about matches the excellent song-craft and musicianship. Immediately upon hearing the beginning of the opener "Tupelo", with its storm sound effects, Barry Adamson's muted bass, and toms below Cave's voice it was evident that the new Audio Art cable was having a rather profound influence on the dynamic distance between the instruments. Even at its best this album doesn't possess demonstration disc qualities, and this applies to its separation of instruments. But the newly acquired silent background led to not only an increase in the this quality, but the separation of the instruments that were mixed at nearly the same volume and now somehow occupied distinct sonic fields within the same portion of the soundstage.
I admit that the pressing quality of this record certainly helps things, Japanese pressings have notoriously quite surfaces, but I've heard this record probably a hundred times and never have the instruments vaulted into the soundfield with such a natural presence. The black background that the Audio Art cable provided seem to influence so many other audiophile traits it was actually quite surprising. How can a black background influence frequency response? A crystal clear midrange, a grain-free lower treble, or extended, sparkly highs? Were these all subjective impressions caused by the quiet background? Or just other traits caused by the claimed benefits of the cable's construction? The second cut, Say Goodbye To The Little Girl Tree, was even more striking with the high-hat, twang and slide guitar, and Mr. Caves voice rising out of the silence and entering the room with his swampy, twisted tale. Later into the tune, the bass guitar and snare drum enter, yet the spare instrumentation was still totally captivating. Instead of concentrating on the Statement I's contribution to the best quality sound I've ever heard from this album, I was more impressed by the contents of the record. High praise indeed. The new Nick Cave album I await will be likely be digitally recorded and mastered, pressed onto vinyl so record-geeks (me) can live their vinyl-experience, but at least I have these older albums to revel in when it comes to enjoying this type of sound quality and tuneage.
If one is about to purchase an Audio Art Statement I power cable, one should make sure all of their ducks are in order, then match the high-quality system's components with a high-quality cable. Personally, if one has enough money to spend on a power cable such as the one featured in this review, one should think about those people less fortunate than those in the audiophile community and give what one can to one or more reputable organizations that will help provide for the well-being of others. After this is taken care of, the Audio Art Statement I power cable is worthy of consideration when shopping for a cable of this caliber. It's no secret there are even better, and much more expensive, cables being marketed. The sky's the limit. But as far as high-performance power cable goes, the Statement I fits the bill.