It is often said that one cannot imagine how something could get better until he actually hears one that is. This saying well describes the sound of the new Triode Wire Labs Digital American HP (High Power) power cord when compared to a bevy of power cords out there, perhaps including even the other TWL power cords reviewed here previously. Quite a number of power cords have passed through the reference system over the years, and while many were good and some great, the overachieving Triode Wire Labs power cords, especially the Seven Plus and Ten Plus American power cords, have found permanent place in the review system due to their naturally rich and powerful sound. It is not so much that these TWL cords were necessarily the inarguable best in the world; it's just that given the reasonable price points, these cords performed admirably to combine world-class musicality and richness without thwarting clarity and resolution. They were dynamic, natural, and balanced in presentation, able to fit in with many components and systems without bringing their own brand of undesired colorations.
Given the similar prices and sizes, the new TWL Digital American HP power cord was directly compared to the closest competitor, the Seven Plus. Huge sound differences were not expected, as base conductor and overall gauge appear similar. According to TWL, "slightly different dielectric" was utilized in Digital HP compared to the “Plus” series of cords. Connectors are different, and "conductive gold Mylar as well as patented conductive carbonized external sleeving" were used in Digital HP for clean transmission and filtering of RF and interference. The new custom CNC-milled aluminum/carbon shell connector looks and feels fantastic! They exude quality and are said to excel in dampening vibrations and isolating electricity.
Color me impressed. Compared to the already excellent Seven Plus, Digital HP seemed to turn up the detail level, gut-punching PRAT, and harmonic density a notch. I never thought Seven Plus was not great in these departments before, but the Digital HP definitely had more of these qualities. Increased detail resolution is most apparent in female vocals and upper midrange, where another light appeared to be shining on this region, making it easier to hear and see. A byproduct of this was improved imaging and placement in the soundstage. Each performer occupied solid, precise space on the stage, with life and sparkle projecting forward.
The next thing that hits you is the more impactful, solid basslines, which had more pitch definition and punch. TWL Seven Plus has fabulous bass richness and definition already, but it just became tighter, with more solidity in growl and attack. The midrange had plenty of richness and girth, which made the whole sound balanced by holding together the more forward detailing and forceful bass into a coherent, colorful whole. When reading how the Digital HP was designed with digital components in mind, I expected a softer, warmer type of sound to smooth over digititis, but almost the opposite has happened for some reason. This means that those audiophiles with digital front end that may be a bit long in the tooth, overly "hot" or "digital" sounding, may not necessarily find the Digital HP cord to be all that forgiving despite all its virtues described above. Those who own great, smooth digital gear but hope to extract a bit more air, sparkle, resolution, and punch, the Digital HP is the cord for the job.
In another surprising turn, the Digital HP cord worked extremely well with certain non-digital gear. For example, it worked magic with some tube amps, preserving the dense, rich midrange great tube amps are known for, yet expanding bristling detail resolution and frequency extremes. The stout dynamic punch and drive of the cord also gave new life to tubed gear, which can lack these qualities compared to great solid stage gear sometimes.
Wire Labs Spirit Interconnects
What was surprising was how close the sound signature was compared to an overachieving all-silver interconnect like PS Audio Transcendent, which has been a reference in the review system for some time. The overall tonal balance and level or resolution were not that far off from each other, with the all-silver cable offering a smidge more of the polished-mirror effect and control while the Spirit offered g a smidge more harmonic texture and a touch more airy warmth. TWL is understandably not offering much detail regarding exact materials used and specifics of the design, but the Spirit is known to undergo deep Helium cryogenic treatment and utilize proprietary "hybrid material." Whatever went into this cable, the result is a well-detailed, harmonically complete, warm yet vibrant cable that is neutral enough not to skew a system one way or the other while offering excellent performance to price ratio. One thing is for certain. When one buys a TWL cable, from power cords to interconnects, there is very little chance that any type of nasty imbalance, hardness, leanness, or sterility will come with the purchase, which is a great thing to know.
Wire Labs American Speaker Cable
The American speaker cable probably offers a bit more of the recognizable TWL house sound, and all those 210 individual conductors must be contributing to the sheer sense of sonic energy pumping through the pipes. In addition to great bass foundation, there is a healthy dose of energy in the all-important low-midrange to upper-bass region, which anchors male voices and even female voices with saturated harmonic goodness. All these qualities express themselves in propulsive rhythm and all kinds of groove permeating the room and the listener. Admittedly, there are systems that will synergize better with different sound signatures. For example, a 300B SET amp may require a thin-AWG silver cable that will accentuate the treble and tidy up its loose bass a bit. Don't expect the American speaker cable to "cure" a dull system by accentuating or highlighting the upper frequencies if not on the recording. Combine that with ample bass foundation and girth, certain systems may give the combined impression of slight leaning toward smooth forgiveness, but then there will be many systems that will thrive and dance with TWL.
As long as the other components in the system are also close enough to neutral, the TWL cables should have no trouble holding their own in world-class systems regardless of the total system cost. Considering that there are cables out there that cost ten, twenty thousand dollars each, there is no denying that Triode Wire Labs represent somewhat of a bargain in the audiophile cable world. Those who are starting out in their audiophile journey may do well by including the TWL cables on the short audition list, especially if big name cables eat into the total budget too much. In fact, long-time audiophiles should also put TWL cables on their audition list, especially those who have been "burned" by high-dollar items that have not met promised expectations.
TWL Spirit Interconnects
TWL American Speaker Cables