The affect of the STEALTH power cables in
my system was unexpected. I have tried many cables this last 8-12
months and liked the Purist Dominus the most, but I was aware of
its weakness to others. But it brought on a level of musicality
other cables had not. With STEALTH cables, I had all the magic of
the Dominus and the strengths of others such as the Kubala-Sosna
but in a way that exceeded the combined best efforts of
each. With STEALTH cables I no longer felt I was compromising
one thing for another. This to me results in long-term ownership
of a product. And it allows me to focus more on the purchase of
new music rather than the forever quest for hardware refinements.
Of course I have not heard my system fully loaded with the Dream
cables and the STEALTH IC and speaker cables. But I have enough
insight now to have a feeling for the potential here. And I will
be patient to work toward the exchange of each of my cables
to STEALTH. But of course a system such as this demands pretty
much all that the cable technology can throw at me and with
this comes great cost. So it could take me a year or more to just
switch over to the Dream PCs alone. This is the price I pay for
mono amplifiers, separate line and phono stages, and DAC and
transport and electrostatic speakers. Many many power cables here.
And I feel putting in 4-5 M5000 and 4-5 Dream would be a wonderful
way to start based on my findings with various components in my
system. I can then decide if trying 2 or 3 pairs of Indra and the
Dream speaker cables are the next logical step in this re-cable
process or to instead go with all Dream PCs and then the other
system cables. I have a system that has phenomenal capability. It
will just be one cable at a time at this top-end cost. And this
gives me the opportunity to know what may await me in the near
future. Thank you so much again for your time and efforts here. I
have never been so impressed by what cables can do in my system as
with STEALTH cables...
I thank STEALTH and Bob very much for giving me the opportunity to audition
the power cables in my system. I understand full well that a more
accurate audition of these cables would exist if I was able to re-cable the entire system
with the Stealth cables. But what I wanted to learn was if, and approximately by how much, each component might respond to and benefit from the M5000
and then up to the Dream. My expectations were far exceeded. And therefore the long process will begin to slowly change the Dominus power
cables to the Stealth. I would ideally like to hear the benefits of the Purist Anniv over the Dominus before I start this process.
For the 7 Dominus power cables currently in my system, my goal is to start
with 4 Dream and 3 M5000 based on the listening results. And then
I can re-evaluate the situation before moving onto auditioning the Indra
ICs and then perhaps updated speaker cables. This will be a year-long
process with other home projects occurring simultaneously.
SoundApplication LineStage PLC, Dream (with 15A-20A
IEC adaptor) vs. M5000 (20A IEC):
Used Alan Parsons CD,
“Try Anything Once”, Track 5, “Mr Time”.
In a previous evaluation,
I concluded the M5000 had far greater tonal coherency in the mids
than the Dominus so no further listening with the Dominus occurred
in this link. Compared to the M5000, the Dream has more attack on
leading transients. This
is something I notice right away ever since I heard the CAT amps
do this like no other amps. And
the Dream has significantly greater dynamic contrasts which are
much more noticeable in the upper mids / lower trebles.
Female vocals indicate a greater degree of body as if the
singer has more energy with each new breath but with this comes
just a little bit of smearing and over-emphasis (often called
“syrupy”) which diminishes the ultimate in clarity of the
voice. Massed strings
have greater ambience, longer decays in space. And there is more
air as if you can imagine the venue being a bigger space. There is
definitely more bass rhythm and control but the M5000 performs
very well in the bottom octave.
With the Dream, it’s
really about greater macrodynamics here.
But with all this comes a little bit of sibilance on the
top. M5000 is
initially overall less “emotional” and less “dimensional”
but I sense it is a little “truer” to the portrayal of the
instruments in space vs. being almost bigger than life.
The M5000 makes the music feel more “distant” and yet I
still sense the musicians are at the same place on stage as with
the Dream. But with
the M5000, the stage appears farther back.
Because of the smoother leading edges and a little more
silence between the notes, I feel the M5000 is more tonally
coherent and “natural” than the Dream in this link of the
A return to the Dream and
the presentation is rich, exciting, dynamic, sounds are portrayed
out into the room. This
can be very addictive but a return back to the M5000 and all is
back in place. The
sound is a bit dull initially coming off the Dream and back to the
M5000, but in a few minutes, there is less attention to the sound
and more to the music with the M5000.
One other observation: the
return to the M5000 gives the impression that the height of the
presentation has been clipped.
This reminds me of watching a 16:9 movie on a 4:3 display
where the top and bottom of the image are clipped.
I think this is due to the initial attack of notes
portrayed by the Dream to be a little bigger than life giving an
impression of a very large sound spread.
This system link will need
to be revisited and re-evaluated with these 2 cables after the
power cables are ultimately defined throughout the rest of the
system. The final
result here could very well be affected by the outcome of cables
set elsewhere. But for
now, the M5000 is the preferred cable into the SA LS PLC.
Aesthetix Callisto Signature Line Stage with one Power Supply (Mix
of Telefunken and 6DJ8 and Mullard 6922, Brimar 12ax7 in audio
chassis, Mullard EL34 xf2 and Telefunken 12ax7 in P.S.)
Same Alan Parsons CD, but
track 12, “Oh Life”.
Purist Dominus Ferox à
The Dominus vs. M5000
differences are not as dramatic as expected.
Tonality is nearly identical but the M5000 has more reach
and control in the bottom octave.
The M5000 also showed greater bloom and decays with
instruments like the flute. The
one significant improvement of the M5000 was with piano.
As the faster tempo melody was being played in the upper
registers, lower-register chords were much more clearly
articulated with the M5000. And
there was greater initial definition with each key.
The M5000 also had more definition to bring quiet
percussion tones, most notably cymbols a little more out to the
This was the most dramatic
change of this test. The
differences between these two cables were much the same as with
the SA LS PLC. But
with the Callisto here, gone was the fatigue with the Dream.
Instead, along with the more solid bass foundation, the
greater dynamic contrasts, richer piano textures, longer decays,
the presentation with the Dream was truly wonderful.
The benefits of the metallic percussion coming through with
the M5000 over the Dominus continued even more with the Dream.
And for the first time, I could hear how the flute player
was not playing the flute with a consistent and continuous breath
of air; there was a slight reduction in the amplitude near the end
of a long flute note at the start of the track.
I wished I had two of the Dreams as one of them would have
stayed in this link for the remainder of the cable evaluation.
A return to the M5000 and
the initial flute notes were almost as long in space but they
simply did not have the clarity as if floating in space.
And moving onto the singer, he too had very good tonality,
much like the Dream, but with the M5000, his voice lacked body.
The M5000 was most impressive but after hearing the Dream
here, it was darn tough to stay focused to the M5000 here.
If I had to rate the Dream
cable here as a “component upgrade”, I would rate the M5000 as
getting me 40% there and the Dream the other 60%.
The M5000 over the Dominus was not subtle, but the benefits
of the Dream over the M5000 were far more significant.
I learned even more why these Aesthetix products are so
phenomenol with piano textures and decays.
The Dominus Ferox was
returned to the Callisto so the M5000 and Dream could be used for
the next test in the system.
Test 3: Audio Magic Eclipse II power
conditioner to drive digital components
With 2 M5000 PCs here, I
was able to compare the Sound App PLC to the Audio Magic PLC on
the entire system. For
analog components, the Sound App brought on so much more life and
projection and bloom over the Audio Magic.
But with digital components it was a different story.
The Audio Magic has greater clarity with the digital front
end. Perhaps the Sound
App does not isolate the analog from the digital as well, or maybe
another Sound App might be the key.
But driving the Audio Magic from the digital outlet of the
Sound App and then driving the digital components from the Audio
Magic was a significant improvement.
It ends up being a bit costly too.
This test tries various
PCs from the Sound App digital outlets into the Audio Magic.
I used various tracks from
the Vangelis, “The
Dominus Ferox à
As the M5000 was over the
Dominus last month from the wall outlet into the Sound App PLC,
this was much a repeat from the Sound App into the Audio Magic
PLC. The M5000 has a
way of filling in the lower mids with harmonic overtones that
escape the Dominus. The
Dominus has great dynamics and detail on the top but compared to
the M5000, the result of the Dominus is like a sound pieced
together like an incoherent multi-driver speaker.
A change back to the M5000
here is so far the most dramatic difference between this and the
Dominus. It takes a
little adjustment to appreciate the M5000’s more natural top end
but it blends in so much better with the greater harmonically rich
mids and more defined bass chords.
Putting in the Dream
brought on more life, openness, clarity, sparkle to the trebles
and greater decays due to richer harmonics.
The bass foundation was also a bit more taut which also
gave the performance a greater “boogie factor”.
And back to the M5000 immediately showed the subtractions
due to this cable compared to the Dream and yet the M5000 was such
a huge gain over the Dominus, that ultimately I could be very
happy with the M5000 initially and save the money for the Dream
If I was to rate the
Dominus-to-Dream as a component upgrade, the Dominus-to-M5000
would be maybe 75% of this and the remaining 25% would be due to
the benefits of the Dream over the M5000.
The Dominus Ferox was
returned to the Sound App to Audio Magic input so the M5000 and
Dream could be used for the next test in the system.
My digital front end
is rather ancient. Transport
is the Pioneer PD65 CDP. This
unit is 12 years old and refuses to die.
I never got the PD65 updated to have an IEC connector so I
am stuck with a captive power cable for now.
The PD65 into the Genesis Time Lens has shown plenty of
capability to hear the differences of various DACs I have owned
and tried for the last 8 years: Counterpoint DA10, ARC Dac3, VTL
Ref DAC, Electrocompaniet ECD1, Classe DAC1 and my favorite
modified unit by GNSC, the Manley Ref DAC.
The Manley is still being updated so I did all my listening
with the Classe DAC1. The
Classe is a little bit soft on the top but it has a phenomenol low
noise floor and portrays the dimensionality greater than any of
the other solid state DAC I have heard in my home.
Genesis Time Lens
Dominus Ferox à
This link has reacted
favorable with the Dominus over many other PCs I have tried.
The M5000 continued on with the same kind of improvements
over the Dominus as above. There
is greater metallic sheen to cymbols, more bass foundation and
tonal coherency with the M5000 but the differences are not as
dramatic here as with other tried system links; the differences
are also not subtle. The
Dream continues on with more body to vocals and further projection
into the performance, a little more macrodynamics in the mids, but
this benefit over the M5000 is not very significant either.
I would have to rate the
Dominus-to-Dream as not quite half a component upgrade with the
vast majority of the improvement here due to the M5000 over the
Dominus. Ideally, I
would like to remove the Genesis from the system but only a
“significantly better” transport will likely allow for this.
If I could sell the Dominus here and get the M5000 for the
same cost, this would be all that I would do for this link.
Investing in the Dream for this link would most likely not be a
Dominus Ferox à
Most significant benefit
of the Stealth cables over the Dominus was the bloom and portrayal
of space of the piano. Decays
were longer, initial tone of each note had more structure and
lower-frequency fundamental as opposed to the overtones being more
dominant with the Dominus. The
Dream brought a wonderful degree of articulation and silence
between the keys that almost makes the additional cost of the
Dream worthy for this component.
I have no doubt that the Dream would be a killer PC with
the Manley DAC as this component portrays the dimensionality with
digital sources like no other I have heard.
A return to the Dominus
resulted in very good tonality but a little edgy in the percussion
leading to some listener fatigue.
The bloom of the piano was not as evident but this made for
a more mellow presentation which some people might prefer.
But longer listening indicates the piano has too much
compression with the Dominus after hearing the M5000 or Dream.
Ultimately I really liked
the M5000 into the Genesis and the Dream into the DAC.
But I could not forget how this might sound if I also had a
Dream on the Callisto and an M5000 into the Audio Magic PLC.
I returned the Dominus PCs
for the Genesis and Classe DAC to continue the next test, the
5: The Aesthetix Io Phono Stage with one
Power Supply (fully loaded with Telefunken 12ax7 tubes
throughout except one pair of Brimar 12ax7 on final stage to give
just a little added extension at the frequency extremes.
Telefunken 6DJ8 on output stage and Mullard EL34 xf2 in P.S)
The Io has been a strange
component in how it reacts to power cables.
With the AudioMagic and SoundApp PLCs in place, differences
between PCs is immediately evident.
And all of my components reacted more favorably to the
Dominus Ferox PC vs the older Dominus rev B power cable……all
but the Io. All the
other components had greater tonal coherency with the Ferox.
But the Io locked in so beautifully with the Rev B.
I never could understand this as the Io tends to be a
rather “warm” component and the Rev B exacerbates this with
the other components but not here.
It’s almost like a minus and a minus sums to a plus.
So it was no surprise on
the final outcome here as they too made little sense.
The Io is indeed an oddball component in how it reacts to
Dominus B à
LP was Pink Floyd, “The
A change to the M5000 was
immediate: far greater clarity on the top, wonderful macrodynamics
and a little more punch in the bass.
But right away tonality of Roger Waters’ voice and piano
did not sound “right” at all.
The singer and the piano had way too much “midrange
bleed” from on note to the next, i.e., there was not as much
silence in between. The
sounds became annoying as the midrange tones were so dominant
without the presence of the harmonics continuing on.
A return to the Dominus and there was a definite reduction
in clarity of other instruments, mainly guitar and percussion, but
the tonality of the voice and piano was back in check.
And then back to the M5000 to confirm the “syrupy”
midrange as observed before.
The loaned M5000 had not
exhibited this with other components, and all day and night it was
plugged in to drive the digital components to get burn-in time.
By the time of this test, the M5000 had nearly 100 hours on
I then went with the Dream
into the Io. There was
a far greater projection of detail than the M5000 …. AND …..
the tonal coherency had come back into check.
I played the entire LP side as I did not want to change
anything….except to perhaps put the M5000 into the Callisto.
But I went back to the Dominus into the Io and tonality was
nearly identical but a great reduction in the openness and less
spread of the instruments. The
Dominus works well here but after hearing so much more information
with the Dream, it is very clear that the Dream suits this
component as well.
change was not as dramatic in the Io as was with the Callisto,
maybe 75%, but unfortunately I would have to go all the way with
the Io here….no chance to do an intermediate PC upgrade with the
I then put the M5000 into
the Callisto and the music was simply phenomenal.
I can only imagine Dreams on both of these.
And I did one more cross check: the Dream on the Callisto
and the M5000 on the Io: amazing that even with all the openness
now due to the Dream on the Callisto, the M5000 on the Io is
consistent in how it over powers the middle frequencies.
I returned the Dominus PCs
into the Io and Callisto.
Test 6: Rives
PARC Parametric Equalizer
My room is 18x13x7.5,
basement, two concrete walls to exterior.
With the SoundLab A1 speakers, I have far greater bass
energy than with the previous Magnepan 3.5s.
As much as I tried to deal with the bass peaks, there was
only so much I could do with ASC tube traps along the front wall
behind the speakers, speaker placement trials, etc.
So I went with a PARC and this flattened the bass which
allowed for quite a dramatic improvement in clarity and coherency
in the upper octaves. Removing
the PARC indicated that there was just a slight loss of dynamic
contrasts with it in the system, but the benefits far outweighed
this one weakness.
I use a Dominus IC from
the Callisto to the PARC and a 10m Dominus IC from the PARC to the
LP was Supertramp,
“Brother Where You Bound”
The change to the M5000
was immediate. It was
phenomenol. The bells
and the middle-C range distinct keyboard strikes were quick,
clean, floated in space far longer.
This is an excellent recording and the M5000 here brought
much more out. And the
singer’s lyrics were much more clear.
A return to the Dominus and the presentation simply
collapsed. And back to
the M5000 came life to the performance.
Just the initial strike of instruments made the performance
more lively and dynamic and fun. The
Dream carried on with the M5000’s strengths but here many little
subtle sounds that were hidden behind all the other sounds were
now coming through. And
the contrasts increased as well as if like from a previous test,
the height of the performance grew.
Ideally I would like to
remove the PARC from the system and correct with room treatments
what the PARC is doing for me. But this is not likely to occur in
my current home so I am stuck with the PARC for awhile.
A 1-for-1 swap with the Dominus to the M5000 would be a
great starting point. And
then when other links in the system are upgraded with Dream and
M5000 PCs, I will come back to evaluate the ultimate value of the
Dream here….but this affect of the Dream here is VERY
For a Dominus-to-Dream
upgrade, I would rate the M5000 at about 70% of the benefit here.
We are not quite at the point of diminishing returns with
the Dream in this link, and perhaps upgrades elsewhere will bring
the Dream farther beyond the M5000.
I returned the Dominus
into the PARC.
Sound Labs A1 speakers
This was the last part of
my system were I put attention to upgrading my power cables.
The differences were not as significant here until I
increased the resolution with cable changes elsewhere.
The Dominus was a nice improvement over stock cables but I
got even more openness and detail and soundstage expansion with
Electraglide Epiphany X (EX) power cables.
The Dominus does bring on a little more midrange texture
but overall the E X works more to my liking.
With the Dream into the
Sound App (via an IEC adaptor), I was able to use my M5000 with an
IEC adaptor and the one on loan to compare the pair of M5000s to
the E X into the SoundLabs. But
I wanted to listen with the Dominus vs. the E X to become familiar
with their differences. And
with the Sound App now in the system and the Dream, some things
had changed since I last did this test.
E X à
E X à
This time around the E X
conveyed greater openness and an expansive soundstage beyond the
speakers’ edges than before.
And the Dominus tended to muffle the singer’s voice more
than I would have expected. But
the Dominus was a bit more full in the bottom. It was as if the
Dominus favored the bottom half and the E X favored the top.
A change to the M5000
brought on greater snap and quick transients with keyboard and
guitar but the sparkle of percussion was muted ever so slightly.
I preferred the M5000 to
the Dominus but ultimately the E X was the power cable I
like the most here. A
test somewhere down the road with a pair of Dreams might prove
interesting with the speakers.
used the Counterpoint NPS400 stereo amp as the CAT JL-3 amps did
not come back from an update in time.
As good as the
Counterpoint amp can be, it is not great like the JL-3s.
But the Dream and M5000 as well as the Dominus cables here
allow the Counterpoint to perform like I suspect few if any have
heard it perform before.
Into the Counterpoint, the
Dominus severely lags behind the M5000 in macrodynamics.
This is immediately clear with intricate piano playing.
There is more definition to each key and this also gives
the M5000 more silence between the notes.
Surprisingly, the M5000 also brought on more low frequency
presence and rhythm going on in the background of the Piano.
When I first changed to the M5000, I thought there was a
loss of energy on the top but actually it removed just a slight
edge in the trebles that with the Dominus was perceived as added
Thinking that I had
reached the end of the road with power cables into this amp due to
the Counterpoint’s limitations, the Dream took the piano
richness and life and fullness to a most surprisingly level.
I quite frankly never anticipated this amp to perform like
this. There were
definite benefits when I put Telefunken 6DJ8’s into this amp,
but this cable was a far greater gain in 3-dimensionality.
For an amp under $2k, this is an absolutely phenomenal amp
as a backup. It just
seems kinda insane to pay so much for a power cable in comparison
to the amp. And in a
more realistic priced system, the M5000 would easily bring on more
of the magic from this amp that few systems would ever be able to
bring out from it anyway.
If I was to rate the
Dominus to Dream as a component upgrade, the M5000 would be 65-70
% of this with the remainder achieved by the Dream.