Review: Elrod Power Systems (EPS) Signature 3 Power cord
If you’ve ever been attached to any branch of the military, you know much of the equipment being used is built for function. Not esthetics. Makes sense. Performance should in fact, take the lead. Looking at the EPS Signature III PC confirms in it’s appearance, that it’s no beauty contest winner. Solid throughout, from it’s heavy exterior constructs covering two ribbons of heavy copper, to the beefy termination of IEC and NEMA connectors. This unit is built for working. Working it does quite well in fact.
Speculating on items without auditioning them before hand is sometimes a risky business. Risky more so in the area of matching, rather than in the area of quality. There are any number of quality components available in the high end audio market these days. Matching to one’s system is however, the deal. The risk of a poor match is always an issue though. Even after an audition. Unless of course the examination takes place in the system destined for the item. Sometimes, and I’ve found more often than not, brand new power cords can take more time than the dealers usual offer of a “30 day trial” period. Much more at times. Speaker cables follow closely behind power cords with some components thereafter.
Then there is the pre-owned marketplace. In that arena, only the veracity of the seller is primarily the concern as run in usually has been completed. Given a hypothesis for a desired item has been postulated, and it’s sum has been found available.
Recently I made a decision, accidentally, to move more closer to the realm of ‘neutrality’, (I loathe that word ‘neutral’ by the way), via the addition of but one or two items to my system. Pushed on by either flat out boredom or some conceived notion of desire, I struck a deal for a Signature III Elrod power cord. Having only heard of it and never having actually heard it prior to the purchase. I did research it as best I could via threads and at least one online article written by a retailer of the Elrod products which I suspected as prejudiced more than a little, but the retailer did include the fact he was going to be selling the products, so I’ll give him something for that disclosure. In fact I did find much of the notes about performance were very accurate.
What gets me about any audio component in the satisfactory end of things is normalcy. Naturalness. Body. Accuracy. …and ultimately, musicality. I get used to things with some reluctance. I don’t enjoy change for the sake of it. Gee, I don’t enjoy change much for any reason. When a change occurs that infuses a strong degree of normalcy into my system, even that positive influence is at first rejected. I see it as odd. As different. As change. Thankfully, a positive change is more quickly redeemed. Adding the elrod was a positive change.
Given the Elrod was already on my short list of upper end cords to audition, I prevailed upon the old standby, the cable co. to try one out first. The cables’ rental fee is in my opinion, a small price to pay to either avoid or determine, just how well something might work in my gear. Especially when the asking price is as tall an order as is the cost of an
Elrod power cable.
The odd part of the discourse between myself and the Cable Co. left me believing that I was receiving a Signature II instead of the Signature III that I did in fact obtain. So in my mind I was trying a Signature II…. Not a signature III. The difference from the II to the III, is of some importance. The Sig III is designed more for the higher current drawing evices. Amps. Bigger amps. The Signature II is better suited to the lesser drawing items like the preamps or smaller, less hungry amps.
In my haste to get a new power cord and with timing being quite significant as well, a Signature III came available in the used marketplace at the same time as the rental. Well, “what to do?” go with a Sig III, never having heard it, or stick it out and wait. I hate waiting. Almost as much as change. I took the plunge. The buying idea took place during the listening interval of the rental. Yet based in part on speculation, as I believed I was hearing a Signature II at the time… not a Signature III, as was the case.
To illuminate things I should say I am visually challenged. I can not read the fine print these days. In fact, I can’t read most printed text without additional aids. So I had no idea at the start which cored I really had on loan. Talk about your blind testing.
Though pre-owned, and the excruciating episode of breakin all but foregone, the Signature III did take a few days to become noticed as a grateful addition to my rig. Thin at first in resolving the musical elements, the ability to add weight and ultimately form those elements in a way far more natural could not be overlooked as time passed.
During the ‘rental’ period the purchased Sig III arrived. Super. Now there are two. The purchased one was a twenty anp IEC terminated cord. The supposed Sig II was a 15 amp IEC cord. Great. An adapter would be required if I wanted complete flexibility with the cable. I ordered one right away from the only resource I knew that supplied them, VooDoo Cable.
With different IEC termination, the two cables were easy enough to keep separted and identified. FYI, each elrod PC has a shiny label on the web jacket covering the conductors. On this label is the model and serial number. I never took the time to examine the labels or ask someone else to take a look, for that matter. Until the day before it had to be returned. Also on the Sig III lable is plainly printed, the word, ‘amplifier’.
The 20 amp version sat squarely attached to the Hydra Two supplying the BAT amp, the 15 amp version got acquainted with about every other item I could plug it into.
As the two elrods were loosening up the change to the systems normal level of presentation was improved upon in a few ways. Timbre specifically improved. Notes were struck with the impact originally assigned to them. None lingered or vanished inordinately. The whole of the sound was completely coherent. As tight was the bass and mid bass, then so was the balance of the remainder of the sonic register. The sound did not come across as dry or lacking in musical sparkle, or involvement. It wasn’t splashy, or extremely refined either. It simply sounded appropriate. Natural. Real-er.
Every aspect of the presentation became much more focused. Tight. Especially the lower end. At first I thought the lower end of the scale was being diminished. Rolled off. It wasn’t. It didn’t lose weight at all… just firmed up. That was different. A bit hard to take at first, actually. I had become more accustomed to the prodigious and bloomy bass I had in my system for such a long time prior to the Sig III. After some little while though it was much more appealing. Change isn’t always a bad thing, sometimes it’s far better. How one perceives change is the ticket.
An increase in refinement, naturalness, resolution, and delineation were the obvious results by addition of the Sig III. Past that the sound stage grew laterally, and deepened. Walls melted away. Dynamics on the whole were unchanged. As a firmer grip upon the sound was evident, issues of sibalence were appreciably diminished to those which are actual, and not additive. The sound was improving in a way I’d not yet experienced, but one I was enjoying.
Before the Elrod Sig III came to roost in my arrangement I really felt I had focus to some good degree. I wasn’t hearing distortion or fuzziness. I felt all was well and the sound was being represented and reproduced intelligibly and appropriately. The Elrod Sig III got me to rethink that whole notion and see it for something else. The realization greater resolution can come without being deemed critical, strident, or sterile was interesting. Finding the effects of the Sig III on my system was in fact, fun. Once I adjusted to some of the changes, and saw the changes as more the correct form for sound.
Having two in the rig and not knowing which was which for a short time made me curious. I began after a few days to swap them about here and there on different components. Yeah, they say put the III here, and the II there. OK, I got it. Sorry, listening to reason is not my strong suit. Regardless where I set the two Elrods, I saw what I felt were improvements. On the preamp (s), amp, and even the CD player. Things got better using it as a supply cord for a power line filter. It just didn’t seem to matter where or what the Elrod Sig III got plugged into. The results were always, improvement.
The surprise in finding out that both cables were in fact Sig III versions was startling but really, inconsequential. What I found was although there may be some truth to the notion one particular Elrod power cable is better suited to a particular application, I found an improvement in refinement, sound staging, and a reality check on the music, was the outcome.
The bulk of the cable is going to be for some, a consideration. I did find in spite of it’s bulk and girth, it can be bent, curled, rolled and manipulated about without the need for wrestlers or weightlifters…. Or another pair of hands. The sheer weight of a six foot cable will necessitate a need for some thinking before adding it to certain items. I had to tie it off to the rack with string when set to lightweight products. If not tied off it would just pull the device off the shelf, or unplug itself and fall to the floor.
As an over the grand mark power cable, the question remains, “is it worth it’s retail price tag?”
Well there is no doubt it is an immense improvement regarless where I placed mine. It is surely built to last too. Strong steady and reliable. I did eventually find in my rig it is best suited as a supply cord to the power line filter providing current to my BAT VK500 sand amp, for two reasons. One, it’s sheer weight and substantial size are conducive to simply laying it on the floor. Two, the balance of the mix in my rig point to that spot as it’s best fit for now. For a change of pace from time to time, I will migrate it about the system though.
In all, perhaps the statements can be said to be true about the Sig III being suited more to the higher current settings. I did however find it works in more places than just that one application.
My answer then is yes, if the pockets are deep enough, and the desire great enough. It is something to consider though before laying out the money in short order. If it can be bought at more an advantage, the value escalates enormously. I am very well pleased with it and it’s a keeper.
Thor TA 1000 MK II w/RCA NOS tubes
BAT VK5i w/Matsushita 6DJ8’s, Amperex PQ US 7308 white label w/emblem, Telefunken ECC188, & Tung sol 5881’s
Sony STVR 444 ES HT Receiver
BAT VK500 w/BAT pk.
Sony SCD xa 777 es CD Player
VSA VR4-JR (cherry)
Phase Tech PC 10.5 3 way towers
Phase Tech PC 6.5 2 way floor standing monitors
M.I.T. Magnum 3 III RCA 1.5m (source IC)
Nordost Blue Heaven 2m (source IC)
Monster M1000 (source IC)
Wireworld Polaris 5 RCA
Synergistic Resolution Ref X2 Active 1m XLR (MAIN ic)
Synergistic Signature 10 X2 Active bi wires (shotgun to top of JR)
Synergistic Alpha Quadd series X Active on JR bass driver only.
Elrod Signature 3 20A 6ft.
Shunyata Python helix VX 6ft. 15A (CD)
Shunyata Taipan helix alpha 6ft. 15A
VooDoo Black Dragon II 6ft. 15A
VooDoo Gold Dragon III 6ft. 15A ((X2 for amp)
VooDoo tesla II 20a 5ft.
PS Audio UPC 200
PS Audio Duet (s)
Sony DVD/VCR combo player
Sony 400 Cd carosel
Sony S30 61” RP TV
HD cable boxes
Dell optiplex 620 Desktop
Dell Dimension 4600 Desktop
After market spikes for JR’s.
Herbies Audio Labs halo tube rings
Herbies Audio Labs Iso cups w/Ebony ball footers
Mother Nature wood footers (Mahogany, teak, Coco, and others)
All devices draw power via 4 dedicated 20A ckts. Using hosp. grd duplex outlets
VooDoo, Audience, Shunyata, Purist, Synergistic, Kimber, JPS