Review: Michael Wolff power cords Carbon Gain Power cord

Category: Cables

For my system, and my listening room, the Michael Wolff CARBON GAIN CORDs have been a true find. I have lived with 2 GAIN CORDs for 4 months. They seem to capture the music’s honest expression. I don't plan on switching anytime soon. Mine are the copper/silver/carbon variety, and they have no trouble on my hefty Blue Circle BC-8 MONOBLOCS (120,000 uF capacitance per channel AND 2,600 watt power transformer, PER BLOCK!!!). For me, the 2 most important criteria are: "tonality", then, "soundstage". Most of the power cords I have tried seem to destroy, what I perceive to be, the authenticity of the artist's expression by either shifting the tonality and/or shifting the soundstage to unrealistic extremes. Not only do these cords nail the "tonality" and REALLY nail the "soundstage", BUT ALSO, they go even further into the expression. The "clarity" is great, and the "purity" shines through, and this enables the expressions to breathe. For example, the bassoons, oboes, and cellos, have a depth, a strength, an air, a crispness, and a delicacy. This embodies the whole expression, not just one dimension. The highs have a great delicacy to them, never bright. And the bass is expressive down to the lowest registers. And, finally, a hanging note breathes of life, from beginning to fading away. These are great testaments for a happy, well-powered system. And against the rest of the competition I have tried, that says a lot! A very happy recommendation.

Associated gear
Audio Note CDT-2 transport, 3.1x BALANCED dac, Emotive SIRA, Blue Circle BC-8 MONOBLOCKS, JM Reynaud OFFRANDES mains, Audio Physic LUNA sub, Equitech 1.5Q power supply.
HMS Grand Finale II speaker cables, bi-wired, Esprit ETERNA digital cable and I/C.

Similar products
Custom Power Cord TOP GUN, Kimber 10 POWERKORD, Kimber P10 PALLADIAN-10 POWERKORD, Virtual Dynamics NITE, Shunyata Research BLACK MAMBA, Audience POWERCORD, JPS DIGITAL AC, JPS ANALOG AC, Blue Circle BC-62, Harmonix X-DC STUDIOMASTER.
I just ordered a pair to try today. Michael was specific that I should use them on my dac. my transport, or my preamp. Given the results on your amps, I will try them there, too. Did you try them on your dac and transport? What did think? Thanks for the well written review.
Yes, on my dac and transport, I now have the SOURCE CORDs. I have had them on for about 2 months now, as they bettered my Harmonix X-DC STUDIOMASTERs that I had on the transport and the dac previously. The SOURCE CORDs seem to reveal more space and air in-between the notes, while maintaining a coherent musical image... that is, they revealed more, without being hyper-detailed. I find hyper detail to be fatiguing, and, in my view, a false perspective (<----in my experience, some power cords can do that.) I also feel the SOURCE CORDs have more delicacy than the X-DC STUDIOMASTERs did...that is, I think they get deeper into the core of the note.
Mattend, Thanks for the description of the source cords. I did not realize that "Gain" cords were for amplifiers.
Mattend, I do not have a fraction of the powercord experience you do, but I am curious: Although based on my own testing I do agree that powercord changes can seem to cause shifts in tonal balance and soundstaging, among other areas, your statement about how most upgrade PC's "destroy...the authenticity of the artist's expression" through these shifts raises questions. Do you therefore think most upgrade PC's sound worse than stock cords? Because one could read that implication into your statement.

But don't think I'm dismissing that sentiment ; I've long suspected there may be a legit reason to feel exactly that way, in least to a degree. It's this: Components are presumably voiced by their makers while being fed from their stock OEM cords. So in theory it may not be so surprising if upgrading cords - while usually offering improvements in many areas such as transparency and transient response - still seems a crapshoot when it comes to tonal balances and soundstaging (which is affected by tonal balance). That could be because the intended voicing is subtly altered, and that most gear would sound best if it could somehow be voiced using the particular upgrade PC with which it will be ultimately be run.

If my supposition is at all true, then one implication will be that there probably never can exist just one ultimate, superior upgrade PC for all gear, but that different PC's may work best with different gear, and that is of course what many of us observe, myself included. Still, I usually do think that with most gear, most upgrade PC's will represent an overall improvement, even if perfect synergy is not achieved (is it ever?). As I say, I haven't tried the number you have, or gone to the expense level you have in the ones I have tried, but I've also never felt any of them 'destroyed' what I was hearing vs. the stock cord (even the one [which is on your list] I didn't prefer for any of my gear and subsequently sold).

Anyway, it's interesting to read about another cable using carbon - I'm currently getting into some VDH IC's employing carbon, the cable use of which I believe they pioneered, although I haven't yet tried their PC's. Enjoy your new cords!
(Anyway, it's interesting to read about another cable using carbon - I'm currently getting into some VDH IC's employing carbon, the cable use of which I believe they pioneered, although I haven't yet tried their PC's. Enjoy your new cords!)

For clarification, Michael Wolff Carbon Ribbon Power Cords are the only product on the market which use Carbon as both a conductor and for shielding for the AC current.

The VDH IC's transmit an audio signal which is completely different. (Of Course)

Michael Wolff
Michael: I haven't checked into your product or its construction specifics yet, but I will add in response to your statement that in VDH's all-carbon IC (The First Ultimate), they do not claim that the 6-layer woven carbon outer surrounding the 12,000-strand carbon core can act as a perfect shield, and also offer The First Metal Shield (and the two-conductor The Second) for applications requiring better isolation from radiated fields, and those models employ more conventional woven-metal or metal-foil outer layers. In my own tests with The First Ultimate and The Second, I have gotten results in this area consistent with VDH's position. However, I don't believe that these considerations necessarily translate directly to PC applications, which can generally be viewed as being more akin to SC's, and indeed some makers of PC's advocate using no shielding at all, like on SC (not that I've tried any of them, as I tend to think that shielding is mostly beneficial on a PC). If you would care to address the topic, I believe VDH's main reservation about constructing an all-carbon (or even just carbon-condutor) PC has to do with carbon's higher resistance, a concern that in their all-carbon Revelation SC apparently mandated highly massive and expensive construction in order to overcome. But I am really liking the 'sound' of carbon in my IC's (or maybe the lack of metal 'sound'), and am interested in finding out more about what you offer - could you give us your website URL or a link?
Simply the point that I am making is that I use carbon in a Power Cord. VDH uses it in an interconnect. Two different applications is all.

Sure the web site is:

Best Regards, Michael
After wringing my hands over what cord to buy to power my Levinson 331 amp, I decided to audition the Wolff Gain cord. Why? There are so many choices and the ones that folks rave about are just too #@&* much money. The reviews, web site and Michaels audition policy convinced me to give it a try. Break in time was pretty long but about what I expected. Once things settled in I knew it was something special. To make sure of my impressions, I alternated in a couple of other cords and compared to the Gain cord, the sound was grainier and muddled with a noisier background. Oddly, the blacker, quieter background with the Gain cord
provided what at first "seemed" like a muted or less
dynamic presentation, but the notes, from top to bottom had a higly resolved purity that was hard to believe and very impressive. Listening became a more emotional experience and I found myself shaking my head and grinning alot. Another benefit is that it seems I can play and enjoy the music at a much higher level (not that it needs to be louder) without any fatigue factor. Because I like to tweak, I have a Bat tube preamp that is somewhat dark so I may experiment with tubes to see what subjective or real effect it has on overall presentation to see if it might add a bit more "sparkle" in the top registers and then decide what I ulitmately prefer.
Amazing what a cord can do.

Associated equipment:
Naim CDX cd player
BAT VK5i preamp
Levinson 331 Amp
Nordost SPM balanced IC
Alpha Core Serpent Silver/Copper cable
Apogee Stage Speakers with NorthCreek Music crossovers

Other cords I like but plan to sell: Synergistic Master Coupler. Analysis Plus.
I too have often found that ultimately beneficial system changes can sometimes fool you at first into thinking that you're 'losing something', which upon extended listening actually turns out to have been spurious artifacts.

Changing tubes can make as big or bigger a difference than the power cord. And - although this is not a cure for 'dark' tonal balance per se - I would also recommend trying some sort of dampers on the preamp tubes (if you don't already have them), such as Herbie's Audio Labs or the silicone ring types. This can bring a calming stability to the soundstage and reduce glare and definition loss on transients.

As we have seen in this thread before, you have misinterpreted what is written. Comchenry is not saying his system is "dark" sounding or that his system now has
" spurious artifacts". Indeed his point is that initially interpreted a change in dynamics which turned out to be
"a highy resolved purity that was hard to believe and very impressive"
Michael, you are becoming tediously persistent in your determination to subvert my intent here. One might think, from your defensive and somewhat accusatory responses to my posts, that I am naysaying your product or something. On the contrary, I have been trying to say that I have reasons to find the idea of your product personally intriguing.

If you go back and carefully reread what Comchenry wrote, and my reaction to it, I believe you will find it is more yourself who is having difficulty with "misinterpretation". I think you especially should reread the opening sentence of my last post, the true meaning of which seems to have totally eluded you in your zeal. (Hint: It is entirely supportive of where someone in your business is presumably - or ought to be - coming from. Are you familiar with the concept of 'less is more'?) If you need me to spell it out for you further, please let me know by email and I will gladly oblige.

Beyond that, I was otherwise responding to a part of his post having little directly to do with his experience with your powercord, and my following remarks did not concern this factor, other than to state that he could expect changes of at least similar magnitude when changing tubes as with power cords, an issue I believe was implicitly raised. My words were written to him, in support of his efforts, and do not to me require you to come anyone's defense, be it his or yours.
My apologies if I construed your points incorrectly.
You did, and apology accepted. My apologies to Mattend and the other respondents if I distracted in any way from the main thrust of your review comments. Everyone please carry on with the MW PC lovefest. (I will be emailing MW privately with my concerns about why I suspect this little episode may have occurred in the first place.)
Where am I on the audition list?
Psychicanimal in response to your question. Right after Sean.