Do reviewers ever take a break ?
Well the answer in regards to myself is sort off…..
I have recently returned from a weeks break in Scotland and as per usual I took a few trusty bits of technology with me on which I could listen to some music and have a bit more of a choice for late evening TV viewing than channels 1 to 4 which is all you can usually view on the TV provided (you tend not to be able to get more in the average Scottish Holiday cottage….at least that has been my experience over the last 10 years or so, due to difficult reception and antiquated TV technology).
Call me sad (and some have) but I have been taking my Aiwa CSD-EL50 and Nokia 221-T Freeview Box on my UK based holidays for years now and the musical enjoyment the Aiwa has brought + the extra TV channel choice the Nokia offers (assuming the wilds of Scotland and the cottage we stay in has a reasonable TV aerial and close to ideal reception conditions) have made it more than worthwhile bringing them with us. However until now I had not questioned if their performance could be improved by using a better quality mains cable.
The Aiwa CSD-EL50 (no longer available) offers very nice sound quality, in regard to tonality and getting the musical message right; its sins are more those of omission rather than commission and despite it not really doing the HiFi things like sound staging, instrument separation etc it does sound very good overall.
At the time I bought it, it was one of the few…. I suppose you would say Getoblaster ( though I think of it being more of a portable music system than a massive bass pumping Getoblaster) that both met and exceeded my musical needs from a portable CD player as the Nokia also did in regard to Freeview boxes.
When Freeview first appeared the king of Freeview boxes was the Nokia 221-T and it performs very well (as well as Freeview’s limited digital technology allows) as long as the TV aerial it is connected to allows clitch free operation.
You may wonder what relevance these have to this review and the simple answer is that they both have figure of eight mains inputs and the review item is a figure of eight equipped mains lead.
A little while ago Mark Grant of the cable company of the same name, sent me a selection of his mains cables to both try and review (review of the DSP 2.5 mains cable coming soon) and along with the IEC terminated cables he also sent me a DSP 1.0 fitted with a figure of eight plug (full details at bottom of review) which I review here now…..sorry for the delay (1)
Knowing it would probably need running in and not having used it so far, I felt that I should take it away with me and use it with either the Aiwa or the Nokia just to run it in you understand. While I was packing it to take away with me, the idea of doing a formal review while on holiday was not foremost in my mind. I must be honest here and also state that I did not really think that using an audiophile mains lead with these types of products would have any real benefits that would justify its all-be-it modest cost…….well I was wrong.
My original grand plan was to review the cable with my Marantz CD94mk2 and my SME Model 20 turntable as both of these are fitted with figure of eight sockets and would be as good a selection of source components as I had fitted with a suitable socket to assess the DSP 1.0 mains cable with. Well I may still do that as a follow up to this review but to be honest I probably won’t, as I don’t think it will add much more to the conclusions I reached using the Aiwa and the Nokia; while on holiday.
We were away for a week and after using the cable to power the Aiwa for that time period, with not as much music played on it as I thought I might do (it mostly acted as a clock radio waking us up in the mornings) I sat down a few days before coming back home to listen to some music and out of curiosity I hooked up the bog standard slightly tatty mains lead I normally use with it; with a vague idea of comparing the sound using both cables.
Cafe Del Mar-Volume Siete
With the Aiwa CSD-EL50……
I listened to track one Northern Lights by Lux, off the excellent Cafe Del Mar CD Volume Siete using the Mark Grant cable and then the bog standard cable and I nearly choked at what I heard.
With the MG DSP 1.0 cable plugged in the opening track had depth of image, greater projection into the room and instrument separation way above what it had with the standard mains cable hooked up. Subtle details were also more obvious than before and the bass was also a tad more extended and tighter…..to say I was shocked and impressed is putting it mildly. I swapped the leads round and the sound then lost both detail and soundstage size. While the sound was still quite good, the music was now lacking quite a lot of the quality I had just heard a few minutes before.
The difference in sound was not subtle with the DSP 1.0 mains lead in use. There was no real need for prolonged listening as quite frankly a deaf man on a galloping horse could have heard the difference. With the Mark Grant cable in use the Aiwa gained quite a boost in sound quality and dare I say it……it was now almost reaching the point of High Fidelity sound……but not quite.
With the Nokia 221-T Freeview digital TV box…..
Almost delirious with delight (I don’t really know why as I have heard this sort of thing in my main-system with other power cables before ) I rushed downstairs to the main living room of the cottage to try the Mark Grant mains cable on the Nokia Freeview box (a good quality Ixos Scart lead fed video and audio to the TV from the back of the Nokia. Yes I know I am sad that I bring a good quality scart lead with me as well) and low and behold it improved the picture quality. Black levels improved, detail, contrast and colour definition all showed marked improvements and this through a somewhat battered 21 inch Sony 4 x 3 CRT TV.
As with the Aiwa I swapped power leads round a few times and I could see every time a drop in picture quality when only using the standard lead.
I feel that it would be well worth while trying the MG DSP 1.0 out on a Sky+ box or even a Sky HD box based on what I saw with the poorer technology Freeview box as frankly it gave it a fair old boost in picture quality; which would no doubt have been even more beneficial if one was using a better quality flat screen CRT TV, LCD or Plasma.
If you own any audio or video device (whether its portable or not) that has a figure of eight mains socket then you should grab yourself one of these leads and give it a go (Mark Grant gives a money back service if you are not delighted with the products performance….so you have nothing to lose). I really don’t think you will be disappointed as the gains this cable can bring such products, based on my experience here is not subtle and at the price of £40 for a 1m cable….well this cable is a bargain in my opinion…….
I have quite a backlog of items in for review at the present time so I can only apologise to Mark and other companies I have items from for the slight delays in review turn around.
Mark Grant Cables DSP 1.0 Dual Screened power cable – Figure ‘8’ Connector.
- High performance two core 1.0 mm fully shielded mains cable. High purity copper conductors. Tightly twisted core construction – more twists per foot than any ‘off the shelf’ power cable.
- High performance total shielding consisting of clear mylar polyster film, a dual over lapped layer of aluminium foil and then dense tinned copper braid – the highest shielding coverage of any power cord available.
- Extremely flexible high quality outer jacket. Fitted with ‘figure 8’ mains connector to fit Sky, Sky + and Sky HD boxes , CD players etc.
- Designed to achieve maximum performance at a realistic price.
- This is a custom designed and built cable, you cannot buy this cable anywhere else, bulk reels of cable are made to our own specification. This is NOT ‘CY’ or ‘SY’, it is a custom design.
- Every cable is hand assembled and tested in our own workshop in Yorkshire.
Source of Review Product Loan…… Mark Grant Cables (Manufacturer)
Mark Grant DSP 1.o Figure of eight mains cable.…. Retail price for a 1m cable is £40 (longer lengths available)
Company Website http://markgrantcables.co.uk/
© Text and Photos Copyright 2010 Adventures in High Fidelity Audio. Except album sleeve and the studio photo of Mark Grant DSP 1.0 cable. Copyright resides with those owners.
NB No part or portion of this article may be reproduced or quoted without written permission.