Dynamic Design AE15 Spirit Digital AC cord
It’s been more than ten years since I last spent time with a cable from Dynamic Design, a Chicago-area based high-end audio cable products company. Since then the company may have undergone some organizational and product changes but the one constant has been the brilliant design work of Mr. Olu Sonuga. Olu is a pleasant gentleman who’s also a wealth of cable design knowledge and has a wonderful ear for music. His rooms are always worth seeking out at the various audio shows he attends.
At the most recent AXPONA show in Chicago this past April, I ran into Sonuga and he told me about a new line of cable products that he was developing and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing them. To be honest, after having reviewed some awesome cables from Graditech, Soundstring, and Avanti Audio in the last twelve months, I wasn’t really keen on taking on another cable review. But two things made this opportunity more palpable. First, I have always been a big fan of Dynamic Design’s cables. My brother, and fellow high-end audio critic, Mike Wright, frequently had Dynamic Design cables on hand and would allow me to borrow them, and I always enjoyed having them in my system. And second, rather than ship me a whole suite of cables for evaluation, Sonuga decided to ease me into his new product line by sending me just one cable: the AE15 Spirit Digital power cord. Now ordinarily sending me what I thought was one of the least significant cables in the audio chain would not have gotten my interest, but since one of the most significant additions I’ve made to my system in the last year was the Vitus Audio RD-101 DAC/Preamp, I figured this would be a great time to see just how much impact a power cord could have.
As you may have guessed by the name, the AE15 (Anniversary Edition 15) Spirit Digital power cord was designed for use with digital gear. I learned through an email exchange with Sonuga that this digital power cable features specialized shielding arrays that remove wide-bandwidth noise while still preserving high-frequency information and delivering vital signals that help deliver buried or smeared acoustical cues and instrumental signatures. This is accomplished by using high-density, low-impedance shields that both absorb and reflect noise away from the internal conductors. The AE15 Spirit Digital power cord and their other digital power cords feature their most aggressive and specialized shields result in complete coverage and better than -100db shielding effectiveness. The internal conductors are isolated from each other as well as other external sources of noise, and their designs also prevent noise from being transmitted to the system ground, where it can re-circulate back in to the system and contaminate connected gear. The AE 15 Spirit Digital power cord also delivers low noise floor performance too.
Another feature of the AE15 Spirit Digital power cord is its UMLS (Unitized Multi-Layer Shielding) technology which features multiple specialized shield types that are concentrically arrayed precisely to act as one ultra-wide bandwidth hybrid shield with continuous protection across the frequency spectrum. UMLS delivers reduced signal loss and smearing due to the effects of noise, delivering with incredible clarity and focus every frequency present in the music. The cables use high-quality Furutech male and female connectors and are finished in an attractive black cloth sheathe.
So what did this all mean to my system? Well, in short, music reproduction that seems to come from a quieter, darker and better defined soundstage.
Listening to music
A song that is in heavy rotation in my iTunes music library is “Pic Pocket” from percussionist Lenny White’s, Lenny White Live [BFM Jazz]. Now it’s safe to assume that any live recording featuring percussions will be dynamic and rhythmic, and this song certainly is. But I was really taken by just how much more was going on with this recording when I connected the AE15 to my Vitus DAC/preamp. The thwack(!) of drumsticks hitting the snares had more bite and impact, and the sound of fingers playing keyboards was more obvious. I also got a better sense of the size of the venue and audience. This is not necessarily musical stuff but it does add to the realism and enjoyment of the musical performance.
I came away with the same impressions when listening to the audiophile favorite, Eva Cassidy’s “Stormy Monday” from her Live At Blues Alley CD [Blix Street]. Everything within the soundstage just sounded a bit more fleshed out. Cymbal crashes had much more extended decay and even the applause from the audience sounded more lively and present.
Again, these are not necessarily enhancements purely in musicality but of the overall experience. There did appear to be some slight improvement in the rendering of the upper and lower frequencies, but the real benefit was the increased enjoyment of listening to realistically rendered instruments and performances. Deeper bass or better imaging are just part of the result of the DAC’s ability to reproduce and the information from the recording. This is what the AE15 helps to accomplish.
Bear in mind though that when attaining this level of sonic performance, the quality of your recordings becomes exceedingly more important. Highly resolved systems will tell you just how good your recordings are… or aren’t. For instance, one of my favorite live recordings is Basia’s, Live On Broadway [Sony]. Track 6 “Baby You’re Mine,” features Basia and her wonderful backup singers’ vocals. I’ve heard and enjoyed this track on numerous systems but on a highly resolved systems like mine, and using the AE15, the voices of the background singers tends to sound over-engineered. At times it’s hard to tell just how many people are singing. Again, this has to do with the recording not the system. Whatever the case, I will always favor an accurate reproduction of what’s been recorded, and that’s what you get with the AE15.
I mentioned earlier that I considered a digital power cord to be the one of the least significant cables in the audio chain. Obviously I stand corrected. Using the Dynamic Design AE15 Spirit Digital power cord on my DAC has definitely elevated the overall sound, and therefore the experience of listening to music on my system. To borrow from the Old Milwaukee beer commercial, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
AE15 Spirit Digital Power Cord
Max. Voltage: 300V
Max. Current: 65 Watts
Total # of Shields: 4
Shielding Coverage: 100%
Shielding Effectiveness: 95%
Warranty: 5 Years
Recommended Burn-In: 100 Hours
Spirit AE Digital Power Cord
1.5 meter $1200 (standard)
Phone: +1(310) 466-1040