Fusion Audio's Magic AC Cord
Do Power Cords Really Make a Difference? You Betcha!
My first experience with upgrading power cords came many years ago when Synergistic Research (SR) came out with its AC Master Coupler. After putting one of these cords into my system, I noticed that the noise floor dropped, voices and instruments emerged from a dead quiet background, and I was hearing more details from top to bottom, and an overall warmer, smoother, more laid back presentation. I lean toward the euphonic end of the spectrum, so I loved the improvements. I started with one cord and later bought more for most of my equipment, since each cord I added provided an improvement to my system.
Several years later SR released other iterations of power cords, and I finally stepped back into the upgrade mode a few years after SR came out with its X-2 active shielded cords. I noticed a nice improvement to the dynamics and a huge increase in the soundstage when I inserted an X-2 in place of a Master Coupler. So, I wound up slowly replacing Master Couplers with X-2s. A few years later my buddy picked up a few Electraglide Epiphany X power cords and experienced great results in high current applications. So, eventually I picked up a few on the used market at a great price to use on my amps. These cords provided an improvement over the X-2s, but didn’t really sound as good on source components. However, on the amps they provided a more punchy and dynamic presentation. I have lived happily with the Epiphany Xs on the amps and the X-2s on my other components ever since that time. Although I also picked up a Fusion Audio Impulse power cord a few years ago for my second system to see how it compared to the SR Master Couplers that I had transferred from my main system. I noticed an overall improvement in dynamics. So, suffice it to say my experience with power cords is that they can make a substantial improvement to a system.
How Did This Latest Review of Power Cords Come About?
I wasn’t expecting to change power cords or review new ones but happened to contact Eric Love, owner of Fusion Audio, to see if I could buy a second Fusion Audio Romance 1 interconnect, having owned the Romance 1 for a few years, and really liking it on any component or system that is a bit tipped up on top. During my discussion with Eric about buying another Romance 1 for my bedroom system he offered to send me the latest version of his Romance interconnects (version 2—my review is forthcoming) and his new Magic power cords for review. Visit link here for the Fusion Audio line up.
Having had a very positive experience with the Fusion Audio’s older Impulse power cord, I was interested to hear if the Magic cords provided any substantial improvement over the Impulse and SR X-2s that I had been happily using for several years. Eric sent me two Magic power cords initially, one with rhodium plating on the connectors and one plated with gold.
Description of Magic Power Cords
According to the Fusion Audio website, the Magic power cable design starts with air insulated silver conductor that is highly annealed. There are multiple solid core conductors in each leg (this is also the case for Fusion interconnects). The Magics are grounded using a copper shielded stranded conductor. All Fusion cables are shielded from rfi/emi from plug to plug using a proprietary blend of techniques that according to Fusion Audio help create a quiet black background.
The stock plug and IEC used is the Furutech FI-28 rhodium connectors, but the cords can be ordered with gold connectors. Fusion Audio also states the following about the sound characteristics of the Magic cords: “the sound is transparent, three dimensional and spacious without losing a sense of musicality. Attack and decay of instruments is elevated from other Fusion designs. ou will experience a keen sense of the music quickly appearing and disappearing from various parts of the soundstage. The bass has punch and definition with great impact. The music has a sense of being alive in your room providing a greater listening experience.” The standard length is 5 feet, and the cords retail for $1,400. After extended listening using these cords, I agree with the claims made on the website. But, the most prevalent improvements in my system were more weight and texture in the midrange and more bass impact with better articulation.
A Few Delays But I Finally Put the Fusions Through Their Paces
Unfortunately, I was backed up on reviews for months due to some unforeseen water damage at my house, reconstruction issues, and family medical emergencies, so my systems were essentially down for quite a while after I received the Fusion review samples, and then unexpectedly delayed a second time. So, I needed to back tract a few times putting my old cables back in to refresh my recollection, and then replacing them with the Magic Power cords. After completing reviews on equipment I received before the Fusions I finally got to some critical scrutiny. I was truly sorry I had to wait so long because I was most pleasantly surprised by the significant improvements from the Magic power cords.
Synergy is Everything
Through trials and tribulations I have learned some valuable lessons in the audio hobby, and more recently as a reviewer. One of the most important lessons is that synergy is everything. While you can spend a lot on audio toys and they may be great products, if they don’t mesh well with other things in your system, you just wasted your money. So, if your system needs to be a bit more laid back, a laid back interconnect, such as the Romance 1 or 2, may be just the ticket to audio nirvana. Similarly, a more laid back or more detailed power cord may provide just the right mix for your system, depending on the other components. But, beyond synergy, what is right for you is very subjective and largely is a matter of personal taste.
I have helped several audiophile buddies tweak their systems to achieve their desired balance by carefully selecting equipment or cables that have a suitable synergy with their existing system, and satisfy their particular preferences. Similarly, I have spent many years trying to tweak my own systems to where I wanted them to be. Inserting new equipment into a system, whether for review or for potential improvements, can be quite a challenge, and the latest and greatest is not always the best in that particular system. But, in the case of the Fusion Audio Magic cords I was surprised and happy that they fit nicely into my system and resulted in some substantial improvements in critical areas that I personally desired and enjoyed immensely.
First Impressions of Magic Power Cords
From the first minute I listened to the Fusion Audio Magic power cords in my main system I was actually shocked at the improvements I noticed in several areas. The word that immediately popped into my head upon first listen was “robust.” I immediately noticed fuller overall sound, more detailed bass, fuller and weightier midrange, and an overall smoothness to the presentation. The bass was not only fuller but was better delineated in terms of subtle nuances and provided a much deeper and “robust” foundation for the music. I started by replacing the SR X-2 with the Magic rhodium version on my Esoteric X-03 CD/SACD player, with the above noted improvements on all music. I then inserted the gold plated version on my Conrad Johnson Act 2 preamp with the same results, albeit not quite to the same overall extent. But, the overall cumulative improvements were amazing. I was absolutely hearing deeper more articulate bass on everything. I got excited, and eventually got on the phone with Eric Love to get several more cords, so I could play around with the Magics on my phono preamp and easily switch between the rhodium and gold plated versions. I also wanted to try a rhodium cord on a modded Sony XA5400ES CD/SACD player in my second system, since the Sony is a bit soft sounding to my ears, and the rhodium plated Magic seemed to bring out more dynamics in the music than the gold plated version. Overall both the rhodium and gold versions are excellent and provided significant improvements, but I noted the rhodium cord had a more holographic sound and allowed more subtle nuances to come through. The gold version was a bit softer sounding and would be great on any component or system that already has plenty of detail or is a bit foward or edgy. While the Magics sounded great out of the box, I noticed a slight edginess in the high end at first, particularly on the gold versions, which seemed a bit counter-intuitive, since gold connectors are usually, based on prior experience, a bit warmer overall than their rhodium counterparts. However, after about 400 hours of play time, I noticed both versions had smoothed out and I no longer detected the slight bright edge I had heard on certain music before they were broken in. I also continued to notice some limited improvements on both cords up to about 500 hours.
Let the Critical Listening Begin
After hundreds of hours of break-in I was ready to do some serious critical listening to the Magics and began the process using my Esoteric K-03 CD/SACD player, so I could get a base line on any changes. First up in the lineup was a 2013 reissue of Van Morrison’s Moondance CD. As the first song began, I was taken by the smoothness of the overall presentation. Everything I had heard before with the SR cord was still present in terms of dynamics but with a smoother overall presentation. The overall presentation was almost analogue sounding, and this was using the cords with the rhodium plated Furutech plugs, that were more detailed than the gold plated versions. While the detail was there, it was not in your face. As the CD played I noticed that every song was much weightier in the midrange. There was more texture to the voices. I really could not believe the differences from this little known product. And ohh the bass was something to behold. It was as if the bass had arrived and been heretofore missing to a large degree from my system. I was not only getting much more bass, but it was better defined. This was evident on track 6, Come Running, of the Moondance CD. I clearly heard each distinct bass note. This increase in bass output seemed to provide a more robust and significant foundation for the music, which brought me closer to the experience of live music. Again, I simply couldn’t believe that all this added information was there for the listening and all I needed to do was insert a power cord. Crazy! I was so excited that I invited my audiophile friend Joe over for a listen, and the first thing that came out of his mouth was “where did all that bass come from Lewie D.” He also noticed the added weightiness in the mids. “Listen to those voices,” and all I could say was I know, can you believe it.
I just wanted to get out all my favorite CDs and confirm if this cord would provide similar improvements across the board; and it did. From CD to CD, I noticed the same smooth but robust sound, a bigger, fuller and more articulate sound in the mids and in the bass. While the detail in the high end was also very good, I did not notice the extent of the improvements like those in the other areas. But, I did hear a bit more focused details and subtle nuances in the high end, particularly using the cord with rhodium plated connectors. I switched between the rhodium and gold plated versions repeatedly and the overall conclusion was that the rhodium version definitely had a more holographic sound compared to the gold version, which had a softer and less detailed overall presentation. In the end, for me, I choose the rhodium cords as the best addition to my system because they contributed to a more “life like” presentation without being in your face. Now keep in mind while I like euphonic sound my system was already on the laid back side, so the rhodium cords seemed to better compliment my system, and therefore had better overall synergy.
I popped in Vince Guaraldi Trio’s SACD A Boy Named Charlie Brown, and skipped to my favorite tune, Fly Me to the Moon. The attack of the piano keys was more distinct than I ever remembered hearing when the SR cords were in my system, and the overall presentation continued to be extremely smooth and musical from top to bottom. When the bass takes the stage between 5 and 6 minutes into the song, I noticed that the bass was clearly fuller than ever, and was both articulate and tuneful.
Next up was India Ari’s Acoustic Soul CD. The first track, Intro, begins with India’s sweet voice which had nice weight and texture. India’s voice was accompanied by slow guitar notes and the guitar was extremely articulate and sounded like it was in the room dead center with India sitting right next to it. I could clearly hear the distinct attack, sustain, and decay of each note more than ever before. It was beautiful and so musical sounding. The slow pace transitions to a more upbeat guitar strumming and then the bass enters, which had more weight then I heard with my previous SR X-2 power cords.
Switching to a classic rock favorite, a remastered CD version of Dire Straits Communique, I was immediately impressed by the added weight in the midrange, which essentially provided a fuller overall presentation. From the opening track, Once Upon A Time In The West, I felt more like I was at the performance than listening through a system. The next tune, News, retained all the fullness and weight I heard on the first track, but the high end seemed more articulate than I ever remember through the SR cords, but not in an in your face kinda way, just more subtle nuances that were more easily discernible, but in a very musical overall presentation. The solo drums at the end of the song were so realistic sounding I thought I was going to scream. Instead a big smile just filled my face. Track 3, Where You think You’re Going, begins with Mark Knofler on guitar, and when I closed my eyes it sounded like the guitar was in the room. All the CDs, and songs I played using the Magics on the Esoteric just had a much more realistic overall sound. I was ready to try these babies out on my Conrad Johnson Act 2 preamp. So, I replaced the SR X-2 on my preamp with a rhodium plated Magic, as I had been listening using the gold version on my CD player. It was as if all the attributes I just mentioned on the above music was multiplied times some factor. The exact number I cannot say but it was definitely more of the same and better. More bass, more weight, and better overall dynamics. Pretty sweet indeed!
I experienced the same improvements when I added a Magic power cord to my Art Audio Vinyl Reference Phono Preamp in place of an SR X-02. I was hearing quite a bit more stuff and with a more robust overall presentation. Rather than repeat myself for every CD and album I put on, suffice it to say that everything sounded more like live music, with more bass, midrange weight, and better dynamics, and it was all extremely musical. End of story. While I preferred the rhodium plated cords because they were more holographic and articulate, I can recommend the Magic power cords with either the gold or rhodium connections wholeheartedly, as they both improved my system and made music sound more like a live performance.
I can’t stress enough how much I loved the Magic power cords, to the point of buying Magic cords to replace the cords on my CD/SACD player, preamp and phono preamp. With more robust bass, midrange texture and weight, and better articulation in my system I was a happy camper. What more can I say?
Eric Love told me he has Fusion Audio power cords designed for high current applications that would be perfect for my amps. Given the positive experience with the Magic power cords, I will likely oblige his offer to send me a pair to test on my amps.