Electra Glide FatMan 2000
|Electra Glide FatMan 2000|
2 September 2001
Electra Glide Audio
Address: c/o William Scott Hall III
Suite A -2772 Burden Creek Road
St.John’s Island South Carolina 29455
Phone: 803 559 4202
Power cords are power cords you may say. And you might be right. I used to think that way. Depending on your system, I still may say that power cords would not make a difference. Consider good power cords to be like spices for a food. Some of them change the sonic signature of components, some pleasantly but subtlety, some in rather drastic ways and others behave just as MSG by preserving the sonic signature of your gear and just letting more of the good stuff get through.
I first recognized the effect of good power cords on a stereo system about two years ago. At that time, after outfitting my system with Harmonic Technology speaker wires and interconnects, I let myself be talked into trying their AC Pro-11 power cords for all of my components. At first I was skeptical, but that change brought about a good amount of improvement to my then modest system. Stubbornly, I decided to be close-minded saying, “OK, I got rid of some RF/EMI noise and it somewhat improved my system.” Yet I was certain that any properly designed aftermarket power cords should yield the same result. After that, I focused mostly on improvements to my system, including a better digital front end, amps, addition of power conditioning and room treatment devices and finally, some excellent interconnects and speaker cables from Acoustic Zen. I was not changing my power cords feeling that Harmonic Technology products should definitely be up to such a simple task as shielding my system from electrical noises.
At that time I was spending a lot of time with Bill Brassington learning the black art of system tweaking. It was like an amazing journey through the alternative universe. The art of tweaking at first seems to defy the laws of the physics. Of course if you look carefully you will find reasonable scientific explanation for most of the tweaks that work. One day Bill brought over something in his bag of goodies that changed my perception of the importance of power cords forever. He sat down in my listening chair and said in a very calm voice, ” I know you’re confused by now, but there is higher truth to be learned today. Just follow the force Luke.” Actually he said, “Just follow your ears.” That item was the VansEvers Double Pandora power cord. Bill explained to me that by changing the mechanical (not electrical) characteristics of this power cord, you could alter the sound of the component to which it is connected. “Baloney,” I said, only to have my jaw hit the floor within minutes. I first felt that Bill was cheating and pulling some kind of psychological trick on me. I was hearing small but very easily identifiable changes and — much to my horror — they where reproducible! To make a long story short, I now own over 10 different brands of power cords and use a combination of them throughout my rigs.
Willing to share my experience, I asked my editor, Clement Perry, to allow me to write a series of small reviews about numerous power cords — the use of which have left a positive impression on me. I initially envisioned reviewing some of the newer cords on market, and staying under the $600 mark. Clement, on the other hand, suggested starting out with cords which make the most impact. That is why I’m starting with the Electra Glide FatMan 2000. That was the power cord that, for the first time, made the hairs on the back of my neck rise. The damn thing looks like a snake — and a big snake at that. I don’t mind snakes, but my fiancé does. She definitely minds big, ugly power cords. She is an avid listener herself as she grew-up in a family with both an audiophile and a musician. Lenka loves music, probably more than I do. She also has a set of truly golden ears as well as patience and concentration, both of which I feel are necessary for critical listening. She fully supports me in this hobby and even allowed me to place big, obtrusive speakers and pair of tube monoblock amps in our bedroom. Nevertheless, everybody has pet peeves. Hers is a strong dislike of audiophile cables. The fatter they get, the more she hates them. She especially hates big fat power cords. So when I brought these cords into the house I was quaking in horror. Luckily for me, Lenka was not in the mood for aMerlose Place episode. She just sighed heavily and followed me into the listening room. We hooked it up to the transport and began our journey to the land of “perfect sound forever.”
After trying this cord on different components throughout my system for two weeks, I found it to work it’s magic best on my Sonic Frontiers Line 3 Preamp. One of the biggest hallmarks of this power cord is the improvement it brings to the soundstage, which tends to get bigger, taller and extend well beyond speaker boundaries. When I first installed the FatMan on the preamp and played Jewel’s Pieces of You [Atlantic 82700], the soundstage became unnaturally big, or should I say huge. I had an 8-foot tall Jewel singing in my listening room. I immediately recognized that something was wrong with the system and, surely enough, I discovered that the sheer weight of the FatMan had yanked my power supply from the supporting Black Diamond Racing cones resulting in this strange effect. One of the very interesting things about the FatMan is that it does not get broken in; rather it breaks in the component to which it is connected. I know it sounds bizarre but the best way to describe it is that after you plug it in to a component, it slowly changes that components sound over the course of a week or so. Then, when you replace the FatMan with a stock power cord, the component still sounds almost like it has the FatMan hanging off it for a short period of time. The sound does return to normal over the next couple of days.
The FatMan possesses one of the most intoxicating sonic signatures I have ever heard. Background becomes much blacker, lowering noise levels in the system even further. Rebecca Pigeon’s The Raven[Chesky JD 115] or Mick Oldfield’s Tubular Bells II [Warner Bros. 45041] readily demonstrate this quality. The sound of the shakers on “Spanish Harlem” from The Raven becomes more distinct and it’s easier to hear the differences between individual shakes. On the intro track from “Tubular Bells” there is a piano followed by a segment of fusion keyboard build up, followed by tubular bells and cymbals. A high-resolution system will allow you to hear that during the keyboard build-up, the cymbalist is actually hitting the cymbals lightly with soft mallets. With the introduction of the FatMan, this effect becomes more pronounced.
As I mentioned, one of the biggest effects it has is on the soundstage. The soundstage becomes wider yet more defined and, most importantly for me, incredibly layered. All instruments live in their own 3-dimentional spaces. That has moved my system a big step towards a more realistic sonic reproduction. Tracks 5 and 7 fromThe Ultimate Demonstration Disc [Chesky UD95], “If I Could Sing Your Blues” and “Maiden Voyage,” become much more layered with a greater sense of recording space and instrument/vocalist positioning. The apparent depth of the soundstage also increased significantly, but at no time did I feel it to be an artificial increase. On some of the cuts the stage was more than 10 feet deep expanding well into the rear wall.
The FatMan also turned my system towards a slightly darker and more relaxed sound, moving me back from the first couple of rows to about 20 feet back. Initially, I did not like this effect, but I soon realized that I’d rather have a much more natural presentation from a10th row perspective, than the more “hi-fi” type, in your face presentation that I had before. That is also the main pitfall of Fatman in my system. Listening to two FatMen was too much of the good thing at once. The system became too slow and sweet (for my taste), somewhat resembling the Conrad-Johnson sound. Many people like that type of sound, but it is not my cup of tea. It is my feeling that my system is best served with the use of only one FatMan. Returning to my earlier analogy, if power cords are like spices, then the FatMan is basil. Used in proper measure, it adds a wonderful taste, but if overdone, it can harm the taste of a dish or even render it inedible.
Now let’s talk about value. When I first heard about this cord’s price I freaked — $2500 for a piece of hookup wire! Then you start looking at the effect it brings to the system as a whole, and your perspective changes. Today, top-notch systems can definitely cost north of six figures, and the change the Electra Glide FatMan brought to my system made the whole system sound much better. If you have a budget system, you might have problems justifying spending that much money on a power cord. However, if you have a good system were none of you main components represent the weakest link, this might be your chance to push your system to the next level. A change that is not of the subtle quality, it definitely offers a change in the overall sound of the system yielding a much more pleasant experience. If your financial means allow, you should definitely give these power cords a listen. They might just find a home in your system as they did in mine. Yes, that’s right — I’m keeping one of them for myself. I just hope Lenka never finds out the cost of that fat, ugly, inflexible snake!
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