Comparison of Elrod, shunyata, and NBS powercords

Recently I have had the opportunity to compare the Elrod Sig2, Elrod Statement, Shunyata Anaconda VX, NBS Black Label, and ESP Essence pcs separately on a SET amp, tube preamp, and modified SACD player.

My system:

custom built 2A3 SET with Audio Note Kageki transformer

AN M-8 preamp

Sony XA-777es with Modwright Absolute Truth modification

NBS Black Label ics, scs

SAP J2001 twin speakers (horn/Jensen Onken tuning,102dB)

Hydra-8/Statement II (for preamp and Sony)

Hydra Classic/Elrod sig 3 (SET amp)

two dedicated, upgraded 20amp circuits

My laboratory is a small, wood-panelled library where my wife lets me do my thing. I enjoy listening to music mostly late at night and/or very early in the am. My musical preferences include acousic guitar (Jim Hall, Charlie Byrd, Joe Pass), bass players (Ray Brown, Christian McBride), female vocalists (Ella, Sarah Vaughn, Cassandra Wilson) and some classical music (mostly chamber and choral). Several years ago I got into high end stereo through my HT system. I have evolved to enjoying music almost exclusively through my separate 2ch system. I prefer a warm rich sound to a ultra detailed experience. I have gained a lot of knowledge from the smart people on audiogon and AA, for which I am grateful . All the pcs were broken in and all were tried one component at a time. My comments are IMHO, FWIW, IMHO, etc.

Overall, surprisingly all the pcs were musical and the differences were mostly subtle. I spent part of a weekend comparing the pcs separately on the amps, preamp and the Sony. Also surprisingly to me, differences were most marked on the preamp and least on the amps.

Essence ESP (from my HT system,retail about $400): excellent sound, moderately articulate , good air, and bass. Not as black a background as the more expensive pcs, but not that far off.

Elrod Signature 2 (from my 2 ch system, retail $1600): superb pc, great on all three components. I am not as literate as others I have read, but what I heard was excellent weight, projection as air, and soundspace.
On excellent recordings, you could feel the visceral punch of the music. The bass was excellent, but not as articulate as the Anaconda or NBS. However, the bass seemed more realistic. Best on the amp and Sony.

Shunyata Anaconda VX (to be used on my EMM Lab CDSD transport-arrival 4/04, retail $1995). The closest competitor to the elrod sig 2. Also superb sounding with a creamy smoothness that is seductive. Very articulate across the frequency range, especially the bass. I could happily put this pc on the source or preamp. I preferred the Sig-2 on the amp. The most flexible and pliable of all the pcs (a really significant factor in my small room or with light-weight components.

Elrod Statement II (usually on the preamp, retail $2700) This is the largest and most awkward of the pcs I tried. Not surprisingly similar to the Sig-2, but with more weight and air. However, the difference was not significant on the amp. Where this pc really shone was on the preamp ( the best of all the pcs here.) Lots of air, superb staging/imaging with incredibly black background. Did not distinguish itself on the Sony.

NBS Black Label (borrowed from local dealer/friend, retail $5000.) The most well rounded of the pcs, although not quite as much air as the Elrods. Very relaxed and laid-back with deep and articulate bass. However, I did not prefer its sound. The most stiff and unwieldy of the pcs, I could not even get it to stay on the Sony. It was probably a little bit better that the Sig-2/ Anaconda, but not as satisfying as the Statement.

This was an enlightening exercise. None of the pcs significantly changed the musicality of the system. They refined it in subtle and different ways. Also in general the pricier pcs were somewhat less colored, but in my experience it was not a linear relationship. This showed me that I do not have to spend any more time or money worrying about pcs. Clearly pcs are important, but a well made pc does not have to be the most expensive one.

Thank you for your time and input


ps out of curiosity, I also compared plugging the amp pcs directly into the wall vs the hydra. in every case, the hydra was preferable, with no limiting of dynamics.
Thanks for the review. I always wanted to hear the differeneces betweent he Elrods, Shunyatas and the NBS cables.

Happy Listening.
Yes, thank you for this. Now I would like to know why the Elrod signature II affected the Sony and the Statement did not "distinguish" itself there. Maybe David knows. The other big surprise was that the statement was not a big step over the signature on the amp. I wonder if that would hold true of a different perhaps high current power hungry amp (you know your basic class A bazillion watt space heater). I thank you again for this report and would love it if it could be taken a step further to test with a few different amps and perhaps some other sources and pre-amps. The other thing I really want to know someday is if you have very good power, such as balanced power via equi-tech, or regenerated power (and LOTS of it), how much a difference the great power cords make. I did a balanced power system and found that the power cords made a very slight difference once I did that, not nearly as significant as when I used them out of regular outlets.
it would have been good if you had thrown a stock power cord in with your test also, as the control group...
I also have a Modwright Sony. It is the 999es with the Absolute Truth mods and a few other improvements.
I can use the Elrod statement 2, Elrod 3 sig, or a King Cobra V2 at the moment. I prefer the statement 2 on the Sony by a wide margin. I use 24” plastic tie wraps my electricians provided me to help hold the power cord in place when attached to the Sony. The tie wraps bind to the rack.

I have a classic Hydra with Anaconda vx or a Taipan, and SA Linestages, but for the Sony, I have been using a SA Linestage with Elrod 3 sig to some Alan Kafton receptacles. I really was thinking about A/B the two power conditioners now that you have posted. I might want to jump over to use the Porter Ports receptacles that I have not been using in the wall.

I am pretty much a mainstream product user and I am happy with any of the Elrod cords. I use SS and not tubes, so my results might vary from your system.
Thanks for the comparison. Of course, retail price on power cords is merely 'bragging rights' among manufacturers. We all know that these things don't cost that much. I won't divulge how much one can purchase Elrod Statement cables, but suffice it to say that it is not $2700. Even Electraglide cables are openly being sold new for 1/3 their retail price. And if someone ever paid $4500 for a cable, then audiofool is the appropriate term.

I have found the Elrod Statement to be extremely detailed from top to bottom, but it is particularly striking in the bass. At the same time, the music is compelling and proportions are appropriate and not at all fatiguing. I think it has a good combination of detail with 'warmth', although I shun the use that term. I did a comparison on the amps against stock cords, and the Statements did not 'blow one away', but their contribution to the presentation was clearly palpable. On my DAC, the result was more striking, and it had the so-called 'synergistic effect'.

So I'd be curious as to which cords you will be keeping. I have found that A/B comparisons can be difficult, and sometimes it is more obvious when you take away a component after listening to it for a number of weeks. I wonder if the more expensive cords are doing something that is subtle on A/B comparison because there are so many elements to listen to, but will become more appreciable as time goes on. Please keep us updated on your findings. I'd find it interesting if you kept the Statement on your CD player for a week or so, and then had a listen to the Essence ESP, which seems to be a good value in your system.