Review: Verastarr Grand Illusion Series Power cord

Category: Cables

My musical tastes are varied, but I listen to mostly (in order of frequency): acoustic jazz, progressive jazz, folk/rock, small ensemble classical, and symphonic. The disks used for this review include:

o Michael Wolf / Intoxicate
o Maria Bethehia / Ambar
o Erik Truffaz / The Mask; and
o Sidsel Endresen / Undertow

Emotional involvement is my #1 goal in integrating a system. I can tolerate some crimes of omission, such as lack of bottom-octave punch are imaging "air." However, "crimes of commission" - AKA distortions - drive me nuts.

Now on to the review...

My first encounter with the Verastarr PC's came at a local Head-Fi Meet. While there, I visited a demo set up by John Beavers, an audio reviewer who specializes in cables. "Mighty big ribbon IC's you have there," I said. "No, these are PC's," he deadpanned in response. He then added, "They are the best I've ever heard."

Do tell. He went on to describe the introductory special that Verastarr is running - $600 each for the first 10 copies. I listened to his system, chatted with him some more, and order four the next day - two for my digital sources and two for my monoblocs.

The cables arrived about a week later. Initial impressions were quite favorable - they had been well-packed, looked well made, and felt both sturdy and manageably flexible. While by no means lightweight, I knew that I (thankfully) would not have to add ballast to keep the components stably on the shelf.

So I queued the hard drive to Intoxicate (track 3) and hit go. Whoa - where'd that bass definition come from? As in most of my encounters with quality power delivery enhancements, the bass improvement was the easiest change to notice. Second was treble, with just a touch more definition in the cymbals.

In my experience, midrange tightening often follows a better bass foundation. Same thing here - images were just a bit more locked in.

These improvements were so easy to discern, that several days after my first listen, I ordered a 5th cable - this to go between the wall and my power conditioner.

I believe that the most natural competitors for the Verastarr's are the LessLoss (less expensive) and the Nordost Valhalla (more expensive).

In summary, the Verastarr cables gave me an easily-noticeable refinement in sonic quality. They were definitely on a par with IC's in terms of enhancement value. I very highly recommend them, especially at their $600 intro price. That's still lots of coin, but these cables sing.

Like many of you, my reference system has taken years to put together. It is revealing, unveiled, and dynamic. Distortion is low, transparency is high. The largest remaining weakness is relative lack of bottom-end slam and extension.

Note: I will be doing a head-to-head comparison with 4 LessLoss PC's from a friend soon. (I'll update this review when complete.)

Associated gear
SlimDevices Transporter
Custom Oritek 24/176 DAC/Preamp
Manley EL34 "Signature" Monoblocs
Oritek "X-2" IC's and SC's
Electric Bamboo Power Conditioner
Usher Dancers CP-8571 w/custom xover and silver/teflon wire

Similar products
Nordost Valhalla
Bybee (Model Unknown)
Less Loss PC
Shunyata PC
Mike, at Verastarr, is a great gentleman to deal with. As I understand it, Scott Hall(of Electraglide fame) had a hand in the development of the new Grand Illusion and SOTU power cords, both being made of ribbon/foil conductors. I'm curious how these two compare to each other sonically. The SOTU also has cotton used in the make-up, which makes me concerned as cotton is hydrophilic( absorbs moisture). Unless the cord is air-tight, I would worry about moisture eventually coming into contact with the conductors. If anyone has had a chance to compare these two cords, I would appreciate an opinion. Also, has anyone had a chance to compare the Grand Illusion to any of the Fusion cords which are also ribbon/foil-type cords. I currently have Fusion cords in my system and am curious about their sonic differences as their pricing is comparable.
Sherod, Mike also told me that Scott Hall helped develop both the Grand Illusion and the SOTU. He told me that they sounded very similar, but I have not heard the SOTU or any of the Fusion power cords, so I'm afraid I cannot comment there.

I have owned the Electraglide Ultra Khan R/R and the Epiphany X though. Compared to the Grand Illusion, I would say that I definitely prefer the Grand Illusion. The Electraglide cords were faster and more detailed, but a tad 'lightweight'. The Grand Illusion is much more musical, had more weight in the bass and has a larger soundstage.

Hello again, both cords are airtight inside. The Grand Illusion has basic design elements that were co-designed and then Verastarr took the basic design and further developed and refined that design according to Mike Powell's expertise. The SOTU is completely Scott Hall's design 100%. The SOTU is a heavier cord with thicker, stout internals and the Grand Illusion uses Verastarr custom designed and manufactured anti-static and cryogenic inner materials with special damping for a light, sleek technically designed cord. The original prototypes were nearly identical outside of a few differences, but as these designs have evolved they are going down separate final design paths. The SOTU is probably a touch faster and more detailed, and the Grand Illusion has an incredibly lifelike midrange with pace, rhythm and an unrivaled wide, deep soundstage. Take your pick !!
I bought one of these here on Audiogon to use with my little modded Rogue Tempest II and am very happy with it. It replaced a modest after-market cord, and the resulting changes were instantaneous and remarkable. Although I did not experience (as some above did) an expansion of the stage, I did experience less "jitter" sound in the mid treble (I run CD only, and power cords - even amp cords - can affect this for some reason), less bass overhang and smearing (i.e., "tighter" bass), more solid imaging, and a generally clearer, less veiled presentation from all of my CDs. I did not hear any obvious warmth or coolness - sounds pretty neutral to me, although I've heard others comment differently (i.e., that it is a warm cord). I've been at this for 30+ years, and I expect a good power cord to do these things. I have owned Electraglide, Cardas Golden Reference, Synergistic, and others, and this is easily the best of the bunch I've tried. It has an excellent "palp factor" and lets the music ebb and flow properly with wonderful microdynamics. It isn't miraculous, mind you. It's just that it does all of this better than other power cords I've owned. It is an 'end of the road' cord for me.

This brings me to the pricing of these things. I have spoken with Mike about this (he is a really nice guy, if emails count for such things), and we see price structuring differently. I don't know who actually buys these things for thousands of dollars as they are listed, but the real price (as best as I can figure) is far less than that. My point is that if people realized they could actually buy these things for their "real" price, more would be sold. I will now step off my soap box.

That quibble aside, I have to say that I am thoroughly pleased with this purchase, and impressed with the quality of this cord. I have sent amps out to be modded for more than this, with less of a benefit than just sticking this cord in the business end of my Rogue. My guess (but it is only that) is that it would make an even larger difference on more sensitive and detailed equipment than I will ever own.

In any event, I thought I'd add my "me too" to this string. The GI brings the illusion of real music in my room one large step closer, and about as large a step as any power cord in my experience can take. If you are considering a more "main stream" cord from the companies listed in this thread, you would do well to put the GI on your short list. It is the real deal.
Greenink, yes the pricing structure is way off, however, in the cable/cord business, this seems to be the norm not the exception.

Thanks for offering your impressions. One year later and I'm still using these GI cords. If you knew me you'd be shocked, as I tend to change cords like I change socks. I have tried a couple other cords in the last year, but as I sit here and read this I realize that I've had the GI's back in for the last couple of months, and I have no urge to change.