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A: Good questions all around. The FI-28(R) plug featured on our p1SE remains one of the premier plugs in Furutech’s line at least in my opinion, making it a viable step up from the FI-11 plugs used for the Classics.  As far as the 3 plugs used for p1 Classics, it’s not so much of a good better best scenario as it is first off a high-quality brass pin & contact plug set, Wattgate’s 320i/5266i. The two step-up Furutech plug options offer additional build quality and better wall/component socket fit as well as different sonic characteristics. Both Furutech FI-11-N1 models use pure copper pins and contact points and improved (with their new N1 series) gold or rhodium plating. This is where the sonic differences come into play. Gold offers a warmer more burnished perspective while rhodium gives your sound a more open airy detailed tilt.

The two optional plugs give you the ability to tailor your system’s sound. Components that are sensitive to displaying very noticeable improvements or changes with power cable upgrades can be particularly fun to play with. I’ve found that a number of high-performance DACs fall into this category. This kind of “tweaking by design” gives the listener a unique opportunity to shape a system’s presentation and character to either suit personal preferences or to balance synergy. The role a high-quality aftermarket power cable plays as an influence in your system’s presentation is all quite amazing.

With Mr. Fritz’s extensive information to prepare me for my journey, I formulated a plan of attack. Rather than take in the Classic family experience as a single entity, I decided to interview them one at a time, reasoning that most audiophiles would be making their wiring upgrades in a similar piecemeal fashion. The cables were introduced into my Apogee-based system, balanced at the onset around the Madison Audio Lab e3 Extreme 1 interconnects and a double run of Extreme 2 speaker cables, very high-pedigree components with detail and dimensional warmth intended to compete against the top tier. Power cables were predominantly Audio Art Cable SE, with a Signal Cable Magic Power Digital Reference doing specific duty on the Wyred4Sound DAC2. The system was initially run with subwoofer to check for crossover anomalies and bass performance and later stripped down using the DAC-2 direct to the amplifier to eliminate the contribution of tube character afforded by the Audio Space Reference 2S preamp. As an added challenge, the cables were also given a thorough workout with the Capriccio Continuo Auralea 309 loudspeakers just arrived for review.

First cable up was the IC-3. Break-in was relatively painless with the interconnect exhibiting a predominance in the mid and upper midrange that created a vivid acoustic bubble in that range and a subsequent dip in the lower mids and upper bass. The extent of this character was reduced over time, with the severity of the dip diminishing but the cable still held onto a good portion of its mid/upper midrange ‘glow’.

Second into the mix was the SC-5 biwire speaker cables. Where the interconnect had an easy break-in, introducing the Audio Art Cable speaker wire was a greater challenge. It exhibited upper mid glare and grain plus a dip in the lower mid and upper bass which compounded that of the interconnect. As the process continued, levels achieved more neutral balance. The upper frequencies turned smooth and the dip lower in the spectrum disappeared but the gain in level in upper and mid bass came at a small loss of definition. When they finally hit full stride, the cables hit a good balance of transparency and detail with a modicum of warmth, punctuated by a healthy dose of the Audio Art Cable signature punch and clout.

The Classic power cable was introduced servicing the Audio Space CDP8-A CD player and then moved down to the DAC and finally resided on the Bel Canto amplifier. The only spot it exhibited an allergic reaction was with the DAC where bass capability became diminished. The overall progression of character over the course of break-in began with a high contrast between the frequency extremes which gradually disappeared and evolved into a slight prominence in lower mids through bass. As always joining me on my musical adventure were my tried and true recordings plus some interesting new additions.

"The Carmen Fantasie for Violin and Orchestra: Franz Waxman" from Barber.Korngold.Waxman.Williams: Violin Works Alexander Gilman Violin. The Capetown Orchestra - Perry So [OEHMS Classics OC799] is a stunning cut to showcase the considerable talent of violinist Alexander Gilman pouring major passion into the work. Decent recording quality captures good dynamics and inflection with the primary emphasis on the soloist. Excellent performances by all parties. This is one of those recordings I term "everyone wanted to be there" and the commitment shows.

"Rise" from The Dark Knight Rises: Hans Zimmer [Sony Classical 88725431172is definitely post Inception Zimmer exercising tight control over subtle note variations and dynamic shifts. Here he plays with multiple thematic references including Gladiator with a style that hits some of the stylistic marks of Phillip Glass' Satyagraha. Musically challenging, hard hitting and emotionally engaging, this is a clean detailed recording with a powerful dynamic punch.

"Garua" from Buenos Aires Madrigal:La Chimera/Furio Zanasi/Ximena Biondo [M.A. Recordings M063A] is a purist affair which captures all the acoustical ambience, power and subtlety of these Argentine Tangos and 17th century Italian Madrigals from soft and wistful to passionate and playful. These great vocal and instrumental tracks have very wide dynamics, warmth and abundant air courtesy of the talented group and the engineering artistry of recording engineer Todd Garfinkle.

 "When the World was Young" from Jacintha - Lush Life [Groove Note GRV1011-2] is soft jazz performed with delicate sultry articulation by Singapore native Jacintha. The recording is close miked but given a nice injection of dense acoustical air and features good instrumental balance and expressive controlled vocals. Intimate and addictive.