Thigh masters. Biceps blasters. And booty builders. If you fancy a formidable bottom end with rotund muscle rather than flab, the Petit Coronas have your number. As someone who enjoys mating 40-something Hertz smaller speakers to a big sealed subwoofer for the first octave, gains in that department equate to the difference between with and without sub. With three Sablons on various power supplies, I had to turn the Zu Submission off. My system's booty had done a J.Lo. That phrasing is deceptively casual. The effect wasn't. It mirrored what one expects and often gets from more powerful amps in an otherwise matching range. Bass mass and impact increase. With it perceived heaviness and darkness go up. And there's a side effect of bigger dynamic waves. The quality of this bass enhancement wasn't striated and wiry. It was warm and slightly fat. Having rolled speaker cables and interconnects in the past, I'd weigh the magnitude of this adjustment as greater with these power cords than with 'proper' signal cables. It's not hyperbole either to say that swapping on-the-level DACs of, say, Metrum Hex, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Voce II and Lindemann Audio musicbook:15 caliber has a lesser or more subtle impact. That doesn't mean less valuable. The difference between hearing a piano's fully developed bass strings as not only the strings and subsequent energy reaction of the instrumental cavity but also the pressurization of a shock wave hitting the floor beneath the piano and reflecting off it—in short, "hearing the floor"—might be irrelevant to your musical enjoyment. Yet if recorded, it's information that's there to be potentially recreated. If so, it makes the experience more complete.

The flavour shift of three Petit Coronas wasn't about such finessed 'mental' bits. It was more about overt 'emotive' elements and primary stuff. The sound got earthier, chunkier and warmer. It got bassier, macrodynamically more impactful and demonstrably bigger if also less specific, focused and articulate. The most similar recent injection of this combination of qualities came from the Auris Audio 6550-based 100-watt class A push/pull pentode monos. Rather than spend €14 large on them whilst booking audible noise in the listening seat, my system could easily split the difference with $2.250 worth of Mark's cords and remain dead quiet in trade. Spending a low four figures on a few meters of power cords is undeniably far more unsexy than plonking down five figures on leather-wrapped wood-clad monos with exposed bottles. Applying pure pragmatism and leaving the obsession with sex to the younger folks though, I'd opine that these power cords win on ROI. Anyone who claims that they don't matter or that they all work the same hasn't done enough rolling; or not rolled the right stuff!

Replacing the 10-foot Petit Corona on the iMac with the former Crystal Cable netted no appreciable differences. Alas, replacing the source-to-amp 3m leash of Zu with that very same Sablon intensified the above observations. My mono amps acted as though they had undergone a tune-up. In short, Sablon's special virtues didn't translate over a quality competitor on a digital transport which is all my iMac really is. For its requirements, the Crystal Cable was as effective as the Sablon. But the latter brought home the bacon on lower-power amps as the actual drivers and controllers of the all-important loudspeakers. In this particular config, I had three Petit Coronas all serving the amps. The 10ft length connected from the first outlet of my Vibex filter stack to the input of my GigaWatt power bar. This also transfers the Spanish DC and AC conditioning benefits above to the Polish passive below. Then the two 5ft Sablons connected the amps to the GigaWatt*.

* As is so often the case in domestic situations, the point between our angled French balcony doors that's such a symmetrical home to the Zu Submission sub and hardwood rack of the amps lacks any and all wall outlets. My entire system thus hangs off a single AC socket from whence it splits into two feeds. A useful fringe benefit is that it eliminates dissimilar ground potentials on the power line by using two or more wall outlets in different locations.

Given this turn of events, I reverted to a stereo amp. I wanted to free up one of the 5-footers and instead use it at the critical connection between wall and Vibex Granada/Alhambra. It really only takes a 1-foot cable to make it so. Hence that's what my usual Zu Event is. But now I really maximized the Sablon effect. I placed one Petit Corona ahead of everything. This benefited all source components of iMac, DAC and preamp plus the power amp. Subsequently I removed that one-for-all link by reverting to the usual short Zu. Now I put the two shorter Petit Coronas on the preamp and DAC and Zu Events on the amps. In concert with a growing suspicion that the biggest current-draw connections gained the most, I indeed discovered that I got the very most out of my loaner trio with a direct line of Petit Corona power to the amp (wall to Vibex, Vibex to GigaWatt, GigaWatt to amp) whilst also impacting everything else which plugged directly into the Vibex with Zu Event.

To inject a bit more illumination and top-end spin into this far more bootilicious sound now merely required that I switch my Esoteric C-03 preamp from 24dB of gain to 12dB or zero. Warmth and mass enhancements now were handled more effectively by the power cords. This created a bit of a pile-on when the Japanese transistor preamp pulled in the same direction. Changing its gain structure turned its steering wheel toward more speed, transient incisiveness and lucidity. From my hardware and menu choices, this produced the best mix of polarities. Instead of the left or right lane, I thundered down the hifi highway more or less on the dividing center line.

The moral of my Sablon story? If you only have one Petit Corona and one single outlet multiplier box, power bar or line conditioner, put it between that and the wall. If you run separate feeds for your line-level and speaker-level components, place your solitary cord on the amp. If you have more than one Petit Corona, follow not the money but the power draw. The second cord should go on the second most current-hungry component. And so forth down the line or up the chain. Throughout my musical chairs exercise, I kept re-encountering the same set of qualities, just to different degrees. No chameleon then, just varying clicks of effectiveness. In my most effective scenario, my dialed-for-speed Albedo Audio Aptica ceramiques really benefited from an unexpected increase of LF extension, warmth and tonal weight. Again, that makeover reminded me of the powerful Serbian pentode monos. It's a darker heavier fuller bigger sound. Its tonal balance and dynamic swing potential are closer to amplified live music than a lit-up harmonically charged unplugged string quartet. It's not the trademark NordOst cable sound. Unless I meant to emphasize the qualities which already set Zu speakers apart, I'd not go after the Sablon cords with a Druid V. If I owned Lowther, Rethm or Voxativ widebanders on the other hand, I'd find the Petit Corona a truly ideal counterweight. Between my tonewood soundkaos Wave 40 speakers and the Italian 2-way transmission lines, I felt likewise for the latter. The former got perhaps warmer and richer than I'd pursue most of the time unless I set the Esoteric preamp to zero gain.

Which tonal direction and mix of transparency/density one wishes to pursue is entirely personal. I'd simply say that with three Sablon Audio Petit Corona power cords—$750/ea. for a stand 5ft. length—I got plainly more tonal heft, dynamic punch, warmth and bass authority over what I had; and over what I can get from preamp or DAC swaps. Even my power amps behaved as though they drove with higher-octane fuel or freshly retuned engines and brand-new tyres. In use, these quite girthy snakes were very flexible. They easily made tight turns and draped nattily. They were more resistant or stiff axially. If your component's IEC mounts upside down but Sablon's matching plug wants to meet it right-side up, you'll have to work a bit more to make the twain meet than thinner cables would. To conclude with generalities, I'd pigeonhole the Petit Corona's sonic signature as one of a fistful of thick copper, not silver or Palladium. With related imagery, I'd call up a powerful push-pull valve amp, not a SET or a dry chiseled ultra-quick transistor specimen. If all that conforms to your needs and expectations, these Petit Coronas are some very fine smoke indeed. Given what one might spend on sexier component upgrades to pursue the very same results—costlier preamp, bigger amp—I'd also call them good value. That power cords being this instrumental still are somewhat of a mind fuck or brain tease would seem to reflect more on the limits of our understanding than what is so plainly observable if one just listens.


For those interested, Shunyata's website features a number of videos which show and explain a few measurable contributors to power cord performance. If one talks to the right people, understanding what affects power-cord performance is far more developed than the tired old wire-is-wire mantra. Proceed to the next page for Paul Candy's findings.