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Review: Bellatone Audio Power Cords

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

Review: Bellatone Audio Power Cords

 

 

Disclosures

                No competing financial interests exist.

 

 

Introduction

                 I typically eschew writing cable reviews, largely due to the fact that my subjective experiences with cables have demonstrated cables having no perceptible effect on my audio chain (or perhaps I don’t have “golden ears”, like all the people who *can* hear a difference).  I’m not a measurement Nazi, but I am what my friend Richard would call a “cable agnostic”.  So then why am I writing a review for Bellatone Audio?  Because there are other attributes to aftermarket cables that make them worth the purchase (in my opinion).

                I initially met Phil Tendler (known to some of you as “iPodPJ” on Head-Fi), the man behind Bellatone, through a mutual friend.  It was immediately clear to me that Phil was incredibly passionate about his products.  Phil makes Bellatone-branded headphone cables, interconnects, digital cables, and power cords.  Phil has also designed his own souped-up version of the AMB Beta22, though this “labor of love” was done largely as a proof of concept.  Through our communications, it became evident that Phil makes a hard sell on his product line, and doesn’t miss an opportunity to extol the virtues of his builds.  That said, I find that this is an act borne of his passion for his trade, not out of a desire to dupe consumers into buying his products via marketing buzzwords and numbers that mean nothing in the real world.  He never hit me with statistics, cable “facts” (read: pseudoscience) or hype.  The only claims he ever made were that he took a great deal of time and effort to design the cable the way he wanted it to be, and used the highest quality components in crafting his cables.  He was never disingenuous in his efforts to sells his product, and he never attempted to strong-arm me into buying something I wasn’t interested in.  In short, he’s a firm but grounded salesman who values customer service as his top priority.

                The cable I’ll be reviewing is a 1.5m Bellatone Audio “Melody Series” power cable, representing the entry level of Bellatone’s power cable offerings.  The “Melody Series” cables use Furutech FI-11 pure copper AC and IEC plugs.  Bellatone also carries the “Harmony Series”, which is their mid-level cord, the “Reveal Series”, their high-end offering, and “Reference Series” cord, which is their statement tier.  The higher-end cables use different connectors, vary in cable geometry, and take a longer time to build.  I have neither used nor owned these cables, and as such, I will only be reviewing the “Melody Series” power cable.

 

Melody%20Power%20Cord%202d-w2-forum.jpg Melody%20Power%20Cord%207d-w2-forum.jpg

 

Power%20Cords%20all%201d-w3-forum.jpg

(Marketing photographs courtesy of Bellatone Audio.  Property of Bellatone Audio.)

First and second pictures show "Melody Series" power cable.  Third picture shows all four tiers of power cables.

 

 

Review

                Well, how does an individual who isn’t convinced that power cables affect sound quality go about reviewing an aftermarket power cable?  Simple.  I intend to focus on the things that I find most important in all aftermarket cables: flexibility, build quality and aesthetic.

 

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Flexibility: Flexibility is important to me because it makes routing cables behind a rack or shelving unit a significantly less nerve-wracking experience.  I won’t mince words here.  This is the most flexible power cable I’ve ever owned.  Prior to owning this cable, I was using a bunch of 16awg green dot hospital power cords.  Some of you may know these as “Iron Lung Jellyfish” cables, though that’s just a fancy moniker for a plain-Jane green dot power cord after a cryo process (which I don’t think does anything anyway, and nor does Bellatone).  These heavily-rubberized cables are highly insubordinate and uncooperative to bending and routing.  By contrast, the Bellatone cords go where I need them to go, with minimal fuss.  I have owned some bigger cords in the past (Pangea AC-9).  The “Melody” cord is obviously more flexible.  I respect the fact that, while much of the remainder of the aftermarket cable industry is striving to make larger, thicker, less-flexible power cables, Phil is moving in the polar opposite direction by attempting to make lighter cables that won’t annoy you by dragging your gear off your rack/furniture.  Bellatone’s higher-tier power cords are purportedly larger due to variance in geometry, but are stated to be flexible as well, and will not put strain on equipment IEC receptacles, though this is a claim I can neither confirm nor deny.

 

IMG_1656.JPG IMG_1663.JPG

 

 

Build Quality: Lack of attention to detail is the pathway to mediocrity.  This product screams of attention to detail.  From the custom printed clear heatshrink to the silver-colored cable sheathing and Furutech plugs, every aspect of this cable demonstrates quality through and through.  These cables are built to last.  All cable materials are UL listed, and each cable comes with a two-year warranty.  No corners were cut, no shortcuts were used in making these cables, and it shows.  As far as the internals go, the “Melody Series” cables use 16awg copper conductors on each lead (in addition to other materials, obviously), as do the “Harmony Series”.  “Reveal Series” and “Reference Series” use four 22awg copper conductors per lead, for the same effective 16awg.  All cords are rated for 10A maximum (with 15A-compliant plugs), though cords can be manufactured for compliance up to 20A if needed.  Cords can also be made for use in other countries that require different AC plugs.  Stock cords are 1.5m in length, but can be manufactured to a shorter or longer length as needed.  If you don’t know Phil, let me just say that he’s obsessive when it comes to build quality, so you can expect comprehensive quality control in the finished product.

 

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IMG_1650.JPG IMG_1652.JPG

 

 

Aesthetic: In my opinion, these cables look quite good.  The custom heatshrink, silver-colored cable sheathing and Furutech plugs (with Bellatone logo stickers) make for a cable that’s as artistic as it is functional.  You don’t need to hide these cables behind your rack/cable management solution.  I also find them visually appealing simply by virtue of being smaller and less imposing than competing cables.  The cables came securely packaged, and have their own black cotton drawstring bags emblazoned with the Bellatone logo and contact information.  The bags create a dust-free environment for the safe storage and transport of your cables.

 

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IMG_1633v2.jpg IMG_1634v2.jpg

 

 

Sound Quality: If you’re looking for commentary on how these cables affect sound quality, your best bet would be to contact Bellatone directly.

 

 

Price: A 1.5m “Melody Series” power cord normally sells for $450 USD, but when I purchased them, they were being offered at a promotional price of $300.  You’ll need to check with Bellatone to see if promotional pricing is still in effect.  Longer lengths can be specified in the order, but will increase the cost.

 

 

Conclusion

                Bellatone Audio has set the bar high with respect to build quality, flexibility and overall aesthetic value.  I’m definitely happy with my cables, and I’d expect any other Bellatone customer to be satisfied with their product purchases as well.  Phil is polite, courteous and approachable, and will work with you to get you what you are looking for.

                The Bellatone Audio website is currently under development (http://www.bellatoneaudio.com/), and should go live within the next month or so.  Cables can be purchased by sending an e-mail to info@bellatoneaudio.com.  When I initially sent Phil an e-mail, he sent me a detailed response with all of the cable information, specifications and photographs.  Bellatone can also be reached via Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Bellatone), Twitter (@BellatoneAudio) and Head-Fi PM (PM: “iPodPJ”).

post #2 of 30
Thread Starter 

Follow-up: Bellatone Audio AES/EBU cable (07/21/2012)

 

I recently purchased a "Reference Series Chronos" AES/EBU cable from Bellatone.  Again, it's much more flexible than its rubberized competitors.  As with the power cable, it works perfectly, and build quality and aesthetics are second to none.  Couldn't be happier.

 

 

Pics:

 

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Edited by sridhar3 - 7/21/12 at 6:17pm
post #3 of 30
I'm glad you are enjoying them, Sridhar!

Just to note, the website is not live yet and if it is showing active nothing can be purchased from it yet because my web guy is still in the process of doing maintenance to it and I still have elements I am working on. I will have him put the placeholder back in the interim.

For now, the best way to get in contact with me is through e-mail, PM, or Facebook. I am very prompt with replies and invoices can be issued via PayPal for now. The site will be ready soon and I will let you (and others) know when products can be purchased directly through it.

Regards,
Phil
post #4 of 30
Phil is currently building me a Reference Series HD800 cable and I am truly looking forward to receiving it.  He made me an internal hookup wire, which he says he doesn't normally do, and finished it like a full-blown cable.  The craftsmanship was impeccable and it sounds phenomenal.
post #5 of 30
Thanks Shaizada. You'll have the Reference HD800 cable shortly! (They take about 15 hours to build.)
post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by shaizada View Post

Phil is currently building me a Reference Series HD800 cable and I am truly looking forward to receiving it.  He made me an internal hookup wire, which he says he doesn't normally do, and finished it like a full-blown cable.  The craftsmanship was impeccable and it sounds phenomenal.

 

Just an update: your Reference Series HD800 cable is shipping out tomorrow.

post #7 of 30

Cable came in several days ago Phil!  Packaging was just first rate with all the bubble wrap outside and inside the cable bag.  Pretty much bomb proof packaging.

I haven't got a chance to listen yet.  I'll post a review later laying out my thoughts.

 

The build quality is absolutely first rate and I love the color of the techflex you are using.

 

Thanks!

post #8 of 30
Glad you received it. smily_headphones1.gif I'm glad you are happy with it and I await your further opinions! Enjoy!
post #9 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shaizada View Post

Cable came in several days ago Phil!  Packaging was just first rate with all the bubble wrap outside and inside the cable bag.  Pretty much bomb proof packaging.

I haven't got a chance to listen yet.  I'll post a review later laying out my thoughts.

 

The build quality is absolutely first rate and I love the color of the techflex you are using.

 

Thanks!

 

We need pics!

post #10 of 30

Moar!

post #11 of 30
Comes the weekend I'm going to add all our headphone cables and digital cables to the Head Gear section of the forum. There still is no spot available for power cords but I've been trying to ask them to add one.

I don't think I'm allowed to directly post pictures of my products here myself but I will put links to them when they are in the Head Gear section, since I am allowed to put the pics there. Or, if a mod is watching and gives me permission to post them here directly I will be glad to. (Mod: please PM if okay to.)

Hopefully Shaizada will take some pictures (if he hasn't already done so and post them soon, and I will also send him some of our professional shots if he chooses to add those as well). I believe he said he will be doing a review and I can only assume that A) it will be a separate thread, and B) he would likely post pictures based on his positive comments.
post #12 of 30
Oh, one more thing. Shaizada mentioned that I am using TechFlex so I want to clarify that point:

TechFlex is a company, not a brand, that makes at least a hundred or more types of sheathing, heat shrink, etc. When it comes to most non-naked headphone cables there are two common types: There is nylon monofilament, which is more rigid in nature and has a bit of a plastic feel to it. It is good for more rugged environments. Then there is the more common nylon multifilament which is softer and smooth, and seems to be more common among cable companies, though black is the most common color as it is the most readily available in various sizes and shorter lengths. Both offer excellent protection from damage. There are many companies that manufacture these types of sheathing. We use the genuine, U.S. made TechFlex brand, and the product being the soft nylon multifilament. Ours is a custom-run silver. In sunlight and bright light it looks metallic (don't think chrome, it's not bright or reflective like that) and in softer, indoor lighting takes on a silvery, silky, matte look with (under certain lighting) an ever-so-slight lavender tinge to it. Many of our customers (which have thusfar primarily been referrals through word of mouth) have written to us and expressed their satisfaction with the unique color we have chosen for our sheathing.
post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by shaizada View Post

Cable came in several days ago Phil!  Packaging was just first rate with all the bubble wrap outside and inside the cable bag.  Pretty much bomb proof packaging.

I haven't got a chance to listen yet.  I'll post a review later laying out my thoughts.

 

The build quality is absolutely first rate and I love the color of the techflex you are using.

 

Thanks!

 

Shaizada,

Just wondering if you've had a chance to listen yet and if you've been enjoying it?

post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sridhar3 View Post

..................

 

Sridhar,

I don't think I got to fully thank you for all the wonderful pictures you took on your own.  You got some great, up close detail of your Melody cords.

I can see you really like to twist them into knot balls! biggrin.gif I'm sure you just did this to illustrate the flexibility factor, but I do recommend (with any

manufacturer's cord) not putting too sharp a bend adjacent to the receptacle exit.  On the Melody, you can bend it such that you only need about

an inch and a half of space behind the components and the wall (but with the other 3 series cords I recommend two to two and a half inches.)

 

A few people have asked about this, and I'm not sure if I ever explained to you what the white stuff was inside the IEC and AC receptacles.

Perhaps you also might have wondered seeing as how you have probably never seen it on a cord before.  Explanation:

It is Teflon® PTFE tape wrapped many times around the leads, between the leads, around the wire bundle, and finally around a triangular shaped ledge

(which is rather small, only about 1/16" wide).  Inside this area is where all 3 contacts are housed.  The PTFE wrap is to keep all the receptacle contacts

and wire tips free from the elements that cause oxidation and corrosion.  This is of particular benefit to the Melody since it uses pure copper contacts (and blades)

and has no plating.  It also adds an additional layer of protection from the leads (live, neutral, earth) coming into contact with eachother, which they never

would anyway since they are all the way inside the contact area and have ample distance between them.  But when it comes to power you can never be

too safe (especially when your expensive gear is attached to it).

 

This picture you took illustrates it the most clearly, and people can click on the one in your first post if they want to see it in greater detail.

(I don't have access to the high-res one you uploaded.)

 

350x263px-LL-760db2b4_IMG_1650.jpeg


Edited by IPodPJ - 7/17/12 at 10:44pm
post #15 of 30
Thread Starter 

Quick update on the Bellatone Audio AES/EBU cable: http://www.head-fi.org/t/615890/review-bellatone-audio-power-cords#post_8484928

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