Review: Bellatone Audio Power Cords
No competing financial interests exist.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.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”).