Audioquest Niagara 1000 and Thunder Power Cable Loaner Program

Discussion in 'Sponsor Announcements and Deals' started by Todd, May 8, 2018.
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  1. Todd Contributor
    Hi All,

    We have been playing with the Niagara 1000 for a few months and feel it is one very good upgrade for a headphone rig or mid size speaker rig. For this loaner program we are including Audioquests new Thunder power cable. The Niagara does not come with a power cable and we wanted you to be able to use it with an appropriate cable.

    aqniagara10001.png

    The Niagara 1000 sells for $999.95


    audioquestthunderpower1.png

    The Audioquest Thunder Power Cable sells for $624.95 for a 1 meter length or $749.95 for a 2M length

    Loaner Program Rules:



    Send your name and address as well as a telephone number and your Head-Fi user name to me at todd@ttvjaudio.com. Do NOT PM me as you will not be included in the program without an email.

    You will get the loaner for 1 week to use in your home with your system. After your one week is up, you must send it to the next loaner participant. Email me (todd@ttvjaudio.com) the tracking info so I can pass it on to the recipient.

    You MUST write a review and post it in this loaner thread. It must be posted in the same thread as this announcement for the loaner program. Please post the review here first and feel free to post it somewhere else if you like!

    Once you have received the loaner, email me to let me know you have it and I will send the address for the next person.

    Our loaner programs are USA only. We are restricted from shipping/selling outside the USA on most products.

    I look forward to hearing from those interested in the Niagara 1000!

    Todd
     
    TTVJ Stay updated on TTVJ at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/
  2. Mshenay Contributor
    Neat, email sent
     
  3. Todd Contributor
    Here is a link to a short review of the Niagara 1000 and Thunder Power cable from Headphone.Guru

    http://headphone.guru/audioquest-niagara-1000/

    There are still space for more to sign up. This is a very good unit and I encourage anyone who has been thinking about power conditioning to give this a try.

    Todd
     
    TTVJ Stay updated on TTVJ at their sponsor page on Head-Fi.
     
    http://www.ttvjaudio.com/
  4. glassmonkey
    These are excellent. Demoed at Sound & Vision Bristol 2018. USA peeps should get on this.
     
  5. Jprod
    I was the first in line for the loaner program. My system includes the following: vpi prime tt with ortofon 2m black cart, Manley Chinook phono pre, wyred4sound stpse preamp, parasound a21 amp, and ascend acoustics tower speakers. I was using a Panamax 4300 and an emotiva cmx2 for my power needs.

    I was immediately struck by the changes I heard and all for the better. The bass dug deeper and was a lot tighter and focused. Also the treble was more airy and the harshness of the high end was tamed significantly. I could hear more detail from each recording. I was amazed at the difference. To see how much the power cord played into the equation I swapped it out with a psaudio ac3. The improvements outlined above were still there but to a lesser degree.

    I have within the last year changed my preamp from a parasound p5 to the wyred4sound and the phono pre from a graham slee accesion to a Manley Chinook. This power upgrade had more of a positive impact than either of the aforementioned changes.

    I went into this audition as a skeptic and came out as a believer!

    How much of a believer ? ——- I immediately bought the combo!

    Btw I want to sincerely thank Todd Green. He was awesome to deal with. He shipped the units out promptly and never gave me the sales pitch. He let me draw my own conclusions. I look forward to doing business again with him in the future- a true gem in the audio world.
     
    Monsterzero and Alcophone like this.
  6. Billheiser
    Just finished my week with the Niagara & Thunder. Will be shipping it today to the next person (in San Francisco). Will write up my review experience tomorrow.
     
  7. Billheiser
    I inserted the Niagara power conditioner and Thunder power cable into my main stereo system, and listened mostly through speakers, with some time spent listening via headphones as well. The combo replaced my Furman PST-8 power conditioner. In the first few days, I frankly could not discern any difference between the two power strips (I’ll use that term as shorthand for the longer descriptions of how they filter, protect, etc.). It was somewhat awkward and time-consuming to power down all the components and switch all the power cords, but I did a couple of cycles of that. Later in the week, I kept all the components plugged into the Niagara, but would switch the power cord from my power amplifier back and forth between the Furman and the Niagara. Audioquest's Niagara description notes that the one “high current” receptacle is critical to use on power amps; so that seemed to be the comparison that might show itself best.

    When running the system with the power amp plugged into the high current receptacle, I thought I heard a slight difference; the Niagara/Thunder seemed to help the bass sound a bit more natural, more like bass in a live room. But I was not absolutely sure that I wasn’t affected by expectations and such. I asked my wife to listen to some of her favorite tracks with me, in a “single blind” situation; I would tell her I was playing the music with power strip “A” or “B”, but she did not see or know which power strip A and B were. She was not sure she reliably heard a difference, but thought that “A” was a wee bit clearer. “A”, the Furman, was her slight preference in 3 of 3 trials.

    Overall, my slight subjective preference for the Niagara/Thunder was far too small to consider spending $1600 on the combo. Others may hear much more difference than we did, so bless your heart and go for it. Perhaps the electric power in my area might be relatively “cleaner” than some other areas. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’ve never had any problem whatsoever with noise in my system, with or without power conditioners. It may also be true that I’m deaf and stupid, but I don’t think so.

    BTW, the Niagara has 6 outlets, and my Furman has 8, and 8 is what I currently need. So that is a practical concern for my particular stereo system; the Niagara will certainly have enough outlets for many other systems.

    Thank you Todd for the chance to audition this; am sending it on to the next person now.
     
    Alcophone likes this.
  8. Alcophone
    Confirming receipt of a Cylon baby, complete with umbilical cord:

    P_20180625_110713_vHDR_On_1.jpg
     
  9. Billheiser
    (Preliminary) impressions?
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2018
  10. Alcophone
    No appreciable difference in my headphone rig at work.

    I'm gonna have some fun at home now...

    P_20180630_162648_vHDR_On_1.jpg

    P_20180630_162936_vHDR_On.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2018
  11. Billheiser
     
  12. Alcophone
    En route to the next person in line, ETA Monday.
     
  13. Alcophone
    Audioquest Niagara 1000 & Thunder Review

    Part I: Listening to Raw Power

    Okay, the subtitle is still a metaphor, but also meant somewhat literally. In my limited experience, power conditioners are difficult to test by ear. How effective they are depends on the extent to which your system was limited by "dirty" power to begin with. It seems that usually you don't know you are re affected - until you are affected less than before.

    So I decided to try an easier route first. I wanted to see how the Niagara 1000 and some related products fare in tackling certain power-related issues I have noticed before. No music involved at all. Raw power, you see?

    Issue 1: Buzzing of the Tripp-Lite ISOBAR, produced by my dimmable torchiere with LED light bulb
    Issue 2: Flicker of my torchiere when my vacuum gets stuck while also plugged into the ISOBAR
    Issue 3: Audible noise when touching the Jotunheim's volume knob while set to a high volume

    Devices used in this part of the review

    I did not use the Audioquest Thunder power cable in this first part because it didn't fit into the most reachable "outlet" I currently have in my living room, an extension cord. This should not make a difference in this part I, though.
    • Tripp-Lite 6SP (~$25)
      Power strip in metal housing with six outlets. Has an LED lit power switch and a circuit breaker.
    • Tripp-Lite TLP608 (~$15)
      Surge protector in plastic housing with six outlets. Has an LED lit power switch, a protection status LED, a circuit breaker and surge suppression.
    • Tripp-Lite ISOBAR8ULTRA (~$50)
      Surge protector in metal housing with eight outlets. Has an LED lit power switch, a protection status LED, a line status LED, a circuit breaker, surge suppression and power filtration via four isolated filter banks.
    • VOLTCRAFT 18166
      A voltage transformer in metal housing that is rated at 1,000 VA. It allows setting both the input and output voltage to 120 V. I think this basically makes it an isolation transformer, but I don't know for sure.
    • Furman PST-8 (~$130)
      Power conditioner in metal housing with eight outlets. Has a power switch, a power LED, surge suppression for the AC outlets, for a cable/satellite connection and for a phone connection, overvoltage protection and power filtration.
    • Audioquest Niagara 1000 ($1,000)
      Power conditioner in metal housing with six outlets, one of them intended for high current devices. Has a power switch, a power LED, surge suppression, overvoltage protection and power filtration.
    • iFi AC iPurifier ($99)
      A plug-in power conditioner, used in part I only to check for polarity and grounding issues.
    • Klein Tools RT100 (~$10)
      To check outlets and other receptacles for issues with polarity, grounding, etc.
    • P3 Kill A Watt P4460.01 (~$30)
      To measure power consumption, voltage levels, etc.
    • FIRMERST Flat Plug Extension Cord (14 AWG), 6 ft (~$11)
      The most convenient "outlet" in my living room, and good enough for this first part.
    • Tripp-Lite Heavy Duty Power Extension Cord (14 AWG), 3 ft (~$9)
      More convenient way of plugging in the Kill A Watt, but also needed to plug the AC iPurifier into the Kill A Watt.
    • Tripp-Lite Heavy Duty Power Cord (14 AWG), 3 ft (~$6)
      Used with the Niagara 1000 instead of the Audioquest Thunder, which was too tight a fit for my extension cord. Also used for the VOLTCRAFT transformer.
    • Italian Bronze Torchiere Floor Lamp ($250)
      Has a dimmer for the top light, which, at least in combination with an LED light bulb makes it a useful diagnostic tool.
    • Kobi Electric K5L1 30-watt BR40 LED Light Bulb, Dimmable (~$40)
      I could not find a working link to this exact model, but it doesn't really matter.
    • Shark HV382
      A vacuum cleaner. I noticed that when it encounters resistance / gets stuck, it makes the torchiere light flicker, at least when plugged into the same ISOBAR.
    • Schiit Jotunheim ($399)
      A headphone amplifier that, under certain circumstances, produces audible noise when touching the volume knob. See below under issue 3 for more details.
    P_20180630_162936_vHDR_On.jpg

    From left to right: VOLTCRAFT transformer, Audioquest Niagara 1000, Furman PST-8, Tripp-Lite ISOBAR8ULTRA, Tripp-Lite 6SP, Tripp-Lite TLP608

    AC voltage and frequency

    Kill A Watt directly in extension cord: 123.1V, 60.0 Hz
    Kill A Watt in VOLTCRAFT transformer: 112.8V, 60.0 Hz

    Receptacle tester LEDs

    Extension cord: Correct
    Kill A Watt: Correct
    Tripp-Lite 6SP: Correct
    Tripp-Lite TLP608: Correct
    Tripp-Lite ISOBAR: Correct
    VOLTCRAFT transformer: Correct (different from AC iPurifier, see below)
    Furman PST-8: Correct
    Audioquest Niagara 1000: Hot/Neutral reversed

    iFi AC iPurifier status LEDs

    Extension cord: Polarity green, Earth green
    Kill A Watt: Polarity green, Earth green (AC iPurifier's ground pin does not fit, so I used an extension cord)
    Tripp-Lite 6SP: Polarity green, Earth green
    Tripp-Lite TLP608: Polarity green, Earth green
    Tripp-Lite ISOBAR: Polarity green, Earth green
    VOLTCRAFT transformer: Polarity red, Earth green (different from receptacle tester, see above)
    Furman PST-8: Polarity green, Earth green
    Audioquest Niagara 1000: Polarity red, Earth green

    Power consumption

    Tested without any devices plugged in, but the device itself turned on (where applicable).

    Tripp-Lite 6SP: 0.0 W / 0.0 VA / 0.00 A
    Tripp-Lite TLP608: 0.3-0.4 W / 0.5-0.7 VA / 0.00 A
    Tripp-Lite ISOBAR: 0.8-0.9 W / 6.2 VA / 0.05 A
    VOLTCRAFT transformer: 1.6-1.7 W / 3.5-4.1 VA / 0.02A-0.03 A
    Furman PST-8: 2.1-2.3 W / 10.2-10.4 VA / 0.08 A
    Audioquest Niagara 1000: 2.4-2.5 W / 34.3-34.4 VA / 0.27 A
    iFi AC iPurifier: 1.0-1.1 W / 3.4-3.5 VA / 0.02 A


    Issue 1: Buzz test

    The torchiere was plugged into the respective device and turned on, with the dimmer set to ~90% and 100%. I held my ear close to the outlet that had the torchiere in it.

    Tripp-Lite 6SP: No buzz.
    Tripp-Lite TLP608: No buzz.
    Tripp-Lite ISOBAR: Very faint buzz when the torchiere is plugged into the outlet column closest to the power cord, gets progressively louder moving away from the power cord, easily audible on the last outlet column, less loud when dimmer set to 100% instead of 90%.
    VOLTCRAFT transformer: Hum without anything plugged in. Similar buzz with the torchiere plugged in as experienced with the ISOBAR, probably a bit louder.
    Furman PST-8: Very faint buzz, not audible when dimmer set to 100%.
    Audioquest Niagara 1000: Very faint buzz, pretty much gone when set to 100%, generally less loud in high current outlet.


    Issue 2: Flicker test

    The torchiere was plugged into the respective device and turned on, with the dimmer set to ~90% and 100%. Vacuum cleaner was plugged into the same device unless otherwise noted. For this test, I tried to get the vacuum almost stuck by vacuuming a small rug.

    Tripp-Lite 6SP: No flicker.
    Tripp-Lite TLP608: No flicker.
    Tripp-Lite ISOBAR: No flicker with the dimmer at 100% & the vacuum almost getting stuck. A little flicker with the dimmer at 100% & the vacuum almost getting stuck. A lot of flicker with the dimmer at 90% & the vacuum almost getting stuck.
    Tripp-Lite ISOBAR + VOLTCRAFT transformer: A lot of flicker with the dimmer at 90% & the vacuum almost getting stuck, regardless of whether the torchiere or the vacuum were plugged into the transformer. The vacuum sound had a slightly lower pitch when plugged into the transformer, probably due to getting a lower voltage.
    Furman PST-8: No flicker with the dimmer at 100% & the vacuum almost getting stuck. A little flicker with the dimmer at 100% & the vacuum almost getting stuck. A lot of flicker with the dimmer at 90% & the vacuum almost getting stuck.
    Audioquest Niagara 1000: With either the torchiere or the vacuum plugged into the high current outlet and the other device plugged into one of its regular outlets: no flicker. With both devices plugged into its regular outlets: a lot of flicker with the dimmer at 90% & the vacuum almost getting stuck.


    Issue 3: Jotunheim noise

    After one user reported noise issues with his Schiit Jotunheim and the LCD-X, another user reported that he heard noise at high volume when simply touching the volume knob. While I never noticed any noise issues in regular use, I got curious and was able to reproduce the issue with my Jotunheim at home.

    I disconnected everything from the Jotunheim except for the power cord and the MrSpeakers Ether Flow connected to the balanced output. Then I selected the single ended inputs (again, with no interconnects connected), set the gain to high and increased the volume carefully to see whether I could hear any noise. At max volume I heard a little bit of noise when not touching the amp, and a lot of noise when touching the volume knob or the top of the case. Simultaneously touching the side of the case with my other hand reduced the noise almost completely and in proportion to the size of the contact area.

    Tinkering with nearby devices, it turned out that a lot of the noise came from my laptop's power supply. Unplugging it reduced the noise substantially to more of a buzz, while the laptop charger added a more clicky type of noise. Another noise source was a USB charger. Touching it with my other hand, or touching the USB cable plugged into it (which was itself not plugged into any device) increased the noise some. Touching the metal plug of the USB cable increased the noise quite a bit.

    So it seemed that I was pretty clearly hearing noise induced by other devices, precisely the kind of thing a power conditioner is supposed to treat. Therefore, this seemed like a useful test.

    Well, to cut things short, none of the devices helped in any way, regardless of how I hooked things up. Towards the end of my test I noticed that even just hovering my hand above the Jotunheim induced noise through the headphones I was using. Using my other hand to touch anything metallic that was grounded, like the case of the Furman PST-8, and, even more quickly and completely, the case of the Niagara 1000, removed the noise completely.

    I don't know if this makes any sense, but it seems more like my body acts as an antenna for electromagnetic fields induced by nearby devices, and touching the volume knob of the Jotunheim means I'm grounded by the Jotunheim via the amplifier's active parts, and so the Jotunheim is dutifully amplifying the noise I'm inducing. Using my other hand to touch the side of it, or other metallic devices that are grounded, provides a better path to ground, solving the noise issue. If there's anything to that theory, no power conditioner in the world can fix the issue.


    Preliminary conclusion

    The Niagara 1000 draws more power by itself than any of the other devices. But compared to, say, the Schiit Yggdrasil, a DAC that is recommended to be left powered on continuously, the power consumption is still insignificant.

    The high current outlet seems to be as separate from the other outlets as in a regular power strip or surge protector, as shown by the flicker test. I wouldn't be surprised if internally the incoming power is simply split, followed by separate filtration circuits for the high current outlet and the other outlets. That is a promising result, although it would be interesting to see how the filtration really differs.

    What I find concerning is that both the receptacle tester and the AC iPurifier indicated problems with the polarity of the outlets in the Niagara 1000. I don't know whether this is indeed a fault, a harmless artifact of Audioquest's approach, or possibly even a feature.

    I was happy to not hear no substantial buzz even with a noisy dimmable torchiere. The Niagara 1000 is certainly bulky enough to allow for some dampening.

    The shiny exterior of the Niagara 1000 looks nice when it's clean, but is difficult to keep that way and already had some darker stains on it that I was not able to remove with my limited cleaning efforts. The plastic covers on each end look a little bit cheaper than the unit as a whole. Sadly, the bottom of the unit isn't perfectly flat, causing it to wobble a little bit. It just feels wrong to have to fix a $1,000 power conditioner with some folded tissue underneath one of its feet.

    Of course, none of this matters if the Niagara 1000 doesn't improve the sound of a system. For that, I refer you to part II of this review.



    Part II: Listening to Music

    After the somewhat unusual tests performed in part I, it is now time to simply listen to music, and see whether the provided products can make a difference here.

    Devices used in this part of the review
    System A

    P_20180625_123943_vHDR_On.jpg

    Components
    Test results

    First, I listened with the system powered as usual: using the Tripp-Lite 6SP power strip plugged into one outlet, and an iFi AC iPurifier plugged into the outlet next to it, as well as a second AC iPurifier in the power strip's first outlet (closest to its cable), then the headphone amp, then a third AC iPurifier, then the DAC. I am quite happy with the system as is, and am unsure how to improve its sound further.

    Next, I switched to using the Audioquest Niagara 1000 with the Audioquest Thunder cable. I removed the first AC iPurifier from the outlet, plugged the headphone amplifier into the Niagara 1000's high current outlet, and the DAC into the last outlet on the Niagara 1000. This sounded great - just like before. Or was it better? It should be better, right? More bass, maybe? More body?

    I went back and forth multiple times, unsure whether there really was a difference. Finally, I plugged both the DAC and the headphone amp directly into the wall outlet (no power conditioning at all) and... it still sounded great. I am not convinced there is any difference between these three approaches at all.

    Finally, I tried the Audioquest Thunder cable directly into the headphone amp and... still did not hear a difference.

    Summary

    Neither the Niagara 1000 nor the AC iPurifier seemed to have a significant impact on this system. Using the Audioquest Thunder to power the headphone amplifier directly from an outlet also made no apparent difference.


    System B

    P_20180701_153616_vHDR_On.jpg

    This was a temporary setup focusing solely on the power cords. The reason I have so many of Tripp-Lite's 14 AWG power cords is because I heard an improvement going from the Jotunheim's stock cable (18 AWG) to a Tripp-Lite cable (14 AWG) of similar length. I determined that by directly comparing two Jotunheims with the same source and the same headphones. However, I later realized a flaw in my approach: both amps were plugged into the same power strip, with the thicker Tripp-Lite cord in an outlet closer to the power strip's cable. While I swapped the cables on the amp's end to rule out one amp sounding better than the other, I did not swap them on the outlet end. Maybe both amps needing the same amount of power at the same time (due to amplifying the same signal) meant that the first amp was somewhat depriving the second amp, regardless of the cord used? Also, I only matched the volume by ear.

    This time, I tried a little harder. I plugged both amps into the same pair of outlets, directly from the wall. Unfortunately, I did not have two identical pairs of RCA cables handy, so I couldn't use the battery powered iFi micro iDSD as a DAC. But I did have my XLR Y cables lying around, allowing me to use the Topping DX7s as a DAC for both Jotunheims. Of course, that one doesn't have a battery, so I used an extension cord to supply it from a different outlet in the room. Using a monitor raiser, I spaced the three devices as far apart as I could, and tried to keep all the cables apart to the extent possible.

    P_20180701_151304_vHDR_On_1.jpg

    Components
    Test results

    P_20180701_154158_vHDR_On.jpg P_20180701_154457_vHDR_On.jpg

    I started out with the stock 18 AWG power cords for both amps, and level matched them by playing a 1 kHz sine wave via an Online Tone Generator and adjusting the volume for each until my decibel meter, squeezed between the earpads, read 90 dBA on both. I then went back and forth between the amps while listening to music. Both amps sounded identical, as far as I could tell.

    I then switched to the Tripp-Lite power cord on one of the amps and level matched again. What I heard sounded slightly richer - maybe. Whatever difference there may have been was definitely subtle. I also wanted to hear an improvement, given my commitment to these power cords. Together that means my impression here is not reliable. Whatever difference I heard could easily be wishful thinking.

    Next, I swapped out the 14 AWG Tripp-Lite cable with the (maybe) 11 AWG Audioquest one. Whatever difference there may be should be more pronounced by comparing it to the thinner 18 AWG stock cable. But the results were the same as when comparing the 14 AWG and the 18 AWG cables. I believe the Audioquest cable sounded slightly richer than the 18 AWG one, but it was subtle enough to be the result of expectation bias.

    Lastly, I compared the 14 AWG Tripp-Lite cable with the Audioquest one, and they sounded identical to me. Given how massive the Audioquest cable is, with its fancy dielectric bias system, I saw the potential for a substantial difference, but I simply didn't hear it.

    Summary

    Investing in Tripp-Lite's 14 AWG power cord may provide a slight benefit with negligible downsides due to the slightly thicker and less flexible cable. But going to an Audioquest Thunder cable seems to provide no additional benefit, while being much more expensive and a lot more difficult to handle due to its size, stiffness and weight.


    System C
    Test results

    I thought I would have all day to test Audioquest's magic in this system, but that turned out not to be the case. Luckily, I found out in the morning, but it still meant that I needed to prioritize. Without any changes to my regular setup, I turned on the DAC, amp and subwoofer to give them some warmup time, and did some morning chores.

    Then, I hooked up the DAC, amp and subwoofer to the Tripp-Lite 6SP and started listening to establish a base line. I was not happy with the sound. It sounded flat, unengaging, with an incoherent sound stage, although as usual, my subwoofer didn't fail to please with the right, bass heavy music. I then realized I had left one iFi AC iPurifier in the outlet next to the one the power strip was plugged in. If it helped at all, it certainly didn't help enough. I wasn't sure I would have time to start over without it, so I moved on.

    Next, I added a second AC iPurifier in the power strip's first outlet, followed by the subwoofer, followed by a third AC iPurifier, followed by the power amp and the DAC. That would be the approach recommended by iFi, assuming the subwoofer's power supply is a switch mode power supply, which I don't know for certain, and assuming the DAC's power supply is a linear one, which at least one source claimed. Using all three AC iPurifiers noticeably improved the sound stage, in the sense that I could more easily locate the origin of instruments and voices. Cymbals and trumpets sounded more bearable. Still, not a sound I'm satisfied with, or proud of.

    While I couldn't test all candidates of part I due to the time available, I decided to give the Furman PST-8 a shot. I had tried the more advanced PST-8D some time ago, and wasn't very impressed, and the PST-8 was unsurprisingly no different. The system basically went back to sounding like it did with just a power strip (and an AC iPurifier in the outlet next to it). The PST-8/PST-8D may be an excellent surge protector, which is why I got it, but an amazing power conditioner it is not.

    I was excited and nervous to try the Audioquest Niagara 1000. Would I finally hear an improvement with it, or are my ears just not golden enough? I first tried it with the Audioquest Thunder cable, obviously with the power amp in the high current outlet, and the DAC and subwoofer in the regular outlets. I turned everything on, restarted the music and... was floored. Not only was the sound stage even better defined than with the AC iPurifier, everything suddenly sounded full, rich, engaging, musical - truly pleasant! Sia's voice in "Numb" and "Rewrite" made me go "Mmmh" - which was a déjà vu for me.

    I had heard these speakers sound like that before, with the same songs - in the audio store that I auditioned them in, with the same amp, but a nano iDSD as the DAC and a Schiit SYS as the preamp. It's hard to judge based on memory, but I liked them even better at home with the Audioquest Niagara 1000. Put simply, my speakers finally sounded like the $2,000 speakers they are! Of course I don't know how that change translates to other speakers and components, but for the first time ever, I really loved how my system sounded as a whole - not just the subwoofer.

    Curious to see how much of that was thanks to the power cord vs the power conditioner, I removed the Audioquest Thunder and used a Tripp-Lite 14 AWG 3 ft power cord instead. And I'm happy to say that it sounded every bit as good this way. It's possible that I would have gotten different results with more power hungry amplifiers, or possibly with another Thunder cable to connect the power amp to the Niagara 1000's high current outlet, or generally with a more resolving system, but I was unable to test any of that.

    I continued listening, curious how other songs would sound now. It all sounded wonderful, and I had a lot of fun - so much fun that my neighbor suddenly started banging on the wall. Oops! It did get a little loud towards the end, when I didn't have to maintain volume levels between the setup changes anymore. But I was satisfied. Of course I would have loved to tinker more - plug the amplifier into one of the Niagara 1000's regular outlet, plug the Niagara 1000 into the PST-8, try different speakers, and more... but I had to wrap it up.

    Summary

    The Audioquest Niagara 1000 made my speaker system sing, for the first time ever - at least in my home. While some of the improvements can be had on the cheap with one iFi AC iPurifier between the subwoofer and the other components, the Niagara's contribution was a lot more profound than going from an iFi nano iDSD + Schiit SYS to a Schiit Jotunheim with DAC module to a Topping DX7s. Worth $1,000 in this system? Yes, absolutely.

    The Audioquest Thunder, however, did not improve the sound compared to a Tripp-Lite 14 AWG power cord in its place. My wallet is happy to hear it.


    Conclusion

    I cannot recommend the Audioquest Thunder power cord. In none of my tests did it perform any better than a $10 Tripp-Lite 14 AWG power cord. For several hundred times the price you get a power cord that is much thicker, stiffer and heavier, making it difficult to handle and integrate. The sleeve was also fraying quite a bit, somewhat impairing the otherwise solid appearance of the cable. While not a problem in serious applications, I want to point out that the Audioquest cable was too tight a fit for my extension cord.

    In contrast, the Audioquest Niagara 1000 comes highly recommended. Recommended to try, at least, because it simply did not make a difference in my headphone systems, while transforming my speaker system into something very enjoyable. Sadly, it is too bulky to hide from my wife, otherwise I would have placed an order with Todd right away. I'm also still mildly concerned about the polarity result tests, and would like to clarify them with Audioquest. Still, I keep wondering how I might be able to make it fit after all. I want that sound back, for good.

    Many thanks to @Todd for this opportunity! I hesitated at first, expecting not being able to contribute much of value, but I'm very glad I signed up anyway.


    Update

    I contacted Krista Haughey, Audioquest's Regional Sales Manager for California, Nevada and Arizona, and got this response:
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
  14. Billheiser
    Appreciate your detailed review and impressions!

    (Audioquest's response is interesting, and I'll take it at face value. Still, it seems weird to have that manufacturing defect. Even Stevie Wonder would have a 50% chance of wiring it correctly.)
     
    Alcophone likes this.
  15. Alcophone
    I'm getting nervous because the next person in line hasn't picked up the packages from USPS after more than a week of them waiting there. What's going on?
     
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