Furutech NCF AC Plugs: Gold vs Rhodium Reviewed!

DaveC

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Nov 16, 2014
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Here's a nice comparison by Jay of AudioBacon of identical ZenWave PCR-14 copper ribbon power cables, with only the plugs being different. And the plugs are close to identical with the exception of gold vs rhodium plating. The electrical contacts are identical, both use Furutech's "Alpha Copper". Both use Furutech's NCF material to reduce noise. The rhodium plated plug has a carbon fiber/stainless body that does give it a slight advantage, but the gold plated plug has a high quality metal body that's significantly better vs the plastic bodied Furutech plugs.

https://audiobacon.net/2020/08/22/power-connectors-they-sound-different/

I totally agree with Jay's findings. The only thing I'll add is that I think rhodium is clearer and more neutral, which is pretty obvious, but it also makes the base material more audible. For that reason I prefer rhodium only on pure copper connectors. I also think platings from different companies sound different, Furutech uses really high quality plating with good thickness and a mirror finish.

I can say from my testing that many undesirable characteristics that have been attributed to rhodium have been mistaken. It's very easy to do in this hobby! Cause and effect are not always clear. This reminds me of working on cars, it's very humbling. Nobody knows it all. If you think you do you're only setting yourself up for disappointment. :) Here are a few myths:

-Rhodium sounds harsh.... it's most likely 1. the base material or 2. The additional clarity of rhodium is allowing you to hear harshness gold plating smoothed over.

-Rhodium has this hard or glassy sound to it.... That's the quality of your AC power making it's self more audible.

-Rhodium accentuates bass.... It's just that gold softens dynamics and reduces the vibrancy of bass notes.

-This is more of an observation: Some issues with rhodium stem from using it with gold plated receptacles and IEC inlets. Most often this isn't an issue but in some cases it certainly is. You're better off using FI-50 NCF plugs with matching NCF receptacles and IEC inlets, if possible.

As I progress in my own audio journey the less I want gold plated anything, I've almost eliminated it entirely. :) If you need some warmth, don't use cables if you can avoid it. I can see fine-tuning an otherwise complete system, which is why I offer some cables on the warm side and why I offer the gold plated plugs. However, the most ideal situation would be to use the most neutral cable possible so you get the highest fidelity possible. This doesn't need to lead to overwhelming highs, an unpleasant and fake "HiFi" experience, or any burst eardrums. ;) It can also lead to a more immersive and 3-D soundstage, and more realistic and convincing timbre, better separation of images in complex music, and that elusive "Wow! " experience when you hear sounds coming from your system that sound real.

OTOH, if you just prefer a very warm system that's more than ok, and I do offer what I consider warm cables that are also very high end and lose the least amount of resolution possible in order to provide that warmth, this is the whole point of using UPOCC silver/gold alloy and ribbon vs round wire in some of my cables. Most would not prefer a round-wire pure UPOCC silver cable, which is why I don't offer one. I may offer it for phono cables as it fits that application well, but otherwise it's silver/gold wire or pure UPOCC silver ribbon wire for my top end cables.

I'd be interested to hear your experiences, let me know! :)
 

Mike Lavigne

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that is consistent with what i hear in my system; which is pretty much all Furutech NCF and Rhodium. to my ears it gets out of the way of the music. and i love the 'character or lack thereof on my power grid. i have lots of separate source components, multiple turntables, tape decks and phono stages. the music flows and is open and sparkles with energy.

i admit i've not done A/B comparisons on this stuff now for years other than regularly plugging gear into my 'dirty' power grid to re-validate my views of the benefit of my Equi=tech and other power grid pieces. not had occasion to ever reconsider.

i don't really even think about this stuff any more.....unless i read a post like above. it's a check mark on my system journey.
 
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Kingrex

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It seems every interconnect has gold coated pins. I wonder what rhodium would sound like on interconnect pins.
 

DaveC

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Nov 16, 2014
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It seems every interconnect has gold coated pins. I wonder what rhodium would sound like on interconnect pins.

It's likely you'd hear a similar difference as described with the power cables, and my opinion on the topic is the same in both power and signal cables. Interconnect cables have the largest effect on resolution though, more than speaker cables in most systems so I've found the IC plugs make a larger difference vs SC spades or bananas.

Furutech makes RCA and XLR plugs using rhodium plating and a stainless steel/carbon fiber body similar to the FI-50 NCF AC plugs, they are some of the best plugs on the market. For RCA plugs I like the WBT silver plugs a little better, which have a platinum plating that I find similar to rhodium in sound quality.
 

marty

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Apr 20, 2010
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Here's a nice comparison by Jay of AudioBacon of identical ZenWave PCR-14 copper ribbon power cables, with only the plugs being different. And the plugs are close to identical with the exception of gold vs rhodium plating. The electrical contacts are identical, both use Furutech's "Alpha Copper". Both use Furutech's NCF material to reduce noise. The rhodium plated plug has a carbon fiber/stainless body that does give it a slight advantage, but the gold plated plug has a high quality metal body that's significantly better vs the plastic bodied Furutech plugs.

https://audiobacon.net/2020/08/22/power-connectors-they-sound-different/

I totally agree with Jay's findings. The only thing I'll add is that I think rhodium is clearer and more neutral, which is pretty obvious, but it also makes the base material more audible. For that reason I prefer rhodium only on pure copper connectors. I also think platings from different companies sound different, Furutech uses really high quality plating with good thickness and a mirror finish.

I can say from my testing that many undesirable characteristics that have been attributed to rhodium have been mistaken. It's very easy to do in this hobby! Cause and effect are not always clear. This reminds me of working on cars, it's very humbling. Nobody knows it all. If you think you do you're only setting yourself up for disappointment. :) Here are a few myths:

-Rhodium sounds harsh.... it's most likely 1. the base material or 2. The additional clarity of rhodium is allowing you to hear harshness gold plating smoothed over.

-Rhodium has this hard or glassy sound to it.... That's the quality of your AC power making it's self more audible.

-Rhodium accentuates bass.... It's just that gold softens dynamics and reduces the vibrancy of bass notes.

-This is more of an observation: Some issues with rhodium stem from using it with gold plated receptacles and IEC inlets. Most often this isn't an issue but in some cases it certainly is. You're better off using FI-50 NCF plugs with matching NCF receptacles and IEC inlets, if possible.

As I progress in my own audio journey the less I want gold plated anything, I've almost eliminated it entirely. :) If you need some warmth, don't use cables if you can avoid it. I can see fine-tuning an otherwise complete system, which is why I offer some cables on the warm side and why I offer the gold plated plugs. However, the most ideal situation would be to use the most neutral cable possible so you get the highest fidelity possible. This doesn't need to lead to overwhelming highs, an unpleasant and fake "HiFi" experience, or any burst eardrums. ;) It can also lead to a more immersive and 3-D soundstage, and more realistic and convincing timbre, better separation of images in complex music, and that elusive "Wow! " experience when you hear sounds coming from your system that sound real.

OTOH, if you just prefer a very warm system that's more than ok, and I do offer what I consider warm cables that are also very high end and lose the least amount of resolution possible in order to provide that warmth, this is the whole point of using UPOCC silver/gold alloy and ribbon vs round wire in some of my cables. Most would not prefer a round-wire pure UPOCC silver cable, which is why I don't offer one. I may offer it for phono cables as it fits that application well, but otherwise it's silver/gold wire or pure UPOCC silver ribbon wire for my top end cables.

I'd be interested to hear your experiences, let me know! :)


Well Dave, as much as you are my main man for fabricating several of my power cables, you could almost predict that I would respond in violent disagreement with your fond sentiment for rhodium plated terminations. I'll make this quick since I've posted these sentiments before.

1) In most every application I've tried for both power cord and interconnect terminations,, I find rhodium sonically abhorrent. They never cease to impress me with their sonic wrongness in almost every frequency range except for bass (where I actually do use Furutech rhodium AC connectors on custom cables plugged into silver Watt-gate AC receptacles for my JL subs). If you think that rhodium can reproduce cymbals with any kind of realistic veracity of the real thing, then we just have to politely agree to disagree. No real world cymbal, whether it be in a jazz or orchestral setting, sounds musically "right: when played back using rhodium connectors, at least to me. It is just does not sound "natural".

2) Once again, it makes no sense to me to talk about about the plating of terminations without talking about the plating of the receptacles they are being plugged into. It's best not to generalize by saying what rhodium, or gold, or silver plated terminations sound like without talking about their specific pairings of the recipient metals.

Here's an excerpt from post 13 of this post https://www.whatsbestforum.com/thre...urrent-versions-vs-regular.26992/#post-547789

"I can often control the selection the male AC plug, the female IEC plug, and the AC receptacle in many of my experiments, but I cannot control the material used for the chassis IEC connector as I have no desire to alter the selection of the manufacturer's chassis connector (whether they be signal or IEC power connectors). So, there's a limit of what I can and not try. Like many other audiophiles, one conclusion I’ve reached is that material in contact to the connectors at each end of the PC is very important to the sonic end result. This actually make some sense when you think about it. Most power cables typically use identical metals on the Male NEMA and female IEC ends. But the AC receptacle and the chassis IEC connectors are typically not the same metal. An AC connector may be nickel flashed copper, gold, silver, or rhodium plated etc., while the IEC connectors is most commonly gold-plated copper, phosphor bronze or beryllium copper. Let's assume that your cable connectors on both ends were, say, metal A. Why would anyone think that metal A would sound the same next to an IEC connector of metal B as it does for an AC receptacle of metal C? Or metals A or B for that matter? This is something that nobody really talks about. As to what sounds best, it's probably something that it best discovered by trial and error as there are no obvious rules I can find for guidance although some understanding of metallurgy is useful. https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/fun-with-metallurgy.23376/"

3) Totally agree with you that the underlying metal is important regardless of the plating one prefers. Also critical is the amount of plating used. For example, it is the reason that Carmine Bocchino thinks silver can have a bad or inconsistent sonic benefit if it is not plated at least 9-11 microns thick.

4) Finally, if rhodium were such a no-brainer, why don't the vast majority of the world's finest electronics manufacturers use rhodium terminations since they are in fact readily available? Think about that one.
 

Kingrex

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Feb 4, 2019
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4) Finally, if rhodium were such a no-brainer, why don't the vast majority of the world's finest electronics manufacturers use rhodium terminations since they are in fact readily available? Think about that one.[/QUOTE]
Gold melts at almost half the temperature of Rhodium. Gold is very easy to work with. Gold never tarnishes. Gold is plentiful. Gold has been a standard for years and only a small select few audio nuts are that concerned about the difference.
 

DaveC

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Nov 16, 2014
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Gold melts at almost half the temperature of Rhodium. Gold is very easy to work with. Gold never tarnishes. Gold is plentiful. Gold has been a standard for years and only a small select few audio nuts are that concerned about the difference.

One thing I forgot to mention is gold is much softer vs rhodium as well. In friction fit connectors it wears off quickly, so I use locking RCA plugs and bananas.
 
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griggaudio.de
I highly recommend the Furutech FI-50 NCF. I used it to assemble all of my cables with a high power consum.



Even on the GigaWatt Power Line Conditioner PC-2 EVO +, I had the disappointingly bad socket exchanged for the Furutech FI-06 R NCF Rhodium socket. In the picture on the right is the old socket with cheap wobbly connectors and on the left the new one with solid contacts.



My T + A M10 power amplifiers benefit greatly from these measures. The speed and bass increased. Very nice to hear on drums.
 
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Kingrex

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I highly recommend the Furutech FI-50 NCF. I used it to assemble all of my cables with a high power consum.



Even on the GigaWatt Power Line Conditioner PC-2 EVO +, I had the disappointingly bad socket exchanged for the Furutech FI-06 R NCF Rhodium socket. In the picture on the right is the old socket with cheap wobbly connectors and on the left the new one with solid contacts.



My T + A M10 power amplifiers benefit greatly from these measures. The speed and bass increased. Very nice to hear on drums.
Is the solder after you clamped it or before.
 

Kingrex

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Feb 4, 2019
393
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I personally have had issues with rhodium and gold myself. I like the most pure copper I can get.

It is true, my system was young at the time of these issurs. Not well developed. I bought my First Sound preamp and Emmanuel Go the maker was listening with me. I complained about some high frequency irritation. Fatigue. Emmanuel came back the next day with pure copper power cords. Cheap ones. He started removing my Isotek and Silnote gold and rhodium power cables and replacing them with copper. At first I said it was sounding flat and loosing life. He thought it was better and said lets keep going. (As an aside, he told me many people mistake unnatural highs as better cymbals). It was when he pulled my last cable off my dac and replaced it that we both looked at each other in shock. It all snapped into place. It was all correct.

That was a great day as I learned 2 things. One being the basics of how to tune your system. The second understanding how important what is coming from the power utility is critically important. That last lesson has sent me down a rabbit hole as an electrician optimizing a few systems and now launching a company to deal with everything behind the wall. Power delivery is critical.
 
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DaveC

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Well Dave, as much as you are my main man for fabricating several of my power cables, you could almost predict that I would respond in violent disagreement with your fond sentiment for rhodium plated terminations. I'll make this quick since I've posted these sentiments before.

1) In most every application I've tried for both power cord and interconnect terminations,, I find rhodium sonically abhorrent. They never cease to impress me with their sonic wrongness in almost every frequency range except for bass (where I actually do use Furutech rhodium AC connectors on custom cables plugged into silver Watt-gate AC receptacles for my JL subs). If you think that rhodium can reproduce cymbals with any kind of realistic veracity of the real thing, then we just have to politely agree to disagree. No real world cymbal, whether it be in a jazz or orchestral setting, sounds musically "right: when played back using rhodium connectors, at least to me. It is just does not sound "natural".

2) Once again, it makes no sense to me to talk about about the plating of terminations without talking about the plating of the receptacles they are being plugged into. It's best not to generalize by saying what rhodium, or gold, or silver plated terminations sound like without talking about their specific pairings of the recipient metals.

Here's an excerpt from post 13 of this post https://www.whatsbestforum.com/thre...urrent-versions-vs-regular.26992/#post-547789

"I can often control the selection the male AC plug, the female IEC plug, and the AC receptacle in many of my experiments, but I cannot control the material used for the chassis IEC connector as I have no desire to alter the selection of the manufacturer's chassis connector (whether they be signal or IEC power connectors). So, there's a limit of what I can and not try. Like many other audiophiles, one conclusion I’ve reached is that material in contact to the connectors at each end of the PC is very important to the sonic end result. This actually make some sense when you think about it. Most power cables typically use identical metals on the Male NEMA and female IEC ends. But the AC receptacle and the chassis IEC connectors are typically not the same metal. An AC connector may be nickel flashed copper, gold, silver, or rhodium plated etc., while the IEC connectors is most commonly gold-plated copper, phosphor bronze or beryllium copper. Let's assume that your cable connectors on both ends were, say, metal A. Why would anyone think that metal A would sound the same next to an IEC connector of metal B as it does for an AC receptacle of metal C? Or metals A or B for that matter? This is something that nobody really talks about. As to what sounds best, it's probably something that it best discovered by trial and error as there are no obvious rules I can find for guidance although some understanding of metallurgy is useful. https://www.whatsbestforum.com/threads/fun-with-metallurgy.23376/"

3) Totally agree with you that the underlying metal is important regardless of the plating one prefers. Also critical is the amount of plating used. For example, it is the reason that Carmine Bocchino thinks silver can have a bad or inconsistent sonic benefit if it is not plated at least 9-11 microns thick.

4) Finally, if rhodium were such a no-brainer, why don't the vast majority of the world's finest electronics manufacturers use rhodium terminations since they are in fact readily available? Think about that one.

Hi Marty, I hope you're doing well! I can't say why you have the results you do with rhodium, but I don't doubt what you're hearing! I'm not convinced it's the rhodium plating that's the problem though, see my original post for a few ways it's common for issues in the system to be mistakenly blamed on rhodium.

I can say I haven't sold a cable with gold plating (with rare exceptions) for many years. I've sold hundreds of cables with rhodium or platinum plating without folks having issues with them. In fact, the experience that Jay relates in his article and Mike L stated in his post above, is by far the most common experience people report. In my experience sending people demo cables for the last 8 years, your experience with rhodium is an outlier.

The power cables I put together for you, Furutech DPS-4 with one gold and one unplated plug, is a very warm and dark cable relative to many and will smooth over a lot of grain and harshness, it's a very forgiving cable. This is why I replaced it with my copper ribbon cable, it's much more neutral and if folks want more warmth, that's why I offer the FI-46 gold plated plugs. :)

As far as #4 there are many reasons with cost being the most likely. I also don't believe there are a lot of options for HIGH QUALITY rhodium plated parts and as I said, I only prefer it over pure copper. So, the selection of pure copper connectors with rhodium plating are not great, and they are very expensive vs brass/bronze connectors. So IMO cost and availability are the most likely but I can't speak for all designers and am sure some do prefer to use pure copper / rhodium parts. In terms of brass and bronze, I prefer no plating or gold, rhodium doesn't smooth out the grain or harshness added by these copper alloys.

Finally, there are large variations in personal preference, and there can be large differences in how individuals actually hear... I've worked with many customers who have damaged hearing in different ways, this can make a big difference too. Between personal preference, differences in personal perception of sound, and the massive differences in audio systems there's no wonder we see so many differences of opinion! :) This is also why I offer cables that suit these differences, and in the case of this thread, I offer both rhodium and gold to make sure you're covered and get what you need for your system. In the end it's all about enjoying the music and I see my job as facilitating exactly that! :)
 

DaveC

Industry Expert
Nov 16, 2014
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I personally have had issues with rhodium and gold myself. I like the most pure copper I can get.

It is true, my system was young at the time of these issurs. Not well developed. I bought my First Sound preamp and Emmanuel Go the maker was listening with me. I complained about some high frequency irritation. Fatigue. Emmanuel came back the next day with pure copper power cords. Cheap ones. He started removing my Isotek and Silnote gold and rhodium power cables and replacing them with copper. At first I said it was sounding flat and loosing life. He thought it was better and said lets keep going. (As an aside, he told me many people mistake unnatural highs as better cymbals). It was when he pulled my last cable off my dac and replaced it that we both looked at each other in shock. It all snapped into place. It was all correct.

That was a great day as I learned 2 things. One being the basics of how to tune your system. The second understanding how important what is coming from the power utility is critically important. That last lesson has sent me down a rabbit hole as an electrician optimizing a few systems and now launching a company to deal with everything behind the wall. Power delivery is critical.

I agree, and am continuously amazed by how much AC power matters, some DACs are especially sensitive to AC power quality and cables!
 

sbnx

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Mar 28, 2017
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Metallurgy aside I am not a fan of the furutech outlets as the just don’t grip the prongs of the power cord firmly.

I do like the Shunyata copper conn outlet.
 
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Jun 30, 2020
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Is the solder after you clamped it or before.

I don't want to adorn myself with this feathers. ;)

Fis Audio did the soldering for me. With a very special solder (it's a trade secret):

 

DaveC

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Nov 16, 2014
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Metallurgy aside I am not a fan of the furutech outlets as the just don’t grip the prongs of the power cord firmly.

I do like the Shunyata copper conn outlet.


Furutech has increased the clamping force of the GTX outlets in the last year, now it has much more grip. This is done with a stainless steel spring in the GTX models as pure copper is too soft, so the clamping force was intentionally set to be gentle on the plug, but I agree that in past years it's been an issue as far as keeping heavy power cables securely in the receptacles without rigging up supports. The reason for it is to keep the receptacle from wearing through the plating, so it is a trade-off. With less spring pressure you'll get less wear. Hospital grade receptacles are so aggressive they will wear through the plating very quickly, often putting a gauge into the male plug with ONE insertion cycle... not what you want to see after spending $400 on a plug! I think Furutech has found a middle ground between being too aggressive and damaging the plating or being too soft and not securely holding the male plug in place.
 
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Mike Lavigne

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Metallurgy aside I am not a fan of the furutech outlets as the just don’t grip the prongs of the power cord firmly.

I do like the Shunyata copper conn outlet.

i recall when i had the Oyaide R-1's installed they gripped like mad.....so tightly they scraped the plating off my plugs and after a few plugging and unplugging it seemed they did not sound as good. then got a big boost switching to the Furutech GTX with a more relaxed but all copper outlet, with a stainless steel backing spring. i only switched them for the NCF advantage, but am still very happy with the GTX.

most of my power cords are Absolute Fidelity which use very lightweight cables so do not stress the outlet so i get a good grip without assistance. my amp power cords are Evolution Acoustics and are very heavy and i do need to support the cable properly or they do pull loose to a degree. so proper cable attention is required as nothing is perfect.

more grip has it's issues. maybe the Shunyata has it figured out, not tried them.
 
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dan31

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I have stayed with the original GTX. Still satisfied. I will note the lighter grip force as a real thing. It does use a lighter touch saving the expensive plating.
 

marty

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I do like the Shunyata copper conn outlet.

+1
It is my default "go to" outlet.
These "experiments" are easy when you configure a room with the option for multiple outlets.

Screen Shot 2020-08-23 at 1.43.49 PM.png

.... your experience with rhodium is an outlier.
Of this I am sure you are right! I always wondered if it's because my mother dropped me on my head at some point. It would explain a lot of things....
 

DaveC

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Nov 16, 2014
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+1
It is my default "go to" outlet.
These "experiments" are easy when you configure a room with the option for multiple outlets.

View attachment 68590


Of this I am sure you are right! I always wondered if it's because my mother dropped me on my head at some point. It would explain a lot of things....



Lol... yeah we are all different, I have had a few customers who were very sensitive to certain things, and I notice with doing speaker preference testing the comments on the sound are all over the place. Some key in on bass, some are really sensitive to highs, some things most comment on, other things seem totally random... it's pretty interesting.

i recall when i had the Oyaide R-1's installed they gripped like mad.....so tightly they scraped the plating off my plugs and after a few plugging and unplugging it seemed they did not sound as good. then got a big boost switching to the Furutech GTX with a more relaxed but all copper outlet, with a stainless steel backing spring. i only switched them for the NCF advantage, but am still very happy with the GTX.

most of my power cords are Absolute Fidelity which use very lightweight cables so do not stress the outlet so i get a good grip without assistance. my amp power cords are Evolution Acoustics and are very heavy and i do need to support the cable properly or they do pull loose to a degree. so proper cable attention is required as nothing is perfect.

more grip has it's issues. maybe the Shunyata has it figured out, not tried them.

Yours are certainly the ones with less spring pressure vs the new ones. I have not done a careful comparison of them as far as any differences in sound, but I prefer the lower pressure to be honest, it will make the plating last longer for sure. Rhodium should last a lot longer than gold and Furutech plating is very thick so maybe not an issue with the new ones with more pressure, I'm not going to do wear testing though, lol... :)
 

DaveC

Industry Expert
Nov 16, 2014
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Here's a photo of the plugs in question... taken from the AudioBacon site... thanks Jay! :)

 

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