REVIEW: ISOTEK EVO3 ASCENSION POWER CABLE
IsoTek announced their new flagship Ascension power cable last year. Few other Hi-Fi components can cause such divisive opinions, but in my experience, cables can often prove to be the final tweak in a high-end system.
£3,000/2m cable as tested
Let me kick things off by saying that I would never recommend a cable upgrade before an actual piece of kit such as an amp, DAC or such.
I currently have a modest system compared to a lot of my friends, so being presented with a top-flight power cable to review both confused, and excited me.
The confusion is caused by the fact that my Musical Fidelity M6si Integrated Amp costs less than this power cable. Now, I know that the Ascension is aimed at more esoteric components, but I was intrigued to hear if it can make a difference at this level.
The spec sheet of the EVO3 Ascension certainly sounds impressive. You get three 4mm² high-purity OCC (Ohno Continuous Cast) copper conductors that are then silver-plated and wrapped in extruded FEP (Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene) with an air dielectric barrier. Each of those is then matched with FEP/airtubes which act as spacers.
The entire assembly is then encased in Mylar, shielded with a high-purity oxygen-free copper braid and then given a trip through -196°C deep cryo. Once all that is completed, it is then given a paper wrap and its distinctive purple PVC jacket.
IsoTek is understandably proud of their VAD Barrier. The company has created a Virtual Air Dielectric Barrier which they claim has a dielectric constant of just 1.0548.
The resulting cable has plenty of heft to it as well as an outer diameter of 20mm; equally chunky terminations are fitted at either end with IsoTek’s bespoke audiophile-grade connectors of solid OFC with silver-plated connectors in durable carbon fibre and metal casting at one end and a Furutech 3-pin at the other.
Because of all this, you have to ensure that your rack has adequate room behind it. I had to pull my stand out a little further from the wall to accommodate the terminal going into my amp, as well as the sheer girth of the cable.
Being cable-curious, I tend to go into these things with an open mind. Personally, I think that this is the best way. I have no real expectations and will leave any presentation happy regardless of whether I have heard any difference between cables.
I have, however, been amazed by the differences I have heard in my system by way of cable upgrades – far away from the accusations of volume/EQ tampering at demonstrations.
Plugging the power cable into my M6si that I’ve owned for almost four years, it was immediately apparent that the EVO3 Ascension made my system 'quieter'. Expanding on this, music is emerging from a ‘blacker’ background.
This richer audio contrast makes a difference as you can get more from the music as a result. The Ascension is also very neutral in that it doesn’t appear to add or flavour anything.
I also tested it with my disc player, and there was not a great deal of difference between that and the Chord Company Shawline power cable I usually use in my amp.
Further testing involved comparing bundled kettle leads, the Chord and the IsoTek, further highlighting the silent running with the Ascension in place. I also noticed a marked increase in soundstage, but I am putting that down to the contrast mentioned above rather than a pure audio improvement.
While this audio system may not be the most sensitive or have the last word on detail out there, but the IsoTek Ascension really has made a difference.
Does this mean I am going to tell everyone I meet to rush out and spend three-grand on a power cable? Nope. Well, unless they are looking for final ways to eke out the last bits of performance from an already well-synergised system.
What I can tell you is that it is very obvious to me that IsoTek are specialists in their field. They design and build products around power.
You’ll not find speaker cables or interconnects on their product list, and why should they? They have clearly found what they are good at and they do it incredibly well.
The downside to this experience is now I need to test power conditioners! Does it ever end?
At this price point, IsoTek's EVO3 Ascension could well find itself up against other ‘money no object’ competitors at even higher price points, and I suspect it may hold its own.
IsoTek's EVO3 Ascension is available in UK, EU, US, AU, and CH power plugs, C15 IEC socket only.
For more information visit IsoTek.
StereoNET UK’s Editor and Bass playing gadget junkie. He’s captained the good ship GadgetyNews for over a decade, making low jargon high tech a very handy thing. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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