Looking for a budget power block? Paul Rigby checks out this reptilian example for you mains connections
OK, it’s not dirt cheap but, at this price, I would still call the TCI Constrictor power block a budget design. There’s several designs out there that fall into a similar price point but some of them don’t include a mains cable that runs from the block to the wall socket. Some designs have you buying an extra cable for that which can, depending on the specific purchase of course, possibly double the final price.
Designed, hand made and finished in the UK, the TCI Constrictor adds value because the mains cable connection is part of the inherent structure.
More than that, the block also features design features to filter RFI interference to enhance detail.
This 6-way power block does resemble the TCI Emerald Constrictor powerblock but gives you an additional 50% thicker cross-sectional area and 25% more silver.
The construction features PTFE-insulated SP-OFC conductors, a braided construction aimed at increasing RF rejection and the inclusion of a True-Plug 6-way powerblock. The latter can be bought as a UK but also Schuko configuration.
I began with the title track from the vinyl edition of Roxy Music’s Avalon and heard a fresh set of upper frequencies spanning the soundstage. Yes, a slightly lit upper suite of midrange frequencies helped to accentuate this effect but it did give a sort of ‘wind rushing through the studio because someone’s left the window open’ effect.
Thus the lead vocal had a crisp, precise delivery while percussion was full of impact but that impact was delivered at a brisk pace. There was nothing slow or dragging about the Constrictor here.
The accompanying saxophone, resident on the right channel, was another instrument to be affected by this approach. This brass staple, despite being a little hard in its delivery, was certainly distinct and detailed.
Actually, it was in the subject of detail that the Constrictor majored because it was able to accentuate even minor elements in the mix. This meant that even shy effects, hidden in the dark corners of the mix, where honed and highlighted by the Constrictor. The power block thus encouraged these sounds to emerge and be better spotted by the ear.
Treble, although lacking a touch of fragility, was also notable for its accuracy and exact nature of its delivery.
Similarly bass provided a solid foundation for the track as a whole. Although not too organic in nature, the lower frequencies were both firm and quick on the punch. Bass was certainly mobile and danced along with the rhythms. Brian Ferry never sounded so funky!
Moving to CD now and finger picking guitar action via Regards From Chuck Pink, Leo Kottke’s 1988 album release. The track, I Yell at Traffic was another clear and richly detailed song via the Constrictor. Yes, there was a slight midrange hardening around the string plucks that offered a slightly solid state rush to the soundstage but that did aid the swift finger speed that Kottke’s reputation depends upon.
The background instruments were also sprightly, springy and lively. The notable, slightly discordant fiddle playing that sat alongside the acoustic guitar was honed and focused in its approach.
Despite the touch of midrange smear at the very edge of the Constrictor’s dynamic reach, the track did display entertaining energy.
The TCI Constrictor power block provides great value because you’re getting six free sockets and the connecting cable built in. So, if you grab this one, everything’s included to get you up and running.
Providing a slightly solid state approach to music that adds focus and precision to mids and extra punch to bass, detail extraction is a major plus point of the design. If you are running a budget hi-fi system, the TCI Constrictor power block should certainly be on your demo list.
TCI CONSTRICTOR MAINS POWER BLOCK Price: £185 Tel: 07710 196949 Website: www.tcicables.com
GOOD: value for money, focused midrange, detail, punchy bass
BAD: slightly lit midrange
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