Packed full of technology, Paul Rigby reviews Russ Andrews’ X6 mains block
Power blocks can bought almost for pennies on the High Street. Normally presented in a basic white plastic case with enough room for four to six sockets, they are made from dirt-cheap components that are awash with noise and other distortions. There are a range of more audiophile models currently for sale which try to combat these adverse effects but Russ Andrews’ X6 goes that bit further, it seems. The X6 (the X4 has four sockets and the X2 has two sockets) is fitted with UltraSockets: DCT treated, high contact pressure mains sockets, with fully nickel-plated contacts while each socket is independently wired with Kimber TCX cable. The high impact, fire resistant chassis also arrives with a Silencer mains filter and SuperClamp surge protection. I think a ‘Phew!’ is warranted, at this point.
Turning from a basic, bog standard, High St. power block to the X6 and playing Dexter Gordon’s I Was Doing All Right and plugging in the X6, the soundstage sprang to life with a layered complexity that immediately forced a smile. Such was the easy going yet 3D effect provided in comparison with the big standard power block.
The right channel was then occupied by the solo sax performance of Gordon which was a lot smoother and emotive than before. The reedy nature of the instrument was more apparent while the piano, centre stage, became a significant portion of the mix. More importantly, the bass, largely absent from the basic power block, while not exactly in your face now, did provide a better rhythmic foundation to the track. You could hear the nuance of the plucked strings for the first time. When the trumpet solo appeared for the first time on the left channel the basic power block inspired noisy effects which were now largely removed. A tonally smooth performance replaced it.
Replacing jazz with rock, The Who’s My Wife and Keith Moon’s centre-stage powerful drum performance was crisp with greater precision and clarity while the background synth effects, introduced later in the track, lost the horrible upper mid bloom effects of the basic block. Now, the sonic output remained fully in control. The lead vocal was also now much more interesting with the double tracked effects providing intriguing layering and depth to the performance,
I wanted to provide more of a challenge to the X6 so I inserted a Rhodium-plated power block from Mains Cables R Us. The latter is a decent, solid performer, offering very good performance and one that provides excellent value for money at around £200 (although you can probably buy this unit at a lower price).
In comparison, the X6 provided a superior bottom end, a greater weight and heft to lower frequencies that enabled The Who track to really rock. Moon’s drums sounded powerful, direct and were the obvious fulcrum. There was also a greater focus to the track. With the MCRU block, there was a touch of upper mid bloom on vocal crescendos. That was removed with the X6, giving the track a sense of maturity. The synth effects had a larger, more rounded output too that gave them body and guts.
That enhanced bass response, you might think, should not be such an issue during the Dexter Gordon track but far from it. The reduced inherent bass from the MCRU resulted in a slightly wayward track that lacked a measure of grounding but the X6 provided a more secure presentation, giving the sax the trumpet a better rhythmic base to work from. Meanwhile, the X6’s upper midrange was more focused and smoother.
Offering a firm, secure suite of lower frequencies plus a focused and developed array of upper midrange detail, the X6 along with its PowerKord 100 cable (you can save yourself some money by supplying your own cable) will provide an enhanced performance for any hi-fi. A grand total of £500 (including the cable) is a lot to pay but the power block is packed with enhancing technologies that all add to the enhanced sound quality. Despite the cost, the X6 just squeezes into Groovy award territory.
RUSS ANDREWS X6
Price: £349 (or £500 with a PowerKord 100 cable)
Tel: 01539 797300
Good: commanding bass frequencies, focus & developed mids
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