QED re-enter the power cable fold with the demure-looking XT5, Paul Rigby reviews
It’s been a while but QED is back in the power cable game with the XT5, a cable that looks very ordinary indeed. Nothing flashy here, just a black plug with a black cable and black adornments. It looks relatively meaty sure but there’s not much else to say in aesthetic terms.
Of course, the business is all happening within as the bespoke X-Tube technology – more familiar in the company’s speaker cable ranges – has been tuned for the XT5.
To keep the noise down, as it where, QED also features a ferrite-impregnated inner jacket.
And that’s yer lot, really. It’s a fairly straight-forward, copper-based cable with an external dimeter of 11mm and a few QED fancies within but again, the build is pretty straight forward too.
So how does it sound?
I began with prog and the sublime track, Lies from Camel’s Nude, a record that rightly wallows in the progginess of English prog. A heady brew. And before I go on I wanted to pay my respects to a band who would dare to release a record like this in 1981 when most prog bands were being stoned to death on street corners by hoards or rampaging punk vigilantes. Kudos all ‘round.
More power to them and more power from the XT5 which infused the soundstage of this track with plenty of air and space. It directly benefitted the guitar of Andy Latimer. His electric lead was able to roam and wander at will and the QED was able to provide the necessary space for him to do just that.
Latimer enjoyed sustaining his guitar notes, wanting them to fly and glide. The XT5 allowed that to happen.
For percussion, the drums were punchy and direct. The foundation to this track was strong while the bass pushed the music forwards at a fair old clip. The momentum of the music was urged forward by the strong bass.
I did feel that the QED added a touch of upper midrange pinching to enhance lead vocal diction but to also add a fine embossing effect to the detail. There was a hint of compression in this area.
Now just let me confirm right now that I’m not saying that the XT5 was bright or edgy at all, in any way. What I am saying is that the mids were lifted a touch to add emphasis to the detail. I’ve heard this effect on album mastering. For example, the first remastering of the Beatles catalogue to CD added a slight midrange emphasis to bring out all of the detail. That’s what QED is doing here with its new power cable.
That is, detail was stressed and accentuated by the QED which which meant that low-end weight wasn’t really there during the Hammond organ solo. Bass was solid but the low frequencies never really played and dwelled in that place. Bass was more hit and run. Percussion did provide more impact though because that area was honed to a tee.
You could also hear the effect in the cymbal taps. Treble was excellent here, there was nothing offensive to behold although you could, once more, hear a slight emphasis that encouraged shy detail to emerge from the rear of the mix. This lifting of the upper frequencies was subtle and amounted to a nudge here and there so, although it moved the music away from the balanced and strictly neutral, some listeners might not hear it. Many will enjoy and even prefer the effect.
I then turned to CD and Geoff Keezer’s jazz outing, Turn up the Quiet and the track, Stompin’ at the Savoy from 1997.
If anything, the XT5 suited the detail and the upper midrange demands of jazz better than the relatively raucous chaos of rock as individual piano notes were highlighted across this track. Upright bass was tracked too of course, bass was certainly present and abundant but the precision of the bass string plucks were perhaps emphasised over the resonant nature of the after effects.
The sax was also playful. It fairly skipped and darted as the QED easily kept pace with the explicit and particular nature of the arrangement.
There was space and air in the soundstage too. Jazz often enjoys the contrast in tempo and tone found when space is integrated in the mix and the QED was able to effectively track those effects with aplomb.
It may look a little reserved in its appearance but the QED cable will dig out shy information residing at the back of the mix and offer it to the ear. So you won’t miss a thing with the QED.
Working well with rock, perhaps even better with jazz and classical, the QED is an effective performer that points out all of the detail on your records and does so with a sense of efficiency and style.
QED XT5 POWER CABLE
Prices: 1M – £149 ; 2M – £169 & 3M – £199
GOOD: detail, information retrieval, bass impact, spacious soundstage
BAD: midrange lift
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