Suave Kajko

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After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science in 2002, Suave turned his attention to his passion for audio, video and technology in general. Through hands on experience with an extensive number of audio video products, Suave provides a real world, expert perspective on the latest products and the technology surrounding them. As an enthusiast, he shows a true passion in his writing that is easy to understand by all consumers. Aside from contributing to NOVO, Suave has also written about audio for special sections of The Toronto Star, Son et Image Magazine (FSI Guide) and appeared several times on television. More recently Suave was interviewed and quoted in articles for the Globe and Mail and MSNBC.com. In 2010, Suave launched the Toronto Audio Video Entertainment Show (TAVES), an annual consumer trade show that has witnessed tremendous growth year after year.  In 2014, the show was expanded to include a new technology & innovation pavilion and rebranded as the TAVES Consumer Electronics Show.  As of 2016, the show attracts over 7,600 attendees and exhibitors from around the globe.  TAVES showcases cutting-edge technology and innovation in the most exciting categories: virtual reality, drones, wearables, health & fitness, gaming, audio, home theater, robotics, 3D printing, personal transportation, smart devices and electric vehicles.  For more info, please visit www.taveshow.com.

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Record Store Day 2017

Celebrate this year’s Record Store Day this Saturday, April 22, 2017 by taking a stroll to a couple of your favourite record shops.  Most shops offer special vinyl and CD releases and various promotional products made exclusively for Record Store Day.  Many stores also feature live performances, cook-outs, body painting, meet & greets with artists, parades, DJs spinning records,  and other cool activities.

For a list of participating stores, jump to www.recordstoreday.com

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Music Technology Meetup

Good news everyone!  The TAVES Consumer Electronics Show is delighted to welcome the Music Technology Meetup as one of its partners for 2017.

The Music Technology Meetup is a monthly event (in Toronto, Ontario) for those interested in connecting with veterans in the music and technology industries and those who simply love music and want to learn more about how technology has shaped the way we consume, create, and monetize music. Whether you are a software developer working on a music-related project, someone interested in working in the music industry, or a musician seeking to learn more about how technology can help record and promote your band, this it the Meetup group for you.

This meetup is co-founded by Alan Cross, one of Canada’s most prestigious and experienced broadcasters, as well as Nathalia Ribeiro and Andrew Dick.  Together the team has a long history of working in the technology and music industries and facilitates networking and partnership opportunities at the Meetup.  Alan Cross is a regular speaker at the monthly event.

We are thrilled to announce that the October 2017 edition of the Music Technology Meetup will be hosted on the TAVES Consumer Electronics Show floor and led by a talk by Alan Cross.

For more info, please jump to www.meetup.com

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Torontos First Virtual Reality Lounge and Play-Lab

Imagine touring the Eiffel Tower in Paris, meditating on the beaches of Hawaii, or sitting front row in an NHL or NBA arena. Now imagine experiencing it in a VR viewing pod in a cool futuristic lounge on Queen Street West.

Launching in mid-April, House of VR is Toronto’s First Virtual Reality Lounge. A futuristic arcade, gallery and event space, House of VR is located in the historic Burroughes Building at 639 Queen Street West (at Bathurst).

House of VR is a new entrant into the “adult play experience” category, made popular by escape rooms, axe throwing and board game cafés. With successful VR lounges in New York, Vancouver and many other cities in North America, House of VR is leading the charge in the Toronto market.

House of VR will feature 10 “View” units (360˚ cinematic films) and 13 “Play” units (games and experiences in 1st person Virtual Reality and 3rd person Mixed Reality where players are green-screened into the game). Licensed content will cover everything: popular VR games, VR experiences in art and design, tourism, entertainment, education, meditation, kids-focused content and live sports. For example, imagine being in the middle of a Cirque du Soleil show, shooting cardboard zombies or walking the plank off a tall building all in the course of an hour. House of VR will be curating and updating content on a weekly basis so every visit will have some fresh new experiences.

House of VR will also feature an interactive pillow lounge with hand-gesture controlled lighting, colour-changing murals and a galaxy installation that will make even your bathroom visit Instagrammable.

House of VR is the fourth business for serial entrepreneur Jonah Brotman (Operation Groundswell, StashBelt, SokoText) but the first in which he teamed up with his techie brother, Noah Brotman, and artist/muralist and long-time girlfriend Stephanie Payne. “House of VR is absolutely a team effort – a family business in the loosest sense of the word. Yes, family is involved but my “chosen family” that of amazing builders, artists, and techie brains from my extended community, has been instrumental in bringing this project to life. I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve accomplished.” After scoring a deal on Dragon’s Den with StashBelt, Jonah plans to return to the Den with House of VR once he can show strong sales in the first few months.

More info over at www.HouseofVR.ca

Montreal Audio Fest 2017 01

Although the Montreal Audio show has been running continuously for 30 years, this March marked the second edition of the show under its new banner – Montreal Audio Fest. Spearheaded by Michel Plante and Sarah Trembley, the show made a big comeback this year, offering a larger number of exhibitors compared to 2015 and a greater sense of energy. This year’s show also appeared to be very well attended. George de Sa and I [Suave Kajko] spent three days in Montreal browsing the show floor for interesting products and new launches. Here are some of the more exciting exhibitors and products I came across.

Totem SKY tower speaker 2017

Totem Tribe Tower Speaker

Totem Acoustic
Returning to the show in a bigger role this year, Totem celebrated its 30 year anniversary by assembling a display that showcased all of the company’s speaker designs since the very beginning. Totem also introduced two brand new products – the Totem SKY tower speaker and the Totem Tribe tower speaker. The theme shared by both speakers was big sound from small speakers. The SKY tower joins the SKY monitor (launched at the TAVES Consumer Electronics Show last fall) and features the same technology but this time around in a compact floor standing design. A quick listen to the SKY tower revealed a sweet, natural midrange and an impressively large, dynamic sound. The amount of bass from these speakers is sure to surprise just about everyone. The Tribe tower on the other hand is based on the superb technology found in the Tribe series of products and includes Totem’s exclusive Torrent drivers. The sound here was even bigger and more dynamic, while offering a luscious midrange and excellent low frequency punch. It’s design lines and white glossy finish make it one gorgeous looking speaker.  I smell a review of one (or both) of these speakers coming up in NOVO :-)

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Bryston Limited
While Bryston didn’t launch any new products at the show, it’s always a pleasure to listen to their gear. The all-Bryston demo system here included the Model T active towers powered by 7B Cubed amps (powering bass drivers), 3B Cubed amps (mids and highs) and the BP-26 preamp. The source was the BDP-2 music player connected to a BDA-3 DAC. A custom designed crossover allowed James Tanner to fine tune the setup to achieve a perfectly flat frequency response in the room. As I’ve come to expect from Bryston, the system played with incredible energy and real world dynamics but also offered great precision and finesse with more delicate music.  This was one of my favorite sounding setups at the show.

In addition to the demo system, Bryston also showed a prototype 21B Cubed series 3-channel amp (on static display). The single chassis of this upcoming amp will house the circuitry of the 7B Cubed amp (single channel) and a 4B Cubed amp (two channels).

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Nordost
Nordost did what they do best at hifi shows – the company ran seminars all weekend showing visitors just how dramatic an improvement high quality cables and clean power delivery can make on a music system.

When I walked in the room, Michael Taylor was doing a seminar about power cords, revealing the improvement in sound when you step up the ladder from the company’s affordable Leif series all the way up to the reference Valhalla 2 series. In this particular demo, Michael was changing the cables on a CD transport but in my experience the improvement in sound is far greater when you upgrade the power cords on your amp and preamp.  Nevertheless, this was an eye-opening seminar for all participants – that’s for sure.

Montreal Audio Fest 2017 06

Kevro International
Sheldon Ginn of Kevro International, the distributor for Monitor Audio, Cyrus Audio and Tributaries, was delighted to introduce a new brand to his company’s portfolio – the U.K.-based Roksan Audio (recently acquired by Monitor Audio).

Montreal Audio Fest 2017 07

Not surprising then, at the center of the demo system was the new Roksan Blak integrated amp ($5,699) and the Roksan Blak CD Player ($4,999). The source was a Cyrus Stream XP2-QX all-in-one streamer/DAC. Flanking the electronics were the awesome Monitor Audio PL300 II loudspeakers (see our review here). This Roksan / Monitor Audio combo produced a highly detailed sound, with fantastic soundstaging and an articulate bass. The highs played with a airiness and great extension, offering all the micro details of the high frequencies.  I have long loved the sound of Monitor Audio and these speakers paired with Roksan gear sounded fantastic.

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Plurison
Montreal-based Plurison is a distributor of some of the finest hifi brands in the business and this year the company assembled a massive showcase highlighting nearly all of its brands. In my opinion, this was the greatest Plurison display I’ve seen to date at the Montreal show.  2017 marks the 35th anniversary for Plurison.

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Whether money grows on trees in your garden or you earn it more traditionally, you would have been excited to listen to the exotic system anchoring this room. It was comprised of the Focal Grand Utopia speakers ($200K), the Naim Statement mono blocks and preamp ($300K), and the Clearaudio Statement turntable ($229K). The turntable design is unlike any other I’ve seen to date. The stand is a part of the turntable system and features a 98kg pendulum weight. When vibrations are introduced into the system, the pendulum allows the cartridge to track perfectly on the record. The platter also levitates in the air, thanks to its magnetic suspension. The sound of this system was musically stunning in every sense. The good news is that each of the three brands featured in this system offers components at real world price points that everyone that afford.

Montreal Audio Fest 2017 10

Montreal Audio Fest 2017 11

In the “down to earth” category, Plurison introduced a few new products at this year’s show. Here are two new entry level turntables from Music Hall, the MMF-1.3 ($399, with built-in phono stage) and the MMF-2.3 ($749).

Montreal Audio Fest 2017 12

This is a new compact sized Cocktail Audio N15 network music player / server with a built-in high quality DAC. You can outfit it with a 2.5″ hard drive up to 6GB in size. Control is provided via an attractive Cocktail Audio app for your phone or tablet.

Montreal Audio Fest 2017 13

Also shown was a new high-end Crystal Cable Cube integrated amp (with built-in DAC, Bluetooth, $15K). On the right is a brand new Slitech Triple Crown power cord ($15K), constructed with silver and gold conductors.

In addition to the new introductions, Plurison offered a station devoted to each of the brands the company imports. Check out the pictures below:

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Montreal Audio Fest 2017 15

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In another large room, Plurison not only showcased some of its professional audio products but also gave show attendees a chance to witness a few live recording sessions with local artists.

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Acoustic Technologies
Montreal retailer Acoustic Technologies partnered with distributor Tri-cell Enterprises to demo a Unison Research / Opera Loudspeakers system. Inside this room, the new Opera Grand Callas tower speakers were introduced ($13,500). The electronics in play while I visited the room included the Unison Research Unico 150 integrated amp ($6,300) as well as the Unison Research Unico CD Due CD player ($6,000). The rack also displayed the Unico Primo integrated amp and the Unico CD Primo. Everything was wired up with Furutech NFC series cables. The system here painted a great big sound, with powerful dynamics, and an excellent true-to-life midrange that was perfectly blended with the highs and lows. A classical recording I heard offered a massive soundstage, while recordings with vocals were filled with emotion. I’m currently reviewing the Unico 90 integrated amp and CD Due – and loving what I’m hearing – stay tuned!

Acoustic Technologies also introduced a new Lumin server / streamer and now carries Primaluna electronics, including the Dialogue Premiere HP integrated valve amp ($5,600).

Elsewhere in the hotel, Acoustic Technologies also offered show visitors a chance to discover and purchase many other audio products and accessories from their booth.

Montreal Audio Fest 2017 24

Among these was a new brand of cables called Cyr Audio made just outside of Montreal (cables range from $800-$1,400).

Montreal Audio Fest 2017 01

Solid Rack also introduced a gorgeous new solid walnut wood hifi stand (26″ x 18″), middle of above picture, which retails for $1,500.

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Audio Sensibility
Steven Huang of Audio Sensibility was excited to introduce a modified version of the Mundorf MA30 SG speaker (recently reviewed by NOVO) at the show. This Audio Sensibility version includes many upgrades: new cabinets, aluminum front baffles, cryogenically treated OCC copper or silver wiring, cabinet damping material, and WBT speaker posts, among others.

Montreal Audio Fest 2017 26

Playing together with the Mundorf speakers was an ANK Mentor amp, ANK EL34 mono blocks and ANK DAC5.1, running with a Mac mini. I had a chance to listen to a recording with acoustic guitars and vocals and found the system to produce a lush and detailed midrange.

That’s it from me for this year!  Highlights from George de Sa will be posted on our site in the next few days.

Cheers – Suave Kajko –

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Totem SKY tower speaker 2017

You heard it here first!  Totem Acoustic has just revealed two new loudspeakers – the Totem SKY Tower Speaker (above) and the Totem Tribe Tower Speaker (below). I saw and heard them for the first time at the Montreal Audio Fest this past weekend.  Both new models are expected to ship this summer.

Although the Totem exhibit room was very busy with conversations, I spent a few minutes listening to each of the new speakers.  The theme shared by both speakers was big sound from small speakers. The SKY tower joins the SKY monitor (launched at the TAVES Consumer Electronics Show last fall) and features the same technology but this time around in a compact floor standing design. A quick listen to the SKY tower revealed a sweet, natural midrange and an impressively large, dynamic sound. The amount of bass from these speakers is sure to surprise just about everyone.

The Totem Tribe tower on the other hand is based on the superb technology found in the Tribe series of products and includes Totem’s exclusive Torrent drivers. The sound here was even bigger and more dynamic, while offering a luscious midrange and excellent low frequency punch. It’s design lines and white glossy finish make it one gorgeous looking speaker.

Both speakers are so new that they’re not even on the company’s website yet but stay tuned for more details as they become available!

In the meantime, to learn more about Totem, check out www.totemacoustic.com

Totem Tribe Tower Speaker

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Totem The Signature One Loudspeakers 01

Late this summer, Totem will celebrate it’s 30th birthday by launching an amazing new loudspeaker called the Totem The Signature One.

Borrowing a line from LL Cool J “Don’t call it a comeback”, the The Signature One monitor loudspeaker is not just a comeback of Totem’s infamous Model 1 Signature loudspeaker, it is an elevated, advanced monitor loudspeaker reflecting the progression of Totem Acoustic’s engineering prowess and primed to knock you out!

This beautiful new monitor/bookshelf speaker retains all the superlative attributes made famous by our most cherished past reference bookshelves but also includes significant enhancements made possible by Totem’s continuous research and desire to push the boundaries of our acoustic capabilities. It easily brings forth a whole range of new “world leading” characteristics.

While undoubtedly a truly worthy evolutionary successor to the famous Model 1 Signature, it is unique in its own right and its superior performance will defy comparison. The Signature One is larger in size and sports an imposing 6.5-inch woofer derived from the Forest unit but modified to excel in its new application and cabinet. It not only increases the dynamic capabilities but additionally facilitates the speaker system’s uncanny ability to activate the room in a totally unique, engrossing fashion.

Imaging height is breathtaking, achieving real world size for an unparalleled, lifelike result. The micro nuanced detail and incredibly wide staging provides a natural and majestically wide horizon of sound that we believe is unique.

Highlights of the Totem The Signature One include:

  • Gigantic, life-size imaging capabilities
  • Substantial, lock-mitered monocoque cabinetry with incorporated full cross bracing and both internal and external veneered ensuring uncompromising cabinet rigidity that results in consistent performance for literally decades
  • Industry unique Borosilicate dampening manages energy dissipation in a desired, controlled manner within the enclosure while keeping the cabinet musically alive
  • Proprietary and exclusive crossover and driver componentry to ensure the unique Totem Acoustic sonic signature and phase characteristics
  • Annealed Aluminum rear terminal plates with superlative
  • Bi-Wireable WBT 4 way connectors accommodate the most advanced wiring options and ensure the most efficient signal transference from the amplifier

For more info (this summer) check out www.totemacoustic.com

Totem The Signature One Loudspeakers 02

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QNAP TS-453Bmini

Taipei-based QNAP Systems is an innovative company that produces cutting edge network attached storage (NAS) systems designed for home entertainment and business environments.

The brand new QNAP TS-453Bmini vertical Network Attached Storage (NAS) is powered by the latest Intel 14nm J3455 quad-core 1.5GHz processor and features AES-NI encryption, 4K UHD output and transcoding. The TS-453Bmini couples elegant glossy aesthetics with high performance, security and intelligent services to provide excellent data storage, backup, sharing, and entertainment options for home and small office use.

With 4GB/8GB DDR3L dual-channel RAM, dual Gigabit LAN ports and SATA 6Gb/s, the TS-453Bmini drives up to 225 MB/s read speeds and runs tasks smoothly and quickly under dual network environments. The TS-453Bmini features Intel AES-NI 256-bit hardware-accelerated encryption for both shared folders and the full NAS volume to provide transfer speeds of up to 225 MB/s and ensure data security without compromising performance. The total potential storage of the TS-453Bmini can be expanded up to 120 TB by using an 8-bay UX-800P expansion unit (when using 10 TB HDDs).

QNAP’s exclusive vertical NAS series has received excellent feedback for its excellent performance, elegant appearance, and compact design. With user-friendly features, quiet cooling, adjustable LEDs, and a tool-less design for installing and upgrading hard drives and RAM, it is ideal for smaller spaces and easy to use for everyone (without computer knowledge).

Running on the latest 64-bit QTS 4.3 NAS operating system, the TS-453Bmini offers numerous new and improved applications to increase the efficiency of management tasks and everyday use. Container Station supports various container applications and provides support for QIoT Containers and IoT applications. Virtualization Station allows users to run multiple Windows, Linux, UNIX, and Android-based virtual machines. QmailAgent centralizes multiple email accounts and simplifies daily email management. Qcontactz centrally stores and manages contact information.

The TS-453Bmini also uses advanced virtualization technologies to perfectly integrate QTS and Linux. By installing Linux Station and connecting a keyboard, mouse and HDMI display to the TS-453Bmini, it can be used as if it was an Ubuntu PC. This is especially useful for IoT developers. The TS-453Bmini also supports 4K UHD output and real-time transcoding to provide a smooth and high-quality multimedia experience across devices or where network bandwidth is limited.

Additional features include support for VMware, Citrix, Microsoft and Citrix to assist in flexibly deploying and managing virtualization environments; cross-platform file sharing for Windows and Mac and desktop/laptop backup; Windows AD, LDAP directory services and Windows ACL to improve the efficiency of permission settings. The TS-453Bmini also offers flexible backup solutions for Windows and Mac and disaster recovery solutions with RTRR, rsync and cloud storage backup.

For more info, jump to www.qnap.com or call 416-479-0558.

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NOVO-mar-apr-2017-cover

Print

Features inside this issue:

  • Robots to Rock Your World: Social, Companion and Educational Robots
  • Outdoor Speaker Buyer Guide: From Portable Bluetooth Speakers to Dedicated Outdoor Speakers
  • Virtual Reality at the International CES: New VR Headsets, Experiences, Backpack Computers and Accessories

Product reviews:

  • Bryston BDA-3 DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter)
  • Audiovector QR3 Loudspeakers
  • Skogrand Vivaldi Interconnects and Speaker Cables
  • Yamaha A-S2100 Integrated Amplifier
  • Monitor Audio Controlled Performance In-Wall Speaker

View this issue HERE or choose other formats:

Tablet / Smartphone Editions: CANADA HiFi app  |  Magzster app (iOS or Andriod)  |  PressReader app (iOS or Andriod)
Computers: PDF Edition (ideal for printing)

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Ads.indd

TAVES, the Consumer Electronics Show that everyone in North America is taking about, is returning this fall!

New venue, new experiences: We’re thrilled to announce that after another year of exponential growth, TAVES is moving to a new, larger permanent home — the Toronto Congress Centre — and running two weeks earlier — October 13th-15th, 2017!  Easily accessible by public transportation and car — with over 6,000 free parking spaces, TAVES 2017 will feature over 70,000 square feet of dynamic installations on one easy-to-explore show floor.

Watch for an expanded technology showcase, a greater number of HiFi / Home Theater exhibits and exciting new programming!

TAVES showcases cutting-edge products in the most exciting categories: HiFi and home theater, virtual reality, robots, wearables, drones, hi-tech vehicles, 3D printing and tech toys. The show attracts, tech-savvy millennials, luxury-loving consumers, industry professionals, mainstream and specialist media, innovators and educators.

More information about the 2017 show will be released in the coming weeks :-)  For more info, please stay tuned to NOVO or check out www.taveshow.com.

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Skogrand Cables Wagner AC Power Cable Review.indd

When I began building my first hifi system some twenty years ago, I didn’t give much thought to cables. Cables simply served as a means of connecting all the components together.  Audio magazines introduced me to the idea of upgrading cables but it was only when I tried the first few cables in my own system that I truly began to appreciate how much influence good quality cables had on a system’s performance. As hifi component designers continue to push the envelope of audio performance in their products, audio cable designers need to develop cables that are more transparent than ever in order to let hifi components perform at their highest level. One of the cable companies that has been capturing the attention of music enthusiasts around the world for the last few years is Skogrand Cables of Norway. In business since 2011, the company has been on the ‘hifi show circuit’ around the world for several years now, demonstrating its high-end cables to a great acclaim of music listeners and industry types. I’ve been impressed by the exemplary performance of Skogrand cables on several occasions at audio shows but my true appreciation for the brand was born when I tested the Skogrand SCI Tchaikovsky interconnect cable in my own system earlier this year. Never before had a cable conjured up such an emotional connection with the music that I listen to, allowing my hifi system to truly achieve world-class performance. In fact, I loved this interconnect cable so much, it ended up finding a permanent position in my reference system.

Given this positive experience with the Skogrand interconnect, you can imagine my excitement at the chance of reviewing the Skogrand Cables Wagner AC power cable. It is a well known fact among hifi enthusiasts that when it comes to cables, power cables play the most significant role in the performance of a system. That’s because music reproduction starts at the wall power outlet. Music components essentially “shape” the AC power into the music that reaches our ears. Therefore, if you upgrade the cables in your hifi system, it is best to start with power cables and follow the signal path (interconnects next, and finally speaker cables).

Skogrand Cables produces a full range of hifi cables, including power cords, interconnects, digital cables and speaker cables. Skogrand power cords are available in two different series, called Wagner and Beethoven. The company’s speaker cables and interconnects are grouped into five different series, each named after a famous composer – Rachmaninov, Brahms, Ravel, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven. Skogrand digital cables on the other hand are available in the Grieg and Beethoven series.

The Wagner series of cables is Skogrand’s affordable (by high-end standards) series of power cords. The 2 meter Wagner AC power cable I received for this review retails for $2,500 US. These are far from the least expensive power cables you can find in the market, but as with everything in this world, when it comes to audio cables, you get what you pay for. High-end performance costs. In contrast, a 2 meter power cord from the flagship Beethoven series will run you a whopping $18,000 US.

Unlike some cable manufacturers, Skogrand Cables does not offer a great level of detail about its cables designs on the company’s website. Skogrand prefers for listeners to focus on what they hear from their music when using its cables. As stated on the company’s website, the Wagner AC power cable is designed to deliver a pure energy flow to your components, while protecting and preserving the energy transfer. The cable features a multi-strand design, which consists of two 4mm stranded UP-OCC copper conductors, and a single 5mm ground wire. Surrounding these conductors is a double braided copper shielding. A polyolefin cable jacket offers additional insulation. All Wagner power cords can be ordered with an optional silk brocade cable sleeve or black braid with purple polyolefin shining through. My review sample came in the unique and gorgeous silk brocade sleeve. Wagner cables are equipped with high-end Rhodium plated UP copper connectors, and can be ordered with North American or European power connectors.