AnnaLyric Systems Silver and Pathway AC Cords by Mike Wright
I have always enjoyed listening to cables from Olu Sonuga’s company, Dynamic Design. Dynamic Design cables are relatively expensive, but I also believe they are also among the best available. When your system is set up properly, and you have good cables cords allowing your equipment to perform at its optimum, your system just sounds so much better. Putting a good sounding system together is a lot more than just putting your favorite electronics on your favorite speakers. Putting cables in your system that does not get the most out of your electronics and expecting to get optimum sound is an exercise in futility. Olu Sonuga believes that cost should not prevent people from maximizing the enjoyment of their system and set out to do something about it.
Despite being a designer of high price/high-performance cables from Dynamic Design, Olu decided to develop a more affordable line of cables from his new company, AnnaLyric Systems. This new company seeks to offer inexpensive cables that still provide high-quality design and construction. When Olu approached me about reviewing the AnnaLyric power cords, I was curious how he would pull this off. His Dynamic Design cables offer exemplary performance, but they are priced that way. As much as his prices, quality, and performance are similar to competitors, such as Transparent, Synergistic Research, Stealth, and others, Dynamic Design’s power cords are among the best. He assured me that the exercise would be revelatory, so we set up the particulars for a review. Within a couple of weeks, AnnaLyric AC cords arrived, and the listening began.
Two types of AnnaLyric AC cords arrived: the Silver and the Pathway. The Pathway is an AC cord designed specifically for digital, and the Silver would be what you would use on everything else in your system. The Dynamic Design cables are all very well made, with top-of-the-line parts, connectors, and jackets pleasing to the eye. The AnnaLyric power cords forgo the alluring look and tend to look understated. A nice outer jacket offers a nice appearance with the “AnnaLyric” stamp on the shrink wrap. The Pathway has green AnnaLyric shrink-wrap, and the Silver uses red shrink-wrap. Nothing out of the ordinary for a good, no-frills AC cord. But then, holding and using the AnnaLyric AC cords reveals that this isn’t just a less expensive line of power cords made on the cheap. The quality of parts, solidity of build, and attention to detail are all still there, as you would expect. Plugging and unplugging the connectors on the AnnaLyric cords are still smooth and have an excellent, tight fit.
How It Sounds
I systematically added the Silver and Pathway power cords into my system. I put the Pathway on my DAC and then added the Silver to my power conditioner, preamp, and amplifier. The changes were not immediately evident as it would take a couple of hours for the cable to settle into my system. Once they settled in my system began to come to life. The first thing I noticed about these power cords in my system was the ease and naturalness with which they presented music. The AnnaLyric power cords can elevate the performance of your system. They have midrange clarity, extended, airy upper end, dynamic information was fast and impactful, and the character of the midrange was lifelike, had clarity, and the ability to bring music into the room. Bass and midbass have always been a Dynamic Design strong-point – and now that heritage has been passed on to the AnnaLyric cords. Bass was tight and extended, and there were no hints of bloat unless it was in the recording. When I installed the AnnaLyric Pathway AC cord, it produced an exceptional amount of inner detail, revealing subtleties hidden on some albums. The Silver cord helped my amps by adding more weight to the bottom end.
On to the music.
The brilliant collaboration between vocalist Malia and Boris Blank of the group “Yellow,” produced an excellent album called Convergence [Universal]. Malia has a nice vocal tone that catches your attention and fits well with this album’s selections. Combine that with the textures and atmosphere Boris Blank brings with him from the popular euro-techno group Yellow, and you get a sonic tour de force that is quite enjoyable. This album is also very well recorded. Tracks such as Embraceable Moon, Claire Cadillac, and Raising Venus were some of the tracks I enjoyed on this album. The combined effect of the AnnaLyric AC cords allowed my system to do an excellent job of conveying the ambiance and the moody sonics this album contains, which are necessary to enjoy it fully. If you like Yellow and are familiar with Boris Blank’s work, you’ll love this album.
A not-so-oldie that I enjoyed listening to is the self-titled Dave’s True Story [Chesky]. This CD is another collaborative success with guitar and lyrics by David Cantor and the appealing vocalizations of Kelly Flint. Their sound caught my attention, and this album just snuck up on me. I enjoyed Ms. Flint’s tone and phrasing, especially on the slow, mellow tunes such as Like a Rock and Nadine. Again, the AnnaLyric AC cords do an exceptional job of letting you experience the ethereal feel and vibe this disc contains. Speaking of collaborations, Branford Marsalis and Kurt Elling had an excellent coming together on their recording “Upward Spiral” [Sony Masterworks]. Branford Marsalis speaks for himself. He is one of my favorite sax players. Kurt Elling, on the other hand, I was never really a fan of until fellow ST writer (and editor) Dave Thomas talked him up during one night of listening a while back. I am not a fan of Elling’s tone, but with the passion and emotion he sings with, it feels as though he is putting his all into each performance. On the track Blue Gardenia, Elling’s vocals, supported by Marsalis’ sax makes for a very compelling performance. The AnnaLyric AC cords do an excellent job highlighting their phrasing and tone. Regarding bass performance, the AnnaLyric AC cords do an excellent job there as well. Recordings such as the title track from Mason Bates’ “Stereo Is King” [Innova] and Jazz Variants from the O-Zone Percussion Group’s, “La Bamba” [Klavier] has a bass that can make the room shudder if your system has that type of capability. The Silver AC cord added a sense of grandeur with its performance in this area.
A few final thoughts
As you’ve probably gathered, the AnnaLyric Pathway and Silver AC cords were a revelation to me. Not many companies come to mind where the smaller off-shoot company produces offerings that perform close to their bigger sibling but at a much lower price. I permanently retired my older Clarity Cable and Shunyata AC cords as the comparisons were not comparable and left me feeling like I was short-changing myself.
A treat was comparing the AnnaLyric Pathway and Silver AC cords to my ESP [Essential Sound Products] “Essence Reference II” AC cords. Both are priced nearly the same, and both are excellent performers, but they have a different set of strengths. Which you prefer will come down to your personal taste and system’s synergy. I found the Silver AC cord to sound slightly more neutral, while the ESP power cords are a little bit on the warm side of neutral. The Pathway cord, especially when streaming, is more extended in the upper frequencies and airier.
In contrast, the ESP cords do a slightly better job of having a midrange that blooms with a large amount of presence and dimensionality. While the dynamics and bass performance with the Silver power cord is exceptional, the Essential Sounds bass is slightly warmer while the Silver cord sounds tighter. Which of the two goes deeper is too close to call as they both are pretty extended into those nether regions.
The AnnaLyric AC cords review was a good exercise in audio precision. By that, I mean each step of the review process involved inserting an AnnaLyric AC cord, noting the changes, whether good or bad and adding another cable. Having enough powercords to be thorough with this exercise showed Olu’s theory of placing the AC cords in the most critical areas: the AC line conditioner and the source, then start working your back (preamp, amp, other sources) has merit.
The other aspect of the review that I felt was revelatory concerns the sonic performance of the Pathway and the Silver AC cords themselves. By that, I mean I have had, on occasion, a chance to listen to Sonuga’s Dynamic Design AC cords in my system over the years and always enjoyed what I heard. When listening to the AnnaLyric power cords, I recognized the sonic characteristics and performance as something I had previously heard when listening to the Dynamic Design power cords. Sonuga complimented me on my sonic memory as I had picked up on some of what he does with some of his AnnaLyric AC cords. As Sonuga finds improvement in parts and construction techniques, the technology goes to the newer cords, and some of what he had been doing for the now older, top-of-the-line AC cords, he filters down to the AnnaLyric AC cords.
Now, suppose you look at the financial dynamics. In that case, a power cord that you may have loved to have had in your system that cost around $3-5K a few years ago gets re-branded under a different name by the same company, yet maintains the excellence of fit and finish and sonic behavior, and at a lower price. There is no diminishment in performance in the AnnaLyric power cords at all. I noticed their sound is close to the Dynamic Design power cords with plainer looks, at a much lower price. That has got to be something special to own. Of course, if your system wants or demands the very best, one of the Dynamic Design power cords is the way to go if you can afford them, of course. But for the rest of us “mortal audiophiles,” the AnnaLyric power cords fit the bill on so many levels that they are an easy recommendation.
AnnaLyric Power Cords
Silver Analog Power Cord 1.5M – $1,200
Pathway Digital Power Cord – $1,200
Manufacturer: AnnaLyric Systems
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