Shunyata Venom 14 power cord - ongoing review

ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,250
edited August 6 in 2 Channel Audio
I purchased five of these 1.75m Shunyata Venom 14 power cords several months ago and I've been slowly introducing them into my system.

At $95 each, this is Shunyata's least expensive power cord in their lineup. Presumably aimed at the entry level buyer who is ready to try their very first aftermarket power cord like me!

Visually, these look like most standard power cords with molded plastic connectors that you've seen, albeit with a few unique differences. Most notably, the visible twist/spiral that the conductors have can be seen through the insulation.

5_f2d9ccf1-cef2-4d06-bd78-8cf61cabc2bf.jpg?v=1490140205

From a specifications standpoint, this power cord seems to be mostly relying on higher quality materials for it's improvement over standard cords:

-14-gauge conductors
-OFC wiring
-nickel plated brass contacts
-fully shielded

Build quality/appearance seems relatively nice, but I found it slightly odd that only 3 out of the 5 cables I purchased had the inner conductors' twist visible. The other two seemed to have a thicker insulation or not as dramatic of an internal twist. The retailer I purchased them from informed me that they were all from the same batch that was sent to them.

I reached out to Shunyata for clarification on this and here is their reply: "I just discussed this with productions and figured out the following. All of these Venom 14 models feature the high twist conductors but some have thicker insulation then others which accounts for the visibility differences."

Slightly concerned at this level of QC and production tolerances for a $95 cable, I replied: "I just wanted to ensure that the internal wiring and twist pattern was the same as the other cables. I figured if the twist wasn't the same that it could then affect the inductance and capacitance of the cable."

And then Shunyata's final response: "Yes, you are correct. I confirmed with productions that these are all built identically except some have thicker insulation then others. Sorry for the confusion surrounding these cables but rest assured, they are all built the same internally and should perform identically."

3 out of 5 look like this:

dxqdkot0dbby.jpg

The remaining two look like this:

oo3kzqh0dc01.jpg

Another interesting thing that I noticed when I was preparing to write this review, is that 3 of the cables have their three prongs exiting the connector at an angle, one at a slight angle, and the last mostly exiting straight.

I've taken some photos to illustrate what I mean.

283sj8errtdq.jpg

In the above photo, I'm holding the edge of the connector parallel or aligned to the edge of the table. You can see that the prongs are exiting at a slight right angle.

7sa5204xwx9r.jpg

Now, in this photo above, I'm holding the connector angled, so that the prongs are exiting at a straight "90 degree" angle. You can see the degree that I've had to adjust the angle, in order to get the prongs to exit straight.

It can be further illustrated with this straight line, and then comparing it to the line on the molding of the connector:

yrgsn0x9pdrj.jpg

So, again, a little disappointed with the fit and finish for a $95 cable that seems to have production tolerances that are inferior to the throw away black cords included with new equipment.

Obviously I don't believe this will present a real world issue in terms of the cable's performance. The only thing is that the connector wouldn't sit completely flush on the left hand side when the cable is fully inserted into the receptacle. Instead, there would be a few mm of a gap there.

Moving on to the performance/sound of the cable.

I will say that when I purchased these, I told my sales rep that I was skeptical of these making any sort of difference. I think I actually guffawed and said something like "There is simply NO WAY that these will make a difference". He remained calm and said "Just try them out when they arrive and get back to me."

The first cable I swapped was on my Marantz CD6004. Almost immediately (1-3 tracks), I noticed a positive improvement in the stereo imaging sensation. The image and sweet spot was more apparent, I could move horizontally in and out of it and feel it shifting around my ears. Other elements of the player's already excellent performance remained the same. However, even if it only improved the imaging and nothing else, I'd consider that worthwhile as it makes the listening experience a lot more pleasurable, in my opinion.

I also tried the Venom cord on three different DACs. On 2 out of the 3, I noticed that same obvious improvement in stereo imaging. The third DAC didn't seem to benefit as much from it, no obvious differences.

Yesterday, I put the second Shunyata cord into my system on my Schiit Saga preamp. Prior to this, I'd been using it with the stock cord for over 6 months. Even though my system was cold, I almost immediately (first 30-60 seconds of a song) noticed an increase in stereo imaging performance. It was less dramatic than with the CD player, but still noticeable.

I let the system play for an hour and then came back to it to do some further listening. When I sat down and listened for a while, it was obvious that the performance of the preamp had increased. I was hearing an improvement in the decay of the music. I guess this means that more subtleties in the recording were reaching me now. I also noticed that when listening through my CD6004, the highs (cymbals, high hats, etc) got crisper and a little brighter. I don't consider this a bad thing as my 703s tend to have a laid back presentation. I'm not sure if the cable itself is contributing to this additional brightness/crispness, or if there's now simply more musical information in the upper spectrum that's reaching the speakers. Overall, I'm happy with the performance enhancement that it's bringing to the preamp.

After listening to my system again today for roughly six hours, I noticed that the preamp now does not run as warm. I was pretty accustomed to it's operating temp, and got used to how it would feel when I put my hand on the left side where the Schiit logo is. Today and yesterday when I would feel to see how warm it was running, it was noticeably cooler, even though the ambient temperature in the room was the same. Anyone have a scientific explanation for why this might occur?

The next component I'll swap cords on will be my Dayens Ampino monoblock amplifiers later this week, followed lastly by my PS Audio Dectet power conditioner. I'll report back and reflect on any changes I notice.
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Comments

  • dolsey01dolsey01 Posts: 2
    Looking forward to the amp cable impressions. I had been a skeptic until one day due to a really tight bend, I had to remove some upgraded power cables I was using on my preamp and power amp that were of the garden hose variety. A few days later I was scratching my head wondering what was missing from my system, it just didn't sound as good. Cables went back and all was good again. These were not Uber$$ cables but were inline with the price of my system at the time.
  • HermitismHermitism Posts: 1,828
    Nice write-up, Drew. I'm wondering, if you take those crooked cables and use them with your crooked VTI stand, will everything look even then? Or are the cable ends bent in the opposite direction? I'm just messing with you. I came very close to ordering one of those cables a few months ago to try something different. But due to a discount that was being offered I went with something else.
    2.0 - Marantz NA8005 | Polk LSiM703 | PS Audio: Duet, Power Port Classic, PerfectWave AC5 x2 PC | Wireworld Equinox 7 IC | Sanus UF30 | OC703 Panels

    6.1 - Pio Elite SC-05 | Pio BDP-51FD | Polk: RTi8, CSi5, F/Xi3, CSi3 | HSU Research VTF-2 MK4 | Monster HTS 5000 | DCF124BW x3 SC | Pangea: AC-9SE x2, 14SE, 14 PC | AQ Chocolate x2 HDMI | M850SW | PS Audio Power Port Classic x2 | OC703 Panels
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,250
    VTi whowhatwhere? I love my Solidsteel S3-5 that I purchased from Douglas Connection. ;)
    Got Dayens?
  • mhardy6647mhardy6647 Posts: 18,423
    Clipdat wrote: »
    I purchased five of these 1.75m Shunyata Venom 14 power cords several months ago and I've been slowly introducing them into my system.

    ...

    Build quality/appearance seems relatively nice, but I found it slightly odd that only 3 out of the 5 cables I purchased had the inner conductors' twist visible. The other two seemed to have a thicker insulation or not as dramatic of an internal twist. The retailer I purchased them from informed me that they were all from the same batch that was sent to them.

    I reached out to Shunyata for clarification on this and here is their reply: "I just discussed this with productions and figured out the following. All of these Venom 14 models feature the high twist conductors but some have thicker insulation then others which accounts for the visibility differences."

    Slightly concerned at this level of QC and production tolerances for a $95 cable, I replied: "I just wanted to ensure that the internal wiring and twist pattern was the same as the other cables. I figured if the twist wasn't the same that it could then affect the inductance and capacitance of the cable."

    And then Shunyata's final response: "Yes, you are correct. I confirmed with productions that these are all built identically except some have thicker insulation then others. Sorry for the confusion surrounding these cables but rest assured, they are all built the same internally and should perform identically."

    Sounds like their OEM cable supplier changed insulation specs (or if they assemble the cables themselves, their insulator OEM changed specs). The insulation thickness (or stretchiness, as the case may be) was probably not part of Shunyata's spec to the OEM, so everyone was happy -- except, perhaps, the consumer. Thus the usual disclaimer widely used by companies past and present: "Specifications subject to change without notice." :)
    Clipdat wrote: »
    ...
    So, again, a little disappointed with the fit and finish for a $95 cable that seems to have production tolerances that are inferior to the throw away black cords included with new equipment...
    Isn't that interesting?

    :|

    Thanks for the review!




    "It's like watching a roomful of people who couldn't get through college algebra discussing the flaws of quantum physics theory. I guess it could be fun, but it's ultimately a waste of time." -- seen on audiokarma

    "Some amps run on self bias, some amps run on fixed bias. But his amps run on confirmation bias." -- seen on audioasylum

    "Writing about hifi is like dancing about architecture" -- paraphrasing some wag (possibly Frank Zappa)
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,250
    So I was thinking about this, and could it somehow be related to there being less electrical resistance now, and therefore the transformer inside doesn't have to "work as hard", and thus it's generating less wasted energy in the form of heat?

    I might be completely off base here, just throwing out an idea.
    Clipdat wrote: »
    After listening to my system again today for roughly six hours, I noticed that the preamp now does not run as warm. I was pretty accustomed to it's operating temp, and got used to how it would feel when I put my hand on the left side where the Schiit logo is. Today and yesterday when I would feel to see how warm it was running, it was noticeably cooler, even though the ambient temperature in the room was the same. Anyone have a scientific explanation for why this might occur?

    Got Dayens?
  • Jetmaker737Jetmaker737 Posts: 819
    Good review, man. That's goofy about the crooked prongs on a $95 cable. Glad you're digging them.
    System
    Yamaha A-S3000 Integrated Amplifier
    Sonus Faber Cremona Loudspeakers
    PS Audio Directream Jr| Jolida JD-100A CDP | Sansui TU-717 Tuner
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 29,329
    Prongs don't look crooked to me, it's the molding on the plug that isn't true making it appear that way. Which is not so outside the norm.
    HT SYSTEM-
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    Polk 500 surrounds
    Polk s35 center
    SVS SB-2000
    Sonos

    Music-

    Joule la-100 pre
    B&k 1403 amp
    Cary xciter dac
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    Cables-
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  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,250
    It's the "norm" for 4 out of 5 $95 power cords to have molding tolerance issues from the factory, that result in the metal prongs leaving the plug at something other than a 90 degree angle?
    Got Dayens?
  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,250
    Today I replaced the generic black 18awg throw away cables on my Dayens Ampino Monoblocks with two Venom 14s. While I was making the swap and maneuvering the thicker, but still very flexible Venoms into place, I was skeptical as usual that this was going to have any audible difference.

    I turned the system on at a lower volume and let it play through the first 4 tracks of a CD through my Marantz CD6004, and then came back into the room to evaluate any audible differences.

    Again, there was a slight improvement in stereo imaging, as seems to be one of the signature strengths of this cable. As I continued to listen, I noticed some additional changes that weren't quite as slight/subtle.

    The change I perceived first was a greater rhythm and musicality to the sound. I had a stronger desire to tap my foot and nod my head than I typically do when I listen to music on my system. I believe this is because the sound now has a more cohesive quality to it. Individual elements within the song are now meshing more with one another, creating an overall more pleasing and musically involving sound.

    I've had experiences in the past when listening where I'm hearing good details and can pick out elements of a song, but then have that "can't see the forest for the trees" sensation. Where you're getting good amounts of detail, but you're losing the overall feeling and musical message of the track as a whole. We'll see how things go, but I'm not having that at all so far as I've been listening.

    The overall clarity of the sound has also increased. However, not like you might expect when you think of an "increase in clarity". Sometimes in regards to "clarity", you would think of a sensation like a slight increase in treble or midrange frequencies. As if you were EQing the signal and slightly boosting certain things to increase their "clarity".

    The increase in clarity that I experienced manifested itself in more detail and breath around vocals, and greater sensations of attack and decay. It was as if I lowered the amount of extraneous "background" information and now the sounds are all coming forward and playing off one another much more. At the risk of sounding like a totally cliche Stereophile reviewer, I heard tiny background subtleties that I hadn't previously noticed in some songs. If I'm interpreting this sensation correctly, I think I've just noticeably lowered the noise floor.

    I've always admired the overall sound signature/voicing of the Dayens Ampino Monoblocks. Effortless and flowing are a few words that come to mind. (Full review on the Ampino Monos coming in the future) Even in my first few months owning them, I could "hear" how simple their circuit design is and how there is nothing extra in the signal path. Their super minimalist approach is evident in their performance.

    With the addition of these power cables, I feel like now they can perform closer to their full potential. I'm still getting the "easy" and "flowing" characteristics that were there before today, but now the rhythmic musicality and cohesiveness has increased noticeably.

    In summary, I wouldn't describe the cable swap as "night and day", but if you are extremely familiar with your system you'd easily pick up on the changes they bring, as I was able to in only an hour of listening. I'm very pleased with them and the very noticeable changes they brought to the table. Definitely a nice improvement, in my opinion.
    Got Dayens?
  • F1nutF1nut Posts: 40,002
    It's nothing more than confirmational bias. Every naysayer knows that power cords can't make a difference.
    Political Correctness'.........defined

    "A doctrine fostered by a delusional, illogical minority and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a t-u-r-d by the clean end."


  • ClipdatClipdat Posts: 4,250
    edited August 11
    Hahah, good one!

    Anyone who knows me in person knows that I tend to be skeptical and pessimistic. As I mentioned, I wasn't expecting any easily detectable differences. I actually thought to myself "Great, now I'm going to have to sit here and try my hardest to hear any "changes" instead of just being able to enjoy the music." as I finished plugging in the cables.

    Well, the changes weren't hard at all to hear! ;)

    I strongly believe that anyone with a decent set of ears who's still using standard black OEM/throw away cords would easily be able to hear a difference after swapping in one of these Venom cables on the component(s) of their choice.
    Got Dayens?
  • halohalo Posts: 4,201
    F1nut wrote: »
    It's nothing more than confirmational bias. Every naysayer knows that power cords can't make a difference.

    If that's the case, $2.50 for all of your MIT cables? lol!
  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 10,261
    F1nut wrote: »
    Every naysayer knows that power cords can't make a difference.

    Unless they're plugged in..

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