Acrolink's new Mexcel range of power cords landed in Singapore last month. Is it time to break the piggy bank ? Readers may want to take a moment to read my previous review of the Mexcel 9500 and 7500 power cords here.
For the unfamiliar, the Mexcel series is the flagship range of cables for Acrolink. Mexcel cables are particularly popular in Asia where they enjoy considerable popularity amongst audiophiles that demand the highest levels of performance.
The Mexcel power cord range was originally made up of three models, the PC6100, 7100 and 9100. The second generation introduced a fourth member, the PC5100 as an entry level model. At the moment, only the two power cords on review here have been released in the fourth generation lineup of Mexcel power cables.
Mexcel power cords have a mind of their own. They do not take kindly to manipulation or threatening instructions. Their girth and stiffness are not the worst in class, but a little bit of effort and gentle persuasion are required to route them into your desired position.
I liked the new colour scheme introduced for the PC6700, a very nice hue of green that reminds me of Emerald. A nice change from the boring white jacket used in the PC6500 and 6100. The PC9700 on the other hands looks just like it's predecessor, the PC9500.
Both cables are of similar diameter (16mm) and stiffness. My imagination suggested that the 6700 was a touch more flexible, but I doubt anybody would notice any practical difference.
The neutral and live conductors of the 6700 are made up of 50 strands of 0.37mm diameter 7N DUCC copper, while the earth conductor is made up of 50 strands of 0.37mm diameter 4.5N soft copper. The 9700 on the other hand uses finer strands of 0.32 mm diameter 7N DUCC copper. Strand count is the same at 50 strands per conductor.
DUCC (Dia Ultra Crystallized Copper) is a proprietary annealing technology used by Mitsubishi Electric, Acrolink's parent company. It is described as stress-free (do you give the conductors a single malt before annealing ?) and results in an ideal orientation of the wire's copper crystals.
Both cables are armoured (shielded) to the hilt, with full braid shielding. The 6700 adds a mylar foil shield to that, while the 9700 uses semi-conductive carbon tape. A electromagnetic wave absorber thread and a silk thread run through the centre of both cables. The filler material in between the conductors and the outer jacket consist of a compound designed to reduced vibration and electrical noise. The 6700 uses a combination of polyolefin, tungsten and amorphous powder, while the 9700 adds carbon into the mix.
In my listening experience, Mexcel power cords have astonishingly low noise-floor - all that magic powder certainly works !
I will admit that I was not really a fan of the Mexcel 6000 series based on my brief ownership of the PC-6100. Nothing really wrong with that cable, but I did not find it to be as outstanding as it's illustrious siblings. I willingly retract that statement for the 6700. At half the price of the 9700, it delivers exceedingly high performance for the price. It's nice to think that this power cord is not unattainable for the typical audiophile.
The 6700 is a quiet, precise cable that plays it close to the path of neutrality. It is not dead-centre neutral, and could be said to have a soft expressive tone.
Timing is spot-on and no issues should be encountered keeping up with faster types of music. Bass is punchy and tight. It avoids the fuller mid-bass of the Acrolink 6N-4030 II and 7N-4030 III, which is likely to be a contributing factor to it's timing supremacy.
Midrange is presented in a natural fashion, with a subtly laidback character. Despite a total absence of cable-added grain, the 6700 is very expressive, with various levels of shading and nuances that escape lesser cables.
High frequencies have always been an Acrolink strength. It is no different here, with very extended and refined highs. In this respect, I have always considered Mexcel cables to a class leader.
Soundstaging is also excellent, with precision placement of instruments and voices in the mix. This comes with both excellent width, depth, and dimensionality - each voice and instrument subtly expands in its individual acoustic space.
Leapfrogging to the top dog gets you the 6700 on steroids, with significant improvement in a number of areas.
The most noticeable improvement is the driving force in bass lines. The 9700 goes deeper, and with more intensity and articulation.
This intensity is applied in more gentle strokes to the rest of the frequency spectrum, although for the midrange, it is enough to result in a subtly more forward staging of vocalists. You also get an improvement in quietness, expressiveness, retrieval of micro-detail, and more dimensionality.
Comparisons with the 9500 prove interesting. The 9500 has more raw energy and exuberance, while the 9700 reflects a more matured and cultured approach. It was as if the 9500 spent some time on self-reflection and decided to channel its excessive energy into cultured and genteel activities. If you felt that the 9500 was a little bit too much in terms of tonal intensity and drive, the 9700 would be a lot more palatable.
Assuming that the 9700 does not push your system over the edge, it is certainly the better cable. Audiophiles love power, drama and refinement, especially when it comes all in one package. I've heard cables that cost even more than the 9700, but none have captivated me me to this degree. Consider me sold on the 9700 !
If you currently own the 9500 and love it's energy levels and intensity, consider your wallet safe. If you were not convinced by the 9500 and preferred the gentler approach of the 7500, consider an audition of the 9700 to be mandatory.
Acrolink has outdone itself once again. It is impressive that they continue to raise the bar of performance and I look forward to seeing the rest of the fourth generation line-up. The 6700 proved to be a surprise. I did not try the rather short-lived 6500, so I can only speculate on the improvements made. In any event, I love both cables on review here - Highly Recommended. The 6700 in addition gets my stamp of approval for Best Buy.
I would like to thank X-Audio, the local dealer for Acrolink for arranging for this review.
Acrolink 7N-PC6700 Anniversario Power Cord
Price : S$ 2,500 - 1.5 m
Acrolink 7N-PC9700 Mexcel Power Cord
Price : S$ 4,500 - 1.5 m
X Audio Pte Ltd
Bukit Timah Plaza.
1 Jalan Anak Bukit, #01-01S