Clarus Crimson AC Power Cables Review: Digital Delight Page 2


I spent a couple of weeks getting back to basics with my standard AC cables and letting this sound become my new normal. When I was completely familiar with what I was hearing, I added in the Clarus Crimson CCP-HC Power Cables (designed for use with high current amplifiers) from the wall outlet to the PS Audio DirectStream Power Plant 20 I use for my system. This brought with it a sense of increased flow to the dynamics of music and a drop in the noise floor (the first of several). After a few days I added another CCP-HC to each of my McIntosh MC611 mono blocs.

After fully acquainting myself with the sonic signature of what the CCP-HC were bringing out in my 611s (noticeable drop to the noise floor, increase in tonal depth, bass slam and resolution among the lowest octaves and a sense of more free-flowing dynamics and breathing room to the overall sonic landscape) I swapped-in a less python-like Clarus Crimson CCP Power Cable (designed for use with source components, or preamplifiers and the like) to my McIntosh C2600 tubed preamplifier. Like spring in the desert, with the CCP cable on the C2600 I noticed tonal shadings of brassy color had returned and become more naturally saturated on horns and piano in familiar jazz quartets like Coltrane’s 1964 Crescent with McCoy Tyner on piano, Elvin Jones on drums and Jim Garrison on bass which washed over me like a rain storm after a dry spell.

The final step was adding in the Crimson CCP to an Aurender N10 music server which made the already black background even more absent of any grain or distant hash and subtly fleshed out classical strings and standup bass plucking and bowing a few degrees further, wringing that last ounce of organic timbre to vibrato and further smoothing leading edges of notes. I didn’t use the Crimson with the totaldac d1-direct I had connected throughout this review for critical listening because it uses an umbilical-connected external linear power supply and I could not discern any change when an aftermarket cable was used with it.

Classic electronic album Selected Ambient Works 85-92 by Aphex Twin kept all its synth rhythm, tonal keyboard modulations and treble-tipped effects intact from the driving basslines underpinning them with the Crimson in place throughout, something that was not done with nearly as much delineation with the stock cables, nor was there as prominent a sense of space around the recorded event as with the Clarus feeding all the parts of the signal path. On the sublime 1955 Liberty Records studio date of Julie London’s Julie Is Her Name I heard all the subtle, husky vocal inflection and 3D-spatial positioning cues to her voice from the stereo version (1960 release) of this recording that I’ve become so familiar with over the years. This album through the full-Clarus Crimson sounded open, preternaturally ‘in-the-room’ present and showed off the emotional, human texture to London’s crooning that after 13 songs over 30 minutes still leaves you wanting more.

I never got the sense that the Crimson cables were limiting flow, cadence or dynamics in any way – the opposite in fact when compared to the stock cable baseline. Nor did I perceive any ‘goosing’ of the midrange or bass. Response was even across the frequency range with the uppermost registers seeming to open up the most and benefit the greatest from the Clarus design.


So, let’s talk about the design of the Crimson line which was handled by well-known cable patent collector and cable engineer/designer Jay Victor, who has been a staple in the industry for many years and whose ideas/concepts/designs – it would not be a stretch to say – could have benefitted a number of other cable companies work. Ever hear of Tributaries cables? The man behind that, Joe Perfito, helped launch Clarus after years of R&D and a slew of patents in an effort to create the very best stereo cabling money could buy. Clarus says “Every cable features an innovative multi-gauge design that uses three different-shaped conductor types – each individually insulated – resulting in superior bass, midrange and high frequencies. In addition to ultra-low-distortion PCOCC, Crimson cables are made with precision-formulated polyethylene (PE) insulation providing low loss, superior imaging and maximum sound definition.”

OK, what does that mean exactly? The cables incorporate unique conductors in size and shape for the treble, midrange and bottom end (remember my pasta analogy?): Spiral-ribbon is used for the upper frequencies, flattened ones for the mids and large-gauge solid ones for the lower registers. Because after all their research, the company discovered that these iterations of the design best suited certain frequency ranges resulting in in a cleaner, clearer more musical sound with increased resolution thanks to no one section of the conductors doing the work of another. Sounds simple, but this type of R&D takes a lot of money, time, effort and know-how to get right and I feel like Clarus got their designs right because in my listening sessions the Crimson cables delivered on the goods without fuss or hyperbole: they simply got out of the way of the music and let it flow unimpeded and without any flourishes.

These are attractive cables with solid construction, superb attention to detail in their build execution and while stiffer than a lot of cables I’ve tried, they are definitely not the most stiff I’ve tried. With a bit of bending and working in for fitting in tight spots, the Crimson always came through and held the shape I wanted/needed them to take without much fuss. Fit at both ends was very snug, without being so tight that it made them overly difficult to engage or disengage. Compared to similarly priced offerings from AudioQuest and PS Audio that I had on hand at the time of the review, the Crimson held its own, offering a difference in tonal/timbral shading here, or slightly more or less noticeable compression on dense electronic passages or massed strings in classical pieces there. Subtle increases in bottom-end grunt or a larger/smaller envelope surrounding cymbal shimmer or piano-note decay depending on the recording in use was also taken note of between these three cable manufacturers. Saying one was better or worse with dynamics or musical flow is a losing proposition because again, in my estimation, it wasn’t as if any of them were putting a foot amiss, they were all walking similar paths with a gait unique to each company’s design.


Built with an eye to the discerning audiophile who has money to put down to get that last five-to-ten per cent of musicality and resolution from a highly-resolving sound system, or digital/analog source, the Clarus Crimson AC cables never left me with a sense I was wanting, or missing out on any part of the recorded event being portrayed through my system. They definitively bettered stock cables and proved themselves to be worthy of inclusion for purchase consideration with other upper-tier cable manufacturers I was familiar with.

Current MSRP:

Clarus Crimson High Current 20A: $910 USD per three-foot termination.

Clarus Crimson High Current 15A: $800 USD per three-foot termination.

Clarus Crimson Standard 15A : $350 USD per three-foot termination.

Clarus Cable

Bill edit's picture

In many, many reviews (not just yours), "lowering the noise floor" is cited. In my systems, I just do not hear any background noise; no hiss, hum, no nothing. Not when music is stopped and I raise the volume high; and not when I'm listening to soft, medium, or loud music. I do hear, obviously, some noise when playing records, depending on their condition and quality. I presume, than, that if I replaced all my power cords with the reviewed ones (or various others), there would be no change in noise floor. Right? Or is noise floor defined as something other than background noise?

Rafe Arnott's picture
... of 'noise floor' is the threshold that the recorded event overcomes background artefacts introduced to the audible reproduction of the signal path.

Crummy AC is easily the biggest culprit for this and having used a number of power conditioners and aftermarket AC cables over the years I've found that many are able to combat the AC pollution in power lines that our stereo equipment shares with everything from our neighbor's microwave oven to the fluorescent lights in our bathrooms, never mind EM/RF interference that saturates most of the space around us in urban environments

I can't tell you what you hear, I can only pass along what I do and that's more detail/music/dynamics/etc. getting through to my ears (passing the threshold) when I've employed various combos of cables/conditioners/regenerators/grounding boxes/etc.

As with all things in this hobby when it comes to vagaries of your location on the power grid, your cables, your equipment being used... the sound will invariably be different, that's why with this type of thing it is so subjective to the individual listener.