Ziro is headed up by Adam Fairless but he’s not letting on what’s inside the little black box on his Disclosure power cable. Dominic Marsh and Dan Worth attempt unravel the mystery of this £900 power chord.
Ziro Audio is a new company who say they have spent a lot of time and money on research before launching their products onto the market. So when Adam Fairless at Ziro Audio sent me one of the best one-liners I’ve had so far in an email by saying “I will let the cables do the talking” it was a sure sign he had confidence in his products.
There is no such thing as the “perfect” cable and my approach to the subject is to work from the bottom upwards by observing that an upgrade cable that sounds “better” is in actual fact “less imperfect” than the cable it replaces. If your starting point is the ubiquitous given away for free three ampere rated IEC computer lead, then substituting a “better” sounding lead as a replacement, only means it is “less imperfect” than the lead it has just replaced and that applies to all aftermarket mains leads in that broad scale, whether they cost £10.00 or £10,000 the principle is exactly the same when applied logically in the way I suggest.
There are many hundreds of cable manufacturers in the marketplace all claiming to be the best ever and my job as a reviewer is to put that assertion to the test, so herewith below is my perceptions of the Ziro Audio Disclosure mains power cord.
Standard length of their Disclosure power cord is 1.25 metres and the sample supplied for review was that same length. The actual length of the cable itself was sufficient to easily reach from the wall socket to my MS Audio distribution block, but there is a rather large and heavy oblong aluminium cased module situated half way along its length. My mains sockets in the listening room are around a metre off the floor so either the module was suspended by the cable, or I had to support it in some way. I found a sturdy cardboard box which supported the module and relieved the strain on the cable. I am advised that the module can be sited anywhere along the length of the cable which should be clearly specified when ordering.
I have reviewed cables with modules built in (Audiomica Ness Excellence as I recall) before and if the manufacturer deems it wise to reveal what’s inside their modules then all well and good, but if the manufacturer decides not to reveal the internal workings, then I don’t ask and I don’t tamper with anything either, it remains a mystery then and so the Ziro Audio Disclosure power cord remains in that latter band. As long as it works as claimed, then it could contain cold porridge for all it matters to me.
I suppose though the closest competitor to the Disclosure power cable is the Vertex AQ Roramia which has an outwardly similar design. Neither manufacturer though is giving anything away regarding their construction details, so it’s a moot point whether they compare directly or indirectly in price or performance terms so I will not dwell on this.
The cable itself is around 14mm in diameter and surprisingly flexible for its size. Conductors within the Disclosure models are said to be 3 x 2.08mm of high purity silver in a twisted configuration. The cable has an outer sheath covering of a multi-coloured fabric weave pattern. At either end of the module the cable enters and exits via metal gland fasteners. With regards to terminations, the review sample had Furutech connectors at each end, with a bottom entry FI-UK-N1G 1363-L 3 pin UK plug fitted, with a FI-11 IEC socket at the component end.
Price at time of review: £900.00 for the standard 1.25 metre length.
Ziro Audio also produce the “Tranzient” range which has a similar outward appearance to the Disclosure range, but use copper and silver plated copper for their conductors and substitute Wattgate connectors instead of the Furutech connectors. Naturally, the Tranzient power cord costs significantly less than the Disclosure power cord equivalent and is priced at £370.00 for the standard 1.25 metre length.
When I received the Disclosure power cord I was stuck in a quandary while evaluating a pair of loudspeakers, which I couldn’t quite summarise accurately and was rather perturbed by that. I don’t normally add new components to my system during an evaluation in case it confuses matters and what drove me to it is still beyond comprehension, but in this instance I did so and I am very pleased that I made that decision.
What was to me a vague, loose and indistinct bass from these particular speakers suddenly became perfectly controlled and I mean PERFECTLY controlled in every sense. Treble acquired a stunning realism, with copious amounts of inner fine details and macrodynamics not heard before and as for midrange, that was free from any congestion or bloom whatsoever, bass both powerful and highly communicative, a total joy to listen to. I simply had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t imagining what I was hearing and to be sure I swapped back to my resident power cable several times to check – I might add and there was no comparison. I could actually hear shapes, timbres and textures from every single note from the Disclosure cable and trust me, I have never heard ANY mains cable do that to this degree before now. Yes, I have had a touch of firmer and tighter bass before with a lessening of boom, perhaps wider and/or deeper imaging too, yes I have had a cleaning up of midrange bloom, a quieter background and perhaps a touch more definition in the treble regions from other (read expensive here) mains cable confections, but never all of these factors added together as a whole and never to such a degree as the Disclosure cable was giving me. I fell in love instantly. With a mere power cable?
The sound became so natural, effortless and accurate but not in a sterile or monotone way. Dynamics and transients maintained superb contrasts and acquired razor sharp acceleration. I might have expected some sibilance artefacts or some intolerance of poor recordings, but even that wasn’t manifested, at least not exacerbated because a bad recording remained so, just it seemed to irritate me less than at any time before. Now that was impressive to say the least.
To illustrate this point I played Porcupine Tree’s “Deadwing” album which has plenty of raw edges to it and can often induce some real wince moments at high volumes. It was no different with the Disclosure power cord installed, it sounded even more wince inducing, but strangely enough found some content I had not heard before that took me completely by surprise in the form of hearing each guitar string during the rough chords and the drummer stayed clearly focused throughout the title track which my experience says is very hard to achieve. At 6 minutes 42 seconds there is a long low bass note that goes way down the registers and seems to roll out of the speaker and advance across the carpet towards you in a rolling motion, but in this listening session it was even more accentuated than I have heard before. None of this album was rolled off, masked, or muted by the Disclosure power cord.
Of course I also played my reference CD in the form of Fink’s “Wheels Beneath My Feet” live album. That was a real feast for the ears with a constant stream of newly revealed details and a powerful, deep and articulate bass that left me utterly bewitched. I could have listened to the same CD all night long, it was that enjoyable, overflowing with vitality yet still non-fatiguing.
At that point though some questions were beginning to run through my mind; was this some sort of chance event only happening with my system in the current configuration? I had to find out more.
Out went the evaluation speakers and in went my resident speakers which of course I know their performance intimately. Same result, they took on another dimension of neutrality, refinement and exquisite detail, the bass became much more powerful and communicative. I had toyed with the idea of replacing them soon, but they are staying now I have experienced what their true capabilities are. On I pressed, connecting up a pair of Roksan TR-5 stand mount speakers which I have the kind use of courtesy of Roksan and they too moved up a gear or two in sound quality and a pair of Audiovector QR-1 stand mounts also gave more performance than I ever heard from them before. As I write this review I have a pair of Melodika BL40 floorstanding loudspeakers submitted for review, currently playing Peter Gabriel’s Real World album and they are sounding utterly sublime, way beyond expectations and almost rediscovering the whole album from scratch.
This was of course just one Disclosure mains cable alone fitted to my mains block feeding the entire system and another question that will haunt me now is how would another 3 more Disclosures fitted to my CD player, pre-amp and power amplifier bring to the party? Past experience suggests more gains and I would relish the opportunity to put that to a test.
The Ziro Audio Disclosure mains cable had an even bigger challenge than any of this to face which is, can it impress my fellow reviewer Dan Worth? Dan has a more sophisticated system than I have, plus he has mains enhancements that I don’t have in the form of dedicated mains spurs and balanced power supplies. We meet regularly so I took the Disclosure cable over with me during one visit and I will let Dan give you his verdict in his own words.
If you are not convinced that an upgrade mains cable can have a truly profound effect on a hifi system’s performance then I have no wish to debate the issue because I have heard first hand what this cable’s real capabilities are. If you are open minded and a true music afficianado, then I do urge you to audition one and then decide for yourself. I reckon you will be equally as impressed as I am.
I have over the years both heard and owned a vast range of power cords into the many hundreds in number, ranging from just a few pounds well up into the five figures league. The overwhelming majority have given pretty small improvements in sound quality ranging from the barely perceptible to easily heard improvements in different areas of the audible spectrum. Some have given a firmer bass and sweeter treble, a lower noise floor too, better sound-staging and combinations thereof. What I can say for sure is the Ziro Audio Disclosure cable is a top notch music making component which leaves others way behind and you should set aside your own scepticism at least long enough to give it a hearing. If my editor ever asks me to nominate my personal Product Of The Year, this could well be it for me, as it had a major and highly profound effect on the way my system sounded and I am still reeling from knowing that a mere power cable had achieved that.
The big question though is would Dominic put his hand in his pocket to buy it? Without any hesitation is my truthful answer. I will be haunted for eternity by that magical sound when it is returned to Ziro Audio, so if I don’t buy one I will surely rue the day of not doing so. Building a special shelf behind my rack for the module to sit on is but a small price to pay when this much performance is on tap.
It isn’t cheap, but anything that has this much quality never is and I’m sure I will live well without one of my kidneys to raise the necessary cash, as my street busking skills are truly appalling. I jest not.
AT A GLANCE
Build Quality: Good rather than exceptional, but the connectors make up on lost ground here.
Sound Quality: In one word; Peerless.
Value For Money: Given the performance level available, it is very good value.
Phenomenal sound quality and there wouldn’t be much incentive to upgrade either.
The module is a pain to house sensibly because of it’s size and weight. My own solution would be to put up a special shelf to accommodate it behind the rack. Minor inconvenience.
While Dominic appears to be impressed by the performance of the Ziro Audio Disclosure power cable, to be even considered as nominee for an Outstanding Product Award by Hifi Pig, any product must pass the scrutiny of a second reviewer, in this instance Dan Worth puts the Ziro Audio Disclosure to the test and here is his verdict:
Dom has been wonderfully accurate with the vague description given to him of the Disclosure power cable from Ziro Audio, however I was able to dig a little deeper, well in a continued manner of vagueness. The cable is constructed using a few carefully selected diameter strands of ultra pure silver which is softly annealed to allow for a very finely tuned frequency response and tonal balance. Which in turn allows for better flexibility of the cable to its single overall gauge counterpart. Conductors are wrapped in natural materials rather than man made plastics and the connectors are by Furutech,
Adam Fairless will allow customers to specify specific Furutech plugs of their preference as he does the position of the magic box. Personally I prefer the non-plated versions of the Furutech plugs and after Dominic brought the Disclosure power cable over for my attention I promptly ordered three more with all Cu plugs fitted – I find them to be a more cohesive listen with less of a ‘wispyness’ in the upper frequency extremes over my years of tweaking.
The magic box itself (or whatever you wish to call it) has a three pronged topology applied to it, what these topologies are will not be revealed and rightly so, if I had spent a few years developing a product that has a lot of money invested into it, and of course time, I wouldn’t be eager to divulge its implementation to the masses, so no hard feelings there.
Overall build Quality is very nice indeed and the soft cottony feel to the cable is a little more luxurious to the standard nylon braids regularly used, overall presentation of the product and its packaging is really nice looking.
As for the sound of the Ziro Audio Disclosure power cable, I was extremely impressed and after Dom and I had our first joint listening tests, we both whole heartedly agreed that we would be inclined to pursue the cable further on the basis that an Outstanding Product Award was very likely to be awarded by us.
Performance in my system and his was exemplary and in this world of Hifi very reasonable price wise. I have been very intimately drawn to the characteristics of the cables performance and attributes. A refined, effortless, smooth and detailed presentation ticked all the boxes for both myself and Dom.
I have never in all my time heard a pure silver cable which sounds so natural, smooth and detailed; there’s generally some gripes with any silver cable which becomes a trade off to other positive aspects, but I don’t hear this in the Disclosure cable. Needless to say after Dominic left on the Friday afternoon’s listening tests I spoke with Mr Fairless to arrange a few more samples for my system.
I initially placed one from my balanced power supply to the wall socket and changed it out to the amp, then after further listening added another to the BMU again. The effects of one, especially on the amplifier was more profound in my system than the additional, yet further power cables only seemed to enhance system qualities and firm up my registered feelings on performance, giving real solidity to bass and allowing the soundstage to increase in size and texture.
Bass notes are firm, expressive and wonderfully extended. During initial burn in of say 48 hours if I was to be critical there was a slight smearing between the lower mids and upper bass but this soon cleaned up to reveal the skin of the drum being hit on London Grammar’s “Hey Now”.
Generally when auditioning cables an initial focal point is the top end, too bright, too rolled off, thick or thin, how spacious etc., etc. The Ziro requires no focus as it simply lays out incredible amounts of definition and air to the listener with a beautifully sweet treble which is satisfying from the outset, I was truly impressed straight out of the box with the treble response, allowing the listener an ease of appreciation and for the sound to blossom over the burning in period, which surprisingly isn’t as long as most cables, or maybe it’s just that they sound so good out of the box that satisfaction begins immediately and the distraction of analysing becomes replaced by the enjoyment of the music.
Midrange transparency is also very natural, the cable allows the performance to remain somewhat truer to the recording and can really determine a clean, warm or gritty tracks soul very well, especially with vocals, I don’t hear any colouration in the midrange at all and it’s neutral yet full nature is very accurate and has great substance, cohesively integrating surrounding frequencies without masking inner details or focus.
As a whole and I think Dom would agree, sound-staging really is a strong point with the Ziro, large and complex, even front to back and the rhythmic nature of a system is never lost in an over manufactured overly clean display, everything sounds just so effortless and engrossingly musical, which has to be the deciding factor surely when buying any piece of Hifi equipment or accessories. The attachment to the music is paramount and the Ziro Audio Disclosure power cable doesn’t just tread the line between Hifi and musicality (which is often lost in translation) it does an awful lot to help define it, so well done guys, it was a pleasure.
Sound Quality: One of my most favourite power cables to date resulting in me ordering a couple.
Build Quality: very good indeed, substantial, sturdy and flexible.
Value for Money: this is Hifi, so in that respect I say really very good indeed, the quality of materials is right up there, I see cables costing many times more that probably don’t cost even half to make.
Unmistakably natural coherent musical sound
Beautifully sweet treble
Great build quality
Inline box can be a little unwieldy so measure and order the cable with placement of the unit in mind