The Cardas Audio 4181 Outlet – YES!September 1, 2016
Audiophiles love to argue about the subject of power delivery.
I can’t say I blame them, a lot of super expensive power products either do nothing, or worse yet, actually degrade the sound of your system. Unfortunately, this always seems to be a point of contention that the mainstream press loves to jump all over, further shaming those of us that are true believers.
30 years ago, I was paying 20 bucks a pop for “hospital grade” outlets in my listening room, and even though power conditioning products hadn’t even hit the market yet, combining this with a couple of dedicated outlets and paying attention to how my house and breaker box was grounded made for better dynamic contrast and a lower noise floor.
There are a number of boutique outlets out there that cost crazy money. The Cardas 4181 is $159. While that’s a lot more than a standard outlet, or even the go to hospital grade plug, which is now about $30 at Home Depot (and not a bad choice if you don’t want to plunk down $159 per on these blue meanies) but this outlet is built to a high standard.
No, I didn’t see God and installing the 4181 didn’t take me to a place of audio nirvana that will have me exhausting my adjective gland here, but what it did do, in conjunction with a pair of Cardas Clear Beyond power cords, each connected to dedicated 20 amp lines, each one feeding a Pass Labs XS300 monoblock (drawing 1000 watts each, all the time) was give the system an ease at high volume it did not have previously. And I’ve been listening to these amps for a few years now and am intimately familiar with their nuances.
Honestly at low volume, I didn’t notice a major change, but as the volume grew, adding the Cardas goodies makes a difference. I’d compare it to putting premium gas in your turbocharged car versus the cheap stuff. Slogging through the drive through lane at Starbucks, you’ll never notice it, but when you swing out to pass that slow moving Camry (and we have a LOT of these in the Pacific Northwest) it’s a little easier.
Whether that’s because of the high quality materials used for the contacts in the outlet, the firmness by which said outlet holds the power cord, or a combination of both, I know it works. While $159 is spendy for an outlet, in the context of your entire system, it’s a pinch.
I see optimizing your hifi system much like setting up a race car. You get a couple of horsepower here a couple of horsepower there, all from attention to the small details. That can add up to the difference between making the podium and not. Of course, hifi is not as serious as being the F1 world champion, but, all these little differences do add up.
While you’re swapping those outlets, double check the ground connection in your circuit breaker box, or have your electrician do it for you. Make sure the ground connection is tight, as well as all the connections to the circuit breakers, especially the ones feeding your system. Lastly, take a peek at the ground outside. If it’s not up to snuff, replace it as well.
I’ve seen audiophiles tear their hair out over noise issues and spend thousands of dollars on power cords and line conditioners, only to find out the major problem was the ground. The good news is that if you address this stuff first, you’ll notice the diff that the power cords and outlets make even more.
Should you choose to accept this mission, you can find the 4181 outlet right here:
And for our friends outside the US, they make a Shuko version as well. Good stuff!
So, happy listening. I hope that if you give a couple of these a try, you have the same result, or better, that I’ve had. The Cardas 4181 Outlet will definitely add a few more horsepower to your system.