An interesting experience with power cable.


I’ve read a lot about power cables throughout the years and finally took a leap of faith and bought 1 silver-plated power cable. Of course I immediately plugged it in my amp and turn on everything for a listen. I could hear a tiny improvement but honestly was underwhelmed. I plugged the basic cable back into the amp. I plug the upgraded cable into my DAC for fun.

 

WOW, immediate and significant improvements. I gained a substantial amount of smoothness and sweetness and perceived clarity was also improved. I have alternate the upgraded power cable into the amp a few times, each time I get the same results, underwhelming, not as dramatic as if the cable went into the DAC.

 

So that was unexpected, I’m not saying power cable for amps are not significant. What I’m saying is, if you have only 1 upgraded power cable, the rest being stock basic, then plug it in your DAC, you might be surprised as well. Thanks for reading fellas.

 

Very curious to get a 2nd cable for the amp now.

128x128samureyex

That sounds about right. Wait till you have 4 different one's and you have to try all combo's, ouch. Had the same experience with power conditioners, if anything the amp sounds worse, but everything upstream sounds better. A great step up for my amp that I tried was a gutwire ultimate ground cable. Dropped the noise floor significantly, opening everything up just like the experience you had with the power cable. I also took it one step farther, adding an audioquest splitter and removing the center pins connecting to the amp and streamer. The one cable works on both now. $500 isn't cheap, but a huge improvement cable wise for the amp, more so than a power cord. Maybe you can find one used like I did. Read up on that cable if nothing else, just another way of making improvements. Just my 2 cents of experience.

@carlsbad That is possible. I do have a monster of an amp in terms of size. 90 lbs and it has a 2,000 watts toroidal transformer in the supply or something like that. I suppose that’s a lot. One thing I have to note is with the new cable into the amp, it doesn’t sound like it’s lacking in power, it seems to my ears that the amps are more hyper-focused and felt like I’m hearing the shortcomings of my upstream, in this case the dac. The thing is I can't imagine the basic stock cable can be less "undersize" than the new one I bought. 

 

@gammamike Yea $500 is too expensive for me right now. I have to remember what you say in the back of my head. I’m currently looking into acquiring the dac that is supposed to pair with my amp, some sort of current injection technology. Thanks.

Just a heads up, a quick A/B test is never a good indication. Have the cable on the component for 24hrs drawing current before you sit down for critical listening. Let it all settle. This is if the cable is broken in. If it’s brand new, allow about 200hrs before you judge it.

Also, a cheap way to upgrade a stock power cable if you don’t want to spend $500 is to swap the AC and IEC connectors. A good set of plugs will produce a nice improvement noticeable in reduction of noise floor, opening up soundstage, etc.

@samureyex I have a 12 lb tube amp that makes just a couple of watts per channel and I was shocked that it was limited by a 14 awg power cable.  I'll never use anything smaller that 10 awg on an amp again.

A small power cable will limit dynamics, rapid changes or bass notes.  music that is more consistent in level and range will be mostly unaffected.

Jerry

@samureyex - what you are experiencing is quite normal because generally speaking...

  • Amps tend to have a more robust power supply capable of handling the dynamics of transient peak audio signals
  • Source components tend to have have a lighter duty power supply, mainly by design
    • i.e. keeping the component to a specific price point
    • BUT - higher quality source components tend to have better power supplies
  • installing a quality power cable on a source components often results in noticeble gains in sound quality
  • BUT to achieve a noticeable improvement by attatching a power cable to an amp, you would require a very well designed and built power cable

But as normal, it’s not quite that simple - "GENERALLY"

  • tube amps/components tend to use voltage to amplify
    • so a good UP-OCC cable ($$) will "generally" produce noticeable improvements
  • solid state amps and components tend to use current to amplify
    • so power cables of the highest quality ($$$) would be required to achieve the same level of improvement
  • Trying a cable before you buy is often a very good approach

Unfortunately, there are 100’s of brands of cable out there, but the following are just some of the brands that I have looked into in the 15 years I have been dabbling with DIY cables

  • Audio Envy - very good bang for the buck products that offer very good performance
  • Zavfino - a step up, but you have to venture into their higher end cables for an appreciable improvement
  • In-Akustik - very capable cables but that perofrmance is reflected in their price
  • Hijiri - these are exceptional cables for components of the highest quality

Please note - this IS NOT a difinitive list - just some exceptional cables that I have been made aware of.

Any of these cables will provide performance improvements over most commercially available "branded" products within a comparable price bracket.

These cables are...

  • well designed - i.e. the employ a noise cancelling geometry, which lowers the noise floor of the cable
  • use either UP-OCC copper or UP-OCC silver having excepetional conductivity ratings, which improves dynamic performance
  • use insulations that have low values of Dielectric Constant, which improves clarity and imaging
  • use quality copper connectors (as opposed to copper alloys)

Hope that helps take some of the myth out of this hobby

Regards - Steve

@carlsbad  Those tube amps can draw a lot of power don't they. 

I believe mine is 8 gauge, not sure. it says "8AG" idk what that is.

 

@audphile1 I've never heard the difference with cable break-in but I don't refute the idea. Mine is probably at 70 hrs. 

@williewonka  Thanks for the plate of knowledge and the effort you gave. I've saved Audio Envy into my audio log book. 

@samureyex I doubt it is 8 gauge.  8 gauge would be 8 awg.  Ag is silver so i'm guessing the AG is silver plated and 8 means something else.

If it is 8 gauge, then it is plenty big and your amp is OK.  I have an amp with huge capacitors that benefits little from the big power cord.  But I use one anyway because they are cheap.

Jerry

@williewonka Thanks for that excellent comment. Saving for future reference.

OP: "An interesting experience with power cable." -- I thought you were going all Marquis de Sade on us. Phew.

As can be said for most audio equipment, there are so many cable manufacturers (both single person businesses and larger corporate ones) and models within, that finding a place to start a cable quest is difficult.  I found the following site and their reviews/comparisons to provide a good starting and reference point to begin prioritizing and selecting what to audition:  Audio Bacon  

One thing to keep in mind digital gear is quite a bit noisier than analog gear. So there's more room for improvement when you connect your pc to your Dac vs your amp. I suspect that's more the reason for the difference than insufficient gauge.

I’ve two Lincoln welders, 240 V 50 amp. each. Both use eight gauge cable. So people are to believe a small amplifier needs 8 gauge ? I use two amps weighing 136 lbs each putting out 500+ watts per Ch. at .003 Thd., their hard wired with 12 gauge and that is over kill. 

 

@samureyex don’t draw any conclusions about power cords based on this cable you’re testing now. Looking at their fake Furutech FI-50 NCF looking plugs I wouldn’t trust their claim it’s OCC copper. It also does not look like an 8 awg cord..,hard to tell from their ebay picture.

@1971gto455ho two 500+ watt per ch amps? Talking about overkill…

@samureyex I have a few thoughts I'll share with you, but remember systems and power filtration systems are different for each of us as well as personal preferences.

I agree 100% with @williewonka suggestions and I would recommend the next cord you purchase for your amp be one from Audio Envy which by the way should work very well on any of your components.

Power cords need to break in and be left in place (without movement) in order to know what they really sound like on any specific component.

I find silver-plated power cords (etc) to sound somewhat bloated, I don't mean to put down anyone or a manufacturer, perhaps I just haven't heard the proper power cord. If they sound good then go with them. When I purchase any type of cable that is silver I prefer at least 5N Silver, 100%.

Power cords make a tremendous difference in digital component especially ones that are known for reducing noise. I use a Shunyata Delta NR with my dac. 

Samureyex - This power cord looks to be a Kimber 8 TC - type speaker cable braid.  IF the strands are 15 gauge, 5 -15 ga strands together result in approx. 8 ga per leg.

I would be shocked if this was pure silver plated or OCC copper. 

These items are designed to look nice, be relatively inexpensive and, in some cases, plant the seed of  a popular brand via false labeling. 

As long as one is aware of this and choses to move forward, and likes the sound for the dollar spent, so be it.

These are the "specs" on the 8AG eBay cable. I would not use this for anything. Better off with an $90 Pangea with Cardas Copper.

  • Material of Shielding/Insulator: Teflon
  • Color: Transparent/clear
  • Material of Conductor: Silver Plated High Purity OCC
  • Overall Outside Diameter: 11mm
  • There are 16 strands (Braid)
  • Diameter of each strand: 1.5mm (AWG 15)
  • Support to: Speaker, Power Cord, Amplifier
  • Plug: carbon fiber rhodium plated us plug/eu plug
  • length: buyer can be choose different length
  • package: one piece

Sorry, @macg19 , but I'm a little fuzzy this morning. To what in these specs do you object?

@terry9  Me too!

None, other than the grade of OCC isn’t described.

I looked it up because there were comments about about wire gauge being 8 when according to the listing it is 15.

I would not use this based on origin, no name brand etc.

 

Lak   Williewonka agree+1. My powercord recommendations for power amp Wisdom power cords   Audio Envy pc. For the price they are hard to beat. Both cables flesh out music like it’s nobodys business. The difference between the two the wisdom cable is more quieter and well made.The audio envy more colorful physicall and in sounds, they are fast. Jim from wisdom cable and Captain both are very passionate and easy to deal with? 

@macg19 , it seems to me that they use 16 strands of 15 AWG. If we assume 6 strands for ground and 5 strands for each of 'live' and 'neutral', that would mean 8 AWG for power, better for ground. With the rest of what you say, I have no quarrel.

@audphile1

With much pride it’s not over kill, 4 x 5’ 6” columns that love dipping in the 1 ohm area. Room is a decently dressed 36 x 22 with 10 x 12” woofers,12 electro static mid. range of various sizes, you can enjoy close to live possibly even hurt yourself if so desired.

Cheers

To quote Alex Lifeson's Grammy speech: "Blah blah blah. Blah bla blah blah, and blah blah."

HELLO SAMUREYEX!  CONGRATLATIONS! Your amp has much better power supply garbage filtering circuitry than your DAC has!  Many of us (especially wih receivers) benefit enormously with better power cables. Your experience demonstrates that one must try a particular cable on their own system to know if it will make an improvement. Look for local dealers who will let you take home a cable and try it out. Especially with speaker cables. What works well on one combo of amp & speakers may not work wll on your best friend's system. Try before you buy if possible. At least get a guarantee of full refund if the cable doesn't work out well for you. The USB cable between computer and DAC is extremely sensitive to the equipment it iserves. On my system (ASUS laptop and Sony DAC) one well regarded cable was just plain terrible. So far, a cable from Canada is best (by a wide margin) in that spot. Happy Listening!

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I have usually found a digital front end to really benefit from a good isolation transformer. It follows….

OP,

 

Happy to hear that you got improvement using your new power cord.

Power cords to the amp can make a huge difference. These days power cords are customized to either low current components or high current. The low current ones emphasize noise rejection and the high current one’s emphasis low resistance for maximum power transmission.

I have been dedicated to high end audio for fifty years. I have a jaw dropping experience about a digital interconnect, analog interconnect, speaker cable, power cord, and Ethernet. The biggest over that time has been the digital and amp power cord. But all this is dependent on your components.

I spent over a year trying to get the power cord right on my amps. I tried many… WireWorld, DHLabs, JVS, Transparent, others, and Cardas Clear… pretty good, but ever so slightly impeded detail and overly warmed the tonal balance. Then my audio guy dropped off an Audio Quest Hurricane. Holy cow… what an incredible difference. I ordered one instantly.

FYI, I also optimized my component power cords (and of course interconnects). And the Transparent interconnects and power cords on my DAC, preamp, and phonostage have had a profound positive impact on my system.

Typically, a high end power cord and speaker wires can be the biggest improvements in one’s system. It would be really helpful to see your system. We can be of much greater help if we can see your components and venue. I might be able to recommend a power cord for your amp… but need to know what it is… if I have enough knowledge to make a suggestion.

 

@boomerbillone Thank you. I'm gonna say something related. I have known the BMC audio brand for less than a month and I have massive respect for the brands and the products they make. I own their amp. Their USB1 (active) cable is also highly praised by a reviewer (John Grandberg) I highly respect. Bmc also makes a nice power cable for their amp that is a bit pricey at 600 euro. Something I would buy in the future. 

 

I think you should take a look at the USB1 cable at 300 euro. 

@ghdprentice Hi GHD, please read the above post as it has some information you're asking about. 

I have the BMC S1 amp that I absolutely adore, gorgeous to look at and still seem to have more to offer with its designated DAC. BMC also sells a power cord for 600 euro. 600 euro I can muster, 2k for the Hurricane, that'd take me years. And definitely with a lengthy trial. 

 

Right now when it comes to cable, the action USB has my biggest interest. 

@samureyex 

Thanks for sharing your observations, and congratulations on your sonic upgrades.

Making the connection to your DAC with low (or, no) expectations, and achieving immediate and noticable benefits is not surprising.  It also proves, once again, that those who hear differences in power cords do not need professional counciling to deal with their "confirmation bias" issues.

Give upgraded wall sockets a try?

OP,

 

Thanks for the additional info. All cables must be taken in the context of your components. It seldom makes sense to spend 50% of the value of a component on a power cord, for instance… because that money applied to a component upgrade is typically better spent.

My amps cost $34K, so spending $4K on two Hurricanes makes sense. But spending that on a $5K amp would not make sense. This is why all decisions are so system dependent.

 

I have found a great way to break it power cords. Temporary hook them up to run your stove. Are usually leave them on for about a month. My wife usually makes dinner every night. Then I hook them up to my mono block amps. It makes the music have kind of a roast beef smell…. Yummy.

I have an extra refrigerator in the basement. I got a converter plug so I can use a power cord as an extension cord and let it power the refrigerator to break in a new power cords. 

It has recently come to my attention that my amp has something that might've affected my experience with power cables. But first I want to confirm that my experience with power cords have been very positive. All stock cables the sound is meh. Worse than meh. Pc into the amp the sound is better but still a bit rough and edgy. I've left the cord in the amp for a few days to listen to music and banish the thoughts of cables but always reminded the sound is meh and I'd go out of my way to put the power cord back into the dac instead. Beautiful sound.

Ok so I found out my amp came with the synergistic research blue quantum fuse pre-installed. That might have affected my experience in some way. Reading up on the fuse was interesting and it's nice to be told that X component will dramatically improve your sound.

But every time SR releases a new fuse they say this fuse is the biggest jump in performance they've ever had. Going to purple = biggest performance jump ever. To blue to orange = biggest performance jump in the history of the company. Reading about it got old real quick and made me a bit skeptical 🤣

 

samureyex OP

But every time SR releases a new fuse they say this fuse is the biggest jump in performance they’ve ever had.

I think you’re on to something.

I felt the same with my Rossignol skis. They kept ’improving’ the resins for strength and flexiblity. Then they changed the shape from straight to parabolic. Then they changed the recommended length. Then they changed the edges from smooth to serrated. They were always changing something for the next model. The curious thing is that as I ski-ed better, I appreciated the improvements better. 

It must be some kind of conspiracy. Because other manufacturers are ’improving’ their golf clubs, bicycles, camera equipment, video-editing software, electric cars - and more. Gee! It seems like everybody is doing it.