"Audiophile" Power Cables: The Greatest Audio Conspiracy Theory of All Time?

Just mention the word “audiophile power cord” in a group of seasoned audio enthusiasts and the resulting exchange will resemble the calm and collectiveness of someone throwing a firecracker in a chicken coop. In the audiophile world, there is no other subject as polarizing. Some scholars have even argued that the phrase “WTF?!!” was first introduced into our contemporary culture moments after some Neandertweak claimed that “premium power cords can make an audio system sound better!”

The details of the origins of the “audiophile” power cable are a little obscure. Perhaps long ago an energetic employee working for an audio cable manufacturer had the “Ah Ha moment?” He’d spent more than his share of quality time developing better sounding speaker cables, and one fateful day glanced over at his amp and thought: “Speakers get AC from the amp. Amps get AC from the wall. If this meaty cable works great for speakers, what would happen if I made a power cord out of the same stuff?” And so, he decided to cobble up a set. He approached the power cable with the same attention to detail as he did with his speaker cables, and after terminating each end with something that had a low likelihood of not catching the lab on fire, he plugged it in … and BEHOLD!!! To say he liked what he heard was an understatement. An alien craft landing in the designated employee parking area of his lab would not have left him with a more bewildered look on his face. But, unsure how to connect the dots from theory to reality,he developed a new audio vocabulary to extract a "believable" technical explanation of what he just heard. He polished up his demo a bit and invited a couple of colleagues over for a listen. With the world’s first premium power cord, newly formed technical vocabulary, and wll-recorded demo material on hand he convinced his colleagues they heard something pretty spectacular, too. Word got around. More auditions. More positive feedback. Then it hit him: “I gotta tell management about this!”

But not so fast. The technically inclined in Section B got wind of this. These were the modern-day equivalent of Nostradamus. They could analyze a handful of measurements and predict how something would sound in the future. So, the guys from Section B prepared to come at him with the full force of industry standard hand-held HP calculators, pocket protectors, Radio Shack SPL meters and electronic theory in their arsenals -- ready to humiliate the “power cord dude” in front of his pack of the “audiophile” power cord faithful. They were going to be a tough sell. Meticulous. Exacting. These were the guys that measured out precisely 5mm of Brylcreem™, when “just a little dab” would work just fine for the rest of us. The guys from Section B placed themselves between a pair of decent loudspeakers ready to pounce on any inkling of “better sound.” They were quite emphatic about not hearing anything different. Afterall, their Radio Shack SPL meters have never lied to them yet. Why would today be any different? Upper management observed stealthily from a distance.

It turned out to be more like a geeky version of “Rope a Dope” than dismantling “the cable dude” and send him scampering out of the room with his cable between his legs. The cable dude just stood there like a giant redwood taking blow after blow, carefully listening to their pleas for sanity and acknowledging their technical evaluations. Always countering with the same remark: “Yeh, I get that. But have you listened to it?” Exhausted, the “deniers” stomped off, knowing full well they had won the debate, but still frustrated that they couldn’t convince the power cord dude he that he possessed the mental agility of a small soap dish.

Management took notice and found themselves in the unfortunate position of being compromised regardless of what position they took. Do, we slap the cable dude in the face and ruin his ego (and, perhaps his productivity) for life? Or give the green light to a product that pegs the BS Meter of the guys in Section B? After careful consideration, management came to the only logic conclusion: “There’s money to be made here!” Section B was never the same.

The power cord dude was promoted to Power Products Designer and a finished prototype was only days away. Then, something interesting happened. They took their newly developed “audiophile” power cable to an international industry trade show and put it out there in front of some of the country’s best high end audio dealers for their feedback.

Music played. Heads nodded. Orders were placed. Shelves were stocked.

I’m certain the first “audiophile” power cable customer had to convince someone(s) that he just didn’t throw his hard-earned money away on something with no technical merit. He remembered his visit at the audio salon and the salesman’s pitch, who remembered the factory representative’s pitch, who remembered with district manager’s pitch, who remembered with factory trainer’s pitch, who remembered the power cord dude’s, eh, Power Products Designer’s pitch, and pulled off a flawless presentation. Well, to the surprise of everyone in the room (especially his wife) he managed to get his buddies so fired up that they HAD to go visit the dealer’s showroom and plead their case to snag a set on loan so they could audition them on their OWN systems.

Music played. Heads nodded. Wallets came out.

It didn’t take long for the audio dealer down the street to get word of the business he just lost to his competitor. A highly agitated dealer called HIS audiophile cable rep and asked why THEY are not in the audiophile cable business?! This quickly worked its way up the chain, and before you can say “Autocorrelation Sonic Holography Preamplifier”, there were not one but TWO cable companies offering “audiophile” power cables. Including the new industry standard at 2x the price of anything offered by the other guys.

Before long the news of this new product category reached the true connoisseurs of audio perfection – the respected high end audio reviewer -- the guy who could tell you what Joan Baez had for breakfast that morning just by listening to her sing Diamonds and Rust. This guy’s got ears, and a typewriter, and he’s not afraid to use them. And, yes, as predicted, he “heard something” and wrote nice things about it. Potential advertising revenue and saying nice things about a new product are, let’s say, not out of phase with each other. Like many others before him, he struggled to describe in industry-standard engineering terms WHY the power cord sounded like it sounded. But he was convinced that every existing high-end audio system was now demoted to mere mid-fi without them.

Then, quicker than a toddler can modify the structural integrity of a Clearaudiio stylus, audiophile power cables were an adopted component in any NOTE-worthy audio system. Manufacturers developed real business plans with real business strategizers and got to work setting up distributors, field reps, product trainers, marketing plans, “key customer” dealer events -- complete with their own recommended playlist, suggested wines, and catering via White Castle.

The Dupeologists (individuals highly effective in the art of duping people) were embedded at every level in every crook and cranny. The Power Products Designers got bigger offices, entire power cable product lineups were developed and every company that had the ability to wrap strands of high purity copper with a jacket and attach plugs on each end was in the “audiophile” power cable business. On the consumer level, it was quickly reaching a level of respectability that demanded involvement by serious music lovers at some level. The audiophile power cable that was installed on the power amp, was now joined by one for the preamp, CD player -- even the Samsung sound bar. An entire product category had developed and didn’t just take the industry by storm. The number of audiophile power cable enthusiasts reached thousands worldwide, eventually exceeding the number of consumers who enjoy the convenience of single-cup Keurig coffee makers in their motorhomes.

Oh, the humanity!!

You have to ask the question: “Where were those consumer advocates hiding? How could they let this happen?” You know who were talking about. Those guys who parachute out of the sky in a moment’s notice to protect the rest of us from bad decisions. If these guys could time travel, they’d go back and lock elbows with Ralph Nader to reinforce the position that the Corvair’s rear suspension could fold in on itself. They’d ALSO prove that the Corvair didn’t have air bags, AND would have failed miserably in a rollover test, AND didn’t have a catalytic converter! I could have used these guys when I was a young lad waiting in line to make my first purchase at a hifi store. An intervention, including full body takedown, would have been entirely justified for saving me from spending $7 on a glorified lint brush wrapped around a walnut handle peddled as a “record cleaning system.”

But, alias, it appears to be too little, too late. The avalanche has started. We’ve got guys out there that claim to not only hear the differences between an OEM cable and an audiophile cable but claim … wait … here it comes … the differences between different brands and price levels of audiophile cables!! Then there’s they selected group of Techomutants out there that build their own stuff from scratch, claiming that home-made cables sound better than … get this … FACTORY-built OEM cables! This makes about as much sense to “Section B types” as adding a Paragraphic Frequalizer to your system.

It’s (finally) time to jump into the meaty part of the discussion – The Conspiracy. I have a theory about conspiracy theories (if there is such a thing). Here goes:

“The shelf life and voracity of a conspiracy theory is entirely dependent on who controls the information, not the validity of the claims.”

Which brings us to the question of WHO is controlling the information? What entity (or entities) could have this level of penetration to reach the ENTIRE globe and endure the constant barrage of debunkmenship of dozens of Section Bs working in unison? <whisper> It’s rumored that it could be The Deep Stasis? A secret organization of all-knowing, all-reaching, infinitely powerful group of individuals who can make anyone believe anything related to audio performance. We could appoint a special council of the most proficient AudioGon members (the guys with the highest number of razor-sharp, one-sentence stinging rebuttals in the forums) and aggressively go after them. But how do you go after an organization that “doesn’t exist?” Great question. And, since we’ll never get the answers the audio world and ancient astronaut theorists are looking for, The Deep Stasis theory appears to be a dead end. So, it looks like it’s on to Plan B.


We’ll have to drill down so deep and extract so much useful data that even a biochemist working for Exxon would be proud of our accomplishments. So, outside of The Deep Stasis, we need to look at some “plausible” answers to that powerful question.

“Audiophile” Power Cable NIERS (the opposite of DE-NIERS):

  1. Were DUPED!!
  2. Someone put LSD in their oatmeal.
  3. Have seriously degrading hearing but THINK they are just fine. Or, better than fine. They ARE audiophiles, you know.
  4. Work for, or in, a business enterprise that financially benefits from the successful market penetration of audiophile power cables. Follow the money?
  5. Have confirmation biases and just imagining they are hearing a difference. Only their shrink knows for sure and HEPA rules won’t allow us to speak to them about it. So, like The Deep Stasis, it just another dead end, and we’ll never know for sure.


  1. Those who claim to hear differences in audiophile power cables vs OEM are highly-preceptive, intelligent individuals (many with advanced degrees) who have spent many decades engaged with the critical listening and evaluation of state-of-the-art high-fidelity components, source materials, adjustment & calibration, room acoustics and other factors contributing an elevated musical experience. They also possess an excellent control of vocabulary, are highly articulate, and masters at successfully communicating those observations to others.

As the author of a serious piece of investigative work, I need to maintain my neutrality. Therefore, I can’t offer an opinion.

I’ll just leave you with one final question:

Does anyone have any idea how to hide 5 pairs of Audioquest NGR Thunders behind an equipment rack setting just inches away from the wall?


Audiophile power cables?

Try a power conditioner instead...if you want a real-world difference. Feed your audio systems and other electronics clean electricity from the start. Sure it’s true that power transformers in audio gear go though different stages of power treatment; then feed the parts that make it all work DC, but this is only half the battle. Take the strain off power transformers in audio gear for good...invest in a top-notch power conditioner.

The above is what I often tell audiophiles when I visit audio stores and they ask me questions - such as: "what kind of power cable should I get?"

Before answering that question, we must first make an assumption: That the included power cable or even a higher-standard power cable, such as hospital-grade (what I use) is inherently defective and sub-optimal for audio electronics such as amplifiers and speakers.

We must also assume that current restriction from supposedly inferior power cords are limiting absolute system performance. The difference most audiophiles hear is with gain - meaning turning up their amplifier slightly more...and louder systems sound better to most people’s ears.

The audio equipment does not have a mind of its own - and cannot adapt itself or its inputs/outputs to different power cords. What many audiophiles suggest is a dramatic improvement or change in frequency response with power cords. That cannot be the case because we're talking about electrons moving through wire; not a filter - like a power conditioner...which would certainly make a difference and prolong the lifespan of audio equipment.

I’ll leave you with this...we humans are competitive and want the best of everything. So it’s easy to convince people (especially audiophiles) that they require a super-duper power cord.

Try a power conditioner instead.

+1, what I like about a power conditioner is it upgrades everything you plug in, a power cord is only going to impact an individual component. I use Black Lion Audio PG2 to clean noise on the power line and do surge protection and Add-Powr products to improve harmonics and lower the noise floor. Both very reasonably priced and good bang for the buck.

Can we all just agree that every cable sounds different? To determine which sounds better is system dependent. Folks that can’t hear differences in cables (especially power) may just not have a system capable of highlighting the changes in sonics. 
I have never had any 2 cables sound the same once my system it reached a reasonable amount of transparency 

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 From technical standpoint it would be hard to prove that power cable makes difference when added to few hundred feet of home wiring.  On the other hand, I know better than to question what people can or cannot hear.  It would seem that if cable has any effect then shorter one should have less effect, but what if cable has filtering effect to nasties on power line?  Whole thing is more complicated than it seems.  Current is drawn, with typical LPS, in short spikes of high amplitude (requires adequate frequency response).  Energy is not delivered by motion of electrons (that on the average is very slow), but rather by magnetic field on the outside of the cable.  I use 1ft long self made cables with power conditioner connected by 2ft cable to the outlet (just to keep it neat).  I cannot hear, with my limited hearing ability (age), any difference with comparison to longer stock cables, but I wouldn't tell other people what they can or cannot hear.


Absolute brilliant writing, among the best I have seen on this forum or anywhere else.  You are a deep thinker with a marvelous sense of humor.  You made my day. 

I'm sorry, I was easily distracted by the ad below for "20 Inch Brown Ombre Wig With Bangs For Women".  The model looked 15.  Were you saying something important?  Or, was it unsubstantive with a broad smear of pedantic? 

Wow, so many people on this site spending so much time writing about anything about sound. How do they find the time to listen to music. It's like not being able to see the forest for the trees.

@waytoomuchstuff You go! Well done. You get the covieted five lamp cord rating. Keep eating your LSD oatmeal and if you have extra I’d like to join.

I’ve been told it’s not a good thing to keep your equipment right next to the wall...lots of electrical nasties in wall...and it forces you to unnaturally bend your cords...


Keep eating your LSD oatmeal 

Do you have a coupon? Do I get it at Whole Foods or the pharmacy??

Try to hide 5 Elrod Master Diamond power cords. Pull everything another foot or two into the room just to connect to components, but sound is worth it. 








@waytoomuchstuff I’m with @whitestix  in that I enjoyed your post, and I think whoever mentioned putting LSD in oatmeal originally might be on to something;  maybe we could all post in similar fashion. Would the world be in worse shape if we did?

I purchased two power cords and didn’t hear a difference.  I can hear a difference in speaker wires. Not sure what power conditioners do.  Might be worth a try.

I purchased two power cords and didn’t hear a difference.  I can hear a difference in speaker wires. Not sure what power conditioners do.  Might be worth a try.

Larry, try a solid silver or a silver coated copper power cord and see what you think.

Wether perfect here, scuba diving and driving with our top down. Also my system sounds awesome with my audiophile cables as I drink a real espresso. 

Shouldn’t be hard to test if your system is adequately sorted out.

Just a few things to consider. Don’t forget cable risers, isolation, and room treatment. Spikes or springs? Sandbox? Do you have a dedicated line, yet? It makes a difference. A good rack makes a ton of difference, oh, and some room tuning. Don’t use a leather chair, especially one with the back higher than your shoulders. And take your glasses off. And clean the wax from your ears. No table between you and the speakers, this will muddy things. Cover all the windows in the room for sure. Tighten the screws on your speaker drivers- but don’t over tighten. May as well change the screws to a different metal, it will improve the sound. Effective cable routing can make a big difference.

Clean your terminations on all of your equipment, makes a difference. Do you use a laser level for your speakers? It will dial things in. Cover your tv up if it’s between your speakers, this will clean things up. Also, your rack should be on the sidewall, but that can destroy symmetry, best put it in an adjacent room to be safe. A good power conditioner can really make a huge difference, as can power cables. When you find the power cables you like, consider changing all of your cables to that brand, it’s called a loom. It will make a difference. Best install audiophile outlets, too, they grab so tight a gorilla won’t be able to wrestle the cord out.

Just keep in mind, it’s all about synergy, duh. Oh, and if you don’t hear a difference, it may be that your gear is not transparent enough to recognize and pass on the improvement. You may consider replacing the fuses with performance fuses, makes a difference. Did you upgrade your Ethernet cable? That can make a difference. Are your four subwoofers optimized in your room? This will improve soundstage and overall sound quality. Best to use dsp for the subs, to do it right anyway.

Wait, you did know that you need to replace the jumpers on the speakers used when single wired, this can make a difference. Of course biwiring is an option, but with or without biamping?

If you listen to vinyl I’ll need to call off work Monday, Tuesday, and part of Wednesday to put that list together. It may take years to implement, I’m assuming you are a young human? You can always get help from a high end store if you act right and don’t make waves. The door is always open as long as you make an appointment. If you pretend like you are the sales rep and they are the customer, things will go smoother. Your willingness to start spending money quickly goes a long way.

It’s not rocket science…

Great post, I am with you on the Audioquest right angle dilemma! Weird thing is they have them for the Euro market. Their attached corded products like the PQ2 and PQ3 have them here but not any of their lines of power cords?! I’m an AQ dealer, love their products but if Apple fans can get Apple to bring back HDMI and SD card slots to a brand new laptop then dog gone it we can fight for right angle cables! AudioQuest fans unite!

Absolutely no doubt that my premium power cords make my system sound better. Night and day difference.


size matters in power cables.  

Small is better when posting.


Indeed, WTF??


The OP must be a Freelance Copywriter that gets paid by the words....

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I confess to buying a boutique power cord to use with my Quad 303 and 405 amps -  a $90 Pangea from Audio Advisor. Perfect Surface Copper! The rest of my gear has captive cords.

Op this was a 'War and Peace' of post, ever thought about going into print.😁

On power cords I go with the theory quality plugs, quality cable of sufficient gauge with a quality IEC does the job, no more than £100.

I have tried this theory against expensive PS Audio and Russ Andrews cables my friend and I could not hear any difference be assured if we had heard a benefit then we would have purchased. However we could tell a difference between the usual kettle power cables supplied with equipment against a power cable made of quality components.

@waytoomuchstuff great read. very funny and entertaining. More than likely just the way it all got started. "There's money to be made hear " sums it all up. I like AQ also.

I have been on the power cord fence for a long time,  about a decade ago I purchased Pangea cords to replace the stock cords. I can't say it made any difference,  and my system is fairly resolving. All of the cords are plugged into my Furman power conditioner. 

My ICs and SC are Cardas Cygnus so I believe good cables make sense to a point. but since PC are outside of the audio signal path between the Furman and power supply of my amp I can't see what will be gained by purchasing a more expensive power  cord.

I am at peace with these questions ever since I realized that hi-fi is part of the entertainment industry, not the science world. Audiophiles who follow the technical path have technically excellent systems audiophiles who follow the please yourself path have entertaining systems.

These sets are not mutually exclusive.

This is probably the biggest opening to a thread I’ve ever seen. To shorten things up different cables have different effects in different systems. In mine, power cables do make a difference in sound, and add toward the synergy of the entire system, from the ICs to the power conditioners to the wall. 

Bruce19 - very well put. I think many of us fluctuate between the two. I know I do. 

Yes, it was a little long.  When I start writing about HP hand-held calculators and Radio SPL meters, I just can't control my enthusiasm.

My wife tried to warn me this would happen.

To the OP

If the industry marketing Pooh-bahs, pundits, and also the reviewers ( mag or amateur) actually refrained from using the adjective “audiophile” going forward , and replaced it with, say, “quality build” or equivalent,; would that change /ameliorate your editorial?

Without prejudice to the debate above, this overly long thread in general simply highlights that there are two binary choice camps that are conflicting polar opposites on the subject of power cables as a worthy upgrade or not,This is an oft-repeated and futile thread subject matter, because each cohort has zero chance of ever convincing the other side in these Cable Wars.

“There are three sides to every story: my side, your side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each one differently.”

— Robert Evans

Fine with me , Laissez faire, and carry on gentlemen.




@mastering92 @kota1 

Totally agree with you guys on "power conditioners".  I have a heavily modified RGPC conditioner/distributor in my system.  (And, some pretty decent cables plugged into it).



Thanks for sharing what you think. It is valid and of great importance/can help others make good purchasing decisions.

Although I have a different product, I welcome your unique approach to power conditioners. I’m sure what you’re using is top-of-the-line. No satire....

I would recommend trying what I’m using at least once. It’s also used in many other industries and may elevate your experience with high-end audio. Prior to it, I also used custom solutions, products from various Japanese brands, audiophile oritented brands, and even Monster - you know, the company that manufactured beats by dre headphones (although the beats executive headphones are not bad).