audiphile power cords

Do upgraded power cords really make a significant difference in sound quality? I have a Jolida 502p that I think sounds pretty good. What do you recommend for a power cord that would make a significant improvement?
(1) Yes
(2) Without knowing the rest of your system including inter alia, source, all electronics, speakers, AND all the other cables in your kit, it is impossible to blindly recommend one. Choosing one blindly is a gamble at best. Without knowing more, all you can get back in these blogs are heavily biased personal value judgements that are functionally useless otherwise.

System synergy matters ... big time. Just because it sounds good in one guy's rig is no basis to assume that it will sound good in your system. .

There is no substitute in:

(a) first doing your homework for YOUR system requirements; and then
(b) also doing actual in-house auditions to swap them in and swap them out

to see what sounds best. There is no other magic bullet. Good luck.
play with one with return policy. if you don't hear differences, you've just saved lots of money you can purchase media.
Hi Al2214

I have the same Jolida JD 502P amp that you have. I was using a stock 14 AWG power cord with it at first and then got a Shunyata Venom 3 power cord for about $100. I just had to give it a try as I wouldn't take too much of a hit on resale of that cord. With the Venom 3 in place it was hard for me to notice a difference in sound in my system. I think I've hit the wall with sonic performance for my system. This may vary for you though. With my Jolida I found the adjustment that made the most changes sonically were swapping out the 12AX7 tubes followed by the power tubes.

Audiophile power cords can make a difference as explained by many here but it is very system and user dependent.

If your room hasn't been treated already I'd focus there first before going overboard with tube rolling, power cord swapping or changing ICs and SCs.
I have tried a few brands and gave up when heard some DIY cables a friend of mine is making. To get a good cable that makes your system play MUSIC (not only a power cord) you have to pay a lot of money to get one that is really something. With a good DIY you should get it for much less.
So, my advise is just to consider a DIY cable. Good luck :)
They definitely make a difference in most cases but not always necessarily better. I have tried enough in my system to determine stock cords are better sounding to me. YMMV.
I hear a difference with Pangea AC14SE cords on my DACs that I would attribute to lower noise and distortion. This Pangea model is designed specifically for that with line level components, ie source gear and pre-amps.

Power amps are different. More about current delivery capabilities than noise. Pangea AC9 model is for that. I have not tried these to date.

Main thing is always have a clear reason to use a particular product in each case based on problem to be addressed and how designed to address it. All power cords are different. It's a potshot otherwise.

Never buy anything just because it has been labeled "audiophile". That is a useless adjective for describing gear. It may be a good product or not. It may be the right solution, or not. There may be other solutions out there not so labeled to be marketed to "audiophiles" that might work better, or not.

All the "audiophile" label means for sure is that you will likely pay a premium for whatever you actually get.
I have a 502p with a beefy power cord of unknown provinance that somebody gave me, and it sounds great...really great, but attaining a "significant" difference from AC cables might be illusive. I've swapped some high end and less so cords in and out for fun and it pretty much always sounds great regardless. I have it and and another power amp plugged into a PS Audio Humbuster III (more for the other amp which is SS and used rarely for a pair of deck speakers) which has a sensible transformer noise killing design, and having tried various so-called "premium" power cables with very difficult to detect little to no improvement having led me to not give a damn about them. I'm lucky I guess...I do use a PS Audio "garden hose" type AC cord on my REL sub, mostly because it was a cheap used thing and looks cool, but it had no audible effect on the sound of the sub. Good AC wall plugs (again, PS Audio Power Ports) make sense but I'm not sure if the SOUND is better, but the grip on the cable is great so there's that. The claims of what expensive AC cables might do are silly to me, but I do think that better power supplies with chokes and other sorts of filtering can be helpful.
The entire line of Shunyata PC's are designed to reduce the travel of noise and RF which is present in almost every home, and is often created by the gear itself. The negative effect can be subtle or major. Which cable for what spot in your system is really the question. If you don't hear a difference, most likely your system is not worthy of the investment. Most are.
"I've swapped some high end and less so cords in and out for fun and it pretty much always sounds great regardless."

Power cords and similar fringe tweaks have the advantage of not having much down side. They all work pretty well, but performance of gear can certainly vary to an audible extent that might still be better or worse in any case depending on what on starts with and then changes to.

But the differences are subtle on the large scale of things I would say, so its hard to go away unhappy because a power cord ruined the sound.

Same true with other tweaks targeting "audiophile" kooks like us ranging from fringe-to-placebo IMHO like isolation devices, fuses, clocks, flying saucers, even ICs though to a lesser extent perhaps.

At least with wires, fuses and other actual electrical devices, its not as much of a stretch to envision how some difference might result, though proving cause/effect conclusively when it comes to effect on sound quality is elusive at best.
I heard a distinct improvement when I swapped out a stock PC with AntiCable's Level 3 PC particularly with my phono amp - the AntiCable is a braided design which is inexpensive and offers a return policy.
1. yes!
2. You will have to try the various makes/models in order to deterimine the correct 'fit' for your rig.
Happy Listening
Once in a while the stock power cord sounds pretty good and
various aftermarket cords can muck up the sound. It's
happened in my past systems. Some aftermarket power cords
can make very little difference. One problem is that you
can't try every power cord out there. The one that is best
in your system may be out of reach and too pricey, or
totally unknown. Sometimes aftermarket power cords can make
your system sound better. Some can add bass and weight to
the sound, and some take away bass. Some add bass weight and
reduce the highs (this seems typical) but the reverse can
happen too. There's no set answer for what can happen, but
power cords usually alter the sound for better or worse.
Sometimes I feel like I've expected a power cord to make too
big a change. I've learned this is folly. The component
makes the big difference. A good power cord I use is the 8+
by Triode Wire Labs. These come with a 30 day trial period.
If I were starting out in what I call the "power cord
jungle" I would only deal with power cords that have at
least a 30 day trial period, so I could make a return if
necessary. This removes your risk. In various systems over
the years I have owned power cords up to $950 used.
No, they do not make a difference, and McIntosh proved it back in the 60s with a detailed and correctly carried out series of blind listening tests. Ever seen vintage Mac power cords? There's your answer.
Get STEALTH V12 big upgrade wonderful cord.
I have an amplifier that cost more that 5 grand and the manufacturer told me not to waste my money. I don't know one way or the other, but I'm just sayin'. They did say an expensive power regenerator would make a difference, but at a significant cost that rivals the expense of the electronics themselves.

What I've always wondered is how the last 6 ft power cords can make a big difference when you can't do anything about all the power lines that run up to the power outlet. I once read an explanation about that (something about the last few feet make all the difference) but I remain skeptical.
Bojack, THE 60s??!! Really!! So nothing has changed in 50 years.

While I agree that most make no, very little difference or make things worse there ARE a few that make a positive difference. But like all things audio you do need to pay for the improvement. But there are some that are in a reasonable price range for audiophiles.

If your system is not dark/warm but is neutral to bright I would recommend the new entry level cable, HE MKIII, from Waveform Cable formally Kaplan Cable. It lists for $529 and is an overachiever. It is one of the few power cables that lets the instruments natural tone come through. This is in more then one system.

One caveat. I have only tried it on amps.
Since there is no way to A/B different cords simultaneously, it is hard to tell if there is a big difference between them. Some people claim to be able to hear differences in listening tests that span a time (30 seconds, a minute?) between hearing the same music in the same system (and if you power your system down for a minute or more, you must assume that powering it down makes no change to the sound. But then, many claim you should leave your gear on, especially amplifiers for 30 minutes or more for best results). I'm not sure that I can hear a difference after a minute or more of powering down my system, and trying to remember exactly what I heard before. I think most people who say power cords make a difference would also say the difference is subtle - not huge. The more subtle the difference, the more exact your memory must be to hear that 2%. So I take it all for a grain of salt. That said, I have drank the cool aid and bought various models over the years, never more than $500 for one. The only ones I have seen that have provided -some- measure of science behind why their products should sound better are Shunyata. I had them with a Hydra at one point. I was never able to do a valid A/B listening test that could demonstrate to me, in my system, with my ears, that it was better. And for all the others, perhaps 5 or more, I have never been able to tell a whole lot of difference. My philosophy is to buy something that is well made that will serve your system for a long time. A stock cord might fit that bill.
I've paid $10k for a tube preamp. I still can't believe I could spend that kind of money on a piece of audio equipment. In the years that I've owned that preamp, I believe that it has been worth every penny. $10k is still a lot of money, no matter how good the preamp sounds.

I said all of the above to get someone to explain to me a $10k power cord. I mean if you have a $10k power cord, you'd need at least a $40k preamp to hook it up to. I mean, do you buy a $10k power cord for a $10k preamp? Is there some sort of mathematical formula/ratio/percentage for the price of the cord vs the price of the component you are powering? 5,10,20,30 percent?

Has any component manufacturer ever gotten on board with recommending any aftermarket power cords for their equipment?
They do make a difference - or at least they can - but, only sometimes or not. But, as near as I understand it, one of the biggest stumbling blocks for PC designers is proper geometry vs gauge vs length. The big goal being to lower impedance. Noise pickup, or cancellation (or even passive reduction), is another factor. One problem with it all is that this balance of those 3 factors is pretty much dependent upon the given application: whether you intend to use the PC to supply a source (and whether that is digital or analog), or a pre or an amp (even tube or SS??), and so on. But, even with different cords for different apps, there is still another problem: the in-wall wiring in your home. Not only the wiring itself, but what kind of load is being applied through it to each circuit branch in your breaker box. To keep voltages stable over time (theoretically speaking anyway) your home circuit branches from the box should each be given a fairly steady load, or draw, that is only somewhat below the rating on each breaker (safely close to maximum). So, if you have, say, a 15-amp circuit, with a good, relatively stable draw of around, say, 10 or 12 amps most of the time, then this results in voltage stability for that circuit. But, OTOH, if you have, say, a 30-amp circuit that nothing is ever plugged into, then this can contribute to voltage instability in the rest of your house. To us audiophiles, that translates into those day-to-day, time-of-day changes in sound that can plague our systems, sometimes somewhat predictably, although sometimes not. It is often assumed that these voltage swings are always coming from the power outside the home (which can happen), but in actuality it may more often originate from inside the home. Voltage regulators would appear to be a solution, but, ironically, they are usually just as susceptible to these fluctuations as our systems are(!). But, into this unpredictable environment the PC designer must go, but the question is how. I know all the complexities are rather hard to fathom, but that's really my point. Even for the PC designer, there is no way to arrive at any perfect solution under all circumstances. Not only is every system different, but every home's electrical system is different as well. No PC will independently solve an in-home voltage instability (just good old properly designed and utilized circuits can account for a lot of that). But, at least one thing to take away here is that there can be at least some PC solutions that are perhaps very good, or even excellent, in many, or even most, situations much of the time. However, in this context, that means that those PC's are likely not first 'dreamed up' on paper by the engineer, but instead arrived at by trial and error and are necessarily 'developed' over an extended period of time...and only, it would seem, by repeatedly testing under real-world conditions - not in a lab. Which makers will be doing just that and whether or not the cords would make the kinds of changes we may be hoping for in our systems and in our own homes is still the (you-fill-in-the-amount)-dollar question. For my own money, Alan Maher Designs has been doing this for a few years now and is a company I've had excellent results with, but their PC's also utilize passive noise reduction, which, although a 'whole 'nuther thing' in itself if you will, it has worked out to be a big advantage over other makers, for me. Hope all this helps.
In my systems I also found that an audio grade outlet made a significant difference. I use a Wattgate outlet on a dedicated line that goes straight back to the panel box. When considering the audio grade outlet I A/B'd it with a regular outlet and found the former to be better extended on both ends, the soundstage better balanced, and the sound more liquid. I had heard that Ray Kimber always said that the outlet made a big difference but I was doubtful. I bought one anyway and swapped it in and out to see if I could hear a difference, and I sure did. Power cords make a difference too but based on my experience I'd recommend that you add a good outlet into the mix.
The general rule of 10% is good to follow if you are confused by what sort of quuality to go for in a powercord or Interconnect.
Just as a suggestion for folks who are unsure. For those crazies who feel certain, no problem.
I use Pangea powercords. I like thema lot and yes they make a difference. I carefully compared several of the Pangea AC14SE, the AC9 and AC9SE.. all found a place in my system.
Some sound better here, or there.. So definitely I can hear the differences in them on my Powerconditioners, preamps, poweramp, and DAC.
The whole thing about power chord has been blown out of proportion. At the end of the day, it is all about supplying proper AC to your equipment. The problem starts from your home AC socket. The electricity coming out of it is more often than not highly distorted, clipped or noisy.

Power chord, being a passive device, can do very little on distorted and clipped AC. Most PC's change the wave form of the AC to vary degree. This causes the sound to change for better or worse. Since the AC in every household is distorted in different degree, no single PC however good it is can do magic in every home.

The first proper thing to do before even talking about swapping PC is to improve the electricity coming out of the socket. Dedicated power line and new breaker make a big difference. If it is not possible, an active AC regenerator like PS Audio powerplant is a really good investment.
"Has any component manufacturer ever gotten on board with recommending any aftermarket power cords for their equipment?"

Mitch4t, one example: Joule Electra recommends Purist Audio Design power cords for their preamps. I contacted them and this was their preference and recommendation. Price of entry though can be steep. I had a used Ferox Dominus once.
Lots of different opinions. I think that's what makes this hobby interesting. Sounds like the best approach for me is to maybe purchase used merchandise and see how it works out for me in my system. Is 50% of new retail in line for used merchandise in good condition?
The right price as a % of retail will vary, especially with wires.

Best to set a budget and go with that.

Wires are excellent candidates to buy used in order to get the right price.

I bought a very high quality $300 retail Pangea power cord new for $90 from Audio Adviser via Amazon recently. So you can see that manufacturer retail prices are often not a good indicator of actual value, especially with hard to nail down products like expensive wires.
Bojack gets my "best post of the week" award...agree or not, it's fabulous. I like power cord descriptions from Pangea and the like as the bombast kills seems that any system without premium AC cords must sound like screaming death bats, and with them the electrons are SO much happier and more organized when entering the labyrinth of fuses, resistors, transformers, the spleen, chokes, filters, etc., that your system will suddenly rise from a cloud of stinking mud fog and fix your life.
Mitch4t asked if any component manufacturer has gotten on board with recommending aftermarket power cords...

When shopping for an integrated amp last year ($4500 piece of equipment) I spent some time with a tech from the company discussing my speakers, room, and whether that particular amp was a good choice. After covering all the bases, he asked one last question...did I have any plans to purchase an aftermarket power cord. I said no, just planned to use the one that comes with the unit. His response, and I'm paraphrasing, was basically "good, don't waste your money".

It's just one anecdote, from one guy in the industry, but since Mitch asked...

I won't publish this gentleman's name, as I don't think it's appropriate, but I'm quite certain he's been in a position to test more equipment than I have, so his opinion carries weight with me. YMMV.

As a side note, thanks to my local dealer's in-home demo option I have tried various power cords with my ARC VSi55 (not the unit I'm referring to above, that's in another system), and I could never hear a difference.
The only thing more entertaining than a cable thread is one of those fights you see in third world country parliaments.

On second thought, cable threads are better.
I put a pair of 'upgraded' power cords on a pair of electrosstatic speakers once for a friend and all of a sudden, when the refrigerator cycled on, he no longer heard it through the speakers. Not only do better power cords do a better job of delivering power to your coponent - they do a better job at keeping things out.
Ive had a pair of inexpensive power cords remove a chalky sound from some class D monos. Sounded much smoother than the stock cords. Ted
This is like the debate about climate change, or evolution. We are all so way past it. If you want to know if they make a difference -- and the thousands of reviews and comments on this and other sites do not persuade you -- try a few for yourself.

If anyone would like to know why power cords make a difference, I would be happy to contribute. BTW I have some measurements to back my claims.
Please do Ralph!

It's not at all like the "debates" over climate change and evolution, in which the serious scientific community is virtually 100% agreed that yes, there is man made climate change and yes, all life evolved from a common ancestor. There is nothing like unanimity, and especially nothing like agreement upon the explanatory mechanisms at work, in the power cord case. And, unlike the cases of evolution and climate change, most of the people who have strong positive opinions have either an economic or a vanity motive for saying what they say. In contrast, in the climate and evolution cases it's the motives of the deniers that are most obviously suspect. Finally, while you might be able to make up your own mind by experiment in the cable case (though never underestimate the power of psychoacoustics), the parallel claim for climate change and evolution would be absurd.
Climate change "science," that's a good one. Good luck isolating the real science from the political agendas.
I think we should demand that the title of any topic be spelled correctly...really...
@W- Perhaps the OP is truly fond of Audis. They are a very well crafted car! I wasn't aware they had built an electric though.
@A19- Now you've done it! BTW: If you've not read Michael
Crichton's 'State of Fear', do so.
@ atmashere, By all means, prove what I agree with by theory of science, I will learn something here, I can say the Tara labs cobalt power cord with Oyaide Top IEC and plug beat out much more exspensive power cords by a large margin that I have tried on my system, The cobalt has a built on RFI/EMI cerelex devise developed by Tara that to me, has had me re listening to my music collection in awe because I am hearing music that was not there before, what a revelation, wow!, for the asking price, well worth it!, No regrets!

What I meant was that it is essentially beyond debate that power cords DO make a difference in the sound of an audio system, not that there is unanimity on WHY they make a difference. And I have no economic or vanity motive in saying that PC's make an audible difference. Just answering the question that begna this thread.

So peace, bro (or sis).

Oops, "begna" should be "began." Don't want the spelling dictator Wolf_garcia on me.

Please do Ralph!


With power cords its all about voltage drop across the cord. Some of that is at 60Hz, and some of that is much much higher- well above 30KHz-100KHz depending on the power supply in the unit with which it is being used.

I've seen a 2 1/2 volt drop rob an amplifier of about 30% of its output power. The cord was rated for 10 amps, and the draw was about 6 amps. This measurement was done with a simple 3 1/2 digit Digital Voltmeter.

The more insidious problem is high frequency bandwidth. The power supplies of most amplifiers have a power transformer, a set of rectifiers, and a set of filter capacitors. The rectifiers only conduct when the power transformer output is higher than that of the filter caps. So:

When the caps are fully charged the amp is able to play. As it does so, the caps are discharged until the AC line voltage waveform gets high enough again that the rectifiers in the power supply are able to conduct. Depending on the state of charge of the filter capacitors, this might only be for a few microseconds or it might be a few milliseconds. Either way, the charge is a spike which has very steep sides- and requires some bandwidth to make it happen.

If the power cord has poor high frequency response, it will current limit on these spikes. This can result is subtle modulations in the power supply or even a sagging power supply voltage.

Romex wiring found in many buildings actually works quite well. So it really becomes all about that last few feet and also how well the power cord is terminated- molded cords generally are not terminated very well. If the ends of your power cord get warm after a while, you know you have a problem!

This can be measured, its quantifiable and also audible as many audiophiles know. Anyone who tells you differently probably has not bothered to do any measurements- please refer them to this post.

I can go into more depth but this is it in a nutshell. Incidentally, Shunyata Research is refining an instrument that does a more in-depth analysis of what this is all about. At the link you will see that their tests essentially confirm what I have said here.
Nglazer +1

Atmasphere +2

We've been through all of this before but I guess it's better than reality TV (please, tell me no one here watches reality TV).

Or the false meme that the science isn't settled on whether or not climate change is man made.

All the best,
Ralph's explanation makes sense in teh case of power cords for amplifiers in general where efficient current delivery and bandwidth are very important.

Some vendors focus more on noise reduction and positive effect of that on distortion for power cords designed for line level gear, especially those that are digital.

I tend to agree that the problem to address is different for noise sensitive line level gear versus current hungry power amps, so best to tackle each problem uniquely when designing a suitable power cord.
Hello Abrew19,
You are spot on regarding Climate change and science. It has become corrupted by political agendas unfortunately.Listen to NPR for a while and you can't help but notice the bias.Opposing viewpoints aren't tolerated. Sad, as science should be open to all perspectives not just the politically chosen ones.
It always amazed me when I hear a pseudo-engineer say "cords can't make a difference if they are adequately sized". No engineer would argue that the following things can indeed make a difference, and are measurable:

- different gauges
- different dielectric materials
- different configuration (twisted, braided, side-by-side, etc.)
- different metals
- stranded vs solid
- shielded vs unshielded

So of course cords make a difference. But the art is in figuring out how a particular type of cord will interact with any given component, let alone why, and what effect is to be expected in the resulting sound. That is not so straightforward.
So Ralph, it sounds to me (and please correct me if I am wrong) that you are saying the connections are by far the most important factor at play. Wire, insulation, etc., is not as important. Correct?
^^ They are all important. I have to say I have not studied the matter enough to know how they all weigh out. I do know though that its harder to build the cable to have good HF response and also keep it flexible, which is required by law (you can't use ROMEX in a power cord for example).

I have seen the conductors heat up too. So its pretty obvious that every part of the cable has to work correctly!
I am wrestling with this issue: I don't have the money to buy an expensive wonder cord. I am trying to determine how to maximize my expenditure. Hypothetically speaking, let's say I had $250. Would it be best for me to spend it all on the best $250 manufactured power cord I could find? Or DIY and spend on the best $200 connector and the remaining $50 on the wire?
Rockadanny, I've wrestled with the same issue. I recently took the plunge and purchased some Pangea cords. I played around for a few days and decided that my DIY cables were good enough for me. Yes, I think perhaps the AC14SE sounded slightly better when connected to my Oppo103, but the difference was slight and certainly NOT significant by any contrived definition. I use hospital grade connectors and decent wire of either 12 or 14 gauge. Another thing to keep in mind is the size of these cables. Some of these cables are so big and heavy that they need to be supported.

You might find greater sonic improvements by investing in room treatments.