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I'm not an expert on power cables, but I built two PCs loosely based on Chris VH's DIY recipe:
I'm a skeptic when it comes to expensive power cables, so I wanted to make the largest cable for the cheapest amount of money. Instead of 12 awg, I used 8 awg Southwire from Home Depot. I followed Chris's design: two hot and two neutral wires twisted in a star quad. It wasn't easy to twist 8 awg wire, but I did my best. I pushed the finished beast into a suitably sized high-pressure air hose. Then I twisted an 8 awg ground on top of the air hose in the opposite direction. The whole affair was covered with polyester mesh braiding. The ends were terminated with Pass & Seymour and Wattgate plugs -- not an easy task. I don't like the size of the finished product, but that's par for the course. The aggregate cable is 5 awg.
In the end, I can't say I heard a dramatic difference compared to a Flavor 4. They were connected to my amps. The project wasn't too difficult, but it certainly wasn't easy.
I'd like to build another cable based on a braided design like Lessloss.
I've experimented rather extensively with DIY power cords and have found, with my equipment, that the Cryo-Parts is quite superior to DIY Crump, DIY Flavor 4 with Belden 83802, Volex, & DH Labs. All of the others were only marginal improvements over a stock cord. If I'd stopped experimenting before trying the Cryo-Parts, I'd have validated my skeptical outlook on aftermarket power cords. Pretty much instantly after installing the Cryo-Parts on my amp, I knew that this was a real, audible, and substantive upgrade.
I have exchanged e-mails with Chris VenHaus on this one and have done my own A/B testing. THE budget high current PC is the Flavor 4. You will find better, but not unless you spend multiples more. Build a Flavor 4 with your favorite connectors and you will be VERY happy.
I use three 20A Flavor 4 PCs with Furutech FI-25Rs for my three Shunyata PLCs and could not be happier.
My two cents.
Grannyring, Thanks for your input. I agree, gauge isn't the only factor and it's certain that ac plugs count equally much, if not more. And shielding probably counts less than vibration damping or conductor isolation.
Maybe I should spend less on the wire and more on the plugs. I was planning Furutech FI-11M Gold; perhaps I should opt for FI-25, even though it adds substantially to the cost. On the other hand, spending more money at the source seems like a better idea.
Has anyone compared wire for coloration, extension and transparency -- VH, DH, Cryoparts, Supra Lo, etc -- head to head, all other things being equal?
shielding probably counts less than vibration damping or conductor isolationI doubt that that is true. See the posts by Atmasphere in the following thread, explaining why large amounts of high frequency noise may be generated in both the power supply and the power transformer of a power amp, and be coupled from there into the power cord:
Question for the group. Mind I'm not trying to cause a ruckus but rather genuinely curious. First if it it thought that a better power cord improves things why not run a dedicated better line from the main panel in the house. ie if 5 feet of better improves things would 5o more feet improve things more?
Second my knowledge of solid state physics is way deeper than my audio understanding and or experience. Given that I'm completely at a loss why vibration isolation of a power cord should make any difference. Are there any studies out there?
I'd advise you not to get too hung up on asking for other people's heads up comparisons. Power cords are so system and component dependent that what's mana from heaven in one system is chaff to be thrown away in another. When one person says something completely opposite from someone else about a wire or component, it doesn't mean one's wrong and one's right. Usually, they are both right, but only in the context of their system. This subjectivity is really aggravating to one possessed of "right brained" analytical thinking, but that's the annoying reality of things. Unfortunately, you just have to buy and try a few things.
Photon46 makes some excellent points. Even the factor I mentioned, about high frequency noise generated in the power supply and/or power transformer of a power amp coupling into the amp's power cord and then radiating into other parts of the system, would be highly system dependent in several ways.
Both the amplitude and the frequencies of the noise would be dependent on the amp, and also on the music being played. The degree to which the noise would couple into other parts of the system would be dependent on the effectiveness of the shielding in the power cord, the placement of the power cord relative to other cables, power cords, and components in the system, and the sensitivity of the other components to that noise. All of that figuring to be highly inconsistent from system to system.
One small correction, though. I'm pretty certain that analytical and "linear" thought processes are considered to be left-brained thinking. It is right-brained thinking that is intuitive, sensory oriented, and perhaps subjective to a greater degree.
Re Paulsax's questions:
1)One reason that the construction of the power cord would be more important than the construction of the house wiring that feeds it is this issue of shielding. Shielding in the power cord will obviously play a more significant role in preventing noise emanating from the corresponding component from radiating into other parts of the system than will the house wiring, due to its closer proximity to other parts of the system.
2)Re vibration sensitivity of power cords, my answer, as an experienced multi-degreed electronics engineer and analog and digital circuit designer, and as a long-time audiophile, is that I don't have the slightest idea. :)
It's rare that opinions are diametric opposites, though clearly people have different aesthetic proclivities, which, hopefully, are able to be expressed. I find that people agree with a reasonably predictable frequency -- about practical matters anyway, not necessarily about theory. And notwithstanding the issue of synergy, I believe it's still possible to make useful generalizations.
Photon46 speaks a great deal of truth. The ultimate performance of a power cable in a system is dependent on synergy to a great degree. This is why I suggested the Supra LoRad cable for $15 a meter.
It will outperform your standard stock cable and give good performance for only $70 for 2 meters fully terminated with Supra plugs.
This meets your need for a low cost cable that is cheap and will outperform the stock cables sent with gear.
One thing to keep in mind is that you can get an electrician to install a dedicated outlet from the panel for a very reasonable amount of money ($300 in my case, 50 feet away) that helps isolate and reduce noise.
second- any cable will be an improvement if compared to the original-china-made-50-cents-cable.
I recommend you start with a simple upgrade, and work from there.
Pmboyd...do you have credit card with a nice credit limit?
Here's what you can do...spend approx a few thousand dollars on some "really good cables". Buy a few from different vendors WITH the stipulation that you can return for a FULL REFUND. Your answer will be evident to you very easily. Heck...buy one of those 5000.00 dollar cables if you limit will allow. With the same stipulations.
But make sure you do this...have someone else install these for you. DONT EVEN LOOK AT THE CORDS. Make your measurments. I did this...spent 10K on cables (not just power), returned all but a few. But only due to looks. If the damn thing impresses your eyes...your're half-way to buying it. Listen first, don't look.