I decided to develop my own opinion as to whether expensive power cables help or not and purchased one.
What do you consider expensive ?
Can you share with us what power cord you purchased and on what piece of equipment are you going to use it on ?
Good PC's make a audible improvement you can hear almost everywhere.. you will have to listen whether they ARE an improvement or not, as some PC's actually sound WORSE IMHO than just stock cords.. One cord I like ALOT is the Cardas Golden. IMMEDIATE and positive improvement used for Amp, CD player, Integrated amp, Preamp... one place it didn't seem to make much difference: turntable motor power supply.
I've found PCs make the most difference at either end of the system. Sources or amps.
All devices can be enhanced or improved of course, but the more noteable changes 'best bang' comes at each end. Size of the cord's conductors too can make one better or worse a choice for various items, so some attention to making a good pick as always is important. Cost effectiveness might also be an astute consideration.
If a $70 PC gets you there... that's super. Wish I had been so lucky.
So far my exp has shown me that the more money I've put into a PC the more noteable the change or difference. Sometimes the change is seen as an improvement. Sometimes it really isn't a complete 100% improvement. Sometimes it's a mixed bag. Everything was enhanced by better rewsolution, yet the stage was set more forward, or more away from the LP. Sometimes a blacker background was about the only noticed change.
I've found too, IMHO, some PCs work best with some brands of IC s, better than some others.
it's an interesting proposition for sure but I'd suggest you try out a few brands & models to see what fits best and where, for yourself and your own gear.
Lastly, Whenever I have introduced a PC onto an upstream component, that PCs influence is felt/heard throughout the balance of the gear, as with PLC supply cords.
To many in the engineering community, blind ABX is an accepted experimental design. Using the blind ABX protocol, we failed to hear any differences between an assortment of generic power cords and Nordost Valhalla. Therefore, we cannot conclude that different power cords produce a difference using the blind ABX protocol. However, we also cannot conclude that there are no differences. We simply failed to prove that differences can be detected to a statistically significant degree using a blind ABX protocol.
John Johnson, who comes from a scientific background, suggests that if there are differences between cords, they appear to be so subtle that a blind ABX test cannot discern them with small numbers of participants. Failure to discern them could be due in part to the time it took for cable changes, and the possibility that accurate auditory memory is shorter than that. It may be necessary to switch between cords in a much shorter time.
Unfortunately, as John notes, we don't know of a way of accomplishing fast power cable changes, since, unlike interconnects which can be simply switched between A and B with the equipment all still powered on and playing music, changing AC power cords requires turning the equipment off, switching the cords, and then powering them back on.
The test was a grand and noble experiment at best and a bust at worst. Make of it what you will.
Editor's Note: ABX tests are valid and do work. Here is a link to some ABX tests of various types of audio products. In many cases, statistically significant differences could be discerned by participants. In others, no differences could be discerned. http://www.pcavtech.com/abx/abx_data.htm. Now, of course, one can dissect an experiment and say, well these 4 people out of 10 participants had good scores, so they could hear the differences. But, no, you have to take all the data together. You can't just pick out the numbers that suit your hypothesis. This would be statistically invalid. Same thing with just looking at one music selection. With statistical random patterns, it is likely that there will be one selection where more participants score correctly than on other selections. If we had enough music selections, there would likely be one where all participants scored perfectly. But, you have to look at all the selections together. That is the purpose of statistics. You may remember the famous monkeys typing randomly concept. If you have enough monkeys, eventually one of them will type all of Shakespeare's works perfectly. To look at only that one monkey might suggest it knew how to type Shakespeare. But, we can't do that and claim good science.Conclusion if it is almost imposible to hear changes in the audio chain then why throw money down a giant rat hole on pc cables that only look good and yet do nothing for sound and only lighten your pocket?
* Price doesn't determine value or synergy of anything.
* The PC of choice is component specific and is generally enhanced by perpetuating the grade and type thoughout the entire system loom.
* If you have audiophile friends or a local dealer, barrow several cords and experiment. Have fun.
* Only you ears, in your system, in your room, will answer the question of sonic value definitively, nothing else matters.(period) IMHO
...and yes, to my ears some power cords make a positive difference.
ABX is tough in my case. I'd like to compare and contrast mainly on my amp, but it's a tube system and by the time I warm up, listen to A, turn it off, cool it down, switch the cords, and power it on and let it warm up again... well, it'd have to be a big change for me to notice.
The cables I'm going to try are the Zu BOK and Zu Birth (mk1 I found here). The team at Zu work hard to please and I've always been pleased with their analog & digital cables so I'm going to give them the first crack.
I don't use ABX to evaluate components (including cables). I prefer to change a component, listen to it for several days, up to a week or two, and then switch. Repeat as needed.
Some differences may discovered immediately, while others are subtle, and take time to learn.
I think that's often the problem with quick ABX testing. Too short of evaluation periods with strange gear.
Mooglie makes good points and is just how I approach noting changes or improvements.
Provided the system is sufficiently resolute and even reasonably well setup, I would defy anyone who could not tell me they heard a difference between some of the power cords I own. Namely the diffs between a Shunyata Python VX and my Taipan helixs. or using a closer priced analogy, my Voodoo tesla II vs either a Shunyata Taipan helix or the older version Python VX. They each range from $900 $1200 when they were new & current.
Trust me on this part.
If anyone could actually say they hear no differences, putting betterment aside and pointing directly at the diffs in sound and presentation . THEYRE IN THE WRONG HOBBY OR . God bless em theyre near deaf and wont be spending much money in this past time.
There does seem to be with power cords more of a time frame for them to work at their optimum levels. More so than with Ics, but all require some get acquainted time once input to a system, even after theyve all been run in!
Bryoncunningham echoes my own experiences.
One last point as with the powered devices we buy, preamps, amps, sources, etc . as their price goes up generally speaking, a likewise incident in cabling happens concordantly.
Dabbling about in the under $100 or $200 areas with wires isnt going to reveal nearly the changes or subjective improvements those cables in the $500 - $1500 retail spectrum can display.
Ive said this till Im blue with PCs you have to get a couple two or three IEC to NEMA adapters. So when you make a swap of PCs, the newly inserted one is not cold. Plug it into a fan, or fridge. Still, some time following insertion is required, eg., get acquainted or settling in after being bent and twisted all about..
Again, the diffs are later on readily apparent in regard to PCs, once the rig is resolving enough, and the disparity between the cables is increased. Otherwise the changes will be far more subtle and less distinguishable.
Depending on the pc too, the system doesnt have to be a killer sounding rig for disparity to be easily recognized. I can put my cables into my bed room system and realize gains with no trouble at all and its just an old Sony ES AV reciver, and Oppo 980, with Phase Tech 85db two ways. Using SR Alpha Quad non active spkr cables..
Trying out power cords under $200 MSRP may interest some, and in fact be quite interesting an affair at times, but my exp says there are not too many standouts in that region . So time then becomes more valuable than questioning a flock of inexpensive cords dissimilarities IMHO. Get a VAudio Flav, VD power III, Cardas gold Ref, Voodoo Silver Dragon, or an Audience pc and youll be fine until the bug bites again. Preowned theyll all be under $300, some will be far less. All are good. One guy told me the pc Parasound offers for under $100 is a very good pc too. Ive tried all but the Cardas and Parasound.
FWIW, I agree with Blindjim's comments. I once had some Zu Boks. They were just ok. However, the Kaplan cables I use are a significant step up.
If you're concerned about costs, some companies offer a free trial, and there's always the Cable Company. DIY of VH Audio designs is an inexpensive way to go. I wouldn't draw any conclusions on PC effectiveness based just the two cords that you are trying.
Some of you may remember Sean who used to post here on Agon a few years back. I bought the VH PCs based on his recommendation that they bettered anything under $500 (in his system) that he tried.
For me it was a big step up from the factory supplied PCs.
They may be system dependent but can be done in some cases for sure.
* The PC of choice is component specific and is generally enhanced by perpetuating the grade and type thoughout the entire system loom...."
This brings up a question that I'm sure may only have a hypothetical answer at best but perhaps you may have real world experience:
If I used a specific manufacturer's cable throughout my system (in my case, likely Zu Cables) do you feel there would be a real synergy? Or more likely imagined?
I'm guessing that a cable manufacturer uses their own PCs when doing R&D on a new interconnect and vice versa.
I'm sure a good portion of your thoughts are quite valid, especially those regarding the use of 'same same' from the cable makers viewpoint.
I've had two shots with same same cabling throughout, first was Voodoo and second was Shunyata. Not all the same models though in each instance, as was the suggestion of the maker.
With regard to optimization of a system.... well we're back into the land of subjectivity once again.
With power cords only, I was running 4 Taipan Helix A's throughout with one Python Helix A for a little while, and the sound was quite cohesive and the tones were most vibrant and colorful. I found the top end a bit more prominent than I would prefer however. I could only swap the Python source cord and preamp Taipan cord as I run mono blocks. Keeping the Python on the source proved best.
since then the gear has been elevated IMHO. I still have a penchant for the Taipan Helix A, and the older Python ()red) VX. I've found other pcs which have the attributes my system needs and I prefer since then. That said, I'm considering adding back in a Python Helix A once more for one of it's main characteristics.... and an Elrod Sig II for likewise reasons.
Once a base line of performance is noted objectively as possible, integrate one cable at a time and after some run in, swap it about. You'll quickly see where that particular wire is best suited. Makers of the wire itself can point you in a closer direction, yet you will always be judge and jury.
As I do not have a one brand system, or even if I did, I don't run a one brand wire loom throughout it. I do enjoy the results of that path.
In my own exp... with a fair amount of trial and effort, the cohesive, congruent, and imersive quality one seeks from their stereo can well be attained by using several different brands & models of cabling about it.
I sincerely feel each approach custom, or likewise, as justified, yielding still great performance. This wire business is tossed about so much by the proponents for either side of the affair, I'm pretty sure from my own limited exp that all roads lead to acceptable ends.
Barring costs, the quicker more simplistic and shorter route is that of 'same same brand' yet maybe not all same models. EX my Elrod Sig III works best when a lot of juice is flowing through it so it's not a pre or source cord. it's best suited for conds, and amps.
So you choose. Do the Zu thing all over. Later on go pick a more specific application cord at a reportedly higher level of performance, and insert it intuitively, ans see for yourself!
I feel every component made has it's own strengths and weaknesses. Wires too. Consequently, my argument or philosophy follows then, that each appliance has specific needs and as such, may well require specific cabling, and maybe a one brand approach doesn't meet every one of those needs. Let's not forget personal preffs and budgetary restraints too!
The question then remains: So you have picked out the most optimum cord for each of your pieces?
Nope. Probably not. there's way too many cable makers and they keep changing them too. I'll settlle for 'Satisfactory' or as best as I'm able, over 'optimum - perfect'. I think that's the best anyone can do.
Perfection in an imperfect world is a frustrating wild goose chase. This hobby is always going to be a "best effort" affair... and never perfect, save for it's owners subjective account.
Have fun, I'm sure things will work out for you.